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They may look similar, but a tactical flashlight is different than just a regular flashlight. It’s designed to meet certain standards that other common flashlights just can’t live up to, and be able to handle way more damage and rough treatment. It’ll also cost more than a normal flashlight, but it’s often a worthwhile investment to have one on hand, either at home, in your car, or walking alone at night. Here’s what to look for before purchasing one.
Buying Guide: What Are the Best Tactical Flashlights?
Looks for the flashlight’s brightness, durability, and these other must-have features.
Features: Tactical flashlights were originally designed for use by law enforcement, and still have attributes that show it – things like a “strike bezel” around the top to break glass in an emergency situation. Charging it up is usually simple too, with most nowadays relying on a microUSB connection. A built-in belt clip is also a nice addition to make sure you always have it within reach, and grooves on the body ensure you have a tight grip even when sweating in stressful moments.
Beam: These have a blindingly strong beam of light, and that’s exactly what you want. Tactical flashlight beams should shine bright, and any single bulb around 3000 lumens will get the job done. There’s also higher amounts of lumens available, but they’re often split up between multiple bulbs, which can affect the distance that the light is thrown, but typically 200 meters is mid-range. LED bulbs are built for the long-haul too – 50,000 hours of usage, or more.
Durability: These need to be extremely tough, not just against drops and falls, but things like being fully submerged in water, earning a rating of IP68 or above. Look for a high-quality aluminum exterior and anodized finish on the body, with materials like steel and tungsten around the bulb bezel with thick glass across the top.
Design: With button placement, simplicity is best. A good tactical flashlight will be designed to be used one-handed, and an on/off switch at the base where your thumb rests is a natural and practical option. While multiple modes may seem like you’re getting more for your money, keep in mind that you won’t want to be fumbling around cycling through various settings, so stick to the important stuff, like an automatic memory that recalls the last mode you used.
1. GearLight LED Flashlight Pack
GearLight’s double-pack is ideal for when you want to have a primary flashlight as well as a backup one around the house or in your car. The compact-sized unit is crafted from military-grade aluminum, running on three AAA batteries and weighing only 5.1 ounces. The high-lumen, narrow beam easily lights up a room, includes lanyards for quick access, and is designed for rough handling – enough to survive a 10-foot drop unscathed.
2. Fenix Tactical Flashlight
The Fenix proves to be an excellent tactical flashlight. The strobe light is blindingly strong, and a secondary button lets you flip through the different modes of brightness. It’s also USB-chargeable, clips on to pockets, and only weighs 112 grams.
3. ThruNite Tactical Flashlight
The BSS features an impossibly tough 1-inch diameter detachable strike bezel, along with a bright bulb that can cycle through six modes, and casts a beam for over 800 feet. It’s also IPX-8 water resistant, meaning you can use it in wet weather without issue, and the black anodized anti-abrasive surface finish (along with aluminum alloy build) makes it easy to grip in all conditions.
4. SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlight
SureFire’s G2X is built like a tank, with a tough Nitrolon body, anodized aluminum bezel, and polycarbonate window to withstand and resist direct impact. The micro-textured reflector inside helps shine a smooth, optimized beam, and the switch is easy to operate with just your thumb, allowing you to get a good grip.