I’ve been carrying a tactical flashlight with me since I can remember. They’ve definitely changed over the years and I’ve gone through my fair share of them — both good and bad. But I’d never be without one because they’ve gotten me out of some tough situations!
The best tactical flashlights on the market are small, bright and rechargeable, meaning you no longer have to worry about buying new batteries or having big pockets to lug it around.
Every product reviewed here is a tactical LED flashlight. This is definitely not your grandpa’s flashlight.
Flashlights are becoming a very common item on most EDC lists. That means that even if you’re heading out during the day you may still want to carry one with you. Their functionality extends beyond simply lighting up the area you’re in once it gets dark thanks to the strobe mode.
The reason a tactical flashlight is so important is that it’s a powerful self defense tool in its own right. Meaning: a flashlight is a weapon on its own.
Another quick heads up: this site, Outdoors Magazine, is reader-supported which means we may earn a small commission from the Amazon links listed below. Meaning if you purchase a tactical flashlight we’ve recommended, we may earn some extra cash at no additional cost to you. Here’s the deal: Many times (though not all) Amazon has a slightly better price than other retailers and in some cases even sells the product at a deeper discount than the original manufacturer’s asking price. We consider this a win-win both for you and us.
8 Best Tactical Flashlights
With so many flashlights to choose from, I’ve decided to narrow it down and review the top eight I have chosen as my favorites.
Don’t let the name fool you, this is not a cheapo flashlight by any means. The economical part of this tactical light is the price. The FX Tactical comes complete with 2x rechargeable batteries and a rapid battery charger station.
Having rechargeable batteries is one of the main features you should look for in a flashlight and the EcoGear FX does not disappoint. The LED is a high-quality CREE T6 and is housed in an anti-shock and anti-abrasion tough outer casing made from military grade aluminum.
This flashlight is an extra 3/4 inch longer than the other’s in this list and that only adds to the comfort when gripped, plus when used in a self-defense situation a longer shaft is what’s needed as it allows for a great striking surface area.
This strongly-constructed, high-quality flashlight is made from aircraft grade aluminum alloy. The product comes with two rechargeable 18650 3.7v batteries and a rapid battery charger, although users can also opt to use three AAA batteries with the flashlight’s free battery adapter.
Other free accessories include a pre-installed lanyard (and a spare one), a spare O-ring, and a solar-rechargeable LED keychain flashlight. The product is shock-proof and anti-abrasive thanks to a hard-anodized finish that is designed to prevent damage even when dropped, and it is water resistant.
Its lens has a special reflector design in order to enhance the output of light intensity and the distance that it can reach. The flashlight itself has a constant current and voltage circuit design in order to protect the LED emitter from any internal damage.
The light itself is a CREE T6 LED chip that can give out up to 1200 lumens of light at its maximum brightness. Like most flashlights, it comes with five brightness modes: high, medium, low, fast strobe, and SOS signal.
It also has a zoom function, although the more focused the beam becomes, the more square that the light shining onto the point is. The battery lasts for a long time as well, and the charger works for the batteries provided.
The barrel of the flashlight may be slightly slippery in wet conditions, and it can be said that the brightness output of the flashlight leaves something to be desired, especially for its price.
But if you are in search of a flashlight that comes with all its necessary accessories that work well, then you might want to give this one here a try!
SureFire is a well recognized brand of flashlights and for good reason. They have been around for years and always seem to produce top quality products that are robust and affordable. The G2X is no different.
Available in 4 colors (black, desert tan, forest green, yellow), the SureFire G2X provides 600 lumens on the highest setting and sports a super tough Nitrolon body with an anodized aluminum bezel which can be used in self-defense.
This flashlight sits in the middle of the pack when it comes to its weight and length, but stands out in the top 3 thanks to its performance and its virtually indestructible LED light emitter.
This flashlight was designed with the needs of law enforcement professionals in mind. It is made of a lightweight, durable Nitrolon polymer material that is designed to provide users with a firm hold of the product. Its bezel is made from a Mil-spec hard-anodized aluminum, and its window is manufactured with tough polycarbonate in order to prevent damage.
To prevent dust and moisture for collecting, the light is also sealed with O-rings and gasket seals. It claims to be virtually indestructible. There are a variety of options for this flashlight, with a variety of designs named Pro, Tactical, and CombatLight.
Each design has a differently shaped body so users can choose one that fits their grip suitably.
A 600 lumen LED emitter guarantees a strong, blinding light that lasts a long time – 2.5 hours if used continuously. A parabolic, precision micro-textured reflector helps move the light into a smooth, versatile, and fully optimized beam with an ample reach and excellent surrounding light flood. Its lowest output produces a 15-lumen stream of light that saves battery power which lasts up to 45 hours.
This may very well be the best LED flashlight on the market for this price range.
This light is switched on with a tactical tail cap click switch that can be fully pushed for a constant stream of light, or half pushed to release light for a few moments. It is reportedly even bomb-resistant and has a lifetime warranty.
Some users have reported noticing a greenish tint in the light of their flashlights, which is something to consider before buying. Also, all warranty repairs have a month-long turnaround time, making the lifetime warranty feature slightly less appealing.
If you want a flashlight with plenty of customization options and a good guarantee, then you should definitely consider this one.
The Streamlight 88061 is a great choice for anyone who needs a bright tactical flashlight that’s small enough to keep in a pocket, yet big enough to help in a self-defense or emergency situation.
It combines compact size and the C4 LED technology, giving users in one of the brightest personal carry lights for its size.
This flashlight is crafted from machined anodized aluminum which makes the build extremely tough and durable. The lens is impact-resistant glass and is O-ring sealed making this flashlight waterproof to 3 feet for 30 minutes.
The ProTac 1AA Light has a multi-function mode that provides the maximum light output per mode. This light is designed for one-handed functionality and changes between high, low and strobe modes with the press of a button on the head of the flashlight.
This easy-to-handle flashlight is designed for durability, made with anodized aluminum and fitted with impact-resistant tempered glass that is sealed on with an O-ring.
It comes with 2 AA alkaline batteries and a nylon holster when purchased, and it is also made with a removable pocket clip that claims to be unbreakable and an anti-roll head.
Waterproof at an IPX7 rating for submergence of up to 3 feet for 30 minutes, this flashlight is shock resistant and impact resistant for up to 6 feet in order to withstand rough handling and conditions if needed.
The product is also serialized for identification purposes and meets all European Community directives that are applicable to it.
The C4 LED used in the flashlight is designed to have a lifetime of 50,000 hours. It has three user programs to control personal preferences of the varying brightness settings – High, Low, and Strobe – and with the highest level, it provides 350 lumens and 6,400 candela peak beam intensity.
The user programs allow for users to select the settings they wish to have on the flashlight, from being able to switch between all three modes, just between high and low, and to keep it on high only.
It can run for 1.5 hours on its high brightness setting, 3.5 hours using strobe, and 14 hours on the low setting. It has been optimized for one-handed operation and is activated easily with a tactical push-button tail switch.
Downsides to this product include its lack of wider brightness settings for better versatility and no focus options.
In terms of usability, this flashlight holds up well – so if you want a tactical light that is easy to use and performs well, and you will be able to fix potential issues with it on your own, this could work for you!
Powered by 1AA battery, this ProTac light is a top pick for security professionals, outdoor enthusiasts, and for personal safety.
This product is known for being the so-called original 300 lumens tactical flashlight, and was named the official flashlight of Joe Gibbs Racing and Carl Edwards’ Number 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry.
It is one of the bestselling products of its kind and price point. It is an LED flashlight and runs on one AA battery or a 14500 rechargeable. This product was designed to be long lasting and is meant to be suitable for hunting and camping.
It is made of a heavy-duty, compact material that is extremely tough and durable. Given the small amount of battery needed, the flashlight can be said to produce an impressively strong light and can last for more than an hour of continuous use – or a couple of weeks with regular daily use. It was manufactured to feel balanced in a user’s hold and has a built-in clip for easy portability.
The beam of light can reach up to 600 feet on a clear night, which is approximately the length of two football fields. Users can adjust the focal range of the flashlight, allowing them to zoom in for a brighter and more intense ray of light, or zoom out for a wider view.
It has three brightness settings of high, low, and strobe – the latter of which is meant for cycling – so that users can cater to their specific needs with the light.
Some inconveniences that may arise with the product include the fact that in order to cycle between the brightness modes, users must repeatedly click the light on and off to get to their desired settings.
The clip-on feature is also known to be stiff, and despite claiming to be a 300 lumens flashlight, the product can sometimes not appear to be very bright.
With that being said, the J5 team advertises that any users unhappy with their light can contact them with the issues involved.
This product can be purchased inexpensively in a bundle with rechargeable batteries, an AC charger and charger base, and a white tube for holding the battery.
It is one of the bestselling handheld flashlights on the market, and although it is not officially named a tactical flashlight in its product name, it has all the features of one and more.
The OxyLED flashlight is built from a durable aluminum alloy that is of aircraft grade, and it is covered in premium type 3 hard-anodized, anti-abrasive, coating.
Its lens is manufactured to be extremely clear and is made of a tough material with an anti-reflective coat for maximum brightness. In addition, this product can be used even in heavy rain due to a high water resistance level of IPX-6.
Although its battery area means it cannot be submerged entirely in water, there is built-in protection for the battery area in order to keep it working under extreme conditions and also to protect it from overcharge and over-discharge.
Users can choose to use a 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery, which is included in the package, or 3 AAA batteries. This 900-lumen flashlight is designed to produce a natural sort of light from a compact space at high outputs.
It has five settings, which include three levels of brightness as well as a strobe option and an SOS mode. These lights can all be adjusted and zoomed in and out to match a user’s current needs. The Cree LED light is meant to have a lifespan of over 50,000 hours.
However, there is no memory system on the flashlight, so it will always switch on with the high setting regardless of mode a user turned it off in, which can be inconvenient. The battery it comes with is also not known to last for as long as it claims all the time, especially after recharges.
If you want a budget tactical flashlight that you don’t need to buy extra equipment for, and are fine with an above average performance, this may do well for you!
The PeakPlus tactical flashlight is of professional grade and comes with a kit that includes a high-quality rechargeable lithium-ion battery along with a charger and case for that battery.
It also includes a battery sleeve and a green case. This product is fully designed for outdoor use and is made of a strong, anti-abrasive, skid-proof aluminum alloy that is also water resistant. Its body is meant to withstand shock and remain durable under harsh conditions.
The flashlight has a high powered and high-quality durable pro series LED chip that works best with a 18650 battery. It can also run on three AAA batteries if needed.
The 1200 lumens LED lamp itself is meant to last 100,000 hours as has a wide range of 200 to 500 meters. Like the previous entries, this product has five modes, which are full, medium, and low brightness as well as strobe and SOS settings. These modes are then adjustable with a zoom function.
There may be some issues with durability and quality, as the product is meant to be budget-friendly and cost-efficient. The extra cases and holders that are part of the kit may be of a cheap quality, and some parts of the flashlight may not be up to a user’s satisfaction.
With that being said, this product has a 100% customer satisfaction guarantee that consists of a 30-day money back warranty, and users who have issues with their product can contact customer service at any time for questions, clarifications, and ways to solve the problem.
This military quality flashlight is made from aluminum and crafted with a hardened anodized finish. Its components are threaded directly into the flashlight tube, unlike cheap pressure-fit type torches, and each spring is gold-plated to fight against corrosion.
The product is also submergible in water for up to 3 feet, and it is waterproof at a grade of IPX7. It can be fitted with AAA or CR123 alkaline batteries, or even rechargeable ion batteries for more intense usage.
A CREE T6 XML LED light is used for this flashlight, allowing it to be extremely bright and intense regardless of its lumens. It has five modes, namely the high, medium, and low brightness settings, and then the strobe and SOS functions.
The product has a zoom function that works to focus on certain points for added versatility, and it is not a telescoping focused light, meaning that the twist focus will remain on target even if it is jogged accidentally. Despite its focus, the light is also meant to be very illuminating and will light up a large area even when focused on one point.
The product is designed to fit nicely into the palm of a user’s hand, and it comes with a lamp diffuser, a holster with a D-ring, and a carabiner. This is so that a user can attach it to a wide variety of areas, like the outside of a tent or a utility belt. Vizeri as a company also stalks a bike mount, weapons mount, remote tactical switch, orange diffuser, and lithium batteries for purchase with this flashlight, so options are open.
Vizeri as a company also stalks a bike mount, weapons mount, remote tactical switch, orange diffuser, and lithium batteries for purchase with this flashlight, so options are open.
It is noted that the product does not handle being dropped very well, and falling for a particular height above five feet runs the risk of damaging it for some models. However, the flashlight is meant to be able to withstand water, freezing, and dropping, so this is not meant to happen.
The company offers a full refund and returns for users who are not satisfied with the product. If you want something of military grade that won’t break the bank, this may be a good option!
The SOLARAY tactical flashlight is made from aircraft grade aluminum for extra durability and is fitted with a high-quality lens. It is water resistant and comes fixed with an attached belt clip with a deluxe lanyard.
Its small and compact design makes it easily portable, and its balanced weight-to-size ratio makes it comfortable to use.
The product comes with a SOLARAY 18650 3.7v 3000mAH rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which can be recharged for up to 500 times. These batteries are also embedded with a protected circuit board for safety’s sake.
The kit that comes free with the flashlight includes an updated BC-1 battery charger, a battery sleeve, a AAA battery holder for users who prefer using three AAA batteries, 2 spare O-Rings, and a deluxe padded gift box.
Maximum brightness is ensured with XML T6 Cree silicon carbide, single die LED chip technology that gives off 1200 lumen of brightness.
It can light up a whole room easily, and a zoom focus lens allows users to concentrate on particular areas or shine a light on faraway objects for specific lighting purposes. It has five brightness modes, including the standard high, medium, and low settings, a bright tactical intruder strobe, and an SOS signal function.
There are cons to this flashlight; the outer coating scratches easily despite its supposed durability, and the accompanying free charger feels cheap to use, making it a better idea of users to purchase a separate charger.
In addition, when zoomed in, the beam of light becomes square, and its previously excellent flooding of light when zoomed out becomes concentrated and non-existent.
However, customer service with this company is known to be excellent, so it may be easy to contact them about issues and find ways to solve the problems encountered.
The Tactical Flashlight Buyers Guide & FAQ
When looking for a flashlight, you should keep in mind the specific purpose that it is meant for. Thinking about how you will be carrying it will help to determine the size and weight requirements.
There is also the Urban vs Wilderness aspect.
Is your flashlight to be used on camping and hiking trips or will it form a part of your EDC (every day carry) while in an urban setting, say to and from work?
Lastly, we have the features that you need in a flashlight. All of these things will depend on the intended purpose. I will dive deeper into all of these elements in detail below.
So What Is a Tactical Flashlight?
A tactical flashlight are flashlights that are meant to be used in a self-defense situation where any mistake can lead to lethal consequences. They must be reliable, of extremely high quality, and powerful. Tactical flashlights are a great fit for police, security firms, the military and everyday civilians who are concerned about safety.
They also go by other names like “tac light”, “tactical light”, or “high intensity flashlight”.
Similar to a tactical pen, these flashlights can be easily be carried on your person everyday (EDC) and used in a combat situation if needed.
What are the most important features pieces of a tactical flashlight?
A tactical flashlight consists of:
- Beveled edge to use as a striking surface to fend off an attacker
- Flashlight head which houses the optics
- High lumen bulb to blind an attacker – measured in lumens
- Tough and durable material typically weapon/aircraft grade
- Battery tube which actually holds the batteries
- Smaller in size (can fit in a shirt pocket or your belt)
- Non-slip textured grip (so you don’t drop it when in use)
Who are the best tactical flashlight manufacturers?
We have found that the best tactical flashlight manufacturers are those that are relentlessly dedicated to quality. Some of the most popular brands include:
Some of the most important features to look out for are:
- Ability to resist shock
- Long battery life
- High light intensity and power
- Ability to produce colored light when needed
- Ability to produce infrared light for night vision
Everyone’s need are different, and what works for me may not work for you. So, with that in mind, I encourage you to think about which features are important to you. From my experience it usually boils down to 3 things:
This buying guide is to help people to buy, beyond makes and models. Whether you’re a newbie to flashlights or have expert knowledge, this guide anyone and everyone.
What to Look for in a Tactical Flashlight
The main factor that you should keep an eye out for when purchasing a tactical flashlight is how bright it is. You will be able to tell how bright a flashlight is from how many lumens its light output is rated. Essentially, lumen is a form of measurement that tells you how intense a beam of light is.
This can range from 15 lumens, which is minimal and the equivalent of a nightlight, or a blazing hot 3500 lumens. For a tactical flashlight, you should expect between 400 and 1200 lumens on the highest settings.
Most tactical flashlights come with brightness settings for added versatility. A high setting would be very intense, while a low setting would save battery power.
Some flashlights may also come with other options for brightness, such as a strobe light for biking activities and self-defense, and an SOS emergency function that flashes “SOS” in Morse code when activated.
But there are other things that affect brightness. Beam distance is one of them; how far is the range of the light from your flashlight? Is there a zoom function for you to concentrate light onto certain areas? (Hint: all good tactical flashlights should have a zoomable beam of light!)
A good flashlight should also have good coverage from one beam of light and should be powerful in illuminating qualities, regardless of what they are zoomed in or out to.
Some higher-quality flashlights have a built-in reflector feature for their lights to reduce any interference and guarantee an optimized, smooth beam. A flashlight’s lights should be able to last for a minimum of 10,000 hours on lower-priced flashlight, or up to 100,000 on better quality ones, before they burn out entirely.
This is especially important in a tactical flashlight, as you will want to be able to use the product under various circumstances and outdoor activities, which can get a little rough. A flashlight should be made of a tough metal alloy, and perhaps features a hard, durable cover to prevent scratches. All its components should not be cheaply made, and a good lens of a flashlight will have anti-shatter and anti-shock properties to that it does not break easily.
A tactical flashlight should be shock-resistant and anti-abrasive to some degree so that even if it is dropped, there is very little risk of breaking the product. There are some companies that put their flashlights through rigorous testing, to the point of running them over or using brute force on them to test their durability. This level of strength isn’t necessary, but the product should at least be able to withstand 5 feet of impact when dropped.
In addition, a tactical flashlight should also have some water-resistance properties so that it is usable in heavy rain. Some higher-priced flashlights may even be waterproof when submerged in a certain depth of water, and there are those that can withstand freezing temperatures without any issues.
You should also take into consideration grip, size, and weight. These have more to do with personal preferences, but it can change the way you use the flashlight and help you hold it better and utilize it to its fullest extent.
It’s a good idea to know what powers the flashlight you are about to purchase. Most tactical flashlights run on 18650 lithium-ion batteries that are fully rechargeable, and some even come with these batteries. Many have a non-rechargeable option for AAA batteries that you can make use of with a battery adapter.
Battery life is important and a good flashlight can last for at least 2 straight hours on its highest setting before running out of battery, and many tens of hours if on the lowest setting.
The worst thing would be to have a flashlight you need to rely on, only to have it die on you at an alarmingly fast rate.
In addition, some tactical flashlights may come with built-in protection, or provide proprietary batteries with similar safety features. This can prevent overcharging or discharge and can help a flashlight last longer and use the battery power it has been provided with to the very fullest.
If you want to save on batteries, there are some flashlights that require only one battery and will run relatively brightly but do note that this will most likely be not nearly as bright as those that use more than one. Again, this is entirely up to your needs, so choose according to your preferences.
Many tactical flashlights come in kits that include extra accessories that you may need for your flashlight. This isn’t a necessary feature, but it can be easy and helpful to have everything you might need for a flashlight delivered to you in one go. These extra accessories can include batteries, chargers, battery adapters, and flashlight cases.
Some even come with an extra keychain flashlight, a lanyard, or a padded gift box, and maybe even some spare parts that you may need as you use the light for a longer period of time.
These are all helpful accessories, but they should not add too much to the price of the torchlight – if you suspect you are paying a higher price because of the added accessories, look elsewhere!
Due to these accessories being free, there can be a risk of defective ones upon arrival. Some chargers may not work, cases may feel cheap, and lanyards may snap easily. This is not uncommon at all due to the need for companies to provide kits cost-efficiently.
That’s why finding accessories that are as good quality as the products they accompany, and at a reasonable price, can be a big steal. If you aren’t interested in the accessories, then there’s no need to worry about them! Just consider them a cool extra option that can be there in case you need them.
How To Find a Flashlight That Meets Your Needs?
There are a variety of brands, models, and features available in today’s market. You can use my guide below to help you to find the best tactical flashlight, as well as a few suggestions on which are the best brands.
When buying a flashlight, one of the major differences we can see is that its body is usually made of aluminum and sometimes steel or titanium, this brings a sense of strength and a lot more quality than incandescent flashlights are usually plastic.
With LED flashlights illumination is instantaneous, while the older flashlights take some time to work at full capacity and they simply can not match the speed at which an LED Bulb can reach full capacity. LED Bulbs also support a significantly higher number of on and off cycles, which means their life expectancy is increased 100 times.
This is the number of minutes or hours of continuous use of the tactical torch, until failure. You must avoid confusing this with the number of hours it takes to charge the batteries to maximum capacity.
For instance, a flashlight could have say, 80 hours of use, but able to support only 1 hour of continuous use, allowing time between uses. These factors influence both the suitability and sustainability of the light.
When you are deciding on which flashlight to purchase you have to consider its battery life. Generally, you will find flashlights use a mix of batteries, from rechargeable lithium batteries to AAA or even AA. The former usually have a voltage of 3.7 V, an example of which is as follows:
- 18650 18mm wide and 65mm long, 0 indicates that it has a cylindrical end.
- The most common type are 10440 (AAA cell format), 16340, 14500 (AA battery format), 18650 and 26650.
- The main advantage of lithium batteries is that they provide a higher voltage and higher current rates than a conventional battery.
Lens and reflector type
The strength and type of LED as its lens and reflector (silver area) are important when choosing the best flashlight for you because the quality may improve or worsen performance.
For lens type, well, some are smooth and others may be rough, the smooth concentric rings often show a clear and strong light, whereas the rough lenses are a light blur function which makes the distribution of the beam spread more evenly as opposed to a high direct beam. Clearly, this is also related to the type of light.
You may think that you don’t need a water-protected flashlight (which, by the way, is not the same as submersible). However, I would encourage that if you are serious about picking up the most robust of flashlights for your bug out bag, EDC carry or just a household light that will stand the test of time, then go for a waterproof or at least water-resistant variety.
Some manufacturers measure the resistance in cm or meters. There are models with rubber outer body which are especially resistant to falls. However, this rubber outer only prevents superfluous scratches which do not affect the functionality.
You are likely to drop your flashlight, and luckily the majority of tactical brands out there know this and offer high-impact resistant models…all of which are in our top 8 in this article.
Some Final Thoughts
By choosing a tactical flashlight that meets your personal requirements in terms of brightness, range, durability, and features, you will be making an inexpensive but useful investment for future activities. We hope this guide has helped you to make the best decision regarding which flashlight to buy.