15 Best Tactical Flashlights for EDC

Last Updated October 31, 2023
Top 3 Best Tactical Flashlights
SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight
SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight
  • Adaptive lighting via Intellibeam Technology, adjusting lumens from 15 to 1500 based on surroundings.
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum body with a knurled grip and anti-roll design.
  • Double-tap feature for instant high-intensity light.
  • Compatible with CR123A and 18650 batteries, favoring 18650 for longer run times.
SureFire Aviator Tactical Flashlight
SureFire Aviator Tactical Flashlight
  • Dual color mode, with primary bright white light and secondary colored light (amber, blue, red, or yellow-green).
  • Varied lumen output (5 to 250) suitable for different aviator needs.
  • Anodized aluminum construction with o-ring seals for water and dust resistance.
  • Single CR123A battery powered with a stainless steel clip for easy pocket carry.
Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight
Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight
  • Multiple light modes including low, medium, high, and strobe.
  • TEN-TAP programming system to allow selection of different light programs.
  • Durable anodized aluminum construction with an IPX4 water-resistance rating.
  • Powered by rechargeable 18650 battery or CR123A batteries for flexibility.
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Let there be light! A compact and easy to carry flashlight is one of the most basic and useful items to add to your EDC. Who hasn’t dropped their keys in the dark or had something roll under the bed before? A quality tactical flashlight gives you a powerful source of light that easily fits in your pocket. We’ve put together a list of the 15 best tactical flashlights to help you find the one that’s perfect for your EDC.

What is a Tactical Flashlight?

At first glance many people try to write off the tactical flashlight as just another ‘tacticool’ product. After all, how tactical can a flashlight actually be?

Short answer, very.

Tactical flashlights aren’t your granddad’s Maglite. They’re hardened, high end products that use high-density batteries to produce phenomenal amounts of light from very small emitters. They’re designed to function in the hand or attached to a firearm.

To do this they have to be ruggedly designed and able to stand up to significant abuse and even possible use as an emergency self-defense tool. Going beyond their original military and law enforcement purposes tactical flashlights are downright useful.

They’re compact and powerful flashlights that provide anyone with an EDC mindset with tons of value.

Top 15 Best Tactical Flashlights

There are a lot of tactical flashlights out there, from all kinds of companies. Choosing a single best tactical flashlight would basically be impossible. There are just too many excellent products.

We decided the best way to do this review was to find 15 of the best and most popular tactical flashlights at a variety of price points.

Let’s check them out.

SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight

SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight
The SureFire Fury Intellibeam tactical flashlight product picture

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Drawing from my passion for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, I was on the hunt for a flashlight that would not only endure the rugged trails but also provide sufficient illumination during the night. My search led me to the SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight. Being an aficionado of top-tier gadgets, SureFire’s reputation as a stellar tactical flashlight manufacturer was no news to me.

The Fury, with its Intellibeam technology, promised an adaptive lighting solution which I found enthralling. It claimed to adjust the light output automatically in response to the surrounding conditions, with a range from 15 to a blinding 1500 lumens. The outdoors often comes with its set of unpredictable conditions, and having a flashlight that could tailor its output to varying scenarios was a compelling selling point.

Upon receiving the Fury, the first thing that caught my eye was its robust build. The aircraft-grade aluminum body with a knurled grip pattern felt sturdy and ready for the outdoors. The flattened points on the head were a thoughtful design to prevent it from rolling away on uneven terrains—a common scenario in camping sites.

Now, the real test was in its performance under the night sky. The Intellibeam technology was nothing short of impressive. Whether it was finding my way through dense woods or setting up the camp, the light seamlessly adjusted its output, providing just the right amount of light. On a few occasions when I needed a burst of high-intensity light, a quick double-tap on the tail cap button did the trick, overriding the Intellibeam to unleash the full 1500 lumens.

The Fury’s compatibility with both CR123A and 18650 batteries was a notable advantage. However, I opted to use the 18650 batteries for longer run times, which was crucial during my long outdoor escapades. Although, I did switch out the SureFire’s own 18650 battery after a few hitches, replacing it with my trusted Orbtronic 18650s which worked flawlessly.

The only slight hiccup was the absence of a dedicated pouch, but a quick search led me to a Maxpedition Flashlight Pouch that fitted the Fury perfectly, although the Velcro could have been stronger.

During one of my recent weekend hiking trips in the Appalachian Trail, as dusk crept in, the SureFire Fury showcased its mettle. The path was known for its uneven terrain and sudden drops, making a reliable source of light indispensable as night approached. As the natural light dimmed, the Fury’s Intellibeam technology astoundingly adjusted the lumens, offering a clear path ahead. At one point, I heard rustling in the nearby bushes and with a quick double-tap, the flashlight’s burst of 1500 lumens illuminated a wide area, revealing a family of deer scampering away. The light’s seamless transition from a soft glow to an intense beam, and back, provided not only a sense of safety but also an appreciation for the surrounding wilderness. It was during moments like these that the SureFire Fury proved to be more than just a flashlight, but a reliable companion in embracing the unpredictable allure of the outdoors.

The SureFire Fury has now become a constant companion in my outdoor adventures. Its ability to provide tailored lighting, coupled with a robust build, makes it worth every penny of its premium price tag. The initial hiccup with the battery was a bit of a letdown, but once sorted, it was smooth sailing. Whether it’s the dense woods or open trails, the SureFire Fury Intellibeam Tactical Flashlight has proven to be a reliable companion, lighting the path ahead, come rain or shine.

Pros:

  • Intellibeam Technology: Adapts brightness levels seamlessly according to the surrounding conditions, which is invaluable in varying outdoor scenarios.
  • High Lumens Output: The capability to output 1500 lumens at its peak is remarkable for spotting distant objects or providing a wide area of illumination.
  • Robust Build: The aircraft-grade aluminum body is durable and designed to endure rough handling, which is common in outdoor adventures.
  • Battery Flexibility: Compatibility with both CR123A and 18650 batteries provides options for longer run times or readily available power sources.
  • Easy High-Output Override: Quick double-tap feature for instant high-intensity light is handy for sudden needs of brighter illumination.

Cons:

  • Battery Issues: The supplied SureFire 18650 battery had some reliability issues, necessitating a switch to a different brand.
  • Lack of Dedicated Pouch: The absence of a carrying pouch requires an additional purchase to ensure secure and convenient carry.
  • Premium Price: The high cost could be a barrier for some, although the quality and features justify the investment.
  • Velcro on Third-Party Pouch: When finding an alternative pouch, the Velcro strength on some models might not meet expectations for secure carrying.

SureFire Aviator Tactical Flashlight

SureFire Aviator Tactical Flashlight
The SureFire Aviator tactical flashlight product picture

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Pilots and other aviators have very specific lighting needs. SureFire developed the Aviator line of tactical flashlights specifically to meet these needs. Each has a dual color mode that is optimized for a specific use case.

The primary flashlight is bright white and has two modes, low and high. Low provides you with 5 lumens for up to 20.5 hours while high gives you 250 for up to 1.5 hours. There are 4 colors to choose from: amber, blue, red, and yellow-green.

Amber lighting improves contrast while preserving night vision. Blue light gives high contrast at night and is perfect for identifying blood or hydraulic fluids in low light conditions. Red is well known for its use at reading night maps in military situations and preserving night vision. Yellow-green is specifically designed to complement that color spectrum common to most cockpits.

The Aviator is made from anodized aluminum and powered by a single CR123A battery. It has o-ring seals to prevent water or dust intrusion and a stainless steel clip for easy pocket carry.

The SureFire Aviator is great for pilots, navigators, mariners, and others with the need for specific low light color patterns. It’s an expensive tactical flashlight but for the people who need what it provides it’s a real godsend.

Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight

Streamlight Protac Tactical Flashlight
The Streamlight Protac tactical flashlight product picture

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The Streamlight Protac is a classic tactical flashlight with many of the features that have now become standard in the industry. It’s just over 7 inches long and weighs 9.24 oz. The Protac is designed around a rechargeable 18650 battery but also accepts CR123A batteries if needed.

It has 4 different light modes: low, medium, high, strobe, and three operating modes based on Streamlight’s TEN-TAP system. These are High/Strobe/Low, high only, and Low/Medium/High. At high the Protac generates 1000 lumens with a beam distance of 374 meters. It has a high runtime of 1.5 hours and a low runtime of 20 hours.

Its body is made from anodized aluminum with an IPX4 rating. This is lower than some other high end tactical flashlights so you need to be careful about dropping it in puddles or other water.

The Streamlight Protac is a very well made tactical flashlight with excellent features. It’s bright, rechargeable, and extremely durable. The only ding against it was the low water resistance rating, but we feel its other features more than make up for it.

Fenix TK47 Tactical Flashlight

Fenix TK47 Tactical Flashlight
The Fenix TK47 tactical flashlight product picture

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The Fenix TK47 is a high-powered tactical flashlight intended for law enforcement, military, or home use. It’s a big light, coming in at 10.48 inches long and weighing fully 13.26 oz without batteries. The TK47 definitely isn’t a pocket light, resembling an old school Maglite more than the smaller tactical lights we’re used to.

The light output and intensity match this large size. It has 5 light modes and a small tail light useful for signalling. The main light has low, medium, high, turbo, and strobe functionality. On turbo it gives you fully 1300 lumens of output and 700 meters of beam distance. With its 2 rechargeable 18650 batteries it has almost 2 hours of runtime at this output.

The body of the TK47 is made from stainless steel rather than aluminum. This makes it stronger but heavier. Given it’s honestly massive size to begin with this isn’t that much of a tradeoff.

Overall the TK47 is an excellent tactical flashlight for home, car, or other installation based use. It’s too large for effective EDC but is still extremely valuable as a high-powered flashlight.

Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight
The Pelican 7600 tactical flashlight product picture

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Pelican is a giant of the tactical gear and case world. Their 7600 tactical flashlight does nothing to let this reputation down. It’s a 6.2 inch long 10 oz powerhouse that gives you multiple modes of use and several different LED light colors.

It has a white, red, and green light selection as well as 4 modes of use: low, medium, high, and strobe. The 7600 comes with a rechargeable 18650 lithium battery and has a robust IPX8 certification.

All the various modes are cycled with the tail cap button while the colors can be adjusted with a twist control at the emitter head. One place the Pelican 7600 really shines is in runtime. High power provides you with 940 lumens yet can be used continuously for 3 hours and 15 minutes. That’s an insane amount of battery life for that much light intensity.

Even better, Pelican backs their tactical flashlights with an industry leading lifetime guarantee. If you somehow manage to break your Pelican product they’ll replace it, no questions asked, forever.

With its combination of rugged design, high end features, and downright amazing warranty the Pelican 7600 is a strong contender for best tactical flashlight.

SOG Tactical Flashlight – Dark Energy DE-06

SOG Tactical Flashlight – Dark Energy DE-06
The SOG Dark Energy tactical flashlight product picture

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The Dark Energy 06 is a robust tactical flashlight from SOG. It has a high grade anodized aluminum body and was built to be the brightest flashlight for its size. It’s 6 inches long but weighs just 6.6 oz.

The DE-06 has 5 different modes: low, medium, high, strobe, and momentary on/off. At high power its rechargeable 18650 lithium battery gives you 687 lumens for 98 minutes. The low light level is designed for maximum run time and will last for 97 hours.

One thing we really liked about the DE line is the body design. The vast majority of tactical flashlights look pretty much identical to one another. SOG tried to break the mold with a spiral patterned knurling that honestly looks really sharp while providing an excellent grip. It also has an IPX7 water resistance rating for confident use in any conditions.

SOG is respected for a reason. They make high quality products that always try to add a little something extra in. The Dark Energy 06 tactical flashlight is no exception to this.

Nitecore MH25GT USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight

Nitecore MH25GT USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight
The Nitecore MH25GT tactical flashlight product picture

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Nitecore is a respected name in the tactical flashlight world and its MH25 series was very popular. The upgraded MH25GT takes the best features of the original and adds several new ones. It’s a large flashlight, coming in a 6.3 inches long and weighing over 10 oz. For this though you get an incredibly bright and durable light.

The MH25GT has 6 different modes: low, medium, high, turbo, strobe, and SOS. These can all be controlled via the tail button. Its 18650 rechargeable lithium battery gives you an hours run time at the 1000 lumen turbo setting or 36 on the 50 lumen low.

The body of the MH25GT is made from anodized aluminum and has a fairly large emitter head on a slender body. One thing that helps set it apart from other rechargeable flashlights is the charging indicator. It flashes when it needs a charge and goes steady when it’s fully topped up.

The NiteCore MH25GT is a high quality tactical flashlight that’s incredibly bright and ruggedly durable. It’s definitely not a comfortable pocket carry light but for a car or home setting it’s an excellent product.

ThruNite TN12 EDC LED Tactical Flashlight

ThruNite TN12 EDC LED Tactical Flashlight
The ThruNite TN12 tactical flashlight product picture

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The ThruNite TN12 is an EDC focused tactical flashlight with a high intensity light. It’s made from aluminum alloy and is 5.63 inches long for just 2.9 oz of weight without the battery. It uses a dual switch design for on/off and mode cycling.

It has 6 different output modes, including low, medium, high, strobe, turbo, and ThruNite’s own firefly mode. On turbo setting it provides you with up to 1050 lumens for 95 minutes. Firefly setting is the really interesting twist though. It gives you just the slightest glow of .4 lumens for up to 74 days of continuous use.

It’s designed to let you distinguish basic shapes, maps, and other things in a survival situation while preserving battery life. The TN12 uses a single 18650 rechargeable battery that isn’t included. To cycle through the various modes you simply click the light on with the tail cap button then use the stainless steel side switch.

Overall the TN12 is a well thought out light but feels slightly rougher and less polished than many competitors. There are several similarly priced models from other manufacturers that beat it out but none that have its firefly low light mode.

EcoGear FX TK120 Tactical Flashlight Kit

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The EcoGear FX TK120 is another value priced tactical flashlight with a very nice feature set. It’s made from aircraft grade aluminum and is 5.5 inches long and weighs just over 5 oz. One unusual thing with a flashlight at its price point is the inclusion of two 18650 rechargeable lithium batteries with a battery cradle.

The TK120 has 5 different modes: low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS. You can cycle through these modes using the tail cap button. At maximum power and focus the TK120 provides up to 1200 lumens. It does this using a sliding zoom control system. It allows you to set the beam intensity to a spotlight or a wider flood for general use.

The EcoGear FX TK120 is an inexpensive tactical flashlight that nevertheless provides real value. It has many of the higher end features found in name brand products without the name brand price.

OLIGHT M20SX Javelot

OLIGHT M20SX Javelot
The OLIGHT M20SX Javelot tactical flashlight product picture

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The OLIGHT M20SX Javelot is a compact tactical flashlight made from aircraft grade aluminum. It’s 5.51 inches long and weighs just 4.37 oz. The Javelot has four power modes, including low, medium, high, and strobe.

The Javelot is powered by either 2 CR123A batteries or a single rechargeable 18650. It has a maximum light output of 820 lumens with a runtime of 4 hours. The medium and low light settings are 150 and 25 lumens respectively, with a runtime of 13 and 72 hours each.

One thing that really stands out about the Javelot is its IPX8 water resistance. This makes it an excellent light to carry in wet or potentially stormy conditions. It uses a CREE XM-L2 LED with a spotlight focus that gives it up to 370 meters of beam distance.

Overall the OLIGHT M20SX Javelot is a rugged and high powered tactical flashlight with a good feature set. It’s definitely on the large side but you get high performance and relatively long battery life at a price that’s quite affordable.

SureFire V1 Vampire

SureFire V1 Vampire
The SureFire V1 Vampire tactical flashlight product picture

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The SureFire V1 Vampire is a tactical workhorse built with military and law enforcement users in mind. It’s a dual output LED light that has both a high intensity white light and infrared (IR) emitters.

The white light can be used in 250 lumen high or 5 lumen low modes. The IR light is usable in 100Mw high and 5 Mw low modes. IR light is used with specific night vision goggles to provide additional illumination. It’s imperceptible to the human eye and so is perfect for use in tactical situations to prevent your adversary from knowing it’s there.

The V1 Vampire runs on a single CR123A lithium battery and gives you 1.5 hours on high and up to 20.5 on low. In infrared mode you get 4.75 hours on high and 57 hours on low.

The Vampire is a specialized product with a fairly narrow use case. If you frequently use NVG’s it provides tons of value, otherwise half its features are kind of useless to you.

SureFire P1R Peacekeeper

SureFire P1R Peacekeeper
The SureFire P1R Peacekeeper tactical flashlight product picture

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The SureFire Peacekeeper is another excellent SureFire product made from aircraft grade aluminum. It has two intensities and runs on a rechargeable 18650 lithium battery.

It’s designed to work as the primary duty flashlight for law enforcement and other emergency services personnel. It’s available in a single output tactical model or a dual output version. They both have a top output of 600 lumens with the dual output also providing a low light 15 lumen setting. You get 1.75 hours of runtime at high and up to 46 at low.

The body is just over 5 inches long and weighs just 6.2 oz. The Peacekeeper has a beam intensity of 13,620 candela and is designed to provide a piercing spotlight with lots of usable peripheral lighting.

The Surefire P1R Peacekeeper is an excellent product with useful features. If you’re looking for a high end tactical flashlight that meets major law enforcement standards the Peacekeeper is a valid choice.

J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight

J5 Tactical V1-PRO Flashlight
The J5 tactical flashlight product picture

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The J5 V1-Pro flashlight is a pint sized light at a bargain basement price. It’s made from tough aircraft grade aluminum and runs off a single AA battery.

The V1-Pro has 3 different modes: high, low, and strobe. It has a relatively low runtime of just over an hour but that’s to be expected from an alkaline powered light. It makes up for this with it’s small size and very low cost. At maximum brightness you’ll get 300 lumens at a distance of up to 600 feet.

It has an aggressive bezel and body design that makes it easy to hold onto and resistant to impacts. If you’ve always wanted a tactical flashlight but didn’t want to spend more than $20 or so the J5 V1-Pro could be the light for you.

SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlights

SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlights
The SureFire G2X tactical flashlight product picture

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The SureFire G2X series are designed to be entry level tactical flashlights at affordable prices. They have the same attention to detail SureFire puts in their other products at significantly lower prices.

One of the cost-saving measures they used on the G2X was the substitution of Nitrolon polymer for anodized aluminum in the main body of the light. It reduces the overall weight of the flashlight and has a very nice textured grip. The head of the light is made from anodized aluminum to protect the LED’s and provide increased impact resistance.

The G2X has two modes, a low 15 lumen and a high 600 lumen. These are controlled by a tailcap switch. It uses two CR123A lithium batteries and gives you a runtime of 2.5 hours on high or 45 hours on low.

If you want to own an honest to god SureFire tactical flashlight but don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it the G2X series is a great place to look.

Anker Bolder LC90 Super Bright Tactical Flashlight

Anker Bolder LC90 Super Bright Tactical Flashlight
The Anker Bolder LC90 tactical flashlight product picture

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Anker is a company known for their quality tech peripherals and charging cables. The LC90 is a foray into the tactical flashlight market that shows their usual attention to detail and dedication to good manufacturing practices. It’s a 900 lumen LED flashlight with a rechargeable 18650 battery.

It’s made from anodized aluminum and has an IP65 rating. This gives it good dust and water resistance but doesn’t allow it to be submerged. The LC90 works in 5 different light modes: low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS.

Its large battery gives you a full 6 hours of runtime on medium brightness. Once it’s depleted you can fully recharge it in another 6 hours with the included Anker micro USB cable. One thing we really liked was the zoom adjustment slider. It allows you to take the LC90 from a pinpointed spotlight all the way up to a useful flood setting.

The Anker LC90 is a large and robust tactical flashlight with a lot of useful features. It has much of the same functionality of well known flashlight brands but costs a fraction of the price.

Tactical Flashlight Batteries

The batteries of your tactical flashlight have a big impact on its function. The smaller the flashlight is the denser and more powerful the power source needs to be for the same light intensity.

Here are the most common battery types and sizes for tactical flashlights.

Alkaline Batteries

Alkaline batteries are primary batteries that rely on the chemical reaction between metallic zinc and manganese dioxide. Primary batteries refer to any battery that is intended for single use instead of recharging. They’re called alkaline because of the potassium hydroxide electrolyte they use.

Alkaline batteries are by far the most common type of primary battery in use today. This makes them cheap and easy to replace. Tactical flashlights that use alkaline batteries are generally either slightly larger or lower intensity than other varieties. If you plan to take your flashlight into areas with temperature extremes you shouldn’t use alkaline batteries.

They’re sensitive to very high and very low temperatures and will stop working if you let them get too hot or cold. It’s important to remember that any flashlight capable of running on alkaline batteries can also run on lithium. Common alkaline battery sizes include AA and AAA, as well as things like C and D cell batteries.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including the CR123A we’ll discuss below. They have much higher capacity on an ounce for ounce basis than do alkaline batteries. They also respond much better to high and low temperatures.

Just about every high end flashlight that accepts primary batteries will require lithium batteries for the best functionality. The downside to this high performance is their cost. Lithium batteries are generally at least twice as much as comparable alkaline batteries.

In the past it was difficult to find lithium batteries outside of specialty stores. Nowadays they’re rapidly overtaking alkaline as the most common battery type and can be found just about everywhere batteries are sold.

CR123A batteries

CR123A batteries are commonly used in higher end and more compact tactical flashlights. The CR denotes the chemical composition, LiMnO2, while the 123A refers to the battery size, 34.5mm x 17mm or 2/3A cell size.

The CR123A is a 3V battery in a very compact size. It gives ample power and allows significant light output and performance characteristics. The vast majority of tactical flashlights will run on either CR123A batteries or their rechargeable 18650 counterparts.

Rechargeable Batteries

Where possible we always recommend rechargeable batteries. Not only will you save money, you’ll also significantly reduce battery waste. You can find a rechargeable version of all the batteries used in tactical flashlights.

There are also tactical flashlights with a rechargeable battery built right in. These come with a charging station or charge via mini or micro USB. One of the most common types of rechargeable battery is the 18650 lithium battery.

Brightest Tactical Flashlight

Arguably the most important aspect of any flashlight is how bright it is. Light output for flashlights is measured in lumens. The higher the number of lumens the brighter a flashlight will be.

The majority of tactical flashlights nowadays will have multiple light output modes with a low starting somewhere around 50 lumens and a high going up to about a 1000. In general we recommend you get a light with low, medium, and high setting so you can adjust its brightness to your situation.

If you’re looking for the brightest tactical flashlight you should check out the SureFire Fury. It produces a blinding 1500 lumens on high power.

Light output alone doesn’t determine the total brightness of a flashlight. Keep reading to learn about the FL1 standard and the other factors that go into brightness.

The FL1 Standard

In the past comparing two different tactical flashlights was really difficult. There wasn’t an accepted set of measurements that could be used to compare them. You’d have one flashlight advertising its “million candlepower” while another was talking about “high-flux LED”.

Most of those descriptors didn’t really mean anything unfortunately. It took the creation of the ANSI/NEMA FL 1-2009 Standard, commonly referred to as the FL1 standard, to allow apples to apples comparisons between flashlights.

The FL1 standard provides you with 6 different ratings for comparison’s sake.

  • Light Output [Lumen]
  • Peak Beam Intensity [Candela]
  • Beam Distance [Meter]
  • Runtime [Hours]
  • Water Resistance [IPX Rating]
  • Impact Resistance [Meter]

We’ll go more in depth on what these mean a little farther down the article. Just remember to look for the FL1 comparison chart on the packaging of any tactical flashlight you’re considering. It’s a voluntary standard but the vast majority of quality manufacturers have adopted it.

Best Tactical Flashlight Buyers Guide

The best tactical flashlights are made from very rugged materials and provide tremendous light output in a very small package. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. There are several other measures you should look at to make sure you’re getting the best flashlight for your needs.

Before reading our best tactical flashlight buyer’s guide we think you’d also like our best tactical gloves and best tactical tomahawk guides.

Price

Tactical flashlights are a lot like multi tools and knives as far as pricing goes. You can get a pretty good product for around $30-70. You can also spend up to several hundred on a real top of the line model with all the bells and whistles.

These are extremely powerful, often with multiple light effects and modes, and are usually rechargeable with a high end internal battery. If you work in law enforcement or are a member of the armed forces these provide you with real value.

For most people though, $50-$100 will buy you all the flashlight you’ll need for your EDC.

Construction and Materials

Tactical flashlights have to be rugged. They’re designed to be used frequently in potentially hazardous conditions. To do that they need to withstand being dropped, smashed into things, and even used as an emergency self-defense tool.

The vast majority of tactical flashlights are made from aircraft grade anodized aluminum. It’s lightweight, very strong, and inexpensive. The designs themselves incorporate features like raised bevels and highly textured grips. This lets you get a very firm hold on them and protects the glass from shattering on impact.

Make sure that all the screw seal points are well machined and move easily. This aids in overall strength and water resistance. You should also look for things like o-ring seals, buttons that click easily and firmly, and either tempered glass or polycarbonate lens covers.

Mode Functions and Extras

An important thing to remember with tactical flashlights is that they were designed for combat situations. The best will work just as well mounted to a firearm as they will in your hand. They need to be able to blind or incapacitate adversaries with varying intensities and patterns.

Just about every tactical flashlight has the option of low or high power. As you move up the feature ladder you’ll get things like strobe capability, SOS patterns, and even the ability to switch between different colored lights.

Some truly military focused ones will even have infrared modes for use with night vision goggles.

Waterproofing and Water Resistance

One of the most important aspects of a true tactical flashlight is its resistance to water damage. These aren’t the old plastic hand lights your dad kept under the sink. They’re made to go with you anywhere in the world and work under the toughest conditions.

To do this they need to be able to stand up to rain, splashing, and even temporary submergence. Unless you’re buying a SCUBA specific flashlight don’t expect true underwater capability.

The way to determine this is the International Protection Marketing, or IP rating system. It’s written out in the form of IPX + a number. The X just shows that the product hasn’t been tested for dust resistance while the number tells you how water resistant it is. We’ll only cover IPX4 through IPX8 because those are the standards included in FL1.

IPX4 – IPX4 resistance means a flashlight can withstand splashed water for up to 10 minutes without damage. This is the absolute minimum water resistance level you should consider in a flashlight.

IPX7 -IPX7 products can withstand sprayed jets of water and total immersion up to 1 meter deep for at least 30 minutes.

IPX8 – IPX8 is the highest resistance level you’ll see in standard tactical flashlights. It allows extended immersion without ill effect in water deeper than 1 meter.

Size, Weight and Ergonomics

One of the most important things to consider with any tactical flashlight purchase is size, weight, and the physical design. If you’re looking for an EDC light you’ll need something much smaller and lighter than a bug out bag, vehicle, or home tactical flashlight.

Ergonomics also comes down to how you intend to use it. If you’re looking strictly for a gun mounted light you don’t need to worry as much about comfort. One you’re going to be using on a daily basis needs to sit well in your hand and be easy to use.

One of the most common ergonomic features is the location of the on/off switch. Old school flashlights usually have it located along the side of the body. For tactical flashlights though a tail cap button is a much better solution. It allows you to hold it upright in one hand and easily manipulate the brightness and settings with your thumb.

Runtime

The runtime of tactical flashlights will vary significantly based on several factors. The most important are the light output and battery size. Smaller flashlights with extremely high light output will naturally run out of juice a lot faster than larger ones.

That doesn’t tell the whole story though. Most tactical flashlights have power saving low power modes that can extend the runtime by orders of magnitude. Using a low power strobe or red light mode can increase it even further.

Consider how you intend to use your flashlight and how much light you really need before making a purchase.

Tint

Most tactical flashlights are bright white light. If you’re looking for a red or other shade light though there are plenty of options available. You can find red, blue, purple, amber, etc, all in varying intensity and beam styles.

Beam Distance

Beam distance under the FL1 standard measures the distance the light of the flashlight is equal to the illumination provided by a full moon. It prevents manufacturers from fudging the numbers with barely perceptible lighting. This is mainly useful if you plan to use your flashlight in outdoor situations as even the most basic will reach for well over 50 meters.

Candela – Peak Beam Intensity

The peak beam intensity of a flashlight is one of the most important measures of how bright it actually is. It measures the brightness as perceived by the human eye and is based on how the light is focused.

The light output of a flashlight, measured in lumens, is an actual measure of brightness. Peak beam intensity takes that and figures out how much usable light the tactical flashlight can focus on one area and is measured in candela.

Impact Resistance

Impact resistance is key with tactical flashlights. Their anodized aluminum bodies give them a lot of strength but the internal designs also help. Most have sealed internals that are designed to resist sudden impacts and prevent movement.

The batteries are tightly contained within their area and the remaining circuitry is hardened as much as possible. Any FL1 compliant flashlight will list impact resistance in meters. This just tells you that they’ve tested their product in drops up to that height and found them to still function.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Tactical Flashlights for EDC

When it comes to selecting the right tactical flashlight for your everyday carry (EDC) needs, you may have various questions in mind. To provide you with the information you seek, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about tactical flashlights. Whether you’re an avid camper, hiker, or someone who values preparedness in survival situations, these FAQs will help you make an informed decision.

From understanding the essential features to look for in a tactical flashlight to knowing the legalities and battery options, we cover a range of topics to address common inquiries. Let’s dive into these questions to enhance your knowledge and ensure you choose the best tactical flashlight for your EDC gear.

Remember, while we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it’s essential to consult local laws and regulations regarding the use and carry of tactical flashlights in your area. Now, let’s explore the frequently asked questions about tactical flashlights for EDC.

What is a tactical flashlight?

A tactical flashlight is a compact, durable, and high-performance flashlight designed for use in various tactical situations, such as camping, hiking, self-defense, or emergency situations. These flashlights are typically built with rugged materials, have multiple lighting modes, and often feature additional functions like strobe or SOS signals.

Why should I carry a tactical flashlight for EDC?

Carrying a tactical flashlight as part of your everyday carry (EDC) gear can be highly beneficial. It provides a reliable source of illumination in low-light conditions, helps with navigation, and can be used as a self-defense tool. Tactical flashlights are also designed to withstand rough handling, making them suitable for outdoor activities.

What features should I look for in a tactical flashlight for EDC?

When choosing a tactical flashlight for EDC, consider factors such as brightness levels, beam distance, durability, size, weight, battery life, and ease of use. Look for flashlights with multiple lighting modes (high, medium, low), adjustable focus, water resistance, and a sturdy construction that can withstand harsh conditions.

How bright should a tactical flashlight be for EDC?

The brightness of a tactical flashlight is measured in lumens. For EDC purposes, a flashlight with a brightness level ranging from 500 to 1000 lumens is usually sufficient. This range provides a good balance between brightness and battery life, allowing you to illuminate your surroundings effectively without draining the battery too quickly.

Which batteries are commonly used in tactical flashlights for EDC?

Tactical flashlights often use standard batteries such as AA or AAA, as they are readily available and easy to replace. However, many models now come with rechargeable batteries or are compatible with lithium-ion batteries, which offer longer runtimes and higher performance.

Can a tactical flashlight be used for self-defense?

Yes, tactical flashlights can be used as improvised self-defense tools. The high-intensity beam of light can temporarily blind or disorient an attacker, providing you with a valuable advantage. Some tactical flashlights even feature a strobe mode specifically designed for self-defense purposes.

Are there any legal restrictions on carrying a tactical flashlight?

Laws regarding the carry and use of tactical flashlights vary by jurisdiction, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local laws in your area. In general, tactical flashlights are considered legal to carry as they are primarily designed for illumination purposes. However, it’s always advisable to check your local regulations to ensure compliance.

Can I use a tactical flashlight for other outdoor activities besides EDC?

Absolutely! Tactical flashlights are versatile tools suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and survival situations. They provide reliable illumination in the dark, help with signaling or searching, and are designed to withstand rough handling and adverse weather conditions.

How long do the batteries in a tactical flashlight typically last?

Battery life in tactical flashlights can vary depending on the brightness level and usage. Flashlights with higher lumens generally have shorter battery life. However, most modern tactical flashlights offer energy-efficient features and can last anywhere from a few hours to several days on a single set of batteries, depending on the mode used.

Are tactical flashlights waterproof?

Many tactical flashlights have water-resistant or waterproof features, making them suitable for use in wet conditions. However, the specific level of water resistance can vary between models. Look for flashlights with an IPX rating, which indicates their water resistance level. Higher IPX ratings such as IPX7 or IPX8 provide better protection against water.

Remember, always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications and guidelines for accurate information about a particular tactical flashlight model.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this FAQ section is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal or professional advice. Always consult local laws and regulations regarding the use and carry of tactical flashlights in your area.

Final Thoughts

With tactical flashlights you certainly aren’t starved for choice. You can get one in just about any size, shape, brightness, and battery type. There are quality $20 lights and incredible $300 ones.

Whatever kind of light you’re looking for, remember to compare manufacturer claims to the FL1 scale and keep in mind just how you intend to use your light.

2 thoughts on “15 Best Tactical Flashlights for EDC”

  1. The Pelican 7600 is a powerhouse in a compact design. With a choice of white, red, and green light, it’s versatile for different scenarios. The IPX8 certification ensures it stands up to rough conditions, and the 3-hour runtime at high power is remarkable. Moreover, the lifetime guarantee from Pelican is a solid assurance of quality. This flashlight has exceeded my expectations in every way, making it an essential part of my gear now ★★★★★ (5/5)

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