If you think that the flashlight you currently have at home is good enough to take with you for outdoor trips, then you’re in for a nasty surprise. The typical flashlight is made from cheap plastic, produces a weak stream of light, and can break easily if you drop it. Its use is very limited, except for the rare occasion that the power goes out and you need a temporary light source. For a more serious situation, you will be happy to have a tactical flashlight around to get you through it.
There are so many situations where a tactical flashlight will be much more useful to you over a regular flashlight. Want to make a trip into the woods for a few days of camping? A tactical flashlight will provide more than enough light to illuminate the entire trip if you wish, and you don’t even have to worry about it breaking.
Do you patrol the city at night and want some extra protection? A tactical light can light up a dark alley, and can even be used as a weapon if the situation goes sour. No matter what your situation is, a tactical flashlight will always be more reliable and handy than your standard flashlight. All in all, you will be glad that you did the research and got yourself the best tactical flashlight.
Anyone who has ever owned and used a flashlight should already have an idea of some pain points that they encountered. Even though some flashlights are higher quality than others, the most common problems can basically be boiled down into these questions:
- How long can it last for before needing replacements?
- How much light can it provide?
- What type of batteries does it require and how many?
Obviously there are more considerations than this, however addressing these three questions will typically solve most issues that users have with their flashlight. If a flashlight provides a poor answer to any of the questions mentioned above, you should not waste anymore time on it and move on to the next one. Below, we will go more in-depth into each question to help you get a better idea of what you’re looking for.
How Long Can It Last?
This question is less about the battery life, but rather if the bulb can last long enough. For a long time, most bulbs were incandescent. With the rise of LEDs, the standard is drastically changing. Incandescent bulbs, as many of you know, burn out much faster and therefore needs more replacements more frequently.
On the other hand, LEDs are capable of lasting for 100,000 hours which is part of the reason why it was adopted as the new standard. Furthermore, LEDs also use less power so it can last longer than an incandescent bulb on the same power source. Thus, if your main consideration is how long the flashlight can last, then look into LED flashlights.
How Much Light Can It Provide?
This answer is a little less one-sided. For LEDs, they can produce bright beams of light. But, incandescent bulbs can do that too, and arguably they may be better than LEDs over long distances. To judge these two different types of flashlights based on brightness, find out the lumens rating for the specific model. The lumens scale can be as little as single digits on the low end, to several thousand on the high end. A higher number means a brighter light.
What Type of Batteries Does It Require?
Another major consideration is what kind of batteries the flashlight will need. Are the batteries cheap and easy to obtain, or will you need to burn a hole in your pocket each time you want some raw illuminating power? Can you just walk into a local store and easily pick it off the shelves?
Flashlights that take standard battery sizes such as AA or AAA are very easy to find. With that said, rechargeable batteries have seen a surge of popularity in recent years with the obvious benefit of not needing new batteries every time you run out of energy.
Putting It All Together
First things first, you need to find the answers to the above three questions when shopping for a new tactical flashlight. Once you have found the answers, and are satisfied with what you uncovered, you can then move on to the next step. Here are the next few important points to consider:
- What material is the flashlight constructed from?
- Is the bulb protected in the field by a sturdy lens?
- How big is the flashlight? Can you comfortably wield it and operate it?
- Is it waterproof or water resistant?
These points are very important as well, but we separated it because we feel that each person’s needs can vary wildly and thus, what may be a good flashlight for one person may be terrible for another. For instance, someone who plans on spending lots of time on a boat would care very much about if the flashlight is waterproof or not. Or, if someone plans on walking long distances with their flashlight, they would want one that is lightweight and easy to handle.
There are lots of unique situations, therefore determining the best tactical flashlight is based almost entirely on addressing pain points and considering how it will be used. With that said, it would be prudent to look at user reviews to get some hands-on, real experiences to sway your decision. Don’t get too focused on any one review; consider the highly critical ones to discover any major flaws, and try to focus on reviews that are neutral in tone to be decreases any biases.
Top Rated Tactical Flashlights
J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
It is hard not to be skeptical of this highly revered flashlight. Why is it almost universally praised by everyone who has used it? First off, it has an output of 300 lumens which is good considering its small size. Another major selling point is how flexible it is with regards to its power source. You can just use a single AA battery or a 14500 rechargeable one. It is constructed to be sturdy and can withstand nearly everything you put it through (barring trying to destroy it on purpose, of course).
Based on user reviews, the general consensus is that the J5 Tactical V1-PRO is durable, heavy-duty, and very good bang for the buck. Users also marveled at how much light this tiny flashlight outputs, especially since it is powered only by a single AA battery.
With that said, some cons are that some found the beam to be smaller than expected. Thus, if you are looking for a wide-reach beam, this may not be for you. All in all, this is a very good flashlight for the price, and is definitely worth looking into.
SOLARY PRO ZX-1 Professional Series Flashlight Kit
If you are looking for a flashlight that lacks nothing in terms of lighting power, then the SOLARY PRO ZX-1 should be on your radar. At 1200 lumens, there is very little competition that can rival this flashlight’s raw lighting power – especially at this small size. In addition to all of this, it has a long battery life, a rapid charger for the 18650 3.7v 2400mAh Li-Ion battery, and a tactical security design along with striking bezel.
For customization, there are five modes available for this flashlight, such as low, medium, and high beam options. There is also an SOS emergency signal and intruder strobe mode. Furthermore, it is water resistant, and constructed from aircraft grade aluminum, making it quite durable. Owners of this flashlight praise its sturdy construction, recharging capability, and extremely powerful light. If you’re looking for lots of power in a small package, the SOLARY PRO ZX-1 will do the job nicely.
Streamlight 88040 ProTAC HL
It would be remiss of us to have a review that didn’t include a product from the Streamlight brand. Numerous flashlight enthusiasts are loyal to this brand and swear by it. With this kind of a following, you really have to ask yourself if it is overhyped or if it can live up to its reputation.
When something is this popular, it doesn’t come cheap. However, for buyers who intend on using their flashlight every day, this investment may be worth it in the long run.
The 88040 ProTAC HL uses C4 LED technology to produce extreme brightness, and it has a waterproof design. If you are worried about it rolling away, the anti-roll face cap should put a stop to your worries. Additionally, there are three operating modes to choose from when using this product.
One of the benefits that many buyers have experienced is the LED solid state power regulation. This feature will prevent the slow fading light that flashlights often experience as their power wanes. Thus, this light will shine just as bright all the way until it runs out of juice, so lagging performance at the very end of a battery’s life will no longer be an issue. In conclusion, at only 5.25” long and with such impressive power, Streamlight’s 88040 ProTAC HL flashlight is one of the best on the market today.
Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight
Quality products can always be expected from Vizeri, and the Vizeri LED Tactical Flashlight does not disappoint. Long-time customers of this company will notice the subtle details that make this flashlight stand out from its competition.
First and foremost, it has five lighting modes and can accept numerous battery options such as CR123, AAA, and rechargeable 18650 Li-Ion batteries. The manufacturer also notes that the product is waterproof up to a depth of three feet.
Similar to the SOLARY PRO ZX-1, many people note that it is very bright for its size, and its shape and weight make it very easy for anyone to carry it around for average, day-to-day tasks.
This next point doesn’t speak to the quality of the flashlight itself, but Vizeri have included additional O-rings in their package which is very useful. O-rings are a common breakdown point on many flashlights as they develop more wear and tear, so having some replacements on hand is welcome. This speaks volumes about Vizeri’s dedication to their customers by going out of their way to provide this level of support for their product. Thus, it is very easy for us to recommend Vizeri’s LED Tactical Flashlight.
Simon Cree LED Flashlight
Like the other flashlights on this list, the Simon Cree LED Flashlight also comes with five operating settings, along with 500 lumens of brightness, an aluminum body, and over 100,000 hours of bulb life before requiring a replacement.
Lots of reviewers say that brightness should not be an issue for the average user. Furthermore, they like how there is a low-setting mode that allows the flashlight to tone down the brightness and conserve battery for tasks that do not require that much power.
Others say that it is in the sweet spot of price-to-performance ratio, as most flashlights in this price range are often lacking in power and build quality. Lastly, many anecdotes of users dropping their flashlights multiple times and sustaining no damage prove that it is indeed a durable flashlight. For a bright, durable, and compact flashlight, the Simon Cree LED Flashlight deserves a look.
Selecting the top tactical flashlight can be a daunting task. There are a lot of variables to consider, and so many flashlights on the market are decent enough. Many manufacturers provide quality products, each with subtle benefits over the others. For instance, some are more durable, others are brighter, some are fully waterproof while others are only water-resistant, and so on.
Thus, the label of ‘tactical flashlight’ is rapidly changing and developing into something more than simply a tool that produces light. How you intend on using it will determine which product you should get. So take the time to consider all the variables of your unique situation, keep within your budget, and find the ideal one that you can afford. With the right tool in your hand, you can be confident knowing that you can illuminate any area you plan on heading to, and that you are prepared.
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