Updated March 16, 2019 by Ezra Glenn

The 10 Best Tactical Flashlights

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in August of 2015. If you need powerful illumination in the palm of your hand, check out our selection of tough, multifunctional, and powerful tactical flashlights. They're perfect for camping, hunting, and hiking, as most models weigh next to nothing and can fit in your pocket, and all are quite convenient to store in your car's glove compartment. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best tactical flashlight on Amazon.

10. Streamlight ProTac HL

9. SureFire Defender Series E2D

8. Helotex G2

7. EcoGear FX TK120

6. Fenix PD35

5. J5 Tactical V1-Pro

4. Nitecore P12

3. OxyLED MD50

2. Coast HP17TAC

1. Klarus XT11S

What Is A Tactical Flashlight?

Most can be dropped from several feet above the ground and not suffer damage.

Tactical flashlights are designed to be used alongside a firearm in hunting, military and law keeping applications. They’re built with the specific needs of people who work or operate in these fields so many of them are quite compact, making it easy to attach them to a police belt or hunting vest, alongside other tactical tools. Some come with mounts that let the user attach them directly to a gun, allowing them to illuminate and aim at their target in one quick motion.

Tactical flashlights often boast thousands of hours of illumination from a single charge. Because people using these types of lights may need to illuminate extremely large search areas, as well as focus their beam on something small, tactical flashlights often have a wide zoom range. This makes them very useful for search and rescue parties.

To reduce the chances of you becoming the person being searched for, taking a tactical flashlight with you when hiking in the woods is considered one of the essential items every hiker should carry. They’re also incredibly bright, sometimes producing over 1,000 lumens and many feature a strobe mode, which can be used to disorientate a target or capture somebody's attention in an emergency situation.

Those who need a tactical flashlight often work in extreme conditions, running at a moment’s notice, jumping over obstacles, and working outdoors, so they are made with a rugged, shock-resistant casing that is often weather-resistant as well. Most can be dropped from several feet above the ground and not suffer damage.

Why Civilians Need Tactical Flashlights

While tactical flashlights are usually associated with armed forces and the police, regular civilians can benefit from carrying them as well. Even though more states are allowing people to carry guns, there are still many which don't allow them to be brought into areas people regularly frequent — like bars, train stations, and grocery stores. Fortunately, a tactical flashlight can be an incredibly useful safety tool.

A tactical flashlight can provide light during a multi-day power outage.

In its most practical application, a tactical flashlight can provide light in dark areas. One can use their tactical flashlight to look in the back seat of their car before getting in, as well as to scan a poorly lit street before walking down it.

A tactical flashlight is an important addition to any fully-equipped survival kit. People who go camping or hiking regularly should always bring one with them. If they lose their way in the wilderness, their tactical flashlight can provide light for several days, scaring off wild animals and helping the forest authorities locate them.

These tools are also important for surviving in one's own home during a flood or natural disaster. A tactical flashlight can provide light during a multi-day power outage. It can be dangerous to walk around a dark house after a flood since there might be loose electrical wires or sharp items on the floor. A tactical flashlight can help a person safely navigate their house so they can make their way to food or higher ground.

In dire situations, a person can use their tactical flashlight to escape a kidnapping or defend themselves against an attacker. Most tactical flashlights have bezel edges that can break glass. Should a person be locked in the trunk of a car, they can use their flashlight to break the rear lights of the car and wave for help. In the event of an attack, a person can quickly blind their attacker by shining their tactical flashlight in their eyes. The practical applications of a tactical flashlight are nearly endless.

The History Of Flashlights

One can’t talk about the invention of the flashlight without discussing the incandescent light bulb. Before that, people used lamps that ran on oil or kerosene, which can be very hazardous. In the late 19th century Thomas Edison made the discovery that a carbon filament could provide light inside of an oxygen-free bulb for up to 40 hours without burning up. In 1899 the English inventor David Misell used this bulb to create the flashlight. His model used three D batteries that sat inside the handle of the tool.

The original flashlight got its name because it could not sustain prolonged light.

The original flashlight got its name because it could not sustain prolonged light. Users could turn on the light through a small contact switch, but it would only stay on for a couple of seconds. These earlier models ran on zinc-carbon batteries that couldn’t deliver a current for a long time, so it was also important that users let their flashlight rest between uses.

By the year 1922, the demand for flashlights was so high that there were several varieties on the market, including a small pocket model, a version that could stand up like a lantern, and a reflector type that could light up large areas. Over 10 million people were using flashlights before they had even been available for 30 years.

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Ezra Glenn
Last updated on March 16, 2019 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label operator from New York City. He has traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again. Ezra holds a bachelor's from Bard College, and is currently enrolled in the MBA program at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. His professional experience includes a stint at the Brooklyn-based website “Rap Genius,” and he has run his own artist management and development agency. For the Wiki, he has developed expertise in the areas of travel, exercise, and home goods, and has researched extensively in the areas of electronics, furniture, and pet care.

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