10 Best Tactical Flashlights | April 2017

10 Best Tactical Flashlights | April 2017
Best Mid-Range
★★★
Best High-End
★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★★★
We spent 35 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. If you need powerful illumination in the palm of your hand, check out our selection of tough and multifunctional tactical flashlights. They're perfect for camping, hunting, and hiking, as most models weigh next to nothing and can fit in your pocket, and are equally convenient to keep in your car's glove box. Skip to the best tactical flashlight on Amazon.
10
This Supernova Guardian 1300XL produces an impressively bright beam, which is enough to disorient attackers at a second's notice, especially when combined with its strobe mode. It has a highly focused output and can also be rifle-mounted.
  • scratch and shock resistant
  • soft on-off button glows in the dark
  • a bit too bulky to fit in a pocket
Brand Supernova
Model Guardian 1300TL
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
9
The Helotex G4 has a 1,000 lumen output and a far beam throw, yet still comes in at an affordable price point, making it a good entry-level model. It features O-ring seals for optimum weather resistance and has an integrated belt clip.
  • has high low and strobe modes
  • nearly 3-hour battery life on high
  • doesn't have a beam focus feature
Brand Helotex
Model pending
Weight 5.1 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
8
The Streamlight ProTac HL is available in options ranging from 70 to 1,100 lumens, so there is one perfectly suited for every need. It uses C4 LED technology for enhanced brightness and its body is completely water- and shock-proof to stand up to extreme conditions.
  • available in three colors
  • anti-roll head keeps it still
  • some units die unexpectedly quickly
Brand Streamlight
Model 88040
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 3.7 / 5.0
7
The EcoGear FX TK120 is an affordable option with a zoom function that allows you to focus its beam on a concentrated area for careful, targeted searches, or spread it out for a wider field of illumination, making it a good, adaptable choice for hiking and camping.
  • includes spare o-rings and lanyard
  • water-resistant and shockproof
  • not as bright as it purports to be
Brand EcoGear FX
Model EGFX-T6KIT
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0
6
The Fenix PD35 is a super-bright pocket-sized option. Its bulb has a 50,000 hour lifespan and a sturdy protective housing, so it will easily last for years to come. Its output is digitally regulated to maintain constant brightness.
  • includes batteries and charger
  • beam distance of up to 656 feet
  • not especially durable
Brand EdisonBright
Model PD35 TAC -AREC2
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
The Nitecore P12 offers up to 520 hours of run time on a single charge of its proprietary battery when used on its low output setting. It is impact resistant to drops of up to 1.5 meters, so it shouldn't be a problem if it falls out of your pocket or its included holster.
  • can also run on two cr123 batteries
  • ultra-clear mineral glass lens
  • submersible to 2 meters
Brand Nitecore
Model NiteCore-P12-Black
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
4
The Klarus XT11S has an impressive true brightness of 1,100 lumens, which not many other handheld torches can match. Surprisingly, it weighs a mere 7 ounces when loaded with batteries and even has five different output settings.
  • 2 to 260 hour run time range
  • recharges via built-in usb port
  • charge and battery status indicator
Brand Klarus
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.4 / 5.0
3
The SureFire Defender Series E2D isn't cheap, but it is reliable and ultra-compact. It can produce up to 500 lumens on its maximum output setting, can easily fit in any pants or jacket pocket, and has an integrated belt clip for added portability.
  • flanged strike bezel for defense
  • sturdy aerospace aluminum body
  • produces a tight extended beam
Brand SureFire
Model E2DLU-A
Weight 6.4 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0
2
Those who want a model that can double as a defense weapon rather than a compact unit that can fit in a pocket will appreciate the hefty 13.12 inch Coast HP17TAC. Its body is impact and water-resistant, so it will continue to function when you need it most.
  • over 15 hours of runtime on high
  • fingertip-adjustable focus
  • backed by a lifetime guarantee
Brand Coast
Model HP17TAC
Weight 2.4 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0
1
With five output modes and durable aircraft-grade aluminum-alloy construction, the OxyLED MD50 is unbeatable for its price. Its water-resistant body features an anti-abrasive coating and an ultra-clear, antireflective glass lens for crisp and bright illumination.
  • rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • can run on 3 aaa batteries as backup
  • fits easily in the palm of your hand
Brand OxyLED
Model MD50
Weight 1 pounds
Rating 5.0 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

What Is A Tactical Flashlight?

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.

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. 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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Last updated on April 28 2017 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.