A tactical flashlight is something that I always have on me whenever I step out in the dark. Whether I am taking a leisurely stroll around the block, taking a hike in the woods or going hunting, camping, mounting, one best tactical flashlight always accompanies me.
I have so many stories where this little unpretentious gadget has had my back in some rather sticky situations. Whether I needed my path to be illuminated or needed to defend myself, a tactical flashlight has never let me down. It is the one gadget I recommend everyone must have.
What is the meaning of “Tactical”?
According to the United States Department of Defense dictionary, Tactical means “An object, which can work with you and able to maintaining military level standard”. i.e. It could be waterproof, durable, powerful, can work as a weapon, etc. (Modified in simple words considering our flashlight topic).
What is the meaning of Tactical Flashlight?
A Tactical flashlight is a kind of flashlight which maintains the tactical standard. Although there are not the perfect definition of tactical flashlights, but these important characteristics should consider before buying any tactical flashlight.
- Made of high quality military grade Machined aluminum alloy.
- Powerful Ultra Bright light which can cut any dark.
- High output, Long Run-Time, compact size.
- Water resistant, sturdy and durable.
- Easy to carry and easy to control the functionality.
- Low power consumption but long running time.
Our Recommend Top 3 Best Tactical Flashlight Under 100 (For Regular Use)
- SOLARAY PRO ZX-1XL Professional Flashlight (Editorial Choice) Read Review on Amazon
- Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL Professional Tactical Light Read Review on Amazon
- Rechargeable Bundle – Olight S1 Baton 500 Lumen Read Review on Amazon
Our Recommend Top 3 Best Tactical Flashlight Under 50 (For Basic Use)
- Vizeri Tactical Flashlight : Precision Focusing (Editorial Choice) Read Review on Amazon
- ThruNite TN12 EDC LED Flashlight Read Review on Amazon
- Maglite LED 3-Cell D Flashlight, Black Read Review on Amazon
Our Recommend Best Flashlight for hunting, camping, mounting (For Rough Use)
- Coast HP314 Long Range Focusing LED Flashlight Read Review on Amazon
- Streamlight MicroStream LED Pen Light Read Review on Amazon
- Streamlight 69110 TLR-1 LED(Rail Mounted Weapon Flashlight) Read Review Amazon
- Orion H40-W Pressure Switch and Rifle Mount Read Review on Amazon
- Simon Cree DU2 Brightest LED Law Enforcement Flashlight Read Review on Amazon
- Orion Predator H30 Night Hunting Light Flashlight Read Review on Amazon
- Streamlight 61304 ProTac HL (Best Headlamp Flashlight) Read Review on Amazon
- Supernova 500 Ultra Bright Camping & Emergency LED Lantern Read Review Amazon
- LUMINTOP Keychain Birthday, Anniversary flashlight Gift Ideas Read Review Amazon
- BlizeTec Survival Tactical Pocket Folding Knife with LED Light Read Review on Amazon
- Simon Cree du2 Brightest led best flashlight for law Enforcement Read Review Amazon
Don’t know much about the flashlight? Want to know, what is the selection criteria of the best flashlight? Check, how to select the best flashlight article.
The flashlights of today have come a long, long way from those gigantic plastic tubes with really dim light. The modern flashlights have the power to light up an entire street in a moonless night without even breaking a sweat. Gone are the days where you had bulbs in the flashlights giving you that characteristically annoying yellow light. With the advent of (LED) Light Emitting Diode technology, and leaps in battery designs, today’s best flashlights are compact and as bright as the sun!
The choice of best tactical flashlight can be a tricky one, though. The market is filled with so many makes and models that can make your head spin. Well, before you even begin going through them, I want to give you an overview of some of the awesome features and utilities that these lights can offer you. So that you can learn something about these awesome lifesaving gadgets and in the process, can make an informed decision. So, lets begin at the beginning!
How to select the best tactical flashlights?
A tactical flashlight isn’t just a fancy name given to your run of the mill flashlight. Although it shares the resemblance in its design with the regular flashlights, the word ‘tactical’ adds a level of functionality and sophistication which is way ahead of the former.
The tactical flashlights are built with one objective in mind to work reliably in any situation imaginable. They are built to meet much superior standards of both performance and quality.
To be qualified as ‘tactical’ a flashlight has to display certain traits:
Power and Brightness: A tactical flashlight has to be bright and I mean really bright, we are talking several hundred lumens at least. A good quality best tactical flashlight will be able to cut through the darkness and can throw a beam of light over several hundred yards without a problem.
Ease of use: Being super bright is one thing but having a tactical flashlight too complicated to operate just defies the purpose, doesn’t it? So, it has to be easy to use with a complication free mechanism to switch between the various modes of operation.
Great build: A tactical flashlight has to have a certain degree of quality to its make. Usually most of the lights are manufactured using weapon grade aluminum or carbon steel. They are water proof or at least water resistant and have a wide range of optimum operation temperatures. The LED light source has a very long lifetime exceeding several thousand hours or operation.
Reliability: A tactical flashlight has to be reliable in any real world situation whether it’s hot and humid or cols and frigid.
Types of tactical flashlights:
There are multiple ways of classifying a tactical flashlight. They can be classified base on their size like micro, mini, small, medium and large or pocket flashlights. Also, they can be classified into various categories based on their applicability. For example, handheld flashlights, headlamps, weapon mounted flashlights, keychain flashlight and hybrid flashlights.
Do You really need one flashlight?
It is one of the most common questions asked to me by many people who see me carrying a tactical flashlight with me, and the answer is always a resounding YES!
There are so many daily situations where having a tactical flashlight on you can be such an advantage. You might not be a survivalist, a hiker, a law enforcement official or a hunter, but no matter what you are, you need a tactical flashlight. Let’s look at some situations where you will find tactical flashlight indispensable.
1. Emergency: God forbid, if you are in a situation where there is a power outage in your area for to some reason. Having a bright source of light at your fingertips would translate into a comforting control on the situation for your loved ones. Imagine if some one is trying to force their way into your home in the dark, having powerful tactical flashlight that can not only let you see but also can temporarily blind the perpetrator is invaluable.
Another unfortunate situation that my tactical flashlight got me out of was, when I had my car break down around a curve, on a very dark night. I used my powerful tactical flashlight as a beacon to warn the incoming drivers. It saved a potential catastrophe on that dreadful night.
2. Self-Defense: The strong aluminum construction of the modern tactical flashlights transforms them into awesome self-defense weapons. You can knock an attacker cold with one of these survival tactical flashlights before they can stage an attack. Having such a versatile tool at your disposal can be really the difference between life and death. Also, with the tremendous power, you can almost instantly blind someone by flashing the light right into their eyes.
3. Law enforcement: If you happen to be in law enforcement, I don’t really have to tell you anything about the value of a quality tactical flashlight. Whether it is needed as a guide light in the dark or to read papers, a tactical flashlight will always be there for you.
4. To find stuff: Imagine how many things are lost behind the fridge or under the bed or any other place where the light can’t reach. A tactical flashlight can come in real handy in such situations.
I can’t tell you how many times I have used my tactical flashlight to go under the foundation of my house to check on leaky pipes!
Buying guide for best tactical flashlight:
Now that we have seen, what is the best tactical flashlight and why almost everyone needs one. It’s time to learn about how to select one! The following are the important considerations to bear in mind before you make your choice:
1. The budget
The prices of a quality tactical flashlight can vary a great deal depending on the type, quality and power of the flashlight among other things. Although you can get a tactical flashlight for a relatively cheap price, in most cases, you will get what you pay for. A small weapon mountable flashlight can be bought for as cheap as $30, however, if you want a really versatile and high quality product, be prepared to shell out well over a $300.
That being said, most of decent quality flashlights having a good build and durability coupled with some serious power wont set you back more than $150.
2. How much power do you need?
As is with the pricing, the tactical flashlights on the market can range widely in power output as well. Most of the currently available tactical flashlights have LED technology at their core. Some tactical flashlights also have incandescent bulbs as well, but due to the better durability of the LEDs, more and more manufacturers are turning to LED technology.
Power of a flashlight can be a tricky one to chose. There are three most important things to consider when it comes to power of a tactical flashlight.
a. The color of the light: The color of the light implies to the actual color of the light emitted by the source as opposed to the various tints of color the manufacturers offer by tinting the lens. Scientifically called the color temperature, the light tint of a tactical flashlight is measured in units called Kelvin. The lower the number, the “warmer” is the light and appears yellow rather than white. Most of the tactical flashlights use LEDs which emit rather cooler light at 5000K or above. The cool white light has a great penetrating power and hence it is great for a powerful light to be used to locate object in the dark.
However, if you want a slightly warmer tint, the LEDs have to be coated with phosphor and such lights are not that easy to find. In an effort to achieve a warmer color, some of the manufacturers provide certain accessories called diffusers which help diffuse the light and makes them ideal to be used as camp lights or book lights.
b. Strength of light: The power of the light emitted by a tactical flashlight is measured in units called lumens. The lumens measure the flux of light that comes out of the surface of the emitter. Higher the lumens, brighter is the light. Some of the best flashlights can put out high lumens and as a result a very powerful beam.
More often than not, the tactical flashlights that are available on the market are marketed with a lumen number associated with its emitter. There are a lot of numbers out there but what do they mean in real world situations? Let’s try and make a little bit of a sense of these numbers.
- If you want a light to find you way around your house, let’s say, to the restroom when lights are out, or you want to read some directions when you are hiking, about 15 lumens would work okay.
- If you want to illuminate a dark room, say after a power outage, about 60 lumens would work just fine.
- If you plan to take your nightly stroll around the block, you would need a power of about 150 lumens to see properly in a dark alley.
- If you want to light up a large room or cause temporary blindness to an attacker, you would need at least 300 lumens.
- If you want to illuminate a campground, you would need around 700 lumens.
Most of the tactical flashlights have a burst mode that puts out these insane numbers for some time.
If you want some serious power, you can go up to a 1000 lumens as well. At this level of power, you can easily illuminate an entire block of your neighborhood with no problems.
The number of lumen you want depends on the job you want to achieve with the flashlight. The brighter light you want the higher lumen you should choose.
3. Power source
The tactical flashlights on the market vary greatly depending on their power source. The most common power source used are as follows:
Disposable alkaline batteries: Many flashlights use disposable alkaline batteries varying in sizes such as AA or AAA for mini lights to C or D for medium and large flashlights. These flashlights have an advantage that the batteries are standard sizes and hence very easily replicable, however, not being able to recharge them may add to the operational cost. If you are occasional user, these lights may be okay for you but if you use your light almost every day as I tend to do, you probably would not like them.
Disposable Li batteries: These are also disposable as the alkaline batteries but pack in a lot more power. Also, their shelf life is almost 10 years compared to around 2 years for alkaline batteries.
Rechargeable cells flashlight: I personally prefer these Li-ion cells as they provide the freedom of recharging as and when you need them. Also, with most modern flashlights, these rechargeable flashlight cells come for free. I have had excellent use out of my Li-ion cells over past 6 years of usage.
Rechargeable integrated battery packs: Some manufacturers also tend to integrate their battery packs into the product itself so that you can’t remove the batteries. If you want to recharge these lights, you will have to plug the whole unit in. Personally, I don’t really like these kind of battery packs. Plus, if they go bad, you are dependent on the manufacturer to provide you with a new one.
4. Flexible flashlight
The Power of a flashlight is one thing, but the real applicability of a flashlight comes from its ability to be used in various situations seamlessly. You might need to brighten up your entire neighborhood on one day and read a map while you are out and about on another. If you would need two separate flashlights for that, then that’s just crazy. You need a tactical flashlight that can transform form a hand held book light to a spotlight to a floodlight with easy and finesse. Most of the tactical flashlights have various operation modes that can put out light at various lumens. More often than not, the tactical flashlights will have:
Burst mode: The brightest mode possible with very high lumens of brightness. The batteries are drained rapidly at this mode and would last only for some minutes before running out on you.
Eco mode: This is the longest lasting mode of a tactical flashlight. It produces low lumen light but can continuously run for a really long time.
The High, Mid and Low modes: At these three modes, the light emitted falls between the burst and the eco mode.
When choosing a flashlight, always remember that more modes means more flexibility, and you want to buy a flashlight with multiple modes of operations.
5. Size of flashlight
The tactical flashlights vary greatly depending on their sizes as well. You can buy tactical flashlights ranging from really small mini versions to considerably large flashlights. Naturally, the larger the flashlight, the more powerful it is. The Mini flashlights are usually about 3 inches in length and can put out up to an impressive 250 lumens. They usually use a AA or AAA batteries. They are great for regular use but due to the fact that they are small, they can’t be used as a weapon in self defense.
The Small and medium flashlights are a nice balance of portability and versatility. They are relatively powerful and can pump out up to an amazing 1000 lumens of blinding light. They are tough and light at the same time and make an excellent choice for self defense as well.
The large flashlights are over 6 inches in length and can put out some serious power. These are sometimes on the heavier side but with the large form factor, they have much larger batteries making them ideal for long camping trips.
The right size of tactical flashlight really depends on your final usage. Choose the one that strikes a balance between your size and weight limit and output.
6. Tactical switch
One of the most important aspect of a tactical flashlights is their ability to shift from one mode to the other. Most of the modern best flashlights use some form of a tactical switch to make it easy for you to switch between say, eco to a strobe mode. There are 3 types of switches that generally employed by most manufacturers.
Twist switch: This switch relies on the twisting of the head bezel or the tail cap of the flashlight to cycle between the various modes. I personally am not a huge fan of these switches as they are not very handy and quick to operate. Also, there is the problem of skipping to the next mode if you twist too strongly.
The Body switch: Perhaps my favorite switch, this type is placed on the body of the light itself. The placement is very convenient and can be accessed by a single hand.
Tail Switch: This is also a very practically placed switch, however, many a times I find it difficult to reach. But, if you have long fingers, you might like this switch placement. As it allows the grip of the light to be very uniform.
Chose a light with a tactical switch you would like. Personally, I would recommend the body switch, although I own a couple tail switch lights as well.
Durability is certainly one of the most important aspects when if comes to the choice of a flashlight. Most of the flashlights are made from aerospace grade aluminum and are very light weight as well as durable. You can break windows with them without as much as even a dent on their finish.
Another aspect to look out for is weather and elemental stability. I always like my tactical flashlight to be at least water resistant if not water proof. I never like to limit my usage depending on the weather conditions outside.
There are various standards to determine the water resistance of the tactical flashlights. These grades are usually called IPX grades and can be either IPX4, IPX7 or IPX8, with higher resistivity against water along the list. The IPX4 flashlight is merely splash resistant while the IPX 8 grade flashlight is virtually water proof.
I would strongly recommend buying a tactical flashlight having the highest IPX grade available.
8. Additional features
Many tactical flashlights do come with a myriad of optional and other features such as a IR LED or a blue LED to be used in some selective cases.
Functional features: Some of the tactical flashlights come in with the built in functional features such as an integrated IR, white, Red and blue LED emitters. If you are a person who is in law enforcement or military, you might appreciate the presence of a blue light LED emitter for detecting blood smear or an IR emitter for evacuation beacons.
Accessories: Many flashlights come with pocket clips to neatly tuck them to your belt or pants. Some of them also come with their own holsters and lanyards as well.
Light pattern: Tactical flashlights can be used in one of the two ways. As a flood light to illuminate a large area around you and as a beam thrower to reach long distances. In the flood mode, a flashlight looses its ability to throw the beam over a long distance. This mode is ideal if you want the light to travel relatively small distance but at a wide angle. In the beam mode, however, the beam travels to a much longer distance ideal for spotting objects in the dark at a distance. The perfect best tactical flashlight will have a composite beam that covers both the patterns from narrow angle, long reaching beam to a wide angle beam.
Top 10 Tactical Flashlight Review List for buying:
There are plenty of tactical flashlights but we pick top 10 list base on customer review, product quality, price, durability, power of light, warranty etc.
1. Surefire Backup Tactical Switch Dual Output LED Flashlight
SureFire manufacture one of the best tactical flashlights on the market. The EB1 is a revamped version of the vastly successful E1B tactical flashlight that SureFire has produced for a quite long time. The EB1 is a worthy descendent of the E1B and is equally astonishing in its features and power.
- The EB1 can put out an amazing 200 lumens of light without even breaking a sweat.
- The Total Internal Reflectance (TIR) technology of the lens produces a very intense beam for reaching long distances as well as enough peripheral illumination.
- The light is operable in two modes low and high to suit any illumination needs.
- At the low settings, it has given me a life of about 40 hours on a consistent basis.
- With a tail cap tactical switch, the EB1 is ideal for any situation you might need illumination.
I would strongly recommend this best flashlight for someone who requires a decent flashlight for an affordable price. Although it does not have huge power, it is certainly enough to meet the requirements of a casual user.
2. Fenix PD35 1000 Lumen Rechargeable Batteries Flashlight Bundle
- The PD35 has a tremendous power, pumping out nearly 1000 lumens of light on the highest setting (Burst mode).
- The flashlight has a number of setting to control the output between 8 to 1000 lumens.
- The degree of controllability on the light output makes the PD35 one of the most versatile flashlights out there.
- The sleek design and sturdy built makes the flashlight a very good bang for the buck.
I would endorse this flashlight for someone who is looking not only for sheer power but also durability at an amazingly affordable price.
3. Streamlight 69222 TLR-3 Weapon Mounted Tactical Light with USP Full Clamp
The next entry on out list is a weapon mounted flashlight from the trusted name of StreamLight. The TLR3 is a very versatile and unbelievably light weight tactical flashlight which can be easily mounted on a weapon. The flashlight is constructed from a special nylon aluminum composite which makes it sturdy as well as light.
- With an operating temperature range from -40 to 120 F, the TLR3 is ideal in almost any situation.
- The C4 LED technology is powerful enough to put out around 200 lumens of light in a packaging weighing just 4 ounces. Although the batteries are not included, its is great buy.
- Used C4 LED technology.
- Compact and Ultra lightweight.
The TLR3 is certainly one of the best flashlights in its class and I would highly recommend it to anybody who owns a weapon!
4. FENIX TK35 Ultimate 2000 Lumen CREE XHP 50 LED Tactical Flashlight
- The TK35 UE is really a beast when it come to light output.
- With the max output of 2000 lumens, and a maximum beam distance of around 1000 feet, the TK35 is a force to be reckoned with.
- It also features multiple power output modes and an aerospace grade aluminum body that is hand anodized.
- The tactical switches are very conveniently placed on the tail cap for an easy operation.
The unit comes with four EdisonBright batteries that are especially quick to charge and I have personally got about 1000 cycles with no problems.
This is a very powerful flashlight and I would really recommend it for outdoor enthusiasts looking for brute power along with great build.
5. Streamlight 14032 Sidewinder Review Military Tactical Flashlight with Articulating Head
The Sidewinder come equipped with four separate LED emitters: Red, White, Blue and IR. The blue LED is handy for identifying blood smear patterns and the IR can be used as a beacon for evacuation missions.
All the four LED emitters are capable of producing light at four output modes which makes if a very handy tool in almost any situation imaginable.
The Sidewinder is constructed from an impact resistant nylon material for a great durability and performance. The light can be clipped on helmets as well as belts for easy carry and strategic advantage.
I would recommend this flashlight for anyone who is either in law enforcement or military personnel.
6. 960 Lumen CREE XM-L2 U2 LED Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight
- This edition of the PD35 packs in the Cree-XM-L2 LED technology capable of putting out an amazing 960 lumens of bright light.
- The multiple modes of power output enable the PD35 to be operational in almost any illumination requirement imaginable.
- The intelligent memory circuit that is build within the PD35 remembers the last used mode so you don’t have to go through all the modes to reach the one you use the most.
I would recommend this flashlight for anyone who is looking for an affordable flashlight that is compact and powerful at the same time capable of operating in multiple modes.
7. EcoGear FX Tactical Bright LED Flashlight
EcoGear FX flashlight is a very well known name in personal security, fishing, tactical situations, hunting, camping and weapons industry. They are renowned for their great products with ultimate build quality and performance.
- The EcoGear FX flashlight is an extremely high end device at an amazingly affordable price point.
- This led flashlight is capable of putting out almost 1200 lumens of ultra bright light.
- The beam is intense enough to penetrate almost 142+ meters in pitch black darkness.
- The flashlight is built with a premium grade aluminum for greater durability.
- The grip is patterned so that it is very easy to hold even in slippery and moist conditions.
I would strongly recommend this best flashlight for anyone who wants a high end, powerful and durable flashlight at lowest price that is not too over the top!
8. ExtremeBeam M4 Scirrako Tactical Flashlight
The ExtremeBeam M4 is a good mid range tactical flashlight from the market leaders. The tactical flashlight is unique in the feature that it sports a tunable LED beam. The M4 Scirrako is very versatile and can even be mounted on a 0.5 caliber weapon.
The tunable LED beam can reach a distance of well over 1000 feet with ease.
The M4 is also notably bright, putting out 315 lumens of bright light. The M4 also features multiple operation modes for different situations.
I would strongly recommend this flashlight to an avid outdoorsman or a hunter for its versatility and capability to mount on a weapon.
9. Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 Lumen LED Tactical Flashlight Bundle
Another offering from the Fenix brand, the PD35 TAC 1000 is an upgraded version of the PD35. With a very powerful 1000 lumen output, the TAC 1000 is one of the brightest in its class. The trusted Cree XP-L LED technology driving the power behind the flashlight makes the unit really long lasting.
The flashlight also comes equipped with multiple modes of output and an AOD diffuser attachment. This very versatile unit can completely transform from a very powerful beam thrower to a nifty little camp light in a flash!
The included CR123A batteries and the ARE-C1 charger are built to last and make recharging your batteries really easy and quick.
This tactical flashlight is ideally suited to people who especially like the great outdoors. The ability to transform the light into a really awesome camp light has a special appeal!
10. PowerTac X3000 LED Flashlight 3000 Lumens
The PowerTac X3000 is hands down, one of the most powerful tactical flashlights out there. With an output of 3000 lumens, this super-bright light will easily dwarf even the most expensive tactical flashlights on the market. The Cree XM-L U2 LED technology enables it to last for as long as 20 years without a glitch.
The X3000 is equipped with as many as six power output modes to suit your every need from illuminating a football field to reading a map!
The very compact design with a high quality, hand anodized aluminum body make it very sturdy as well as easy to carry.
The unit comes with 2600 mAh rechargeable battery pack and a charger along with it.
Although the X3000 is on a costlier side, it is such a flexible and powerful tactical flashlight, that your investment will certainly pay off in the long run!
Well, there is no one tactical flashlight that will be the best for everyone and for every needs. Finding the best tactical flashlight really depends on what do you, as a consumer want out of the system. We hope that this buying guide will allow you pick the most important features you are looking at and make a very informed decision.