So, you’re prepping your bug-out bag and you need to step it up with a high-grade tactical flashlight. Anyone worth their salt knows the importance of being able to shine a light on their circumstances — literally. Whether you’re tearing through dusty rubble or finding your way on a trail, you’re relying on the power of your tactical flashlight. In an emergency, you can’t afford for a light to run out of battery or fizzle out after five minutes in the rain. It has to be tough, easy to use, and compact enough to suit your needs.
Sure, there are plenty of flashlights available, but finding one that will keep working in a pinch is a whole different matter. To help you track down the best tactical flashlights on the market, we’ve scoured the internet for the most reliable options, along with some tips on making the right pick.
Want a flashlight that fits seamlessly with your other survival gear? The Eveready Tactical Flashlight is both compact and lightweight, letting you easily tuck it away for an emergency. Each of the lights is constructed using tough metal that offers a substantial amount of water-resistance. A zoomable head lets you focus the beam and three unique modes enable advanced battery preservation. The lights are powered by three triple-A batteries, supplying you with 270 lumens to cover up to 500 feet in the distance. Coming in a set of two, you can pop one into your pocket for easy access while still holding on to a backup. It’s better to leave your emergency supplies untouched (until an actual survival situation arises) so the spare flashlight is helpful.
When you’re prepping for an extended survival situation, a key focus should be on battery life. Chances are, you know the Energizer name (and the extended power supply the devices offer). That’s what sets the Energizer LED Tactical Flashlight apart from the rest. Not only does it come encased in a slim yet durable exterior, but the flashlight is also water-resistant and features easy-to-access controls. The LED lights offer 300 lumens, and the four light modes allow you to efficiently preserve battery life without compromising your vision. The high setting lets you clearly see far ahead while the medium and low settings are better for hunkering down. Finally, a strobe lets you signal for assistance when it is safe to do so. With a tough battery and equally strong build, this flashlight is a solid pick for any situation.
The Artistore LED Tactical Flashlight is worth looking into if high lumens is your key focus. Capable of generating up to 90,000 lumens, this flashlight is extremely powerful. It features a slim handle and broad head with the entire structure being made out of high-grade aluminum alloy. Resistant to water and built for durability, this flashlight has three settings. The first gives you the full light strength with the twisting head letting you focus the beam. With a toned-down medium setting and an SOS function, this tactical light is versatile and effective. However, it does rely on a rechargeable battery, so it requires some advanced planning to make sure you have enough battery life for your excursion.
Coming in a sturdy polymer case, the Phixton Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight is a solid option. The light operates via a rechargeable battery as well as optional replaceable batteries, reducing the risk of running out of power. In high mode, it can last up to six hours. This doubles if you use it on a lower setting. In terms of function, it features four lighting modes including a strobe light for emergencies. With user-friendly controls, the flashlight is designed for quick battery changes in the dark. The base twists off so you can slip a spare battery into place, screw it back on, and be good to go. Featuring a lanyard on the handle, the design is meant to prevent falls and help you keep your emergency supplies on your person. The case is the cherry on the cake since it keeps your gear altogether and can double as supplemental storage if needed.
If you are travelling with a partner, both of you require tactical gear that stands up toa challenge. That’s why the Letmy LED Tactical Flashlight Set is a good way to go. It comes with two flashlights, each capable of supplying up to 2,000 lumens on the highest settings. With a powerful battery and high-efficiency LED technology, you can get up to 50,000 hours of function out of these bulbs. The flashlights are constructed using tough alloy to provide a thoroughly waterproof body. With a shaft that is structured for ease of use, the light is effortless to handle. Compact enough to fit in a pocket or in the MOLLE system on your gear, this set offers the advantage of portability. It takes three triple-A batteries, though you can also power it with the rechargeable battery system. Featuring five lighting modes including a strobe and SOS setting, this tactical flashlight accounts for everything you could need in an emergency.
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With five years of product review experience and a background in journalism, I have curated a reputation for accuracy and reliability. Using my sciences education, I objectively assess the merit of a wide range of products. Mainly focused on tactical gear, survival supplies, and automotive products, I aim to streamline consumers’ searches for the ideal item. My work is featured on Car Bibles, Narcity Media, and The Drive. Among my most recent pieces for Task and Purpose are reviews of tactical backpacks, hydration packs, and UV flashlights.
Types of tactical flashlights
A modern take on the tried-and-true tactical flashlight, rechargeable systems are a good solution if your survival kit also includes a solar charger. Meant to extend the battery life you get from a single charge, it also reduces the chances of wear from battery acid. Connecting through a USB cable, these flashlights usually charge a mono-chip battery system to power their respective lights.
The most traditional type of tactical flashlights, battery-operated systems generally use triple-A batteries. Tactically, these are usually more viable than rechargeable units since it is easier to tuck away spare batteries than to access a charging port. The only downside is that lithium-ion batteries often drain quickly, especially when used at the highest setting.
Blending the tactical advantages of both rechargeable and battery-operated units, this type of flashlight can be powered using both methods. As a result, it offers the most tactical advantage since it comes with backup energy stores. Often, this type of battery will use double-A batteries as a backup, relying primarily on the rechargeable battery.
Regardless of the type of flashlight, it will always have a battery system. This dictates the amount of power supplied to the bulbs, thus commanding the intensity of the light itself. The power source is a huge factor in the tactical viability since the flashlight needs to prevent a power drain. As a result, it is important to choose a light system with efficient circuitry — one that doesn’t waste energy in heat and whose battery won’t empty quickly.
In order to offer any type of tactical advantage, the flashlight needs to survive alongside you, making the casing extremely important. The most common material used is aluminum alloy, since it is naturally rust-resistant and not prone to overheating. So long as the alloy is strong enough, it shouldn’t dent. Properly sealed, an aluminum structure can also be waterproof, letting you use the flashlight in any situation.
Perhaps the most important feature of any tactical flashlight is how powerfully it can illuminate your surroundings, a capability measured in lumens. All tactical flashlights include multiple light settings. The highest will command the most brightness, though forfeits battery life fastest. Lower settings preserve battery life and are less likely to give up your position. Often, the head of the light will incorporate a zoom feature to focus the light beam. Another helpful light feature is a UV flashlight setting, as it gives you another metric with which to assess your surroundings.
Benefits of tactical flashlights
- Assess your surroundings. The key tactical advantage of a quality flashlight is the ability to efficiently identify threats in your surroundings. By illuminating the area around you, the flashlight enables you to triage your situation. Multiple lighting options let you preserve battery life while also determining just how FUBAR you actually are.
- Signal for assistance. Tactical flashlights include an SOS feature that flashes repeatedly in order to call for help. After you’ve assessed your situation and determined that it is safe to send a signal, the SOS setting on the flashlight lets you call for help. If you’re injured especially, being able to get assistance with the touch of a button is important.
- Be prepared for anything. Whether in your bug-out bag or your pocket, a tactical flashlight lets you prepare for the unknown. It could be an environmental catastrophe, an intruder in the middle of the night, or simply a power outage. With a flashlight close by, you don’t have to be in the dark about the risks you’re facing.
- Doubles as a weapon. Sure, there are more powerful weapons, but you’ve only got two hands. When your vision is compromised by the dark, a flashlight can double as a blunt force tool and help you escape a dangerous situation.
Tactical flashlight pricing
- Under $15: A lot of battery-operated models fall in this range, most offering a reasonable number of lumens and a sturdy case. Often, these lights won’t be entirely waterproof.
- Between $15 and $30: This is the sweet spot for most high-end tactical flashlights. You can find a quality model of any type in this price range — one that’s both powerful, durable, and compact.
How we chose our top picks
By first considering the most important features of a tactical flashlight, we were able to narrow down the options significantly. Focusing on utility, brightness, power, and sturdiness, we crafted a shortlist of candidates. Aiming to represent every budget and all the different types of tactical flashlights, we whittled down the contenders. Finally, by factoring in user reviews and the reputation of the manufacturer, we chose our top picks. The result is a list that sheds some light on the best tactical flashlights around.
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