In this buyer’s guide, we are going to review the best tactical flashlights on the market today. As the name implies, these flashlights are designed for both law enforcement and military use. As a result, they are constructed with only the most high-quality materials available. They are also usually waterproof and impact-resistant! Normally, the switch buttons are designed to allow one-handed operation; which makes possible to use it in combination with other gear (like a firearm or gun) – hence the name “tactical flashlight”.
Many tactical flashlights offer various operating modes, such as: low, high, SOS, and Strobe. Their bulbs are usually made of hardened glass to provide extra protection, which is normally powered by one, two, or three AAA (or CR123) batteries.
Professional safety, emergency, and survival situations require a great deal of training. However, in many scenarios, we may be limited by our physical capabilities. That’s where the tactical flashlight can help you out! Whether you work in law enforcement, a firefighting brigade, the military or simply prefer survival trips as a hobby; you know the importance of having a reliable source of light – which is best taken care of with a tactical flashlight.
They have been designed to be durable and long-lasting, regardless of the conditions they are used in. It is hard to imagine a modern emergency or survival kit without a tactical flashlight, and some would say it’s just down-right silly. Nowadays, these are multi-functional devices that can be deployed in many different ways.
Choosing the best tactical flashlight may be easier said than done. There are plenty of manufacturers and brands, all of which are offering a wide selection of models. This may be confusing, even for an expert, but that’s why I’m here to help you out. The average customers tend to struggle when it comes to sifting through all of the brand names out there. That is why we have decided to read through as many customer reviews as possible, in order to help you find the right tactical flashlight for your needs!
In this article, you’ll find five tactical flashlights; all of which we consider to be the best options at the moment.
What To Look For
When buying a tactical flashlight, make sure you have paid attention to the following details:
1. Light output.
This is the amount of light emitted by the flashlight. In other words, it is the brightness being produced. It is normally measured in lumens, a term that you may have heard of before. Although most tactical models offer 300-1000 lumens, it is possible to cause temporary blindness with only 60-100 lumens.
It is also important to understand that light output simply measures how many photons are being generated. This number has nothing to do with the efficiency, but it’s nice to take note of. That is why you may often encounter a flashlight that has a very modest lumen output, yet is remarkably effective in lighting the surroundings.
2. Peak beam intensity
This is measured in candelas, and shows the quality of the light produced by your flashlight. While lumens tell you how much light a flashlight can produce, candelas characterizes the quality and efficiency.
Surprising to many people, light output and beam intensity will make a huge difference in your flashlight. The process of comparing the peak beam intensities of flashlights (from different manufacturers) may not result in an accurate comparison.
3. Battery life
Most tactical flashlights are powered by common batteries. However, you should also remember that in most emergency or survival situations, you are highly likely to be busy with more important issues. That is why battery life is so important – you don’t want to be worrying a bout it constantly.
With that being said, you need to remember that battery life is comes down to several factors. Firstly, the battery itself; the bigger the capacity, the better. Secondly, it is important to consider the power consumption of flashlight. Finally, make sure your flashlight can switch into a candle light mode; allowing you to conserve energy in the meantime.
4. Beam distance
This is the distance at which the intensity of the light from your flashlight drops to 0.25 lux. That is approximately the brightness of a full moon on a clear night. Many modern tactical flashlights come with adjustable lenses, which means you can change the focus as you please. It is vital to remember that the beam distance does not depend on the light output.
Light Distance Factors
The most important factors for providing some good distance are the reflector and the possibility of zooming in and out.
1. Impact resistance
A good tactical flashlight has to withstand occasional drops and hits. Moreover, many models are equipped with a strike bezel, allowing you to use the flashlight in self-defense situations.
Impact resistance is measured in meters, indicating the height from which you can drop your flashlight without damaging it.
The quality of the lens, as well as the quality of the reflector, is very important. These factors directly influence the power efficiency and the performance of any light sources. As LED technology advances, the number of watts consumed per lumen decreases.
3. Water resistance
There are three basic water resistance standards you can encounter when looking for a tactical flashlight.
- IPX4 means the device can perform under splashing water conditions. It means you can use it in heavy rain, grab it with wet fingers, etc.
- IPX 7 means your flashlight can be submerged up to a meter for 30 minutes. Such devices are quite useful for survival scenarios.
- IPX8 standard indicates the highest level of protection against water. This means the flashlight can perform for more than 3-4 hours in submerged water.
Along with the aspects mentioned above, you need to customize your search by deciding on the following:
- How often will you use your flashlight? (Battery type).
- Where do you plan to use it most of the time? (Waterproof, submersible, anti-shock).
- Which add-ons are obligatory? (Brightness modes, striking bezel, lanyard, etc.).
- How big or small? (The size of the power supply, battery life).
- How much money are you ready to spend? (The quality of the materials, lifespan).
Benefits Of Owning One
A quality tactical flashlight can be used for many different tasks, trust me on that one. It provides owners with the following benefits:
1. It can be used for self-defense
Having an advantage in a combat situation is absolutely vital, especially in a survival situation. A tactical flashlight can be basically used in two ways; as a light, and as a self-defense mechanism.
First of all, you can use its bright light beam to temporary blind an attacker. This will provide you with extra seconds to either retreat or improve your defense strategy.
You can also use your tactical flashlight as a weapon by striking the attacker with a specially designed bezel. The ability to combine both the striking force and the blinding lumens can make a tactical flashlight a devastating weapon.
2. It is irreplaceable in emergency/survival situations
Whether a natural disaster has shut down the supply of electricity to your home, or you are part of a night rescue team searching for a group of tourists lost in the wild; having a reliable power source to identify things in the dark is more than invaluable. Many tactical flashlights are equipped with SOS and Beacon modes for emergency purposes, because you never know when it’s necessary.
It is perfect for DIY needs as well. Whether you fix a water tap in your kitchen or want to unscrew the plastic bumper of your car, having a source of light to illuminate tight places is quite advantageous.
Top 5 Best Tactical Flashlights
Top 5: Nebo iProTec RM 190
This model is in our top list due to many features. Its light output of 190 lumens is more than enough to blind an aggressor in a self-defense situation, as well as to dominate the attacker’s night vision devices in a military combat scenario.
It is powered by a single CR123 battery, which can provide up to 1 hour of operation in the light mode (and up to 2.25 hours when set to the strobe mode). In both modes, the flashlight throws its light beam as far as 92 meters; which is quite impressive for such a tiny device. Besides that, it provides a weapon-mountable design, requiring no tools to adjust the flashlight on a gun or a rifle.
Many reviewers chose this model due to its durability. Mr. Shirk states:”It is really strong and doesn’t rattle when firing the weapon”. Still, we were able to find some negative reviews from customers who complained about this light, as it stopped functioning after a few rounds of firing. However, it turned out the light was used at a shooting range for quite an extended period of time; something in which it isn’t designed for.
Top 4: Streamlight ProTAC 88040
The ProTAC 88040 features an innovative C4 LED element powered by two CR123 batteries (included into the standard packaging). Its maximum light output is 750 lumens while the average battery life at 600 lumens reaches 1.15 hours. The dimensions of the flashlight (5.2×1.4×1.4 inches) and its weight (5.6 oz) make it the perfect tactical flashlight for survival and emergency situations. On the low mode (33 lumens/800cd), the flashlight will provide a continuous run time of about 33 hours. Throwing its light beam up to an incredible distance of 57 meters, you’ll be equipped with a lengthy and powerful tactical light for a long time. That is probably why many customers consider it “a great flashlight at a ground-breaking price”. Mr. Haef states:”It provides a crazy bright light, and at a price that can beat many flashlights with higher lumens”.
The negative reviews state that this model can wear down a battery quite fast when being used in the high function mode. Many of those who used it intensively had to switch to a rechargeable power source; however, this does not influence the great overall performance of the device. We give it a 4.2!
Top 3: Vizeri LED Tactical
Due to the CREE T6 LED element used in this flashlight, it can create an intense beam of light; providing an output of 900 lumens. It features five intensity modes, including an SOS and a Strobe mode. The body is made of durable aircraft aluminum, and conforms to the IPX 7 waterproof standard. This means that it is submersible to a depth of 1 meter, for about 30 minutes. This model allows for additional flexibility in regards to its power options, as it can be powered by either three AAA or two CR123 batteries. In addition, you get a focusing zoom to provide maximum illumination for both distant objects and the near surroundings.
Many consumers opted for this particular model, mainly due to the lifetime warranty offered by its manufacturer. J. Landsome says:”It is a great tactical flashlight for the money. Besides, I can always have another one due to the lifetime warranty!”.
The biggest flaw of this model (that we were able to spot) is that the standard packaging does not include power elements, which means the flashlight cannot be used right out from the box. However, its owners have the chance to choose whether they’d like to invest in expensive rechargeable batteries or use disposables, which is a nice change (in a sense).We rank this model 4.5.
Top 2: SOLARAY PRO ZX-1
This tactical flashlight is one of the best and brightest devices around, offering up a superb 1200 lumens (produced by the XM-L T6 CREE LED element). It features five modes of operation as well as a lens with zoom focus. All of these are enclosed in a waterproof body made of durable aluminum with a hardened anodized finish and a striking bezel.
Most of the reviewers called it one of the “toughest flashlights around”.
In the box, you will also find two 18650 3.7V rechargeable batteries, a fancy lanyard, a plastic battery container for 18650 elements, an AAA holder (the flashlight can be powered by AAAs too), an AC charging device, and a popular keychain mini flashlight as a bonus. With all of these options to choose from, the flashlight was able to pick up plenty of positive reviews from customers. The only downside of this model we were able to single out is its comparatively high price. With price tags like that, many would try to find a better-equipped flashlight; but they’d probably fail.
However, most of the reviews we read through prove that this model is far from being overpriced as it provides high quality and performance.We would have rated it higher than 4.9 but for the next model.
Top 1: Surefire G2X
Although it took a lot of discussion within our research team, we have finally decided to rank this model a 5.0 due to the following reasons.
First of all, it features a high-performance LED and a micro-texture reflector that create a blinding 320 lumens beam of white light; of which has 2 hours of tactical runtime. This flashlight is activated by a tactical tail cap switch that makes it simple to operate in most high-stress situations when solid training and simple gear are vital for your survival. This model also features a Nitrolon polymer body, which makes it a little lighter in weight, as well as a bit easier to hold with bare hands in cold weather.
This model received the highest ranking from most of the reviewers due to its simplicity, durability, and high performance. James Ambrose says:”They had been absolutely pragmatic when making this model. It’s one of the easiest flashlights I’ve ever used!”.
As for the downsides of this model, some reviewers did not quite like the momentary switch. Some said it should have been stiffer as they rotated the tail cap to the on position. However, we believe this is rather the matter of taste and habits – something that does not influence the overall performance of the device.
When choosing the best tactical flashlight, your needs and requirements are probably the main factors to consider. However, we hope the information we’ve provided in this article will be useful and will help you decide on the best tactical flashlight. While conducting our research, we ascertained that choosing a good tactical flashlight requires processing a great deal of information as well as calls for some decent knowledge of numerous technical details and nuances.
We believe all the five models mentioned in our survey can make for a great tactical flashlight, at least, for most of the customers reading this. These are reliable selections; made of high-quality materials, provide an excellent performance and are fairly priced. However, the Surefire G2X, seems to prevail over the rest of the models. This is mainly due to its simplicity and durability, because it definitely isn’t the pricing! We think it can offer the best quality for the money you’ll spend on it, and that’s why it was at the top of our list.