HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND
HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND
It is just a fact that concealed carriers live in a 24/7 world. At some point in the day we are going to be moving about in the dark, or at least in poor light that prevents us from seeing clearly all that is around us. I would be the first to agree that while many gunfights between private citizens and criminals take place during nighttime hours, a handheld or weapon-mounted flashlight probably would not have affected the outcome most of the time. The reason for this was most likely that there had to be enough ambient light for the criminal to see, choose, close on, and attack his intended victim, which would normally mean that the concealed carrier could more or less see as well as the criminal.
It is also a fact that the outcome of such an attack could change dramatically in favor of the concealed carrier if he or she could clearly see a potential threat at a significantly greater distance, much less mask his or her exact position behind a wall of white light. In the words of John Correia, distance buys time, and time buys options. The faster the concealed carrier observes something that seems to be wrong, the more options he or she has to increase their chances of surviving a potential violent event. This is where white light shines (what a terrible pun).
There are just two problems for me. One, I hate carrying a conventional cylindrical flashlight, despite the size. I find them uncomfortable when I sit down, dislike the conspicuous bulge when worn in a front pocket, and they take up space in my front pockets that I need for OC, car keys, and cell phone. Two, even if I am willing to be uncomfortable during evening hours or matinee movie shows, I will forget from time to time to retrieve my flashlight before venturing out after dark. Obviously, I needed something flat, ergonomic, powerful, robust, durable, and affordable that I could clip inside my waistband. What I did not know until earlier in 2019 was that Surefire had designed and started marketing a flashlight that not only met my needs but exceeded them. How often does that happened?
Enter the Surefire Stiletto Flashlight LED. I was introduced to the Stiletto by Andy Stanford, a consultant for Surefire who is also a former defensive tactics and weapons instructor, author of Surgical Speed Shooting and Fight at Night: Tools, Techniques, Tactics, and Training for Combat in Low Light and Darkness, and former Analyst for the Department of the Defense. It has been my experience that if Andy claims a product is worthy of attention, it has always turned out to be so. Surefire founder and head designer, Dr. John Matthews, has repeatedly demonstrated a gift for developing “out-of-the-box” solutions for meeting some of the real-world needs found in military, law enforcement, and private citizen sectors. It comes as no surprise that the Stiletto concept is a direct result of Dr. Matthews’ expertise in product analysis, engineering talent, and an understanding of what an end-user may need for a specific task.
The genesis of the Stiletto started with the Surefire 2211 Wristlight that when strapped to the user’s wrist permits hands-free light for use by law enforcement in a variety of low-light scenarios. Surefire then realized that the same could be modified slightly so as to be attached to a keychain to meet the everyday needs of the general public. Surefire acted upon the recommendation and this version became the Sidekick (and mine goes with me anytime I grab my car keys). Not only is the Sidekick extremely slim and rechargeable via a MICRO-USB charging port, it has three output levels ranging from 5 to 300 lumens. Nonetheless, the diminutive size of the Sidekick and location of the controls makes it less than ideal as a tool that a concealed carrier could quickly bring to bear in event of an imminent low-light confrontation with unknown contacts.
The Stiletto is basically the Sidekick’s big brother. Dr. Matthews developed a lengthened hand-held version of the Sidekick capable of generating greater lumens and equipped with a primary switch that activates low, medium, and high light output plus a bottom-mounted tactical switch that activates both high light output as well as a strobe. This is a great flashlight for concealed carriers. While the Stiletto is easily carried in a front pocket (at 4.45” in length it takes up about as much space as a folding knife with a 3.5” blade or small bottle of hand sanitizer), a major selling point is a Melonite-coated spring steel clip that permits me to clip my Stiletto inside of my waistband where it occupies minimal space until needed. Since this does not involve the use of a belt, it works very well for females wearing pants without a belt or anyone wearing sweatpants, gym shorts, or similar type clothing. Other strong selling points for me include the hard-anodized aluminum head, lightweight water-resistant polymer body, programmable switch, ability to switch back and forth between 5, 250, and 650 lumens output, and of course, the MICRO-USB recharging port. During my discussion with Andy, he went into some detail how Dr. Matthews ability to program the electronics within the Stiletto went a long ways into creating a small, thin user-friendly flashlight that offers multiple light outputs, surprisingly long run-times, and a rechargeable lithium battery that is recharged like an ordinary cell phone. MSRP on the Stiletto is only $109.00.
Concealed carriers might benefit by reviewing past CCW Safe articles discussing concealed carriers who shot others during low-light confrontations only to find in the eyes of the courts that their actions did not justify the use of deadly force. It is my opinion that the outcome might have been drastically different if white light had been used to gather additional information first. Of course, that white light does us no good unless it is on our person when we need it, and for me, the Stiletto does away with any good reason to leave home without it.
Steve is a long-time defensive weapons instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (www.ptgtrainingllc.com).