Those who’ve waited patiently for the flashlight to catch up with the times need wait no longer. The tactical flashlight is here to answer your emergency light source prayers. And we’re here to take a look at the 12 best that the market has to offer. So serve notice to that overweight club of a torch that’s taking up half your toolbox or making your everyday carry un-carryable, it’s time for a new generation of flashlights to take center stage.
(Top Picks) Best Tactical Flashlights in 2018
1. Outlite A100
The Outlite A100 gets our vote as one as a top 3 tactical flashlight for a variety of reasons, starting with its compact design that makes it the perfect companion for navigating wooded hiking trails or darkened parking garages. It’s tough as nails, fashioned from scratch proof aircraft-grade aluminum and its black anodized finish stands up to scraping and scratching. It’s water-resistant so there’s no problem taking it with you on rainy days. The grip is excellent with the body slender enough to be grasped firmly by smaller hands and the diamond shaped profile around the head prevents the A100 from rolling off of tables and other flat surfaces.
The A100 features a Cree XM-L T6 LED bulb that produces a maximum of 900 lumens of clear intense light and has a life expectancy of 100,000 hours. With zoom capability, it will illuminate the path 600 feet ahead or light up the entirety of your car in a darkened garage. The A100 features a single button which is extremely user friendly. Simply press the button lightly to cycle through the various modes.
The Outlite A100 flashlight is the ideal combination of convenience and power all wrapped up in a stylish, compact housing that’s resistant to everyday damage and won’t fail when the rain starts falling. With a bulb that will literally last a lifetime and projects 900 lumens hundreds of feet the A100 is a top 3 choice for best tactical LED flashlight.
- Weight12 ounces
2. SureFire G2X Series LED
With the G2X SureFire has created a tough, dependable, compact LED tactical flashlight with a corrosion and scratch resistant body and bold, bright output. The grip on the G2X is firm and comfortable, the bezel discreet but potentially devastating to wannabe assailants and the overall size is compact enough to fit comfortably in one of the pockets of your tactical hiking pants or in one of the pouches of your MOLLE compliant backpack.
The G2X also features a tail cap on/off button as well as “always on” mode for those times you need uninterrupted light brought to bear on a perp or an emergency situation. The mil-spec anodized aluminum head is tough as nails, the body is sealed against water, dust, and debris and the whole thing fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Whether you’re a mountaineer or a member of a SWAT team you’ll find the G2X to be the perfect companion on those dark nights or when you’re heading down those dark alleys.
The SureFire G2X tactical flashlight is a compact sun that brings intense, clear LED light to bear on the situation at hand whether that situation is navigating your way back to camp in the middle of the night or searching a car for suspected contraband. It’s extremely comfortable to hold, extremely affordable, reliable, durable and handsome. And you’ll find yourself using the “always on” feature more than you imagined.
- Weight4.5 ounces
3. Eastshine T25 Cree XP-L
Eastshine is not currently a household name when it comes to tactical gear but if they keep producing a kit like the T25 Cree XP-L tactical flashlight it won’t be long before they are. This tactical flashlight is as tough as it is attractive and the 1000 lumens of penetrating LED light set it apart from many of its competitors. You can drop this puppy from 1.5 meters and it will emerge unscathed. Just as it will if you need to ram the bezel into an attacker’s neck or temple.
The stunning good looks of the T25 Cree XP-L belie the fact that it’s tough as a tank and produces one of the strongest beams of any tactical flashlight; 1000 lumens of fog cutting brilliance. In addition to that, it features a side power switch for easy on/off, high efficiency circuit regulation, waterproof construction and a durable stainless steel clip so you can carry it anywhere.
This is without a doubt an amazing tactical flashlight when it comes to both design and performance. We love the way it looks and the way it slips firmly into your palm. We love the 1000 lumens of darkness-cutting, weasel-repelling light it throws and we love that the stainless steel clip is tough enough that we can clip it to our pants pocket and don’t have to worry about it slipping off. On top of all that it’s also affordable as can be. A great compact tactical flashlight no matter how you measure it.
- ModelTactical Flashlight T25
- Weight3.36 ounces
4. Streamlight ProTac HL 750
The Streamlight ProTac HL750 tactical flashlight is a solid piece of survival and tactical gear that produces an impressive 750 lumens of night-defeating LED light when set to the maximum of its 3 output levels. The light is weather resistant so you won’t have to worry about using it in the rain or snow and highly impact resistant whether you drop it or slam it bezel-first into a would be assailant. When set to ‘low’ output the HL750 will run for a commendable 18 hours.
The HL750 will no doubt bring all the light you need to bear on a rescue situation, can be seen from miles away if you’re stranded in the wilderness and is a remarkably effective defensive tool with its rock solid bezel and a disorienting strobe feature. If you drop it while crossing a stream don’t worry. It can withstand up to half an hour submerged without any problems. This iteration of the ProTac HL packs more illumination punch than its predecessor; up to a headache inducing 750 lumens.
It’s a versatile, lightweight, durable piece of tactical or survival kit that won’t back down from the weather and provides myriad carry options. The tail cap on/off switch means you don’t have to change your hold to activate the light and the anti-roll designs ensure it won’t roll away if you need to set it down. One-handed, tactical flashlight versatility at its best.
- Weight5.6 ounces
5. SOLARAY PRO ZX-2
The Solaray Pro ZX-2 tactical flashlight has a no-nonsense profile that tells you all you need to know. This is not some cheap imitation trying to trick you out of your hard earned money. It’s the real deal with best in class light projection that allows you to zoom in on distant targets or keep what’s in front of you lit up like the sun. The body is built of aircraft grade anodized aluminum and is highly impact resistant while the grip is solid and won’t allow your hand to slide up or down the body.
With the ZX-2 you have 5 light modes: low, medium and high as well as anti-intruder strobe and SOS mode for emergency situations. On/off is controlled via a tail cap switch for easy one-handed operation and you can drop the ZX-2 in a puddle without having to worry about it. The unit comes with a backup Lithium-ion battery and both L-i batteries will take 500 charges.
This is a serious tactical flashlight for serious professionals or anyone else interested in getting the most from their tactical or survival gear. Whether you’re a hunter, mountaineer, security officer, policeman, long-distance trucker, fisherman or EMT the ZX-2 will serve you well under any and all conditions. Throw in the fact that it’s incredibly affordable and you basically have a no-lose proposition.
- ModelFL-ZX-2 -FLASHLIGHT
- Weight0.32 ounces
6. Helotex G2 CREE LED
The Helotex G2 exists at the lower end of the tactical flashlight universe as far as lumens go but in all other respects, it’s an outstanding value given the price. It’s made of durable aircraft-grade aluminum, has a detachable clip that provides myriad carry options, provides a comfortable grip in all conditions and the whole thing is effectively sealed against the elements.
As long as you don’t need to project blinding light 100 meters down the roadway the Helotex G2 should fulfill all your basic tactical flashlight needs, including those of self-defense. Toggle easily between the different intensity modes and turn the light off quickly with just a touch of the on/off switch at the tail cap.
The fact that this tactical flashlight will also accept 2 different battery types is another major plus you don’t expect in such an affordable device. You can spend a lot more on a tactical flashlight but unless you have a compelling need for intense light (and plenty of people do) then the Helotex G2 should fulfill your needs just fine. It also works just fine as a backup to your main tactical flashlight and since it weighs almost nothing it won’t be a drain to carry it around for backup purposes. For the price, it’s hard to beat and it.
- Weight2.4 ounces
7. ThruNite Ti4 CW Lm Compact
The ThruNite Ti4 CW tactical flashlight approaches the concept from a slightly different angle. Instead of slimming down the bulky impractical flashlights of old the Ti4 bulks up the standard penlight and transforms it into a piece of true tactical gear that has a slew of other potential applications. It’s a great idea and ThruNite has done an admirable job making it happen.
The Ti4 pumps out an extraordinary amount of light for its trim size; up to 252 lumens when set to maximum. That’s more like a full-sized tactical flashlight and is one of the unit’s most outstanding features. The Ti4 as a whole is built to IPX-8 waterproof standards so it’s not going to shy away from inclement weather either. The different output levels are cycled through by repeated clicks of the tail cap button and when you’re done just take the Ti4 and clip it into the pocket of your shirt like you would a pen.
Why someone didn’t think of turning a standard penlight into a tactical flashlight earlier is anyone’s guess but ThruNite have certainly hit it out of the park with their Ti4 tactical flashlight. Ultra-lightweight, durable as all get-out, as bright as many larger lights and easy to carry the Ti4 is the perfect tactical flashlight for the practical minded soul who also enjoys saving a buck or two.
- Weight0.32 ounces
8. Refun E6 High-Powered Flashlight
The Refun E6 is a remarkable piece of tactical gear that allows you complete flexibility with the beam so you can adjust it depending on the needs of the situation. It’s the kind of stuff we’d expect to see in a far more expensive tactical flashlight yet here it is in this one you can pick up for less than the price of a large pizza. The E6 tactical flashlight also provides 5 functional modes: low, medium and high as well as a strobe for self-defense and SOS for emergencies.
The E6 as a whole is built to last from a high performance aluminum alloy and the lens is clear and scratch resistant. The bezel that surrounds the lens will make short work of an assailant’s throat or temple and the wrist loop ensure the light won’t get lost in the melee. It feels larger than its 5.4” and when the batteries are in place it has a decent heft to it.
The Refun E6 tactical flashlight is another of our picks. Though the company is cagey about how many lumens this thing kicks out we did not find it wanting in any way in the brightness department and would estimate output at anywhere from 250 to 500 lumens. The E6 is easy to hold, easy to use, has that zoom feature we love so much and is both water and impact resistant. A great deal all around.
- Weight5.6 ounces
9. J5 Tactical V1-PRO 300 Lumen Ultra Bright
The V1-Pro flashlight is capable of running for hours on a single charge of its L-i battery or off of a single AA battery. Its compact form makes it one of the easiest to conceal and easiest to tote around. The V1-Pro is also a joy to hold and, with its wrist band in place, impossible to lose. The high intensity LED bulb will project copious light down the road around the campsite or in an assailant’s face, providing you time to effect an escape.
The J5 V1-Pro is ideal for first responders or roadside assistance pros. It’s also done the rounds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and is answering the call for special ops in Syria as we write this. There is no doubt a more powerful tactical flashlight out there and others that offer a greater number of operational modes but none that pack so much punch for so little green. Value is an overused word today but is perfectly appropriate when it comes to describing the J5 tactical V1-Pro flashlight. The V1-Pro is the very definition of ‘bang for your buck’ and will serve you well in good weather and bad, on the highway or the mountainside for many years to come.
- BrandJ5 Tactical
- ModelV1-Pro Black
- Weight2.4 ounces
10. Hausbell 7W Mini
Who says the days of a great deal are over? For about 10 bucks you can pick up not 1 but 2 Hausbell miniature tactical flashlights. And these are no worthless plastic knockoffs that are going to fall apart after a month. The Hausbell 7W is made from tough, aircraft grade aluminum and is both water and shock resistant. It also features a removable clip so you can stow your light just about anywhere and a crystal clear LED bulb that produces 300 lumens.
1 Hausbell 7W would be an incredible deal all by itself for this price but the fact that you get 2 of these durable high performance tactical flashlights for this price is just insane. Keep one at the ready and one as a backup and you’re good to go in any situation. Police, firefighters, EMTs, rescue workers, general contractors, electricians and any do-it-yourselfer worthy of the title should have these in their tool box, on their belt or in the glove compartment. It’s hard to overstate the value represented here by the Hausbell 7W tactical flashlight.
These are sturdy, dependable, versatile tactical/survival tools that allow you to zoom in on your target as you would with the most expensive tactical flashlight or to effectively blind and then fight off any would be assailant utilizing the rock hard bezel. At 65 grams the light can be carried in your shirt pocket if you wish or simply clipped to the inside of your pants pocket. You’ll barely notice it’s there; until you need it. Then you’ll realize it may be the smartest 10 bucks you ever spent.
- Weight2.24 ounces
Buyers Guide & FAQ
What Is A Tactical Flashlight?
The modern tactical flashlight is an offshoot of the standard flashlight. Responding to the needs the armed forces, police departments and security firms engineers applied advanced design and fabrication techniques to fashion a multipurpose unit that is tough, dependable and able to bring intense light to bear on targets near and far. Most tactical flashlights are either water-resistant or waterproof, made of aircraft grade aluminum and nearly all run on Lithium-ion batteries (with alkaline battery backup capability).
But a tactical flashlight is more than just a beacon in the dark, it’s also a self-defense item that’s capable of blinding would be assailants with high intensity strobes so you can escape and many can be used to physically subdue perps.
What Are The Parts Of A Tactical Flashlight?
From front to back a tactical flashlight consists of:
- A striking bezel which screws onto the front of the light and is used for self-defense.
- Next is the flashlight head which encloses the reflector.
- Moving on the battery tube is next. This will house the Lithium-ion battery and/or the alkaline substitutes.
- Inside the battery tube is the battery magazine which actually holds the batteries.
- Next is where the removable clip is usually attached.
- Last is the tail clip which often encloses the switch mechanism and also often contains a loop for attaching a wristband or other failsafe device.
Things To Consider When Buying A Tactical Flashlight
While most of today’s tactical flashlights will serve some useful purpose it pays to consider a few things before purchasing one, including:
Your Budget – While there are some real steals available today in the tactical flashlight market (see above) you’ll still want to consider whether a $19 flashlight or a $99 tactical flashlight unit that’s loaded with options is right for you.
Your Needs – If you’re an avid duck hunter you might want a model that’s genuinely waterproof. If however, you mostly use the tactical flashlight to carve out a safe passage through the parking lot a waterproof flashlight won’t be so important. Likewise, if you’re about to ship out to Kandahar you might want something with all the bells and whistles.
Lumens – A lumen is the measure of energy emitted by your tactical flashlight. Simply put the higher the lumens the more intense the light. However the higher the lumens the higher the heat generated by the flashlight as well. So unless you think you’re going to need to need the brightest tactical flashlight on the market you might want a less powerful tactical flashlight.
Size – This also speaks to need. If you plan on carrying the tactical light in your purse strictly for emergencies you’ll want something 5” long or less. A compact flashlight can also move easily from the purse to the pocket and then to the glove compartment or the fanny pack in the blink of an eye.
Power Source – The typical tactical flashlight is powered, as we said previously, by Lithium-ion batteries. In case your L-i battery is drained and you are not in a position to recharge it the average tactical flashlight will also allow for standard alkaline battery power. You’ll want to always have adequate alkaline backups on hand just in case.
Zoom or Not – One of the most popular features of the tactical flashlight is the ability to zoom in and out with the beam becoming wide angle in close and more focused for distances. Not every LED torch light offers this feature though so if the ability to zoom in and out isn’t critical to your needs you might want to skip it.
Battery Life – As mentioned most tactical lights are powered by Lithium-ion batteries and use alkaline batteries as backups. That said energy consumption rates vary from flashlight to flashlight. The greater the lumens the greater the battery consumption while the more robust the battery the longer it will last under any circumstances.
Water-resistant vs Waterproof – Water resistance basically means that you can hold your flashlight in the rain for short periods of time and it shouldn’t be bothered. However, if you drop it in a puddle and it takes more than a few seconds to find it you could have problems. With a waterproof flashlight, you can drop it in the puddle and go get lunch. It will still be there working when you get back. Which type you need will depend on your projected use.
Water Resistance Explained
Explaining water resistance on any device gets a bit tricky. It seems like everything has its own way of measuring what is and what is not waterproof, and to what degree. The most common and useful system is the IPX rating. Let’s explain:
IPX4 – you’ll be able to use this flashlight in a rainy environment. If it’s drizzling out or the rain is coming down hard, you’ll want to survey the area. The harsher the conditions, the more likely an assailant is lurking nearby. This is perfect for getting to the source of the potential problem without ruining your flashlight.
IPX7 – If, for whatever reason, you find yourself three or four feet underwater, this rating ensures that you can use your flashlight for a straight half-hour without running into a problem. Depth and pressure play into this, but if you end up getting trapped in a car that’s accruing water, this is your ideal way to show rescuers where you are.
IPX8 – You can use this underwater for up to four hours, which is immensely useful beyond the four-feet deep rule. While it’s not clear how deep you can go and how it affects the usable time, it is guaranteed to function for quite some time when fully submerged in adverse conditions.
Who Makes The Best Tactical Flashlight?
You’ll find as many answers to this question as you’ll find manufacturers and reviewers, but we’ll throw in our 2 cents anyway.
Streamlight – For tactical lights geared toward weaponry Streamlight is a company we have a lot of respect for. They produce an array of fine products at reasonable prices that are as reliable as they are functional.
Outlite – Outlite produces some of the best tactical lights on the market. They are considered leaders in the industry because of their dedication to outstanding design and build quality and their commitment to keeping things affordable.
J5 – J5 is based in Utah USA and has high profile affiliations with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. They make a wide variety of tactical flashlights in every imaginable finish and are widely distributed. Their commitment to innovation is a standout attribute.
The most useful and distracting feature on your tactical flashlight is easily the SOS mode, yet many users aren’t utilizing this. Having a tactical flashlight is all about be prepared for whatever comes you way, whether it’s a blackout, being out of gas in a strange place, or whatever you can conjure up in your head. The other feeling that comes along with being prepared is being a bit worried, being in an environment and situation that isn’t exactly comforting. That’s when you need to have a tactical flashlight the most.
SOS mode is a strobe feature that renders your attacker useless. When you’re in the heat of a potential assailant attack, you’re not looking at a way to counter-assault them. You just want to be safe, and get out of harm’s way, especially if you have someone with you that you are responsible for. In this instance, you want to use SOS mode—this releases a strobe light that paralyzes your enemy. Now, paralysis is a wide and strong term. When you use a strobe light on someone, this is what happens:
Your brainwaves operate on certain hertz, or Hz. Brainwaves jump around between one and twenty Hz for various reasons, and strobe lights force those brainwaves to hit the highest Hz level possible without becoming lethal to the assailant. This can induce seizures, force the assailant to actually fall to their knees, and in most cases, put their hands over their ears as if a sound were pulsating in their eardrums. It sets off an array of problems, allowing you to get away quickly. In most cases, if someone is trying to sneak up on you and harm you or a loved one, they’ve looked at all the possible ways it can go wrong. A strobe light also tells them not to mess with you, because you bring EDC and come prepared.
Self Defense Measures With A Tactical Flashlight
We know that SOS mode can help you in a pinch. It can disorient attackers, make them confused, and bring them pain without you ever having to get close to them. The closer, the better for disorienting them, but you want the most lumens in your light output to ensure maximum distance, and maximum disorientation power.
These are some of the best ways to defend yourself using a tactical flashlight:
Striking Tool – Most tactical flashlights will come with a bezel that’s serrated or edges enough to cause some serious damage to an assailant. Ideally, you would use your flashlight to shine it in their eyes. Whether or not you’re using SOS mode, anything over 120 lumens is going to seriously mess with their vision, confuse and disorient them, and bring them a whole lot of migraine-like pain. However, this person could be after your possessions, your loved ones, or your life—you can never be too careful. Use that edged bezel and hit them in the face as hard as you possibly can while they are disoriented. This will send them to the ground, and deliver pain alongside mass confusion, allowing you and your loved ones enough time to escape and call the police.
Alert of Your Surrounding – Criminals often tend to strike on the unsuspecting. People who are listening to music on their own at night, and especially those returning to their car in a mostly-empty carport or carpark garage. It’s not just a movie cliché for nothing—people actually do this. It’s not a bad idea to enter the area with your flashlight already on, shining it around to look for potential assailants. Look as far as you’d like, or as far as your flashlight will allow, because you can never be too careful. This is going to tell the assailant that their chances have been slashed in half, because you’re ready for anything, and you’re not afraid to show it. You can avert anything from happening with a little proactivity.
Light ‘Em Up – In most situations, you will be with someone when you’re out-and-about. For those taking their wife/girlfriend out for the night, or the family to a show or a night of fun, you’re a huge risk factor. Why? Assailants know that you have something to lose, and they will use that as leverage in any confrontation. If it’s you and your girl, you should both have a tactical flashlight handy, and practice the precautions in step number two. Light up every possible area at once, rapidly moving between them. You’ll have a map of your surroundings in no time flat, and you’ll be safe enough to get into your car or continue on your path with no worries.
A great tactical flashlight is the kind of must-have kit that practically anyone could use today. Homeowners, campers, hunters, soldiers, first responders, mountain rescue teams and long distance sailors will all benefit from having a first-class tactical flashlight handy. Trying to determine the best tactical torch is not easy as there are so many on the market today but we feel you can’t lose with the 12 we’ve decided to highlight in this flashlight buying guide. We hope you enjoyed this tactical flashlight review and make sure you check back often for more valuable and informative product review guides.