Tactical flashlights don’t only belong to the police and military, don’t you think? You will probably agree that they also belong to the everyday citizen who wants to stay protected in the dark corners of the city, but also to the avid outdoorsman who wants durable gear he or she can rely on. However, when it comes to buying one, you might be wondering how to choose the best tactical flashlight for yourself.
A tactical flashlight is simply a flashlight that’s been designed for military or police use. Tactical flashlights are usually designed to be mounted to a weapon for low-light shooting. They are smaller than traditional flashlights, emit much more light, and are made of weapon-grade aluminum for maximum durability.
In a market flooded with all kinds of products, it might get very hard to find the perfect pick for you. This is where we come in – in this article we’ll walk you through the process of choosing the best tactical flashlight for you, but also offer you some of our favorite choices out there.
Our Top Picks
|Product Name||Size||Batteries||Zoom Levels||Price|
|EagleTac G25C2 MK II XM-L2||5.9 x 1 x 1.55 in||2x CR123A, 1 x 18650||1180/536/104/8||Check price on Amazon|
|SureFire UNR Commander||9.4 x 1.07 x 1.62 in||Built in rechargeable Li-ion battery, 2x123A||800/500/130/30||Check price on Amazon|
|Surefire G2 Nitrolon||5.1 x 1.02 x 1.25 in||2x 123A||120/65||Check price on Amazon|
|Streamlight 88105 TL-2||5.25 x 0.9 x 1.25 in||2x CR123A lithium batteries||160/1||Check price on Amazon|
|SOLARAY PRO ZX-1||6.2 x 1.1 x 1.5 in||Rechargeable18650 Lithium-ion, 3x AAA alkaline batteries||1200/800/400/250/1||Check price on Amazon|
|Streamlight 88031 ProTac 2L||4.7 x 0.8 x 0.8 in||2x CR123A lithium batteries||260/13||Check price on Amazon|
|Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC||5.4 x 1 x 1 in||18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery, 2x 3v CR123A||1000/800/600/400/250/1||Check price on Amazon|
|LumiTact Tactical G700||6.2 x 1.2 x 1.5 in||4200MAH 3.7V Li-ion rechargeable battery||2000/1000/500/250/1||Check price on Amazon|
|BLACKHAWK Legacy||6.1 x 1 x 1.26 in||2x 3V CR123||570/220/20||Check price on Amazon|
Things to Consider Before Buying
Just like everything else on the market, tactical flashlights will present you with quite a bit of variety and options when it comes to the actual specifications and performances of said flashlights. That being said, there are flashlights that will be better than others and some that will be worse than others, depending on the use that you have in store for them.
The only way to figure out which one is the best flashlight for your needs is to actually have a close look at every single one of them and see what they have to offer. There are few main things that you will have to look out for:
Tactical flashlights are very strong flashlights when it comes to luminosity levels, however they tend to differ quite a lot in terms of size. Most of them are quite small, great for weapon mounting, helmet mounting, or simply hand held use.
The actual way in which the dimensions are presented are (length) x (body diameter) x (lighting head diameter). This is a great indicator for figuring out how to use the actual flashlight and whether or not is a good idea to try and mount it on weaponry or clothing.
The brightness, or light output, is measured in lumens. The more lumens your flashlight has, the brighter it will light your way. Tactical flashlights tend to be very strong and very capable in terms of luminosity, however, depending on the environment that you are heading in, it is very easy to either grab a flashlight that is either too weak or too strong.
You should look for a flashlight with higher lumens, which means it’s better to have 5000 lumens than 1000 lumens. Make sure to check the heating of the flashlight as stronger flashlights might generate more heat.
Just like a scope, a flashlight has its own zoom levels, however, in this case, it is more about the wideness of the illuminated area more than anything else. Tactical flashlights are known to have a lot of options in this regard, and most of the times a lot of zoom options can be handy.
However, there is a small catch, the bigger the zoom levels, the weaker the light gets and the more battery usage gets accelerated. Zoom levels are presented through multiplication values (1000x, 500x, 250x, 13x, 1x, and so on).
Tactical flashlights have quite a bit of an advantage in this area because of the fact that they are designed in a very efficient way, lowering useless power consumption levels to almost 0. Most tactical flashlights come with built in rechargeable Li-ion batteries, however they can be substituted with either D-cell or AAA batteries, depending on the form factor of the flashlight, if they run out.
Under normal usage conditions, with average lighting capacities and no actual zoom, tactical flashlights can run on average 30-35 hours off of a single charge. This value changes depending on the batteries and usage conditions of specific flashlights.
It is important for your flashlight to be at least water resistant, so it doesn’t stop working because of a little rain, or if you accidently drop it in a puddle. The water resistance is rated using the IPX system.
IPX4 rating means your flashlight is splash resistant, and as the number increases, so does the water resistance. IPX7 means it’s resistant to temporary submersion (around half an hour at 1 meter depth), and an IPX8 resistant flashlight can be submerged up to 4 hours under water.
Best Products on Today’s Market
These flashlights are rather popular among outdoor enthusiasts, and as a result, a lot of them have appeared on the market. It is only logical that you would want to go with the best choice for your needs, so here is a list of the most sought after tactical flashlights currently on the market.
Price: Approx. $130
Zoom levels: 1180/536/104/8
Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 1.55 in
Specific features: Lumen output 1180(LED)/980(ANSI FL-1) IPX8 waterproof, 295 m beam distance
Best use: Camping and hunting in high humidity environments, water related activities
Description: The strengths of the rather small but powerful EagleTac G25C2 MKII Flashlight are in its ability to withstand a lot of abuse and a lot of pressure from water. It is IPX8 water resistant and able to take on almost 3 times atmospheric pressure underwater while still functioning properly.
Its small size makes it a great choice for helmet mounting and even weapon mounting if you have the rails for it. It relies on a pair of D-cell batteries, CR123A to be more precise, which give it an average lighting time of around 35+ hours.
The energy saving feature (on by default) reduces output by 20% after 200 seconds at turbo mode. This feature enables high output for demanding users, especially when using body extender with higher total battery capacity, to unleash the maximum output of your G25C2.
It is powerful enough to shine a beam up to 300 meters and still light up everything in its way without a problem.
- Strong waterproofing
- Small form factor
- Rather long battery life time
- Can only be mounted on specific types of weapon rails
- Rear tactical switch can feel uncomfortable at times
Related: Together with this product we recommend purchasing the EagleTac 3100mAh Li-ion Rechargeable Battery, so that you have power to spare for other gadgets that you might be using.
Price: Approx. $300
Zoom levels: 800/500/130/30
Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.07 x 1.62 in
Specific features: Dual fuel system, microprocessor regulated to maximize output and runtime, fuel gauge
Best use: Long camping trips, long hunting trips, pitch black conditions
Description: While there’s not much that can be said about the looks and design of the SureFire UNR Commander, there are a lot of things that can be said about its performances. Sure, it might look like an average black flashlight, but it is standard issue for the L.A. police department and bomb disposal units, which attests to its performances.
First off, the thing that will stand out is the fact that it is a rechargeable flashlight that runs on a double fuel system, meaning that out of the 3 batteries that it houses, only one is fully charged and the rest are just half charged in order to circulate the charge and maximize efficiency. To make energy management even easier, it also sports a small battery indicator on the side.
Another great thing about this flashlight is that it is virtually indestructible, being able to take a lot of punishment, blows and even pressure caused by explosion shock waves.
The only thing that is pulling it back is the fact that it is not exactly versatile, making mounting it on a weapon, helmet or belt very difficult and often times sketchy.
- Very strong and enduring
- Intense yet adjustable light levels
- Efficient energy distribution system complete with gauge
- Lacks versatility
- Does not do well when mounted
Related: If you are a hunter and a fan of this company, we can recommend the SureFire EP4 Sonic Defenders Plus Filtered Earplugs so that you can keep your ears, and subsequently hearing, protected against loud noises.
Price: Approx. $45
Zoom levels: 120/65
Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.02 x 1.25 in
Specific features: 65 lumen, precision micro-textured reflector, tail-cap switch
Best use: Confrontations, hunting, close quarter combat
Description: The Surefire G2 Nitrolon Flashlight is among the smallest tactical flashlights on the market, and for a good reason. It is geared mostly towards up-close and personal situations like self defense, hunting, or use in urban environments.
This is also a reason why it is among the weakest tactical flashlights out there, coming in at only 65 lumen, however you don’t need more than that realistically. It’s enough to temporarily blind a person, enough to shine a beam at close range so you can spot tracks and footprints, and enough to light up corridors, hallways and rooms without easily giving away your position.
Another thing that it has going for itself is the very small form factor, which makes it very easy to mount on weapons ranging from rifles to pistols, and even your vest or belt if you feel the need to do so.
This flashlight is not really recommended for long range lighting or large open fields because it will not live up to the challenge, however in close quarters, dense woods, and urban settings, it shines above everyone else.
- Adaptable for mounting and hand held usage
- Low battery consumption rate
- Not well suited for large open areas
- Restricted in terms of zoom levels or light adjustment
Related: If you are highly organized, then you will love the Surefire SC1 Spares Carrier, which makes it possible to comfortably carry spare batteries without having to sacrifice actual pocket space.
Price: Approx. $70
Zoom levels: 160/1
Dimensions: 5.25 x 0.90 x 1.25 in
Specific features: 160 lumen, adjustable lanyard, removable pocket clip, anti-roll head.
Best use: General purpose, close up inspections, weapon mounted use
Description: There are a lot of great advantages that come with owning a Streamlight TL-2 2-Lithium Flashlight, and one of them is sturdiness and toughness that the body of the flashlight displays with every single chance that it gets. The design is made in such a ways that it allows the flashlight to take a lot of punishment and endure a lot of stress without losing vital features and functions.
Another thing that you will clearly notice is the fact that, while it is a small flashlight, it is still able to shine quite a light as a result of the C4 LED bulb that it uses. This makes it a good choice for both hunting and up close and personal situations.
It does come with a small disadvantage, it has no actual zoom levels. This means that you cannot fiddle with the beam of light and adjust it as you see fit, making it a lot less versatile and a lot less adaptable than other such flashlights.
- Small and portable design
- Can handle a lot of punishment and a lot of stress
- Is able to shine a strong 160 lumen beam
- Has no zoom adjustment levels
- Lacks versatility and adaptability
Related: Streamlight understands the lighting needs that we have, especially in the great outdoors, which is why they made it possible to purchase the Streamlight 65186 Stylus Pen Light so that you can examine things closer in the dark without bothering anyone with your light.
Price: Approx. $10
Zoom levels: 1200/800/400/250/1
Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 1.5 in
Specific features: CREE XML-T6 bulbs, memory light mode circuit, rechargeable 18650 Li-ion batteries
Best use: Home security, patrols, self-defense
Description: Right off the bat, the first thing that you will notice about the SOLARAY PRO ZX-1 Flashlight is the fact that it is very affordable form a financial standpoint. This is because it is made using a very simple and efficient design, and while the price tag might be on the lower end, the performances are on the opposite spectrum.
It is able to throw out a maximum of 1200 lumen of light in a direction and even spread it across 5 different lighting options. On top of all that it is able to provide you with a total of 5 zoom levels for your beam and a body made out of machined aircraft grade aluminum.
It also uses an ultra-bright genuine U.S. made CREE XML-T6 powered LED, offering high performance and quality at a low cost.
The only real downside of this flashlight is the fact that it does not do that well with mounting rails and other such weapon attachments.
- Strong and durable
- Very strong lighting performances and options
- Does not fit well with weapon mounting options
- Rather large energy consumption rate
Related: You should always have spare batteries, and with this flashlight we recommend buying the SOLARAY 18650 Batteries. You can recharge them at home and always have spare power for your flashlight on hand.
Price: Approx. $50
Zoom levels: 260/13
Dimensions: 4.7 x 0.8 x 0.8 in
Specific features: One-handed operation of three modes, IPX7, anti-roll face cap
Best use: Hunting, armed combat, tactical attachment
Description: Accessibility is the word that best describes the Streamlight 88031 ProTac 2L Flashlight, and while there are a lot of other options on the market, this one is among the few that can be comfortably operated with one hand without having to miss out on features and functions.
Because of its reduced size and rather dense clip, it is easily mountable on gear such as helmets, vests and belts, making it a good choice for hunters. Due to its rather small and uniform design, it is also easily mounted on weapon brackets and rails, making it a great choice for armed forces, peace keepers, law enforcers and so on.
In regards to its lighting capabilities, it’s not lacking, in fact, it is able to shine a 350 lumen beam and light up your surroundings without any kind of problems.
However there is a small catch, like all very small tactical flashlights, it is rather lacking in zoom levels, so once you mount and calibrate it, you can’t adjust the actual extent of the beam.
- Compact and uniform design
- Great for weapon and gear mounting
- Highly resistant to shocks and damage
- Very restricted in terms of zoom levels
- Changing the bulb and batteries can be rather annoying
Related: Compatible with this flashlight are the Streamlight 85177 CR123A Lithium Batteries, and they are a perfect purchase if you’re planning to stay outside for longer.
Price: Approx. $72
Zoom levels: 1000/800/600/400/250/1
Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 1 in
Specific features: Stainless steel side switch, outdoor mode operation, digitally regulated output
Best use: Night hikes, trails
Description: While it is important to have a flashlight on you when venturing into the great outdoors, you will need to have the right flashlight for the job. The Fenix FX-PD35TAC Flashlight might not look like much when compared to others, but it is by far the best choice for long hikes and trails, especially during moonless nights.
It has stainless steel side switch for switching modes and outputs. This is also the flashlight that you want to have on you in case you get lost and have to signal for help.
It is able to pump out as much as 1000 lumen, which is enough to pierce the darkness and provide illumination over a rather long distance. Another thing worth noting is the fact that, while it is very light, it is not that harsh on the batteries, because the battery consumption is actually digitally regulated, maintaining constant brightness.
- Rather long battery life
- Portable and adaptable
- Easy to use
- Cannot be properly attached to weapons
- Burns through bulbs rather fast if used at full power for extended periods of time
Related: Another great product from the same company is the Fenix BTR20 Rechargeable Bike Light, for those times when you want to out biking and the sun is starting to set.
Price: Approx. $35
Zoom levels: 2000/1000/500/250/1
Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 1.5 in
Specific features: 4200MAH 3.7 V Li-ion rechargeable battery, recharge kit
Best use: General purpose lighting, long camping trips
Description: Sometimes you simply need more power, and you need it to last a lot longer, and this is what this military grade LumiTact Tactical G700 Flashlight is able to achieve in droves. It is water resistant and features 5 switch modes: high, medium, low, strobe, SOS – with adjustable focus range so you can light only what needs to be lit.
The flashlight is made in such a way that allows it to save up as much power and spend as little as possible, which is why it is the best choice for very long camping trips where the possibility of recharging the batteries is slim to none.
Another thing you might notice is the fact that this flashlight design is a more comfortable and ergonomic one, rather than slim and uniform lines that most tactical flashlights come with. This is because it is aimed more towards personal hand held use rather than using it as an attachment.
- Comfortable and easy to use
- The battery life is enormous
- Can be a great tool to have on very long camping trips
- Not well adapted for use as a weapon attachment
- Can be difficult to clean the lens
Related: In order to make things easier, LumiTact also offers the LumiTact Headlamp in order to make late night trekking a lot more fun and easy.
Price: Approx. $70
Zoom levels: 570/220/20
Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 1.26 in
Specific features: Multifaceted reflector, multiple-position rotating switch, settings for 570/220/20 lumen and strobe
Best use: Weapon mounted, hand to hand combat, protection and security
Description: In the world of tactical flashlights, the BLACKHAWK Legacy L-6V Flashlight is a real heavy hitter. Designed for combat and difficult situations, this flashlight is a cut above the rest in both illumination and combat.
The first thing you will notice is the design of the flashlight, which follows straight lines and uniform shapes, making it great for weapon mounting, especially shotguns and rifles.
Another interesting thing about it is the fact that it is made out of dense metal which not only adds quite a bit of weight to it but also makes it very hard to damage. This, in turn, makes it a great melee weapon if nothing else is around.
One last thing that should be noted about this flashlight is the fact that it excels in illumination as well, sporting a strong 570 lumen bulb and a multifaceted reflector, it can not only illuminate an entire field but also be easily adjustable by the user.
- Very strong
- Built for combat and harsh conditions
- Very strong illumination capabilities
- Works well as an attachment for shotguns and rifles
- Can be difficult to clean and maintain properly in the long run
- Taking it apart to change the bulb is fairly frustrating
Related: For the more dedicated hunters and more experienced combatants, Blackhawk also offers for sale the BLACKHAWK Commando Chest Harness so that they satisfy their tactical storage needs.
While there are a lot of tactical flashlights out there, it does not take much in order to decide which one is the right one for your needs. All you need to do is make sure that you know where you are going, what conditions you will be facing and what challenges you will have to face.
Once that is said and done with, it is just a matter of browsing the market and picking out the right flashlight for your needs. So, what do you think of the products we wrote about? Do you think we missed some great tactical flashlight that definitely deserves to be on our list? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!