Best Tactical Flashlights Review

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Flashlights are among the most useful inventions ever conceived by man.  Multiple times a week, if not every day, we find ourselves in situations where having a flashlight is immensely useful.  That’s why every person should carry a flashlight on them at all times for convenience.

If you agree that carrying a flashlight on your person every day is something you need to do, then you should be extremely selective about the specific flashlight that you choose.  A low-quality flashlight won’t serve you well and is simply a waste of money, but a high-quality flashlight will last you many years and in rough conditions.

If you are on the market for a high quality and long lasting flashlight, then you should direct yourself towards finding what is called a ‘tactical flashlight.’ 

What is a tactical flashlight?

We’ll answer that question very soon, and we’ll also talk about the uses for a tactical flashlight, the qualities to look for in one, and the best makes and models of tactical flashlights currently available on the marketplace.

 


What Is A Tactical Flashlight and Why Do You Need One?

So what exactly makes a flashlight a tactical flashlight?  To put it simply, a tactical flashlight is any flashlight that has been made for tactical use.

Okay, that may sound rather obvious, but it basically means that a tactical flashlight is designed to be used in exceptionally rough conditions.  Whereas most other flashlights would fail in these conditions, a tactical flashlight would continue to work just as fine as when you first opened it right out of the box.

Tactical flashlights can be characterized as having each of the following traits:

  • Being built specifically for the military and/or law enforcement in mind
  • Usually having a smaller size than most other flashlights (though not always)
  • Having a much brighter and longer lasting beam
  • Being built out of weapons-grade materials for the highest durability possible
  • Sometimes having the ability to be mounted to a firearm (though not always)
  • Usually having a higher price point than other flashlights

So why do you need to invest more money in a tactical flashlight over a cheaper traditional flashlight?

Well, there are a number of different reasons, including:

1. SURVIVAL

For survival related purposes, there is absolutely no question that a tactical flashlight is a better option than a traditional flashlight.

This is because, as was noted above, tactical flashlights are particularly designed to be used in rough conditions.  If you ever find yourself in a survival situation in the wilderness or in a disaster situation in an urban environment (such as from a natural disaster or any other kind of SHTF crisis), a tactical flashlight will serve you far better than a normal flashlight.

This is why it would be an extremely wise idea to keep a tactical flashlight in your vehicle, in your survival kit, and in your bug out bag.  It’s also why it would be wise to carry a tactical flashlight as part of your…

2. EDC

EDC stands for everyday carry.  Your EDC is basically the items that you carry on your person or in your pockets every single day.  Whenever you leave your house, your EDC always goes with you (or at least it always should).

Many people question the necessity of carrying a flashlight as part of their EDC to begin with since almost all smartphones made these days already come with flashlights come installed with them.

But the truth is that flashlight phones are not nearly as bright or durable as tactical flashlights.  Furthermore, there is a multitude of things that can go wrong with your phone: it can run out of batteries, it can be stolen, you can lose it, it can be damaged, etc.

You can certainly use your smartphone flashlight if you want to, but having a tactical flashlight on your person at all times would be wise so you always have it with you no matter what.  It’s brighter, longer lasting, and more durable than your phone.

3. SELF-DEFENSE

Tactical flashlights, being built to a much higher standard than normal flashlights, are excellent non-lethal self-defense weapons.

And unlike traditional weapons such as firearms or knives, you can carry your tactical flashlight virtually anywhere where weapons are typically not allowed, including on airplanes, into courthouses, at concerts, into colleges and schools, and so on.

There are two ways you can use a tactical flashlight for self-defense.  The first is to use the bright light to temporarily blind or at least disorient an attacker.  Some tactical flashlights even come with a strobe feature that allows you to disorient an opponent in a dark room.

The second way to use a tactical flashlight for self-defense is basically to use it as a bludgeoning weapon.  Striking an attacker with a heavy duty metal flashlight will be more effective than striking them with your fists.  Some models of tactical flashlights come installed with strike bezels that are made specifically for defensive use.

4. FINDING THINGS IN THE DARK

Finally, this is the true reason why we have flashlights, to begin with, right?

Again, tactical flashlights have a much more powerful and longer lasting beam than traditional flashlights.  This makes them even more well-suited for finding objects in darkness, especially if you’re outside.


 

How To Pick The Right Tactical Flashlight For Your Needs

 

flashlight gray

Now that we have defined what a tactical flashlight is and what the reasons are for owning one, we will next talk about the qualities to look for in one so you can find the best tactical flashlight for your specific needs.

No two tactical flashlights are created equally and furthermore, there is no such thing as the ‘perfect tactical flashlight.’  But there is such a thing as the best tactical flashlight for your needs, and to find that flashlight, these are the qualities that you will need to keep in mind:

1. BUILD QUALITY/MATERIALS USED

One of the hallmarks of tactical flashlights is their durability.  The best tactical flashlights use an anodized aluminum material for the body, in contrast to cheaper flashlights that will use plastic.

Anodized aluminum has become a popular choice for tactical flashlights because it finds just the right balance between durability and weight.  It’s very lightweight and easily portable, making it a good option for EDC, while also being exceptionally resilient and capable of withstanding large and repeated falls on the pavement.

It’s also important that your tactical flashlight comes installed with O-rings to help keep out water and moisture, as well as for the bulbs to either be xenon or LED.  Not only should your tactical flashlights be able to withstand crashing over the pavement, it should also be able to resist rain, snow, and being submerged in water as well.

2. LIGHT OUTPUT

As a golden rule of thumb, your tactical flashlight should produce a minimum of 100 lumens.  In contrast, most normal flashlights will only produce a mere fraction of that.

The explanation for the ‘100-lumen rule’ is because 100 lumens is where vision will become impaired.  In other words, if you were to shine your flashlight into the face of an opponent, it would take at least 100 lumens to temporarily disorient them.

Many tactical flashlights have a total output much greater than 100 lumens.  Some are even more than a thousand, with most falling in the three hundred to six hundred range.

3. BEAM DISTANCE

Equally as important as lumen output for your tactical flashlight is beam distance, or how far your beam will travel for you to see in darkness.

Generally speaking, a flashlight with a lumen output of around one thousand lumens will have a beam distance of approximately four hundred meters.

However, a flashlight with that many lumens is certainly on the high-end price wise even for a tactical flashlight.  As was noted above, most tactical flashlights have a lumen output of three hundred to six hundred, which should be enough for your needs.

On the low end, a flashlight with a round thirty to forty lumens should have a beam distance of approximately seventy meters.  Most tactical flashlights will have a ‘low light mode’ of around thirty to forty lumens.  Speaking of modes…

4. MODES

Most tactical flashlights have more than one mode, such as a bright mode, a mid-bright mode, a low light mode, a strobe light mode, and so on.  These modes can be alternated between usually through pressing the on and off button numerous times.

While having multiple different modes is not a necessity for a tactical flashlight, it definitely is a nice feature to have.  The strobe feature is great for self-defense to disorient an attacker, while the low light mode would be preferable for situations where you don’t need a bright mode.

5. RUNTIME

The runtime of a tactical watch basically refers to its battery life.  This is important because if you think about it, your flashlight is only as good as its runtime is.

The runtime of tactical flashlights can vary significantly.  Flashlights that use common AA or AAA batteries will have a relatively short runtime (as in only a few hours), while those that may use more expensive or even proprietary flashlights can have an extremely long runtime (as in around fifty thousand hours or more).

The run time of your battery is up to you, though obviously more is better.

6. IMPACT RESISTANCE

You should be able to drop your tactical flashlight from a high position onto concrete without it suffering any major damage.  While nicks, dings, scratches, and wear are common and should be expected, the functionality of your flashlight cannot be called into question just because you drop it over a hard surface.

7. WATER RESISTANCE

Water resistance refers to how well your flashlight can resist water while still working.  Most tactical flashlights are available in three separate water resistance levels:

  • IPX4: Splash Resistant
  • IPX7: Resistant to one meter underwater for half an hour
  • IPX8 – Resistant to 1 meter underwater for four hours

The more water resistant your tactical flashlight, the better.  While IPX4 is acceptable, for a true heavy duty flashlight that you want to be assured will function in the rain or if you drop it in a puddle, IPX7 or IPX8 would be much preferable.

8. ERGONOMICS

Your flashlight should be comfortable to hold in your hand; otherwise, you probably won’t use it!

At the same time, it’s important for the grip of your flashlight to be textured properly so it won’t be slippery in wet conditions.  You want to ensure that you can keep as much physical control over your flashlight as possible.

Another option will be for your flashlight to have finger grooves so it’s more comfortable and easier to hold onto in wet conditions as well.

9. EASE OF USE/CONTROLS

Not only must your tactical flashlight be comfortable and ergonomic, it also must be easy to use as well.  Ease of use is not just for convenience, it’s also so you can remember how to use your flashlight while under duress.

There’s a reason why most tactical flashlights produced these days utilize what is called a ‘tail switch’ on and off button.  It’s easy to use and remember!

A tail switch is basically an on and off button positioned at the rear of the flashlight.  It can be easily operated with either hand and is especially useful for an overhand grip when you have a handgun in one hand and your flashlight in the other.

Another huge advantage to the tail switch is that it is super easy to activate even while you are wearing gloves.

10. BATTERIES/POWER

Some tactical flashlights will use common AA or AAA batteries.  The advantage here is that these kinds of batteries are cheap and easy to find, but the disadvantage is they do not have as much power or as long a battery life as a flashlight that uses a more powerful but less common battery such as the CR123A.

So in the end, you have to weigh battery life and power vs. convenience.  One solution may be to purchase two tactical flashlights, one that uses a CR123A or similar battery and another that is powered with AA or AAA batteries.

11. SIZE AND WEIGHT

The vast majority of tactical flashlights are small, compact, and lightweight.  This way they can be easily carried on your person in your pocket.

Would you carry a flashlight every day that’s big, heavy, and bulky?

Probably not.

There’s no golden rule for tactical flashlight size or weight because honestly only you can decide what you want for yourself.

But ask yourself these questions: will you be carrying your flashlight around in your pocket?  Will you be mounting it to a rifle or a handgun?  Will you be keeping it in your bug out bag?  Will it be for your car?  Will it be at home on your nightstand?

So long as your flashlight is going to be carried around with you or be mounted to a firearm, it needs to be compact and lightweight.  Otherwise, if it’s going to be in your bug out bag or on your nightstand as part of your home defense set up, it can be larger.

12. ACCESSORIES/EXTRA WEIGHT

Most tactical flashlights these days come with a number of different features.  The most common feature is a pocket clip, which is obviously a must have so long as you’re going to be clipping your flashlight to the inside of your pocket.

Other tactical flashlights will come installed with a zoom lens, which means you can alternate between a wide beam or a narrow beam.

Flashlights that are designed to be mounted onto firearms will come with mounts, while others made for self-defense will come with a toothed bezel around the lens to increase the damage should you ever need to physically strike an opponent.

13. PRICE

Last but certainly not least, we come to price.  Never, under any circumstances, buy a flashlight of any kind with money you don’t have.  It’s an incredibly unwise financial decision and it’s not a good habit to get into.

Fortunately, tactical flashlights are available for an extremely diverse range of prices, from only around $10 up to $100 and more.

Yes, the more expensive tactical flashlights will be higher quality and last you longer.  You get what you pay for with them.

But if you are unable to pay for an expensive flashlight currently, the best solution will be to purchase an inexpensive one that you can afford and then save up over time for a more expensive and nicer model that you can buy later.

Rank Product Review Score
1 Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL 9.9 Buy on Amazon
2 Streamlight Strion DS HL 9.8 Buy on Amazon
3 SureFire G2X Series SUREFIRE G2X 9.8 Buy on Amazon
4 Olight M1X Striker 9.5 Buy on Amazon
5 Orion H40-W 9.3 Buy on Amazon
6 Maglite Mag-Tac 8.8 Buy on Amazon
7 Streamlight 69250 Streamlight 69250 8.6 Buy on Amazon

 


 

Top 7 BEST Tactical Flashlights By Purpose 

Now that we have covered the primary qualities and features to look for in a tactical flashlight, we will next talk about the best makes and models tactical flashlights that have each of those qualities, divided by the primary purpose behind the flashlight:

 


BEST LED TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

1.  Streamlight 88040 Pro-TAC HL

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The Streamlight 88040 Pro-TAC HL flashlight is a compact and lightweight LED flashlight that is perfect for EDC use.  Built out of a high-grade durable aluminum, it comes in three different modes (high, low light, and strobe), as well as a strike bezel that enables this light to be used defensively if need be.

The Streamlight 88040 also has a total battery run time of eighteen hours, and it ships with a holster that will allow you to pack this flashlight on your belt to free up your pockets if you so desire.

All in all, this is a very high-quality tactical flashlight that meets most of the qualities listed out above.  While there’s nothing fully unique about it so to say, it gets the job done.


BEST LED TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

2.  STREAMLIGHT STRION DS HL

Streamlight Strion DS HL

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If you’re looking for a flashlight with a wide beam light to provide you with the most illumination possible, then you should definitely give the Streamlight Strion DS HL a good look.  With a total output of 700 lumens capable of shining light out to over seven hundred feet, the Strion DS HL can also boast of a total lifetime of 50,000 hours, which is extremely impressive even for the high-end tactical flashlights.

The Strion DS HL has three separate brightness levels: low, medium, and high, in addition to a strobe mode that can be used to either disorient an attacker or to signal for help.  The strobe mode has a total run time of two and a half hours.  Finally, the tail switch button the rear of this flashlight allows it to be easily used one-handed or with gloves.


BEST SMALL TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

3. SUREFIRE G2X

SureFire G2X Series

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One of the most popular EDC tactical flashlights of all time is the Surefire G2X.  In fact, the G2X was made specifically by Surefire for the purposes of everyday carry.  This flashlight certainly has some of the features that tactical flashlights should have: a strike bezel, 320-lumen power, a tail cap switch, and two separate brightness levels.

But something that really sets the Surefire G2X apart from many of its competitors is the fact that it does not have an aluminum body. Instead, it’s built out of a durable Nitrolon polymer, which is quite tough in its own right and furthermore is much lighter as well as easier to hold onto when it’s wet outside.

Overall, the Surefire G2X is a very practical, simple to use, and a lightweight tactical flashlight that is excellent for EDC use in your pockets.  Just because it doesn’t have the aluminum body like most other tactical flashlight doesn’t mean that it’s any less in quality, because as was noted above Nitrolon polymer is already a very durable substance.


BEST TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT FOR SELF-DEFENSE

4. OLIGHT MX1 STRIKER FLASHLIGHT

Olight M1X Striker 1000

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It’s only natural that Olight would earn a spot on this list because over the years they have developed a reputation for making some of the most durable flashlights on the market.  The MX1 Striker Flashlight is no exception.

First and foremost, it comes in a hard anodized aluminum case that is impact resistant up to 1.5 meters and IPX8 water resistant.  It also has a total lumen output of 1,000 lumens with a toothed bezel around the lens for self-defense.  The total runtime of the MX1 is 360 hours and is powered by either two CR123A batteries or one 18650 battery.


BEST AR-15 TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

5. ORION H40-W FLASHLIGHT

Orion H40-W

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The AR-15 is the most popular centerfire rifle sold in America today, and it’s an excellent option for home defense thanks to its ergonomics, low recoil, and caliber.  And any weapon for home defense would be greatly enhanced with a mounted light that would give you a huge advantage over a burglar or home intruder.

One of the best AR-15 tactical flashlights on the market is the Orion H40-W flashlight.  This is one of the brightest of all flashlights that can be mounted on an AR-15, and furthermore, it can be installed directly on an AR-15 right out of the box because of it ships with both a Weaver and a Picatinny rail mount.

The Orion H40-W is recoil proof, water resistant, and ships with a one year warranty from the manufacturer that promises a free replacement on any broken or defective components.


BEST MILITARY TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

6. MAGLITE MAG TAC FLASHLIGHT

MagLite Mag-Tac

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Maglite is a company that makes some of the most durable made and toughest flashlights in the entire world.  These are flashlights that are made specifically for military, law enforcement, and emergency responders.

Armed with weather resistant seals and an anodized outside and inside that makes it completely weather resistant, the Maglite Mag Tac is fully dropped resistant and is further installed with a 12 Hz strobe that can disorient literally an attacker.

As an added bonus, this flashlight is certified by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTAO), which confirms its suitability for extreme outdoor use.


BEST SHOTGUN TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT

7. STREAMLIGHT 69250 TLR-2 G FLASHLIGHT

Streamlight 69250

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One of the best flashlights to mount to a shotgun is the Streamlight 69250 TLR-2 G flashlight.  This flashlight is an excellent investment thanks to its C4 LED light that delivers a 12,000-candela peak beam.  It’s also very easy to attach and detach from your shotgun, and the aircraft grade aluminum guarantees its durability.

One of the downsides to this flashlight is its relatively low run time of just under two hours, but on the plus side, the peripheral lighting feature ensures that your surroundings on all sides are well lit.  The 6925 TLR-2 G also ships with a lifetime warranty from Streamlight.


 

Top Tactical Flashlights By Brand

For our last segment of this article, we will cover the top tactical flashlights by brand:

1TAC

 

1TAC TC800 FLASHLIGHT

1TAC TC800 5W

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One of the best flashlights to mount to a shotgun is the Streamlight 69250 TLR-2 G flashlight.  This flashlight is an excellent investment thanks to its C4 LED light that delivers a 12,000-candela peak beam.  It’s also very easy to attach and detach from your shotgun, and the aircraft grade aluminum guarantees its durability.

One of the downsides to this flashlight is its relatively low run time of just under two hours, but on the plus side the peripheral lighting feature ensures that your surroundings on all sides are well lit.  The 6925 TLR-2 G also ships with a lifetime warranty from Streamlight.


2. FENIX

FENIX PD35

Fenix FX-PD35TAC

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The PD35 is not just one of the most popular flashlights from Fenix.  It’s one of the most popular flashlights on the market.  Fenix is one of the biggest names when it comes to tactical flashlights, and many believe the PD35 represents the pinnacle of their achievement when it comes to EDC flashlights.

The PD35 is made specifically for everyday carry and to withstand excessive wear and tear that would normally mean the end of other flashlights.  It has a total length of five and a half inches long, which is short enough to carry around in your pocket but still long enough to get a secure grip over.

One of the coolest features of this flashlight is that it comes with five different lighting modes, with the brightest lighting mode having an output of over 1,000 lumens.

 


SUREFIRE

SUREFIRE DEFENDER SERIES

Surefire Defender Series

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While Fenix may be a big name in the world of tactical flashlights, an even bigger name is Surefire.  The Surefire Defender series flashlight has two brightness levels: low with just five lumens, and high with three hundred lumens and peripheral vision capabilities (meaning it fills all sides of your surroundings with light).

The strike bezel on the front of the body makes it a suitable non-lethal self-defense weapon, and the aerospace aluminum body is further hard anodized to make it corrosion resistant to moisture and humidity on the outside.

 


J5 TACTICAL

J5 TACTICAL V1-PRO FLASHLIGHT

J5 Tactical V1-Pro

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The J5 Tactical V1-Pro Flashlight is one of the best tactical flashlights available for those of you on a budget.  Routinely available for less than $20, the V1-PRO nonetheless delivers performance that mirrors a higher priced option.

Powered with either a 14500 rechargeable batteries or a single AA battery (which is highly convenient), the V1-Pro has three separate modes (high, low light, and strobe), with the high option capable of projecting light out to over six hundred feet.

The V1-Pro is also designed to survive a 1.5-meter drop over hard cement and being temporarily completely submerged under water.  For these reasons, it is suitable for being used at home or in the outdoors in rainy and snowy conditions alike.


 

Final Verdict: The Best Tactical Flashlight For Your Money

 

Our Top Choice…

Fenix FX-PD35TACCheck Price on Amazon.com

 

So with all this said, what is the best tactical flashlight for the money?

While any one of the numerous options we have gone over is excellent, probably the most practical and best all-around tactical flashlight would be the Fenix PD-35.  With a price point of around $70, the PD35 delivers on everything a tactical flashlight should be expected to, and the fact that it has five different lighting modes with 1,000 lumens as the highest level is very impressive.

But of course, don’t feel like the PD-35 is the only flashlight out there that you should consider.  What’s more important is that you keep the qualities to look for in mind that we discussed earlier, and if you can find a flashlight that has each of those qualities, you’ll be good to go.