How to Use a Military Flashlight
There are some serious misconceptions out there as to how military flashlights are supposed to work, and we’re going to clear them up for you in this article. We’ll start by discussing the basic function of the military flashlight and then move on to discuss the different lenses.
Military Flashlight Basic Functions
The modern military flashlight is an L-Shaped angle device rather than the straight handled flashlight you’ve been using in civilian life. This is one of the first items that you will notice about it, is that the back of the flashlight, near the L-Bend, is equipped with a metal hook that can be attached to the top of an ALICE pack near your shoulder, making this a hands-off device. This is an outstanding way to go hands-free while not robbing yourself of much-needed lighting.
Moving beyond that, most military flashlights today, particularly the MX-991/U, make use of D-Cell batteries which can render them a bit on the heavy side, but they’re still quite useable. Made from high-impact plastic, these flashlights are not only capable of withstanding some serious punishment in the field, but they are also waterproof, making them ideal for virtually any situation. This brings us to the lenses. In the next section, we will discuss how to use them and what their purpose is.
Finding the Lenses in your Military Flashlight
Every military flashlight features a set of lenses which are kept in a compartment below the battery chamber. You can access this by unscrewing the bottom (though not the battery chamber; there is a separate area to open) and removing the tray. Inside you will find a series of lenses, each one a different color, which we will get to momentarily.
Equipping the lenses in the best military flashlights is very simple; you start by removing the color that you require and then closing the tray. The lens can be inserted just before the light, so grip the head of the flashlight and unscrew the front ring” it will come off easily, and you can situate the lens behind it. This will change the color of the flashlight and allow you to complete your task. Now that you know how to change the lens and where to find them, we come to the more important question: what are the lenses and why are they important?
A Look at Military Flashlight Lenses
There will always be some contention as to how the lenses in a military flashlight are supposed to be used, but you can use the following as a general guide:
Red – This is the most commonly used light in a military flashlight. The idea is to preserve night vision, so, in other words, if you happen to be in an area where others are wearing night vision goggles, the red lens will keep them from being blinded while still granting you the illumination you need. This can be very helpful on airport tarmacs where workers are inspecting a plane, and you need to use your flashlight. There are a plethora of other situations where this will become necessary, and you will come across them in time.
Blue – There are some serious misconceptions regarding the blue lens, which we are not going to go into here. The most common reasoning for using the blue lens in your military flashlight is for medical reasons, for example, under a red light, everything looks red, including blood, however, blue renders both blood and water differently. While it is still not an ideal light source in an emergency situation, it can help considerably.
Green – If you’re looking for something less visible for close range, this is the option you want to go with. The green lens is typically used in the field for map reading or other reading purposes.
A Word on Maps
There has been some speculation on red lights and maps, as many believe that red lights make maps completely unreadable, however, this is not the case. Military issue items, including Bibles, are all intended to be Red Light Readable or RLR. There may be an issue if you use colored pencils on your map to make annotation, so do ensure you check the reactiveness of the colored lead or marker against the flashlight’s illumination before you use it in the field.
Types of Military Flashlights
Check out a site like best military flashlights and you’ll discover there are arrange of different flashlights that are frequently used by both military and civilian outfits, but ahead we get into that, we would like to make a note of the different models now available. The standard MX-991/U uses and incandescent bulb, while the Fenix 155 makes use of a LED lamp. The upside of the incandescent bulb is that it is easier to replace and can be affordable, even if it doesn’t last quite as long. Additionally, because the MX-991/U is the standard issue within the US military, it can be easier to find parts, especially if you are in the field. Using a non-standard issue lightly, even if more effective, can yield serious problems. Still, if it not a life or death situation, upgrading can be beneficial.
• Olive Drab – Available since the Vietnam Era, this is the most common, and is issued to soldiers during basic combat training.
• Yellow Tailcap and Nosecap w/ Black Body – Considered to be explosion proof
• White Tailcap and Nosecap w/ Teal Body (telecommunications use) -Typically does not come with the extra lenses that you would find with other variants.
• Grey — Standard military use, often found in the Air Force
• Black – Available at any military PX or surplus, identical to the olive drab model, but generally only used by law enforcement.
• Khaki/tan – Used by soldiers deployed in desert conditions
• Woodland Camo – While this can be managed by the military, it is often go-to for civilians. Military personnel typically stick with the olive drab for field or tactical situations.
The military flashlight can have a variety of different uses whether you are military personnel or a civilian. It is firmly suggested that you stick with the olive drab model as it is inexpensive but highly durable.