CAMPING & HIKING

Best Tactical Flashlight: Light Up the Dark and Defend Yourself

Best Tactical Flashlight
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

If there is one thing that is worse than an emergency, it’s an emergency that you are unprepared for. Are you afraid of a storm that knocks down power lines, a blown tire on a dark highway, a criminal running through the woods, or an intruder in your house and you don’t have the best tactical flashlight in your hand? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one!

It’s easy to be confused and even exhausted when trying to find the product that is right for you, but doing your research, defining the pros and cons, and making an educated decision is the best route to take when purchasing an important product like a tactical flashlight. Don’t be blinded by all of your options! Read up and flip the switch on the light you find works best for you. People want a tool that helps them in times of need and if you’re one of them, you’ve come to the right place!

You want a flashlight that is bright, tactical, and reliable. Even if you’re not expecting something bad to happen or an emergency situation, having a flashlight at our hand provides a certain dosage of security.

Tactical Flashlight

First, let us say that not every flashlight is perfect and each has its pros and cons, so this is why we did an extensive research to find all the important features you need to consider and did a review of nine of the best tactical flashlights to look into before you get caught in a dark situation. Let’s start with the list of the most important features to consider.

Our Top Picks

ProductWeightLumensPower sourcePrice
ShadowHawk X8007.8 ounces800Rechargeable Lithium-ion batteryCheck price on Amazon
LumiTact LED Tactical7 ounces7001 BRC 18650 or 3 x AAA BatteryCheck price on Amazon
EdisonBright Fenix PD354 ounces1000Two 3V CR123A Lithium batteriesCheck price on Amazon
Streamlight PT-2L3.2 ounces260Two CR123A Lithium batteriesCheck price on Amazon
NiteCore Revenger6.1 ounces96018650 battery or two CR123A Lithium batteriesCheck price on Amazon
Klarus XT114.8 ounces820Two CR123A batteriesCheck price on Amazon
Solaray Pro ZX-15 ounces1200One 18650 batteryCheck price on Amazon
Streamlight TL-23.95 ounces160One 18650 batteryCheck price on Amazon
Pelican Flashlights 110X10.4 ounces160Two CR123A Lithium batteriesCheck price on Amazon

Things to Consider Before Buying

Before even thinking of buying a tactical flashlight, there are several things you have to have in mind as not every flashlight is the same, especially when it comes to their batteries. They’re all different with their strength and weaknesses and surely is good to have in mind to buy the one that suits your lifestyle and preferences. We did a research and wrote some of the basic features you need to consider before buying the best tactical flashlight.

Weight

When it comes to weight, tactical flashlights are oftentimes not the only gear that a user is carrying. Whether it’s being held in a waist belt or atop a firearm, weight is extremely important. The lighter the weight usually indicates a better choice but the weight should never be the sole feature that a decision is based on.

The same is true for the outdoorsman. When taking lots of gear along when hunting, fishing, or just hiking and backpacking, weight is crucial because you never want to carry more weight than you need. In contrast, they are also used in everyday household settings when weight might not be as important.

Flashlight on Ground

Keeping a tactical flashlight in your basement, nightstand, or trunk of your car are also great uses for them when weight might not be an issue.

Size & Dimensions

The size of the flashlight is almost equally important as the weight. Holding a 5-inch flashlight is much easier than carrying a foot-long baton that happens to have a light in it. Users want something they can pull out quickly, doesn’t take up unnecessary space, and can be attached to other objects without losing any functionality of either object.

Lumens

Lumens are the measure of how much light is emitted per second based on the light source. The higher the value, the better, but not always. Sometimes paying for a flashlight with the highest lumens is unnecessary because the user can get by with something less. You always have to find a balance between lumens and other features the light is sure to have.

Tactical Flashlight Lumens

A light with high lumen output is also something that will use a lot of energy which will require you to either charge new batteries or replace them all together. Balancing the lumen output with the other factors that may allow the light to work with more efficiency is also an important aspect to consider.

Power Source

When choosing the best flashlight for a certain task, the power source also has to be in the discussion. If the user is out in the wilderness or on a military mission, the last thing concern in mind should be whether the batteries are going to die. One of the best solutions to this is a Lithium-ion Battery. These batteries changed the game by having the ability to be re-charged.

That being said, using your light on full lumens, even with a Lithium-ion battery, will run the energy down more quickly. Keeping in mind that you will still have the option to recharge those batteries instead of throwing away the old ones and having to purchase more.

Flashlight Batteries

Image credit: canbike.org

The key is knowing the power and efficiency of your flashlight and when a power source (electricity) may not be available to have a backup just in case. This factor alone needs special attention when comparing the prices of tactical flashlights.

Light Modes

Flashlights have improved immensely over the course of time. Almost every flashlight out there has some sort of “mode” that allows the light to do different things based on its internal circuit. This is highly imperative when choosing tactical flashlights. Users can use different modes such as High/Medium/Low/Strobe for different situations.

Black Tactical Flashlight

Obviously, in worst case situations, the High mode will get you noticed. This is the strongest beam with the highest lumen output. Medium and Low modes may work best for specific tasks you may need to see or do in the dark or an alternative to the High mode to save on energy over a long period of time.

Strobe mode is another common feature in flashlights and this allows the user to choose a light mode that blinks intermittently. This can be used in a variety of predicaments. First is to call attention to something. Whether it’s giving directions and flashing it to friends or flashing it as a safety signal to your fellow soldiers, the strobe often goes unappreciated.

Flashlight Light Modes

If the operator is using a slower, blinking strobe it can help someone find them in the dark more easily. The strobe can be used when stranded on the highway to warn oncoming traffic or mounted to a bicycle at night for added safety. If a user has a quicker strobe option, it may be used to disorient an attacker. These are just a few of the modes that are found in most tactical flashlights.

Price

You’d be surprised how various prices of flashlights can be. The price ranges from $10 to high $170. We just need to stress the importance of the fact that expensive doesn’t mean quality, especially when it comes to flashlights. We listed some pretty cheap flashlights that are quality enough to withstand some of the hardest conditions possible and some expensive, modern ones that will satisfy every prepper needs.

Best Products on Today’s Market

As we mentioned above, every flashlight is different, especially if you compare their batteries, so let’s take a look at some of the best tactical flashlights on the market today. The list below shows 9 different flashlights suitable for different events and needs, their weaknesses and strength. The reason why we did these reviews is to provide a better insight in some of the best tactical flashlights on the market and make your choice easier and less stressing. Let’s start!

ShadowHawk X800 Tactical Flashlight

Price: Approx. $20ShadowHawk X800 Tactical Flashlight

Weight: 7.8 ounces

Dimensions: 5.5 inches

Lumens: 800

Specific features: 5 different light modes, adjustable focusing beam, water-resistant and shockproof

Best use: Tactical solutions, camping, hunting, fishing, law enforcement, household use

The ShadowHawk X800 Tactical Flashlight comes in a kit that includes the flashlight itself, a rechargeable lithium battery, and a charger for that battery which would save some money. This brand surely makes big promises about this flashlight about its blinding benefits and superman vision, but can Shadow Hawk Flashlight actually live up to its “top-notch” professional promises? Without a doubt!

With 800 lumens, it isn’t the strongest of all flashlights, but is still certainly strong enough to get the job done and can still be depended on in extreme situations of danger or emergency. If you’re a survival prepper, prepping for some unexpected emergency situations, then this flashlight’s a great solution. This flashlight is an enhanced LED flashlight that casts and blasts all the versatile benefits of being one of the essential flashlights of the American police.

Coming in at almost 8 ounces, this is on the heavier side of tactical flashlights, but it features five different light modes (High/Medium/Low/SOS/Strobe) which makes it much more versatile for the users.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Reliable
  • Waterproof
  • Rechargeable batteries
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
 CONS:

  • Not as good quality as advertised

Related: Sometimes, having a tactical flashlight is not enough for your own defense, and you might need something more discreet. We recommend checking out the Hoffman Richter Stinger Tactical Pen, which, besides, obviously being a pen, can also serve as a glass cutter, and a substitution for a knife in case you need to defend yourself.

Check the price on Amazon

LumiTact G700TM Tactical Flashlight

Price: Approx. $55LumiTact G700TM Tactical Flashlight

Weight: 7 ounces

Dimensions: 7 inches

Lumens: 700

Specific features: 5 light modes, adjustable focus mode, water-resistant, front mounted striking bezel

Best use: Outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, self-defense

The LumiTact G700TM Tactical Flashlight is still fairly heavy when it comes to a tool, and you will want to carry along with many others during an outdoor excursion. That being said, the weight is something that could come in handy when using it as self-defense.

With 5 interchanging light modes, this light has High/Medium/Low/SOS/Strobe but also features an adjustable focus zoom that allows you gain distance by zooming out or intensity by zooming in.

At 700 lumen output, this light is on the low end, but the advantage is the zooming effect to create a concentrated beam or a wider beam ray that will cover more distance up to 200 meters of visibility. Made of strong aluminum this little light is a force to be reckoned with, especially considering the mounted striking bezel if confronted with a dangerous situation.

Although it looks pretty small, we have to admit that this flashlight puts enough lumens through foggy weather and is very bright. Plus, what we like the most is that you get all the necessary attachments.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable Zoom
  • Durable
 CONS:

  • It might happen that the on/off button doesn’t perform well

Related: When it comes to a related product, what we advise having is this Panasonic Super Max 3.7V Battery. At only approximately $16 you’ll have an additional rechargeable battery that is reliable and high-quality.

Check the price on Amazon

Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight

Price: Approx. $55Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight

Weight: 4 ounces

Dimensions: 5.51 inches

Lumens: 1000

Specific features: Outdoor (6 different light modes) and tactical features (3 light modes), waterproof up to 6.5 feet depth for 30 minutes

Best use: Outdoors, hunting, fishing, camping, law enforcement

The Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight is one of the most lightweight flashlights out there. At only 3.1 ounces without the battery and only around 4 ounces with the battery, this flashlight is an easy-to-pack no-brainer.

Taking up little space with is 5.5-inch long frame and still managing to hit a 1000 lumen output makes this light a key tool to never be without. With two different functions, Outdoor and Tactical, this light has different modes in each of those functions.

The Outdoor function has 6 different light modes and Tactical has three. This is one light with the highest versatility out there. Those features paired with the ability to keep functioning under 6.5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes give this guy a high satisfaction rate as well as a high price tag and is attractive to almost any field with a tactical flashlight need.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy-to-pack
  • 2 different functions
  • Waterproof
  • Slip-resistant, anti-roll body design
 CONS:

  • The quality might not be there as advertised

Related: NiteCore-i2-V2014 Universal Intelligent Charger will be a nice addition to this flashlight. It’s compatible with two IMR/Li-ion batteries, has a display in 3 color LEDs and stops charging when full automatically.

Check the price on Amazon

Streamlight PT-2L Tactical Flashlight

Price: Approx. $50Streamlight PT-2L Tactical Flashlight

Weight: 4 ounces

Dimensions: 4.7 inches

Lumens: 260

Specific features: 3 different light modes, waterproof up to 3 feet for 30 minutes

Best use: Outdoor uses, hunting, camping, hardware tool, medical services, law enforcement

The Streamlight PT-2L Tactical Flashlight is another extremely lightweight flashlight. Boasting a 50,000 hour lifetime this flashlight can be used for the long haul.

Needing only two Lithium batteries that will allow it to run about 3 hours straight on High mode, 50 hours on Low mode, and 6 hours on Strobe.

Another key feature for such a resourceful flashlight is its ability to stay submerged for 30 minutes at about 3 feet under water. Although it is pretty impressive, still not as useful compared to other flashlights, especially for fishing or tactical situations around water.

The Streamlight may seem on the weak side with only 260 lumens, but there are many similar styles with varying lumens and capabilities that make this light a true contender.

Although it’s small, it still provides enough bright light which makes this flashlight a really cool, helpful pocket friend who will always be at your hand.

PROS:

  • Lightweight
  • Easy-to-carry
  • Limited warranty on some parts
 CONS:

  • The battery power quality might not be as advertised

Related: Most buyers who opted for this flashlight bought Streamlight CR123A Lithium Batteries (12-Pack) that can be used in medical and photo equipment and cameras too. Their shelf life is of almost 10 years, so you can either store them for later or use them immediately.

Check the price on Amazon

Nitecore Revenger Flashlight

Price: Approx. $80Nitecore Revenger Flashlight

Weight: 6.1 ounces

Dimensions: 6.22 inches

Lumens: 960

Specific features: SSR (Smart Selector Ring), red, blue, and green tactical light signal modes, water resistance up to 6 feet submerged

Best use: Hunting, tactical, and law enforcement

Initially, the NiteCore Revenger Flashlight is intimidating. At 6.1 ounces, it’s fairly heavy compared to some of its competitors and at almost 6 and a half inches long, it is not the smallest by a long shot, but a few key features separate this flashlight from the pack.

Packing a punch at 960 lumens is no joke when it comes to lighting up the dark, but this is one of the few lights with a Smart Selector Ring (SSR) that allows you to spin a ring around the neck of the light rather than the push of a button.

Spinning this ring in various directions will not only allow you to adjust the intensity of the light, but will take you through three colors, red, blue, and green, that are used for special tactical signaling. This flashlight brings powerful light and added safety features to its user, so if you’re looking a flashlight with similar features we strongly recommend this one.

PROS:

  • Waterproof
  • Multi-colored
  • Tail stand capability
  • High impact resistant
  • Made of ultra clear lens
  • Durable tactical flashlight
 CONS:

  • Weight
  • Batteries not included

Related: If you want a full package, which should include spare batteries, we suggest checking out the Orbtronic 3400mAh Rechargeable Batteries. This way, you will never be with a flashlight that is empty and useless when you need it the most.

Check the price on Amazon

Klarus XT11 LED Flashlight

Price: Approx. $80Klarus XT11 LED Flashlight

Weight: 4.8 ounces

Dimensions: 6 inches

Lumens: 820

Specific features: 73 hours runtime on low mode, dual button switch for quick use, 3 light modes and strobe mode

Best use: Tactical, outdoor, camping, hiking

The Klarus XT11 LED Flashlight is a great middle ground. Fairly lightweight compared to some and at 6 inches in length easy to grab and hold quickly. It has two buttons on it, one for the cycling of High/Medium/Low modes and a separate button for the strobe which could be convenient in times of emergency.

Overall, the Klarus LED flashlight is pretty cool, although the spill portion is noticeable. It’s pretty upgraded compared to other flashlights with similar features and will provide enough lights.

At 820 lumens, it is still a very strong light and can go at that lumen strength for about 6 hours straight when set in High mode. Another key detail is the striking bezel that will both break glass in emergency cases as well as offer a severe blow to an attacker.

If you’re looking for a really nice looking flashlight that has many useful and tactical features, then this one’s for you as Klarus LED flashlight has a tactical grip ring and crenelated bezel.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Compatible with most rechargeable batteries
  • Very nice finish
 CONS:

  • Pretty easy to switch to medium mode when turning the light on

Related: Another flashlight that can use compatible batteries. Tenergy Propel CR123A Lithium Batteries (10-Pack) can be bought together. They can be used in medical and photo equipment and cameras too, so their multipurpose features are a great plus.

Check the price on Amazon

Solaray Pro ZX-1 Flashlight

Price: Approx. $10Solaray Pro ZX-1 Flashlight

Weight: 5 ounces

Dimensions: 6.2 inches

Lumens: 1200

Specific features: Water-resistant, 5 light modes (High/Medium/Low/Strobe/SOS), zooming lens, memory mode

Best use: Camping, hiking, outdoors, security, fishing

The Solaray Professional Series Flashlight is one of the biggest and brightest. Probably not ideal for someone counting every ounce they carry, but the size and weight are small factors after considering some key details.

The huge 1200 lumen output is maximized by having the zooming ability which will cast a more direct and intense light versus a wide flooding light that covers more area. This light also has 5 modes including High/Low/Medium/Strobe/SOS but a feature that is lacking is the mode-changing.

To change modes on this light, the user does a short single press of the button, but to turn the light itself on and off is a longer press of the same button. In emergencies, no one wants to be caught taking the time to turn your light on, cycle through the modes to find the best one, and then accidentally turning the light off in the process.

The lumen value and the capabilities it has on just three AAA batteries are still impressive for the everyday user and this light is still something you want to have around for household emergencies.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Adjustable Zoom
  • Focus lens
  • Water-resistant
 CONS:

  • Batteries not included

Related: Considering the fact that the batteries are not included we advise you opt for Solaray 18650 Battery (2 batteries), that are rechargeable. These are not AA batteries and can be used in devices that use only 18650 batteries. They can be recharged more than 500 times.

Check the price on Amazon

Streamlight TL-2 Tactical Flashlight

Price: Approx. $60Streamlight TL-2 Tactical Flashlight

Weight: 3.95 ounces

Dimensions: 5.25 inches

Lumens: 160

Specific features: 1.75 hours run time, tail cap push button, steel pocket clip, wrist lanyard

Best use: Hardware, household uses

The Streamlight TS-2 Tactical Flashlight has many factors to consider for the average, everyday users in a home setting. This light is very durable and because of its material, aircraft aluminum, it is strong enough to withhold a few cases of an extreme impact such as dropping, hitting against other objects or scratches.

The included wrist lanyard ensures control and at about 5 inches long will fit perfectly in your hand and won’t be an annoyance swinging from the wrist. No fumbling around with a too small or too large flashlight with extra wrist control as an added bonus.

This light differs in that it may not boast the fancy modes that other tactical flashlights may have, but this light offers a super simple, functional usage of two modes and one easy on/off switch on the tail. This light’s main advantage is its short range, but its highly intense light beam.

PROS:

  • Wrist control
  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Scratch resistant
 CONS:

  • Only one set of batteries included
  • Price

Related: The same brand also offers a Tactical Holster, so if you want a full Streamlight package, then we advise opting for this product also.

Check the price on Amazon

Pelican Flashlights 110X Tactical Flashlight

Price: Approx. $170Pelican Flashlights 110X Tactical Flashlight

Weight: 10.4 ounces

Dimensions: 8.65 inches

Lumens: 160

Specific features: 254-meter beam length, 2-hour high beam run time, dual switch technology

Best use: Law enforcement, hunting, outdoors

Big and bad, this light does it all. The Pelican Flashlights 110X Tactical Flashlight is an extremely durable light. Built to last with a solid manufacturing material this light boasts versatility and strength in many ways.

First to mention is the dual switch technology. This allows users to use the light by having the freedom to hold the light in different ways.

One on/off switch is found at the tail end, and one is found along the side. This is especially useful if used in conjunction with a firearm to ensure the light is directed at the correct spot while maintaining control of both the light and the weapon.

For the small 160 lumen output, the 254-meter beam length is something this light can be proud of. Maybe not the flashlight to carry when counting ounces in your pack, but it a solid solution for those in fast-moving situations.

PROS:

  • Wrist control
  • Durable
  • Strong
  • Scratch resistant
 CONS:

  • The side switch and end cap might not be as good as advertised
  • Price

Related: If you’re a person who spends most of the time driving then you’ll surely benefit if you opt for this Pelican 8056F 12V Plug In DC Adapter for Auto. It’s pretty affordable, considering the fact that this brand sets pretty high prices and will provide charging your batteries on the move.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

To shed the final light on a huge list of comparisons, it comes down to a few key considerations when choosing which of the tactical flashlight models, is the best one for you. First is, its uses. Ask yourself some questions about what the main uses of this flashlight will be.

Is this flashlight mostly a backup plan in case of a power outage, or is this something that your life may depend on?

How to Choose Tactical Flashlight

Finally, consider the flashlight’s modes and extra features. Along with the lumen output, make sure you are taking all of the light’s additional features and accessories into careful deliberation. We do hope that our article and reviews helped you choose the best model for your needs. Take your time and read our comparison list above once more.

Have you found your perfect flashlight? We’d love to hear your opinion and experience, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.