Next to your favorite pocket knife, these handy gadgets are extremely useful to have around, and unlike their name suggests, they’re not just for warfare. Their small size makes it possible to carry one with you everywhere in your pocket or even in your purse. What distinguishes the best tactical flashlight from your typical, run-of-the-mill flashlight? And why would anyone want to pay more than $20 for this stealthy torch light? This article is exactly made for that. Read on!
This guide was designed to help you learn more about the product and how to pick the right one. If you’re in a hurry, check out our top rated tactical flashlights below:
|J5 Tactical V1-PRO||Best tactical flashlight. Affordable and really sturdy. Intelligent and multiple strobes makes it a superb all-around light. Get the V1-PRO here.|
|Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight||Best value for money. Multiple modes with low power consumption. Equipped with focusing lens and a lifetime warranty. Get Vizeri here.|
|EcoGear FX||Best for everyday use. Quite expensive but offers a complete kit with accessories. Delivers 1200 lumens of light. Get the EcoGear FX here.|
What Are You Looking for?
A tactical “torchlight”, as it is alternatively called, has been developed originally to provide a means of a light source for certain work occupations (we’ll get to those in a short bit) as well as provide a possible weapon in situations that require quick thinking and acting on the user’s part.
The bulb itself is brighter than one would probably expect, which means it can be used to help locate items, or disorient a would-be attacker (animal or man). The edge may be beveled to pack a punch in case you need to use it to strike someone in self-defense.
Tactical ones are better suited for outdoor activities. Note: Sizes not in scale
When compared side by side with the bulky and awkward flashlight, one quickly gets the impression that these flashlights were possibly designed in an underground lab by ninjas. Their smooth and durable appearances wouldn’t be out of place in a soldier’s or law enforcement’s arsenal of tools, yet these flashlights are available for ordinary citizens. You don’t have to dress down in a suit or fight crime to own one of these powerful multipurpose tools.
Aside from appearances, the way the best tactical flashlight is designed makes it ideal for situations where you wouldn’t dream taking your bulky and finicky torchlight. Everyone has experienced the frustration of when the flashlight fails to work or flickers when you most need it (power outage anyone?)
While there’s no guarantee that you may or may not have the same problem with a tactical light, your chances of experiencing that frustration during an emergency is dramatically reduced due to the durable construction of such a gadget. These flashlights are built with heavy duty activities in mind.
Essential Parts: Tactical Flashlight Review
Here are the common parts of a tac searchlight. Do not that variations in parts – such as the presence of a lanyard hole on the tail or a USB socket on the side – between models and brands exist. You can also read more detailed descriptions of each part below.
Common parts of a tactical light
This is the metal piece that surrounds the lens of the flashlight. Depending on the purpose and its intended use, this metal edging will either be rigid or flat. If it’s ridged or anything but flat and smooth, then the flashlight can be potentially used as a defense weapon. The main purpose of the bezel is to contain and protect the lens from damage. When you’re changing out the lens (red for hunting purposes) or cleaning the lens, you’ll need to unscrew the bezel to access the lens. Personally, the best tactical flashlight should have a strike bezel.
The bulb rests close up next to the bulb and plays an important role since it provides some measure of control over how much light is emitted from your torchlight. Most torchlights come standard with one lens, but some kits may include various lenses you can use depending on the task at hand.
There are a few options available, but most experts and avid users of these nifty gadgets recommend limiting your considerations to LED lights. Still, LED powered lights are the most commonly available light source available for a searchlight. The light emitting diode is not only an efficient source of light, but they’re also brighter than most other options available. If you for some reason can’t locate an LED powered light, your next best options are Xenon and Halogen flashlights. While they’re powerful and bright, they’re quite inferior to LED lights in terms of power efficiency.
If you were to take your flashlight apart, you’d probably discover that the interior is made from either shiny, durable plastic, or a metal surface that helps reflect the light into one particular direction instead of just sporadically. Just like the lens, the reflector is designed to help project the light where you expect it to go.
Adventurers and law enforcement personnel can benefit from owning a tactical flashlight
As mentioned earlier, a tactical flashlight can serve a lot of purpose and is a great fit for the following:
Outdoor Enthusiasts and Hunters – For all the hunters, campers, and fishers out there, you’ll appreciate the durability of this palm-sized flashlight when you decided to stay out at your favorite fishing grounds a little later than you expected, or when you’ve decided to take up the challenge of nocturnal hunting.
Military – For the folks dedicating their lives to serving the military, they need a flashlight they can depend on to help them navigate the grounds when they have nothing but the moonlight to guide them. Mounting accessories make it possible to mount the flashlight flush to the weapon for ease of use.
Law Enforcement – Every law enforcement professionals will recognize that owning the a tactical flashlight is a simply a must – it is one of the most handy tools they’ll come to rely on during their entire career. Extensive regulations and laws make it impossible for you to just carry any other means of a weapon around. Not only will your flashlight help you see better in the darkness, but you’ll have a seemingly harmless weapon at hand (literally).
You – You may not fit into any of these professions, but you never know when you’ll need a flashlight for emergency situations.
Situations That May Call for A Tactical Flashlight
Self Defense – As mentioned before, a tactical flashlight is durable enough to give anyone an advantage over an attacker during a combat situation. The anodized aluminum material was designed with strength in mind and allows you to use it to strike at an enemy, or even smash a window open if you need to.
Power Outage – Perhaps you need help finding your way around in your house during a storm, but what about your car keys that fell between the seat and the center console box. While the power of these flashlights might be a little much for household use (some of these flashlights are capable of shining well past an acre), sometimes more is better.
Emergency and Survival Preparedness – Emergencies where the power has been shut off calls for a dependable flashlight that won’t flicker or cease to work. Your top tactical flashlight pick should include a strobe or SOS function you can use to signal to get help in case you’re stranded in the woods for instance.
While it might be easier just to take anyone’s recommendation, there are certain considerations you have to keep in mind before you invest in the ideal flashlight. Everyone’s needs are different and thus, the ideal torchlight will depend entirely on the user’s needs and intended use.
Also, as you’ve probably gathered, these are not your ordinary flashlight you’ll find sitting in your grocery store collecting dust. These flashlights are purpose-built for durability and tough environments. The quality and time that goes into manufacturing these flashlights mean that you should expect to pay more than just a measly price. Remember, quality performance and materials comes at a cost.
This is the first thing you need to take into consideration before you start flipping through catalogs or browsing online. A budget will help you determine what models you can afford and will eliminate the frustrating and often overwhelming process of looking at lights that are well above your price range. We suggest you determine your needs and then set a budget price before you even begin looking at products.
Keep in mind that if you’re looking for a rock solid product that will last quite a few years and sometimes even a lifetime (depending on the warranty), you’ll have to pitch in more to get more.
Finish and Material Type
Some people prefer a smooth finish for the grip, while others like a textured handle for a more secure grip. We encourage you to determine which one will suit you. Some people find they can’t stand the texture of a patterned grip – it all really boils down to preferences.
This may seem irrelevant, but the switch type can make a huge difference in whether you’ll be satisfied with your flashlight or not. Here’s why:
Tactical lights come with three types of switch types: Tail Switch, Body Switch, and Twist Action Switch.
Tail switch can easily be turned on or off with your thumb while holding the light. This feature is typically seen in flashlights that are used for combat or survival purposes. Body Switch, like the name suggests is the type where the power button is on the body of the flashlight. Lastly, the Twist Action Switch requires the user to either twist the head or the tail of the light to turn it on. While popular, it’s probably not an ideal switch option for tactical purposes. There’s also the concern of being conscious of how far you twist the head or tail. If you twist too far, the flashlight may come apart on you during the worst time possible.
Typically, when you consider power source, you have three options to pick from disposable batteries or rechargeable batteries. Although choosing between battery types may lie simply on preference, a tactical flashlight should have a long-lasting energy source. You can check out our page here about 18650 flashlights.
Disposable batteries enable you to keep a small stockpile of batteries at hand for a very affordable price. You can typically keep a few of these battery packs on hand for around 2 years before they expire or become unusable. When the batteries in your flashlight run out of battery juice, you simply throw the old ones away and pop some new ones in and you’re good to go!
Rechargeable batteries come in the same standard ranges as their disposable alternatives, but unlike the disposables, you’re able to reuse them once they’ve been on a charging block of some sort. While these battery packs usually cost a little more, you save money in the long run by reducing your trips to the store to purchase more batteries. Some of the more specialty batteries fit into this group.
Plugin battery packs enable you to either remove the battery pack itself to charge or to plug the tactical light into a charging base. While this may be convenient for some, if you have a terrible time remembering to plug some of your home electronics in, this is probably a bad option for you.
Aside from brightness and distance of the light, you’ll want to consider the light modes depending on your intended use. We’ll discuss brightness and distance further in the article, but for now, let’s focus on the modes.
It used to be that when you purchased a flashlight, you were limited to only two modes: on and off. Modern advancements have made it possible to equip a flashlight with multiple modes to serve a range of purposes.
For instance, the strobe or Studio 54 mode can help signal your distress if you’re caught out in the middle of the wilderness. Some might even use that mode for defense purposes to temporarily blind an attacker, but anyone who has ever been to a rave party can quickly understand that the strobe may be equally as disorienting to the attacker as it would be for the owner of the flashlight. We say to use caution when using that mode.
Multi-light mode might give you an advantage in the field or for tactical situations, or it may cripple you. If you do decide to go for a multiple mode light, make sure that it’s easy for you to use and you won’t have to memorize a complicated sequence of buttons to use your flashlight. Which leads us to our next consideration:
Convenience of Use
You won’t use your light if you don’t understand how to work it, or it doesn’t feel right in your hands. Make sure your flashlight is easy to hold and use.
Standard for Quality Torchlights
Meet the standard that sets and maintains the criteria for which a quality tactical light is built. Before purchasing your flashlight, it’s crucial you understand how to read the ANSI FL1 Standards. It sounds complicated and even cryptic, but it’s not that difficult to understand at all.
|Standard Run Time||This determines how long you can go before your light needs to be recharged or a new pack of batteries.|
|Standard Beam Distance||This standard uses meters or yards as a measurement to determine how far the beam will reach.|
|Standard Peak Beam Intensity||Candela (we’ll discuss this term more in detail later) determines the brightest point of the beam. Lumens indicate how much light is emitted, and Candela will indicate how bright the particular beam of light is.|
|Standard Impact Resistance||Typically measured in meters, this standard will tell you how far the flashlight can be dropped before it becomes damaged.|
|Standard Water Resistance||At the moment of writing this; there are three levels of water resistance that are available.|
At the moment of writing this; there are three levels of water resistance that are available. They are:
- IPX4 – Means the gadget will still perform reasonably well if exposed to a splash of water.
- IPX7 – Means the gadget will perform reasonably well if the flashlight is submerged under water for 1 meter for a maximum of 30 minutes.
- IPX8 – Means the gadget will perform reasonably well if the flashlight is submerged under water past 1 meter for a maximum of 4 hours.
While not too many people use their flashlights to go literally fishing with, it can be reassuring to know that if your flashlight is exposed to water, you won’t immediately have to run out and get a replacement.
Lumens and Candela
We mentioned Lumen and Candela earlier when discussing the Standards, but what do these two terms mean?
Lumens is a measurement we use to measure the luminous flux or the total amount of power that is emitted from the flashlight. The higher the lumens, the more powerful the LED light is and the more powerful your source of power will need to be. A good-quality tactical flashlight will have high Lumen level, but the actual quality of the light will depend on the quality of the reflector.
Here’s a brief guideline of the Lumens and what you should expect:
|Ideal for navigating your home during a power outage or just trying to find your car keys that slipped between the cracks of no return in your couch.|
|This will completely light up a room, but it’s not dependable enough to be used for outdoor activities. For defense purposes, this range of Lumens will work.|
|Ideal for outdoor use. Anything past 100 lumens will temporarily blind an attacker or animal intent to attack you.|
|You can potentially light up your entire campground at night, or blind someone even in a well-lit area.|
|These flashlights offer high power at a price. Your typical Energizer batteries are best left for the tv remote. Instead, you’ll have to purchase and keep a decent supply of specialized batteries.|
|This tactical light is probably more than most people will ever need, but if you need the maximum amount of power in a small handheld device, you won’t be dissatisfied with this light range.|
Now, let’s talk about Candela. Candela is the brightest point of light that is produced from the flashlight. The Candela is influenced by the reflector. The smaller the beam angle is, the larger the Candela or peak brightness is.
To keep things simple, refer the following information:
Candela and Lumens in Layman’s Terms: Flood and Throw
We’re not referring to water or even throw rugs here. Instead, you may want to get accustomed to hearing these terms since you’ll be hearing them a lot when you’re searching for your ideal tac light. A tactical light with a large area of flood simply refers to a light that is able to illuminate large areas. However, the light shouldn’t be expected to span very far distances. Throw indicates how far the light will spread over a distance.
In short, if you’re looking for a light that will work for short distance activities, pay attention to flood range. If you need something that will light a few acres’ worth of land (we might be exaggerating a bit here), pay attention to throw.
There are a few couple of categories of flashlights available on the market today. Each one of them has a specific purpose and may be designed differently to reflect that particular use.
A Micro Light – is typically under 2 inches in length and is capable of fitting into the palm of even the smallest of adult hands. The small size makes it the best tactical flashlight to keep in your purse or even your pockets. Some may even come with key chain rings so you can attach them to your key set.
Head lights – These headlamps enable to keep your hands free for more important tasks. The headlamp is ideal for camping and outdoors enthusiasts.
Handheld flash lights – The all-purpose light that we discuss at length throughout this article. Please note that a handheld light can easily be converted to any of the above setups with the purchase of additional accessories.
Once you have your tact light picked out, chances are you’ll want to add a few accessories to get the most out of your new toy. Luckily the market is flooded with a variety of accessories available for just this reason.
For Hunters, Preppers, and Outdoorsmen
Headlamp Adapter Accessory Kit – If you didn’t buy your tac light as a standalone headlamp, you’ll enjoy the convenience of having your hands free for more important tasks such as cleaning game if you’re able to wear your light via a head mount harness.
Mounting bracket kit – If you intend to use your hunting rifle for your outdoor activities, you’ll find the mounting brackets for your light will enable you to fix the light flush with the rifle so you can keep your hands on the gun.
Lanyard – A lanyard makes it possible to keep your tactical torchlight within grasp by wearing it around your neck. This might be convenient and comfortable for some people but you may want to consider the weight of your light before you go this route. If you hang a heavy light off the lanyard, your nifty gadget can quickly become a pain in the neck, literally.
For Tactical Purposes
A Strike Bezel – Certain tactical lights may have a jagged bezel. While it might look like an intimidating design feature, its more than that. Your flashlight is not only capable of helping you see further and better in the dark, but now you have a lethal striking weapon that will inflict costly damage to an attacker. If you’re fortunate not to have to use it for defense purposes, you may find the feature useful if for some reason you have to break into your car for instance. In all honestly, the best tactical flashlight for me has a useful strike bezel – it makes me feel safer.
Holster or Pocket Clip – When you’re not storing your light in a drawer or your pocket, you’ll want to have it ready at a moment’s notice. You can accomplish this by purchasing a holster or pocket clip to store safely when not in use.
Light Filters – Lastly, there are light filters. These are specialized filters you place over the lens of the light to emit another color other than white. Red filters are typically popular for nocturnal activities that require night vision. Blue and Yellow filters make it possible to see blood while being easy on the eyes. Finally, Green is popular with hunters who need to see their prey clearly without spooking the animal.
The best tactical flashlight is the one that fits your needs and is easy to use. Your needs may not require the brightest flashlight available, or even a defense bezel edge.
The market has hundreds if not thousands of tactical lights available for purchase; you can eliminate the stress of sorting through all of the products just by determining why you want a flashlight and what you intend to use it for.
We hope you enjoyed our comprehensive guide to purchasing the best tactical flashlight.