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 of the best tactical flashlight always accompanies me.
I have so many stories where this amazing little 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 emergency tool I recommend everyone must have.
What is the meaning of Best Tactical Flashlight?
A tactical flashlight is a kind of flashlight which maintains tactical standards. Although there is not a perfect definition of tactical flashlights, you should consider these important characteristics before buying any tactical flashlight.
- Made of high quality military grade machined aluminum alloy.
- Powerful Ultra Bright light which can cut through the darkness.
- Long run-time to shine longer
- Compact size for portability
- Water resistant to handle various environments & weather conditions
- Impact resistant to handle drops
- Easy to carry and easy to control the functionality.
Why am I recommending the Klarus flashlight as my first choice?
- Affordable price.
- High Quality flashlight components
- Great for regular or everyday carry use
- Designed for tactical use
- Long lasting flashlight
- Lifetime Warranty
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 maintain 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).
The best tactical flashlight of today has come a long, long way from those gigantic plastic tubes with really dim light and halogen bulbs. 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 LED flashlights are compact and exponentially brighter!
The search for the best tactical flashlight can be a tricky one. 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!
Do you really need a Tactical 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 best tactical flashlight. Let’s look at some situations where you will find tactical flashlight indispensable. Here, is the image of tactical flashlight comparison. Pick the right tactical flashlight that will suit with your needs.
Emergency: Power outages can occur anywhere in the world. 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.
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 get close enough to you to 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. Only the brightest and best security flashlights can do this.
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. The best military tactical flashlight will be very powerful, hard, durable and waterproof.
Searching for Things: 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! A tactical flashlight doesn’t only have to be used for tactical situations.
Types of Tactical Flashlights
There are multiple ways of classifying a tactical flashlight. They can be classified based on their size like micro, mini, small, medium and large or pocket flashlights. Also, they can be classified into various categories based on their usage. For example, handheld flashlights, headlamps, weapon mounted flashlights, keychain flashlight and hybrid flashlights.
How to Find 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.
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 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 aircraft 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 top tactical flashlight has to be reliable in any real world situation whether it’s hot and humid or dry and frigid.
Buying Guide for the Best Tactical Flashlight:
Now that we have seen some of the best tactical flashlights and why almost everyone needs one, it’s time to learn about how to select one that fits your needs! The following are the important considerations to bear in mind before you make your choice:
The prices of a quality tactical flashlight can vary a great deal depending on the type, quality and power of the flashlight. 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 $100. The best rated flashlights are finely tuned instruments and you get what you pay for.
That being said, most of decent quality best tactical flashlights having a good build and durability coupled with some serious power shouldn’t set you back more than $100.
Flashlight Power – Very Important
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 best 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.
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. There are a few best uv flashlight or blacklight uv flashlight available in the market which are used as pet cat & dog urine stain finder. 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.
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 tactical 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.
How much power do you need?
- 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 100 lumens would work okay.
- If you want to illuminate a dark room, say after a power outage, about 200 lumens would work just fine.
- If you plan to take your nightly stroll around the block, you would need a power of about 300 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 500 lumens.
- If you want to illuminate a campground, you would need around 1000 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.
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-Ion 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 Li-Ion Batteries: 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.
A Versatile Flashlight
You may ask me which is the best flashlight in the world. Remember, only flexibility makes a flashlight perfect. 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 street in one situation and read a map while you are out hiking in another. If you would need two separate flashlights for that, then that’s just crazy. You need a tactical flashlight that can transform from a hand-held reading 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 best tactical flashlight, always remember that more modes means more flexibility, and you want to buy a flashlight with multiple modes of operations.
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. If you are looking for best compact flashlight, then 6-7 inches flashlight good to use.
The right size of the best tactical flashlight really depends on your final usage. Choose the one that strikes a balance between your size and weight limit and output.
One of the most important aspect of a best 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.
Side 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 tail switch only, although I own a couple side + tail switch lights as well.
Durability is certainly one of the most important aspects when it comes to the choice of a flashlight. Most of the flashlights are made from aircraft 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.
Best Waterproof Flashlight
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 best 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 best waterproof.
I would strongly recommend buying a tactical flashlight having the highest IPX grade available.
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 Best Tactical Flashlights Comparison Table
A Closer Look at the Top 5 Best Tactical Flashlights
(Click on the image to read reviews & see the price)
1. Klarus XT11GT 2000 Lumens Tactical Bright LED Flashlight
Klarus flashlights are very well known in the personal security, fishing, tactical situations, hunting, camping and weapons industry. They are renowned for their great products with ultimate build quality and performance.
- The Klarus XT11GT flashlight is an extremely high end device at an amazingly affordable price point.
- This led flashlight is capable of putting out 2000 lumens of ultra bright light.
- The beam is intense enough to penetrate almost 320 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 tactical flashlight for anyone who wants a high end, powerful and durable best flashlight at lowest price that is not too over the top!
Read Full Review
2. FlashlightZ BEACON 1000 Lumen Ultra Bright Rechargeable Flashlight
The FlashlightZ BEACON is a newer light recently released in 2017. It is one of the least expensive rechargeable 1000 lumen tactical flashlights on the market within its quality range. It has a KISS (keep it simple stupid) approach in terms of usability and there isn’t much that the user has to think about when operating the light. It comes with a lifetime warranty from FlashlightZ.com and comes with an 18650 battery & micro USB charge cord. If you are looking for the best tactical flashlight for the money, the BEACON is the way to go!
- 1000 Max lumens and an adjustable zoom head to maximize beam throw when appropriate
- Charge indicator to notify when the battery is fully charged and advanced internals to protect against drops
- Water resistant
- Aircraft grade aluminum body for maximum durability
Read Full Review
3. Klarus XT11S Improved 1100 Lumen LED Compact Tactical Rechargeable Flashlight
Another awesome tactical light from the Klarus brand, the XT11S was released in 2015 and remained a best seller through 2016. It was one of the first affordable tactical flashlights that was programmable to allow the user to change the way the modes function on the light. You can choose between 3 different user modes based on how you want to use the light. There is Conventional Mode, Hunting Mode, and Ultimate Tactical Mode. Each user setting makes the light operate differently based on which lighting modes are accessible and how you access them through the 3 switches on the light.
- 1100 Lumen max output and a max beam throw of 330 meters, which is huge!
- Not only Micro USB rechargeable, but also Programmable
- Features a battery indicator which tells you how much juice is left in the lithium ion battery
- Smart ITS temperature control which will prevent the light from overheating at high lumen output levels
Read Full Review
4. Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 Lumen LED Tactical Flashlight
Fenix has always been known as one of the most reliable LED flashlight brands in the market. Fenix has great customer service and continues to impress flashlight enthusiasts with great accessories and improvements to their newer models. The Fenix PD35TAC was one of their first programmable tactical lights and can operate in 2 different user modes. The Fenix PD35TAC has a very sturdy & rugged feel to it and is one of the flashlights that I use on a weekly basis.
- Max lumen output of 1000 lumens and a max beam throw of 656 feet
- Great internal circuitry to prevent drops from harming the light
- Waterproof at IPX8 rating standard and can handle a lot of abuse
- 6 output modes including strobe and SOS
Read Full Review
5. Nitecore P12 2015 Version 1000 Lumen Flashlight
Nitecore has become a very popular flashlight and charger brand over the past 5 years. They are very well-known for their battery chargers such as the D4 and I4 Intelligent Chargers. Their flashlights are easy to use and have a simple interface. The Nitecore P12 flashlight is their best simple tactical flashlight in my opinion.
- Max lumen output of 1000 lumens and a max beam distance of 232 meters
- Has a simple one handed interface with a tail and side switch for versatile use
- Comes with a power indicator to show how much charge is left in the lithium ion battery
- Super durable aero grade aluminum with a hard anodized finish
- Overall a very basic light that can withstand a lot of abuse
Read Full Review
Honorable Mentions – Good Tactical Flashlights
Other Military High Power Tactical Flashlights – The Toughest Battle-ready Lights
Your visibility doesn’t care how big your gun is. The smart soldier knows he can’t shoot what he can’t see.
When it comes to finding a military grade flashlight, tactical lights are the first and best place to look. Aerospace-grade aluminum, rock-solid design, nearly unbreakable lenses and of course, blindingly bright LEDs – these are all traits prized in military flashlights, which are in fact a subcategory of top tactical lights.
For Your Sidearm – the Klarus XT1C
For a handgun, our best option is undoubtedly the Klarus XT1C. This little light proves that size isn’t everything. 700 lumens and as tough as any of its bigger brothers. This little light that could is impact-resistant up to 1 meter and rated IPX-8, meaning it’s waterproof up to two meters. But just like the men and women in uniform who use them, military flashlights can’t just be tough – they have to be smart. This light has Klarus’s ITS, “internal temperature system,” which monitors the light’s heat buildup and modulates the brightness level automatically. Klarus managed to make a light here with all the features of regular-sized best tactical flashlights, but at half the size.
For Your Rifle – the Klarus XT20
The XT20 is one of Klarus’s brightest lights at 2000 lumens, and it’s no wonder. This light has a dual head, each with its own CREE XM-L2 U2 1A LED. This design gives you good flood and good throw, with a max beam distance of 347 meters (a distance of three football fields). It’s also got a very respectable runtime for such a bright light, lasting two hours at the highest brightness setting, which means more illumination for you in the field. It’s also got Klarus’s signature dual-tail switch for quick access to the strobe, a tactical necessity. If you’re looking for a military tactical flashlight for a rifle, you can’t do much better than the XT20.
Alternate Options – the Mecarmy SPX10 and the Nitecore P12GT
The MecArmy SPX18 is a rugged and powerful tactical light. Its glove-friendly 360-degree tail switch can be operated from any angle. It’s 1100 lumens with 287 meters. And its 3400mAh 18650 battery doesn’t need a charger; it can actually be plugged in directly to a power source to be charged. Now that’s self-reliance. Alternatively, the Nitecore P12GT is almost just as bright at 1000 lumens and with a little more range at 320 meters. It also features a dual-switch design for a no-thinking-required interface.
Whether you’re looking for an online store with a military flashlight for sale or other tactical gear on offer, BestTacticalFlashlights.org has your six.
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. Feel free to take a look at our other flashlight reviews in our blog.