If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’ve been searching for the best tactical flashlight. Otherwise, you might just be a regular reader.
Flashlights are a commonly overlooked piece of equipment. After all, it’s 2020. Just about everyone is actively walking around with a smartphone in their pocket with a built-in flashlight. Along with a wealth of other features. Because of this, it’s probably easy to have missed how far torches have came along since we first entered the digital era.
The brightness and power of even the most generic flashlights has increased pretty much exponentially. If you’re used to using your cell phones torch you might be surprised at the difference. Even flashlights on the cheaper end of the spectrum can dramatically outperform most of the common variants that are built in to modern cell phones.
Tactical flashlights are an absolute must have for anyone with or without a firearm. If you own a firearm, they’re great of quickly designating targets in a low-light environment. If you don’t own a firearm, they’re still generally handy to have at hand in a multitude of different scenarios.
Power outage? These will stop you fumbling around in the dark until the power’s back up.
Camping? They’re absolutely invaluable for increasing your environmental awareness. They’re also ideal if you find yourself in a situation where you need to evacuate your tent at night.
Hunters and hikers will also see a great deal of benefit in keeping a reliable light source at hand.
Buyers Guide – Finding The Best Tactical Flashlight
Luckily, flashlights aren’t particularly complex devices. As such there’s only a few things to take into consideration when shopping around for a high quality one. With that being said, it’s critical that you do keep these factors in mind. Having this knowledge could be the difference between completely wasting your money and picking up a reliable piece of equipment that will last you years.
Size & Weight
This generally won’t be too much of a big deal if you’re opting for a tactical gun flashlight. These are designed to be attached to a pistol with relative ease. As such they don’t tend to get too large or heavy. With that being said, you may prefer a sleeker tactical flashlight to better compliment the aesthetics of your firearm. It’s worth a consideration, however brief that may be.
If you’re just looking for a generic tactical flashlight – they can get pretty big. It’s important to remember that bigger doesn’t always mean better. It’s not uncommon to see flashlights half the size of older models with much brighter luminescence. If something is so big as to be unruly – you don’t necessarily need to settle for it.
The materials used to manufacture your flashlight are of critical importance. Ideally, if you’re purchasing a tactical flashlight, you’ll want a product that’s actually durable. Be wary of products manufactured from cheap plastics. You should also pay close attention to see if your chosen product is waterproof. Waterproofing is honestly a minimum requirement for many people. You never know when you’ll get caught in the rain or drop your torch in a puddle!
You should give this some consideration before making a purchase. You can opt for a battery that utilizes an integrated rechargeable battery pack. Alternatively, you can opt for one that uses disposable batteries. There’s also the third option of buying disposable-style rechargeable batteries that can be taken out and charged externally.
Give some consideration into what material your battery is made from. Normally, you’ll only have the option between lithium and alkaline. Alkaline batteries are much cheaper and easier to get a hold of. However, they tend to have a lower power output than their lithium-based brothers. They’re also slightly more prone to leaking and rupturing. If you’re planning on using your flashlight for emergency purposes – lithium may be ideal. As you can store power in a lithium battery for longer periods of time. It isn’t uncommon to see lithium batteries with a shelf life extending well over 9 years.
Obviously the power draw of the device will affect how long your battery lasts. Reliable devices will normally display the type of battery life you should expect with continous use. This information will generally be provided alongside information on the specific batteries the device requires.
Generally speaking, the bulb is probably going to be an LED bulb. The best tactical flashlight will use some form of high-lumen LED bulb. These bulbs are much more energy efficient and have excellent luminescence.
This is possibly the most important consideration you should have in mind. The ‘beam type’ of a torch refers to the style of beam it emits when powered on.
There are two main types of beam: “throw” and “flood”. “Throw” beam types are generally designed to throw light over a longer distance.
This is ideal if you’re looking for something in particular. Or looking to have a reasonable amount of situational awareness over a bigger distance. The best throw-beam flashlights will generally be capable of throwing a beam over a distance of hundreds of meters. ‘Throw’ style lights will generally have longer, sleeker designs.
“flood” beam types are designed to flood an smaller area with light. They provide a lot of illumination in a short radius. They’re ideal if you’re looking to illuminate a stationary area. They’re super useful if you’re looking for something smaller in the dark too – like keys. ‘Flood’ style lights will generally have shorter, wider designs.
Good, reliable torches will have a nice mixture of the two – but they will generally gravitate more towards one beam type. It can sometimes be worth your while to actually own one of each.
The luminosity of a torch is another one of the most important factors to consider. The luminosity of a torch is simply how bright it actually is. Luckily, there’s a unit of measurement for measuring luminosity. As such you don’t need to rely on subjective reviews. The brightness of a torch is measured in “lumens”.
As a frame of reference, you should know that a rough average for many modern phone flashlights sits at around 50 lumens. It is not uncommon to see a flashlight of about 5000 lumens. That’s ten times stronger than your phones light.
You would struggle to be able to assert this if you had both light sources side by side, though. Estimating the lumen output of a light source is actually really tricky to do by eye. So it’s better to rely on numbers as a frame of reference. This is namely because the human perception of light is basically logarithmic. Whereas lumens are measured in a linear sequence.
Careful consideration of the beam type and the luminosity of a beam will allow you to procure something that’s ideal for your needs. Watching some videos or observing customer review photographs will also give you a great idea of how practical your purchase may be.
The Best Tactical Flashlight
We’ve also taken the liberty of compiling a list of our favourite tactical flashlights. These flashlights were all picked with careful consideration in accordance with our own buyers guide. Everything from batterylife, mobility and beam type have been factored in.
Thorfire LED BLFQ8 Searchlight [Premium Quality Product]
This flashlight is insane. It may not conventionally be considered a tactical flashlight – it’s too thick to fit in your pocket. But it’s still roughly the same size as a can of coca-cola – meaning it’s still easy to transport and will fit easily in a backpack.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this device is the light output. It can emit a staggering 5000 lumens. Given that the average hi-beam on a cars headlight is 1200 lumens, this is insane. That’s just over 4x the strength of a cars hi-beam.
This output alone gives you a considerable tactical advantage. Both in terms of visibility and in terms of being able to disorientate others. Shining this light in someones direction? They’re going to struggle to see you. Which is why I’ve included this in my rankings for the best tactical flashlight.
Every single aspect of this device is built with quality and functionality in mind.
It’s no wonder at this point why it’s built so thick – it’s crammed full of high quality components in order to enable this kind of power output. All of the circuitry and contact points within are plated in gold. Gold has much better conductivity than copper, it also lasts much longer. The only reason it’s not used more often in engineering is due its price.
It’s designed to be used with 4 18650 batteries. The conventional, button-top styled ones.
Whilst the beam is capable of illuminating a wide area, it still has a throw of 450 meters. It’s very unlikely you will ever require a torch more powerful than this.
It has an intellgient memory that allows it to remember the last power setting it was set to before being powered off.
The glass over the lens is manufatured specifically to ensure maximum transmittance.
It has a waterproof rating of IPX8, meaning it can be submerged in over a meter of water without encountering issues.
The casing is made from an annodized aircraft aluminium, ensuring that it’s highly resistant to external damage. Aircraft aluminium is specifically manufactured to be durable but lightweight.
It even has a tripod mount. This is perfect for a flash light this powerful – it can easily double up as a stationary floodlight. If you’re going camping deep in the woods, this could enable you to work on your sight well after sundown.
GearLight High-Powered S2000 LED Flashlight
The Gearlight S2000 is an outstanding little piece of tactical gear. It has an incredibly sturdy, reliable build quality. So you can rest easy knowing that it’ll be able to take a few hard knocks without giving up on you. It’s also water-resistant. Meaning you can happily take this thing out in the rain or snow without worrying about it shorting out on you.
It takes 4 AA batteries, these aren’t included. You can opt to purchase a set of 4 AA rechargable batteries if you don’t want to constantly replace batteries. The major upside to this taking AA batteries is that you can pack spares if you’re taking it on a trip. It’s also generally easier to source AA batteries than some of the alternatives.
It can deliver a beam with a brightness of up to 1200 lumens. 1200 lumens is the average output of the hi-beam headlights on a car. This is a great starting point for any torch. But this is particularly impressive when you realize that it’s capable of delivering this level of output whilst still remaining relatively small and mobile. This enhanced mobility means that not only will it easily fit into a backpack, you can likely fit it into the glove compartment of your car also.
It also has a couple of different unique features. It’s ultra-wide beam can illuminate large segments of land with relative ease. Making it a worthy consideration for the title of best tactical flashlight.
The beam mode can be focused and adjusted. Giving you the choice between flood light functionality and throw light functionality. It even has strobe and SOS patterns available.
On top of the outstanding functionality of this device, it also comes with a 1 year guarantee. If you encounter any issues with your torch you can return it to the manufacturer for a replacement.
Helius Zeta XO
The Helius Zeta XO is an ideal flashlight for any keen survivalist. It has a wide variety of amazing features that set it apart from competitors. It’s brightness can be dialed all the way up to 3000 lumens. This torch can illuminate over a distance of 500 meters. Given the fact that this is roughly the length of a human palm, this is completely staggering.
You aren’t just restricted to the ultra-high power mode either. It comes with 5 different toggleable modes to allow for greater versatility of use. It has a high power mode for maximum illumination, but it also has medium and lower power modes which trade some of your luminosity in return for longer battery life. On top of the 3 different “strength” settings it also comes with a strobe feature and an SOS feature.
You have a couple of different options with what battery you can use to power this thing.
- 1pcs 18650
- 3pcs AAA batteries
- 26650 rechargeable lithium-ion battery
It has an integrated USB charging port, so if you opt to use this make sure you’re utilising the rechargeable battery.
This device is also incredibly sturdy. It’s waterproof rated up to IPX-67. It can be used in severely harsh weather conditions without fear of degredation.
Furthermore, it’s manufactured with a tough, military grade aluminium. This grants it the ability to easily survive falls onto concrete from distances of up to 10ft. It may be able to survive a higher distance depending on a handful of factors – but you know you’re secure up to 10ft. This device can certainly survive being dropped from your hands regardless.
It comes with a USB charging cable, a rechargable battery and a lanyard.
It also comes with a 1-year warranty. Meaning that in the unlikely event that you encounter issues with your device – it’ll be replaced for absolutely no charge.
Deseeker Tactical Flashlight
This is another incredibly bright, compact flashlight. It has a brightness output of up to 1380 lumens. This is incredibly impressive for a torch of this size – it can actually fit in your pocket. Despite weighing under 200 grams, it has a maximum beam distance that extends well over 200 meters. A few years ago a torch of this power rating would’ve easily have been 5x the size and weight.
It comes with a magnetic usb charging cable. This cable can be plugged in to any USB power source to provide a power source for the device.
This also has an incredible 7 different power modes. The lowest power mode is set to 20 lumens, this is enough to navigate around a smaller room in total darkness.
The medium power setting is 150 lumens, this is a few times brighter than the flashlight on a cellphone, so it’s pretty handy. it also provides a good tradeoff against power consumption.
The high power setting provides a nice brightness of 500 lumens, this is normally more than enough to get the job done.
If it’s simply not enough though, there’s also an ultra power mode, which provides the maximum brightness of 1380 lumens. It’s unlikely you will need much more than 500, but having the option of more is always great if you’re looking to illuminate across a bigger distance or wider area.
Moving away from the traditional light settings, it also comes with your standard SOS pattern option, which operates at 150 lumens. It also has a strobe function which operates at maximum brightness – both are ideal if you’re looking to get someones attention in the dark.
The torch utilises a clever gear memory function that allows it to remember the last setting it was switched to before being powered down.
It’s built from a sturdy aircraft aluminium and it’s impact-resistant and waterproof.
The impact resistance is no joke either – it can easily survive falls of up to 1.5m. On top of this, it has an incredibly great waterproof rating. It’s rated at IP68, meaning it can handle submersion in up to 2 entire meters of water. You could take this thing swimming with you if you really wanted.
If you somehow manage to find yourself in a position where your flashlight is broken (unlikely). You can get some comfort knowing that you’re covered by a years warranty. Simply send it back to the manufacturer and they’ll take care of it for you.
Overall I’d say the small size of this device coupled with its power are solid combination. So much so that I’d rank it pretty highly in our list. Is it the best tactical flashlight? Maybe not. But it’s definitely up there.
Lemofun Tactical Flashlight [Excellent Budget Buy]
If you’re operating under a bit of a stricter budget, the Lemofun tactical flashlight is an ideal choice. It can be operated with a 18650 rechargable battery, meaning it’s fairly easy to keep it powered. It comes in at a much lower price than some of it’s competitor, despite this it’s still able to provide 1000 lumens of light. This is roughly 10x as strong as the old fashioned incandescant lights you used to see. And it’s likely a fraction of the price those old school torches used to cost.
It has 4 different lighting modes. High, medium, low and strobe. On top of this, you can also adjust the focus of the light. It has throw functionality so you can expect to be able to configure your torch to throw light over 600 meters.
With a full charge, the powerful lithium-ion rechargable battery pack will last for up to 8 hours of continous use. The battery itself should be able to withstand 100,000 hours of total usage. After this you will have to consider a replacement. This battery can also be charged via usb – doesn’t matter the outlet. You can charge it from a wall outlet or a video game console. The usage of LED lights definitely contributes greatly to the long lasting life of this device.
The full metal body provides a great deal of resistance against shock, weather and dust.
1000 Lumens is actually incredibly bright. The ARE other torches with higher outputs in this review. But you may find that you’re pretty surprised by how bright this thing is.
It’s ideal for camping, hunting, hiking or any other scenario where you would require a sturdy and reliable torch.
Impressively, it also comes with a one year warranty. Given the low price point, this came as a little bit of a surprise.
What Makes A Flashlight Tactical?
The most conventionally accepted definition of a tactical flashlight is fairly simple. It’s a reliable, sturdy flashlight that can be used in conjunction with a pistol. Because of this, larger style torches don’t really fit the description. This specific style of light has to be small and mobile. So much so that it can be easily held in one hand. Please note, tactical flashlights can also be weapon mounted. But the ones present in this article are just traditional style tactical flashlights.
Weapon mounted tactical flashlights warranted an article of their own.
Are Tactical Flashlights Legal?
Tactical flashlights are absolutely legal. You can comfortably carry them anywhere in the US. Even models that are specifically designed for police or military use.
Can They Be Used In Self Defense
They’re not the most reliable methods of self defense. But they certainly can be used if the situation arises. 300 Lumens is generally enough to temporarily blind and disorientate someone enough for you to make a safe getaway. Can you imagine how effective 3000 lumens or more would be?