Tactical flashlights are specially designed lights used by hunters, EMTs, law enforcement, and outdoors people. A light can be labeled tactical when its features support specific tactics.
However these days the word tactical is used as a marketing ploy more than anything. So if you’re wanting to find the best tactical flashlight you might struggle if you don’t take the time to look at each and individual product.
Luckily you found this guide and we know how important a tactical flashlight can be when it comes to survival. So throughout this guide, we will attempt to shine a light on the flashlights that can accomplish the following:
- Produce a solid bright beam of light
- Priced at a reasonable / affordable price
- Offers a nice run time
- Can be put through a significant amount of strain / stress.
Finding a flashlight that can tick all of the boxes can be time-consuming. So to help you filter through our best picks we’ve written a buy guide at the bottom of this article. We’re writing this flashlight guide with police officers, security guards and every day carry people in mind.
What makes a flashlight tactical?
A tactical flashlight is much more than something that just shoots a beam of light out the front of it. These flashlights have more uses than you would first think. Tactical flashlights tend to have a higher brightness output and they have different lighting modes. You’ll also find there’s a significant amount of knurling and sometimes there’s a striking bezel too for self defense.
Tactical flashlights were originally developed so that somebody could use them alongside a pistol. This would allow a police officer or soldier to shine a light on someone while aiming their weapon.
For police and security, this was huge. It meant they could blind their target while having full visibility themselves. This led to many innovations and today, well, today there’s LOADs of tactical flashlights. Below you’ll find an in-depth guide and a very thorough list that explains the ins and outs of all the different models.
The 10 Best Tactical Flashlights
We will now take a closer look at what we feel are ten of the best picks.
1. TC1200 Flashlight
The TC1200 Pro is a flashlight that took me by surprise. I’m instantly hesitant when it comes to things that seem too good to be true. So when 1 Tac boasted about the TC1200 drop from space and still functioned I was and I think it’s fair to say, very weary.
Still, an 111k drop is an impressive feat. One that made me curious enough to buy and well, I was pleasantly surprised to see the build quality on this light. Manufactured with a combination of care and high quality materials, this TC1200 can certainly be put through a tonne of stress.
The TC1200 has a lumen output of 1200 lumens. It produces a nice white beam. These 1200 lumens help the light produce a beam capable of being seen from 2 miles away!
The TC1200 is used by members of the coast guard, military, police and U.S Search and Rescue. In other words, it has racked up a bit of reputation already and is trusted by some of the most credible guys in the industry.
This light is perfect for somebody who doesn’t want too much power or too little power. It manages to just tick all the boxes to a good enough standard.
2. Coast Polysteel 600R Flashlight
Some of you will be glad to know that Coast is an American Manufacturer. Coast is a family run business that focuses on fixing real world problems with their quality manufacturing.
And it seems they do just that, the Polysteel 600R Tactical Flashlight has a really nice positive rating on their Amazon Reviews. This caught my eye and after scouring the internet for bad reviews, (which I by the way I struggled to find) I decided to test it.
After taking it out the box I immediately liked the textured grip on the poly-nylon exterior. I could tell straight away that this rubber exterior would help with impact resistance a lot. However even putting that aside, it was really nice and comfortable to hold.
The ANSI standard for impact resistance has this model set to 3 meters. The 600R is also waterproof with an IPX rating of 8. This means it can be submerged to a depth of 9.9 feet.
Lumen output? Well the 600r can produce a really solid beam with its 530 lumen output. This is sufficient for most things.
3. Olight Warrior X Pro Flashlight
The Olight Warrior X Pro Tactical Flashlight gives us a taste of something truly special. I’m a huge fan of this light. So my first impressions on this item were good. I immediately loved this light due to the sheer amount of power and throw it produces! But what it says on the tin might not be what’s inside.
When reviewing a product, you really need to be looking at the brand first. It is really important because they will have a track record of either producing good or bad products. You’ll be glad to know that Olight has been around for years. They are a reputable brand who believe no one should be left in the dark.
They are a team of sportsmen, veterans and hunters producing products for people like them. Olight was established in 2006 and has been producing higher-end lights since.
A product that lacks functionality would be far from tactical right? Well let’s talk about the elephant in the room straight away. This light can reach a distance of 600 meters! It is a 2250 lumen light!
This is an upgrade from the older model the Warrior X. With noticeable changes being the great impact resistance, faster charging speed and stronger magnetic tail switch.
The appearance of this product really doesn’t matter as long as it serves its purpose well. Now if you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know i’m a big fan of anything that looks tactical. So, yep you’ve guessed it, I love the look of this light!
There is two camouflages to choose from, these are Desert Camouflage and Black.
If your clever, you’ll pay close attention to the manufacturers. A LOT of products are produced in China, we all know this. However if there isn’t a brand to keep them in check, you could end up with something that’s the result of a lot of cutted corners.
Olight is a chinese company and all of their products are manufactured in china. I’m pretty confident in their abilities and quite like their products.
The company offers a good warranty with all of their products too to help put you at ease.
Materials are very important, so you should spend some time considering what was used. In this case the light features a knurled precision-machined aluminium body.
Your more than likely going to be using this product outdoors, so there’s a good chance it will get wet. The light has an IPX rating of 8. This means it can be submerged to a depth of 2 metres for up to 30 minutes.
And if you’re outside you need to ensure the product can be dropped and still function. Yes, plus this light has been improved and has a stronger impact resistance of at least 50% compared to the previous X model.
Ideally your tactical flashlight will be both highly functional and comfortable. This light isn’t just stunning and insanely powerful. It’s also really comfortable to hold in your hand. The sizing is below, but it’s a great fit.
There is also the ability to equip this light to a tactical rail so that you can even mount it on your rifle if required. You need a healthy balance between bulkiness and how compact the item is. You do not want a light that is too heavy. If you were mounting it on your rifle it would weigh the front of the barrel down and could affect your shot. If you were holding it in your hand, you do not want to fatigue too quickly.
So is it worth the price? Absolutely, I think this is a great light hence the number one position on this list!
4. Nitecore i4000R Flashlight
Next up we have the Nitecore i4000R Tactical Flashlight .Your first impressions may be similar to mine.Here’s a light that looks even cooler than the last. This is a 4400 lumen light that can reach about 550 meters. It’s well worth taking a further look!
So you’ve probably heard of Nitecore before. Nitecore have been around for years too. They have racked up a tonne of rewards and are the only flashlighting brand to win all four of the following awards: Grand-slam award winner of the American International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), German iF Design Award, Red Dot Design Award and the Japanese G-Mark (Good Design).
Ideally you want a product that specialises in one thing and not ten different things.
The Nitecore i4000R is a cool little light. It can be operated using the dual tail switch. This gives you three options to use. Which are Momentary access, turbo and strobe.
You can then easily cycle through the four different brightness levels by tapping the mode button.
If you hold down the mode pedal you will activate the 4400 blinding strobe mode! Perfect for law enforcement or military to use in certain situations.
Aesthetics are totally subjective, personally I love this design more than the last. It looks very sleek and that’s something that goes down well with me too. At the same time, it’s a tactical look light and does the job!
There are no colour variants offered with this model.
The Tactical Flashlight was produced in China by Nitecore. The likelihood of this product getting wet is pretty high. This is an all-weather light that is capable of being submersed in up to 2 meters of water. This gives it an IPX rating of 8.
There is an advanced temperature regulation system installed too, which ensures your light is highly functional in any kind of environment!
Will this break after being dropped? This light has an impact resistance of 1 meter. The reverse polarity protection helps maintain function even during intense movement.
It fits pretty good in the palm of your hand, I’m happy with this light in terms of design. Your kit will likely weigh a lot already, you don’t want to add to it. This light is just over 6 inches in length and isn’t too heavy.
Now obviously one of the most important metrics to consider is usability. 4400 might seem like a lot but this light is designed to have more flood than throw. I.e its designed to cover a wider area rather than light up somewhere further away.
Is it worth the money?
Well, this light is a great light if you’re looking for a light capable of producing a tonne of flood. If you are not, you will be sorely disappointed. That’s why this has made the second position on this list.
Most people looking for a tactical light are police officers who require a light capable of producing a good amount of throw.
5. Fenix TK26R Flashlight
First impressions don’t mean much but i tell you this in the off chance that we share the same one and it tells the full story on my experience with the product. This product advertised itself as a long throw light that produces 1500 lumens. So it caught my eye, what exactly do they consider long? Lets see!
This light is created by Fenix Lights. Fenix have a bit of popularity in the community for producing affordable lights that offer good value for money. What kind of functionality does it have? Well this light has a max throw of around 350 metres. Significantly less than the Olight Warrior X Pro. It offers 1500 lumens which again is less than the Olight Warrior X Pro.
I do like the red and green modes that help with the low-light situations you may find yourself in.
Do looks matter? or is functionality more important? Obviously the functionality of the light is essential. But this is a really nice looking light. In terms of aesthetics I’d rate this one my favourite if I’m honest. There are no options for other colours I’m afraid.
So after looking and testing this light, the lumen output isn’t that good and the throw distance isn’t great either. Not when compared to the previous two lights. If I’m honest, this light isn’t as good as the Olight Warrior. I wanted to like this light but considering it’s only about 10% less cheaper than the Olight but offers half the specs, it’s just not as good.
6. Klarus 360X3 Tactical Flashlight
So I looked at the specs and thought this light could be really useful in certain situations. Is it as strong as the first two lights on this list? Lets see.
This light is produced by Klarus. Are they a reputable brand? Klarus was founded in 2011 to produce high quality tactical flashlights for Law Enforcement, Military, and Outdoor Enthusiasts. They are a very popular brand in asia and are commonly used by members of their law enforcement agencies.
What kind of functionality does it have? One of the most unique features of this light is the 360-degree omnidirectional dual tail switches, hence the name 360. There is also a side switch that functions on its own.
There’s two primary settings, a tactical one and an outdoor setting. The light has a max throw of 280 meters. This is nearly half of the throw offered by the Olight. It is powerful enough to cause temporary blindness.
It’s a nice light in terms of aesthetics. Unfortunately there are no options of getting different colour variations though.
I think this is a nice light, but it’s definitely suited to specific situations.
7. Streamlight 14975 Sidewinder Boot Light Tactical Flashlight
Now let’s move onto the Streamlight 14975 Sidewinder. This is a cool light and offers a completely different purpose than the lights above.
I am very pleased with the looks and specs of this light at first glance. Let’s dive into the review.
Plus you must have heard of Streamlight before? If you’ve read my other articles you’ll know streamlight is one of my favourite brands.
They are a US based company but manufacture their products in China.
They are a well known supplier to the US Army and many US law enforcement agencies.
So there is a very reputable brand that has been trusted by many. It’s a brand that had many of its products tried and tested in battle.
What kind of functionality does it have?
Okay the 185 degree head rotation is by far the best thing about this light. It’s super useful and you’ll love it.
In terms of lumen output etc the light isn’t the strongest. For that reason I nearly took it off the list because there has been some great advances in technology over the years and I wonder why Streamlight couldn’t have made this more powerful.
The built in red filter is pretty awesome too.
So the only thing that made me keep this light on the list is the run time.
The high mode that runs at 55 lumens and can reach a distance of 63m can run for 8 hours.
The low mode which runs at 7 lumens and has a beam distance of 24m and run for 90 hours.
Like most lights on this list, it is manufactured in China. In terms of materials, this light mixes it up a little. This model has a super-tough polymer body construction and features an unbreakable polycarbonate lens with a scratch resistant coating. You’ll be glad to know that although this is manufactured in china, it’s a USA brand.
You’re more than likely going to be using this product outdoors so is it waterproof? This light has an IPX rating of 7. Is it shockproof? This light is pretty much bomb proof. It’s a very nice and strong piece of kit.
It’s a bit too bulky for an everyday carry but if you’re in the police or army I’m sure you’ll appreciate this light. Plus it doesn’t look like a typical light so it would look a bit odd carrying about anyway. This light isn’t too heavy either, you’re not going to be holding it in your hand anyway. It’s a light to equip body armour or something else.
I think it could be cheaper to be honest but if you have a use for this light it’s a great buy.
8. Acebeam L30
The Acebeam L30 duty light is a rather large light that packs a tonne of power. The L30 uses 4000 lumen CREE LEDs.
Let’s look at the different modes the Acebeam L30 offers:
- Low: 200 lumens, runtime of 13.6 hours
- Mid: 1000 lumens, runtime of 2.9 hours
- High: 2000 lumens, runtime of 1.5 hours
- Turbo: 4000 lumens, runtime of 3 mins + 1.4 hour
- Strobe: 2000 lumens, runtime of 2.2 hours
I should note that the lights advertised run times were half when the light was cooled. Tested in room temperature water the battery run time was significantly less.
9. SureFire P2X Fury Tactical
This Surefire P2X Fury Tactical has a mid-ranged price mark but offers some pretty lucrative features. Unlike the normal P2X Fury model that gives you a choice between activating the 15 lumen output setting or the 500 lumen output the tactical version only has one setting. Which offers 500 lumens! Be careful with the version you buy.
The high-strength polymer micro-textured reflector delivers a crystal clear leveled beam. The lights are regulated by the LED emitter in order to maximize light output and runtime. This allows you to maximise the lifespan of the light.
This light is built like a tank, it is a seriously sturdy light that has been clearly manufactured well. It’s a really comfortable light to hold. The length of the P2X fury is 5.4 inches.
Durability isn’t an issue either, the P2X is created from aircraft-grade aluminum and is hard anodized to military spec.
10. Anker LC130
The Anker LC130 is an ultra-bright light! The Anker LC130 uses a trio of Cree-brand LED lights to emit a maximum of 1300 lumens. The power available will be noticeable the second you turn it on. The beam can reach a maximum range of 1200 feet.
The Anker LC130 gives you the option of choosing between five different settings. These are SOS, strobe, low, medium or high. This model boasts a 50,000 hour lifespan too. So if you’re looking for a light that will last you a few years, this is a contender.
What about durability though? Well the Anker LC130 has an IP67 water resistance rating. Its manufactured with an aluminum body and has been stress tested thoroughly. Confident in their abilities, Anker offers an 18 month warranty with this light.
11. Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL
This wouldn’t be a tactical flashlight guide if we didn’t have at least one rail mounted flashlight. The Streamlight 69260 is a favourite by many. It’s an 800 lumen tactical flashlight designed to equip onto a tactical rail. Streamlight are the Amazon in this vertical. There aren’t many gun mounted lights that can compete with the TLR range.
Created with aircraft-grade aluminum and manufactured by Streamlight, you can be sure you’re purchasing a highly durable light. It has a TIR optic glass lens that can produce a concentrated beam of light.
More Buyers Guide Information
Battery -Type (AA, AAA, Lithium)
One way of choosing a flashlight is by looking at the battery type. You probably have your own preference already and thats why I always start out with this. It’s an easy way of filtering the products down. There are three primary types of batteries to choose from. The first two are AA and AAA batteries, otherwise known as alkaline batteries.
These are loved by the community purely because AA batteries are easy to pick up pretty much anywhere in the world. They don’t have much longevity though. Not when compared to Lithium batteries. Which brings us onto the third type. Lithium batteries function much better in cold conditions. They do not leak as much and are loved for being very durable + perfect for long term storage.
If you’re using a flashlight that has an output of 1200 lumens it will drain your battery faster. The more power required, the faster the battery drains. So to get around this manufacturers use stronger batteries or more.
Most flashlights offer multiple modes to help you conserve battery. Manufacturers know that the high lumen setting is only good for specific situations but realistically us users want something moderate that has a high run time. The high lumen mode is very situational as it drains batteries very fast!
The brightness of your flashlight is measured in something called lumens. The amount of lumens a flashlight has is a great indicator on how powerful a flashlight is. It’s worth noting you do not always want a ridiculously high lumen light. I.e let’s say you’re in law enforcement and have just breached someone’s house. Its dark and you’re clearing each room one by one. The flashlight you’re using is powerful, so powerful that it’s bouncing off of everything reflective, the tv, the vase and even the windows. This blinds you and your partners and puts you in danger.
So, be careful with the choice of flashlight you choose. Most flashlights have a few options now anyway. There is typically a low, medium and high mode that offers different lumen outputs.
Most flashlights are tested to see how they fare after being dropped onto concrete 6+ times.
This distance is measured in meters. So if you’re looking for a flashlight that can sustain a big drop, look out for the impact resistance specifications.
Seeing as you’re looking for a tactical flashlight, I would pay close attention to the build quality too. I.e a flashlight that has rubber edges will take impact better.
Weather / Water Resistance
You’re probably going to be using your flashlight outside where there’s a good chance it will rain. Your flashlight has to be able to work in heavy rain or there’s not much point really. That would put too many limitations on you.