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Best Tactical Flashlight – Where to Start

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I wanted to talk a little bit about a big problem in the flashlight industry currently. That problem is that if you don’t really know a lot about tactical flashlights, how do you wade through all of the different models and brands and generic flashlights that are out there? One thing that I have seen is that over the passed five years, there have been a lot of new flashlights that have been introduced on Amazon, eBay. A lot of eCommerce stores that are some of these lower-end, generic tactical flashlights from China. First, just to be clear, a lot of the flashlights that you can buy online are going to be from overseas. There’s only a few flashlight brands that really are made in the USA. There are some really good brands that are made in the USA, but for the most part, you’re going to pay a pretty high premium for an American-made flashlight.

There’s not a lot to dispute there. If you have the budget and if you really care about buying a flashlight, a tactical flashlight made in the USA, then there’s a few brands. You’re going to pay a premium. If you don’t care which I think that most people don’t because it’s like within the other consumer, you know, the majority of consumer goods are going to be made in China or somewhere else overseas. Then, what I have seen is that there are these professional marketing companies that have found a way to buy these three and four-dollar tactical flashlights and find a way to package them really cleanly and package them with almost deceptive marketing practices as the super high-end flashlights. I don’t want to name any specific names, but I have seen dozens of the same exact model of flashlight that you can buy on Alibaba, and you can source from China that cost $3.50. What these marketers are doing is they’re selling them or listing them at 50, 60, $70 saying that they normally list at $200. They’re going to sell them to you now for 75% off for a total of, let’s say, 20 bucks.

Now, in the end, if you compared one of these tactical flashlights that you can get for 20 bucks online. You see a lot of these marketers buying paid search ads on Google and Bing and Yahoo!. The reality is that these flashlights that you’re getting for $20, most of the time, the best tactical flashlights are going to be of higher quality, brighter and more durable than your average flashlight that’s plastic that you buy from However, you know, I think that that discrepancy of paying $20 for a light that you could, as a consumer, find on … You can also find those same lights on eBay for five, six bucks. There’s really no reason to overpay.

To get back to the original topic which is how do you identify and distinguish between a flashlight that is … You know, it’s a good durable flashlight, but it’s not worth what you’re going to pay for, how do you distinguish those from the flashlights that are either of the same price range or maybe a little higher price range that are going to be from a much better brand and be of much better quality, have better internal parts? A couple things that I would say you could do right off the bat is, you know, there are a lot of websites that advertise. “Here, check out these best tactical flashlights. Check out these best military flashlights. Check out these best high lumen, high rated flashlights.” The majority of those are going to be aimed at promoting sales of a certain brand, whether it’s on Amazon or whether it’s on eBay or some other affiliate offer.

An easy quick way to distinguish between those flashlights and the actual best tactical flashlights that you can buy is to look at the forums. Check out or These forums, there are a lot of flashlight enthusiasts that spend a lot of time and a lot of energy and a lot of money actually researching these lights, buying them,, taking them apart, seeing what the actual parts, what the parts are, where they were made, whatever. Actually, to a fault, in some cases, so a lot of these guys are such flashlight fanatics that they’ll buy a 50-dollar light that is a great light from a great brand. There may be something they don’t like about it like the tint of the LED color or like there’s PWM modulation to where the entire circuitry doesn’t actually sustain that exact high lumen output. It modulates it. There’s a lot of other specific factors that can be taken into account, but it you check out those two sources, they are going to give you a better idea of the brands of the actual best tactical flashlights that you can buy.

Another thing you can do is whenever you’re reading the specs and looking at the descriptions of flashlights, look for if the manufacturer or the brand states that the lumens are measured and are rated via ANSI lumens. That’s A-N-S-I, and so that ANSI lumen rating is a measuring standard that is going to … It means that it really actually is a thousand-lumen-output flashlight. What happens a lot of times is these advertisers are saying that it’s a 2,000-lumen flashlight, but the reality is the lumens that are actually emitted, that come out of the front of the flashlight are nowhere near that. That can be affected by a lot of factors with the flashlight. You know, if it has a plastic bubble or a plastic lens covering the light, if it’s not high quality and if it’s plastic and not glass, then it’s going to deteriorate and absorb some of that light or deflect it to where it will reduce the lumen output actually coming out of the light.

Another way that you can pretty easily distinguish the actual best tactical flashlight versus the cheap Chinese flashlights that you could theoretically buy for five bucks, but you’re about to pay 40 is the look of it. I’ve noticed that a lot of these flashlight marketers are just repackaging the same exact generic light. What that generic light is it’s an aluminum alloy tactical flashlight that has a zoomable head, so the head can move in and out. It can allow it to tighten the beam or widen the beam. It shines through a little plastic magnifying type lens. Then, it also has some markings on the head. These markings are little white marking and white lines that display the zoom feature of the light. This is another one of the easiest ways to tell if this is just a rebranded and repackaged light.

There are literally hundreds of these flashlights that are from a few select Chinese manufacturers that allow people to print a logo on the flashlight. Then, they just, theoretically, it could be one flashlight that is selling on Amazon and eBay that is selling under 25 different brands. The prices vary greatly. Another thing that you can look at when looking for the best tactical flashlight for you is the IP rating. A lot of times, there are flashlights that are marketed as waterproof, but they don’t actually have an IP rating. A real waterproof flashlight should have an IP rating. That IP rating can be IP8. It can be IP6. It can be IP44. There’s this big long range of the types of ratings that they can have. Sometimes, you’ll see them as IPX8, IPX6. A lot of times, it will also state specifically what that means.

For example, an IP8 rating, it could say that it’s completely submersible underwater for up to a certain depth for a certain amount of time. Whenever you’re looking for a really good tactical flashlight and a high-end flashlight from a quality brand and a quality manufacturer, you definitely want … If that’s something you care about, then you want to get one that has an IP and it may be shown as IPX8, IP6. Something with at least an IP rating because this is going to immediately validate the quality of the build. Another term that I have seen used a lot is military grade tactical flashlight. This is a very generic term. Although there are things that can be determined as military grade and non-military grade, I don’t think that there’s a lot of restrictions on how that word can be used. Something as simple as an aluminum, you know, an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy body, you could say that that’s military grade because military flashlights are made of aluminum alloy or machine-grade aluminum alloy.

You got to be careful whenever you read and see some of those marketing buzz words like military grade. Just because a flashlight says that it is military grade does not mean that it is used by the military. This is the same with the LED. I’ve seen some of these tactical flashlight brands that say that it uses the same technology as the US military or the same technology as the US Navy Seal’s. Although this is true, the US Navy Seals do use flashlights that are LED flashlights, it’s not really saying much. I mean LED technology has been out for years now to where just because this flashlight has an LED in it, an LED emitter, doesn’t necessarily mean, you know. It’s a stretch. The way that they’re wording it is saying, “This flashlight has the same technology that the US military uses.” Yes, the US military uses LED flashlights. You got to look at the exact wording. Look at the people who are buying the flashlight.

You can pretty quickly see some of the reviews and tell if they’re fake. To reiterate on a few of the things you can look at when you’re looking for the best tactical flashlights that you can buy online, you can definitely check out the forums. Check out, I think there’s also a couple other ones, You can also look at the marketing language that is used. You can look at the IP rating of the light which will tell you how water and dustproof it is. You can look at the actual physical look of the light. If it looks exactly like 20 other lights all around it, then you’re probably not getting something that’s unique and high quality. Again, I’ll stress that even the cheap flashlights that are being made from China, they’re still going to be better and more durable than the ones that, you know, the Energizer flashlights that you can buy that take double A’s at Walmart for three bucks. However, if you’re really looking for a high quality tactical flashlight, make sure you do your research. That will help you not overspend for what you’re getting.

There are a few brands of flashlights that offer a reliable warranty and make quality products.  You can find them here.