I have carried a “tactical light” my entire adult life. When I was in my early twenties LED technology had just become a thing. I remember having a 40 lumen light and being amazed how bright it was. It was a tiny thing that blew away the big D-Cell mag lights. Wow, times have changed. Now, if you have a light with less than 1,000 lumens of output you may feel inadequate when hanging out with the mall ninjas.
All joking aside, I think a good white light is the single best “go to” support hand defensive tool. Obviously, the light can be used to do what a light does: illuminate things. A lot of guys get wrapped up in all the “night fighting” techniques involving a handheld light, but I keep that simple, as the role it plays in civilian self-defense is minuscule. I practice shooting from a neck/cheek index position, and from the Harris technique only because it might be needed if shooting from the dominant hand side of a barricade. Otherwise, the light is much more likely to be used for all of the other things that it does.
I find the white light necessary for illuminating things in the dark, obviously, and sometimes those things are threatening. A bright light will illuminate and remove the surprises from dark corners in the parking lot or in the ally. The light itself can often deter aggression and it provides actual concealment for you, the person behind the light. A powerful white light will blind the aggressor in the dark and you can deploy a weapon without them even knowing it since they won’t be able to see anything happening behind the light.
Finally, I always carry a light that extends beyond my hand so that it serves as an impact tool. Striking with a hammer fist becomes much more effective when holding a light as the hard, small, surface area of the light focuses force to a much greater degree than just the edge of your hand does. It also protects your hand when striking. This can be useful not only for hitting bad guys, but by carrying such a light you always have a glass breaking device in your pocket.
While I always carry a knife, I don’t factor it into my defense like many do, but I carry a knife primarily as an emergency cutting tool. I worked with a fixed-blade support-hand defensive knife for quite a while and it certainly adds capability, but I went back to carrying a folder because I simply don’t see much of a role for a “fighting knife” in civilian self-defense. I always carry a knife and medical gear as emergency tools, but the support-hand tool that takes priority for any defensive use is the light; for illumination, for the unlikely event of using with the handgun, as an impact weapon at contact distance, or as a glass breaker.
For me, the white light is the go-to support hand tool for a multitude of reasons. I carry a light at all times, even when roaming in broad daylight, as it proves an important tool beyond just illumination, and it is easy to find yourself in the dark even during daylight if you venture indoors. While other tools may go along for the ride or not, I have a handgun and a light on person at all times possible.
Watch the video for further demonstration on the value of a handheld light: