In this column we’ve previously discussed off-duty guns and some of the hardware choices available to modern lawman. When we are carrying off-duty, as well as on, we must understand that we need more than a firearm. Guns aren’t a mystical talisman or magical good luck charm. They are merely tools we use to keep ourselves and those we care about safe.
The great thing about a duty belt is that you can carry a lot of gear and you don’t need to worry about concealing it. When we put on street clothes, we need much of the same gear we carry on duty, but now we need to conceal it and carry it comfortably. The comfortable part is the tallest order.
We spend about half of our life either in the dark or reduced light situations. As a human being, your eyes require light to gather the information your brain needs to process the situation. No light, no information, no plan.
In our modern era there are a plethora of high-quality, super-bright flashlights from which to choose. Duty lights from SureFire and Streamlight come in a number of sizes and configurations. However, as light-weight and portable as they are many of these personal tactical lights can be a chore to carry in plainclothes, particularly in shorts and t-shirt weather.
During this month’s column we’re going to take a close look at two lights that are now in the running for ‘Best Off-Duty Flashlight’. You can decide for yourself.
I must admit that I discovered this light quite by accident. The Brite-Strike EPLI (Executive) was a gift from a friend and one for which I am most grateful. For those unaware, Brite-Strike has been chipping away at the tactical light market once dominated by the big dogs.
First of all, the Executive light is indeed a white LED with a focused beam. Of the two lights featured herein, this one is ‘long and thin’. The Executive’s size is actually deceptive, looking at it you wouldn’t believe the light is as powerful as it is (220 Lumens) or that it is so stout and well made.
Checking the manufacturer’s specs, the Executive is 5.125 inches long and just a hair over one-half inch at the bezel. The total weight is only 1.2 ounces as the body is constructed primarily of aluminum. Two AAA batteries provide the power source. A spring-steel pocketclip is included as well.
A tailcap switch is used to activate the light and it has three levels or settings. First click is the brightest light at 220 Lumens, the second click or press is the low setting at 110 Lumens and the third click is a bright strobe option. Every option can be momentary with a light press of the tailcap or constant by pressing the switch until it clicks.
Naturally the Executive light can be used in conjunction with a sidearm in order to clearly and positively identify potential threats. Any light is good for utility tasks such as looking under the car seats or illuminating dark corners. The third use for a light such as this is a less-than-lethal force tool. When held in a closed fist, the bezel end can be quite the attention getter for those who are misbehaving but not yet crossed into the deadly force zone.
SureFire EB1 Backup®
Next up on the list is a light that I long ago dubbed the “J-frame of flashlights”. The SureFire Backup light might not be the biggest or brightest light in the catalog, but it is so convenient to carry that it is the one you will, or should, always have on you.
Powered by a single 123A lithium battery, the Backup is the ‘short and fat’ member of the team. Since its introduction a few years ago the Backup® has undergone several modifications. Naturally, in the flashlight business they are always striving for more power. The Backup lights today a much brighter than the original models.
SureFire also offered the Backup lights with various switching configurations. My first model had a dual-light capability with high (80 lumens) and low (5 Lumens) output. I also have a single output Backup that has 120 Lumen output. Those of you who have been paying attention might know that the original Backup light was cataloged as the E1B, the latest model is a slight variation called the EB1.
As I put pen to paper the current EB1 Backup from SureFire is a dual output white LED flashlight. The high setting is a whopping 200 Lumens. Yes, 200 Lumens on a single battery. The low setting is 5 Lumens for reading, etc. The beam is a fixed focus.
The EB1 is 4.4 inches long and 1.1 inches wide at the bezel end. Construction is aluminum and a two-direction utility clip in included. Naturally, a tailcap switch is used to activate the light. Modern Backup lights can be had in anodized black, desert tan, or silver.
While I’ve been carrying the SureFire Backup every day for going on five years now, I am certainly impressed by the Brite-Strike Executive. Both lights provide ample light for a tactical application and are so light and compact as to offer little to no excuse for not having a light on your person anytime you are wearing clothes. As for an alternate use of force, the tough aluminum construction of both lights gives your strikes much greater impact.
There you have it folks, two extremely well-built lights that easily qualify for off-duty carry. The hard part is now making the choice between the two. But that’s up to you. Check out www.brite-strike.com and www.surefire.com.