EDC flashlight: why you should carry a handheld and some lights to consider

Many times I’ve been asked, why do you carry a handheld flashlight every day? The answer is: there are many reasons why everyone should carry a true EDC flashlight, and not all of them are tactical or shooting related.

Why should you carry a handheld EDC flashlight?

Every Day Use

Handheld lights are more than just a tool for tactical situations. I use my EDC (Everyday Carry) flashlight every day. Most of my flashlight use revolves around situations that have zero tactical purposes — like looking under the hood of my truck.

Here is a list of things I have used my EDC handheld flashlight to accomplish. Thankfully, none of them have had anything to do with defensive use.

    • Moving from my car to the house.
    • Looking in boxes.
  • Working on the fuse box.
  • Looking in the mailbox.
  • Feeding the chickens.
  • And many others

However, though those tasks were without threat, it’s the potential tasks that could be defensive that most demand an EDC light.

Tactical Use

So why should you carry an EDC Flashlight as an armed citizen, even if your weapon is equipped with a weapon-mounted light?

Well, first, you should carry a handheld flashlight even if you don’t carry a gun.

Second, even if you do have a weapon-mounted light, you need to first positively identify a possible threat To do this in most situations you won’t always have your pistol in your hand. This is because in the real world it is unacceptable to walk in public with a pistol in your hand, and if you do you will probably have contact with law enforcement. You don’t need that little old lady in Starbucks calling the cops about scary you. How can we identify someone as a nonthreat from a threat? You can reach into your pocket, grab that handheld flashlight, press the switch, and put some lumens down on whatever you’re trying to identify.

It’s just as significant for home defense as well. You’re home and you hear that bump in the night. Who is it more likely to be? It’s far more likely to be a family member, a neighbor at the door, or a pet than a masked bad guy. Now I am not saying that you shouldn’t grab a gun, but if there’s a high likelihood it could be something you love (or at least have no cause to burn down), then why muzzle it? Are you better illuminating that dark corner with your WML or a handheld light?

The answer should be obvious, but to spell it out — you need to be using the handheld.

Handheld EDC lights: you should carry one, and you should train with it too.
Handheld EDC lights: you should carry one, and you should train with it too.

Features to Look For in an DC Flashlight

So what should you look for in an EDC Handheld flashlight? A big thing I look for is ease-of-carry. Does it fit in your pocket, allow you to get into your pocket to grab change or keys? Does it have a pocket clip that places it in a good location to grab quickly? Is the pocket clip rugged and not prone to breaking when you scrape the door jamb with it? Is the clip easy to replace or can you get a replacement? Does the light output allow you to identify threats/nonthreats from a decent distance? Does the light have multiple light outputs, or is it a single output? What type of batteries does it use, are they rechargeable by USB or battery only? Will you need a belt holster? These are some of the things I look at when I am going to purchase an EDC Handheld flashlight. Sometimes you will need to just experiment with the light you have and how you carry it.

Recommended Handheld Flashlights

Here are some of the flashlight I use, have used, or would look at for EDC use. Your mileage may vary, and there are other options. These are just a few suggestions.

Surefire Stiletto

Surefire has made great lights for a long time and I have had one from them in my pocket for a long time. Recently I was given a Stiletto.

Surefire Stiletto- a handheld flashlights for armed citizen EDC.
According to Surefire, the Stiletto’s slim design allows it to be drawn and activated from a pocket as fast as a knife.

The Stiletto is a slim EDC light with two pressure switches (one on the front of the light body and one on the rear). The front pressure switch has the ability to work in constant and momentary modes. The rear pressure switch is momentary only. The light output has three modes: High 650 lumens, Medium 250 lumens, Low 5 lumens. The Stiletto is rechargeable via a USB cord only. The Stiletto fits in the pocket nicely, and it has been in my pocket for a few weeks since I received it. Thus far (as of this writing) I’ve liked it very much.

Surefire E1B

Another Surefire light I used for an extended period of time is the E1B, this light was in my go-to EDC light for years.

Surefire E1B handheld flashlight.
Surefire E1B handheld flashlight.

It is smaller than most lights and runs of one CR123. It only has one pressure switch on the rear of the light, with two modes, momentary and constant. There are also two light output options: high is 400 lumens and low is 5 lumens. Out of all the light I have used this one has the strongest pocket clip that is replaceable with a call to customer service. All in all, this is a great light.

6PX Tactical

The last light from Surefire is the 6PX Tactical.

Handheld flashlight for armed citizen EDC: The Surefire 6PX Defender.
Handheld flashlight for armed citizen EDC: The Surefire 6PX Tactical.

This light is larger in the EDC light realm but can be pocket carried with the Thyrm Switchback or just stuffed in the pocket. The 6PX Tactical has a tail cap pressure switch that is constant or momentary modes. The light output is 600 lumens of usable light.

Streamlight Pro-tac

Streamlight has several lights that fit into the EDC handheld flashlight category. The Pro-tac 1L-1AA and Pro-tac 1L are of similar size of the E1B from surefire and make a great EDC pocket light. The pro-tac 1L-1aa can run on either a standard A.A. battery or a cr123. It has 350 lumens in high and a run time of 1.30 hours. The pro-tac 1l runs off a cr123, on high has 275 lumens and a run time of 2 hours. They both come with a pocket clip that sets it in a good place for quick removal.

The Streamlight Protac HL is large but will also fit in a pocket and can use the Thrym Switchback for the pocket clip.

The Streamlight Protac HL handheld flashlight.
The Streamlight Protac HL with Thyrm Switchback attached.

The Protac has 1100 lumens on high, has a 2 hour run time, and runs off two cr123’s or a rechargeable 18650.

Modlite 18650 OKW Handheld

The Modlite 18650 OKW Handheld is something I am looking forward to seeing in the open market. Modlite is a new company with great ideas and innovation.

Modlite 18650 OKW Handheld Flashlight.
Modlite 18650 OKW Handheld Flashlight.

As I am writing this the Modlite handheld has just been released. But using their weapon mounted light for a long time I can’t wait to see their results. The OKW Handheld runs off a 18650 rechargeable battery, has a run time of 70-75 minutes, and has 680 lumens and 69000 candelas. Using this light on a rifle is like turning on the sun. The rear pressure switch is momentary and constant. The light body will work with the Thyrm switchback for pocket stuffing.

L.A.G. Tactical Flashlight Holster

If you can’t (or don’t want to) stuff that light in your pocket, L.A.G. Tactical makes a great flashlight holster.

The L.A.G. Tactical M.C.S. Flashlight Carrier will carry your light on your belt and allow for quick removal.
The L.A.G. Tactical M.C.S. Flashlight Carrier will that EDC flashlight on your belt and allow for quick removal.

The L.A.G. Tactical M.C.S. Flashlight Carrier will carry your light on your belt and allow for quick removal. They make them in multiple colors and sizes. If they don’t make one that fits your light, the have a custom shop that can build it for you. I use their light carrier for work and play and trust them.

In conclusion: carry a handheld flashlight when you carry your pistol.

Carry a handheld flashlight when you’re not carrying a pistol.

The handheld flashlight allows you to deal with threats and nonthreats, it lets you fix that flat tire on the side of the road at zero dark thirty, and it allows you to move from point A to point B knowing where you are stepping so you don’t trip. If you don’t currently carry an EDC handheld flashlight cause it could save your family member’s life, your life, or a lost lug-nut life without much discomfort!

LAG Tactical "flashlight holster"

Daniel has been in law enforcement for nearly 15 years. During his career he has worked for a large Sheriff’s department in Nevada on such assignment as detention, courts, court transport, patrol, and S.W.A.T. He is currently a full-time rangemaster. Daniel has numerous firearms, tactics and instructor certifications, to include: handgun, shotgun, carbine, less lethal, force on force, low light, certified armorer, basic and advanced S.W.A.T. schools. He has instructed many students for LMS Defense and is one of the founder-owners of Crucible Consulting. Follow or connect via Instagram, @crucible_consultants.

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