The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2024)

In your search for your next everyday carry flashlight, you’ve probably seen the word “tactical” used to describe them. But based on the results, it might not be immediately apparent what exactly makes a flashlight tactical or why you might even want a tactical flashlight in your own EDC.

The best tactical flashlights do more than shine a light for you in the dark: they come with a feature set and construction that lets you get to your mission-critical work, especially when lives might be on the line.

In this guide, we’ll explain the difference between general-purpose EDC lights and tactical ones and introduce you to some of the best tactical flashlights for EDC you can buy right now.

What makes a flashlight “tactical?”

Tactical flashlights are designed with critical situations and self-defense in mind. Unlike regular EDC flashlights, which tend to sport lower output and moonlight modes for longer runtimes, tactical flashlights usually feature high-output brightness, a strobe mode, a forward-throw switch for momentary-on activation, aggressive knurling, and sometimes a strike bezel. There’s also a focus on simplicity in the interface, with lights in the class often featuring fewer modes and quick access to high outputs, sometimes with specialized, easy-to-activate switches.

Our Top Picks

The Best Overall Tactical Flashlight:Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel [Buy] / [Full Review]

The Best Tactical Flashlight on a Budget:RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro [Buy] / [Full Review]

The Brightest Tactical Flashlight:AceBeam Defender P17 [Buy]

The Heaviest Duty Tactical Flashlight:SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF [Buy]

The Most Compact Tactical Flashlight:Nitecore EDC27 [Buy] / [Full Review]

Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel
RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro
AceBeam Defender P17
SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF
Nitecore EDC27
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (1)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (3)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (4)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (5)
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Max Output: 1,700 lumens
Max Output:12 cards
Max Output: 4,900 lumens
Max Output:1,500 lumens
Max Output:3,000 lumens
Battery:1×18650 or 2xCR123A
Battery:Built-in 330mAh LiPo / 14500 / AA
Battery:21700
Battery:18650
Battery: Built-in lithium ion
KeyFeatures:EDC and High Candela versions
KeyFeatures:USB-C charging port
KeyFeatures:Battery with charging port
KeyFeatures: Single button operation
Key Features: OLED digital display
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Content

  • 1 – The Best Overall Tactical Flashlight: Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel
  • 2 – The Best Tactical Flashlight on a Budget: RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro
  • 3 – The Brightest Tactical Flashlight: AceBeam Defender P17
  • 4 – The Heaviest Duty Tactical Flashlight: SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF
  • 5 – The Most Compact Tactical Flashlight: Nitecore EDC27
  • 6 – Fenix PD36R Pro Tactical Flashlight
  • 7 – Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Tactical Flashlight

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (6)

The Best Overall Tactical Flashlight: Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel

Purchase

Key Features

Programmable interface

EDC and high-candela options

Low-profile, deep-carry clip

Specifications

Max Output

1,700 lumens

Battery

1×18650 or 2xCR123A

IP Rating

IPX8

EDC Rating

Just released

Price

$$$$

While the original MCH, in its EDC and High Candela iterations, was already one of the best tactical LED lights you could buy, the new Dual Fuel model takes the versatility up a notch. As the name suggests, the light can now take its power from a 18650 battery like before, or you can use two CR123A primary cells instead. Using CR132A will lead to a noticeable decrease in output and throw, but the main advantage is using the batteries. CR123A lithium primaries are light. Unlike their alkaline counterparts, they have a 10-year shelf life, minimal drain, and no chance of leaking. The other new feature is a programmable interface for the MCH, an absolutely welcome upgrade from the original High/Low modes. While those were undoubtedly serviceable, the two-mode system pales compared to the new output selections.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (7)

The Best Tactical Flashlight on a Budget: RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro

Purchase

Key Features

Dual switch

Dual power source

USB-C charging port

EDC Rating

Price

$

The H3 Pro improves the idea of a penlight and gives it more practical and tactical capabilities, with a 600-lumen output from a Cree XP-L LED that throws a beam up to about 393 feet. And the business end of this 7075 aluminum-bodied flashlight comes with a defensive strike bezel that works well in emergency situations. The side switch lets you navigate the output down to a 0.5-lumen moonlight that lasts up to a reported runtime of 56 hours. But for quick access to Turbo, you can use the H3’s tail switch, which also comes with momentary activation. The built-in 14500 battery is rechargeable, but you can power the light with standard AAs you can quickly source in a pinch.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (8)

The Brightest Tactical Flashlight: AceBeam Defender P17

Purchase

Key Features

Dual tail switches

Strike bezel

Battery with charging port

Specifications

Max Output

4,900 lumens

Battery

21700

IP Rating

IP68

EDC Rating

Just released

Price

$$

For sheer maximum out-the-front power, it’s hard to beat the Acebeam Defender P17. With 4,900 lumens coming out of its Cree XHP 6500K LED module, you can functionally use it as a tactical searchlight to identify things and people in the distance out to 3,700 feet in front of you. With all that power in your pockets, it’s essential to keep the battery life going, and that’s easy to do since AceBeam designed its included 21700 battery to take USB-C cables directly. The dual rear tail switch is easily actuated even when wearing gloves, and it separates functions from light outputs and modes.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (9)

The Heaviest Duty Tactical Flashlight: SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF

Purchase

Key Features

IntelliBeam adaptive brightness

Single button operation

CombatGrip

Specifications

Max Output

1,500 lumens

Battery

18650

IP Rating

IPX7

EDC Rating

Just released

Price

$$$$

SureFire has specialized in tactical lights for decades, and the EDC community continues relying on their high-powered torches in the LED era. The primary draw from the P1RZ-IB-DF is SureFire’s proprietary IntelliBeam technology which automatically adjusts the LED module’s output based on their environment. This gives you a tactical flashlight that runs itself without fumbling through endless modes and button presses. SureFire also designed the ergonomics of this bombproof flashlight to include a CombatGrip, making it easier to hold for law enforcement on duty with their service pistol.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (10)

The Most Compact Tactical Flashlight: Nitecore EDC27

Purchase

Key Features

OLED display

Ultra-slim and flat design

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

3,000 lumens

Battery

Built-in lithium ion

IP Rating

IP54

EDC Rating

Price

$$

The EDC27 from Nitecore provides tactical features in a novel package that doesn’t scream tactical to the untrained eye. It features dual Luminus SST40 LEDs in a double TIR lens structure that provides a wide flood beam and a max of 3,000 lumens out the front. It’s IP54-rated for water resistance and thinner than most standard flashlights; it’s designed to act and carry like an EDC pen or knife. This tactical flashlight also features easy access to Strobe with its dual rear tail switch. The OLED digital display provides real-time information about the light and, most importantly, the fast-charging USB-C rechargeable battery built into the body.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (11)

Fenix PD36R Pro Tactical Flashlight

Purchase

Key Features

Dual tail switch

Included holster

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

‎2,800 lumens

Battery

21700

IP Rating

IP68

EDC Rating

Price

$$

The Fenix PD36R Pro tactical LED flashlight has a MOLLE/PALS webbing-compatible holster that lets you attach it to your gear, belt, or vest on a mission. The light itself sports a max of 2,800 lumens out of its Luminus SFT70 LED module with an impressive throw out to 415 yards. The light comes with a 21700 rechargeable li-ion battery, and the IP68 waterproof and shockproof body accepts USB-C cables.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (12)

Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Tactical Flashlight

Purchase

Key Features

TEN-TAP programmable interface

Included holster

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

2,000 lumens

Battery

SL-B50 battery pack

IP Rating

IP67

EDC Rating

Price

$$

The TEN-TAP technology built into the tail switch of the Streamlight ProTac 2.0 tactical flashlight lets you change the selectable modes. With it, you can have the light go High/Strobe/Low, High only, or run Low/Medium/High instead. That increased output emits a maximum of 2,000 lumens for up to 2.5 hours, and Strobe can run for 4.25 hours in an emergency situation for signaling and disorienting purposes. The light is USB-C rechargeable, and the pocket clip is removable based on your mission needs.

Tactical Flashlights: Buying Guide

Like other everyday carry flashlights, tactical flashlights share some essential features when choosing a particular light for your EDC. We will focus on a few of the best flashlights and the most critical aspects and discuss why they are necessary for tactical use cases and everyday carry.

Beam and Brightness

Brightness is the key thing with any flashlight, but especially with tactical flashlights. Maximum brightness, lighting modes, output, and beam distance are essential for tactical lights like the Fenix PD35, allowing you to see objects in the dark and at a distance. That brightness is measured in terms of lumens: the higher the number, the brighter a light can get. Some tactical lights use multiple LED modules to accomplish this feat. Others rely on shaping the beam with reflectors for maximum performance in the distance thrown and area covered.

Battery Type

Traditional alkaline batteries, such as AA batteries, AAA batteries, and D cells, and even lithium cells like CR123, have largely gone by the wayside in the EDC tactical flashlight design world. You can still find lights that use or accept these battery cells, but for the most part, they have been replaced with designs that utilize lithium-ion rechargeable batteries like the 18650 and 21700. These batteries can be charged in a cradle, but the trend nowadays is to accept USB cables directly into the aluminum body of light for convenience. The high performance of these batteries allows for high maximum outputs and Turbo modes like on the PD35 Tac.

Most of the best tactical EDC flashlights are compatible with the ubiquity and speed of USB-C cables and chargers. Some even feature important features like magnetic charging, especially lights like the Olight Warrior X. Others still use micro USB charging but can be on the slower side of USB rechargeable tactical lights.

Durability

Tactical flashlights are intended to withstand a beating during extensive law enforcement or military use. An excellent tactical EDC flashlight will often be made from hard-anodized aluminum, with a top-tier IPX8 rating for waterproofing, allowing it to run immersed for some time. That also makes them resistant to dust ingress. And their LED modules, reflectors, and emitter designs have been made to be virtually indestructible.

Higher-end lights even include additional internal protections like potted electronics, where its more sensitive components are coated with hardened epoxy or resin to prevent damage.

Size and Weight

While pocketability is the most important for everyday carry use, this imperative is less critical in the tactical realm. While there are high-quality compact tactical everyday carry lights, operators of tactical flashlights tend to bring them in holsters or attached to a weapon. This allows them to be bigger than one a civilian would manage to keep on hand daily while providing more brightness, runtime, and performance.

Features

Aside from the flashlight’s output, some particular features are more critical in a tactical light. For example, tactical lights tend to come with a strike bezel, allowing the user to strike with the light in a defensive situation and break through glass and other material in an emergency. Belt clips and MOLLE/PALS compatible holsters for gear and webbing attachment options are essential. Dual tail cap switches and output modes come in handy. Strobe is good for the momentary disorientation of a target. And the ability to attach the flashlight to a weapon and actuate the buttons remotely and hands-free is essential too.

Best Tactical Flashlights FAQs

What flashlights do Navy SEALs use?

Like other military branches, Navy SEALs have broad access to currently-issued mil-spec high-lumen tacticalLED flashlights on their missions. Many bright lights can be used as long as they are in the official NSN system, including SureFire and Streamlight weapon lights, USGI impact-resistant right-angle flashlights, and infrared emitters on a headlamp for low-profile night vision usage.

What is the best military tactical flashlight?

The best military tactical flashlight can withstand the shock and strain of abuse on the battlefield. Old-style flashlights with incandescent bulbs don’t work, even the heavy-duty Maglites that used to be favored by tactical personnel in the past.

How many lumens is good for a tactical flashlight?

An excellent tactical flashlight has over 1,000 lumens in its full brightness mode. It’s essential to have that lumen count be ANSI verified, as it means the manufacturer has gone through the time to certify that their testing system is compliant. This includes lights made from brands like Fenix, ThruNite, and SureFire. This means you can trust their stated specs and not discount them as pure marketing.

What flashlights do law enforcement use?

Individual law enforcement officers have broad discretion about the lights they carry (because they buy them for themselves), which is why we hope this guide is helpful to them and you. Law enforcement tends to take lights that excel in multiple ranges. They also can use high-output and throw lights for searchlight purposes.

How We Picked

Decades of experience and deep connections in the everyday carry industry give us a unique viewpoint on the market to inform our product recommendations. We have the depth of information for thousands of products that have come before and an extensive eye on the market to see what’s new and trending for each piece of gear. The result is a buying guide that we feel is informative and useful for EDCers of every trade, industry, and budget.

What is Everyday Carry?

Everyday Carry is both the concept of what people carry in their pockets and the process of picking out gear that thoughtfully considers what one wants or needs in their daily lives. It encompasses everything from style to preparedness to utility, meaning an entire industry full of valuable tools and essentials to choose from.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has decades of combined experience in all aspects of everyday men’s essentials, from wallets to pens to bags and everything in between, and we know where to find great gear ideas that you may not come across at your local stores or when shopping online. Our expertise with the industry and familiarity in design, materials, and usability help you make more informed choices when it comes to picking up your next piece of gear.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2024)
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