Can a Flashlight Be Used As a Weapon?

In short, the flashlight may be one of the most commonly overlooked and underrated items on the duty belt of an officer.

Yes, a flashlight can absolutely be utilized as a weapon. There are many functions a flashlight serves that can act as a weapon.

7 Ways to Use a Flashlight as a Defensive or an Offensive Non-lethal Weapon

The mere consideration and classification of a flashlight being a weapon may shock some. A flashlight, like pepper spray, or even the Taser on a police officer’s duty belt, can be used in a non-lethal manner to act offensively or defensively.

While most do realize that a flashlight can assist in identifying threats, they do not realize that a flashlight can aid in stopping that threat in their tracks.

A flashlight can disorient a threat momentarily. All of us have experienced having a bright light shined in our eyes in the dark before. It’s almost blinding.


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Taking advantage of this phenomenon and natural reaction can defend you from attackers or threats without causing any harm.

When faced with a threat, shining the light directly into that threat’s eyes and dominating their face will provide you some time (a few seconds) to get a head start evading the threat or disabling the threat.

Also, in any type of emergency, anything can be used as a weapon, essentially.

If you don't have one, please check one out from our guide: Top 6 Defensive Flashlight Guide here

Blinding Light

blinding opponent with flashlight in a fight
Referenced hard2Hurt (Watch Here)

As stated, enough light can be temporarily blinding. From a law enforcement perspective, providing enough light to temporarily blind someone is equivalent to disarming them for a moment.

Having the ability to take away from the advantage of another is a method to gain the lead in any type of match-up.

Keep in mind that when flashlights have different modes, you are able to increase the brightness or even use a distracting strobe effect. Some flashlights have more than five brightness settings!

That is why a higher lumen flashlight can be an important aspect of your work gear.


flashlight fighting
Referenced Hard2Hurt (Watch Here)

Flashlights have the potential to be used as a tool for striking enemies or threats if the situation calls for it. Around the lens of a flashlight, sometimes is a crown-like ring. This is called a bezel and can be used to strike.

You can buy flashlights with strike bezel here.

If you have a smaller flashlight, it can be wrapped tightly in your hand to provide weight for striking. If you happen to have a large mag-light flashlight, this can even, in some cases simulate a baton and can be used for striking.

Get a good one with knurling so it doesn't slip in your hand.

Photonic Barrier Penetration


Using a very bright light, you can break the photonic barrier. A Photonic barrier is smoke, fog, smog, and even, in some cases, humid air.

Sometimes, regular and dim light do not have the ability to break this barrier. Threats have the possibility of using a photonic barrier to their advantage to hide and act stealthily in an attempt to either evade or attack.

This is dangerous and can be prevented with the use of a flashlight with high lumens. With a powerful enough flashlight with the right amount of candela and lumens, you can break this barrier.

Learn More Here: Photonic Barrier Explained

Threat Control at a Safe Distance

pid at long distance
Hot beam on the target at a safe distance

In any situation, being able to deescalate a situation from a safe distance is more favorable than entering a close proximity and danger zone. This is especially true if the threat is unarmed or armed with an object that cannot harm you from a distance.

In some cases in the police world, using a flashlight can gain control of a subject from a distance. Simply asking the individual to see their hands may be effective with just a flashlight.

If you are able to gain compliance and watch every move of the subject by only utilizing the flashlight, you are successfully getting the job done in the safest manner for everyone.


Referenced Kick Ass Movie

As previously mentioned, the strobe feature on most flashlights can greatly assist one in gaining compliance or stopping or “pausing” a threat.

The strobe light essentially tampers with the human eye and causes flickers. This is guaranteed to temporarily impact the vision of the subject.

Positive Target Identification


For law enforcement officers, positive target ID is paramount. Plain and simple, one must be absolutely sure that the person they are intending to take into custody (or shoot in some cases) is, in fact, who they intend it to be.

It is a huge liability for someone to be wrongfully taken into custody, harmed, or shot. Therefore, using a flashlight is a great tool to illuminate a large area to discern exactly what and who is present.

Firearm-mounted Light

Glock 19 streamlight tlr 8 holster draw
Features Streamlight TLR 8

There are lights that are able to be attached to the firearm and turned on with your finger.

Comparing with using handheld tactical light techniques, a weapon mounted light allows the shooter to focus on holding the weapon while the light illuminates the target.

A weapon mounted light makes it so much easier for the shooter in a low light situation to grip the gun firmly for accuracy and recoil control.

Remember! Wherever the muzzle points the light follows, so be cognizant of that and firearm safety is number 1.

If you don't have a weapon light and you would like to buy one, you can pick one out from our Best Pistol Weapon Light Buyer's Guide

Common FAQs

How Many Lumens Does it Take to Damage Your Eyes?

It is said that 1000 lumens can cause temporarily blindness for a short time. This light can severely damage the retina of the eye beyond repair.

It is believed that while a high-lumen flashlight can damage the eyes and retina, it is not confirmed that flashlights can cause permanent blindness or eye damage.

After Strobing, How Long Does an Attacker Stay Disoriented?

An attacker can be temporarily disoriented, confused, and out of it for some time after strobing.

Strobing can sometimes illicit flicker vertigo, a condition with the brain that results from flickering lights.