If you’re looking for the very best tactical flashlight, our guide is here to help you get started. We’ve taken a look at some of the brightest, toughest and best featured tactical flashlights for every eventuality, situation and price range.
|Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL||9.0/10|
|SureFire 6PX Defender||9.4/10|
|Solaray Pro ZX-1||8.2/10|
|Outlite A 100 Rechargeable||8.8/10|
|SureFire G2X LED||9.4/10|
|Fenix PD35 TAC||9.0/10|
|Olight M20SX Javelot||8.0/10|
When you want to ensure you always know what’s ahead of you when things go dark, finding the best tactical flashlight that does the job better than the competition becomes a priority.
Our guide to the top rated tactical flashlights and individual tactical flashlight reviews will help shed light on the very best of the best when it comes to durable, powerful and reliable lighting for every situation.
Looking for the no nonsense pick of the best tactical flashlight to choose and use right now?
When darkness falls, a reliable source of illumination becomes the essential piece of equipment in your armory to ensure you’re never caught of guard.
Whether in a survival situation, emergency, power outage or just for a good old-fashioned camping trip, carrying a tactical flashlight or pocket flashlight with you at all times is the ultimate no-darkness insurance policy you know you can reliably call upon when the lights go out.
But what exactly is it that makes a tactical flashlight ‘tactical’?
Well, when it comes to finding the best flashlights and battery operated torches in general, the options are wide ranging to say the least and functionality can vary extensively between models and brands, but broadly speaking, tactical flashlights usually offer some or all of the following unique features that make them stand out from the rest:
- They’re extremely hard wearing and built with durability and performance in mind
- Often provide a level of waterproofing, weather, shock, or impact resistance
- Generally smaller (sometimes pocket sized) for portability, utilizing lightweight materials
- Produce a high quality, powerful light with long usage lifetime
- Offer multiple modes of operation including varying intensities and strobe effects
- Can be utilized for self-defense purposes when required
- Often constructed from lightweight materials with increased grip and a focus on ergonomics
To cut a long story short, tactical flashlights are the hardcore siblings of the standard stay-at-home torch or flashlight. With a tactical flashlight packed in your bag, vehicle, pocket or even in a home survival kit, you’ll just know that should things go south, access to reliable illumination simply won’t be on your list of worries.
Investing in a durable and reliable tactical flashlight can (and should) form an invaluable part of any full-spectrum continuity strategy for any emergency or disaster situations.
Similarly, including a portable, performance flashlight as a core component of a survival kit or as part of a fully comprehensive bug out bag or bug out vehicle will ensure that your access to uninterrupted illumination is always dependable. whatever happens in the world.
So, now we’ve got the basics covered, let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 The Best Tactical Flashlights for 2018
- 1.1 The heavy hitters – At a glance tactical flashlight comparison
- 1.2 How to Use This Guide
- 1.3 The Benefits of Carrying a Tactical Flashlight
- 1.4 The Anatomy of a Tactical Flashlight
- 1.5 Tactical Flashlight A-Z Glossary of Terms
- 1.6 Key Considerations when Choosing the Best Tactical Flashlight
- 1.7 Getting Tactical – How to Operate in Dark Spaces with your Flashlight
- 1.8 How to Hold a Tactical Flashlight
The Best Tactical Flashlights for 2018
With so many options out there, choosing the best tactical flashlight for your particular needs can be a daunting prospect. When armed with the right knowledge however, finding the ideal light for the job is a breeze.
The heavy hitters – At a glance tactical flashlight comparison
From lumens to lithium ion batteries and throw distance to tactical strobe modes, there are a ton of features, options and functionality to consider when weighing up the best tactical flashlight for your requirements.
We’ve scoped out the top tactical flashlights to bring you the very best high-powered, hard-wearing lighting for every eventuality and scenario.
If you’re looking for a tactical flashlight that offers excellent value for money alongside incredible performance, the Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL is a solid contender for the task.
Whether you’re after a discrete and durable body or a super high brightness output, the 88040 has got your back.
With the ‘HL’ in the name standing for ‘High Lumen’, you get a pretty good idea what you’re in for with the 88040 ProTac H from the start and with the flashlight’s LED firing out an awesome 750 lumens of brightness on the high setting, you’ll be lighting up even the darkest areas with ease.
The secret to the punch packed by the pocket-size 88040 is down to what’s called C4 LED technology which goes into making the Streamlight one of the most powerful tactical flashlights available for the money.
- Produces a 750 lumen beam using C4 LED technology to light up any area.
- Includes three selectable programs (high beam/low beam/strobe) for maximum adaptability for different situations.
- Three levels of light output intensity (low/medium/high) to cover every lighting requirement.
- Shock proof and waterproof to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes
- 50,000 hour stated lifetime with low level user program (approximately 60m beam distance) allowing continuous operation for up to 18 hours.
|Dimensions:||5.25 x 1.37 x 1.45 inches|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
There are a lot of great things about the 88040 but one of the best has got to be the quality of the light output produced by this pocket powerhouse.
Emitting up to an impressive 700 lumens at full power, the Streamlight also offers the option to project light at a lower intensity for longer overall battery life – crucial for long-lasting use scenarios and emergency situations.
The inclusion of a strobe feature also makes a nice addition and is a key feature to look for in any tactical flashlight, providing the ability to both signal for help and disorient an attacker if required.
With a push button ‘tail switch’, the 88040 is easily operated using one hand which again, is a nice feature for a tactical flashlight meaning you can always keep a hand free without having to resort to darkness.
Construction of the flashlight’s body comes in the form of aircraft aluminum, making it extremely durable for whatever life throws at you and it.
Should you ever find yourself in a situation where staying dry isn’t guaranteed, we also appreciated the fact that the Streamlight 88040 is stated as waterproof up to 1 metre for 30 minutes so you’ll still have light, even in adverse conditions.Learn More About the Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL Here
The SureFire 6PX Defender is a dependable, single output tactical flashlight with a host of useful features held within a tough anodized all-aluminum body.
With a high performance LED and micro-textured reflector, the 6PX Defender offers high precision light output alongside a number of other excellent characteristics such as extreme durability and a lightweight, streamlined profile.
Looking to strike a good balance between run time and light quality, the SureFire 6PX Defender incorporates a virtually indestructible LED emitter which has been regulated to maximize light output and run time to strike the balance between stamina and high performance.
- Single output 320 lumen LED and micro-textured reflector for smooth beam generation.
- Military spec, sculpted hard anodized aluminum body for high strength and durability.
- Incorporates a crenelated strike bezel for emergency situations and weatherproofed components for all condition use.
- Tactical tail-cap switch for ease of operation in high stress, tactical situations.
|Dimensions:||1.25 x 1.25 x 5.2 inches|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
If you’re after a no-nonsense, tactical flashlight with added defense credentials, the SureFire 6PX Defender is a good place to start.
With a body constructed from aerospace grade anodized aluminum with weatherproof finishings, the Defender is a simple, hard wearing and durable piece of kit that delivers 320 lumens of clear illumination when you need it most.
Built around the high performance LED and micro-textured reflectors which are trademarks of the 6PX range, the Defender also doubles up as a defensive tool to deter attackers if the situation deteriorates.Learn More About the SureFire 6PX Defender Here
If you’re looking for a tactical flashlight for use in a wide range of survivalist situations, then the Solaray Pro ZX-1 is an excellent choice worth considering.
From the unique requirements of the urban environment to prolonged trips into the wilderness, the Pro ZX-1 is well spec’d, featuring a high quality, reliable LED bulb that fires out a blinding 1200 lumens when on the high setting and an adjustable zoom focus lens for precision use.
The incredible power of the Pro ZX-2 makes it ideal for a number of situations where high intensity lighting is a crucial factor.
- XML T6 Cree Super-Silicon carbide LED emits an incredible 1200 lumens of light on maximum setting.
- Adjustable zoom focus lens
- Five light modes – High, Medium and Low intensity beam, Tactical Strobe and SOS mode for signalling.
- High durability aircraft aluminum body with water resistance and engineered tail switch for tactical use.
- Rechargeable with dual battery charger included and batteries are rechargeable up to 500 times.
|Dimensions:||1.1 x 1.5 x 6.25 inches|
|Power Plant:||2x Lithium Ion Battery|
|Material:||Aircraft Grade Aluminum|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
The first thing that strikes you about the Pro ZX-1 is the incredibly high level of light output thrown out by the LED housed within.
This insane brightness (up to 1200 lumens at max setting) is possible as a result of its ultra bright XM-L T6 Cree super-silicon carbide single die LED chip which makes this one of the brightest tactical flashlight LED bulbs available.
In the field, this means that you’ll have zero problems flooding a room with light on a wide beam setting or picking out objects from a far with a focussed beam – both of these doable are thanks to the Pro ZX-1’s adjustable zoom lens.
The Pro ZX-1 is water resistant, features a main body constructed from aircraft grade aluminum with a textured hand grip for ease of use. Alongside the portable size and lightweight of the unit, these characteristics make this an ideal candidate for a multi-use, multi-environment tactical flashlight that you can keep with you at all times and that can tackle any lighting scenario.Learn More About the Solaray Pro ZX-1 Here
The Coast HP7R is an awesome lightweight tactical flashlight that combines the durability needed for both everyday and survival usage, alongside high-performance light output.
A no-nonsense practical design makes the HP7R an excellent choice for tactical operation either in a professional military or emergency services capacity or as a reliable personal flashlight.
A unique slide focusing system also allows the HP7R to shift beam spread effortlessly with one hand during high stress situations.
- Two tier output including up to 300 lumen high power mode and 30 lumen emission for energy conservation.
- Unique slide focus and a beam distance of up to 1003 feet (306 meters) for maximum control for both spot and flood lighting requirements.
- Offers three light modes – High intensity, Low intensity and Strobe effect
- Lightweight aluminum body with built in impact resistance and weather resistance combined with high durability LED for use in challenging conditions.
- Dual power system allows recharge via AC, DC or USB.
|Dimensions:||1.5 x 1.5 x 5.6 inches|
|Power Plant:||1x Lithium Ion Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
One of the things crucial to any tactical flashlight is the durability and quality of its construction. In both of these areas, the HP7R scores highly.
Benefitting from an impact and weather resistant, lightweight aluminum body, the Coast HP7R is designed around the core concept of being built to last.
This idea is carried through in the build quality details of the model from an unbreakable LED and a rubberized O-ring (for water resistance), to a casing that resists rust and corrosion over continued outdoor use.
The HP7R effectively works on two light output levels – a high output that emits around 300 lumens of light (for an estimated 7 hour run time), and a power-saving low level which produces 20-30 lumens for longer-term use (expect around 33 hours of use here).
One of the unique features of this tactical flashlight is a slide focus which allows the simple transition between a broad view flood beam and x-range spot beam, making full use of the light’s long-range focusing optic. This functionality is excellent for one-handed, tactical operation of the light using just your thumb to switch beam modes effortlessly.Learn More About the Coast HP7R Here
The Outlite A 100 is a tactical flashlight that offers a great balance of reliability and durability making it ideal for a wide variety of environments and different situations.
The versatility of the A 100 is reinforced through an adjustable zoom lens meaning you can alter the focus of the beam for both broad and narrow lighting requirements. The second of these two options is particularly useful if you’re looking to pinpoint an object at a distance while a broad beam is well suited to lighting up a room or the immediate vicinity when the need arises.
A well thought out combination of size and weight considerations alongside multi-mode functionality and general performance make the Outlite a solid choice as an all purpose tactical flashlight suitable for applications ranging from security and law enforcement through to everyday camping and wilderness survival.
- Powerful LED producing between 700-900 lumen intensity, depending on setting used with a stated life of up to 100,000 hours.
- Five light modes – High, Medium and Low intensity beam, Tactical Strobe and SOS mode for signalling
- Rugged aluminum alloy construction with water resistance and quick access tactical power button
- Can be stood upright on base for ‘candle’ effect if required
- Rechargeable batteries plus charger included as standard
|Dimensions:||6.8 x 4.5 x 1.9 inches|
|Power Plant:||1 x Lithium Ion Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
The low price point of this unit is surprising for the volume of features and performance usually reserved for tactical flashlights in a much higher price bracket.
First and foremost, the quality and output of the LED are impressive, with the ability to both focus the intensity of the beam and switch between five modes of lighting. The overall offering in terms of output varies between modes of use with the higher end pushing between 700 and 900 lumens of illumination.
A durable outer casing comes in the form of an aluminum alloy body which also benefits from a degree of water resistance meaning you can confidently use this torch in all weather conditions.
We also particularly appreciate the fact that not only does the Outlite utilize rechargeable batteries (included alongside a charger) but that it can also run off of AAA cells as opposed to the standard 3.7v 18650 battery which comes with the flashlight.
Another great feature of the A 100 is that it can be stood upright to provide a safe and reliable lighting solution which is particularly useful when camping or if you need to keep your hands free without sacrificing access to good quality light.Learn More About the Outlite A 100 Rechargeable Flashlight Here
When it comes to tactical flashlight brands with a high pedigree, Surefire are certainly up there with the best and the G2X is a perfect example of why that is.
Offering the perfect balance of rugged durability and dependable reliability, the G2X is built around an incredibly resilient LED emitter designed to offer a good light output without draining power.
At first glance, one of the other key characteristics of this tactical flashlight is the Nitrolon casing which means whether thrown, dropped, kicked or knocked, it’s still going to be ready for anything when you need light. In combination with an anodized bezel, these incredible durability features mean that this flashlight is equally confident filling a self defense role when you ask it to.
- Delivers a steady 320 lumen output to balance optimum light quality, output and battery life.
- Includes a micro-textured reflector to project a smooth beam.
- Tactical tailcap click switch for two modes of on/off functionality
- Resilient construction with Nitrolon body, aluminum bezel and polycarbonate window.
|Dimensions:||5.2 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches|
|Power Plant:||2x Lithium Ion Battery|
|Material:||Nitrolon Polymer/Anodized Aluminum|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
There’s a good reason the G2X range is a popular choice with both law enforcement and military professionals.
Delivering a balanced beam with plenty of light and surrounding reach, the G2X favors a 320 lumen single output LED to strike an ideal equilibrium between light quality and battery life. These features alone make it a stand out choice for allowing excellent situational awareness when in use.
Alongside the excellent performance of the light itself though, the SureFire G2X also places the ‘tactical’ firmly into tactical flashlight, with a rugged build, designed to take whatever punishment comes its way.
One of the first things that stands out with the G2X is the Nitrolon polymer body which is built for maximum durability and grip while remaining lightweight and compact. Similarly, a military spec anodized aluminum head and super strength polycarbonate window mean that the flashlight will hold up to the most challenging of conditions.
The SureFire features a tactical, click-style tailcap switch for quick activation and ease of operation in every situation.Learn More About the Outlite A 100 Rechargeable Flashlight Here
The Fenix PD35 TAC is a reliable and versatile tactical flashlight that offers a maximum output of an amazing 1000 lumens.
Utilizing the Cree XP-L LED with a stated lifetime of 50,000 hours, the PD35 TAC is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a flashlight that balances blinding power with solid and dependable reliability.
A slim profile makes the PD35 TAC an ideal companion for keeping close in a pocket, glove box or clipped onto a bag, belt or pocket using the pocket clip included.
- Emits up to a powerful 1000 lumens output via a Cree XP-L (V5) LED.
- Offers six output modes: Turbo, High, Mid, Low, Eco and Strobe
- Intelligent memory ‘remembers’ last used lighting mode when switched on
- Anodized aluminum body for durability and toughened ultra-clear glass lens with anti-reflective coating.
- Tactical tail switch and side switch combination for operating in various modes
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard and rated underwater up to 6.5 feet for 30 minutes
|Dimensions:||8.4 x 3.7 x 1.5 inches|
|Light Source:||Cree XP-L (V5) LED|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
As far as high-performance functionality goes, the Fenix PD35 TAC definitely ticks all of the right boxes for an all in one tactical flashlight.
The blinding 1000 lumen output of the PD35 is delivered thanks to a V5 Cree XP-L LED which has a stated lifetime of 50,000 hours and is powered by two EdisonBright CR123A batteries which also come included.
In terms of functionality, the Fenix works around 6 lighting modes operating under two high-level operational modes – ‘Tactical’ and ‘Outdoor’. When utilizing Outdoor mode, you have access to all six lighting modes ranging from the blistering ‘Turbo’ (providing 1000 lumens for around 70 minutes of runtime) to the super-efficient ‘Eco’ which emits an 8-lumen output for an impressive 140 hours. The Outdoor operational mode provides a range of scaled outputs between these two, each varying by lumen rating and operational battery life.
The main difference between the Outdoor and Tactical modes comes down to the ease of use, with Tactical providing fast and simplified operation, making it perfect for high-stress situations.
When it comes to the bodywork and finish of the PD35 TAC, you can expect excellent high intensity performance and resilience from this model thanks to a lightweight but robust anodized aluminum casing, alongside toughened sub-components and waterproofing up to 6.5 feet effective up to half an hour.Learn More About the Fenix PD35 TAC Here
The Raybek TL1000 offers both practicality and quality while delivering an excellent 1000 lumens of bright light to illuminate any space with ease.
With a beam capable of covering over 980 feet or 300 meters (over 3 football fields), things wont be dark for long once if this makes it into your kit.
An LED with a lifespan of over 100,000 hours paired with an aircraft-grade aluminum body mean that the TL1000 will take significant punishment and still generate an insane amount of light when you need it most.
- Delivers 1000 lumens of LED output with a high-efficiency optical aluminum reflector for delivering a smooth beam.
- Five output modes: High, Medium, Low, Strobe and SOS
- Type III hard anodized anti abrasive finish – can withstand drops from up to 5 feet without damage.
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard and rated underwater up to 6.6 feet
- Gun mountable with most 1″ mounts and can stand upright
|Dimensions:||10 x 7 x 3 inches|
|Light Source:||CREE XM-L U2 LED|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
The Raybek comes in at slightly larger dimensions than some of the other tactical flashlights mentioned in this roundup, but this can be a good thing when considering the practicalities of a light such as the TL1000.
Firstly in regards to its moderately larger profile, the TL1000 also features a tactical head designed for defensive use while also being perfectly suited to gun mounting on most 1″ mounts if this is something you’re looking for in the perfect tactical flashlight.
Built from anodized aircraft-grade aluminum, the TL1000 is covered by an anti-abrasive and can be dropped from a stated height of 5 feet without incurring damage.
In terms of light output and quality, the Raybek features a Cree XM-L U2 LED capable of throwing out up to 1000 lumens of light through one of five pre-set lighting modes. With a stated runtime of if around 1.5 hours on the highest setting and 50 hours on low, there’s a good balance of power to performance with the low setting being well suited to most everyday usage situationsLearn More About the Raybek TL1000 Here
The Olight M20SX Javelot is a solidly built tactical flashlight providing a range of lighting modes up to 820 lumens of brightness with all of the most essential features you would expect from a flashlight in its class.
Durable materials and a high overall build quality combine with a CREE LED reflector to deliver a solid feeling, powerful and reliable light source for use in multiple environments and situations.
- Emits up to 820 lumens of light through a de-domed CREE LED and polished aluminum reflector.
- Four output modes: High, Medium, Low and Strobe
- Knurled, hard anodized aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Removable strike bezel
- Multi-function click tail switch with momentary activation and on/off setting
- Waterproof to IPX-8 standard and rated underwater up to 6.6 feet
|Dimensions:||5 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
The M20SX Javelot provides three brightness levels ranging from 25 to 820 lumens, all delivered from a smooth reflector CREE LED with a reach of up to 1214 feet (370 meters).
With a removable steel strike bezel and belt clip, the Javelot is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum which is both light and hard wearing with an anti-scratch anodizing finish.
A multi-function click tail switch works alongside a side switch to allow combination tactical operation along with a memory function which remembers the last light mode employed.
Alongside water resistance, one of the useful performance features of the M20SX is the inclusion of a thermal management system to avoid overheating after prolonged periods of use.Learn More About the Olight M20SX Javelot Here
The Helotex G4 is a bright and well constructed tactical flashlight with 1000 lumens of output that means it really packs a punch for its size.
With a lightweight aluminum finish, water resistance and tactical tail switch, you get a lot of core tactical flashlight functionality with the G4.
- 1000 lumen maximum output with three lighting modes: High, Low and Strobe
- Aircraft aluminum finish with o rings on all parts for increased weather resistant qualities
- Tactical click on/off switch on rear of flashlight for easy operation in any situation
|Dimensions:||5.5 x 1 x 1.4 inches|
|Light Source:||CREE XM-L2 LED|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A Battery|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
One of the best features of the Helotex G4 is its ability to run off of two battery power sources. While this dual power capability is a benefit replicated in other tactical flashlights, the option to run the G4 from either two CR123 batteries or a single rechargeable 18650 battery makes it an excellent choice when considered alongside its additional functionality.
The light source of the G4 comes in the form of a Cree XM-L2 LED which emits a powerful 1000 lumens of brightness at the highest setting. Alongside this max setting, the Helotex also offers both an energy efficient low mode as well as a strobe effect for signaling etc.
As with many of the other tactical flashlight offerings listed in this guide, the Helotex G4 is operated using a tactical switch on the rear of the light.
Durability is offered in the form of a lightweight anodized aluminum body with o-ring seals on all parts for increased protection against the elements.Learn More About the Helotex G4 Tactical Flashlight Here
The MH27 provides a number of additional colored lighting modes not available with other lights alongside a feature list that you’d expect from one of the best tactical flashlights on the market.
With a 1000 lumen output and a staggering beam distance of 462 meters (over 1500 feet), the Nitecore MH27 is a powerful tactical flashlight with some unique and impressive credentials.
- Emits up to 1000 lumens with 462 meter throw distance
- Auxiliary RGB LED’s for additional red, white and blue light output
- Seven output modes: Turbo, High, Mid, Ultra Low, Red, Green and Blue
- Aerospace grade aluminum alloy construction with HAIII military grade hard-anodized
- Includes in-built temperature regulation technology
- Impact resistant up to 1.5 meters and waterproof to IPX-8 standard (2 meters submersible)
|Dimensions:||4.1 x 1.2 x 1.2 inches|
|Light Source:||CREE XP-L HI V3 LED|
|Power Plant:||2x CR123A|
Why we Love this Tactical Flashlight
A distinctly unique offering from the Nitecore MH27 comes in the form of three auxiliary LED’s which provide an individual RGB light provision alongside the standard white light operation of the unit. This additional functionality effectively allows the output of three distinct colors for increased operation; red (for low-illumination, tactical uses), green (for read and search tasks) and blue (for blood tracing and verification).
Projection power is also a key feature of the MH27, with the unit’s CREE XP-L HI V3 LED providing a throw distance of up to 462 meters on the highest setting.
There are a number of other excellent additions which combine to make the MH27 a highly formidable and feature-rich tactical flashlight such as ‘Advanced Temperature Regulation’, which adapts the output of the LED to the internal temperature of the unit to ensure regulation of heat at all times.
Similarly, waterproofing to IPX-8 and impact resistance ensure that the Nitecore will survive most of the trials you’ll likely put it through, whatever the weather conditions and situation you find yourself in.
The Nitecore MH27 is chargeable via a convenient micro-USB port contained within its anodized aluminum casing and uses an intelligent charging circuit to prevent overcharging when plugged in.Learn More About the Nitecore MH27 Here
How to Use This Guide
Tactical Flashlights – The Basics
If you’re looking for the ultimate resource on the very best tactical flashlights, associated accessories, add-ons and equipment, then this guide is the place to get started.
The tactical flashlight has long been the essential ally of military professionals, emergency service workers and outdoor experts the world over – and for good reason.
When you never know what lies around the next corner or what the next step holds in store, access to a reliable and unfaltering source of light when darkness falls isn’t a nice to have, it’s an essential requirement.
The demands of service on a tactical flashlight can be harsh and unrelenting.
Whether providing light in the field, a burning building, storm, blizzard, flood or firefight, the environment and conditions can be severe and varied and the best tactical flashlights need to be able to cope with all of these and more, all as part of a day’s work.
While the primary requirement may often be the quality and intensity of light output, the best tactical flashlights will also be water and damage resistant, offer multiple lighting modes and a long lasting battery life. Oh, and ideally a tactical flashlight will combine the perfect balance of compact size and weight with the high durability and tough construction needed to face any task head on.
Quite a tall order for any flashlight.
Whereas many regular flashlights will fall by the wayside with this extreme list of requirements, luckily this is just the job description for a tactical flashlight, and the best ones out there will blend these features (and sometimes more) to deliver everything you need from a reliable and hard-wearing source of portable illumination.
A tactical flashlight also makes an essential component to any bug out bag or everyday carry bag and the durability and low-profile makes them ideally suited to any scenario that requires portability, reliability and high quality illumination under potentially adverse conditions.
Due to this, a premium tactical flashlight should also be considered a crucial element of any bug out vehicle loadout or as part of any comprehensive home emergency or disaster preparedness kit.
The Benefits of Carrying a Tactical Flashlight
From the everyday rigours of military and emergency service operatives to outdoor wilderness survival applications as well as everyday use, the benefits of equipping a high quality tactical flashlight are numerous.
In every instance however, one fact remains consistent – incorporating a tactical flashlight into your repertoire can make all of the difference in a survival, disaster or emergency situation.
For Personal Protection and Self-Defense
Tactical flashlights are unique among other types of flashlight in that they’re designed to help you out in some of the toughest situations, whenever they strike.
Durability and portability make a tactical flashlight an ideal companion to keep close by and call on should you need to fend off any attacker.
With some lights providing a blistering 1000 lumens of output, both direct beam and strobe lighting modes can be used to disorient any would be attacker and buy you the valuable time needed in order to escape harm.
If things get physical before or after you have the chance to engage the light however, many tactical flashlights also incorporate a crenellated strike bezel at the head of the flashlight body, designed to give you a much needed edge in defensive hand to hand combat.
The combination of lightweight structural strength, powerful light output and tactical combat bodywork features can make all of the difference if danger is close.
Tactical Military Operation
High powered, high resilience flashlights have long been a staple of military operatives and law enforcement professionals around the world – and with good reason.
When it comes to a combat situation, every advantage counts and if you’re heading into the unknown it’s mission critical that you know what lies in wait in the darkness ahead.
Your life can depend on the quality and reliability of your tools and equipment and the performance of a tactical flashlight is no different.
From identification to combatant disorientation, military applications demand the very best tactical flashlight properties to ensure the optimum outcome in the field.
In the context of military and emergency service use, the key characteristics of a flashlight are that it is durable, long-lasting, powerful, lightweight and of the utmost simplicity to operate in high stress situations.
Military application of tactical flashlights will often have the additional requirement that the body is mountable on a weapon system. When this is the case, a flashlight needs to not only be designed for mounting directly or via a bracket onto a weapons system, but must also be able to take the punishment of continued shock and recoil from firing while still delivering optimum light output at all times.
Search and Identification
Probably the most obvious use of any flashlight is to see things in the dark right?
The best tactical flashlights will take this primary objective a step further though, through a combination of superior optics, high lumen output, the ability to project light over vast distances as well as the functionality to switch between lighting modes whenever necessary.
Whether using to see (or be seen), the advantages of employing a tactical flashlight over a regular torch are not lost on emergency services, travellers and survivalists alike.
The ability to switch quickly and reliably between pinpoint spotlight indentification and broad-beam floodlight modes for illuminating the immediate vicinity should not be overlooked when choosing a flashlight and tactical flashlights excel in both areas.
Survival Situations, Disaster Response and Emergencies
One of the most obvious applications of a high quality tactical flashlight is during a blackout or power outage situation when the ability to see what’s going on around you can be removed suddenly and without warning.
From earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards and wildfires, to social unrest and even war zone conflict scenarios, there are countless times when the access to adequate and reliable light is both critical to survival yet highly uncertain.
Being able to call upon a continually accessible and durable source of illumination when everything around you is falling apart is of the utmost important when darkness falls.
Similarly, keeping a tactical flashlight as a key component to a comprehensive grab bag, EDC kit, bug out bag or bug out vehicle are all excellent ways of ensuring that your access to light is catered for if thing turn bad.
The Anatomy of a Tactical Flashlight
While every model of torch is unique and manufacturer offerings differ, there are a few key features that most of the best tactical flashlights have in common.
Here’s what you need to know.
2. Flashlight Head and Beam Focussing Ring
3. Anodized, Aircraft Grade Aluminum Body
4. Pocket Clip
6. Tail Cap
7. Rear Strike Bezel with Attachment Point
8. Tactical Tail Cap Switch (hidden)
Flashlight shown is SureFire E2D Defender
Tactical Flashlight A-Z Glossary of Terms
The unique and wide ranging set of demands on a tactical flashlight mean that the considerations around its design, build quality and feature set need to set it apart from a regular torch or flashlight.
Because of this, while some elements remain the same (although usually considerably more powerful or harder wearing) there are also a number of distinct components which go into making the very best tactical flashlights and it’s well worth knowing the terms used to break them down to find the best one for your needs.
Our A-Z to some of the key pieces of vocabulary, information and general things to consider when looking for the best tactical flashlight will help shed light on the topic:
A common finish on many aluminum bodied tactical flashlights is to anodize the surface. Anodizing is an electrochemical process that alters the surface of the metal, effectively making it more durable and resistant to corrosion.
Also known as the the ANSI/NEMA FL 1 Standard, these are the performance guidelines set out for flashlight performance.
The ANSI standard is the industry wide labelling system for providing clear and easy to understand specifications on flashlights including Light Output, Beam Intensity, Beam Distance, Runtime and Water Resistance.
Find out more about ANSI FL1 Standards later on in our guide or click here to learn more now.
Until a revolutionary source of near-infinite portable power comes along, we’re going to be stuck with good old fashioned batteries for running any kind of high powered pocket lighting.
Luckily however, when it comes to powering your tactical flashlight, there are a couple of solid options for both standard and rechargeable battery choices out there, with some torches offering the ability to run from more than one type of battery.
With battery technology advancing more rapidly than ever, expect cell performance (and therefore the performance of tactical flashlights in general) to continue to improve.
The beam literally refers to the beam of light emitted from the flashlight and can often be adjusted or focussed on the body of the light in some way.
Adjusting the beam will usually change it from a wider angle floodlight setting (good for lighting up large areas close by), to a focused spotlight mode (far reaching and ideal for picking out objects at a distance.
Beam distance refers to the distance from the flashlight to the area that the beam will reach and is determined by the power or output of the light and quality of the lens.
The distance or coverage of the flashlight beam can be adjusted within this maximum distance range by adjusting the beam from wide angle through narrow beam focus.
Effectively the section at the ‘front’ of the flashlight, the bezel is the head of the torch that surrounds the lens.
The primary roles of the bezel on almost all flashlights are to protect the lens, focus the projection of light forwards and generally add structural support and strength to the light emitting end of the flashlight body.
On a tactical flashlight however, the bezel is often reinforced in some way and may even take the form of a strike bezel which is designed in a way to allow your torch to double up as a defensive weapon if the need arises. In this instance, the bezel may be made from a strengthened material and crenellated to increase the effectiveness and protect the rest of the flashlight should things start to go south.
The casing of any tactical flashlight is where the majority of the action is. Also known a the flashlight body or flashlight housing, the casing will often be the part of the unit that you hold and will contain the major workings of the torch including power source, circuitry and bulb.
Tactical flashlight casings can take multiple forms but in order to remain durable, resistant and light weight, the most common construction materials of the body will often be a form of light anodized metal such as aircraft-grade aluminum or a hard wearing polymer.
Flood (Beam mode)
In flashlight nomenclature, flood refers to a wide angle light beam emitted by the LED or bulb which is excellent for illuminating large areas in close proximity to the light source. Generally, most tactical flashlights will offer the ability to adjust the beam between a flood setting and a longer throw spot setting for distant objects.
A key consideration of almost every tactical flashlight out there is the level of impact resistance offered.
With the potential use case and operating environment changing at a moment’s notice, the best tactical flashlights will need to be able to take whatever is thrown at them (or whatever they’re thrown at!).
You can expect a level of impact resistance to be built into most of the best tactical flashlights on the market, however some manufacturers will actually test this level of durability by dropping the flashlight with batteries onto a hard surface from various heights. In these instances, the impact resistance is often provided as a measure of feet or metres dropped – higher equals better.
The IPX rating is the name given to the various levels of water resistance and waterproofing (more on these below) for flashlights.
Generally speaking, the higher up the scale you go from IPX0 to IPX8, the less water you can expect to get into your flashlight.
While the best tactical flashlights offer an IPX rating of 7 or 8 – that is, full waterproofing for a certain depth and period of time – most will offer some degree of water resistance, usually at an IPX rating of 4-6. In these cases your torch and its components are designed to be able to take anything from rain to a full on hosing from a pressure washer or powerful water jets.
Most of the best tactical flashlights utilize an LED or ‘Light Emitting Diode’ as the source of their light due to the excellent lifespan of this kind of bulb – anything up to around 50,000 hours or about 5 years of continuous use.
LED’s are the light source of choice in almost all high quality, modern flashlights due to their shock resistant qualities and longevity, both of which make them absolutely ideal for use in tactical flashlights which demand both durability and reliability in all working components.
The lens is officially a sheet of glass or other transparent material such as plastic with a curved face that shapes light.
In the case of flashlight terminology, the lens can also refer to the screen or piece of plastic or glass on the front of the light, offering direct protection for the LED or light source.
Refers to lithium-ion. Li-Ion batteries are long lasting and mostly rechargeable. Li-Ion cells used in tactical flashlights are most commonly 18500, 18650 or RCR123A. While expensive when purchased separately (an important consideration for spares), Li-Ion cells provide an excellent power output throughout their life.
One of the key features of most of the best tactical flashlights is the ability to change the mode of operation.
The most common form of multi-lighting mode often comes in the ability to change the intensity of the light output from a set number of pre-programmed output levels, usually ranging from an economical and power saving, low level intensity through to brighter and more powerful maximum output.
Lighting modes may also include strobe and various other intermittent light programmes such as an SOS mode for signalling during an emergency.
Some of the more advanced tactical flashlights such as the Nitecore MH27 also offer additional lighting modes utilizing RGB LED’s to provide red, green and blue light for tasks such as tracking, night reading and blood tracing.
The unit of luminous flux when considering bulbs, the most simple way to think of this is: Lumens = Brightness
A lumen is the unit measurement used for the quantity of light produced by a source such as an LED or bulb.
When you’re looking at lumens in relation to the output of a tactical flahlight, the lumen measurement given will refer to the brightness output of the flashlight at its highest setting.
The lumen output will also usually be provided for other modes such as low, economical and strobe and there is generally a correlation between lumens and battery life – a higher lumen bode will usually result in lower battery life and vice versa.
Some of the best tactical flashlights include an in-built memory feature which will ‘remember’ the last mode or setting used before being turned off.
For example, if you are using the on the maximum setting or a strobe mode before turning the light off (perhaps to conserve energy during an emergency situation), turning the torch back on will resume the light on this last setting.
A mountable flashlight refers to a tactical light designed to be used either on its own or alongside a firearm, mounted directly onto the weapon for tactical illumination during use.
For tactical users or hunters looking to free up a hand while still maintaining powerful illumination, choosing a flashlight that can be fitted with a weapon mount will allow your light to be attached to a weapon on a Picatinny rail.
If you’re looking to utilize a tactical flashlight alongside your weapon, be sure to pick one built for the shock and recoil associated with weapon mounting. This will often come in the form of structural reinforcement and strengthened circuitry to deal with the strains of recoil when firing.
The o-rings on a tactical flashlight refer to the components within the assembly parts of the torch (usually at the front and back) that help prevent dust and dirt from entering the main housing.
O-rings on some flashlights are reinforced for additional strength and can even be rubberized to provide water resistant characteristics.
When used in the context of flashlights, output simply refers to the level of light emitted from the torch.
This output of the LED or bulb within the flashlight is given as a measure of the unit’s brightness and is always stated in lumens.
While many higher quality lights will offer a high output option, the best tactical flashlights will also provide a pre-programmed range of light output levels, allowing for a balance between economy and performance depending on your situation.
Some tactical flashlights feature a pocket clip which allows the torch to be clipped to a pocket or belt for quick and easy access and can often be removed if no longer required.
Used to concentrate the light emitted from the LED or bulb of the flashlight, the reflector is used to direct the beam of light out of the torch while enhancing the output of the light.
The reflector in most tactical flashlights usually takes the form of a parabolic shape and is often metal, glass or plastic, polished for increased effect.
The runtime refers to how long a tactical flashlight will last on a set of batteries of a certain type.
Lights with multi-mode functionality will have different runtimes for each lighting mode with higher output modes draining the power quicker and therefore reducing the runtime.
Most tactical flashlights feature some form of strobe lighting mode which will flash (or strobe) the light rapidly.
The strobe effect is useful in multiple instances but is particularly handy for either disorienting an attacker or signalling for help in an emergency situation.
In terms of the output level or brightness used on the strobe setting, this will vary by manufacturer but can generally be expected to run for longer than on the maximum setting or high output mode.
The tail cap is located at the base of the flashlight and is used to access and seal the battery compartment within the body of the flashlight.
Most tactical flashlights will also incorporate either a primary or secondary switch on the tail cap that allows fast and easy operation while allowing the user to maintain good grip and control of the flashlight using only one hand.
Many high performance flashlights will feature a ‘tactical’ switch for turning the light on or off quickly with the use of just one hand.
Tactical switches are usually til-mounted and located on the base of the flashlight itself, either as a button or switch on the tail cap, allowing quick access with one hand for tactical operation.
One of the key benefits of tail cap tactical switches is that this configuration allows the user to keep the light pointed down range when activated or when cycling through various light output modes.
The term throw refers to the ability of a flashlight to project light onto an area or surface at a distance.
When looking at tactical flashlights, throw is determined by factors such as the surface brightness of the LED or bulb as well as the shape, depth, smoothness and reflective efficiency of any reflector surface within the flashlight.
Throw is often a term associated with the narrow-beam or ‘spot’ functionality of a flashlight, with a good throw referring to the ability of the light to illuminate objects at a distance.
An important distinction to make when considering the features of a tactical flashlight is the difference between waterproof and water resistance.
When a flashlight is referred to as waterproof, the manufacturer is effectively saying the unit is impervious to water.
Waterproofing is often provided to a set depth and length of time and is graded using the IPX system of water protection. Both IPX7 and IPX8 offer waterproofing.
The latter of these two ratings provides waterproofing for submersion of around 4 hours – think dropping in a pool or lake levels of waterproofing here.
Unlike the above, water resistance states that a flashlight is able to resist the penetration of water up to a certain level.
While not the same as waterproof, water resistance is also measured using the IPX system with a tactical flashlight graded at IPX4 being water resistant or splash proof from multiple directions.
Be careful here as some manufacturers interchange between the two terms, so use the IPX grading system to make sure you know what to expect from your flashlight, if you’re looking for protection from anything more than basic rain and splashing, look for a unit graded IPX7 or higher.
Key Considerations when Choosing the Best Tactical Flashlight
With a basic understanding of some of the key elements of a high quality tactical flashlight under your belt, deciding on the best possible piece of kit for the job can then be narrowed down to specific requirements around where and how you’re likely to use it as well as differences n style, shape, materials and size.
What, When and Where?
One of the most important things to consider when choosing the best tactical flashlight for your needs comes down to how exactly you intend to use it and the kind of features and functionality you’ll be looking for to make sure you’re covered.
In what situations are you most likely to be using the flashlight?
For example, if the major role of your torch will be for general everyday use, the priority may be for long overall LED life with less emphasis on multi-functionality. If you’re looking to take your light into a high impact environment on the other hand, the requirement for durability and performance will be considerably higher.
You may be looking to source a high powered, reliable tactical flashlight for a bug out bag or for other survival or preparedness scenarios, here, the criteria for choosing the ideal source of illumination will likely be determined by factors such as runtime, multi-mode functionality and weight.
The next question to ask is where you are most likely to be using your flashlight.
Again, the main considerations around feature set can be drilled down to thinking about the kinds of environment you’re going to be using the light.
For military and emergency service personnel, the operating environment can change by the minute. A tactical flashlight with the specs to perform in both the urban environment as well as in the wilderness is going to fare well whatever challenges it faces. In this instance, features such as impact resistance, lightweight and a tough outer shell are crucial requirements.
In the case of emergency service workers such as firefighters or police officers, the ability to operate the flashlight and switch the beam between flood and spot modes quickly are must have features.
For outdoor enthusiasts, survivalists and hunters alike, the conditions of operation for a tactical flashlight can be equally extreme meaning as with all tools and equipment, it needs to be able to perform consistently even when the environment is unforgiving and unpredictable. In this instance, water and impact resistance become just as important as the strength, quality and duration of light emitted by a flashlight.
Core Features and Functionality
So, while it may seem pretty obvious that the perfect tactical flashlight is going to combine a well balanced mix of high power, superior quality, lightweight, durable materials and excellent runtime, the specific requirements of the user’s individual needs (as covered above) will likely mean that there are certain operational areas with more importance than others.
So how do you know what to look for when analysing the finer points of tactical flashlight functionality and how should you interpret the range of features and options out there?
Read on to find out more.
What should I look for when choosing the Best Tactical Flashlight for my needs?
With so much choice out there (and believe me there are a lot of options), first and foremost check out our pick of the very best tactical torches at the top of this post.
If you’re looking to go it alone though and want to get an idea of the essential features and minimum specs to look for when choosing a model, use the following as a checklist of the basic requirements to aim for.
Here are a few things you should look for when picking a flashlight for every occasion:
- Size – When it comes to the best size for a tactical flashlight, smaller is almost always better. If the goal is maximum portability, packability, concealment and ease of use, a compact frame is undoubtedly preferable. Opting for a smaller flashlight allows you to stash in a grab bag, the glove compartment of a vehicle and your pocket with ease and given the power of many of the best flashlights out there, you’re still going to get an incredible bang for your back when it comes to brightness, battery life and overall performance. Look for a flashlight around 4-7 inches in length if possible.
- Ouput – The performance of a flashlight is undoubtedly down to the balance of battery life and overall light output and brightness is therefore critical factor when choosing the best tactical flashlight for your budget. The ultimate task of any torch is to produce light and with a tactical flashlight, we’re looking for the additional benefit of being able to disorient any threats along the way – in both of these instances, the higher the output the better. Aim to pick a model with a minimum output of at least 150-200 lumens of light output when you can and look for a light with multiple output modes.
- Simplicity – When you need it most, you want to ensure that your access to light is fast, effective and seamless. Therefore, ease of operation and use is essential here. Pick a flashlight that can be turned on and off in as few moves as possible and if you can, look for a model that incorporates a tactical tail light switch to turn your light on quickly when required.
- Water Resistance – Even if you mostly operate in arid conditions or desert environments, it’s my personal opinion that every tactical flashlight should incorporate at least some degree of water resistance or waterproofing. Whether you’re caught in a deluge, wading through a river or simply leave your flashlight in your pocket on laundry day, an investment in a water resistant model is an excellent peace of mind for continued operation in every condition.
- Durability – It’s tough out there and luckily almost all of the best tactical flashlights are built with this simple fact in mind. When you think of the kinds of scenarios and environments that your flashlight might see, check out those that have had a degree of impact resistance designed into the build. As far as materials go, anodized aluminum is an excellent choice, offering the perfect balance between light weight and toughness. Reinforced bodywork, durable fittings and protected components are all things to look out for here as well. If possible, also look for a tactical flashlight that has been impact tested to ensure rugged construction.
- Hardware – The bulk of tactical flashlights are built entirely around an LED for emitting hard-wearing, powerful and reliable light. While some incandescent flashlights can be found still, you really want to be thinking LED for the long-life and unbeatable durability they can take while still delivering the goods every time without fail. The considerations with every survival tool are efficiency and performance and choosing an LED based flashlight will deliver both while maintaining the integrity of the flashlight as a whole.
Setting the bar – Decoding ANSI FL1 Flashlight Standards
One of the most common industry guidelines you’re likely to come across in your search for the best tactical flashlight are the ANSI FL1 standards. These standards are used by most manufacturers to set a benchmark of the essential information you’ll want to know about a torch as a prospective buyer and set out a whole host of details to provide full transparency into the features of each model.
|Light Output:||Provided as a Lumen rating, this FL1 standard provides the total amount of light emitted by the flashlight.|
|Runtime:||The FL1 standard requires that the amount of time is given for a flashlight to drop it’s brightness from full to 10% output. If you’re operating a 1000 lumen torch, the amount of time it takes to reach 100 lumens of output is considered to be the runtime – so if you’re down to 100 lumens after 3 hours of use, the Runtime is considered to be 3 hours.|
|Beam Distance:||The approximate amount of light emitted by a full moon on a clear night is around 0.25 lux. Under the ANSI FL1 standards, this is the metric used for measuring the distance in meters of a flashlight beam. The distance at which the beam is equivalent to 0.25 lux is the official beam distance.|
|Peak Beam Intensity:||Peak beam intensity is measured in ‘Candela’ and is effectively the brightest part of the flashlight beam. A key differentiator between Candela and Lumen is that the first refers to brightest part of the beam whereas Lumen is the unit of measurement for gauging how much light is emitted from the source itself.|
|Impact Resistance:||The best tactical flashlights are built to take a beating and the FL1 standard provides the Impact Resistance of flashlights to let you know how durable they’re likely to be. Provided in meters, this metric states a height that the flashlight could be dropped from onto concrete and still function effectively.|
|Water Resistance:||The level of water resistance offered by a flashlight using the IPX metric of water impermeability. Most flashlights will fall between IPX4 (splashing water and heavy storms) to IPX7-8 which provides protection when submerged for a set period of time and at a certain depth.|
Let there be Light – Understanding Tactical Flashlight Light Metrics
When it comes to performance of various models of tactical flashlight, undoubtedly the most crucial functional factor to understand is the light itself.
While the basics of output, throw and battery life are what you’re really going to be interested in here, it’s a good idea to have an elementary grasp of some of the common industry terms thrown around by flashlight manufacturers to make sure you know exactly what to expect from your flashlight when the sun sets.
A lumen is used to refer the international unit measure of ‘Luminous Flux’ – or the amount of light energy produced by a bulb, LED or other light source – effectively the light output.
Generally speaking, a higher level of lumens on any given flashlight will equate to a more powerful and therefore brighter LED or bulb.
When looking into the best tactical flashlight for your specific purpose, you’ll likely come across lumens a lot in the information and descriptions of various models. An important thing to remember here though is that lumens are providing a different metric from other terms such as candella and beam distance.
Most tactical flashlights will sit within a range of outputs from anywhere between 250 and 1000+ lumens. The higher this number, the more powerful the output of your torch and the hungrier it will be in regards to battery consumption, with the opposite stats behaving accordingly.
Many of the best tactical flashlights out there will strike a balance in regards to output, brightness and battery life with most offering a choice of pre-programmed lighting modes to run through a selection of outputs including an economy mode and full power tactical.
Flashlights are of course available with a lower lumen output than those stated above, however it’s important to note that these will mostly be suitable for light (no pun intended) duties around the house or for tasks like reading in the dark where high performance isn’t a requirement.
Another base unit measurement, Candela refers to the power emitted by a light source such as an LED or bulb in a specific direction – the brightness of the focused beam.
As candela is the metric used for the brightness in a focussed beam of light (i.e. the beam you’re likely to actually be pointing at something), in many ways it’s more useful to know in practical terms than the lumen rating of the flashlight, which only refers to the general output of the light source as a whole.
Candela units are considered to be equivalent to 1 standard candle.
Ultimately, both lumens and candela are useful metrics to know and having an understanding of the differences between both will allow you to make an informed decision when picking the best tactical flashlight for your purposes
Getting Tactical – How to Operate in Dark Spaces with your Flashlight
As with all things, there are wrong and right ways of using a flashlight to gain maximum tactical advantage at all times.
The ON – CHECK – OFF – MOVE Sequence
If you find yourself in an environment with low or no light, it’s always best to play it as safe as possible.
In order to reduce the chance of being caught off guard by any hostile threat lurking in a dark area, the key is to gain maximum knowledge about your surroundings in the quickest and most efficient time without giving away your position.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Activate your light
- Scan and assess the surrounding environment quickly but accurately
- Switch light off
- Maneuver to next location
- Repeat steps 1-4
You’re looking to strike the balance between information and concealment here. Leave the light on for long enough to assess and plan your movement but not so long as to become a perfectly illuminated target.
Using a Tactical Flashlight for Personal Defense
Whether used alongside a weapon or as a standalone defensive aid, a tactical flashlight is specifically designed to do more than just banish darkness.
In many ways, tactical flashlights are the perfect self defense tool as they are small enough and light enough to be carried in your pocket and allow you to maintain a level of self defense capability where other weapons may be prohibited.
When you get into a tight spot, a high quality flashlight becomes an invaluable and underestimated ally in your self defence inventory.
If you own a firearm for personal defense, equipping a tactical flashlight can provide a crucial advantage in low-light shooting or defense scenarios. From quick and clear target identification, to providing adequate visibility of the sights on your weapon, a flashlight can make all of the difference in a combat or personal defense situation where every advantage counts and every second matters.
For those not intending to use a firearm alongside their tactical flashlight, the defensive benefits remain far from irrelevant.
Here’s the lowdown on how to use a tactical flashlight to stay safe when confronted by an imminent threat to your physical safety or security.
Most attacks happen under the cover of darkness which will usually confer an advantage on any assailant. However, using a powerful and bright tactical flashlight negates this advantage and levels the playing field from the start. In many instances, simply shining a powerful light on an attacker will be enough to scare them off.
If an assault is imminent but your opponent isn’t yet on top of you, directing the beam of your tactical flashlight on the highest setting directly at the eyes of a would-be attacker can be enough to disorient and stop them in their tracks, providing the time required to get out of dodge.
When the you’re at danger close and the threat is too close to flee, the natural reaction of your assailant to cover their eyes following a burst of bright light will give you enough time to counter-attack or evade.
Most of the best tactical flashlights will include some form of reinforced bezel at the head of the flashlight body.
If you’re looking for a flashlight that will double up to provide good personal defense capabilities, go for a model with a serrated, toothed or crenellated strike bezel to pack the maximum punch if things get up close and personal.
The combination of a lightweight, shock resistant and handheld body alongside a strike bezel make a tactical flashlight the ideal improvised striking device is you find yourself fending off an attack.
NOTE: When travelling on a plane, check with your airline, airport or TSA regarding carrying a flashlight with a strike bezel in your hand luggage – if unsure, pack in your checked bag instead to be on the safe side.
Identify your assailant, deter and disorient and then evaluate the situation with the seconds you buy yourself – fight or flee? Throughout this process, your tactical flashlight is the survival tool of choice.
How to Hold a Tactical Flashlight
There are a number of techniques out there for holding a tactical flashlight in the most efficient and effective way possible, and many of these are good in different situations.
But how do you know which is best for your requirements and when should you choose one method over the others.
Depending on the scenario you find yourself in, you may be limited to how best to hold your tactical flashlight, for example, carrying a heavy backpack or fully loaded bug out bag will mean that practicality (and therefore the most comfortable way to hold your torch) will take priority.
If you’re travelling light however, consider the environment you’re in and the level of likely threat around you. In high danger situations, employing an overhand grip on your flashlight and holding above the shoulder (as in the ‘Index’ techniques mentioned below) provide the dual advantage of high-level light and the ability to react quickly in a defensive way if an attacker is near.
Holding a Flashlight with a Sidearm – Two Handed Techniques
While it’s possible to mount a tactical flashlight directly onto a handgun or other firearm, a definite disadvantage can present itself in the fact that your source of illumination is directly tied to the direction your weapon is pointing – not what you want when there are potentially dangers on all sides.
If used in a certain way, a tactical flashlight provides the ability to assess and identify threats as you move through the danger zone without pointing your weapon in the wrong direction.
A technique known as the Rogers technique involves modifying a standard handgun shooting grip, trapping the tactical flashlight between either the first and second or second and third fingers of your non-dominant hand.
When combining the use of a tactical flashlight with a handgun, another of the two handed options involves again utilizing your non-dominant hand to hold your flashlight, while this time supporting the gun-holding hand above. This is the method favored by Hollywood and the classic technique of almost every cop show out there.
Holding a Flashlight with a Sidearm – One Handed Techniques
Depending on the situation and environment in which you’re operating, It may be preferable to implement a one handed flashlight technique if you’re operating a handgun and tactical flashlight as this will provide a greater level of recoil control and separation between weapon and light – particularly useful for protecting yourself from threats to the side and rear.
In this case a one-handed flashlight-weapon technique such as as the Eye Index or Neck Index Techniques both represent an excellent combination of tactical illumination, freedom of movement, control and flexibility in danger areas.
Here’s how it goes down:
- Holding your tactical flashlight in the non-dominant hand, bend your elbow and position it so that it’s level with your eye (or neck) and directed forwards. There are two benefits to this, firstly you retain clear illumination of your target, field of fire and the sights of your weapon, and secondly, keeping your non-dominant hand in this position protects you from side strikes.
- Sidearm should be extended in front using dominant hand to provide adequate recoil control for one handed shooting while maintaining a suitable grip on the weapon for this style of operation.
- Activate your tactical flashlight (this is a perfect example of where a thumb-operated tactical tail switch is essential) and direct the beam forward to illuminate your gun sights, the area ahead and any potential targets. When facing an attacker in this way, shine the light directly at the face to disorient and buy you the time to react.
- Employ the ON-CHECK-OFF-MOVE maneuver (see the “Getting Tactical” section above) to proceed through the danger zone, scanning and assessing the area for threats as you move.
Note: As with any and all techniques regarding firearms, consult a licensed and trained professional fully before attempting any training with firearms on your own.
In an uncertain and rapidly changing world, one of the very best things you can do today, is to prepare and plan for the unexpected events of tomorrow.
Remember, by the time people start talking about the problem, it may already be too late to act.
Whether you’re looking to source a performance flashlight for everyday use, to keep in the car or are looking for the very best tactical torch for work, outdoor wilderness use or as part of a bugout bag ot survival kit, taking the time to research the top light can make all the difference.
Following the tips and advice in this guide when choosing the best tactical flashlight for you needs will ensure that when you need it most, you’ll have a have a reliable and high quality source of illumination at hand.
Prepare. Survive. Thrive.
When it comes to any of our equipment rundowns and reviews, we reference as many expert sources, and real world user reviews as possible when looking to provide the most relevant and educational information on the ins and outs of the best tactical flashlights.
Finding the best tactical flashlight for your specific situation is ultimately a highly personal activity with individual needs and preferences sometimes varying considerably between people, locations and uses.
With these considerations in mind, this guide looks to provide advice on our own opinions of the best tactical flashlights available today, however it’s always important to carry out your own due diligence to find the best solution for you when picking a light that’s perfect for your situation.