The modern torch is the number one self-defence tool for Irish citizens. It is relatively inoffensive and surprisingly useful in everyday life, yet it comes into its own at night. The new breed of torches using CREE LED technology are so bright that they can light up an entire car-park and can easily blind an attacker with light at close range. They are generally held in a fist-grip with your thumb on the tail-cap and in extreme circumstances may be used as an impact weapon.
For this, you should purchase one that is the correct length. I need a torch that is five inches long. Any shorter and it does not project from my fist. Any longer and it would be too inconvenient to carry. Remember; no piece of gear is of any use at all, unless it is there, on you, when you need it.
Secondly you should consider how much power you need. Some people nowadays recommend lights that aren’t too bright, as they can blind the user also. However, broadly speaking, brighter is better, so look to buy something of at least 300 lumens. To achieve this most modern torches use lithium batteries such as the CR 123. They look like squat AA batteries and cost about €5 for two.
The next thing to consider is the user interface (UI). Simpler is better as most people will never need the options for strobe, SOS and beacon, but they can get in your way in an emergency.
Lastly, if possible avoid torches with very aggressively crenulated bezels designed for fighting. They are not necessary and as discussed below, may leave you vulnerable in a court of law.
Surefire is the only brand which I can recommend without reservation. All other brands can let you down. However Surefire is an extremely expensive brand, so you should definitely consider: EagleTac, Fenix, Foursevens, 5.11 and Olight et al. Expect to pay €60 – 120 for a good light.
If you are considering a torch as a self-defence tool be very clear about one thing; the Irish Offensive Weapons Act means that anything you carry with the intent of using as a weapon, is illegal. You will get your day in court but yes, a Garda can arrest you for carrying absolutely anything in your pocket if he/she believes that you intend to cause harm with it.
Of course, in practical terms, tactical pens and torches are on the low end of the spectrum; so much so that you can carry them on board airplanes (whilst having your pair of tweezers confiscated), nevertheless you should be careful that you have, and can articulate, a legitimate reason for possessing any item on your person.