A tactical flashlight is a heavy duty military-grade device that is often used by individuals in the military and other survivalists. A tactical flashlight can be ten times brighter than a typical flashlight and can be small enough to fit on your key chain.
This guide will lead you through the considerations that you need to think about before purchasing a tactical flashlight as well as give you a few top picks to review. First, let’s discuss why a tactical flashlight is important to have.
Our Top List: Best Tactical Flashlights
- Best Overall Tactical Flashlight: Fenix PD35 850 Lumen CREE XM-L2 U2 LED Tactical Flashlight
- Best Value Tactical Flashlight: Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL High Lumen Professional Tactical Light
- Best Bright Tactical Flashlight: Klarus XT11 Outdoor Tactical Flashlight
- Best Compact Tactical Flashlight: Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight with Focusing Lens
Scroll down to read our detailed reviews on each of these items, but you can check out the current prices and read customer reviews on Amazon by clicking the links above.
Reasons to use a Tactical Flashlight
- Finding Items in the Dark – Regardless of the type of flashlight that you have, the main reason that you own it is to illuminate dark areas. If you are walking through a parking lot, you need to see where you are going. Items that fall behind the couch are not easy to retrieve without a flashlight.
- Emergencies – If the lights in your home go out during a storm, a flashlight can make it so that you do not need to spend hours in the dark. In the event of a flood or a fire, a flashlight can be used as a signaling device that can make the difference between life and death. They can also be very helpful in a survival situation.
- Self Defense – Most tactical flashlights are designed to give you an advantage in combat. The extremely bright light can be capable of temporarily blinding someone who attacks you, and the flashlight itself is hard enough to be devastating to an attackers face. Take a look at this for more about tactical flashlight self defense.
Tactical Flashlight Buying Guide
The type of material that your tactical flashlight is comprised of matters a great deal, as it will affect the weight of the flashlight as well as the durability that it offers. Here are a few of the most common materials used for tactical flashlights:
- Titanium – This material is extremely strong and light, but you can expect to pay a pretty penny for a flashlight made from it.
- Stainless Steel – A material that is known for its durable characteristics, but it is not the lightest option.
- Anodized Aluminum – If you go for this material, make sure that it is hardened to add additional strength to the flashlight.
Size and Weight
Tactical flashlights can be purchased in sizes that range from micro to large, so no matter what your need is, you can always find a device that is the perfect size for you.
The keychain versions are perfect for having a bright light on hand, but if you will be using this flashlight as a weapon, it is best to purchase one of the larger options. Having a heavy flashlight that is uncomfortable to carry around is may also be inconvenient, so find a flashlight that has a good balance.
Durability and Water Resistance
Durability is also important when it comes to a tactical flashlight. You want the material that it is made from to be durable enough to last for a long time, but you also need to consider other features as well. Is the flashlight waterproof or is it simply water resistant? If not, what happens in the event of a flood? Here are the different levels of waterproofing available using the IP Code system:
- IPX4 – This level means that the flashlight is water proof, but submerging it completely is a bad idea.
- IPX7 – A flashlight with this level can be placed in a depth of up to one meter for 30 minutes of time.
- IPX8 – This is the best waterproofing level available. A flashlight with this feature can be submersed in a meter of water for up to four hours of time.
Type of Light
Do you prefer a flood style light or a throw light? A flashlight with a large flood is great for illuminating a large area, while a throw light reaches much further in a specified beam. Each type of light has its uses; the decision lies in whether you need a large area illuminated or an area in the distance.
The brightness level of your flashlight is very important, so make sure to consider the lumens that are available to you before making a purchase. Check out this tactical level lighting guide to decide the amount of lumens that you need. A lot of tactical flashlights only have an on and off switch, as it is preferred for consistency. Some flashlights give you two different brightness levels to select from, while others give you even more than that. Which option do you prefer?
Source of Power
The battery life of your flashlight needs to have a life of at least 30 minutes, though a longer life is always preferred. Typically, the larger flashlights are capable of holding batteries that have a longer lifespan. The most common battery power sources that are used in tactical flashlights are:
- Disposable Alkaline Batteries – AA, AAA, C, and D batteries fall into this category. They are easy to find and cheap to purchase, but the strength of the batteries may not last, which means that you will be spending a lot on additional batteries.
- Disposable Lithium Batteries – These batteries can be found easily, just like alkaline batteries, but they tend to be the more powerful option.
- Rechargeable Cells – Lithium Ion batteries are a bit expensive, but they are powerful options that can easily be recharged.
- Integrated rechargeable Battery Pack – Some flashlights have battery packs that are designed specifically for that device.
Type of Switch
The last thing to consider is the type of power switch you prefer. Choosing between a head twist, a body switch, and a tail button does not make a difference in performance; it is simply a matter of preference. If you are planning to use this flashlight as a self defense weapon, then the tail button is recommended so that you can have the flashlight above your head before turning on the light.
Best Overall Tactical Flashlight
The Fenix PD35 is a great tactical flashlight that has a lot of features that we touched on previously. This flood light can operate at a maximum of 960 lumens, and it is powered by one rechargeable lithium ion battery. One caveat though, this level of brightness uses more battery power, so batteries may only last for a few weeks.
The device is small and compact; in fact, it only weighs three ounces, so it is easy to take with you on your travels. It even has a tail switch to give you a tactical advantage if needed. There are six different output levels on this Fenix, one of which is a strobe mode that can be used in emergencies. The flashlight features a non-slip grip on the surface as well as a clip that is included in the design for your convenience.
Best Value Tactical Flashlight
The Streamlight ProTac is a great tactical flashlight to consider if you are on a budget. It is a 600 lumen device that uses LED technology to provide as much light output as possible. This brightness will not decrease over the entire life of the batteries.
For a compact flashlight, the power of this device is amazing; in fact, there are three different lighting modes that allow you to select a flood light, a direct light or a light that is a combination of the two styles. The power button is on the bottom end of the flashlight and the handle features a non-slip grip for your convenience. In addition, there is a clip on the device for easier storage, but it can be inconvenient to attach to your belt loop while on the job.
Best Bright Tactical Flashlight
If you are looking for an extremely bright tactical flashlight to blind an attacker, then the Klarus XT11 is a great device for you to consider. At maximum output, this small, hand held flashlight shines at 1060 ANSI lumens. In addition, the battery power can keep the unit running strong for 2.5 hours at the maximum brightness, but if you use a lower output it can last for up to 145 hours.
There are three lighting modes that you can make use of as well as one flashing one available on the tactical flashlight. Though if you like the light set on a lower level, when you turn it back on it will automatically be on high. This lightweight unit also includes a non-slip grip and a clip for your convenience.
Best Compact Tactical Flashlight
This military grade tactical flashlight is small enough to easily fit in the palm of your hand. It features a very intense direct beam that can be adjusted to five different levels, which are low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS. The unit can submerged under water in a depth of up to three feet; in addition, the handle of the flashlight comes complete with a non-slip surface to keep you from dropping it if it gets wet.
It is powered by AAA batteries, which means that they will not last forever, but it is a great choice if you want a flashlight for your next camping trip or as a flashlight that you keep in the car for emergencies.
Tactical flashlights are great to keep on hand for many reasons. Hopefully, this guide had helped you learn more about tactical flashlights and given you the tools that you need to purchase one that will be useful for years. If you do not like our top picks, then reconsider our buying guide to find one that is perfect for you.