The tactical flashlight is one of the most crucial items found in a survival gear list.
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 tactical flashlight can; create a massive amount of light at the click of a button.
And the dark can be an extremely dangerous element in survival and emergency situations…
But here’s the good news, there are tons of tactical 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 those options. You find yourself agonizing over every small detail and struggle to make a purchase.
That’s why nowadays, finding the BEST tactical flashlight FOR YOU is no small task.
But today I’m going to share everything I know about tactical flashlights, including the types, the features, and the ones I like best:
- 3 Main Tactical Flashlight Categories
- Key Features To Look For In A Tactical Flashlight
- 10 Best Tactical Flashlights On The Market Today (reviews with videos)
Note: feel free to skip ahead to any section by clicking any of the headlines above.
The bottom line is this: The right tactical flashlight comes down to finding the proper mix of features, uses, and prices.
But first, you need to decide which type of flashlight to get…
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3 MAIN TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT CATEGORIES
I find it easiest to break down the wide range of tactical flashlights into categories based on size.
Large Tactical Flashlights
Large tactical flashlights are the workhorse of the tactical light market.
These larger frame models often include a higher capacity battery and better optics that allow for more accurate beam focus.
Plus, most large tactical 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 levels. For example, tactical flashlights now regularly reach output levels of more than 2000 lumens!
We’re talking about lumen output levels usually found in emergency service and search and rescue operations. These are the large tactical flashlights that first responders carry because they require the most intense light output possible.
An output level that can stretch over several football fields in length, because that’s what’s necessary to help save lives.
Not everyone MUST own one of these larger tactical flashlights, but it’s not a bad idea either. Most family 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…
Small “Everyday Carry (EDC)” Tactical Flashlights
Small tactical flashlights are, by definition, small. These lights are often the best bet for everyday carry.
They’re the 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 up to 1000 lumens.
This output level is still excellent for everyday tasks, such as:
- all sorts of work situations
- checking out a noise in the backyard
- hiking into a favorite hunting spot before dawn
- signaling for help in a survival situation
I believe everyone should own at least one EDC tactical flashlight, especially with today’s technology 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…
Micro Tactical Lights
Micro tactical lights are the smallest of the small.
The extra small batteries prevent these to have the massive lumen outputs of their big brothers. You’ll typically find them at 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 –instead, it’s their tiny size and weight.
The bottom line is: micro tactical lights are 100% worth adding to your gear strategically, such as adding one to your keychain or tactical backpack.
KEY FEATURES TO LOOK FOR IN THE BEST TACTICAL FLASHLIGHTS
Now, how do you go about choosing the best tactical flashlight for YOU?
Well, it’s best to understand all the key features available first. That way, you know what strikes you as a “must-have feature” vs. a “nice-to-have feature” before you even start comparing flashlight models.
So here’s a quick rundown of the most important ones so you can weed out the tactical lights that don’t measure up.
As much as we like to think otherwise, price is ALWAYS a factor in choosing gear. Make sure you know your budget and personal needs before researching.
- Maybe you’re ok with one very expensive, full-featured tactical flashlight.
- Or perhaps you’d like a more budget-friendly EDC tactical flashlight instead.
- Or maybe you’d like one of each (for redundancy) and are looking for good deals on both.
The good news we’ve got you covered no matter your specific situation. Because we cover lots of options below at different price points.
You measure the light output power of a tactical flashlight in something called lumens.
So how do you know how many lumens is enough? It depends on how you intend to use it.
If you only need a flashlight to check under the car seat on occasion, you can get by with only one hundred lumens or so.
If instead, you ever need to shine light across a small canyon, it’s best to upgrade to the thousands of lumens range.
Power Source Options
There are tactical 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 for recharging.
Don’t overlook this feature for emergency situations. It’s the reason I prefer my tactical flashlights to utilize removable, replaceable batteries.
Different Light Modes
Most tactical flashlights have at least a high and low output mode. But you can also find models with variable light output, strobe, and SOS modes.
Some even have different colored LEDs as part of their “mode” feature.
While the “switch type” seems like a minor detail, it’s NOT. The type of switch used on a tactical light can make a significant difference in 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 lots of 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 is another critical feature of any piece of survival gear.
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 if worst comes to worst.
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 in your pack and during use.
So insane durability is an absolute must. And avoid purchasing any tactical flashlights that have durability concerns.
While waterproof construction isn’t a “must-have feature” for everyone, 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 you should think of waterproofing as a specific form of flashlight durability.
OK, now that you know all the different features, it’s time to start looking at some of my favorite tactical flashlights.
As A Way To Introduce You To Skilled Survival, We're Giving Away Our Ultimate Survival Gear Checklist. Click Here To Get Your FREE Copy Of It.
10 BEST TACTICAL FLASHLIGHTS ON THE MARKET TODAY
Let’s go over 10 of the best tactical flashlights on the market by category.
EDC Tactical Flashlights
It seems the majority of people looking for a tactical flashlight want to use it for everyday purposes. That means they want a compact but bright light that fits 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 most common flashlight features.
Here are a few of the best EDC tactical flashlights that fit the bill nicely:
1 – FireHawk Tactical Flashlight
The FireHawk one of the best all-around EDC tactical flashlights.
It has the near-perfect balance of lumens, durability, beam control, waterproof design, AND extreme affordability.
Not only is it bright, but it’s 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 tactical flashlight you can put in your pocket or purse and barely even noticing it’s there – until you need to use it!
Sure, in some situations, more lumens can be helpful but that can comes 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 Rechargable
At the time this article was published, you could get a FireHawk Tactical Flashlight for FREE. Just help pay shipping and handling and it’s all yours…
2 – Fenix FX-PD35TAC (1000 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 1000 lumen light can reach out over 600ft, enough to cover two football fields.
Plus, it runs on either rechargeable or CR123A lithium batteries. This optionality helps to add a level of versatility not found in most other EDC flashlight models.
- High power
- Versatile power options
- Batteries are expensive
3 – Nitecore P12 Flashlight (1200 lumens)
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 comes with a lot of great accessories as well, including a hard holster and an adjustable pocket clip.
- Comes with accessories
- Bright light
- Not USB rechargeable
4 – SureFire X300 WeaponLight (1000 lumens)
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 a wide variety of 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
- Has a strong center focused light beam
High-Output Tactical Flashlights
Now, if you need one of the brightest lights out there, it’s time to take a 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.
5 – Streamlight 88060 Pro Tac HL 4 (2200 lumens)
I keep a Streamlight 88060 Pro Tac HL 4 flashlight in my vehicle gear cache.
It’s there with the rest of the search and rescue gear I own. And it has been an enormous help searching rugged canyons where the 1000ft beam can cover a lot of ground.
At 2200 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
6 – WISSBLUE H1 (3800 lumens)
As if the Streamlight wasn’t powerful enough, the WISSBLUE H1 clocks in at an incredible 3800 lumens!
It can also use several different removable batteries, including 18650 and CR123A cells.
I’ll be honest; I don’t have hands-on experience with this model. But the claimed range of over 1200ft is impressive!
It’s also fully waterproof and comes with a holster, charger, and lanyard.
- Holster included
- Can be used as firearm light
7 – Fenix TK75 (5100 lumens)
Fenix makes some of the most potent lights (of all kinds) on the market – and several of my caver friends swear by them.
These are people who trust Fenix lights with their lives, so that’s not a small endorsement.
The TK75 boasts a range of nearly 2800ft. 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
8 – Bestsun Super Power LED Flashlight (15,000 lumens)
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 a nice one to snag as an experimental backup.
- INCREDIBLE lumen rating
- 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:
9 – Pelican Progear Keychain Flashlight (16 lumens)
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
Streamlight 73200 KeyMate (35 lumens)
The Streamlight KeyMate is an ideal addition to your keychain and will be with you at all times.
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”
10 – ThruNite Ti3 EDC Light (120 lumens)
For such a small package, the ThruNite Ti3 packs a lot of light. 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 120-lumen output
- Larger than other “micro” lights (too big for a keyring)
Tactical flashlights are a vast segment of the flashlight market today. 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 a critical resource in emergencies and life-threatening situations.
You 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 flashlight today.
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