Flashlights! They seem like yesterday’s technology right? Most of us are unaware of the uses of these inconspicuous lifesavers. They make the line between darkness and light less thinner. If you are a person who likes adventure, you certainly will need one. You might have an interesting question lingering in your minds at this moment. ‘Do we really need an actual physical flashlight other than the one your phone comes with?’ The answer is plain and simple -‘Oh yes you do.’
The flashlights in our phones is good. But not good enough for all situations. It isn’t made up of aircraft grade metals as some flashlights are being made for durability. It cannot withstand 4 hours submerged in water and it sure isn’t brighter than the ones in this article.The goal of this article is to guide through all the options, the tips and reach the destination of buying the best tactical flashlight that you need.
How are they different from normal flashlights?
Danger’s address is in the dark. The statistics gathered by the FBI reveal that the frequency of heinous crimes are committed in the dark. You’ll never know when you’ll need a well built and reliable flashlight to your aid. They can be used as an defense equipment incase of any mishappenings like theft or attacks from strangers.
The lights that will feature in this list would make sure that they light up an entire street. Probably even more than that. Think of them as lighthouses in your hands. They are not the old school flashlights that would for namesake give you the vision of an 80 year old. These offer a light throw that would very nearly blind a person temporarily. Their intensity is something like you’ve never seen before.
I can go back to the days when my dad and grandpa used to have huge flashlights that would not really serve the purpose. They were fragile, dim visioned and would empty batteries in a jiffy. They sure weren’t used often due to their size and would sit in a corner in the cupboard, forgotten.
These are not the typical gargantuan flashlights that would take up all the power in the world and still emit an average light throw. These are more serious and high quality ones that can punch way over their weight. Some of these can be used as striking objects as they are built to last. Some of them are built with aircraft grade metals so that they are durable and can aid you in a combat situation. These flashlights are not cumbersome and can fit into your pocket, purse and so on. They are aimed at being carried around everyday.
The ones on this list are built with the latest advancements of technology to make sure they are small, powerful and work all the time. LED’s have taken the world of lighting by storm by their compactness, lightness, the ability to produce brighter throw than their counterparts. This is a complete win-win situation. With the utilisation of these technological developments, the newer flashlights are able to throw out 15-20 times brighter light than the previous counter parts. They can be as small as keychains but can still pack quite a punch. The latest and brightest flashlights can deliver more than 1000 lumens and that is a lot.
Lumens? What are they? Hearing that word for the first time? We’ll get to that in a bit.
Tactical flashlights? What are they?
Tactical flashlights? Sounds fancy, right? The word ‘tactical’ refers to planning ahead to face a particular situation. These flashlights are made to aid your survival at moments of imminent danger. To function in almost any situation, these flashlights have to be manufactured with the strongest of materials and with higher quality standards. They might look deceptive but they use the best of materials such as aircraft grade metals. They are mostly waterproof so that they can withstand moisture and rain and even water submersion. They are shock proof so that they can be mounted on weapons to provide better aiming at night.
The most important characteristic of these flashlights is the light capacity they emit. The scope of vision they provide during the early hours of the day. They are equipped with the latest from lighting world, LED. There are also incandescent and xenon bulb models too but they won’t be as power efficient as LED ones. LED’s have a longer lifetime than other bulb types.
Why should you carry a tactical flashlight?
You might have heard that a swiss knife/pocket knife is one tool you should be carrying all the time. They have innumerable uses that compel everyone to carry one. Adding a tactical flashlight to your must-have tool list would sound a bit unnecessary. A well-made flashlight might be just as useful as a Swiss/pocket knife. There are a few uses for these flashlights given below.
As confusing as it sounds, these really can be used for self-defense. They are designed for self-defense keeping combat situations in mind. The materials used can not only prove to be durable but also to double up as a striking tool. Having this along with your fists can prove to be menacing and can induce some devastating damage to your attackers.
Some flashlights are even shaped up in such a way that they can break through windows and bones. Sounds cruel but it is a human tendency to do what it takes to guard one’s self against another.
The lumen capacity that these flashlights are capable of producing can very nearly blind a person temporarily. This combined with the ability to break stuff can be a deadly combo against your attacking enemy. This devastation can be pretty enormous. It is advisable to reserve the striking actions of trained professionals though. Temporary blindness is an adequate window for escaping.
Finding and identifying stuff in the dark
We all have done this. We all lose stuff and panic until we find them back. If these flashlights can perform so well when they are in the wild, they can perform inside the house without breaking a sweat. Well, that is why flashlights were invented in the first place. We have all been there. Losing stuff under the bed, sofa, fridge, and tables. And with these flashlights, you can easily find them in a jiffy and be on your way without wasting much time.
When you’re going for a walk in the night, you would be in peace since you are carrying your trusty flashlight along with you so that you can illuminate your way where there aren’t street lights around. The flashlights featured in this list can illuminate things clearly over a 100 feet away. You can bring everything that is hiding in the dark to light.
You can even predict calamities nowadays but can never predict a power cut. In a world where almost everything is dependent on electricity, there will be total crippling when its dark. These flashlights have the ability to illuminate the whole street and even more. They will be very handy during these unfortunate events.
During refugee situations, these can very well be used for signaling help. Some of these flashlights have features like beacon flashing and SOS modes for situations like these.
Due to the specific designing of some flashlights, they can be used to break the glass to aid your escape. For instance, a strong, locked glass door is hindering your escape from a fire or an attack, you can use these flashlights to break them open. In the case of a car drowning incident, you can break the window of the car to aid increase the chances of your survival.
Standards for Flashlights
Standards? For flashlights? Oh yes. Till recent developments, there weren’t any standards that would make flashlight manufacturers pursue to produce flashlights that would compete against certain guidelines and customers didn’t know how to purchase them.
There are 6 standards that have been formulated so those flashlight companies should match to these standards while manufacturing them.
Through this article, you will be aware of the standards that assess the performance of these special flashlights.
This output is measured in the unit, Lumens. This is the absolute amount of light that comes through the face of the flashlight. For instance, a particular flashlight would have an output capacity of 100 lumens.
Peak Beam Intensity
This is measured in the unit, Candela. This is the measurement of luminous intensity at the middle of the flashlight beam. In other words, this is the brightest point in the beam that is emitted by the flashlight.
This is measured by the unit, meter. This is the distance from the flashlight where the illuminance intensity produced is equivalent to a full moon on a clear night which approximates to nearly 0.25 lux.
Runtime is measured by the time unit, hours. It is the amount of time needed for the power output to drop below the 10% mark. The time would be rounded to the nearest quarter hour. For instance, if a flashlight emits 200 lumens when it’s power output is 100%, this is the time taken for the lumen output of the continuous light to drop to 20 lumens that is in other words, 10%.
As the name suggests, this is the standard to measure the water resistance capabilities of these special flashlights. This standard is sub-categorized into 3 levels when it comes to flashlights. They are IPX4, IPX7, and IPX8.
IP stands for ‘Ingress Protection’.
IPX4: This rating is for a flashlight that would pass a test under the condition of splashing water.
IPX7: This rating is given for a flashlight that can pass a test involving the flashlight being submerged under water for 30 minutes for a depth of 1 meter.
IPX8: This rating is given to a flashlight that can pass a test involving the flashlight to be submerged in water for 4 hours for a depth of more than 1 meter.
As the name suggests, this is a test that reveals a particular flashlight’s rigidity and resistance to external forces. This test involves these flashlights being dropped at certain heights that would correspond to accidental dropping situations in real life and so on. They are tested with all the intended accessories fitted and with batteries.
Factors to consider while purchasing a Tactical Flashlight
This is the most important factor for purchasing anything. These products follow the ‘You get what you pay’ principle. Most decent flashlights will set you back at least 25-30 dollars. And exceptionally good ones will set you back on the higher side of 100 dollars. What is your budget?
Another important factor to consider if you are planning on using this daily or on adventures. This depends on the standards a particular flashlight is built. For example, I would go for a flashlight which has a waterproof rating of IPX7 and aircraft grade aluminum that would withstand almost anything that befalls it. What kind of usage will you be exercising?
This is the brightness factor that these special flashlights have in store. They are measured in lumens. The greater the lumens, the more brightness the flashlight will provide. 60-100 lumens is enough to blind a person temporarily and would be totally enough to see and find stuff in the dark. What kind of lumen capacity do you prefer?
If you’re looking to carry this around every day, it has to be compact and portable. This totally based on your comfort level. If you are not going to be using it as often, then would you have space to store it?
Nature of battery
These flashlights can be powered by both disposable and rechargeable batteries. What batteries do you prefer? Disposable or rechargeable? What kind of battery life would you be needing? Standard size or a specific size?
Type of Flashlight
Firstly you would need to decide on what type of usage you would be exercising with these flashlights. There are many types or subcategories of tactical flashlights.
Handheld: The normal and basic design of flashlights
Headlamp: This can be worn on your head so that you can be handsfree.
Weapon mounted: These can be mounted on guns for better visibility during combat.
Combo: These can be used as a handheld flashlight and as a weapon mount.
Tactical Handheld Flashlights
Handheld tactical flashlights as the name suggests are to be held and used. They are the most common type of flashlights and the most versatile. They have been designed in such a way that they can withstand extreme abuse offered by the environment and keep on working. They are made with extremely strong materials to cope with harsh surroundings. They use weapon grade, aircraft grade aluminum for the body. These bodies are also knurled in such a way that they provide immense grip to the user. No ‘slipping out of hand’ business here.
This gives a confident grasp to the user. These handheld flashlights are also extremely compact so that it is easier to operate and easier to carry around every day. This is mainly to aid usage in one hand.
These flashlights might be deceptively small, but they sure can pack a punch on the brightness department. Even though all you need is a flashlight that can brighten up a room, sometimes you might need more to temporarily blind someone who might try to attack you. During these times flashlights with high lumen capacity are welcome.
Best Handheld Tactical Flashlight 2018
Elzetta is a popular company that manufactures high quality and durable tactical flashlights that can be used in almost any situation. They are proudly made in the USA. They have a number of models to cater the tastes of different customers. The model featured on this list is named, Bones.
On first glance, the Bones has a pretty back to basics approach to it. It is a simple, no-nonsense design. It could probably even be one of the most straight-forward handheld flashlights you can buy today. The advertising campaign for this flashlight is very interesting and compelling. It shows them hammering in nails and the flashlight is unscathed. A perfect demonstration of what the flashlight is capable of. And there is no reason to worry about electronics encased within the flashlight getting disrupted because they undergo a process called ‘potting’. Might sound strange. This process consists of a resin being poured into these electronic components so that they don’t move about when the flashlight is taking a beating.
This flashlight is in direct rivalry to the SureFire Fury P2X. These flashlights maybe sparsely equipped with features. There are other offerings from both companies but they sure will bump up the price tag considerably.
The power source for the Elzetta Bones will be two CR123A batteries. Alternatively, a 18650 rechargeable battery can also be used. These provide enough juice to give out 650 lumens without breaking a sweat. The beam character of this beam is something that can be commended only when experienced visually. This is due to the no-reflector setup along with a ⅞ inch lens.
You press the button and you’re good to go.
The flashlight weighs 6 ounces. The dimensions span 5.5 inches long and 1.45 inches in diameter. The runtime is 650 lumens for 1 and a ½ hours/90 minutes.
- No lighting modes available.
Best Combo Tactical Flashlight 2018
First Light T-Max
First Light is a popular company based out of the USA which specializes in manufacturing well engineered, well designed and well built tactical flashlights for various situations. This flashlight is the result of a brilliant execution of a concept. It is the love child between a handheld flashlight and a weapon-mount flashlight. It can be used either way. It is not like any other flashlight that has come out.
This flashlight is designed to be as ergonomic as possible. The whole control panel can be accessed with your thumb. This flashlight is designed with a unique loop provision. This loop ensures that you can have maximum use of your hand even while carrying this flashlight. This loop allows the user to load, reload the weapon while holding this flashlight. That is a clever design.
There are three modes for the brightness of the lights to make sure the user gets his personal preference of brightness sorted out. It’s always better to have options, right? As an added bonus, these flashlights are manufactured with space grade aluminum to make sure they can ensure some serious damage when used to strike down enemies with the crenulated bezel. They are also waterproof so that they can withstand water splashing during usage in various situations.
The light capacity is 700 lumens and the runtime is around 2 hours. This flashlight has been tested to ANSI FL1 standards. The TMAX has a lockout mode to curb the accidental operation of the ON button to conserve battery power. The weight of the product is 5.9 ounces. This flashlight comes included with two CR123 lithium batteries, a MOLLE- compatible retention system finger loop, user manual and limited lifetime warranty.
- More versatile than a handheld flashlight.
- Can be used with just one hand.
- No rechargeable battery option.
Best Budget Handheld Tactical Flashlight 2018
SureFire: G2X LED
This is the budget option of the list. This flashlight has been more specifically designed for Law Enforcement officers.That says all about this flashlight. This means the durability of this flashlight will be on par with the best out there for much less money. This flashlight boasts a high performance LED coupling with a parabolic reflector and is deemed practically indestructible.
This flashlight is operated with a dual output tail cap switch. This flashlight has two brightness levels. The lowest output of this flashlight is 15 lumens for 45 hours and the highest output is 400 lumens for 2.25 hours. This flashlight uses 4 CR123A batteries to ensure a great runtime.
This flashlight has been manufactured with a Nitrolon Polymer body with a secure grip. This flashlight also uses O-rings and gaskets that keeps moisture and dust away to make sure that it is usable in almost every environment.
This flashlight has the dimensions of a 5.20 inches long and 1.25-inch diameter. The flashlight weighs 4.4 ounces.
- Built with design standards for Law Enforcement. That ensures durability.
- Uses 4 batteries.
Best Tactical Flashlight for Non-Life Threatening/Airsoft:
Nitecore is a world-leading Ukrainian specialist manufacturer in tactical flashlights. They have a wide range of illumination options that stand out in their exceptional build quality and passion to deliver more than the competition has to offer. This entrant from this company is the Nitecore P20 LED flashlight.
This flashlight maybe seems to be small. But its output distance equals to an impressive 210 meters. The maximum beam intensity of this flashlight is 11100cd. This flashlight has a dimension of 5.27 inches long and 1.25 inches wide. This flashlight would tip the scales at 3.56 ounces. This paves way for easy handling in one hand.
The power department for the Nitecore would be taken care by either one rechargeable 18650 or two CR123 batteries. The runtime is a hefty 26 hours. That is a lot. The maximum output of the flashlight is an immense 800 lumens. That is enough to light up a whole alley.
There is a Strobe mode added to this flashlight as an important feature. And it has been patented by the company. The flashlight has 3 brightness levels that can be easily accessed with a press of a button. When the power level is low, there is an indicator light built into the ON/OFF switch. It gives out 3 flashes when the power levels are above 50%, two when the power levels are below 50% and one flash when the power levels are close to depletion. This flashlight is also waterproof rated to IPX8.
The flashlight has been manufactured with aero grade aluminum alloy to withstand the toughest of challenges. This flashlight has been designed with Law Enforcement personnel in mind and that is why it features crenulated bezels on its face to break objects and even defend yourself from attacking enemies. The body is knurled to provide a firm grip.
- A number of accessories are available to make the experience of handling this flashlight a piece of cake.
- Can also be used as a weapon mount with the appropriate clip.
- Battery level indicator.
- Flimsy buttons provided for the operation of the lights and modes.
Tactical Pistol Light
A pistol light is something the majority of people are unheard of. They are mostly used by professionals who own weapons or certified to use weapons. These lights are top notch tools built with precision and great quality. As the name suggests, these are nothing but tactical flashlights that can be mounted on to pistols with the use of a Picatinny or Weaver rail. These lights have to chosen wisely as to fit a person’s needs.
When it comes to dealing with weapons, you just cannot trust your primitive flashlight and go on to combat. You would need something that is durable and shockproof. Because if a normal flashlight is mounted on a weapon, the internals of the light would be shattered due to the shock produced by the weapon/gun when the bullet leaves it. You need a well built, shock-proof and a dependable one.
An important criteria for these lights to fulfil is to point at the same direction the gun/weapon is pointing. These lights can be mounted wherever you want them to be. They can mounted on top of the barrel, can be directly mounted below the barrel, or even on the side by making use of an offset mount.
These flashlights will be made use by you in the most daring of life and death situations. Hence the choice of which flashlight is a serious decision.
Best Tactical Pistol Light
SureFire: X300 with Rail-Lock Mount
This flashlight is the second entrant to this article from the company, SureFire. That just shows how great this company is and the expertise they have to offer when it comes to tactical illumination.
The output capacity of this flashlight is 600 lumens. That is a lot. And the lighting is a white high performance LED biased to the yellowish-green spectrum to be optimized for human vision. The lens used in this flashlight is a Total Internal Reflection (TIR) lens to aid in the production of a more profound light beam to aid in peripheral vision.
This flashlight can be suited with long and handguns that come with Universal or Picatinny rails. There are also adapter mounts available for a number of non-railed guns so that this flashlight can be mounted on them too.
This flashlight sports a single finger ambidextrous operation with the switch located at the rear of the flashlight. The switch can double as a momentary ON situation and constant ON situation.
This flashlight comes with two colour choices, Black and Desert Tan. This flashlight is compact because it has to be mounted onto a handgun/pistol. The dimensions span to 3.60 inches in length. The diameter of the bezel would be 1.125 inches. The flashlight weighs 4 ounces with batteries and that is light. It has to be since the weapon itself would be heavy. The batteries required to get this flashlight up and going are two CR123A batteries. The runtime for this flashlight is 1.5 hours.
- Nearly 10 accessory items available to make this light cater to your exact needs.
- There are 3 different mounts to choose from.
- Adapter mounts available for non railed guns too.
- Rechargeable batteries are an option.
- The tightening screws provided are weak and can break off easily.
Budget Tactical Pistol Light
Streamlight TLR-1 HL
The StreamLight TLR-1 HL would be a great choice for customers looking for a well built tactical pistol light for a nominal price. If you are on a budget, this flashlight is something you should definitely consider looking at. This flashlight makes use of C4 LED. This LED has a 50,000 hour lifetime and is shock-proof. The output capacity of this flashlight would be 800 lumens. The peak beam density of this light is 15000 candela and the beam distance is 245 metres. That is an immense amount of light for the price. This flashlight is available in 3 colours. Black, Flat Dark Earth and Flat Dark Earth Brown.
The flashlight is equipped with an ambidextrous ‘one hand’ usage friendly momentary ON and steady ON/ OFF switch. There is also a user programmable strobe mode that can be enabled or disabled according to need.
This flashlight is manufactured with the strongest of materials. It features a machined aluminum sealed construction with a black anodized finish to ensure that it is as reliable as ever and can withstand a beating. This flashlight also has a waterproof rating of IPX7 which means it can be submerged in water with a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. The optimal operating temperature of this flashlight is between -40 F and 120 F.
The flashlight is compact and comes with a length of 3.39 inches and weighs 4.18 ounces. This flashlight is a direct fit to Glock style and Picatinny rails with any adapters.
This flashlight has a runtime of 1.75 hours and it comes with two CR123A batteries that are included with the flashlight and they have a 10 year storage life.
- It is offered at a great price that makes it very a compelling buy.
- Many accessories to choose from.
- Adapter mounts available to fit to bigger guns.
- The battery door is made up of plastic and gets broken easily.
- The switch gear provided is not reliable.
- The flashlight gets hot after a few seconds of usage.
Pistol Light for Non-Life Threatening/Airsoft
Aimkon HiLight P5S
This is not a full fledged weapon mounted light. It would be best to stick to target practice rounds and airsoft guns. The build quality on this flashlight is not something that can take a beating out of the real pistols and guns even though it is marketed as a tactical pistol lights and can even work on full sized guns. We strongly recommend you to not use this in life or death situations as it isn’t really deemed to be reliable.
The dimensions of this flashlight are 2.5 inches x 1 x 1.2 inches. This will tip the weighing scales at 2.88 ounces. This flashlight comes with a 1 year warranty from the date of purchase.
It comes with 1 CR2 battery included. The flashlight has an output capacity of 500 lumens for 45 minutes.It has 2 modes, strobe light and continuous ON. It even is equipped with a laser light for accurate aiming. Even though it has the tech to be mounted on a gun, its durability is a question mark and doubtful products are not something to be relied in such dangerous situations.
- One of the cheapest tactical lights out there.
- Has 2 modes and a laser light for aiming.
- Build quality is not upto standards.
Tactical rifle flashlight
They might seem like they are the just like any pistol light. And you might be right. They are different though. And the difference mainly arises because of the size of the weapon they are throned onto. The subtle difference is that a pistol light is designed to be fitted on pistols and medium sized guns and can be made to adapt bigger rifles with the help of mounts and adapters and so on. But, a rifle light has no compromises, It was specifically designed for big guns and so it cannot be fitted to pistols.
The good news that would be arriving with these rifle lights is that almost all of them sold in the market nowadays have moved on to LED technology. By taking in this change in technology, these lights have the brightest of lumens outputs and they remain light and durable. Apart from the light output, weight of the light, ease of operation are the things to look out for when purchasing these lights as they are going to be used in life or death situations.
Best Tactical Rifle Flashlight 2018
Surefire. This would have become a familiar name for anyone who has read this article until now. This is the third entrant to this article from this company. They have been a name to definitely look up to when the word flashlight comes up.
This flashlight is equipped with a sophisticated technology that can even be termed as revolutionary. This technology is named IntelliBeam which is capable of varying the lumen output according to the environmental conditions. This technology can vary the light output from 100 to 600 lumens according to the need. This system is based on a micro-processor and a light sensor. This technology can adjust the brightness of the light so fast that the human eye cannot detect the variation.
The LED is enclosed inside a parabolic reflector to ensure that the beam is smooth and far reaching. The flashlight has been manufactured with hard anodized aluminium with O-ring and gasket sealings. The lens is optically tempered coated.
The flashlight comes with 2 modes. One press at the tailcap switch would bring out a momentary activation mode and pressing a switch would activate the constant ON mode.
This flashlight weighs 6.2 ounces. The dimensions of this flashlight are 5.8 inches in length and the diameter of the bezel is 1.37 inches.
The runtime of this flashlight is 1.5 hours. The flashlight comes included with two CR123A batteries to take care of the power department.
- The IntelliBeam technology is purely a innovative addition.
- The accessory list is loaded with items to spruce up the experience.
- The battery life is not accurately predictable due to the IntelliBeam technology.
Rifle Flashlight for non-life threatening/Airsoft:
Nitecore: CG6 Hunting Kit
This is the second entrant for Nitecore in this list. Nitecore is an upcoming company which is specializing on the illumination field with a variety of flashlights intended for various uses and situations. The CG6, as the suggest is specialized for hunting.
The lighting options on this CG6 is immense. It comes packed with 5 individual light sources. There are 2 main LED’s for the white light and 3 other secondary ones for Red, Green and Blue colour outputs. These colours can be chosen individually to give output. The white light is provided by a CREE XP-G2(R5) LED. The output capacity of the white LED would be around 440 lumens and a burn time of 50,000 hours. The lens is a coated mineral glass unit. The beam distance of the white light is around 190 metres and the peak beam density is around 9000 candela.
The second primary light is a green LED. This is a CREE XP-E which provides a powerful green beam with a peak beam density of 7250 candela and a beam distance of 170 metres.
The lights have 3 levels of brightness that can be chosen with the number of presses of the side switches. This is applicable for both the Green and White primary lights.
There are switches on 2 sides to ease up the operational hassle of multi coloured lights. These control the white LED’s and the coloured ones independently. There is a tail cap switch with covered bezels on the side to prevent accidental activation.
The side switches also come with a power level indicator which would be useful. When the power level is close to 50%, the indicator blinks every second. If the power level is lower than 50%, the indicator strobes in quick succession.
The flashlight is manufactured with Aero Grade Aluminum alloy to make sure that it is durable. This has also been impact tested and found to impact resistant for upto 1.2 meters. This CG6 has been manufactured with a water-proof rating of IPX8 with a submerging depth of 2 metres.
The dimensions of the CG6 are 5.63 inches long and the diameter of the head is 1.57 inches. The flashlight weighs around 4.87 ounces without batteries.
This flashlight can be powered with two lithium CR123A batteries or one li-ion 18650 rechargeable battery which is included along with the charger.
- The number of contents included with the flashlight is immense.
- The provision of multiple color outputs is compelling.
- The accessory list has a lot to choose from.
- Not really a tactical flashlight. Better suited for hunting and playing.
Headlamps in our opinion way better than handheld flashlights. Because you can always have the functionality of your two hands without compromising on illumination. Since these lamps are placed exactly at the centre of your forehead, you will have illumination exactly where you see. And that is best for 100% handsfree work. Needless to say, even Miners still use headlamps because it is simplified and most of the time, you won’t even notice them on your head. Even though these are standard characteristics of almost all headlamps, the important thing to look out for is the beam distance and beam type.
Beam distance is going to tell you how far ahead your light can display so that you can plan and notice stuff ahead and beam type is going to reveal what field of view you will be having.
There are 3 modes to choose from. Flood mode which doesn’t really have to reach long distances but can really light up the whole surrounding for a few metres of distance. That would be great for close-up activities like repair work or mild outdoor tasks. The next type would be Spot lamps which focus on distance illumination rather than close-up objects and these will be ideal for activities that need planning ahead like hiking, rock climbing and similar tasks. The next type is definitely the best of both worlds. The adjustable type. This can double up as flood type and spot type according to your command. In our opinion a good tactical headlamp should have a red light along with the main white light to retain the best of vision during the night.
Best Tactical Headlamp 2018
Princeton Tec is a family owned and run company started in 1975 in New Jersey, USA. They started out with scuba diving tech and evolved into lighting solutions for scuba divers, cyclists, industrial use and tactical illumination.
This product from Princeton, the Remix Pro was designed and built according to the requests placed by the US Military forces. That says it all for the durability and usability of this light. This light has been designed in such a way that it is simple to use and in construction and also to be able to withstand the harshest of conditions endured by the user. There is only 1 colour available which is Multicam as a tribute to the military. The head strap is adjustable and can be worn around a helmet too. It also comes with a NVG adapter plate and this enables the light to be mounted on to a helmet.
This headlamp comes with 1 Maxbright LED as the primary lighting source and 3 Ultrabright LED’s as secondary sources. The maximum output of this headlamp is around 150 lumens. The headlamp can provide multiple leves of brightness and always starts with the low output mode to maintain light discipline. The burn time is 40 hours when regulated. The power is taken care of by 1 CR123 Lithium battery that has provided exceptional performance even in cold weather along with the added benefit of lightness. The battery is included.
This headlamp also manages to be ultra light in construction so that it easy to wear. The weight with the battery connected is just 2.32 ounces.
- Super light in construction to aid better wearability.
- Large ON/OFF button to provide ease of access while wearing.
- The battery door is weak and can break off easily.
Budget Tactical Headlamp
Petzl is a french company that specializes in lighting and verticality. The inception of the company dates back to 1975 and has produced a multitude of lights since then in different categories. The entrant from this company to this article is the Tactikka + Headlamp.
This headlamp has been designed with exploration in mind. It boasts of Constant lighting and hence the brightness is stable from ON to OFF. The brightest output of the White light is 110 lumens for a runtime of 100 hours and lowest is 5 lumens for a runtime of 2 hours. The red light has a runtime of 100 hours with a 5 lumen output.
It also comes with a BOOST mode that can give a temporary surge(10 seconds) of 160 lumens of white light when initiated. The BOOST mode can be activated when the Power button double tapped in White mode. Ity also has a strobe mode and brightness settings.
The Power button has many functionalities built to it. Long press on the button for 1 second yields the White light. Long press on the button for 2 seconds will yield the Red light. It has a memory function that can start at the same colour that was last used. This light is a HYBRID and hence can variate against flood and spot modes.
The Tactikka+ has a water resistance rating of IPX4 which means it can withstand water splashes. The Tactikka+ requires 3 AAA batteries or can also be
- Memory function for the colour of Light last used.
- The lamp cannot be removed from the Headband.
- Battery compartment has no weather or water protection.
- Not easy to operate.
Headlamp for Non-Life Threatening/Airsoft
Princeton Tec: Fred
This is the second entrant to this article from this company. The Fred is from a family of toned down headlamps for Non-Life threatening usage. The Fred shares most of its components from the Fuel model from the Princeton range. This isn’t a full fledged tactical headlamp.
This headlamp has been designed with input garnered from Military users to be ideal for covert operations and will also be ideal for hunters and hikers.
The Fred is equipped with 3 UltraBright LED’s and one Red LED. The Fred comes with two colour outputs. Red and White. These two colours have 2 brightness outputs. When switched on, it always starts with the lowest brightness setting in Red and then enables the user to cycle through the other modes with the press of the Power button is successively with a slight intervals. The highest output is 45 lumens.
The fred comes in 6 different colours. The Fred weighs 2.75 ounces and it requires 3 AAA batteries to operate. It is compatible with either Alkaline or rechargeable batteries. The runtime for this headlamp is 180 hours.
- The headlamp can be removed from the head strap to be used individually.
- A lockout feature is included to prevent accidental operation.
- The battery door is weak and can get broken off easily.
- Power button is tough to operate while wearing gloves.
- The light does not rotate from left to right. Just Up and down.
Tactical Night Vision
Night Vision. These words always sound very stealthy and tactical. They make humans wander around with the vision of an owl. No more being afraid of what might be lingering in the dark. You can almost see everything clearly even in pitch dark situations without raising much attention as a typical handheld or any tactical flashlight without Infrared technology can possibly have to offer.
Even though the flashlights of these days have Red coloured light outputs to give an added benefit of restoring vision in the darkest of places, they are not enough to trump the benefits of owning a proper IR Night vision device in any way. They have come a long way through different generations which have changes and improvements in performance. Clearly, the newer generations will have better performance but sometimes, Old is still Gold. It is best to look through everything the product has to offer and then make a sound decision.
The two types of IR devices that will be discussed in this article are Goggles and Monoculars. Goggles are just like these ordinary goggles and will require both of your eyes for visual. They are pretty easy and fast to get used to and they are so natural in their way of working that you barely start to notice the fact that they are being worn. There are two styles in these goggle type devices. The first one is a single image tube which takes in the visual from one tube and gives it to two eyepieces and the second is a dual image tube which takes in visual from two tubes and gives it to two eyepieces. Monoculars as the name suggests makes use of only one eye and they are the most versatile and common of the bunch. They can be worn or even in many cases be mounted on rifles to increase your chances at aiming stuff in the dark with absolute accuracy.
It is best to purchase the type the user is most comfortable with after trying out both.
Best Tactical Night Vision Goggles (IR Light)
Armasight is a world leading company based out of San Francisco in the USA which specializes night vision, illumination and thermal imaging for outdoor enthusiasts, military and Law Enforcement. They partner with FLIR systems to design and develop technology that can reach the masses for daily life usage.
The entrant to this article from this company is the Nyx-7 Pro Bravo Gen 3 Night vision goggle. This is a single image tube goggle connected to two eyepieces. There is a dioptre adjustment feature to get the view right in focus in tandem to the user’s eyesight clarity. The range of adjustment is from -6 to +2 dpt. It also gets a high light cut off feature when the user might accidentally come across a high powered light source to ensure utmost comfort and safety to the user’s vision. This night vision device can also be mounted on to a helmet with a flip up shut off feature. This automatically turns of the device when it is flipped up away from the user’s eye. This goggle offers a field of view angle of 40 degrees.
The Bravo gets it power from one CR123 Lithium 3V battery or one AA Alkaline 1.5V battery or any rechargeable battery with voltage from 1.2V to 3.7V in the AA and CR123 type. The runtime is around 60 hours. The battery level is displayed in the user’s field of view. The IR illuminator has a built in Pivotal Flood lens. There is also an auto brightness feature included. The Bravo is water and fog resistant.
The Bravo’s optimal operating temperature is between -40C and +50C and can be stored in temperatures between -50 C and +70C.
The length of this device is 6.4 inches. The Bravo weighs around 17 ounces.
- Automatic Brightness control.
- Can be adapted to use with cameras.
- Can be mounted onto a helmet.
- Accessory list has a long set of items that can improve the overall experience of this device.
- No international delivery available as it is restricted by the US Department of state in accordance to the International Traffic in Arms regulations.
Budget Tactical Night Vision Goggles (IR Light):
ATN (American Technology Network) is reputed american based manufacturer that manufactures thermal imaging and night vision devices to cater consumers, Law Enforcement and Military clients. The entrant from this company to this article is the NVG7-2 Gen 2+. This is a single image tube with a dual eyepiece style goggle.
These goggles offer a dioptre adjustment that ranges from -6 to +2 to give the user a crisp view of the subjects. The field of view angle offered by this device is 40 degrees. The range of focus in through the standard lens is 0.25m to infinity. There are a number of lenses as accessory options that can enhance the zoom range.
This device has an automatic shut off feature when it is flipped up away from the user’s eye while being mounted on a helmet to conserve power. There is also brightness feature that automatically adjusts according to the light available in the surroundings. The helmet mount is included with the device.
The NVG7 needs one CR123A 3V battery to take care of the powering department.The runtime of the NVG7-2 is about 50 hours.
This night vision device has an optimum operating temperature of -40C to +50C and a storage temperature of -50C to +70C. This device is water and fog resistant.
The NVG7 weighs around 17.6 pounds.
- A huge accessory list to titivate the usage experience of this device.
- Competitively priced.
- It is still a Gen 2.
Best Tactical Night Vision Monocular (IR Light):
This is the second entrant to this article from ATN with their amazing array of high quality Night Vision devices. This type is a monocular Night vision device with a single eyepiece.
The NVM 14-3 can be used in a number of ways. It can be used as a handheld, weapon mounted or a helmet mounted light if going handsfree is what you prefer. There are a multitude of features that make this device a compelling buy.
This device comes with Automatic Brightness feature which ensures to keep your eyes safe. With this feature on board, the vision from the eye-piece varies its brightness according to the amount of light that is available in the surroundings. There is also a Bright Light Cut-off feature that cuts off the brightness levels when the user focuses on some bright light source that might be discomforting to the eye. This also conserves battery power and increases battery life. The lens is ProShield Lens coated for added protection. This also has a built in Illuminator to give vision on nearby objects when the brightness levels drop to an extreme low.
The NVM 14-3 weighs about 9 ounces and the power supply is provided by 1 CR123A 3V battery. The runtime of this device is around 50-60 hours.
- Can be mounted even on weapons.
- Numerous accessory options make this device a multi-purpose unit.
- This device cannot be exported out of the USA as there are restrictions.
Budget Tactical Night Vision Monocular (IR Light):
ATN: Spirit MP-2 Monocular
This device has been built with military use in mind. The Spirit can be used as a handheld, helmet mounted and also a weapon mounted which is a multi-faceted personality. The lens of this device is ProShield coated for protection against scratches and dust. The Field Of View has the battery level indicator and also the IR indicator that shows the user that Infrared illuminator is on. The angle for the Field Of View is 40 degrees. Like most ATN models, this one comes packed with features. Automatic Brightness control that adjusts the brightness of the vision according the amount of light available in the surroundings. If the user does focus on a bright light, the Bright Light Cut-off mitigates the amount of light coming in to the user’s eyes to prevent discomfort and safety for the user’s eyes. The Spirit has an optimal operating temperature range between -40C to +50C and a storage temperature of -50C to +70C.
The Spirit spans 6 inches in length ensuring that it is compact.This NV monocular weighs about 12 ounces. The Spirit uses a 1.5V AA type battery as its power source and the run time of this device is around 25-30 hours.
- Competitively priced.
- A huge accessory list available to elevate the usage experience.
- It might be cheap but it still is Gen 2.
- Not available for export out of the USA due to law restrictions.
Other tactical light options
There are some other tactical lights that break the regular grammar of how a flashlight would look like. The ones that were featured before were too focused on being similar to how a regular handheld flashlight or helmet light or a Night Vision goggle would look and perform. Make no mistake, all the ones mentioned above are great to use. But sometimes you might need something that is not the ordinary. Something that is different in anyway and still get the task done in its own sweet way.
This section is an introduction to the other tactical light world that is totally different in approach.
The ones that have been chosen for this article are tactical lights nevertheless. They do the same stuff the ones above do. They can go Infrared too in the dark or produce enough lumens to blind a person. They might look different physically and you’ll never know when that will come in handy.
Best Tactical Light Ball 2018
Brite Strike RID-3
Brite Strike Tactical Illumination Products Inc. was surprisingly started up by two Police Officers who wished to create world class tactical lights that would favour the Police officers and fulfil their needs for a flashlight that would be durable and help them maintain a peaceful environment among civilians.
The flashlight that has entered this article from this company is pretty unusual in proportions. There aren’t many flashlights that are shaped like this one. This is the Brite Strike RID-3. It is a tactical light ball. The name RID-3 comes from the acronym Rolling Illuminated Distraction, Disorientation Device. This comes in a pack of 3.
The company itself clarifies that this is not modelled after a flashbang or intended to replace a flashbang in any way. They are just a brilliant solution for distracting a person so that you can make a stellar move with perfect stealthiness. These balls are cleverly weighted in such a way that they roll in an unstable manner to enhance the distraction effect. It stuns the unsuspecting suspect/attacker with its two super bright LED’s.
These lights do not strobe. They have kept it simple. Just ON/OFF. The way they roll creates the strobe effect by itself.
Each ball contains 2 LED’s and the power source will be two CR2032 batteries per light which will provide a runtime of 20 hours.
- Extremely portable.
- Infrared option sold only for Law Enforcement and military personnel.
Quiqlite Inc. is a company started by California Law Enforcement veteran, Brian Quittner. The QuiqLite was invented after recognizing the need for a hands free light that can fit in a pocket of a uniform that can aid the user in tasks like reading, writing and maneuvering in the dark. There is a clip that can be used to fit this light to a standard uniform pocket.
The QuiqLite might possibly be one of the most compact, concealable and brightest hands free light out there. This tiny light can pack a hefty 40-150 lumen output range depending upon the need. There is also an option of Red/White LED setup. The operation is very simple and doesn’t require you to take your eyes of the surroundings much. One Press on the ON/OFF button will activate the first bulb with a lumen output of 20 and a second press will activate the second bulb bringing the total lumen output to 40. If the user needs more light, the BOOST button will trigger a surge of 150 lumens. There is a 360 degree swivelling alligator clip that has inbuilt magnets for rigid attachment.
There is also a strobe mode that can be activated by pressing the ON/OFF button for 1 second. There is a auto shut off timer set to 10 minutes to conserve battery power.
- Extremely portable due to its proportions.
- Can be used outdoor activities other than reading too.
- Can be charged via Micro-USB.
- The clip that it comes with is weak in construction and can break off easily.
What is your preferred budget?
This is an important factor to consider whilst purchasing any product. These flashlights are not exactly cheap when you look for the build and durability as your main criteria. Usually it is like you get what you pay for. Many flashlights with decent quality would set you back around $10-$500. You can find tiny flashlights that can fit on your keychain or even a penlight that would cost you around $25-$30. If you want the best of build with the best of materials, you will have to spend some more to get what you are looking for.
In our comparison guides you can sort out the cost by using this key,
$ denotes that the price is below $40
$$ denotes that the price is between $40-$80
$$$ denotes that the price is between $80-$120
$$$$ denotes that the price is between $120-$160
$$$$$ denotes that the price is more than $160.
What type of Flashlight Do You Need?
There are three primary types of flashlights in the market. These types are designed for specific purposes. The three main types are handheld flashlights, headlamps and weapon mounts. There are some lights that come with adapters that can transform one light into a different one with a different purpose.
Handheld Flashlight: These are probably the flashlights that everyone would have seen.
Headlamp: These are the ones that can be worn around your head so that it gives the perfect balance between perfect lighting and hands free. Many mining workers and industrial workers have to be dependent on these lights. It can double up as a reading light too as they are hands free.
Weapon Lights: These are tactical flashlights that are specifically designed to be fitted to weapons to improve the visibility conditions in the dark for combat situations. These lights come with rails and mounts and the manufacturers try their best in manufacturing a light that is compatible with almost all weapons so that the versatility is conserved. There are two main types of rails that would accommodate these weapon lights and they are the Weaver rail and the Picatinny rail. The Picatinny rail is the newer iteration of the two and hence the Weaver accessories will be compatible with the Picatinny but doesn’t work vice versa. The best example of such a light would be the SureFire M600IB Scout Light.
Hybrid/Mount Adapter: As the name suggests, these are adapters that are included with the flashlights to minimize the compatibility barrier as much as possible. Manufacturers like ATN and NiteCore offer immense amount of adapters to keep this vibe going.
At the end of the day, it is better to research on the type of weapon you possess and then also get to know your needs and the probable environment of your usage to determine the best light that would suffice your needs. No light is going to be manufactured with a universal adapter that can fit onto any weapon. Therefore, the best light can be determined by considering it’s accessory option offerings so that it can be a super slick fit onto your weapon as that is going to be your aid during life or death situations.
What kind of light and how much do you need?
Currently the flashlights on these list are all equipped with LED’s only. Once we expand, we will include incandescent ones. Incandescent ones may sound primitive but they can be replaceable and give out a better temperature colour than LED’s but they are not shock-proof and cannot last as long as an LED.
Light Colour Temperature
There are slight tints in the output of the lights in these flashlights and scientifically, they are denoted as the colour temperature. It is measured in Kelvin. Between 2600K and 3500K of the spectrum, the light has a warm white (Light yellow tint) colour to it similar to a incandescent bulb. Between 3500K to 5000K the colour of the light is a neutral white with a slight addition of blue or yellow. The higher range of 5000+ K gives a cool white colour with more inclination towards blue and much whiter in appearance. Usually, manufacturers stick with bluer and colder tints as they are the most efficient of lights. Yellow tints can be formed by a yellow phosphor covering and they do restrict lumen output. You have to search more to get a yellow tinted output beam.
Three ways to look at how much light you need.
Lumens are the unit to measure the luminous flux that a flashlight produces from its face. If your flashlight is producing high number of Lumens, that reveals the fact that it has a powerful LED and a well powered battery. This is not really better than measuring a flashlight’s capacity than considering other measures of light such as Candela or Beam distance. High Lumen output translates to a strong well defined beam that can illuminate far away things with ease.
By going the same way manufacturers use to advertise their product’s measure of light, we’ll go with Lumen outputs and how they vary from range to range.
1-14 Lumens: This output is the basic range for an ordinary flashlight. This is enough to maneuver through small rooms in the night or to read a map or road sign.
15-59 Lumens: This range is okay to light up a medium sized room in the unfortunate event of a power cut but will not be enough to perform much outdoors. You can’t blind anyone with this output.
60-149 Lumens: This range is enough to considerably improve your vision in the night for your outdoor tasks. They are perfect for a walk at night around your neighbourhood and they can blind a person for at least half a minute in low lit conditions. If you want to blind a person in well lit conditions, you need more lumens.
150-299 Lumens: These levels are easily enough to light up a large hallway or a backyard or a campsite without any trouble. And they can easily blind a person for minutes with this intensity. At 300 lumens, you can blind a person even in broad daylight.
300-699 Lumens: These are some hefty amount of lumens. Small flashlights can only give these power outputs in short bursts by activation of BOOST mode. These levels can be easily obtained by the use of speciality batteries. A soccer field can be easily illuminated with these outputs.
700+ Lumens: At these output levels, things are getting really serious and professional. This is most probably the highest output you can get from a small handheld light for day to day use. There are handheld flashlights that can give upto 7000+ Lumens but they are very hard to purchase and they can light up an object 3-4 soccer fields away without breaking a sweat. These are mostly used by search and rescue teams.
Candela is the unit used to measure peak beam density. In layman terms, it is the brightest point in the light that is produced by the flashlight. The candela output greatly relies on the angle of the beam reflector and can vary even with the lumen output kept constant. The smaller the beam angle, the greater the peak brightness. By tweaking the angle correctly, we can get a high beam density along with a longer beam throw with a small LED.
The unit used to measure beam distance is Metres and it is the maximum distance a light beam can travel until it reaches 0.25 lux which is the amount of light output from a full moon on a clear light. Just like Candela, Beam distance relies on the type of LED and Reflector used in the flashlight. The flashlights can be designed to throw a beam like a spot light to illuminate objects far away or can light up a area like a light bulb used in homes.
What size of flashlight do you need?
This is a big decision. The size makes a huge change. You cannot carry a huge flashlight everyday. Flashlights that are small will have a lower lumen output and a big one will have a bigger lumen output. The balance is important. Our tactical flashlight buyers guide up for a download which includes a size chart for both bezel diameter and length.
Micro Flashlight: These are flashlights that can fit into keychains and they use button cell batteries. They can be pretty bright and some even manage to use a single CR2 or CR123A battery but they are pretty tough to come by. These are usually under 2 inches of length.
Mini Flashlight: These are a bit bigger than a micro flashlight and will be under 3 inches long and they usually use standard AA, AAA sizes. Some flashlights can give out a hefty 252 lumens on boost mode with a single battery. These cannot fulfil the ‘can be used as a weapon too’ tag though because of their size.
Small Flashlight: This category of flashlight is under 4 inches of length. Due to their size, they fit one battery with more features than a mini flashlight with better quality LED’s with deeper reflectors to aid more throw.
Medium Flashlight: The category of flashlights will be within a length of 4-6 inches. Due to their size, these might have higher lumen output capacity and may use more than one battery. They might use speciality batteries like 18500 and 18650. These batteries produce more power and so they utilise a bigger LED. Due to their size, they can be used as a weapon too.
Large Flashlight: This category of flashlights will be over 6 inches of length. These are used mostly by the police so that these can double up as a weapon. Due to their size they might even have more features than smaller ones and also have a higher output of lumens.
What is the kind of power source you prefer?
We live in a world where pollution is a big concern and it is our duty to preserve it as much as we can without disposing harmful substance into the environment. Disposable batteries are cheap and easy to find and are cheaper.
Disposable Alkaline: These are standard batteries that you might have heard of in you day to day life. They are AA, AAA, C , and D type batteries. These batteries do not hold a powerful charge in them but they are cheap and are available everywhere. They are the most used ones and most people have easy access to them. These have a shelf life of around 2 years.
Disposable Lithium: These are not to be confused with Lithium Ion batteries. These batteries can store more power, hold them for longer and be lighter than alkaline batteries. They have a shelf life of around 10 years. They are more expensive than alkaline though. Some of the ones that fall in this category are CR2 and CR123A and are often used in tactical flashlights.
Rechargeable Cells: These are lithium ion batteries that offer great power output and the ability to be recharged. They are way more expensive than Disposable lithium ion or alkaline batteries and they have to be bought with a charger too. Some batteries that fall in this category are 18500, 18650 and RCR123A.
Integrated Rechargeable Pack: These are battery packs that are specifically designed for that flashlights. Not all flashlights are available with integrated rechargeable packs. The flipside is that you cannot replace the pack with ordinary batteries. You need to wait while the pack is being charged or you have to buy a spare one or in cases you have to charge the whole flashlight since some arent removable.
Flood vs. Throw
These are terms that you would have come across when you were researching about flashlights. A flashlight with high Flood capacity can illuminate a wider field of view rather than illuminating things at a distance. There will not be a well defined beam passing but rather a well lit amount of area span. This would be great to light up a particular section of a room or a mining tunnel. A flashlight with a higher capacity to throw would illuminate things very far away from the user with a well defined sharp beam. These are great to use during combat situations and tasks like hiking and boating where you need to plan ahead of your path. The difference in beam definition is created by the type of reflector that is used in the flashlight. Going with either one of these output types would pave way to a whole new perception of buying the flashlight you need.
What kind of a Battery life/Run time do you need?
There are flashlights that can be very bright for a short time and then the battery will take its toll. Short time would be about 30 minutes. Sometimes you might need a flashlight that can be very bright for about 4 hours. High Lumen output is inversely proportional to battery life and hence it very important to know the characteristics of your usage as to how bright you need the flashlight to be to cope with the lack of natural light and how long you need the flashlight to be on and so on.
What kind of switch Type do you prefer?
Tactical flashlights come in three main switch types. They are the head/tail twist switch, tail switch or a body switch.
Body Switch: This is the most common type of switch for any flashlight. This is similar to what you would find on a Maglite. This is easy to operate even with less grip on the body. But this type is prone to accidental activation.
Tail Switch: This is the most favoured and popular switch type found on the tactical flashlights. This setup of having the button on the bottom of the flashlight aids in ease of usage while wearing gloves or even when being mounted on weapons. The positioning is in such as a way that you can activate the list without shuffling your fingers much and without taking much time either. Accidental Activation is nearly impossible.
Head/tail Twist: This type of switch is a primitive addition that was used in the olden days. It takes effort and the electrical contacts have to be firmly fitted to ensure proper activation. And sometimes the tail or the head could be completely unscrewed by mistake and it just isn’t as easy as the other two.
How many levels of brightness do you need?
Every customer has their own perception and expectation of a bright light. Lumens just tell half the story. The naked eye has to be convinced that a particular light is bright enough to fulfil one’s needs. Many manufacturers have recognized this fact and have started to introduce brightness levels in their flashlights to give that extra bit of customizability to the customer to get the perfect amount of light needed as per the surroundings demand.
ON/OFF: This is a feature every flashlight will have. And this is the only feature a manufacturer will ever incorporate to their flashlight to reduce hassle. With this mode/feature, the flashlight starts at the highest output and when the user is done with his/her task, they can switch it OFF with a simple push of a button and keep things hassle free. This simplicity in construction can be very useful in tactical situations. Different levels will only aid to chaos in emergency situations.
Two Brightness levels: These are not much fancier than the one mentioned above, in an effort to keep things simple, there are just two modes. High output and low output. And mostly with the introduction of these brightness levels, there usually is a seperate button/switch dedicated only of cycling through the two brightness levels and a seperate switch to ON/OFF the light.
Multiple Brightness levels: To the surprise of many customers, there are some flashlights in the market that can provide upto 10 different levels of brightness to go that extra mile in giving the customer a personalized preference. But there can be a confusing phase when you need to cycle your flashlight through all these levels in times of danger. There are however, some flashlights that remember the last brightness level that was chosen to reduce time consumption. The tip is that the lower the brightness level, the higher the runtime would be and vice versa.
Do you need any special light modes?
There are three light modes that a flashlight can be equipped with. They are namely Strobe, Beacon and SOS.
Strobe: This mode is designed mainly for distraction or in other cases even signal. The light has a starts to blink continuously which can be a huge inducement of confusion. This is a mode that Law Enforcement deem as a must have.
SOS: SOS mode is used in emergency situations. It is an original naval acronym for Save Our Ship or Save Our Souls. This can be a life saver for people stuck or deserted in unknown areas or in mass evacuation or exodus.
Beacon: This is pretty similar to the Strobe but in slower succession. The blinking is relaxed and is usually to denote a destination or even for signaling in some cases.
What material do you want your flashlight to be made out of?
The material in which your flashlight has been manufactured out of tells an important predictability on it’s durability and weight. There are quite a few different types of materials in which today’s flashlights are being made up of. The following will give you a better idea.
Stainless Steel: This is one of the most common of materials anyone would have come across in their day to day life. Stainless steel is very easy to maintain, has high corrosion resistance and can be ductile too, They are very durable but it is pretty heavy. But it are cheap.
Titanium: As exotic as it sounds, titanium really is one of the best metals to use when manufacturing a durable product. It is definitely a win-win as it is as strong as it is light. They are usually alloyed with aluminum to make aircraft bodies and spacecrafts as they have an extreme tolerance to immense heat. It is less dense than stainless steel. This quality comes at a price though.
Plastics: These are something everyone is familiar with and they are not durable but they are very cheap. They use composite materials to increase the strength of the product but the truth is that there are very few composites that are as strong as metals. One company that produces good composite flashlights is Pelican.
Anodized Aluminum: This is the material that is the most common in the tactical flashlight world. Almost all manufacturers use this or some aluminum alloy that is aero or weapon grade to make sure that their products can stand the test of time and abuse. You just to make sure that the anodizing is Type II or Type III.
Do you need a waterproof flashlight?
You might find it really unnecessary or it might find it as a gimmick. No one is intentionally going to throw a flashlight or any product that is rated water resistant into a lake or a bucket of water.
But it is great to get a flashlight that can withstand usage in the rain or even a quick splash of seawater. There are different ratings and here are some of them that are usually associated with flashlights.
IPX4: This means that the flashlight is splash resistant. Just a splash and no water submersion.
IPX7: This means that the flashlight can resist water even when it is submerged but limited at the depth of 1 meter for upto 30 minutes.
IPX8: This is the highest level of waterproof rating that you will get to see in most flashlights. It is able to withstand water entry even with a submersion depth of more than 1 meter for upto 4 hours.
Do you have any Special needs/modifications for your Flashlight?
Most of the flashlights in this article have a huge list of accessories that can squeeze the entire potential of the light and transform itself into a different device fitting a user’s personal preference. There is a list of the stuff that might be useful to you.
Light Filters: These are coloured transparent caps which go over the face of the flashlight that will project a different colour of light beam. Red is a colour that is popular for night vision as it has the highest wavelength. Blue and Yellow are great for spotting blood stains during investigation. Green is a colour that makes animals/birds less startled during safaris and also aid your stealthy positioning during hunting.
Dedicated RGB LED’s: This means these flashlights are built in with seperate Red, Blue and Green LED bulbs other than the primary White light. This just reduces the headache of searching for filters, packing them up along with a flashlight and to be frank, filters do restrict some of the brightness of the Primary White LED while a separate bulb will be doing that job way better.
Pocket/Belt Clip: The is a straightforward accessory that can be very useful. As the name suggests it is a clip that you can use to attach it to your utility belt, your pocket or even clip it on your bag so that it is safe as these flashlights can be pretty easy to lose if you’re paying attention.
Holster: This is a separate pouch like object that can house your flashlight as not all flashlights fit in a shirt or jacket pocket. This is similar to a gun holster and they do come with a velcro loop that can be attached to anything you want or even a belt loop to keep it attached to your belt like a gun to ensure that it is easier to access.
Lanyard: Remember olden day mobile phones that used to come with a loop for your wrist or even in some cases your neck? This is the same loop but for your flashlight. This makes sure that you keep the flashlight safe with very less chance of dropping them and you don’t have to hold onto them when not in use. This is an accessory that is most embraced by hikers.
Strike Bezel: Most of the flashlights here come as standard with crenulated bezels on their face to aid the user to strike an enemy or attacker in the pursuit of self defense. These accessory bezels are larger and can inflict more damage than the standard ones. Mostly these bezels are advertised as a tool that can be used to break glass during escape situations but they can break bones too. But beware of Law Enforcement and Airport security as they can be considered as a weapon.
Mounting Bracket: As the name suggests, these are brackets that can be used to mount weapon lights to a particular weapon that might need some adaptation to accommodate the light. It is a cheaper alternative than buying a whole new light that will fit onto a weapon.
Pressure Switch: Sometimes the positioning of the switches on a the flashlight that has been mounted on a weapon would not be ergonomic to the user. Manufacturers provide a pressure switch that can be fitted on to the flashlight instead of the tail cap so that ON/OFF button can be moved to any place on the gun to the user’s comfort. This is usually very useful when used on long guns where you can place the button at your comfort rather than reaching for it to the flashlight.
Headlamp Adapter: As the name suggests this adapter can be used to accommodate a handheld flashlight on a helmet to double up as a headlamp. This is a clever solution to increase the versatility of a handheld flashlight at a cost effective manner.
Knurling: These are patterns engraved on the body of the flashlight to make sure that the user has a firm grip over the body to avoid slippage. Some users might prefer smooth flowy bodies too. It boils down to one’s personal preference.
Made in USA: Do you want to display your patriotism by buying something made in the USA? Most of the companies featured here are 100% based out of USA.
So, what is the Best Tactical Light for you?
You reached till here? That’s an amazing feat. This is an question whose answer relies completely on your needs for an illumination device. We have the highest hopes that you have benefitted something out of this article like deciding on which one to buy or get a better idea about a topic you had no clue on or if you just enjoyed the long read, please show us some social love via Facebook, Pinterest, tumblr, twitter and so on. We sure would appreciate it. And we make the dough to support this website from affiliating with Amazon on flashlight sales.