What to Consider When Shopping for the Best Tactical Flashlight
A tactical flashlight is the type of thing literally everyone should own and it’s important not to skimp on quality. Even if you don’t rely on your flashlight to do your actual job, you’ll still need something you can count on when the power goes out at home or disaster strikes. A good flashlight is also a must-have for personal security, camping, hiking, or even just to keep in the car in case of an unexpected breakdown in the middle of nowhere. However, knowing you could really use a good, bright flashlight is one thing. Actually figuring out which of the many options out there on the market today represents the right choice for you is another. If you’re truly serious about getting the absolute most out of your purchase, it’s a good idea to make the best tactical flashlight you can find your choice.
After watching this video, you can’t tell me you don’t feel like shooting guns in the dark.
The top 5 Best Tactical Flashlights
Click here for the big 13 matrix 70+ flashlights comparison chart.
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Surefire G2X Pro
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Surefire R1 Lawman
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Streamlight ProTac HL
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What Is a Tactical Flashlight?
These days, the term tactical is one you hear thrown around a lot more often than it should be. Many companies will call just about any piece of equipment that offers an edge or advantage to its owner “tactical”. The word itself has even become something of a marketing ploy to make potential buyers think a given product is much better or more efficient than it is. However, a true tactical flashlight is a flashlight that has actually been designed with military, security, or law enforcement use in mind. Professionals like these need to be able to count on their equipment in sensitive situations that can actually mean the difference between life and death. This is exactly why they’re so highly sought after even by civilians. If a police officer or a soldier can rely on the best tactical flashlight when needed, then you can rest assured that you can, too.
What Qualifies a Flashlight as Tactical?
As touched on above, a tactical flashlight is a flashlight that meets the exacting standards necessary for law enforcement or military use… but how can you be sure a given flashlight being sold as “tactical” really is what it’s supposed to be? The difference between a tactical flashlight and an ordinary flashlight lies in the intensity, quality of the light itself, dependability, as well as the degree of beam concentration. The best tactical flashlights generally feature a number of different light settings for use under a variety of conditions. Many law enforcement flashlights include a brightness setting capable of blinding an attacker, as well as flood or spotlight settings designed to fully illuminate a large space when needed. Additional light settings are often also part of the mix. For instance, some high quality tactical flashlights contain red light settings to help with night blindness or green settings to help you see without immediately alerting wildlife or other people to your presence.
Criteria for the Best Tactical Flashlight
- Reliability: A tactical flashlight is not where you want to skip on quality.
- High Output: This is a pretty obvious quality to have. 200 lumens is enough to temporarily blind someone.
- Tail Switch: Having a tail switch lets you hold the light in many tactical positions.
- Weatherproof: Needs to be able to perform in bad weather or take a dip in water.
- Impact Resistance: Tactical flashlights need to be as tough as the jobs they are used in.
Why Do You Need the Best Tactical Flashlight?
Whether or not you actually work in a field that calls for a reliable and powerful flashlight, you still want a piece of equipment that you can count on when the chips are down. Even civilians tend to rely on flashlights for purposes that could be life or death under the right circumstances. For instance, you may be shopping for the best tactical flashlight because you need it for personal security. You may be looking for something to count on out in the wilderness because you’re into hiking, camping, or hunting. Even if you are simply looking for something to keep in the kitchen drawer or the trunk of your car “just in case”, you nevertheless still need a piece of equipment that’s really going to deliver when you need it. Choosing the best tactical flashlight you can find adds up to an insurance policy that you’ll be happy to have sooner or later. It can literally mean the difference between being adequately prepared for the unexpected and tripping in the dark at the worst possible time.
What Should I Be Looking for in the Best Tactical Flashlights?
Before you get serious about searching for the best tactical flashlight, it’s a good idea to understand what your needs are, as well as what options are available on the market today.
Decide right out of the gate what you want to be able to use your flashlight for. If it’s to keep around in case of a power outage or a tire blowout, you’re probably fine with simply focusing on brightness alone. However, if you want one for personal security reasons, look for a light that features a special brightness setting capable of blinding or confusing an assailant if need be. You can even find tactical flashlights that are shaped in such a way that they can also be used as a makeshift blunt or scraping weapon. If you plan on using your flashlight in tandem with outdoor activities like hunting or camping, look for additional settings like an emergency mode in case you become stranded, as well as red or green settings to help you see discreetly under special circumstances. Some tactical flashlights are specially designed to attach to rifles or guns as well.
You also want to make sure that your tactical flashlight features a good value for the money you pay. Go into the shopping process expecting to pay more for your tactical flashlight, as it does represent an actual investment in your safety and security. Naturally, the more reputable the brand, the more you should expect to have to pay. Surefire and Streamlight are both made in USA and come with a lifetime warranty. Make sure that the flashlight you choose is not only the brightest tactical flashlight available, but that it has the best battery life possible. Opt for long-lasting, ultra-efficient LED light sources, as these provide the user with the best possible level of reliability. Almost all of the best tactical flashlights use CR123A batteries but they all have rechargeable options.
Surefire flashlights are used by more law enforcement than any other brand and it’s easy to see why. These beauties are made for battle with reliability and build quality second to none. They are also a major supplier to the U.S. Armed Forces. In fact the Surefire Z2 is standard issue to the FBI and Federal Air Marshals. Bringing a Surefire flashlight camping is like using a samurai sword on a piñata. It’s a bit overkill but who cares, you never know when will disaster strike.[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B006NKLRW6″ cloaking=”default” height=”89″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31e-6EQPK6L._SL160_.jpg” tag=”bestflashhq-20″ width=”160″] 1If I were in the military, law enforcement, or any other situation where my life depended on a good flashlight, the Surefire P2X would be on top of the list. There are four models of the P2X line, Dual Output, Defender, CombatLight and Tactical. All of them are water and shock resistant, tail switch for on/off/momentary, and have a max output of 500 lumen. The only real drawback of the P2X line is that the tail button doesn’t sit flush to the tail cap so it won’t stand up by itself. This is my EDC (everyday carry) flashlight and yes, I do go camping with it.
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B009F7J960″ cloaking=”default” height=”113″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31h60L5sJDL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”bestflashhq-20″ width=”160″] 2The dual output Surefire G2X Pro is probably the cheapest, in terms of money, Surefire you can buy. This doesn’t mean they skimp on the quality. The body is made of Nitrolon, a polymer that is more resistant to scratches, abrasions and corrosion than the hard-anodized aluminum. This would be a good option for firefighters or search and rescue where the light is constantly getting dropped, scratched and tossed around. The Surefire 6PX is basically the aluminum version of the G2X. So if you are looking for Surefire quality and performance in a light that wont break the bank, Surefire G2X is your light.
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B007S0L42I” cloaking=”default” height=”115″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41nF7qhmy1L._SL160_.jpg” tag=”bestflashhq-20″ width=”160″] 3In tactical situations you have enough to worry about. Never needing to worry about enough batteries in your flashlight makes things easier. The Surefire R1 Lawman comes with rechargeable li-ion batteries that can be recharged hundreds of times before needing a replacement. The good thing about rechargeable lithium batteries is that they can be recharged without needing to be discharged first unlike ni-cad. It even comes with an adapter for CR123A batteries that’s handy to keep as a backup. At 8.1 inches long it’s considered long for a tactical flashlight but you’ll never have to worry about batteries. The tail button can be programmed to suit your needs. For jobs that require a lot of use such as a security guard or search and rescue, the Surefire R1 Lawman is the one to get.
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”right” asin=”B007RB82CS” cloaking=”default” height=”115″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41fKXyJvEHL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”bestflashhq-20″ width=”160″] 4Streamlight is another company that makes some of the best tactical flashlights in the world. There are 7 versions of the Streamlight ProTac series flashlights. The one most suited for tactical situations is the Streamlight ProTac HL. At 5.4 inches it has a max output of 600 lumens. The cool thing about the ProTac HL is the Ten-Tap® Programming that lets you choose the behavior of the tail switch. The standard operation is high/strobe/low or you can program it to have high only or low/high.
[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”default” align=”left” asin=”B00DITWQMA” cloaking=”default” height=”148″ localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41HAm%2B7HSKL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”bestflashhq-20″ width=”160″] 5Fenix is one of the newer manufacturers and hasn’t been around as long as Surefire or Streamlight but they make great lights. All Fenix lights come with a lifetime warranty. The Fenix PD35 is a beast. At 5.4 inches it’s max output is an eye burning 850 lumens. The good and bad thing about this flashlight is that it has 6 modes of operation. Good that it’s highly adaptable to any lighting situation and bad that with so many choices of light output it might get confusing in tactical situations. See our full review here.
At the end of the day, quality is king even when it comes to the best tactical flashlights. Making sure you choose the best flashlight under the sun is the way to go if safety and efficiency are important to you. Last but not least, make sure you read plenty of reviews on this site before you invest to make sure it’s truly the right option for your unique needs. Explore the options today!