Illuminati: 15 Best Tactical Flashlights

Mar 8, 2017

Category: Gear

Flashlights can be shockingly useful. And we don’t just mean in the oh-no-the-power-went-out sense. Almost every single day, we’re finding that having a portable torch on hand in our everyday carry makes our lives easier. All-told, these clever devices are actually more useful than most other things we keep on us. And that’s especially true if you have one that gives you just a bit more of an edge.

Tactical flashlights, while boasting much of the same functionality as your average lantern, offer some major benefits not usually found elsewhere. Namely, they’re almost always a bit more rugged than their run-of-the-mill counterparts, come equipped with alternative lighting functions (like strobes and burst modes), have a higher output, and are often constructed with self-defense applications in mind. Whether you live in a shady part of town, are a member of the military or police force, or you spend a good amount of time out in the great outdoors, you should seriously consider picking one up. And if you do decide you want one, we’re certain our picks for the best tactical flashlights won’t let you down.

J5 Hyper V Tactical Flashlight

With a bright red tail button, maximum output of 400 lumens, toothed bezel, and three light modes – this offering from J5 Tactical would be a superb EDC flashlight at double the price. Perfect for anyone with a tight budget, just load the Hyper V with 3 AAA batteries, press the button, and watch the LED emitter pour white light at a distance of up to 800 feet. You can even adjust the focus to widen the beam for better situational awareness or tighten it up for pinpoint focus. Just keep in mind that, at full power, the batteries wont last for more than a couple hours.

Maximum Lumens: 400
Maximum Runtime: ~2 Hours
Battery Functionality: AAA Alkaline
Case Material: Aircraft-Grade Aluminum

Purchase: $20

Streamlight 88061 ProTac Flashlight

Though it doesn’t quite offer daylight-level brightness, this portable torch is still a formidable one. And, to be fair, 350 lumens is nothing to scoff at and is more than enough for most day-to-day uses. What really makes this flashlight stand out, however, is it’s multiple battery chemistry functionality. Not only can this device run on a single AA alkaline, it also works with a AA lithium or a single rechargeable CR123A lithium battery. And, depending on the battery you choose to use, this torch will last anywhere from 1.3 to 4.5 hours without the need for replacement, making it excellent for short-term emergency situations.

Maximum Lumens: 350
Maximum Runtime: 4.25 Hours
Battery Functionality: AA Alkaline, AA Lithium, or CR123A Lithium
Case Material: Anodized Aluminum

Purchase: $44

FourSevens Quark Click QK2L-X Flashlight

Based on the brand’s classic (and much larger) Quark flashlight, this pared-down version takes a purpose-driven, minimalist approach to tactical lighting. But that doesn’t mean this lantern doesn’t have a sweeping amount of functionality. Powered by dual CR123A lithium batteries, this flashlight offers a maximum runtime of 14 hours, an output of between 55 and 780 lumens, and features a versatile and powerful CREE XM-L2 LED emitter. Weighing in at just 1.8 ounces and at only 4.5 inches in length, the Quark Click QK2L-X is proof that big things come in small packages.

Maximum Lumens: 780
Maximum Runtime: 14 hours
Battery Functionality: CR123A Lithium
Case Material: Aircraft-Grade Anodized Type 3 Aluminum

Purchase: $50

NiteCore P20 Tactical Flashlight

The CREE XM-L2 LED emitter in this flashlight allows the user to throw light at a distance of up to 210 meters. For those keeping score, that’s about the length of 2.5 Boeing 747s. And, as if that’s not impressive enough, it can also function for up to 26 hours without the need to replace the batteries – which is perfect for short-term travel, in case you actually want to take it aboard an airplane. What kind of batteries, you ask? Well, the P20 also has multi-chemistry functionality. It can run on CR123A Lithium, RCR123 Li-Ion, or 18650 Li-Ion batteries. And with a quick-strobe function and a toothed bezel, this lamp is certainly handy in a pinch.

Maximum Lumens: 800
Maximum Runtime: 26 hours
Battery Functionality: 18650 Li-Ion, CR123A Lithium, or RCR123 Li-Ion
Case Material: Military-grade Hard-Anodized Aircraft Aluminum

Purchase: $53

SureFire G2X LE Tactical Flashlight

Offering a “virtually indestructible” LED emitter, a body made of Nitrolon (a super durable rubber-like polymer), and a hard-anodized bezel for self defense applications, this flashlight is as straightforward as it is durable. Simply press the tail-mounted button and choose between two output levels – 400 or 15 lumens. You can also activate a momentary high-beam with a slight depression on the button or click between the dual settings for a steady stream of light. Intended to be used by law enforcement professionals (that’s what the LE stands for), this tough flashlight is an easy way to incorporate tactical benefits into your everyday carry.

Maximum Lumens: 400
Maximum Runtime: N/A
Battery Functionality: 123A Lithium
Case Material: Nitrolon Polymer Body With Mil-Spec Hard-Anodized Aluminum Bezel

Purchase: $67

Fenix PD35 Tac Flashlight

While all of these flashlights can be used in a self-defense capacity to disorient attackers, this one could actually blind them. That’s thanks to a Cree XP-L emitter that offers a whopping 1,000 lumens of possible output. It’s powered by your choice of two 3V CR123A lithium batteries or a single rechargeable 18650 lithium-ion battery. It also features 6 output styles based in two modes. Tactical Mode offers strobe, low, and turbo; whereas Outdoor Mode includes strobe, eco, low, mid, high, and turbo. All told, the lumens range from 8 to 1,000 and will last anywhere from an hour and ten minutes to an insane 140 hours. Best of all, this flashlight is IPX-8 rated – meaning it is water resistant up to 6.5 feet for around 30 minutes.

Maximum Lumens: 1,000
Maximum Runtime: 140 Hours
Battery Functionality: 3V CR123A Lithium or 18650 Li-Ion
Case Material: Aircraft-Grade Aluminum With Stainless Steel Side Switch

Purchase: $67

5.11 Tactical S+R A6 Flashlight

If you want a tactical flashlight that’s a bit more substantial than your average EDC keychain torch, but you also don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to find odd-ball batteries, then this might be the best option for you. With a silhouette that’s more akin to a Maglite, this beefy portable lantern is powered by 6 AA alkaline batteries. That gives it an output of 602 lumens, a lifespan of up to 7.5 hours, and – when paired with its super durable and lightweight aluminum and thermoplastic rubber exterior – makes it perfect for the Search and Rescue professionals for whom it was designed.

Maximum Lumens: 602
Maximum Runtime: 7.5 Hours
Battery Functionality: AA Alkaline
Case Material: Aircraft-Grade Aluminum With Thermoplastic Rubber Overmold

Purchase: $73

Olight M1X Striker Tactical Flashlight

Named for its pronounced toothed bezel – which can be used to strike assailants if necessary – this flashlight is a beastly yet still pocket friendly tactical option. It features six lighting modes, which range from moonlight to turbo, and has an output range of 0.8 to 1,000 lumens. It’s also waterproof rated at up to 2 meters, impact rated at up to 1.5 meters, and can throw light at a distance of up to 623 feet. For something that can so easily slip into your pocket, it’s hard to find a tactical flashlight that’s more comprehensive.

Maximum Lumens: 1,000
Maximum Runtime: 360 Hours
Battery Functionality: CR123A Lithium or 18650 Li-Ion
Case Material: Type III Hard-Anodized Alumium

Purchase: $80

SOG Dark Energy DE-06 Flashlight

SOG is a brand that got their start making combat-focused tools, so it’s no surprise that they make a formidable line of tactical flashlights. And this one from that line is one of our favorites. Packing 687 lumens into the palm of your hand, the DE-06 is an outstandingly capable self-defense flashlight. And using it is a snap. Simply press the tail-mounted button to choose between 5 different output modes – burst, 100% power, 40% power, reading, and tactical strobe – and that’s it. The housing is also checkered for increased grip, whether you’re lighting up a dark room or using the toothed bezel to dissuade an attacker. This aggressive Dark Energy flashlight is one of the brightest and most durable of its size.

Maximum Lumens: 687
Maximum Runtime: 97.73 Hours
Battery Functionality: 18650 Li-Ion
Case Material: Type III Hard-Anodized Alumium

Purchase: $93

Streamlight 88052 ProTac HL Flashlight

What makes this tactical flashlight stand out against the crowd is the fact that it can be charged by Mini USB. That means, if you don’t want to deal with having to continually purchase CR123A Lithium or 18650 Li-ion batteries (both of which it is compatible with), you don’t have to. Just plug it into a power source and charge the included 74175 lithium battery. Once you’re charged up, you can choose between three output levels of 850, 350, and 85 lumens with just a push of a button. And they’ll last you 1.5, 4, and 12 hours respectively. The ProTac HL is also IPX4 water resistant and impact resistant to 1 meter.

Maximum Lumens: 850
Maximum Runtime: 12 Hours
Battery Functionality: 74175 USB Rechargeable Lithium, CR123A Lithium, or 18650 Li-Ion
Case Material: Anodized Alumium

Purchase: $93

EagleTac T25C2 XM-L2 XLamp Flashlight

Equipped with a CREE XM-L2 U2 LED emitter, this palm-sized tactical flashlight pumps out an amazing 1180 lumens at maximum capacity. And that’s plenty impressive on its own. But it also offers an illumination distance of 287 yards (more than 2 football fields), various battery chemistry compatibility, battery reverse polarity protection, and the option to upgrade your LED emitter if you so choose. It also offers a litany of output modes, including several “hidden” ones such as S.O.S, beacon, dual strobe modes, and more. Really, you might be better off asking what it can’t do.

Maximum Lumens: 1180
Maximum Runtime: 5.7 Hours
Battery Functionality: CR123A Lithium, RCR123A Lithium, or 18650 Li-Ion
Case Material: HAIII Hard-Anodized Aerospace Aluminum

Purchase: $96

Pelican 7060 AC110F Tactical Flashlight

While most people know them for their catalog of coolers and cases, Pelican actually offers a vast number of lighting solutions. One such being this beefy and incredibly durable tactical flashlight. A bit larger than some of the other options on our list, this offering has a background to make up for it. The story is: it was designed in conjunction with the LAPD to be the standard issue flashlight for all officers. And if that’s not enough to get you onboard, it’s also rechargeable, has dual brightness modes that can be accessed with either the tail or side-mounted buttons, and has a toothed bezel for self-defense applications. And if anything goes wrong with the flashlight, Pelican will fix it free of charge.

Maximum Lumens: 368
Maximum Runtime: 45 Hours
Battery Functionality: 3.7V 2200mAh Li-Ion
Case Material: N/A

Purchase: $149

SureFire P1R Peacekeeper Flashlight

Another portable torch that boasts a “nearly indestructible” LED, the Peacekeeper gets it’s name for it’s potential applications in the field of law enforcement. It features a maximum output of up to 600 lumens and a minimum output of just 15 – which can be toggled with just a press of the tail-mounted button. It’s also equipped to handle multiple battery chemistry functionality and works with both rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and the 123A disposable variety. And, should an assailant get a bit too close, the knurled grip and toothed bezel will allow you to make short work of them.

Maximum Lumens: 600
Maximum Runtime: 46 Hours
Battery Functionality: 123A or 18650 Rechargeable Li-Ion
Case Material: Mil-Spec Anodized Aerospace Aluminum

Purchase: $190

SureFire E2D Defender Tactical Flashlight

The Defender might be SureFire’s most highly lauded tactical flashlight. Which says a lot, coming from a brand that specializes in the things. Perhaps it’s the grip-friendly slim format. Maybe it’s the pronounced striker bezels at both ends. It could even be the range of 5-500 lumens of output. In any case, this is an extremely capable tactical flashlight that will come in handy whether you’re looking through your closet for your hiking pack or if you’re out in the field looking for perps.

Maximum Lumens: 500
Maximum Runtime: 67.75 Hours
Battery Functionality: 123A
Case Material: Mil-Spec Anodized Aerospace Aluminum

Purchase: $200

SureFire UDR Dominator Tactical Flashlight

If sheer output is what you’re looking for, then the SureFire UDR Dominator is king. It has an insane maximum output of 2,400 lumens, but can also drop down to just 14 at its lowest setting. It’s also a little bit beefier than other options on this list, measuring up at 12 inches, but its capabilities more than make up for the added bulk. They include heat-dissipating fins surrounding the high-output LED emitter, the ability to plug-in recharge, a fuel gauge indicator, an easy-operation mode-change ring, and three head switches to control the varieties of lighting output.

Maximum Lumens: 2,400
Maximum Runtime: 54 Hours
Battery Functionality: 123A or Rechargeable Li-Ion
Case Material: Mil-Spec Anodized Aerospace Aluminum

Purchase: $1,370

Everyday Carry Flashlights

If you’ve got your bases covered on a killer tactical flashlight, but you’re lacking in the realm of everyday carry – these are the best bang-for-your-buck portable torches to bring along with you daily. Dive into our list of the best EDC flashlights.

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