Welcome! Thanks for stopping by. I’m on a mission to help you find the best tactical flashlight available in 2018.
I’ve tested over 100 flashlights in the past 10 years. I know you’ll find the perfect flashlight FOR YOU after reading this concise buyer’s guide.
A tactical flashlight is definitely not the “standard” flashlight you buy at the drug store.
Hey, there is nothing wrong with keeping this kind of light around the house for when the power goes out, but more serious situations call for a quality tactical flashlight to be by your side.
Tactical Flashlight Comparison Table
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Table of Contents
- 1 Tactical Flashlight Comparison Table
- 2 Tactical Flashlight Product Reviews
- 2.1 J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
- 2.2 SOLARAY PRO ZX-1 Professional Series Flashlight Kit
- 2.3 Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight
- 2.4 Simon Cree LED Flashlight
- 2.5 EcoGear FX Tactical LED Flashlight
- 2.6 Outlite A100
- 2.7 Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL
- 2.8 Fenix PD35 2015 TAC Edition
- 2.9 Nitecore EC4S 2150 LED Flashlight
- 2.10 SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlight
- 2.11 Olight M20-X Warrior
- 2.12 Helotex G2 CREE
- 3 Buyers Guide
- 4 The Basics
- 5 Why Should You Have One?
- 6 Different Types
- 7 Industry Standards
- 8 Best Features of a Tactical Flashlight
- 9 Flashlight Accessories
- 10 Other Factors
- 11 Final Thoughts
As you may already know, there are countless options in the tactical flashlight market these days, and it can be quite a chore to wade through them all before picking a winner.
We have done much of that work for you in advance, so please read on to make your choice of a tactical flashlight a whole lot easier. We’ve taken the time to sort through the many tactical flashlights for sale online, and the list below presents you with twelve of the best options available.
Tactical Flashlight Product Reviews
J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
It is hard to debate the popularity of the J5 v1-PRO It’s capable of putting out a whopping 300 lumens from its small body, this is a tactical flashlight that certainly outshines expectations. One of the great features is the flexibility it offers regarding a power source – you can use either a single AA battery or a 14500 rechargeable battery. Designed to be tough and stand up to just about anything you can throw its way, the J5 Tactical might surprise you with the kind of quality that it can deliver.
Anytime a product has as many reviews as this one has generated, you are bound to get a variety of opinions from users. Many of the reviewers found the J5 to be durable, heavy duty and a good value. Specifically, some critics have been impressed at the level of brightness output that can be generated from a single AA battery.
However, a few reviews have made mention of the beam being smaller than expected, so you may want to consider that element if you are looking for a product with a wide-reaching beam.
SOLARAY PRO ZX-1 Professional Series Flashlight Kit
For a tactical flashlight that lacks nothing in the way of lighting power, the SOLARAY PRO ZX-1 is a great model to consider. Regarding lumens, this is a flashlight can produce 1200 lumens! That is an incredible amount of brightness, especially from a small unit. Along with the overwhelming power of this light comes a long running time, a tactical security design with striking bezel, a rapid charger to refresh the 18650 3.7v 2400mAh lithium-ion battery, and more.
There is a total of five modes available when you use the Solaray Pro Zx-1, including high, medium, and low beam options. There is also an intruder strobe and SOS emergency signal. It is water-resistant, and the body of the unit is made from aircraft grade aluminum. Reviewers love the sturdy construction of the flashlight, the brightness level, and the recharging capability of the battery.
If you are hoping to find a rechargeable flashlight that is capable of an immense amount of power from a body that is just over six inches long, the SOLARAY PRO ZX-1 will fit the bill nicely.
Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight
Quality is the name of the game when it comes to the Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight, and discerning consumers will notice all of the little details that come together to make this an excellent choice.
One of the best features of the Vizeri is that it has five modes. It also runs on a variety of battery options, including AAA, CR123, or rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion batteries. The manufacturer also advertises that the product can be submerged up to a depth of three feet.
So what are people saying? Importantly, users report that the light is bright for its size and that the shape and lightweight nature of the unit make it easy to carry around for average, everyday tasks.
One nice touch that is added to the package by Vizeri is the inclusion of a couple of extra O-rings that can be used, as replacements for the flashlight. The O-ring is a common breakdown point on flashlights as time goes by, so Vizeri is thinking ahead by including extras for you to use down the line. Not every company goes to the trouble of taking care of its customers in this way, so that kind of service is something to take into consideration when deciding which tactical flashlight will be your choice.
Simon Cree LED Flashlight
As with most of the products on this list, the Simon Cree LED Flashlight offers a great set of features, including five operational settings, an aluminum body construction, 100,000 hours of use from the bulb, and 500 lumens of brightness.
Plenty of reviewers state that brightness will not disappoint from this unit. Additionally, they appreciate the low setting that allows the user to turn down the overwhelming power when it is not needed (or wanted) for the task at hand.
Others note how this model is a great value, as most flashlights that offer this kind of power and build quality will are hard to find. Finally, users reported of the Simon Cree working properly even after dropping it countless of times. To pick up one that is durable, and bright, the Simon Cree LED warrants a closer inspection.
EcoGear FX Tactical LED Flashlight
Intended for both extreme situations that crop up rarely and everyday situations, the EcoGear FX Tactical Flashlight was constructed for both. Offering a high lumen white LED light, any professional can tell you that the right brightness level can and will make a world of difference in a rough situation. While it is far too small to be a worthwhile weapon, this device is built to last and can brighten up any dark area enough for even the most vision impaired people to see and survive in.
Built for extreme conditions, the EcoGear FX can modify its brightness via its CREE T6 LED chip and produces up to 1200 lumens of light. This product at its lowest setting is useful in small dark areas. At its highest setting, it can brighten up any dark area even if it is the only source of luminosity within visual range, be it due to a power outage or camping trip.
The EcoGear FX also includes a zoom function so users can see the smaller, brighter light to focus on areas they can’t afford to not see. Additionally, its battery pack is a rechargeable lithium ion system that provides hours of light and can easily be recharged.
- Weighs 5 ounces total and measures 6.1 X 1.1 X 1.5 inches.
- Made from aircraft quality aluminum.
- Creates a beam of light from a 1200 lumen LED bulb.
- Built to resist both water damage and shock damage, typically from being dropped.
- Comes with a rechargeable battery pack that maintains a great degree of brightness for two hours even at maximum power.
What Customers Are Saying
The majority of customers who found themselves in need of a tactical quality flashlight at a reasonable price give this product great reviews. In addition to offering over a thousand lumens of light and the aforementioned tactical quality construction, it offers a solid battery life and flexible zoom function, making it a favorite of professionals who depend on their flashlights.
On the flip side, many customers found the rechargeable battery pack system somewhat less than ideal. Most complaints by customers focused on the difficulty of the battery system and its slow recharging time – rarely a good thing in a tense situation. Conversely, the EcoGear FX can also handle typical triple A-disposal batteries for emergency situations whenever needed immediately, and when there is no time to recharge the batteries.
Overall, it’s built to handle tough situations and create a ton of brigthness for a professional needs to make it through a bad situation.
The very first key feature is that it is high-powered LED. Old flashlights tend to come with traditional bulb lighting, but this one is a break from the norm due to the fact that it embraces changes in technology. The LED that it comes with is very efficient and also features an output LED chip. It is in the super bright tac light class and will give you excellent performance.
The second key feature is that it has a number of different modes. These modes allow you to change the lighting fixtures to exactly what you need at the moment. For example, whether you would like to take advantage of an SOS light, a strobe light, a low, medium and high powered LED light, you can switch them up seamlessly whenever you like. This is why this tactical flashlight is excellent no matter what sort of job you have in mind.
Best Features and Specifications
- 5 different lighting modes
- The lOutlie A100 fits seamlessly on a keychain so you can carry it around with ease
- It is built solidly with durable aluminum
- Lightweight and features AAA batteries, which are inexpensive and easy to find
- It has an excellent battery life
- In lieu of AAA batteries, it comes equipped with a 3.7 V battery, so you have options
What Customers Are Saying
Customers give this product good reviews due to its versatility and ease of use. They also praise the battery life and the fact that the LED lighting is high powered, yet cool to the touch.
In terms of cons, some people complain that it does not feel as solid or professional as some other commercial grade tactical flashlights. However, you will be able to handle a number of the same applications that these other lights possess, so it is basically a win-win.
If you need a flashlight with an abundance of features and a high-quality light that lasts long, this is your go-to option.
Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL
The Streamlight 88040 Pro HL is an advanced flashlight intended for use in both everyday situations and extreme situations alike. It is intended to provide a high lumen white LED light that can make a world of difference in a bad situation because this flashlight definitely delivers the light. Even though it is too small to be used as a weapon, this flashlight can take a beating and is able to illuminate any dark area.
Intended for serious usage, the Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL has a variable range of brightness as measured in lumens using its C4 LED technology. The flashlight’s lowest setting is 35 lumens that stretches out 60 meters, which is not fantastically powerful, but it is adequate to illuminate a small dark area – enough for a human being to be able to see. At its brightest, it can generate up to 750 lumens of luminosity that reaches to a range of 270 meters, perfect for lighting up a dark area with little to no available lighting coming from anywhere else.
The device is incredibly power efficient and at its lowest setting can last for up to eighteen hours. Even at its highest setting, it can last for around an hour on a single set of batteries. This incredible power efficiency is due to the device’s LED solid state power regulation system which is specially engineered to provide as much light output as possible from each battery that goes into the flashlight.
- This flashlight weighs 5.6 ounces and measures 5.2 X 1.4 X 1.4 inches.
- The device runs on 2 CR123A batteries.
- Constructed of aircraft aluminum.
- It uses an LED bulb and has an average battery life of around 1.5 hours.
- Includes a limited lifetime warranty that promises the flashlight will be free from defects and will be repaired, replaced or money refunded if you experience any manufacturing errors.
What Customers Are Saying
Most customers who need a lot of brightness at an affordable price tend to love this product. It offers high-end brightness, a solid condition build and a long-lasting battery life that make it an ideal choice. Getting it at a mid-level price has won Streamlight many loyal customers.
However, a number of users have noted that these devices have at times come out of the factory defective and damaged, making it difficult for them to use the light. This is not acceptable and, with that in mind, Streamlight will repair or replace their products if they are shown to be genuinely defective. The company stands by its flashlights and is certain that they’ll work or they’ll make it work.
Speaking from experience, the 88040 ProTac is a great value for the money and I’m fairly comfortable recommending it to anybody. This is an advanced flashlight with a number of useful features and it is built to last, and getting it at a low price is always good for people on a budget.
Fenix PD35 2015 TAC Edition
In an uncertain world, the Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 is intended to handle both everyday lighting problems and those rare but desperate emergency situations that are inevitable these days. Capable of generating up to 1000 lumens with a powerful white LED light, a number of professionals in many fields consider this product to be a valuable companion in a potentially dangerous situation. Although it is not nearly large enough to be used as a weapon, it is solidly constructed, can illuminate any dark area and carries Fenix’s reputation for craftsmanship where it’s needed.
Intended for dangerous emergency situations as readily as typical daily situations, the Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 uses a CREE-XPL (V5) LED bulb that will last up to 50,000 hours before burning out, something every professional needs. Reaching up to 1000 lumens in light, this is serious power for intense situations, yet just as readily useful in mundane situations. With this kind of light you’ll be able to illuminate any area no matter how dark, whether it’s an alleyway or a forest on an outdoor excursion.
In addition to its potent illuminating source, this tactical flashlight features a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack to allow the user a longer journey with the light. The device comes with two EdisonBright lithium ion batteries so users can get to work right away if they need to. On top of that, the flashlight features a momentary ‘on’-switch situated in the back of the tail.
- Uses a CREE XPL bulb capable of generating intense luminosity for 50,000 hours.
- Measures 5.4 inches in length with a 1 inch diameter and weighs 3.1 ounces without the battery.
- Capable of generating up to 1000 lumens at maximum power output.
- Built from aluminum also capable of being used in military aircraft.
- Low voltage reminder, intended to remind the user when to change the battery, as well as reverse polarity protection to keep the light from being damaged from improper battery installation.
What Customers Are Saying
Most customers are fairly happy with their purchase of the Fenix PD35, particularly those who have a serious need for a genuine tactical flashlight at a price most people can afford, giving Fenix a sizable customer base. For those who can not do without a good working flashlight, the thousand lumens of light is invaluable for their daily or nightly work and most professionals swear by their Fenix tactical flashlights.
That said, a number of customers feel that the flashlight’s need for specific batteries was too limiting and that the batteries that come with the flashlight do not recharge fast enough. However, it works perfectly fine with rechargeable batteries that fulfill its requirements, saving the owner the trouble of always buying new batteries.
It is among the most powerful mid-level flashlights on the market today. It’s built to handle tough situations while still creating more than enough light to provide some safety and peace of mind. Again, another great flashlight for the money.
Nitecore EC4S 2150 LED Flashlight
The Nitecore EC4S 2150 LED Flashlight is a top of the line offering that deserves to be looked at if you are in the market for a top quality LED tactical light. Not only is it made of durable and top quality materials, it is able to offer incredible battery life efficiency while producing excellent Lumen output. Below, we will be going over a thorough review of the Nitecore EC4S 2150 LED light and we will be discussing whether or not it is a recommended purchase.
Top Quality Construction
One of the primary features of this particular flashlight is its uni-body construction, which makes it incredibly durable. Not only is it durable, but the flashlight feels premium in the hand. It is also made up of Aero grade aluminum alloy, which not only offers maximum durability, but it has lightweight function at the same time. Because of this, it is up to 30% lighter than similar products on the market and around 37% smaller.
This particular flashlight offers up to 2150 Lumens. It features a beam distance of 280 meters and 306 yards. Because of its high-efficiency current, it is able to deliver a maximum of 325 hours of run time which equates to a full 13.54 days of use.
Another feature that allows this flashlight to offer an incredible amount of versatility is its ability to stream through 5 different brightness levels including; Ultra low, Low, Mid, High, and Turbo. Along with these modes, it also comes with concealed modes that offer various functionality including strobe functionality, SOS, and a location beacon function. With so much versatility, this flashlight is truly a tactical light that can be best used for just about any purpose.
Good Heat Distribution.
Some flashlights that offer this much power and runtime suffer from poor heat distribution. Because this flashlight features a high level of cooling through the implementation of fins that offer 30% better and more cooling surface than typical lights, it is able to keep itself cooler than other flashlights on the market.
What Customers Are Saying:
A majority of customers absolutely love it for many reasons. One of the main reasons customers love this product is because it offers so much functionality in a small, lightweight, and durable package. Because the Nitecore EC4S offers so much lighting coverage and such a long runtime, it’s one of the best in the marketplace.
The few customers that have poor experiences with this product claimed that they received a defective product. Up until the defect was spotted and/or occurred, it was the best tactical light they had. Given so few customers were complaining about this defect, it is suspected that the defect range is quite uncommon.
Overall, this is one of the clear-cut value options within the marketplace. Not only does it offer the highest level of functionality for its price, it also offers a consistent experience, great range, and excellent runtime without sacrificing its attributes. This product is rated an excellent buy for sure.
SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlight
The SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlight is easily one of the best tactical flashlights on the market. When searching for the ideal tactical flashlight, the main thing to look for is durability and dependability. The SureFire brand is well known for producing high-quality products and this offering is no exception. Below, we will be going over more information about this product in an in-depth review.
The primary feature of this tactical light is its ability to produce an output of 320 lumens for maximum light. Because of this, it should produce enough light for just about any task. This kind of output can lead to a heightened situational awareness, which is the number one priority when it comes to law enforcement. For tasks that do not require as much light, it can reduce its output to an efficient but effective 15-lumen beam which can provide a significant amount of battery life savings for tasks that still require light but not a full 320 lumens.
Tough and Durable Body
Another excellent feature about this particular LED light is the fact that it comes with a tough Nitrolon body while also featuring a bezel made up of anodized aluminum. This, along with it’s extremely tough polycarbonate window allows for the light itself to be able to absorb huge impacts, making it an incredibly durable and dependable product.
Tactical Tailcap Switch
Another feature that you will find on this light is its tactical tailcap click switch which you can either short press for a brief output of light or completely push down to provide consistent light output. This makes it a very easy to use LED light for various tasks that either require short bursts of light or a consistent light beam.
What Customers Are Saying:
A majority of customers love the Surefire G2X because it is extremely bright, versatile, and offers the perfect size for everyday usage. Because the light features two different modes which allow for the flashlight to meet the needs of those that require lower levels and high levels of brightness, it has a good amount of versatility in its function. Also, because it can produce up to 45 hours of runtime at its lowest setting, it is an extremely efficient light.
The few customers that have been less than satisfied with this flashlight typically talk about it’s predecessor being a better overall product because it produces a higher light output. But this does not change the overall quality of the newer model in question and the light output it does offer is more than enough for tactical usage.
Overall, this is easily one of the best tactical LED flashlights that comes with the best quality materials on the market. If you are looking for the best bang for your buck tactical flashlight with an incredible amount of versatility, this is the flashlight that you should be looking at.
Olight M20-X Warrior
When you are in the market for a high-quality tactical flashlight, you might want to consider the Olight M20-X Warrior Tactical LED flashlight. This is a wonderful piece of equipment which will take your flashlight use to the next level, due to its unique features. The manufacturer has gone to great lengths to make sure that this flashlight is equipped with everything that you need to get the most out of it, so to learn a little bit more about how it can be useful to you, read on to learn more about this flashlight.
High-Quality LED Light
The very first key feature of this flashlight is its wonderfully built, high-quality LED light. It features a number of different strobe outputs which can be useful to you. The light itself is energy efficient and eco-friendly, which means that it will be 75% less wasteful than traditional light bulbs and will therefore last far longer. Another great reason why the LED light is useful is that it will not get warm to the touch no matter how often you switch it on.
The next important feature to pay attention to is the body. When you want to get the most out of a tactical flashlight, you need to make sure that it is solidly built and incredibly durable. In this regard, you can’t go wrong with this particular flashlight, because its body is virtually indestructible. It features incredibly hard anodized aluminum and is resistant to scratches. This way, you don’t have to worry about dropping it and depending on what you’re using the flashlight for, it can double as a powerful self-defense tool.
Features And Specifications
The specifications are vast for this flashlight because it is equipped with a lot of bells and whistles, including the following:
- A high-quality rating for water resistance
- 3 output levels for the LED lighting fixtures
- A weight of a little more than 1 pound
- A sleek black color finish
- High-quality battery power with long-lasting life
- A well built LED bulb
- A plethora of brightness settings that can be changed by the user
- Fully equipped with a rechargeable TN 270 battery
What Customers Are Saying
Customers give this flashlight high reviews due to its durability and intuitiveness. They enjoy that they are able to use this flashlight for a number of different applications.
In terms of any negative remarks, people tend to complain that the battery does not hold as much life when they change brightness settings. However, once you get accustomed to manipulating the brightness settings and light features to your liking, you will be able to plan and compensate for the battery life.
Basically, this flashlight is an excellent purchase with plenty of settings and features that will keep you occupied, no matter when you are using this tactical flashlight for.
Helotex G2 CREE
If you need to get your hands on a high powered tactical flashlight, you’ve come to the right place. There are a lot of flashlights on the market that you can choose from, so don’t limit yourself by simply taking a trip to your local hardware store. Instead, begin searching the web for a variety of flashlights that have exactly what you are looking for. When looking into these flashlights, one brand stands out among the rest, and that is the Helotex brand. The Helotex G2 CREE is a model that gets glowing reviews, so read on to see exactly why.
With this flashlight, its LED lighting fixture is the most important core issue that you will want to focus on. It is a sophisticated LED light that burns significantly less energy than other types of lights. It is a tri-mode flashlight, which means that it has three different light settings. These light settings include high beam lights, low beam lights, and strobe lights.
Dual Power Capability
The second key feature of this flashlight that you may want to pay attention to is its dual power capability. This means that the flashlight comes equipped with a battery, but you can also adopt and choose to use one AA battery instead. The battery that is included, is the CR 123 battery. This flashlight is known for getting significant battery life, as referenced below.
Features And Specifications
Let’s break down the core features and specifications of this tactical flashlight:
- A substantial battery life of 50,000 hours
- The ability to switch between a AA battery, which receives an hour on a full charge and the CR 123 battery, which runs for 2 hours on a full charge
- The light itself is crafted with aircraft grade durable aluminum
- 3 different light settings to play with
- 130 Lumen capability
- Easy on and off switch
What Customers Are Saying
People who enjoy the flashlight like it for its durability and ability to help them when they are on hunting and fishing trips. People enjoy the versatility and how it can be used for a lot of different applications.
Some people complain about the size of the flashlight and have come to expect a heavy-duty version of the light. However, others enjoy this lightweight flashlight because it gives them more maneuverability while still featuring a hard casing that can be used for just about any task.
Without question, this flashlight has everything you need if you are looking for a wonderful tactical flashlight. This is a high-powered LED flashlight with plenty of battery life and great value.
Tactical flashlights bring to mind the heavy and bright lights carried by hunters, campers or security guards. If you are in the habit of going hiking, camping or taking hunting trips, you would be familiar with this type of flashlight. While these powerful flashlights are best for emergency situations, they also come in handy in day to day life. Hopefully our tactical flashlight reviews helped give you some better understanding of each product.
In fact, flashlights are one of the handy tools you should have with you as you may need them anytime, anywhere and in any type of situation. From finding a dropped key in the yard, to locating things in poor lighting situations, flashlights are of invaluable help.
Most often, people think of a flashlight being bulky with a huge light and that is not true. With the tremendous advancements in technology you see these days, they come in all sizes and shapes. Whether you are looking for a sturdy and huge flashlight or a compact pocket-sized model or something in between, you can find it easily.
The LED bulbs have made it easier for manufacturers to design lights that are brighter, efficient and smaller, so you can have a small flashlight that is as powerful as a larger flashlight but at an affordable price and with an eco-friendly option. And as with any other purchase, you have considerations such as budget, features, quality, longevity, portability, etc. which needs to be looked into before you settle on the perfect flashlight that suits your needs to the dot. At the outset, this may look too daunting of a task to accomplish.
We have put together this tactical flashlight buyer’s guide. With the guidance in this article, you will be able to consider all aspects of purchasing the best flashlight for you. The goal is for you to have an enjoying experience; instead of being hassled and overwhelmed by the choices before you.
We will start with the basics first. A tactical flashlight is different from the usual flashlight you use in homes.
How is a Tactical Flashlight Different?
For one, tactical flashlights are made of sturdier material. They can withstand the elements and rough handling effortlessly. The best thing is that they are loaded with features such as multiple lighting modes and lumens, as well as strong grip.
Tactical is a term used in relation to a particular plan designed to accomplish an objective in politics, war etc. In flashlights, the term tactical denotes using the lights to win a combat or war situation. The flashlights are considered an essential armor intended for emergency situations. This is the reason for the sturdy quality of the flashlights in contrast to the usual models.
Tactical flashlights are made of aluminum aircraft grade. They are completely shockproof to enable easy mounting on weapons. They are small and have some degree of waterproofing. In other words, these are built robustly to endure rough conditions. The flashlights also emit powerful light, as combat situations necessitate the ability to see clearly. Further focusing the bright light on a person can render him blind temporarily, which can be best used as a self-defense maneuver.
In flashlights, Lumens is the unit used to measure brightness. While LEDs are commonly used, some flashlights also have xenon bulbs or incandescent bulbs but those are used rarely. LEDs are popular because they last longer – for about 50000 hours to be exact, which amounts to more than five years, and are shock-resistant because of the absence of filament in them. There are tactical flashlights out there that are extremely bright. If that’s something you’re looking for then check out this article on the world’s brightest LED flashlights for 2018.
Why Should You Have One?
This is a logical question, as tactical flashlights are typically made best for use in rough terrain and emergency situations as mentioned above. Although the chances of you being in such an emergency are very rare, having one in handy can be of immense uses of other types.
In fact, a flashlight is something that you should always have with you and it comes next only to a pocket knife. Here are some of the instances where they can come in handy:
Poor Lighting Situations
This is the most common reason for purchasing any type of flashlight. With one in hand, you will be able to pass any poorly lighted area like a dark parking lot or alley. In case of power outages or problem with the electrical circuits in your home or office, flashlights provide much-needed illumination.
The flashlights available these days are so powerful that they can illuminate objects that are several meters away.
Find Things Easily
Losing things at home or other places is a common enough occurrence everyone faces.
Dropping your keys, pen, phone or any other object under a bed or couch, desk or behind a dresser can happen anytime. A flashlight will prove to be a godsend in many such situations, which can delay an important meeting or event.
Present day tactical flashlights are created to give many an advantage to a person in a war or combat scenario.
- The sturdy aluminum casing itself serves as a hard striking tool.
- The bezels are designed to help a user break faces or windows easily.
- And having a sturdy object on hand to use as a weapon makes it more powerful.
- The powerful illuminating source blinds the opponent effectively, giving you an advantage which doubles with the flashlight acting as a weapon. This potent combo can make you inflict severe damage on anyone attacking you.
Note: If you are not trained for combat, it is best to use the flashlight just to blind the person and use the time to flee the scene, instead of trying to use it as a weapon.
Speaking of self-protection, there are flashlights that are best for police officers. If you’re in the law enforcement, then you know how important it is when it comes to having certain accessories. There’s a lot of crime that takes place during the night, and so you know how important is to have a tactical flashlight. You’ll want to make sure you have a perfect size, quality, and weight whenever you’re on duty.
In the Law Enforcement? Read more about the best police flashlights
In case of natural disasters, power outages are common. If an intruder is trying to harm you, having a light that you can use to see when it is dark or blind a person with, makes it a very valuable and lifesaving tool. Rescue and survival situations require a flashlight for search operations.
Flashlights are also best used for sending signals in dire situations. In fact, there are special search and rescue flashlights that have an integrated SOS and flashing beacon modes.
Looking for specific products? See our favorite flashlights for survival
Since the tactical flashlight emits powerful luminosity due to higher lumens, it is best for security at night. When compared to the ordinary flashlights, which have lumens ranging from 8 to 22, tactical flashlights have lumens that start from 90.
Such powerful beams are capable of disorienting attackers or rendering them blind for a few seconds, which is sufficient to make you escape or defend.
Doing Household Chores
Tactical flashlights help in all areas and in other new aspects too.
- Due to the solid build, these can withstand rough use that the ordinary plastic flashlights cannot tolerate.
- Being waterproof, it can help fix those leaks under the kitchen sink or bathroom without fear of getting it wet and damaged.
- Due to the powerful aluminum body, it can withstand drops from any height.
Other than household benefits, these tactical illuminators offer professional uses too. For instance, contractors, carpenters, plumbers, exterminators, officers, mechanics, and administrative personnel find these lights very handy.
For tasks that keep the hands occupied or for navigating poorly lit areas, flashlights are very useful.
In this section, we’ll go over the variations of tactical flashlights with their pros and cons. Additionally, we’ll help identify which flashlight is best for you.
If you’re always on the go and are always at a possibility of emergency situations, then having an edc (everyday carry) flashlight is your best option. Other everyday carry items are wallets, smartphones, notebooks, pocket knives, and pens.
These types of flashlights come in handy especially when you lose something in your car, or in a very dark area. They’re ideal for having at hand in your daily life. Although this is something you can carry every day, it’s best to have the appropriate clothing; such as having bigger pockets. The flashlights are close to being weightless and are small to enable routine use. Because they’re so compact and easy to use, you’ll have no problem in carrying the flashlight in your bag, backpack or even your pocket. There are different types of EDC flashlights with differences being in batteries, materials, whether they’re shock and water resistant, etc.
- Ideal for everyday use
- Durable and long-lasting
Top Picks: EDC (everyday carry).
While not as powerful as an everyday carry flashlight, these keychains are small, easy to carry and ideal to have around in your day to day life. The flashlights are near being weightless and small to enable routine use. If you wouldn’t use your flashlight as often, but would still like to have one around for just in case, a keychain type of flashlight is ideal for you.
The best thing about the keychains is that they can fit in a pocket or a purse. Another great item to have whenever you’re in a unique situation, such as dropping your phone during a late night hike. Something to consider if you’re looking to get a keychain flashlight is that it’s easy to charge. The ones that are easy have a USB charge so that way there’s no cell removal. These are compact and convenient flashlights perfect for most situations in which you’d need extra lighting. The best thing about it is that you won’t even feel that it’s always by your hand if you’re not using it.
Read more: Top 5 Picks for Keychain Flashlights
Typically, penlights are more bright, which can also be used to temporarily blind a potential attacker. Additionally, these lights are more versatile in comparison to other tactical flashlights. For instance, you can use the penlights for navigation, seeking for help, or for self-defense.
Another great advantage of having a penlight is similar to a keychain flashlight. The best part about the keychains is that you can put it in your pocket and keep it with you at all times.
Penlights fit in your pocket, bag, backpack, etc. They’re ideal to have around at all times, especially if you’re often in any dangerous situations. They’re similar to keychain flashlights regarding size, but are more powerful and a lot brighter. Overall, penlights are a compact way to always have a flashlight at hand in any situation and at any time.
- Small and easy to carry
- Ideal for dangerous and emergency situations
- Brighter than most flashlights its size
If you want to learn more about penlights then read our full guide.
Hunters, fishermen and other adventurers may be the people who use flashlights the most, next to the law enforcement. For hunters, it’s best to have a precise and bright flashlight that can help them locate their target. If you’re into hunting, you’ll appreciate a flashlight illuminating your way around the woods as well as being highly helpful when setting a camp for the night.
Another important thing to look for a flashlight if you’re a hunter is its battery life. They type of flashlights mostly used by hunters is reliable and won’t ever leave you in the dark. These flashlights are often waterproof and made of drop resistant materials.
- Made of durable materials
More Info? Check out our latest post on the 3 Top Hunting Flashlights for 2018.
Buying new batteries can be a hassle for a lot of people, especially if you have to replace a dead battery during an emergency. A rechargeable flashlight might be your best choice. All you have to do is charge it at home or even a car charger (hopefully you have a USB port). You’ll be able to save money by buying batteries all the time, and you’ll also save your time from replacing a battery.
You want to make sure that you get a flashlight that charges fast, has a long battery life and also has a good brightness. The rechargeable flashlights that we recommend are the ones that tell you when the battery is low as well! Again, you don’t want to be out in the woods and your flashlight dies out of nowhere. You always want to be best prepared!
Unlike a standard flashlight, a rechargeable one can’t just die all of a sudden, but will let you know when its battery is nearly empty. This way you know how much time you have left and can prepare for the situation.
However, rechargeable flashlights can surprise you, too, especially if you don’t recharge them after each use. If you’ve used the flashlight already and didn’t recharge its battery, don’t expect it to last you a long time. For this reason, I suggest you always keep the flashlight fully charged and ready to use.
- Save time and money
Compact flashlights are known to be small and depending on the quality, reliable. Typically, these are good if you want to find a keyhole, pave a pathway at dark, or find something that you’ve lost such as your wallet. Keep in mind that these types are not best for sustaining high outputs for a long period of time. It’s not practical for a compact flashlight to put out a high brightness level. However, these lights are great for you to carry on a day to day basis. As mentioned, their best attributes come from being small for you to hold onto, and they’re also close to being weightless.
Penlights and keychain flashlights are considered compact, but there are also full-size flashlights that fall into this category. These are mostly full sized but lightweight and designed to be easy to carry around and hold onto.
Much like keychain flashlights and penlights, compact flashlights are for daily use but only for a short time. Precisely, they’ll perform well if you need to find your keys, or whatever you’re looking for, but won’t be of much use when you need a super bright flashlight to be on for hours at the time.
Its convenience can mean a lot in many situations, so make sure to always go for a quality and reliable model.
- Easy to use
- Useful in everyday life
Learn more about our best recommendations for compact flashlights if this your designated choice.
It’s important to know about standards for a flashlight, as it will help narrow down the choices and find the best one. ANSI FL1 standard helps manufacturers to market their products competitively.
When you know what the standards signify, you can easily recognize whether the product is good or not.
The standard light output rating indicates the lumens amount emitted by a flashlight.
The runtime denotes the duration taken by the flashlight to reach 10 % of the initial output. For instance, if a device began with 100 Lumens, the runtime is the time duration when the continuous light requires reducing to a level of 10 Lumens.
This distance measured in meters indicates the distance a beam covers to reach an intensity of 0.25 lux. This intensity is the same as light intensity on a clear full moon night.
Peak intensity of beam
This indicates the beam point at its brightest. Candela is the unit in which beam intensity is measured.
This measurement in meters indicates the height from which a flashlight can be dropped on concrete floor without disturbing its function and physical form.
This measurement has three IP levels:
- IPX8: The flashlight that receives this rating can perform in a submerged state at a depth of more than one meter for the duration of nearly four hours.
- IPX7: The flashlight receiving this rating can perform well at a depth of one meter below water for about 30 minutes.
- IPX4: This rating is given for a flashlight performing well when it gets splashed with water.
Best Features of a Tactical Flashlight
Now that you are familiar with the uses and standards you should verify, checking the features of a flashlight is the next important part. Because of their specialized uses, tactical flashlights have features that are different from conventional flashlights.
In general, it is up to the users to decide on which feature to look for based on their best interest. For instance, you should decide on whether you need a bright light, even if you have to sacrifice battery life, or if you need a long life battery due to spending too much time out in the field where there is no access to batteries.
For the latter situation, you should look for a flashlight with long battery life and lower lumen.
Typically a tactical flashlight has three main components that include tail cap, battery compartment and LED housing.
Most tactical flashlights have two main types of settings for light intensity. A low and high-level setting.
- Low setting: This provides light of the lowest intensity and is best for saving battery
- High setting: Provides the brightest level and naturally drains battery
- Medium setting: In some models medium setting which has a light intensity level in between the two is present.
Multiple settings: Some flashlights are designed with 10 different intensity levels, which you can change using a dial. But the brighter the intensity you opt for, the more it will drain the battery.
So, it is recommended to have only the intensity level you need. This way, you will not have your flashlight running out on you when you need it the most.
In addition to the usual settings, most flashlights have three special modes namely, SOS, Beacon, and Strobe.
This is added in some flashlights to conceal the movements of the user or to misdirect attackers or to disorient a person. The light is super-fast and bright with a frequently changing pattern designed to confuse.
SOS mode is used during emergency situations. This becomes best in handy when you get stranded during a camping trip or a survival condition.
This mode has a full bright light blinking once every two or three seconds. This is best for survival situations when you want to be identified. This mode also saves battery life for a longer span.
Based on the model and make, you can find different battery models. Batteries are mostly either disposable or rechargeable.
Disposable batteries: The low-end flashlights have disposable batteries mostly. These are two types namely Alkaline and Lithium batteries.
Alkaline disposable batteries
Survival or prepper teams usually prefer such standard batteries due to their ready availability. The batteries have a two-year shelf life.
Lithium disposable batteries
These batteries resemble the alkaline models but differ from them by having more energy storage and power. And these are light in weight.
The best thing about lithium batteries is that shelf life is 10 years, so survivalists find these ideal.
The only drawback is they are expensive when compared to alkaline batteries. CR2 and CR123a are two special battery types in this category used frequently in tactical flashlight models.
These are not to be confused with the rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries.
As mentioned previously, most of the top end and medium grade batteries are of this type (rechargeable).
Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are available in various sizes and the RCR123A, 18500 and 18650 are the types used commonly in tactical models. Advantages include high power output and recharge facility. The expensive price and the need for a charger are drawbacks.
It is best to go for the rechargeable batteries, as they offer a greener option. But in some cases, disposable batteries are quite useful.
Integrate rechargeable types
This is a special battery that is custom made for a flashlight. You can remove the battery from the flashlight or just plug it directly into a socket for recharging it. While these are very useful, when the battery drains, you may have to wait for it to be fully charged before you can use it.
Tactical flashlights used for hunting, camping and combat situations function along with other accessories such as a mount for a shotgun or a tactical rifle.
If you are using a tactical rifle, you need to replace the power button of your flashlight with a separate pressure switch. Clip, holster or lanyard can be bought with the flashlight to make it easy to access.
Although good quality tactical flashlights are priced expensively and have better functionality; to buy the best quality of flashlight that also meets with your specific needs, you need to look into the design, battery life, and the brightness intensity.
Here are some categories based on the design of the flashlight:
Handheld models are durable in terms of quality, so they can withstand any type of rugged environment and rough use. Some of the factors you must verify include
- The body should be made of aluminum weapon-grade to withstand the worst conditions.
- A textured grip to enable the use of the flashlight as a weapon without having to worry about losing your grip.
- The size should be compact enough to be carried around routinely.
- The light should be best operable with a single hand, so you can use the other hand for doing other things.
- The brightness should be powerful enough to illuminate a pitch dark room or to blind an opponent temporarily.
- The tactical device should be reliable. It must be capable of working anytime and in any situation, so you can rely on its smooth functioning – especially in extreme risk and fatal situations.
Also known as handgun flashlight, this tactical light can be mounted directly to a weaver rail, Picatinny or Handgun.
Although such lights are very beneficial, you should exercise proper diligence in choosing the right one. Some considerations include:
- It should be reliable, especially when you are using it in very dire situations.
- Since the point where you are focusing the light on is also where the pistol is directed at, you should be very careful while using the light. It is best to use the light only when the gun is out.
- The pistol flashlight should be durable and withstand the shots you fire from your pistol. It should not get damaged after just a few shots.
- The light should be mounted either below the pistol’s barrel or to the side of the pistol.
High-quality pistols have the option of substituting the tail cap with a pressure switch to enable easy use of the flashlight.
Looking for more information? Read our best pistol light guide
These are identical to the pistol lights. Just like the pistol model, you can mount the flashlight to the rifle. The main objective is to provide proper illumination while your hands are occupied with aiming the rifle at the target. It’s up to you to decide whether the pistol or the rifle is the best choice.
So what is the difference between the two types?
The type of weapon you use is the main difference. Handguns and pistols are compatible with the pistol mounted tactical flashlights. But in some models, the design allows the facility of fixing with longer guns.
However, rifle type of flashlights cannot be used on smaller guns. Only long style guns such as rifles can be used with the rifle tactical flashlights as only such guns can be used with pressure type light switch.
A big advantage of using the rifle model flashlights is these lights have powerful LED emitters. The illumination usually exceeds 50 lumens, which is the minimum level needed to visually impair the night vision of an individual.
If this is not a criteria for you, you should look for choosing a reliable model. Some important factors to look into include:
- The light quality
- Output capacity
- Distance of beam
- Ease of operation
- Light in weight and compact size
The lights are mounted on two types of rails namely the Picatinny and Weaver rail. Picatinny rail is a recently introduced design rail and it will easily accommodate the lights that go on the Weaver rail, but the accessories that fit the Picatinny rail will not easily fit with the Weaver rail. Some mounting systems used on rifles and shotguns do not use any rails. They just form a firm grip on the flashlight and barrel with the help of a tightening screw.
If you are looking for a flashlight that completely frees your hands, the headlamp flashlight model might be your best choice. This type of tactical light is used to focus luminosity on a particular area. This is the reason for wearing the lamp in the middle of the forehead.
Headlamp models are best for situations like hiking and camping. And these headlamps are really handy when you need to relieve yourself at night. A handheld light would only be a hindrance at such times.
What factors should you focus on?
While the lumen gives you the brightness level of the light beam, the main consideration here is the distance of the beam. With a high beam distance, you can be assured of the headlamp’s usability.
Headlamps come in three types namely spot, flood and adjustable.
- Spot headlamps: These are ideal for climbing, hiking, and other adventurous activities. The distance of the beam is further, ensuring you have proper illumination during your trip.
- Flood headlamps: These are used in situations where you don’t need long distance illumination such as in simple outdoor tasks or repair work.
- Adjustable headlamps: These have qualities of both flood and spot headlamp flashlights. You can have the right type of beam when you need it.
A red colored headlamp is ideal for tactical purposes as it is the perfect color for retaining night vision. Most of the time headlamps are used to read things quickly.
Mount adaptor or Hybrid adaptor
Flashlight manufacturers such as Nitecore have introduced designs that have a blend of both mounting and handheld styles. The mounting adapters are made to fit with the handheld tactical lights.
Not all single mounting adapter or one with general purpose can work best with all flashlights. When you choose a flashlight to go with your gun, you should ensure that the mounting device fits properly, so there are no instability issues while handling the weapon.
Tactical night vision
In tactical situations, it is important to have special devices for night vision to be able to deal with pitch dark scenarios. Infrared modes are added in a few handheld versions of tactical lights and in some lights mounted on weapons. This gives you night vision.
In some instances, goggles or monoculars may be the right choice as they provide direct night vision. We will see the two types here.
These provide night vision through a one eye unit without any magnification. These are the most versatile of all night vision gadgets, as the monocular can be mounted to a rifle scope or on your head. The model and the brand of monocular device differ and should be chosen based on the purpose for which it is used.
These are used on both eyes and just like monoculars, they do not provide any magnification. You can mount the goggles on your head easily. The advantage this type of night vision gadget has is that it is very comfortable to wear. The goggles are available in two styles.
- Two separate eyepieces are attached to a one image tube in one style
- The other style has two image tubes with the eyepieces.
An important consideration in purchasing such night vision devices is choosing the latest version of the device, as newer versions will have better technological improvements that can boost the performance. But this does not render the other older devices as ineffective. Choosing a device based on your specific requirements should be your priority rather than the generation or grade level of the device.
In general tactical flashlights are based on the style such as helmet mounted, headlamp or a goggle-styled light. All serve the same purpose of illumination. The various types mentioned above are perfect illuminating devices that serve admirably in specific tactical situations. Below, are other factors to consider.
Type of light
Since LEDs are the most commonly used light bulbs in tactical devices, this section is dedicated to selecting the right LED bulbs. In some tactical lights, incandescent bulbs are used because they are easy to replace and have a better color. But LEDs are preferred because of their longer lifespan and are generally shockproof.
This is a measure used to indicate the light color. Most manufacturers provide various tinted lights. Kelvin is the unit in which the color temperature is measured.
Warm white or light yellow color indicates a low color spectrum ranging from 2600k to 3500 K. This is similar to the color you see in incandescent bulbs.
Neutral white where blue or yellow colors are not prominent indicates a middle spectrum ranging from 3500K to 5000K.
Cool white has a pure white or bluish color and is a higher color temperature of over 5000K.
The cool white type of LEDs is preferred by most manufacturers as these are the most efficient. The yellowish tinted LED needs a yellow phosphor cover, which can block the light source. This will lead to a reduction in the Lumen and low power. LEDs with warm tint are very rarely made and you would have to look hard to find one.
The light power is determined by three main factors:
- Beam distance
As mentioned in the ANSI standards Lumens indicate the light power or energy that is emitted from the flashlight. A high lumen, therefore, indicates a powerful flashlight with good battery and LED. But when compared to Beam distance and Candela, the Lumen is not a very useful measure in deciding the performance of a flashlight.
Even if a flashlight has a high lumen, its power depends on whether the light beam is effective at a long distance or only lights up the area nearby. However, since Lumens are always indicated on the flashlight specifications by manufacturers, it is safer to know about the various lumens and what they denote.
Up to 14 Lumens
This provides illumination equal to a typical flashlight you use routinely. This is sufficient to navigate dark rooms or find your way at night or to look at a map. This light level will not damage night vision completely.
15 to 59 Lumens
This level is sufficient to brighten up a room during a power outage. But it cannot illuminate things located far away. While the light power is not sufficient to blind an intruder temporarily, it can be sufficient to damage the night vision you have.
60 to 149 Lumens
This power is sufficient to illuminate up a considerable distance. You can view things situated far away when you are outside. So it is ideal when you are outdoors at night and want illumination while crossing a dark street or alley. While a light power over 100 lumens is enough to cause temporary blindness, a higher lumen level is needed in a more illuminated area.
150 to 299 Lumens
This is a quite powerful brightness output that could easily illuminate a large space like your backyard. In campsite, this would be especially helpful letting you see quite far away. At 150 levels temporary blindness can be caused at night in a properly illuminated area. At the level of 300 Lumens, temporary blindness is possible even during the day when you are indoors.
300 to 699 Lumens
This is an extreme level and is found only in flashlights with specially made batteries. The light from such a flashlight has the capacity to illuminate up a complete football field or a campground.
More than 700 Lumens
These are insanely bright flashlights that can light up an area that is several hundred feet away. Rescue operations may require such intense lights.
Size of Flashlight
The size of a tactical flashlight, as well as the other factors, depends on the purpose you want to use it for. If you need it for routine use, look for a size that is not too big that it disrupts your work. A right balance of power and size should be used to make the light serve its purpose. Here are a few sizes to consider:
- Mini: This denotes a length that ranges between 2 and 3 inches. These use a single battery of AA or AAA size and have around 250 Lumens in burst mode. Any flashlight less than 3 inches cannot be used as a weapon as your hand will cover it completely. There are microlights too, which are less than two inches and used in keychain flashlights.
- Small: This is less than four inches and has deeper reflectors, tail switches, and a single battery. This can function as a weapon and throws light farther than the mini version.
- Medium: Ranging from 4 to 6 inches these flashlights have two batteries and high lumens. You can use these as weapon easily.
- Large: This is more than 6 inches with a bezel of small diameter. You can easily keep it inside a holster. Law enforcement personnel find this size appropriate as it can act as an additional weapon.
Type of switch
Three different types of switches are present in tactical flashlights namely tail, body and head switch.
Tail twist or head switch
This switch type is found commonly in the small flashlights. Many do not like using this type of flashlight as the tail or head comes loose when you use the switch.
This is the ideal and most popular type of tactical flashlights. The position at the tail end enables you to grip it while you use the switch, so you are already in defensive posture giving you an added advantage. And in the weapon-mounted flashlights, this mode of switch is the easiest.
This is another popular style and helps you use a grip that is not possible with the tail or tail twist models.
For a durable flashlight, the first thing to ensure is whether it is made of sturdy and great quality material. A top-quality material ensures the flashlight will last longer and give the proper weight needed.
This is the material used in most of the tactical flashlights in use now. Type III or Type II Anodized aluminum is preferred over other models.
This is very durable but can be too heavy.
This is light in weight and strong like stainless steel. The only drawback is its cost.
Composites or plastics
Usually, flashlights made of plastics are not the best quality. But a few manufacturers make really good composite flashlights.
Picking out the best tactical flashlight for your needs certainly isn’t a simple task. There are some variables to consider, and a number of flashlights on the market today is simply incredible. There are plenty of great manufacturers offering quality products, and each has a unique set of benefits to offer. Some provide flashlights that excel in providing raw lighting power while others set the bar for durable body construction, various settings, waterproof design, and more. Below, is a video that goes over the top 10 tactical flashlights.
The category of ‘tactical flashlight’ is a popular one that is quickly growing, but it doesn’t specifically define a use for the light. That is going to be your job. The best tactical flashlight for you depends on exactly what you intend on using it for, so take some time to think about your needs, along with your budget, and you should quickly be able to pick out a product that matches your demands. With the right light in hand, you can feel confident that you will be able to shine a bright light on any dark situation that you may encounter down the road. We hope that you enjoyed reading our tactical flashlight reviews.