Looking For An All-Around Best Tactical Flashlight? You’re In The Right Place
The tactical flashlight is one of the most crucial items found in your survival gear.
Sure, there are several other pieces of gear of similar importance, such as:
- Survival knives
- Tactical Watches
- Survival lighters
- Survival blankets
- Tactical backpacks
- Survival backpacks
But none of those can do what a flashlight can; create a flood of light at the click of a button.
And the dark can be extremely dangerous in survival and emergencies…
But here’s the good news, there are tons of super bright flashlights on the market today.
And more options are better, right?
Yes and No.
You see, with so many choices comes something called analysis paralysis.
The more choices you have, the more time you spend researching.
You find yourself agonizing over every small detail and struggling to make a purchase.
That’s why finding the best tactical flashlight for you is no small task.
That’s why today I’ll use my knowledge as an official gear tester for several outdoor companies and years volunteering with Mountain Rescue to cover the following:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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The easiest way to break down the wide range of flashlights is size.
1. Large Flashlights
Large flashlights are the workhorse of the tactical market.
These larger frame models often include longer battery life and better optics.
This allows for more accurate beam focus.
Plus, most large flashlights have several light modes.
And some even include different sets of LED batches to support high and low-output settings.
This new technology can dramatically increase light output.
For example, tactical led flashlights now regularly reach more than 10,000 lumens!
We’re talking about lumen levels usually found in search and rescue operations.
These are the large flashlights that first responders carry because they require the most intense light output possible.
An output level that can stretch several football fields in length because that’s what’s necessary to save lives.
Not everyone MUST own one of these larger flashlights. But it’s not a bad idea either.
Most leaders can take comfort in owning something this bright.
It can also come in handy if you find yourself in an emergency.
But maybe you don’t want to invest in such a large, expensive flashlight…
That’s where smaller EDC flashlights come into play…
2. Small “Everyday Carry (EDC)” Flashlights
Small EDC flashlights are, by definition, small.
These lights are best for everyday carry.
They’re flashlights that fit easily into your pocket or bag without weighing you down.
They feature smaller batteries.
But they often lack some of the advanced beam-focusing features found on larger models.
But they can still sport an extremely bright beam of up to 1,000 lumens.
This output level is still excellent for everyday tasks, such as:
- work situations
- checking out a noise in the backyard
- hiking to a favorite hunting spot before dawn
- signaling for help in a survival situation
I believe everyone should own at least one EDC flashlight, especially with today’s technology.
A new age where you can get a whole lot of lumens in such a small device.
OK, now let’s talk about the smallest of the smallest, microlights…
3. Micro Tactical Lights
Micro tactical lights are tiny in size.
The extra small batteries prevent these from having the massive lumen outputs of their big brothers.
You’ll typically find them under 100 lumens.
But the amount of lumens is NOT what makes them great.
Micro tactical lights can fit into nearly any space.
They can give enough light to search for dropped keys, find an outlet in the dark, or slowly make your way down a trail.
And they take up nearly zero space and weigh next to nothing.
So while the high output is NOT their superpower, it’s their tiny size and weight.
The bottom line is:
Now, how do you choose the best flashlight for YOU?
Well, first you must understand the important features available.
That way, you know what’s a “must-have feature” vs. a “nice-to-have feature” before you start comparing models.
So here’s a quick rundown of the most important features so you can weed out the good from the great.
As much as we like to think otherwise, price is ALWAYS a factor.
Make sure you know your budget and personal needs before searching.
- Maybe you’re ok with one very expensive, full-featured one.
- Or perhaps you’d like a more budget-friendly EDC option instead.
- Or maybe you’d like one of each (for redundancy) and are looking for good deals on both.
The good news is:
We’ve got you covered no matter your situation because we cover many options at different price points.
The light output power of a flashlight in something called lumens.
So how do you know how many lumens are enough?
It depends on how you intend to use it.
If you only need a flashlight to check under the car seat occasionally, you can get by with only one hundred lumens or so.
If you ever need to shine light across a small canyon, it’s best to upgrade to at least 1,000 lumens.
Power Source Options
There are flashlights with just about every type of battery imaginable.
Lithium-ion batteries are popular because they are so easy to use.
Plus, they are rechargeable via solar, USB, or external battery packs, making them highly versatile.
Removable batteries such as AA/AAAs are ubiquitous.
Removable batteries allow you to share and swap power among several devices.
Plus, you can always reload fresh batteries without the need to stop to recharge.
Don’t overlook this feature for emergency situations.
It’s the reason I prefer my flashlights to utilize removable, replaceable batteries.
Different Light Modes
Most tactical-led flashlights have at least a high and low output mode.
But you can also find models with variable light output, strobe mode, and SOS modes.
Some even have different colored LEDs as part of their “mode” feature.
While the “switch type” seems minor, it’s NOT.
The type of switch used on a tactical light can significantly affect how easy it is to use.
Simple push-button switches are durable, but they don’t give you the ability to have extra control modes.
Twist-on/off switches are fairly foolproof.
But they aren’t always the easiest to use one-handed or with slippery or cold hands.
Soft-touch digital switches can control many modes and still operate with one hand.
But they’re not as intuitive and can take a bit of learning to control all the options.
Durability Impact Resistant
Durability is another critical feature.
But some tactical flashlights can take durability to a whole other level.
Even to the point of doubling as a close-quarters weapon.
First off, they can blind a threat with the super bright LEDs, and they can act as a crude club.
As you can guess, success as a melee weapon depends on it being solidly built to take intense impacts.
Even without use as a weapon, your light will be subject to all kinds of drops, bangs, and dings.
So insane durability is an absolute must.
And avoid purchasing any flashlights with durability concerns.
While waterproof construction isn’t a “must-have feature” for everyone.
But I wouldn’t buy one that wasn’t.
Electronics don’t respond well to water, whether from a torrential rainstorm or an accidental drop into a toilet.
The bottom line is:
Waterproofing measures protect the sensitive electrical circuits inside a flashlight.
So waterproofing is a specific form of durability.
OK, now that you know all the different features, it’s time to look at some of my favorite tactical options.
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Let’s go over 10 of the best ones on the market by category.
We’ll start off with several EDC flashlights, then move on to the largest super-bright category and wrap up with microlights.
It seems most people looking for a tactical flashlight want to use it daily.
That means they want a compact, bright light in their pocket.
Because, as we all know, “the best flashlight in an emergency” is the one you have with you.
EDC flashlights tend to have a light output in the 300 to 1000 lumens range.
They also have decent optics and the most common flashlight features.
Here are a few of the best EDC flashlights that fit the bill nicely:
Skilled Survival’s FireHawk Tactical Flashlight
The FireHawk is one of the best all-around EDC tough flashlights.
It has a near-perfect balance of lumens, durability, beam control, waterproof design, AND extreme affordability.
It is bright and tough as hell and can be used as a small fist-sized melee weapon in a pinch.
Plus, it has a simple slide beam control and uses a single AA battery.
That means its overall size is compact – ideal for everyday carry!
This is one compact flashlight you can put in your pocket or purse and barely even notice it’s there – until you need to use it!
Sure, in some situations, more lumens can be helpful, but that can come at the cost of more weight and a much higher price point.
Instead, this EDC flashlight is one of the best in “lumens per ounce” AND “lumens per $” you can find.
- Small, Light & Compact – Fits In Pocket or Purse
- Tough – Aluminum Alloy Construction
- Easy / Intuitive To Use
- Great Price
- Not USB Rechargeable
NOTE: When this article was published, you could get a FireHawk Tactical for FREE. Just help pay shipping and handling, and it’s all yours…
↓ Get A FREE FireHawk Superbright LED Flashlight (+S&H) ↓
Fenix PD35 v3.0 Rechargeable Flashlight, 1700 Lumens
The FX-PD35TAC is one of several Fenix models that made our list. And this model shares many of the best features Fenix is known for, such as:
- rugged construction
- high output light
- top of the line materials
This 1700-lumen light can reach out over 390 yards, enough to cover nearly 4 football fields…
- High power
- Versatile power options
↓ The Upgraded Fenix PD35 V3.0 Flashlight Review ↓
NITECORE P12 1000 Lumens Precise
Nitecore is a brand with a solid reputation and a loyal following. That’s why it’s no surprise this is one highly-rated flashlight.
A compact 1200-lumen flashlight, the P12 is only 6 inches long and easily fits in the palm of your hand.
Yet, it throws a beam of light nearly 800ft!
It also has many great accessories, including a hard holster and an adjustable pocket clip.
- Comes with accessories
- Bright light
- Not USB rechargeable
↓ Nitecore P12 Flashlight Review ↓
SureFire X300 Ultra LED Handgun or Long Gun WeaponLight
One of the first requests from a tactical light is a weapon rail mount.
Well, a weapon rail mount is one of the best features you get with a SureFire X300 series flashlight.
It mounts to various weapon rails, allowing you to lock a super-bright beam of light onto a target.
Making the SureFire a SUPER bright gun light, with an intense center-focused beam to put as much light downrange as possible.
Now, it’s not the most inexpensive option. But this is a more technical light than most other tactical handheld flashlights.
Why? Because it must endure the punishing recoil of a firearm without flinching.
So you know it’s got extreme durability!
- Mounts to firearms rails
- It has a strong center-focused light beam
↓ Surefire X300 Weapon Light Review ↓
Now, if you need one of the brightest lights out there, it’s time to look at the following high-powered options.
They’re the next best thing to a light-saber and will cut through the darkness just as well.
Streamlight 88081 ProTac HL 5-X USB 3500-Lumen
I keep a Streamlight 88081 Pro Tac HL 5X flashlight in my vehicle gear cache.
It’s there with the rest of my search and rescue gear.
And it has been an enormous help searching rugged canyons where the 1000ft beam can cover a lot of ground.
At 3500 lumens, it’s one of the most powerful flashlights on the market.
It can run on either rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or disposable CR123A lithium batteries.
This “optionality” makes it one of the most versatile tactical flashlights.
The ability to swap out batteries makes it much easier to keep it powered up.
But swaps will rarely be necessary because when it’s fully charged, it can last nearly 150 hours on low. But only 90 minutes on high!
It’s also water-resistant and backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
- Replaceable batteries
- Lifetime warranty
- Rugged rubberized body
- Not USB rechargeable
↓ Streamlight ProTac HL 5X 3,500 Lumen Flashlight Review ↓
Fenix LR50R 12000 Lumen Rechargeable Flashlight
Fenix makes some of the most potent lights (of all kinds) on the market – and several of my caver friends swear by them.
These people trust Fenix Lights with their lives, so that’s not a small endorsement.
The TK75 boasts a range of nearly 1,038 yards! And it uses replaceable batteries to make recharging easy.
It also has a longer working life at high power than most other lights on this list.
But that comes at a price, as this is, by far, the most expensive light on this list.
- USB recharging built-in to the battery carrier
- Incredibly bright
↓ Fenix LR50R: This 12,000 Lumen Spotlight Is A Monster! ↓
BESTSUN LED Ultra Bright 15000 Lumen Tactical Torch
The Bestsun might be a bit questionable as an official “tactical flashlight.”
But I decided to include it because of the ridiculous 15-THOUSAND Lumen rating!
Yes, I agree; this seems ludicrous at first glance. But this light sports 16 individual T6 LEDs driven by four 18650 batteries.
That’s a tremendous amount of power with a ton of high-output LEDs. But there are no focusing optics.
So you can’t direct or focus the beam of light. That’s why it’s hard to judge the actual range for this flashlight.
Due to the lower price and the unknown reputation of the manufacturer, you may want to be careful.
You may not want to use this as your primary tactical flashlight, but it might be nice to snag it as an experimental backup.
- INCREDIBLE lumen rating
- It uses standard battery sizes
- Build quality may not be the best
Having at least one quality EDC flashlight is a must.
But it’s also nice to have a microlight on your keys or a zipper pull when you have limited gear space.
These are some great options for a sub-100 lumen light that you can count on when all other lights go out:
Pelican 1810 Keychain Light Black
Only 16 lumens? I get it.
That doesn’t seem like much compared to the rest of this list.
But this is a light for close-quarters work and backup.
It runs on coin-cell batteries and is water-resistant.
The Pelican Progear is a great little backup light and can fit ANYWHERE in your gear.
- Solid construction
- Only for close task lighting
↓ Pelican 1810 Keychain Flashlight Review For EDC ↓
Streamlight 73302 Pocket Mate 325-Lumen Pocket Keychain/Clip
The Streamlight KeyMate is an ideal addition to your keychain and will always be with you.
It provides just enough illumination for some close-in work.
And it includes several light modes, including strobe.
- Area lighting mode
- Direct USB recharging
- The clip can pop off your keyring
- Thick for a “key”
↓ Streamlight USB Rechargeable Pocket Mat Ultra Compact Light ↓
ThruNite EDC Flashlight Archer Mini
The ThruNite packs a lot of light for such a small package.
Making it an ideal solution to add to your keychain.
It also comes with a pocket or hat brim clip, allowing it to function as an improvised headlamp.
The textured barrel helps with the one-handed operation of the twist switch.
- Hat clip mode
- Intuitive twist design
- High 405-lumen output
- Larger than other “micro” lights (too big for a keyring)
↓ ThruNite Archer Mini Flashlight Review ↓
Tactical flashlights are a vast segment of the flashlight market.
And the number of new features and functions seems to be growing daily.
But with careful consideration, you CAN find the right one (or ones!) for your needs.
And once you’ve found them, they should have a prominent spot in your EDC gear, your vehicle kits, and all your other survival kits as well, including your:
So, when in doubt, go with several sources of light.
Why? Because a dependable light source is critical in emergencies and life-threatening situations.
For example, law enforcement can’t afford to stumble around in the dark when success depends on being able to see.
And there are no “do-overs” in survival or emergencies.
That’s why it’s wise to invest in a high-powered tactical led flashlight today.
P.s. Are you ready for the tough times ahead?
Find out now by taking my short Readiness Score Quiz – it’s absolutely free.
Once complete, you’ll know exactly where you stand on the “fragile” vs.” resilient” spectrum.
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