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While a homeowner might be able to get away with a plastic flashlight running on AA batteries, that will not do if you are doing hardcore work. People like police officers, first responders, hunters, security personnel, and even outdoorsmen need a powerful, reliable flashlight. And that is the need tactical flashlights fill.
A great tactical flashlight can adapt to any extreme situation. They are durable, multi-functional, and most importantly incredibly bright. Whether you want a flashlight for everyday carry, self-defense, or on-the-job use, there is a tactical flashlight made just for you.
Our Top Picks
The best tactical flashlights are rugged enough to be used in any environment while still being powerful enough to cut through the darkness. These flashlights are just that, and more.
1. Fenix TK16 V2.0 Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 3,100 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 1,245 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 2 h 40 min
Read our hands-on review: Fenix TK16 V2.0 Tactical Flashlight Review
Want a powerful and indestructible flashlight for all your tactical needs? The TK16 V2.0 from Fenix delivers just that. With a protective all-metal construction, you can take this flashlight into weather as cold as -31°F (-35°C) and as warm as 113°F (45°C). It is also waterproof and impact-resistant, meaning the TK16 V2.0 is never going to fail when you need it most.
The flashlight’s brightness ranges from a soft 30 lumens all the way up to 3,100 lumens, casting light up to 415 yards (380 m) away. In total there are 5 brightness modes, plus a strobe mode that is handy for stunning animals and people alike.
This is also a great flashlight for self-defense, thanks to its tungsten-toothed bezel, adding some extra power if you need to strike an attacker (or break a window). The super-high brightness is also making blinding assailants a breeze.
With the flashlight comes a pair of lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable with a bundled USB-C cable. These batteries can hold a ton of charge, allowing up to 2 hours of run time on the brightest mode and up to 43 hours on lower brightness levels. The result is an extended run time so that your flashlight is always ready to use.
2. OLIGHT Warrior X Pro Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 2,100 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 1,640 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 2 h 5 min
Read our hands-on review: Olight Warrior X Pro Tactical Flashlight Review
OLIGHT’s Warrior X Pro is an upgraded version of their Warrior X flashlight. This model is more powerful and manufactured for more intense situations, so if you want a hardcore tactical flashlight, look here. Some improvements over the Warrior X include the more powerful LED lights, more efficient charging that refills the lithium-ion batteries twice as fast, and better machining to improve grip.
The flashlight has two brightness levels—sort of. The primary mode emits 300 lumens and runs for about 8 hours. This level is perfect for normal use and lasts just long enough for a normal patrol shift or an extended hunt. The high mode emits a maximum of 2,100 lumens, but such a powerful light causes the flashlight to heat up rapidly, so it shifts down to a 1,000-lumen brightness automatically when it gets too hot. So, in a way, you have three brightness levels with this tactical flashlight, allowing for an intense burst of light followed by extended illumination.
The Olight Warrior X Pro is built to last, with an aluminum alloy body, water resistance, and impact resistance from up to 3m. As mentioned, the machining provides extra grip, and since the whole flashlight is not much longer than your hand, you can really clamp down on this flashlight if you use it for self-defense.
3. Pelican 7600 Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 944 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 738 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 3 h 15 min
Read our hands-on review: Pelican 7600 Tactical Flashlight Review
The Pelican 7600 Tactical Flashlight is high-quality, and thanks to its type III hard-anodized finish, one of the most durable flashlights on the market. It comes with a rechargeable 2,600 mAh battery (which is charged through the integrated micro-USB port) and can be removed, if necessary. If you plan to use the flashlight all day long, you can even take extra CR123 batteries with you, which you can use with the included adapter.
The Pelican 7600 is highly versatile, making it popular among homeowners, outdoorsmen, professionals, law enforcement, and the military. The flashlight has 3 light modes (high, medium, and low), plus a strobe mode. It even has red and green LED lights, which are usable for police officers (especially with the optional slip-on wand accessory) and for everyone who needs a flashlight with their night vision goggles.
On the brightest setting (“high”) the flashlight will output 944 lumens, which translates to 738 ft (225 m) of beam distance, and it will shine up to 3 hours and 15 minutes.
4. Fenix PD36R Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 1,600 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 928 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 2 h 54 min
Related: Fenix PD35 V3.0 Tactical Flashlight Review
Fenix’s PD36R is a perfect flashlight for outdoors tactical use. Powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this tactical flashlight might not look like much but packs quite the punch. Its compact size (5.35” long) makes it easy to mount for hunting or simple to transport alongside other equipment for a patrol. The flashlight is made to be water and impact-resistant, so you can take it out on the trail in extreme weather without any loss of function.
You get five different brightness modes in this flashlight, plus a strobe mode. The low mode is a practical 30 lumens (with a 115 hour run time), and each mode keeps cranking the brightness until the flashlight reaches 1600 lumens on its highest mode (where it still manages an impressive run time of just under 3 hours).
A unique feature that you might not expect from a tactical flashlight of this size is its remarkable beam throw. At 928 ft. (283 m), it blows away common flashlights and even outperforms many tactical flashlights. Such a beam throw is comparable to bigger, ultra-powerful flashlights, while the PD36R manages it in a pocket-sized package.
5. NITECORE i4000R Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 4,400 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 753 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 30 min
Is extreme brightness a priority for you in your tactical flashlights? Nitecore has the i4000R for you, bringing an incredible range of brightness in a flashlight that is comfortable to use and transport. The size (6.26” in length) is compact enough to sit on your belt but has enough range that if used for self-defense, you can take a good swing at your attacker.
There are a total of five brightness modes on the flashlight, from 4,400 lumens on the brightest mode and 2 lumens on the lowest. In between, you have 50 lumens, 330 lumens, and 1,100 lumens, a well-balanced selection of brightness levels which will likely be the most used modes. There is also a 4,400-lumen strobe mode, perfect for drawing attention or blinding an assailant.
Included with the flashlight is a belt-clip holster. This allows for easy access to the flashlight so you can whip it out at a moment’s notice, and the holster is compact enough not to inhibit movement. This tactical flashlight is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery granting up to 380 hours of run time on low modes.
6. Streamlight 88052 ProTac HL
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Max. brightness: 1,000 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 718 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 1 h 30 min
The Streamlight 88052 ProTac HL is a professional tactical flashlight, with high, medium, low, and strobe modes. On high, it will put out 1,000 lumens for 219 meters, and the provided battery will last 1.5 hours. On medium, the output is 380 lumens for 133 meters, with a runtime of 3 hours and 15 minutes. On low, the flashlight will shine a 65-lumen beam for 53 meters and will maintain for up to 20 hours. On strobe, which can be used for signaling for help, or for disorienting an attacker, the battery will last 1.5 hours.
This flashlight does come with a lithium-ion rechargeable battery, but it can also run on two CR123A batteries or a 18650 USB battery. This means you can always carry a backup battery with you, in case the flashlight runs out of power. The battery cradle is self-adjusting, to fit any of these 3 battery types, ensuring that there will be no annoying rattling noises from the battery. Also included are a USB cord, a removable pocket clip, and a tear-resistant nylon holster.
Made from Type II Military Spec anodized aluminum, with a gasket-sealed glass lens, this flashlight is durable and abrasion-resistant. The bright white C4 LED is impervious to shock, and is controlled by solid-state power regulation to ensure maximum light output throughout the life of the battery.
7. NITECORE MH12S Tactical Flashlight
Max. brightness: 1,800 lumens | Peak Beam Distance: 963 feet | Runtime on max. brightness: 45 min
The MH12S from Nitecore is a rare blend of quality with quantity. Not only do you get an incredibly bright tactical flashlight, but it boasts a run time of up to 1,500 hours. This flashlight is designed to be lightweight and portable, perfect for use by law enforcement. Combine this with the quick-draw holster and you have a flashlight that almost leaps into your hand at a moment’s notice.
The flashlight operates in two different modes: daily and tactical. Daily lets you cycle between five different brightness modes ranging from 1,800 lumens down to 1 lumen as well as strobe, beacon, and SOS modes which draw the eye with bright flashes during emergencies. Tactical mode drops the beacon and SOS modes so that you can jump between brightness levels that much quicker.
Your power comes from a USB-C rechargeable lithium-ion battery, though the flashlight includes battery sleeves so you can use the battery of your choice. Everything is controlled from two buttons engineered to be used with gloves on. If you want a practical tactical flashlight for extreme situations, this flashlight is the perfect choice for you.
What To Know Before Buying a Tactical Flashlight?
There are countless situations where a tactical flashlight could save a life, or just make yours easier. Here are the crucial features to look for in a tactical flashlight to ensure it is as dependable and practical as can be when you need it most.
Lumens equal brightness, so if you want a brighter flashlight, look for a higher lumen output. The benefit of most tactical flashlights is that they have several settings for brightness level.
You can find a “normal” brightness level on almost any flashlight, around 100-200 lumens. A good tactical flashlight will also have a low mode of only a few lumens and a high mode of up to several thousand lumens. And if there are more brightness settings in between, all the better. The more options you have for brightness, the more adaptable your tactical flashlight is. Having options for the deep night as well as confined spaces can save you battery life and prevent you from blinding yourself with light.
How the flashlight is made is important, particularly if you might use it for self-defense. There are many materials used in flashlight cases that are strong enough to be used for tactical flashlights. The most common is anodized aluminum. If you are looking for a self-defense tool, the bright light can work wonders on its own, but there are also flashlights designed with this in mind, like those with a toothed bezel.
Look out for how resistant the flashlight is. Many are tested for water resistance and impact resistance, so pick a flashlight that can operate in any weather.
Average flashlights are limited to an on/off function, but tactical flashlights have so much more. Any given tactical flashlight will likely have a strobe, SOS, or beacon mode. These modes catch the eye better, so they can be used to flag down assistance or to disorient an attacker.
The last thing you want is a dead battery when in a sticky situation. A tactical flashlight’s power source will determine its run time. Pick flashlights that use best battery types available. Some of the best are rechargeable Li-ion CR123A batteries which are known for their performance, durability, and reliability.
Additionally, the battery will drain faster while in high brightness modes. When possible, opt for a low brightness to save battery for when you really need it.
With tactical flashlights, a middle-of-the-road option is often best for size. Too small and you are scrambling to get a grip, too large and it is a struggle to keep the beam aloft.
Try to find a tactical flashlight that fits comfortably in your hand. You might also consider a longer flashlight so that you have some reach when using it for self-defense. The perfect size will be different for different people, so when possible, actually hold the flashlight in your hand to get a feel for it before purchasing.