View Full Version : How much light is too much?

01-11-2005, 04:13 PM
I commented in the classroom portion of Tom Given's low light class Sunday that my first use of my new Surefire light was coming out of the woods late after deer hunting. (NO! Not jack lighting Tom!)

The mega beam of the Surefire created enough flashback from trees and branches to ruin my night vision on the trail once I cut the light. A conventional light never had that effect.

Tom cautioned in class against going overboard with too many lumens in top end models designed for Afghanistan. FAIR enough!

I think the smarter guys like Tom are telling us that we aren't going to disable our enemy with a powerful light anyway.

So what use is this power when far more likely than not, I only need to illuminate 15-20 feet rather than 25-50 meters?

Some drilling tonight in a very dark garage with just my white Photon LED light proved what I've read elsewhere on the Net that these little lights work pretty well.

They light up a wide swath so that I don't have to have it beamed exactly on a potential target.

And their small size allow me to use a good solid full two hand hold on the gun for the shootin part. (Not that I'm not still committed to far more single hand shooting since Sunday's training.) And I do like the jaw index method.

SOOOO often we chase the high speed low drag gear that in many cases was designed for applications beyond how I'm going to use them.

I like the Surefire and I'll keep it handy. But I've no intention of adding it in a pouch to a bat belt to carry 24x7. I'll do some more work with my Photon and see what I see.

Steve Camp
01-11-2005, 04:22 PM
Can you post a link to the Photon light so I know what you are referring to? Thx.

01-11-2005, 04:34 PM
Here's a link to a previous discussion about using the Photon with a handgun.


01-11-2005, 04:37 PM
Surefire also sells lights with different color beams. IIRC, red light does not destroy your night vision. They also sell lights where the initial push is mild light, then push more for brighter light.

01-11-2005, 04:46 PM
SouthNarc - Thanks! But jeez I hate redundant threads! My apologies all. I shoulda dug that one up and bumped it. I had read some less developed thoughts on TF a couple years back.

Steve2267 here's the site.


dg - yes, I must check out the red or blue filters. Thx

Jack Rumbaugh
01-11-2005, 07:47 PM
If you haven't blown the bad guy's optic nerves out the back of his skull, it ain't bright enough!

01-12-2005, 11:07 AM
I don't know if a light can be too bright. But I often think a bigger problem might be too much USE of your light, esp in a civilian setting. Once you have identified a threat the dark can be your friend, esp if you have night sights and your opponent does not. In a civilian context escape is victory, while a police officer might have to press the fight. Therefore, my concern about too much USE of light applies more strongly to civilians than police.

01-12-2005, 11:17 AM
I don't know if a light can be too bright.

A light can easily be too bright indoors. You get the reflected light back into your own eyes, which can be semi-blinding unto itself and can reset your night vision back to zero.

Outdoors would be another matter.

01-12-2005, 02:00 PM
You want a light that is between 60 - 100 lu for standard defensive purposes. Any 6v weaponlight will do this nicely.

For door-kicking, any light that is brighter than 100lu will wash out reticles (not to mention the spill and reflections destroying your own vision).

If you can use a light outdoors, you often need to project the light further. 200+ lu w/ the correct reflector is necessary to effectively go past 150 yards (which is not that far away).

One of the biggest problems with $F high-powered beams is the afterglow. Once the current is cut, the light glows a bit as the residual charges on the element dissipates. This means if you switch off say an M6 and MOVE, there is a glowing trail indiciating the direction of your movement. For this reason the use of hi-out (225+ lu) lamps were never recommended when using strobing techniques.

01-12-2005, 03:14 PM
During some FOF training a few months ago, we were in an office off of a warehouse space when one of the students used the SF M6 (500 Lumens), no one that was there will ever doubt that you can have to much light!

In an outdoor search environment it is great, indoors it’s not. Lights, just like firearms are tools and you need the right tool for the right job.

I’ve been using one of the new SF L2’s (LED 15/90 lumens) and it has a lot of versatility as a GP light, I know a lot of people that are using the SF Aviator series for the same reasons.

Dave in PA
01-12-2005, 04:56 PM
I too have a Photon (turquoise) on my keyring and use it everyday in the garage and more. But, when there is ambient light and you need to identify a threat, I think you need an incandescent light to "punch through" to the target.

In the confines of your own home, where you can often dictate the light levels, an LED light might suit fine. Try your LED light just as it is getting dark outside and you'll see what I mean.


01-12-2005, 05:20 PM
Thanks Dave. Was just messing with it cutting across a parking lot which albeit was partially lit. Right, no punch into the dark corners beyond 10-15 feet.

01-12-2005, 05:29 PM
For a small light, the Streamlight Sylus is excellent. It is very thin and has one LED, but it is much brighter than the photons, though not as small.

Cold War Scout
01-14-2005, 04:37 AM
I always liked to look at darkness as a friend. That I could function better in it than the average adversary could. Maybe too many years in the infantry did that. But with the advent of NVDs available to essentially all, the playing field is no longer guaranteed to be 100% level in the dark.

01-14-2005, 10:28 PM
My Thoughts are also biased,having spent time in the infantry,I tend to also view darkness as my friend.
However,I also see the value of the ENTIRE range of tactical lighting products.

Most average people will not be requiring the full range and will be very well served by a couple Photon's and a 60or so lumen handheld.

If you want to stop and really disorient at night,prior
to perhaps shooting someone,the bigger mega lights give that "Deer in the High Beam" effect.

Navigating in almost total darkness is easier for me without lights when Im not wearing NVG's.

When the lighting goes up to "Near a City/Village" Level,then the photons and tac lights come into play.

If anyone asks "Why not NVG's",try to use a 3rd gen NVG with any kind of close high output light source.... :cool:

Out in the boonies,farther from high light output,NVG's and IR lasers rule. :D