Tested: The Best Tactical Flashlights You Can Buy Right Now (2024)

Benefitting from a slew of advancements over the last decade, tactical flashlights are engineered from the ground up to meet the needs of military personnel operating in some of the world’s harshest conditions. As this segment has grown more popular, however, it’s been inundated with dozens and dozens of new models. And while this gives buyers more options to pick from than ever before, it also makes it exceedingly difficult to sort through the seemingly endless sea of available options in order to hone in on the standout tac torches that stand above the rest — the latest and greatest of which we’ve rounded up for this guide to and hands-on review of the best tactical flashlights for self-defense.

The Best Tactical Flashlights

Article Overview

  • The Best Tactical Flashlights
    • Fenix PD36 Tac
    • Acebeam Defender P17
    • Olight Warrior X 3
    • Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry
    • SureFire E2D Defender
    • Tactical Flashlight Comparison Chart
    • What Exactly Is A Tactical Flashlight?
    • What To Consider When Shopping
    • Honorable Mentions
    • Tested: The Best Tactical Gloves For Every Scenario

Selection & Testing

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There’s admittedly no shortage of pretty terrific tactical torches currently on the market. When attempting to seek out the best of the best, we kicked off our hunt by first making a list of criteria and factors that would be used to judge each potential pick. These areas included aspects such as material selection, dimensions and weight, lumen output and throw, operation, and mounting options and abilities. These factors then enabled us to compile a shortlist of candidates that we suspected may represent some of the latest and greatest options out there.

Rather than purely relying on each tactical flashlight’s spec sheet, we instead opted to get our hands on each torch that comprised out shortlist. This allowed us to gain a more comprehensive sense of how each light performed, how it felt in the hand, and how effective its machining or grip pattern is. This Alsop clued us into the overall build quality and craftsmanship that each light exhibited. In an effort to more objectively judge and compare each light, we also put every tac light on our shortlist through a series of tests that were then scored. This included a short-range darkroom lumen test, as well as a nighttime outdoor distance test. Using paper-stuffed cardboard boxes, each light also underwent a bezel-striking test that enabled us to then measure and review the level of damage each light was able to deliver.

For a more complete understanding of their performance, each tactical flashlight on our shortlist was also carried individually for several days, which let me experience the day-to-day capabilities and user experience that each model had to offer. Likewise, each tactical flashlight was also mounted to one of my long guns so we could test each selection’s capabilities and performance as a weapon light — plus it allowed me to actually test out each tac light’s remote pressure switch and weapon mounting kit. Once armed with the information and firsthand findings from our testing process, we were then able to use this intel to narrow down our initial shortlist to a final group of selections that we truly found to be today’s best tactical flashlights.

Fenix PD36 Tac

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Pros
  • Uses clever mechanical toggle-based mode selection setup
  • Offers great value
  • Boasts generous 3,000-lumen max output
  • Features compact body design
  • Benefits from the use of double-spring protection
Cons
  • Body would benefit from deeper knurling/machining for better grip

Best Value Pick: Engineered from the ground up specifically for tactical use, the Fenix PD36 Tac is a compact and rugged tactical torch with a generous 3,000 lumens on tap. Armed with a nearly 900-foot throw, the PD36 Tac measures just a hair over 5.5” in length and features a hardwearing aircraft-grade A6061-T6 aluminum alloy body construction that houses a USB Type-C rechargeable ARB-L21-5000U battery with a double-spring protection setup. With over half-a-dozen users modes, this light is able to lend itself to a wide variety of uses and applications. The business-end of the torch also features a scalloped bezel that allows it to be used as a striking weapon in CQC and self-defense scenarios.

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One of the most unique aspects of the Fenix PD36 Tac is undoubtedly its tail switch design. Though the light is turned on and off using a traditional tail button, its mode is selected by using a rotating mechanical toggle setup. The two primary modes that it possesses are Duty Mode (general use) and Tactical Mode — both of which offer multiple brightness settings. The rotating toggle setup also boasts a lockout mode to prevent the light from accidentally being turned on. While it can be operated using one hand, I found changing the PD36 Tac’s modes wasn’t quite as effortless to do with a single hand compared to some of the other lights on this list with more traditional tail-switch buttons. One area where the PD36 Tac definitely does shine is in its durability. Capable of taking a serious beating, the PD36 Tac’s ultra-robust body design ultimately affords the thing an IP68 rating, making it completely impervious to the elements — and then some.

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Despite being the least expensive tactical flashlight on this list, I was nonetheless really impressed with how the PD36 Tac performed over the course of our testing process. With up to 3,000 lumens at its user’s disposal, the PD36 Tac is an objectively potent flashlight, beating out every other tactical light I tested in lumen output — save for Acebeam’s 4,900-lumen Defender P17. The Fenix light also performed admirably in my hands-on bezel-striking test, with the light’s barrel/body fitting in the hand well, and its scalloped striking bezel managing to deliver an impressive level of punch. I do feel like the body could benefit from deeper, more pronounced knurling and machining, as the level of grip it offers is fairly lacking compared to other tactical lights I used like the Olight Warrior X 3 and aforementioned Acebeam’Defender P17.

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I also couldn’t help but notice just how immensely hot the front of this flashlight gets, even after only being on for a minute or two. Considering the PD36 Tac’s generous lumen output, this frankly isn’t all that surprising, though I still feel like it’s worth mentioning. I was also particularly impressed with the PD36 Tac’s weapon mounting kit, as it’s incredibly easy to install, it’s super secure, is compatible with multiple rail system types, and pairs with a truly excellent remote pressure switch. All in all, what really makes the Fenix PD36 Tac so special — and so deserving of a spot on this list — is its idiosyncratic toggle-enabled mode selection, its generous lumen output, and compact body design. What’s more, it’s also priced at just $100, making it one of, if not the single most value-laden high-output tactical flashlight currently on the market.

Verdict: Offering impressive levels of performance in a compact and ultra-durable package, the Fenix PD36 Tac is an excellent choice for those interested in an extremely capable and highly-versatile tactical torch that doesn’t break the bank.

Length: 5.51”
Weight: 5.6oz
Body Material: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 3,000
Throw: 899’
Modes: 7
IP Rating: IP68
Battery: Rechargeable

Acebeam Defender P17

Tested: The Best Tactical Flashlights You Can Buy Right Now (11)
Pros
  • Packs a whopping 5,000 lumens
  • Features unique dual-button tactical tail switch design
  • Constructed around super rugged, over-engineered body
  • Offers one of the best lumens-per-dollar ratio of any tac light
Cons
  • Very large head
  • Gets extremely hot

Best High-Output Pick: A tactical take on a thrower-style torch, the Acebeam Defender P17 is a bonafide powerhouse of a tactical flashlight, combining a 5.79” body with a nearly-1,500-foot throw and an even more impressive lumen output of 4,900. Weighing in at just under 8oz, the Defender P17 is constructed around a rugged A6061-T6 aluminum alloy body that’s been fortified via a type HAIII hard-anodized anti-abrasive finish. The bottom-end of the torch features a unique dual-button tactical tail switch design while the opposite end has been capped off with a stainless steel strike bezel with a trio of embedded silicon nitride ceramic beads.

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In total, the Defender P17 features seven brightness settings and modes, with five levels of light intensity, an SOS mode, and an auxiliary strobe mode. The tactical tail switch setup is simple on the surface, though accessing certain modes and features requires pressing the two buttons in a specific sequence. This makes it a bit trickier to learn how to use at first, though I was ultimately able to memorize and master its operating after just a few minutes. In addition to being offered in multiple anodized color options, the Defender P17 is also available with an optional weapon mounting kit, remote pressure switch, and even an available red filter lens for use with night vision goggles.

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The Defender P17 also had the greatest lumen output out of all of the lights that I tested — and by a pretty huge margin, being anywhere from two to 7.5-times as bright as some of the other lights on this list. The Defender P17’s unparalleled lumen output is owed to its single CREE XHP70.3 HI LED emitter, which allows it to pack the punch of flashlights that are typically two-to-three-times as large as the Defender P17. And while it obviously makes for a great light source, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that the Defender P17’s head and lens get extremely hot, extremely fast. It’s also crucial to note that this light’s brightest 4,900-lumen setting can only be sustained for a few seconds at a time. The cooling fins integrated into the torch’s head definitely play a huge role in preventing this model from overheating as well.

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When the Defender P17 was put through its paces in our hands-on testing process, the light scored at or towards the top of the pack in pretty much every area. Though the diameter of the head is pretty beefy, the rest of the barrel has been designed to fit perfectly in the hand, and its machined pattern does a superb job of bolstering grip, whether you’re barehanded or wearing gloves. This no doubt played a major role in how high this light scored on the bezel-strike test too. At the end of the day, the three areas that really set the Defender P17 apart from other lights on the market is its unique tail switch design, its massive lumen output, and the fact it maintains its behemoth 4,900-lumen output while being no larger than most of the other tac lights we got our hands on.

Verdict: If brightness, throw, and lumen output are your top priorities, there truly are very few other options on the market that can even begin to hold a flame to Acebeam’s mighty Defender P17.

Length: 5.79”
Weight: 7.9oz
Body Material: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 4,900
Throw: 1,459’
Modes: 6
IP Rating: IP68
Battery: Rechargeable

Olight Warrior X 3

Tested: The Best Tactical Flashlights You Can Buy Right Now (15)
Pros
  • Incredibly well-rounded, high-performance tac light
  • Equipped w/ haptic feedback
  • Ships w/ sheath & removable steel finger ring
  • Uses magnetic-coupling charger
  • Machining on body offers stellar grip
  • Cooling fins on head offer excellent heat dissipation
Cons
  • Doesn’t use Olight’s normal operation sequence
  • Weapon mounting kit can throw off rifle’s weight/balance

Best Overall Pick: The Olight Warrior X 3 is the very epitome of a well-balanced tactical flashlight. Measuring 5.89” in length and weighing in at 8.99oz, the Warrior X 3 is a third-generation design that benefits from numerous tweaks over its gen-two predecessor. IPX8-rated, the Warrior X 3 is armed with a very respectable 2,500 lumens and an 1,837-foot throw. Boasting an aluminum body with a machined grip pattern and an anodized finish, Olight’s Warrior X 3 uses a traditional tactical tail switch that allows it to easily cycle through its various brightness settings and modes. Armed with a crowned bezel with embedded zirconium beads, the Warrior X 3 also comes with a removable stainless steel Karambit-style finger ring for striking.

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There are honestly just so many noteworthy elements and highlights on this light that it’s hard to even know where to begin. The Warrior X 3’s haptic feedback is no doubt a major highlight on this tactical torch, as it alerts you to if the light has accidentally been turned on while in a pocket or holster, plus conveys low battery warnings. There’s also a certain trick/cool factor that the haptic feedback affords in my opinion. The light’s removable striking ring is another great touch and I really like the way the ring comes to a point, allowing it to focus impacts when striking. I also really appreciate the fact that this flashlight ships with an included nylon sheath with a magnetic top-flap closure. The sheath is also designed in a way that allows it to be closed, even when the torch is equipped with its finger ring. The back of this sheath also boasts a D-ring and a MOLLE and belt-compatible piece of nylon webbing that’s both VELCRO and snap-secured. What’s more, the Warrior X 3’s knurling and grip pattern on its body is just wildly effective. The machining manages to hugely bolster traction and grip — even in the wet or when wearing tactical gloves. As a result, it performed just about as well in our bezel-strike test as it did in our brightness test — where it also scored highly thanks to a generous 2,500-lumen output.

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The weapon mounting kit is really easy to install and use thanks to a simple yet clever (and thoroughly intuitive) design, and the remote dual-button pressure switch was my favorite one out of every tac light I tested. Having said that, the Warrior X 3’s weapon mount kit sees the actual flashlight protrude out to the side (or below) around 2” from the rifle’s rail system. And while 2” might not sound like much, I found the X 3’s more-than-half-pound weight to throw off my ability to balance and aim a rifle — though I’m admittedly not the most experienced marksman, so more skilled shooters may not have this issue, but it definitely effected me (even if only by a small amount). Though I like the ease-of-use and connivence of Olight’s signature magnetic-coupling charging port integrated into the tail of the torch, I’ve never been particularly fond of the appearance of this setup, as it looks somewhat unfinished — or like the bottom of the tail is missing a cap or cover of some kind. The wide-diameter head makes the Warrior X 3 markedly less pocketable than other slimmer lights I tested like the SureFire E2D Defender, Z-Bolt BLAZER, and Fenix PD36 Tac.

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I’m a big fan of Olight in general, and own a handful of their weapon lights and flashlights. Almost every Olight model I own uses the same operational setup and sequence (hold down the button to cycle through modes, double-tap for turbo mode, triple-tap for strobe, hold down for low-light, etc). For whatever reason, this light doesn’t follow that normal setup. I also didn’t love the way the wide-diameter head of the flashlight looks — though I do realize this design is to increase surface area and bolster cooling — not unlike the cooling fins on old air-cooled engines). While brighter than the second-gen Warrior (2,500 lumens versus 2,250), the gen-three’s throw is slightly shorter (at 1,837’ versus 1,968’) — an area that I wished Olight had changed. As a flashlight that’s of the purpose-built tactical variety, I also wished Olight had opted to bestow this model with a strobe function. It is imperative to note that these aforementioned gripes and downsides are all massively outweighed by everything the Warrior X 3 offers and does well — which is a whole lot.

Verdict: The Olight Warrior X 3 is simply a fantastic tactical flashlight that legitimately ticks just about every box one could hope for from a tactical torch. The combination of a high 2,500-lumen output, a rugged body, available finger rings and weapon mount kits, included holster, and amazing grip pattern collectively make Olight’s third-generation Warrior flashlight our pick for best overall tactical flashlight.

Length: 5.89”
Weight: 8.99oz
Body Material: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 2,500
Throw: 1,837′
Modes: 3
IP Rating: IPX8
Battery: Rechargeable

Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry

Tested: The Best Tactical Flashlights You Can Buy Right Now (19)
Pros
  • Uses clever modular design
  • Ships w/ included Thyrm ring & pocket clip combo
  • Makes for excellent backup/CQC striking weapon
  • Perfectly sized to fit in the hand
  • Benefits from top-notch craftsmanship & build quality
Cons
  • Max lumen output limited to 610
  • Only features 1 mode

Best Self-Defense Pick: If you were to set out to design a tactical flashlight specifically for military and law enforcement personnel, the end result would likely resemble something very similar to the Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry light. Made from aluminum with.a matte finish, this 5.11-inch model is not only sized to perfectly fit in the hand, but it also features a Thyrm ring and pocket clip combo that affords multiple carrying options while also allowing the torch to serve as an effective CQC striking weapon. It’s operation consist of a singe brightness mode, with its tail switch serving as an on and off button.

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Rather than designing a tactical flashlight and then developing a range of available accessories and add-ons that can be attached to the torch, Z-Bolt’s Hand Carry LED Flashlight employs a modular design, consisting of a removable head unit that can be paired with multiple tail sections that store the light’s battery. This includes a regular hand-held use barrel with a finger hole ring, as well as a weapon mounting attachment barrel with a knurled body. Z-BOLT also sells an optional KYDEX holster that’s custom-made for this BLAZER model. The overall fit and finish on this tactical torch is also top-notch, and no doubt represents another one of this model’s many highlights. More importantly, using this light just makes abundantly clear that the team behind it actually possesses a wealth of experience serving as operators in tactical scenarios.

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When it came time to test this model, I expected it to perform well, but was still surprised by just how immensely capable the thing is. It received high marks across the board, save for its overall brightness — which isn’t bad, it’s just not as potent or high-powered as the other models we tested. Thanks to the Thyrm ring, this Z-BOLT model excelled in the bezel-strike test. It also proved to be super modular thanks to a wide array of available accessories that allow it to be compatible with multiple rail systems. And, while this area is largely subjective, I also love the way this light looks, with its clearly purpose-built design and matte finish.

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I was overall really impressed with this tactical light, though I did have a few minor gripes I came across when testing it. Sure, the BLAZER doesn’t have the most impressive lumen count, but its beam is sufficient for the vast majority of applications — and over 600 lumens is nothing to scoff at by any means. The Hand Carry light comes with an included finger hole ring, allowing it to function as an even more effective striking weapon. And while the allow bezel surrounding this torch’s lens is capable of dealing out a good deal of damage, I do wish that Z-Bolt had opted to bestow the thing with a knurled or crowned bezel to bolster its CQC potential. I’d have also preferred if the Thyrm ring was made from alloy rather than a polymer — though it’s hard to fault Z-BOLT for this as Thyrm is the one that makes them. Additionally, though the light actually feels pretty great in the hand, the Thyrm ring’s pocket clip does create a noticeable hotspot at certain angles. Just like the Olight Warrior X 3, the Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry’s downsides are collectively outweighed by its many pros and strengths — and by a huge margin.

Verdict: Developed for actual LEOs and operators, the Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry is a highly-calculated tactical torch with a versatile and modular design. Assuming lumens aren’t your top priority, this model is a great tac light option.

Length: 5.11”
Weight: 5.1oz
Body Material: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 610
Throw: 656’
Modes: 1
IP Rating: IP65
Battery: Rechargeable

SureFire E2D Defender

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Pros
  • Made in America
  • Super rugged construction
  • Features super effective strike bezel (& tail strike bezel)
  • Makes for an outstanding weapon light
  • Machining on body affords excellent grip
Cons
  • Expensive price
  • Pocket clip is not removable & can create hotspots at certain angles

Best Premium Pick: Spanning 5.60” in length, the SureFire E2D Defender is a rugged, well-rounded tactical torch that’s simple yet highly effective. It doesn’t boast any cutting-edge or revolutionary features, and it doesn’t have any best-in-class specs or capabilities. What it does have, is an exceedingly rugged body construction, an effective striking bezel, and a respectable lumen output — traits that together make the E2D Defender one of the best tactical flashlights that money can currently buy. Equipped with an IPX7 rating, the E2D Defender features a mil-spec hard-anodized aluminum alloy construction, a 656-foot throw, and a maximum output of 1,000 lumens.

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The E2D Defender is surprisingly pocketable considering its 5.6-inch length — an area largely owed to the E2D Defender’s narrow diameter, measuring just 1.125” in diameter at its thickest point (the head/bezel). Speaking of the bezel, the E2D Defender sports what SureFire refers to as a “Crenellated Strike Bezel.” This six-point crown that encompasses the E2D Defender’s TIR lens was almost certainly the most effective striking bezel out of all the lights I tested. Additionally, SureFire has also opted to cap the bottom of the flashlight off with a less pronounced, yet still no doubt very effective scalloped four-point tail crown striking bezel. Being made in America, this tac light model also benefits from pretty stellar craftsmanship and build quality — areas that no doubt play a role in this light being practically indestructible. In fact, you’d really have to go out of your way to damage or destroy the E2D Defender, and even then it wouldn’t be easy. The thing is just built like a tank.

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The E2D Defender features a simple two-mode operation, with a 1,000-lumen high mode, and a super-low 5-lumen low mode. The machining on the barrel does a great job bolstering grip, though is markedly less effective when wearing gloves or using the light with wet hands. Sadly, the pocket clip on this flashlight isn’t removable, which is unfortunate as it can create some serious hotspots when the barrel is being gripped tightly or when the light is being used for striking. When oriented in certain positions in the hand, the clip isn’t noticeable, but you don’t always have the time to line it up perfectly in your hand when deploying it in tactical situations. One of the only other issues I have with this light is the fact that it doesn’t feature a strobe mode. I did also notice that the business end of the light does get pretty hot, pretty fast. My biggest gripe with this particular light is almost certainly its price. With an MSRP of $250, SureFire’s E2D Defender is the most expensive flashlight on our list — and by a pretty substantial margin.

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I also thoroughly appreciate the included battery on this SureFire model, along with its potency. Even when running the light on its brightest setting, its battery can still afford 2.75 hours of use per charge — or a whopping 63 hours on its lowest setting. At only 4.2oz, this 5.6-inch torch is also lighter than quite a few EDC knives I own. This not only makes the E2D Defender the lightest tactical torch on this list, but in some cases it tips the scales at less than half of some of the other models I tested like the Olight Warrior X 3 and Acebeam Defender P17. Additionally, the lightweight nature of this tactical flashlight means that its weight and mass doesn’t throw off your balance or aim when it’s mounted to a weapon. In fact, if you’re purchasing a tactical flashlight to exclusively use as a weapon light, you really should only be considering the E2D Defender (or maybe the Olight Warrior X 3).

Verdict: Though simple in nature, the SureFire E2D Defender is nonetheless definitely worth considering when shopping for a tactical flashlight, as its super effective striking bezel, straight-forward operation, compact size, and immense durability ultimately make for a torch that’s been trusted by countless elite operators and law enforcement officers. If you can swing the price, this is a fantastic tac light.

Length: 5.60”
Weight: 4.2oz
Body Material: Aluminum
Max Lumens: 1,000
Throw: 656’
Modes: 2
IP Rating: IPX7
Battery: Rechargeable

Tactical Flashlight Comparison Chart

FlashlightLengthWeightBody MaterialMax LumensThrowModesIP RatingBattery
Fenix PD36 Tac5.51”5.6ozAluminum3,000899′7IP68Rechargeable
Acebeam Defender P175.79”7.9ozAluminum4,9001,459’6IP68Rechargeable
Olight Warrior X 35.89”8.99ozAluminum2,5001,837′3IPX8Rechargeable
Z-BOLT BLAZER Hand-Carry5.11”5.1ozAluminum610656’1IP65Rechargeable
SureFire E2D Defender5.60”4.2ozAluminum1,000656’2IPX7Rechargeable

What Exactly Is A Tactical Flashlight?

As the name suggests, tactical flashlights are flashlights that are developed specifically for tactical use. This means that these torches need to be rugged and hardwearing enough to survive combat and warfare, as well as bright and powerful enough to provide ample lumens in complete dark and in low-light settings. Though sometimes designed to also mount to a rifle, tac lights are primarily engineered for hand-held use, and as such tend to measure in at around 5” to 6” in length and around 1” to 1.5” in diameter — dimensions that allow these lights to perfectly fit in the hand.

One of the biggest areas that separate tactical flashlights from their camping and EDC-focused counterparts is tac light’s striking bezels. Often made from different, even more, rugged materials than a flashlight’s body, these items sit at the business end of a flashlight and encompass the lens. Bestowed with a ridged, crown-like shape, this feature on a tactical flashlight is designed to maximize striking forces when being used as a hand-held weapon. Some tactical flashlights are even sold with optional (and typically removable) Karambit-like finger holes that turn a tac light and its striking bezel into an even more effective CQC weapon.

Another area that’s unique to tac lights is their operational setup, with tactical lights typically being turned on and off using what’s called a tail switch (I.e. a button on the bottom of the light opposite the lens) — a design that’s sometimes supplemented via a secondary switch on the body like a regular camping flashlight. In addition to boasting numerous power/brightness settings, tactical flashlights also often come loaded with several light modes including S.O.S. patterns and attacker-disorienting strobe modes. Lastly, there also happens to be markedly more quick-draw-ready (often KYDEX) holsters produced for tactical flashlights compared to regular torches.

What To Consider When Shopping

While there are a great many similarities between regular and tactical torches, there are some properties that are largely unique to the latter segment. Below, we’ll briefly shine a light on the ten most pivotal factors to take into account before pulling the trigger on your purchase.

Output: Whether guiding your own way or blinding an attacker, a flashlight’s overall light output plays an enormous role in determining its overall performance — and usefulness. The amount of light that a torch emits is measured in what are called lumens. Typically anything north of 600 lumens will be sufficient for a tactical flashlight (as a point of reference, an iPhone’s flashlight boasts around 40 to 50 lumens). Additionally, you’ll also want to look into a flashlight’s distance — or “throw” — as this is another key metric that plays a pivotal role in a tac light’s overall performance.

Emitter(s): Metrics such as lumen output and throw are largely owed to the emitter (or emitters) that a flashlight is loaded with. For this reason, it’s very much worth reviewing both the number of emitters a flashlight features, and the types of emitter(s) being used. With that said, CREE has developed of a bit of a stranglehold in this area, though there are also other key brands in the space.

Materials: A tactical flashlight’s overall strength and durability primarily boil down to the materials used to construct it — more specifically the flashlight’s body, lens, and any other exterior components or covers. For the body of a tac light, aluminum alloys — often of the aerospace-grade variety — are by far the most popular construction, though there are also polymer, steel, brass, copper, and titanium lights, as well. On top of looking into the material used to craft a tactical flashlight’s lens, you’ll also want to check out whether or not the light’s body has been fortified via a coating or treatment process such as anodization.

Bezel: As one of the key elements that separate tac lights from regular flashlights, the striking bezel is a crucial area to review when shopping for a new torch. Not only should you look at the shape of the close-quarters striking weapon, but also if said bezel is crafted from a different material than the body.

Settings & Modes: Like regular flashlights, it’s become commonplace for tac lights to feature multiple brightness/power settings — with the lower power modes boasting less lumens but offering greater battery life. A great many tactical flashlights also offer strobe functions. There are also tactical lights that come loaded with the ability to emit different light spectrums.

Water Resistance: As items that need to be immensely durable, tactical flashlights unsurprisingly often boast robust levels of water resistance. This is another area that’s crucial to review when buying a tac light — and one that’s typically measured using in Ingress Protection (or IP) rating such as IPX7.

Size & Weight: A proper tactical flashlight is typically a handheld item that can easily be carried on the body and readily deployed as needed. Tac lights also need to be able to function as an effective close-range weapon. For these reasons, most individuals opt for a tactical flashlight that comfortably fits in the hand — typically about 5” to 6” in length and 1” to 1.5” I diameter.

Battery: Just like with any other modern LED headlamp or flashlight, a tactical light’s battery is also of extreme importance as it will ultimately determine the amount of a runtime that a light offers. The type of battery used — and its potency — will also play a role in the overall size of the flashlight itself, too. Additionally, some tactical flashlights feature batteries with magnetic-coupling charging systems.

Operation: This area refers to the number of buttons and switches present on a tac light. This includes basic side switches and buttons, as well as the more common tail switch.

Weapon Mounting: Though they are typically carried by hand, some tactical flashlights manage to offer even greater levels of value and versatility by coming with — or being sold with an optional — kit that allows the flashlight to be mounted to a firearm. These kits typically come with accompanying remote switches that mount to the gun and allow the light to be easily turned on or off (or have its different modes run through).

Honorable Mentions

Offering absolutely stellar bang-for-your-buck, the ThruNite BSS V5 is an affordable, value-laden tactical torch that comes loaded with an aluminum body with a type-III hard anodization, a removable striking bezel, a nearly 2,700-lunmen output, an IPX8 rating, a 5” drop rating, and an available weapon mounting kit — all for a price of less than $70. It’s build quality may be a bit lacking, but as far as budget tac lights go, this second-gen model is pretty unbeatable.

IPX8-rated, the MecArmy SPX10 is a small but mighty tactical torch that features a HAIII hard-anodized aluminum construction, a 735-foot throw, and maximum output of up to 1,100 lumens. What really makes it special, however, is its patented tail switch design which can be operated through 360 degrees at any angle.

The Mechforce Mechtorch is a beautifully-designed battle-ready tac light made by a well-trusted boutique brand. Crafted from top-shelf titanium, this premium tactical torch also makes for an exceptional everyday carry flashlight — which is exactly why it was featured on our guide to the best EDC lights.

With an absolutely massive 20,000 lumens on tap, the NITECORE TM20K is unquestionably one of the brightest and most potent tac lights on the market, affording the power of a spotlight in a package that can easily be carried on your person.

Tested: The Best Tactical Gloves For Every Scenario

No tactical loadout is complete without a quality pair of tactical gloves — and we’ve got you covered with our guide to the best tactical gloves.So, whether you’re a law enforcement officer, an operator, or a recreational shooter, this guide has got you covered.

Tested: The Best Tactical Flashlights You Can Buy Right Now (2024)
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