Best Tactical Flashlights

Review & Comparison, Last Update March 31, 2021
Danger is likely to lurk in the dark. The flashlights we're reviewing here can not only illuminate any dark alley but also temporarily blind your offender. Yet, if you're not going to use them for self-defense, they'll come in handy for many other purposes. ...Read more ...Read less
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BEST 2021
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Construction Features
Brightness
Beam Distance
Modes
Power
Weight
Dimensions
Warranty
 
PROS

In Turbo mode, the brightness reaches a whopping 1600 Lumens and allows you to illuminate objects up to 928 feet away. 

CONS

The small button that adjusts the brightness is a little hard to push.

OUR VERDICT

The Fenix PD36R is currently one of the brightest tactical flashlights on the market. It'll undoubtedly come in handy if your job or even life sometimes depends upon seeing clearly at night. Comes with a rich bundle of accessories.

detailed parameters
Construction Features

High-strength aluminum, Premium type HAIII hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish, IP68 waterproof, Withstands 5 ft. drop on all sides

Brightness

Turbo: 1600 lm
Eco: 30 lm

Beam Distance

114 - 928 feet

Modes

Turbo, High, Medium, Low, Strobe, Eco

Power

21700 Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
Turbo: 2.9 hours
High: 5.9 hours
Med: 8.5 hours
Low: 26 hours
Eco: 115 hours

Weight

3.0 ounces

Dimensions

Length: 5.35"

Diameter: 1.1"

Warranty

2 years

PROS

Thanks to optimized electronics, the flashlight provides the maximum light output even when the battery is running out.

CONS
The pocket clip isn't very handy as it might slide up and down a bit.
OUR VERDICT

The Streamlight ProTac (88040) is a professional flashlight that will provide a bright penetrating beam throughout its whole battery life. Ideal for all tactical units where extra brightness is paramount.

detailed parameters
Construction Features
Durable anodized machined aircraft Aluminum construction, IPX7 standard, Pocket clip
Brightness
High: 750 lm
Low: 35 lm
Beam Distance
197 - 886 feet
Modes
High, Strobe, Low
Power

2 x CR123A batteries,
High: 1 hour 15 mins
Strobe: 2 hours 30 mins
Low: 18 hours

Weight
5.6 ounces
Dimensions

Length: 5.4″

Head diameter: 1.375"

Barrel diameter: 1"

Tri-Lobe diameter: 1.45"

Warranty
Limited lifetime warranty
PROS

Made with C4 LED technology, the lamp has an impressive lifespan of up to 50,000 hours. It's protected with an impact-resistant tempered glass lens.

CONS

Instructions are a bit useless.

OUR VERDICT

Though not the brightest, the Streamlight 88033 ProTac boasts exceptional durability and moisture resistance. It has a well-thought-out Anti-roll head design and is made from machined aircraft aluminum to survive through numerous drops.

detailed parameters
Construction Features

Anodized aluminum construction with impact-resistant tempered glass lens, IPX7 waterproof

Brightness

High: 250 lm
Low: 18 lm

Beam Distance

131 - 426 feet

Modes

High, Strobe, Low

Power

2 x AA batteries
High: 2 hours
Low: 43 hours
Strobe: 4 hours

Weight

3.4 ounces

Dimensions

Length: 6.14"

Warranty

Limited lifetime

PROS

The flashlight has ultra-thin 0.12" optical lenses which are coated with AI + UV coating. Thanks to this design, the beam is wide and diffused.

CONS

Too low brightness in Low mode.

OUR VERDICT

The Fenix E12 v2 is an ideal flashlight for everyday carry. It's very lightweight and extra compact. Actually, it's just a bit larger than an AA battery it's powered by, so you can even forget the flashlight is in your pocket.

detailed parameters
Construction Features

Aluminum A6061-T6 body, IP68 waterproof rating, 5-foot impact resistant rating, Ultra-thin optical lens coated with AI+UV

Brightness

High: 160 lm
Med: 30 lm
Low: 5 lm

Beam Distance

39 - 223 feet

Modes

High, Medium, Low

Power

1 x AA Battery
High: 1 hour
Med: 13 hours
Low: 70 hours

Weight

0.96 ounces

Dimensions

Length: 3.06"

Head diameter: 0.75"

Body diameter: 0.69"

Warranty

2 years

PROS

As a bonus, the set includes a charger for a Lithium-Ion battery and an AAA battery holder.

CONS

The battery charger only works from the power supply (no USB support).

OUR VERDICT

The PeakPlus (PPLEDKIT1) is an affordable flashlight with exceptional beam distance and brightness level, which will be useful in any emergency situation. And since it's a rechargeable model, you won't spend money on replaceable batteries.

detailed parameters
Construction Features
Aluminum alloy frame, Waterproof, Zoom function
Brightness

Up to 1000 lm

Beam Distance
656 - 1640 feet
Modes
High, Medium, Low, Strobe, SOS
Power

1 x 18650 rechargeable battery or 3x AAA batteries,
High: 3-4 hours
Medium: 5-7 hours
Low: 7-9 hours

Weight
5 ounces
Dimensions

Length: 5.3" (6.1" extended) 

 Width head: 1.6" 

 Width body: 1.1"

Warranty
Amazon's 30-day return policy
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Fenix (PD36R)

Quality Tested by Time

If you're already familiar with Fenix products, you know that you may expect outstanding performance from them, and this flashlight is no exception. It's a very feature-rich model that boasts great light output, a 21700 rechargeable Li-ion battery with on-board charging (via USB-C), dual switches, and some other extras.

To begin with, the PD36R model is very well-built. The anodization is spotless and there is nothing glaringly bad. The casing has some knurling that increases grip, so the unit isn't slippery at all. Overall, the flashlight has two main parts - the head and the body (no tail cap). Surprisingly enough, there are two switches on the Fenix PD36R with one being a mechanical tail click (when it's “on”, then the light is on too) and the other being an indicating e-switch made from bronze coated metal.

In total, the light offers five modes to choose from. On the maximum Turbo setting, the output makes an incredible 1600 lumens and the beam travels up to 928 feet. The light is almost blinding and provides exceptional clarity. The High brightness level delivers 800 lumens and lets users clearly see details in the dark. At the Medium setting, the unit is throwing enough light to illuminate your way pretty far (350 Lumens). At Low, it's a beautiful beam of light suitable for everyday use. And finally, the ECO mode - it delivers almost unnoticeable light.

Review of Fenix (PD36R) 1600 Lumen USB Rechargeable CREE LED Tactical Flashlight

What's in the Box?

Besides the Fenix PD36R flashlight, the bundle contains quite a lot of useful extras. For example, the pack includes a USB to USB-C cable for on-board charging of the 21700 cell battery that is also included in the pack and labeled as a 5000mAh model capable of providing whopping runtimes even for Turbo and High modes (2 hours 50 minutes and 5 hours 49 minutes correspondingly). With that, the indicating switch tells how much power is left - steady green stands for 85-100% power, flashing green is for 50-85% power, steady red means 25-50% power, and flashing red indicates 1-25% power.

Besides that, there’s a nylon pouch and a lanyard included in the set. Also, there is a two-way friction fit pocket clip that attaches to the tail end and lets you carry the light the way you want. It’s fairly snug and can hold the lanyard through a hole in the shoulder. The lanyard, in its turn, may be attached either on the pocket clip or directly through the hole in the tail cap.

For sure, all of this makes the Fenix PD36R flashlight a great model for outdoor enthusiasts, climbers, or hikers who would like to keep their hands free during their trips. With the powerful beam and the extra-long battery life, this light won't fail you even in the harshest conditions.

Fenix (PD36R) 1600 Lumen USB Rechargeable CREE LED Tactical Flashlight in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $0.00
Stock In stock
ASIN B07TJ41TMC

 

Streamlight ProTac (88040)

On Guard!

Although the tech specs of the Streamlight 88040 tactical flashlight are slightly inferior to the high-end, it can compete with most of the tactical flashlights on the market nevertheless, due to its combo of price and quite unique functionality. 

To begin with the construction, the unit consists of two parts, and the bezel of the light has an anti-roll design to prevent the head from rolling away when it's set down on a slanted surface. The light is enclosed in a durable, high-quality grade aluminum body and has an IPX7 waterproof protection rate, meaning it can withstand drops to the ground and submergence in water up to 3 feet for 60 minutes. So, even though we wouldn't recommend you to take it for scuba diving, it will survive drops of the puddle with ease.

The unit itself is not very large, so you can do better with other models as a weapon, but it still can ward off an attacker because of the light. In the highest setting, it can direct the light across the impressive 900 feet with 750-lumen light output, which is more than enough to illuminate large areas and blind any potential attacker, as well as ward off a wild animal (has a Strobe mode too). The Medium and Low settings are well suited for navigating in the dark or when the power goes out in your house.

Review of Streamlight ProTac (88040) 750 Lumen Professional Handheld Flashlight

Battery and Bulb Life

Running in the highest mode, the flashlight can work for up to 1.25 hours, which is quite enough for a short patrol. If you think you might need to use the flashlight longer than that, we'd recommend you to keep spare batteries at hand to allow its operation in emergency situations. The 88040 model is compatible with CR123A lithium-ion batteries and requires two of them. As for the lamp life, it's claimed to last up to 50,000 hours. Plus, LED technology makes it highly durable and reliable, so the 88040 ProTac does live up to the expectations.

In all, the Streamlight 88040 tactical flashlight will surely come to liking to those consumers who need a compact mid to high-tier tactical flashlight. It's a compact, powerful tactical flashlight that can hold up quite well in all types of environmental conditions, so it's ideal both for self-defense and for household use in case of a blackout.

Streamlight ProTac (88040) 750 Lumen Professional Handheld Flashlight in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $68.89
Stock In stock
ASIN B007RB82CS

VIDEO
GEAR REVIEW Streamlight 88040 ProTAC HL Flashlight
 

Streamlight ProTac (88033)

Tough Design

While you can find other companies offering more powerful flashlights for the same money, the Streamlight ProTac (88033) has a lot going for it. First and foremost, a tough flashlight like this has been designed specifically to survive the harshest conditions and to withstand lots of abuse, so even if you drop it from pretty far distances, there will be no ill effects. That's where its premium anodized aircraft aluminum housing comes into play. Not only is it extra-strong, but also it is abrasion- and corrosion-resistant. More importantly, the housing is IPX7 weatherproof, so you don't need to worry about dust and moisture ingress. On top of that, this flashlight is designed with a tempered glass lens that is unbreakable and as scratch-resistant as these lenses get.

Next, it's worth mentioning that the unit is featured with a handy push-button tail cap switch, letting you choose between momentary and constant light modes. At the same time, the switch is a bit difficult to trigger, which we consider being an advantage as you won't be able to accidentally press it.

When it comes to lumen output, this is definitely not the most capable device on the list though. The light won't be able to reach more than 450 feet, and from the maximum brightness perspective, this thing caps at 180 lumens. It's not blindingly bright but quite OK for everyday carry. And, thankfully, it uses cheap AA batteries rather than expensive CR123 lithium batteries provided by some other models.

Review of Streamlight ProTac (88033) 250 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight (2xAA Batteries)

Great for EDC

Owing to the TEN-TAP programming, switching between modes is fast and easy. Basically, you can choose from three selectable programs - high/strobe/low, high only, and low/high. In the highest mode, the light output makes 250 lumens and the unit runs for 2 hours. Low offers longer run time (43 hours) but only 18 lumens.

What makes this unit ideal for everyday carry is its small size, light weight (remember, it's made from aircraft aluminum, so it weighs next to nothing), and comfortable feel. So, if you're after a decent flashlight to go with you everywhere, the Streamlight 88033 ProTac is just perfect for EDC. With it, there really isn't a reason to not carry a flashlight every day.

Streamlight ProTac (88033) 250 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight (2xAA Batteries) in the use

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer

Last updated price $0.00
Stock In stock
ASIN B003GXF9OA

 

Fenix E12 v2

Small but Mighty

If you'd like to go even lighter, you should definitely take a closer look at the Fenix E12. At 3.06" x 0.75" x 0.69". It's an ultra-mini flashlight that is just a bit larger than the AA battery powering it. And being just 0.96 oz, it's virtually weightless, meaning you can carry it in your shirt pocket and not even know it's there until you need it.

Yet, the Fenix E12 is surprisingly bright for its size, though it can't compete with its full-size counterparts when it comes to performance. That is to say, it's capable of producing a 160-lumen beam with a throw over 75 yards (on the High setting), which should be more than enough for everyday tasks like dog walking or wandering around the neighborhood. Since the flashlight has ultra-thin 0.12 "optical lenses which are treated with AI + UV coating, the beam is wide and diffused.

With that, the unit is very quick and simple to turn on, which is a huge advantage when you need an instant source of light. Just press the anti-slip tail switch to turn the light on/off and half-press it again to cycle through the output modes. Alternatively, you have an opportunity to twist the lens to change the mode, which is perfect for one-handed use.

In general, the light offers Low (5 lumens), Mid (30 lumens), and High (160 lumens) modes. On the lowest one, the light is able to work up to 70 hours from a single AA battery and up to 1 hour on the highest mode. As a nice touch, the bundle includes a battery organizer with four slots for AA batteries. So, if you carry spare ones with you, you'll never get out of light.

Review of Fenix E12 v2 160 Lumen Compact 1xAA EDC Flashlight with LumenTac

Just Clip It!

To proceed with the construction, the Fenix E12 v2 compact flashlight consists of two pieces - the head and the battery tube connected to the tail cap. Overall, it feels quite robust and even has a 5-foot impact-resistant rating as well as an IP68 waterproof rating, meaning it's tough enough to withstand drops and moist conditions.

For easy carry, there is anti-slip knurling on the aluminum alloy body that provides a great grip. Add to that a two-way clip and the E12 v2 model will make for a great option to clip it to your shirt, pants, hat, or key chain.

Bottom line, the Fenix E12 is a decent compact flashlight that is well-constructed and efficient. With a click of the button, it lets you switch between three levels of brightness and has a combo clip for attaching to your pocket or on your hat brim. Ideal for ultralight backpacking or EDC.

Fenix E12 v2 160 Lumen Compact 1xAA EDC Flashlight with LumenTac in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $0.00
Stock In stock
ASIN B08HDL6NWF

 

PeakPlus (PPLEDKIT1)

Variable Beam

If you need a cheap but decent tactical flashlight for occasional use, why not consider this PeakPlus LFX1000 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight? Despite a low price tag, it has got a lot of advantages to offer. Similar to expensive peers, it features an all-aluminum body that can effectively withstand shocks and abrasion. So, it'll stand up to the abuse of daily use and show seamless operation under harsher conditions.

When it comes to performance, the flashlight supports 5 lighting modes: Full brightness, Medium brightness, Low brightness, Strobe mode, and SOS. All of these can be adjusted with a switch of a soft-touch tail cap. The maximum light output is quite impressive here, 1000 lumens, making the PeakPlus model not a fracture worse than the models coming at twice the price.

Yet, what makes this flashlight even more attractive for professional use is its adjustable focus range. With the head being extendable from 5.3 up to 6.1 inches, the unit lets you quickly change the beam shape and the distance. In the maximum zoom, it can easily reach the objects up to 1,640 feet forth, which is a whopping range for the unit this small.

Review of PeakPlus (PPLEDKIT1) Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Stroboscopic Effect for Extra Protection

Another peculiar feature that is worth mentioning about the PeakPlus flashlight is the Strobe mode support, meaning it can dumbfound people if need be. Actually, a strobe mode (or a stroboscopic effect) is an illusion of an apparent motion (or its absence) that appears only when the object is seen at intervals, not continuously. Likewise, brief exposure to high-intensity light levels can cause the same "after image" effect. In other words, the stroboscopic effect varies according to the light level, duration and frequency of the exposure. And since the human's brain just can't respond adequately to that high frequency of exposures it glues all the images in one.

So, if you'd like to disorient an enemy or use the flashlight for self-defence when walking in the dark, the PeakPlus LFX1000 can do the trick. It's a good tactical flashlight with bright light output, adjustable beam, and Strobe mode for extra protection. What else to wish for?

PeakPlus (PPLEDKIT1) Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight in the use

Additional Info

    Manufacturer

Last updated price $16.99
Stock In stock
ASIN B01ECVB6P0

 

What Is a Tactical Flashlight?

One of the most useful tools you could carry in your pocket is a flashlight since it can illuminate dark environments. However, a regular flashlight is good, but a tactical is better. Tactical flashlights are usually made of anodized aluminum, therefore, they are impact-resistant and can be used even as striking tools for self-defence. Plus, tactical flashlights can be attached to different pistols or guns to illuminate your target. Such flashlights are typically smaller than traditional ones, though, they emit much more light. Of course, tactical torches are designed primarily for military and police units, but they can also come in handy on many other occasions. So, actually who needs such a military-grade flashlight? Quite a lot of people including firemen, hunters, police officers, security staff, survivalists, as well as hikers, nature explorers, fishermen and just average citizens!

If you are a hunter, then you might also be interested in one selection of the best hunting knives.

What Features to Compare

Construction

First and foremost, any tactical flashlight should be sturdy and light, so it is very important to pay attention to its construction and the materials it is made of. Manufacturers use completely different materials like steel, aluminum, titanium, and plastic, yet the aircraft grade aluminum is one of the most durable ones. Consider the size of a flashlight since if you decide to mount it on a gun, it shouldn't be too heavy or too big for it. Pay attention to the water resistance rating to be able to use the light under any conditions.

Performance

Light output affects the brightness: the more lumens the flashlight has, the more intense beam it produces. For example, 200-300 lumens is ideal for rescue operations while 30-40 lumens will be enough for domestic use. Don't forget about the beam distance that shows how far the light will penetrate, and depending on the goals you are pursuing, choose a proper tactical flashlight. Today, almost all tactical torches boast different brightness modes for diverse conditions. For example, a strobe mode could help you quickly disorient your offenders by blinding them with a bright flashing light directed right into their eyes.

Power Supply

Tactical flashlights can be powered by rechargeable batteries or replaceable AAA batteries, and both these types have their advantages and disadvantages. A rechargeable battery holds the charge pretty long and can save your replacement costs. The downside is, you'd still need to have it recharged at some point and doing it without access to the grid won't be possible. The replaceable batteries, on the contrary, don't require charging at all but may get drained when least expected, which is not handy if you're not used to keeping a spare set at hand. Which model to choose will mostly come down to your preference. 

Sources:

1. Pat Henry Why You Should Carry and Know How to Use a Tactical Flashlight, The Prepper Journal. July 1, 2013.

2. Jim Barrett Bright Ideas: Choosing a Tactical Flashlight, The Truth About Guns. October 18, 2012.

3. Tactical light, Wikipedia. September 23, 2016.

4. Flashlights: How to Choose, REI.

5. Chris Woodford Strobe lights, ExplainThatStuff. October 7, 2016.

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