FINALLY - a reasonable, mature discussion about 'strobe'!!! Some good answers from LEO's, who seem to confirm that a strobe definitely does have some uses in 'tactical' situations. Also, good info about ability of strobe function to dissuade aggressive dogs. Strobe is also excellent for signalling and attention-getting.
I gifted some Quark 123*2 R5 'Tactical' lights to a couple of hunter friends about a year ago, and they were out in wilderness at night and got separated. One called the other one on walkie-talkie and said turn on your flashlight. No visual contact. Then he repeated request, saying "use the strobe function". BAM! He said it was like a scene from a science fiction movie when the side of the mountain lit up, LOL. So, the strobe was super-effective at signalling.
"Be careful, even in small matters" - Miyamoto Musashi
I have used strobe to cross a busy street at night.Pointing toward the ground. Its amazing watching cars slow down when the see a stobe.
I also have the kids riding thier bikes on the sidewalk at night use strobe so cars can see them.All the cars slow way down when they see a stobe light.Im sure they think its police something,but as long as they slow down!
8hz is one of the preferred frequencies because it has the greatest impact on brain activity during fight or flight situations. The idea behind the 8hz strobe is that it flashes at a frequency that the brain cannot adapt to quickly enough. The result is that since the strobe exceeds the peaks and troughs of the brain's activity, the suspect/target experiences reduced spatial awareness which can result in a sensation of vertigo and nausea. If the subject/target is, say, running on an uneven surface they will be at a distinct disadvantage due to the effects of the strobe.
Only use I have had for strobe is for signaling our air unit as it comes over to give them my position. I have tried numerous lights with varying functions, and I now carry a single mode light. My thumb works just fine as the strobe mode and the light comes on on high every time. Suspects/assailants will normally react to a burst of bright light in general, especially if their eyes are already adjusted to low light conditions. Do not count on the light (or strobe) to stop anyone (HA!), but most of the time it will cause them to hesitate for a second while you carry out your plan of attack/escape. Here's one of my quick stories:
Yeah, "disco" mode is fun on occasion.
There's a lot deer around where I live and I come across them frequently walking the dog. I try to scare the garden-eating/tick-infested forest rats away with the strobe, but it doesn't phase them.
I like the slow frequency strobe on my Zebralight H51w, it's much more of a subtle warning strobe as opposed to the police/panic fast strobes. I'd use for bicycling at night, or changing a flat tire at the roadside. I wouldn't use the fast strobes for either - I've disabled mine on my Quark.
I work with the strobe mode on a daily base. I teach LEO's the Tactical advantage off the use of Strobe mode for 5 years now.
Over the Years we gathered lots of info where the Strobe mode was very help full in situations Spray could not be used.
So with less harm to both sides we could master lots of situations we otherwise had to use more force.
It also appears to be useful against aggressive dogs.
The strobe mode is primary, the rest of the modes can be accesed but it comes always back in strobe. (for tactical reasons)
my 2 cents
Great spirits have always encountered vigorous opposition from mediocre minds.(Ursus arctos horribilis)
I've been in high intensity situations and lethal use of force situations that require quick thinking. Never has strobe been a part of that. I've been on numerous calls with our "swat" team, never has strobe been used or even mentioned. It seems to be more of a gimic than anything else. I don't see it as practically tactical, I do see it serving more of a purpose in search and rescue.
I've used the strobe to signal other hunters before sun-up, and when walking down unlit roads at night, or anytime stopped on the side of a highway at night. Very useful in those situations. But I want it out of the way in any UI.
If we could get everyone in the world to close their eyes and imagine world peace for an hour, think about how serene it would be until the looting started. -Unknown
I tested strobes on myself and my cousin:
The best use I found for it was for signaling, though. I've done this a few times:
First time I was on top of a, X-ray bunker, 14 feet off the gound and needed the operator to fire up the X-ray tube while I took measurements on the generator. The guys where talking and not paying attention to me, so I used the strobe to get their attention. The funny thing is that even though I could see the floor lighting up under their feet, it was a guy 15 feet away from them that saw it and then told them to look up.
The second time was funnier. I needed to get something from the maintenance department at a client's site, but the door was locked and the only guy in there was busy, facing away from me and probably had his ear plugs in so deep he couldn't hear me knock on the window. Then it hit me. I strobed the wall in front of him. He was so deep in his concentration that he just looked up at the wall for a few seconds, seemingly wondering what was wrong with the wall, before he realized the light was coming from behind.
My cousin is a permanent day dreamer and can't recognise anyone 10 feet away so, when we meet somewhere in town, I just use my strobe when I see him approaching. Works wonders on him but, then again, he's a flashaholic too and responds back with a strobe so I know I can turn it off.
Shiny things specialist.
Reading the above posts confirms what pros also say, which that people w/o specific training think strobe is a waste, which for them, it is, because they are not trained in its use...and people who are trained in its use can add it to their tool box.
NO one technique is ALWAYS the right tool of course. A person who only encounters Phillips Head screws feels that Torx Head Screwdrivers are a gimmick, as they see no use for them. The guy who only works with Torx thinks slot AND Phillips are stupid, and the guys who use slot, phillips and torx depending on the situation might carry all 3, and feel that each is the right tool for the job....when applicable.
I use strobe quite often, I have found it particularly effective for signaling incoming emergency units. I have even spoken with several of the responders about it, just to make sure it was even worth doing. All said it was.
I have never thought strobe would be all that great as a so called "tactical" tool, until I used it. Like others have said, it depends largely on the situation. I had a very drunk "wanted-to-be-violent-but-to-drunk-to-be" trespasser one night that the strobe was very effective on. Only time I've used it that way.
Some great responses in this thread!
I thought strobe was mostly useless for me, but after reading this thread I'm going to swap out the lights in the vehicle emergency kits and replace them with models that have a strobe mode. What's funny is that it's actually hard to get the cheap DX type of lights without strobe. So the cheap CR123A 1-modes in my vehicles will probably be replaced by cheap 5-modes.
So an E01 on the wife's keychain and a 5 mode 123 light in the vehicle (with several spare cells) and she's set I think.
Thanks again LEOs and first responders for the great stories and info!
Just remember that its not a taser, etc...it just disorients people, and, its not hypnotizing them, etc...it just makes their brain go "Huh?" trying to decipher the incoming stimuli...and then, depending upon how drunk they are, and their personality, etc...they will eventually consider their options, etc.
It buys time, it doesn't knock them down and hand cuff them.
Its more analogous to glinting light off your knife in a fight to distract an opponent...as they need time to deal with the light, and wonder what they can't see because the light is preventing them from seeing, etc.
IE: Giving an untrained person a strobe light may or may not help them....they have to know what to DO other than aiming it at the perp, etc.
Buying time, and then not USING that time, doesn't help as much.
In a tactical situation, if the perp loses confidence in his situational context/feels more overwhelmed, he's more likely to surrender.
...if he see's it as "WTF is that light, I can't see!? Who's out there?!" you bought time to then get them under control...if you just stand there...after a while, he's like "Um, ok, so there's this flashing light...but, there's window over there, and a pipe on the ground, maybe I could grab the pipe and whack the joker with the light and run for it?" - Or - "Hey, its just some housewife with a blinky flashlight!"
So, anyway - Just making sure that you get that creating a distraction is not a permanent solution, you need to take advantage of that window of opportunity.
What about the 1,000's of OTHERS who find it useful?
Again...its how its used, I don't know if you received training on it, or if the dogma you were raised with was simply against it, so you were brought up to be against it, etc.
Its like any other tool...it has a particular application. It works fine in that application, and IS worthless otherwise.
As first hand accounts even in this thread attest - It can and did work for some users...so, it can't be completely worthless, as it worked.
So, if it worked, then it has value. It value, historically, is that it tends to temporarily disorient/distract its target...if the target is vulnerable to that....especially drunks etc.
Do you NEED it? - No more than you needed any particular tool on your belt. Sometimes you don't NEED to distract your subject.
In your experience, have you ever NEEDED or WANTED to distract your target?
Search and rescue and signaling is different - and I can see where a strobe may have its place.
In the past we have had a light which flickered, in the present we have a light which flames, and in the future there will be a light which shines over all the land and sea.
- Winston Churchill
i use strobe mode all the time... when you work in a garage thats 300,000+ square feet, and anywhere from 1-20 big stinking diesels running at once, and ventilation fans on 24/7 that negate screaming at someone, it takes 3 min to walk to the office from one end of the building, its a good attention getter
Yup, strobe mode is great for getting my dogs' attention and pissing off the wife and friends :-). Great at clubs and parties too.
Now, in all seriousness, if I were a boatsman, I would want strobe mode (with SOS) because it would attract attention in the event I had an emergency and also, seems to me the battery should last close to 2X in emergencies while strobbing - since it's off half the time.
I like the way my Sunwayman M20C does the strobe. It's right at the end of the magnetic ring, so you can cycle through whatever modes you want without hitting the strobe if you don't want to. But a hard twist and you're immediately on the strobe mode.
For smaller lights, I like the way my Neutron 1C does it. If you leave the bezel tightened then it's just one click to cycle between turbo and strobe. Or if you have the bezel loosened for the other mode group, it's a quick tighten and a click, which is about as convenient to get to as someone like me will ever need.
I like the strobe function to signal and get attention. In the hospital people get excited that the strobe can cause seizures. The research that I have done showed it may be possible for a select minority of a specific category of seizure sufferers to have a seizure if they watch a strobe of greater than 15Htz. I have mine set at 10htz and I have had great success at signaling co-workers with their backs to me (Yelling in an ER is bad form especially if psychiatric patients are being held in the ER) and I have had great success signaling individuals in huge auditoreums and even out in the Sierras accross a big distance at mid-day. I have also used it to de-escalate a psychiatric patient that was about to lose control. The light was bright enough that it commanded all of his attention and caught him off guard but in that instance I used the light at full beam, no strobe. We were able to avoid using restraints, chemical or physical. I see it as a communication tool.
I'm a Lumenaut, on a bold quest of discovery. To find the smallest, toughest, eyeball searing-est torch that modern science can create!