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Sometimes the amount of flashlights I see online seems overwhelming. As someone that grew up before the digital age took such a stronghold on things, it is hard for me to get past just how inexpensive some items are even though they perform well.
In this post, I am going to highlight some of the flashlights that have stood out to me. I have attempted to include options for every budget. Sometimes it is nice to have a lot of inexpensive lights that you can just have stashed everywhere for when you need a little extra light.
First, let’s go over a few things that are important to consider when choosing a flashlight.
15 Top Tactical Flashlights For 2020
Something my husband taught me is that you are better off having flashlights that all take the same batteries. AA or AAA are the best with AA being preferable. In the past, the big Maglites that took D -Cells were highly sought after. Now we have flashlights that can perform very well on just AA. Part of this is thanks to LED bulb technology and its affordability.
There is something to be said for lithium cell batteries too as long as you have an easy way to recharge them. Many of the flashlights in this article feature batteries that have USB charging capability or come with their own chargers.
This is not just a feature for expensive flashlights either. You will find some inexpensive ones that feature this technology in this post.
You don’t need a huge flashlight to see well. Bulbs have come a long way and a big flashlight is often just cumbersome to use and it is not as likely that you will throw it into a bag. We have flashlights in various sizes but none of them are particularly large.
Some lights are made to be used as a weapon more so than others. Even small tactical flashlights usually have somewhat pointed tips around the actual light so that you can use them as a formidable bludgeon. Of course, larger lights will have more mass but at the same time, let’s hope you are not ever in a situation where bashing with a flashlight is the best option.
Sure a $40-$70 flashlight is going to be top-notch and be nice to use but it is not necessary to have that type of budget to get a good flashlight and you definitely do not want to spend that for all of your lights. Heck, I got a ton of the little aluminum LED flashlights that I got a 10 pack of including batteries for $5 at Wal-Mart on Clearance. They work great. Would I want to rely on them in the long term for SHTF or to be my only light?
No. Do I regret buying them? No. I can leave them all over the property and always have light. I even have a second pack put back just in case. The batteries alone were worth it to use in my computer mouse over a few years since the batteries are not that great and will not keep forever like the flashlights themselves.
Purpose matters. Not all tactical flashlights are good for mounting on a rifle rail. A flashlight needs to be the right shape, size, and be made to take the recoil of a rifle when it is fired. This means that you cannot just buy a cheap flashlight and expect it to work or last on a rifle. Some of the lights in this post come with rail mounts. At the same time, it is possible that any tube style tactical light could be mounted on a rail if you have the right size rings. The question is how long it will last.
This flashlight comes in at an impressive 1800 lumens and can send a beam 300 meters out. For a lot of tasks, this is more flashlight than you need but when you want a light that is compact yet powerful, you will happy to have this on your belt. It weighs a mere 6.31 oz. including the battery and holster.
The high capacity 5000mAh 21700 Lithium-Ion battery is rechargeable via USB so it is really easy to keep it at full charge. This type of battery can also be purchased at a reasonable cost so you can have a spare or two around.
The included holster is made of neoprene and can be worn on your belt or strapped to your bag. It is also magnetic so if you have one of those strips hanging in your house or shop, you can keep it within easy reach. This means you could also keep it on a fridge for quick access at night in case of an outage or other trouble.
The DanForce has a very aggressive looking bezel for a tactical flashlight so if you are looking for one that looks a bit more formidable, it is an option. The maximum lumen output is 1,080 with a beam distance of 360 meters/
The DanForce is not just a flashlight. It is a flashlight kit that offers you many different options for customizing your light to the task at hand. For your money you get the following:
- Attachment and globe to turn the DanForce into a lantern for camp use.
- Parts to convert from a smaller flashlight to a larger one with more battery capacity.
- Battery section can be used as a standalone battery bank for charging a cell phone or other small device.
- Compass in the handle
- Two batteries and a USB charger
- Green and red light filters
- Carrying case
- Bike or weapon mount included.
The light is made of aluminum that has been painted black like many tactical lights. This is a very versatile flashlight that would make a good gift for someone that travels a lot or likes to camp. I have already decided to buy one of these to give as a gift to someone I know that loves a good flashlight but also things that are multi-purpose.
This is just one example of the high-quality line of flashlights produced by Streamlight. This particular model is not designed to be rail mounted like some and offers a higher lumen output for its size at 850 lumens max.
The bezel is not made as pointy as a lot of tactical lights just for the record. At 3-1/4 inches long by 1 inch wide this is a light that will fit anywhere. The flashlight recharges via USB but that doesn’t have to be done very often since it has an impressive life of 750 continuous hours of light or 1.000 short bursts per charge.
At first glance, this just looks like a lot of tactical flashlights but don’t be fooled. Look closer at the bezel end of this thing. That looks like it would hurt. Oh and at 1300 lumens, this is a blindingly bright flashlight on the highest setting. There are a total of 6 settings including strobe and firefly mode.
The M5 is made tough and features a magnetic USB charging system. Simply hook into a USB outlet and attach the magnet to your flashlight. You don’t have to take out the battery to charge. A single battery keeps it simple.
I like that the handle looks like it would never slip out of your hand. Keeping a good grip is important. The barrel shape of this flashlight is unique. Many lights are just one uniform diameter but this one gets thin in a few key places that make me a little more confident that I could use this effectively as a weapon.
I have to admit adding this light in because it looked really hefty and it has a shape that fans of the old Mag Lites will like. A lot of tactical flashlights are made with a uniform barrel design. There is something to be said for a more classic looking flashlight shape for grip and for the sake of using a modern flashlight that has a design that you are most familiar with.
Oh and this beast has a brightness of 8,000 lumens! That is the brightest by far of any of the flashlights on our list. So for your money, this is a ton of light. Of course, the batteries are really big. This light takes two 6800 mAh lithium batteries which are included. I like that this flashlight while being large, charges via USB.
It is supposed to be able to illuminate and focus on objects up to 2000 feet away. I am including this photo to show you how big this light is since so many tactical lights remain on the smaller side.
Overall a good main household flashlight or light for a car or RV but too large for everyday carry on your person or for just stashing around your place for when you need a little bit of light. Like most tactical lights, the body is anodized aluminum
Good to see some manufacturers are not overlooking the need for larger more hefty lights.
Mid Price Range
Marmot is a brand that stood out to me because it has been around awhile. With so many new brands out there, it is good to see some familiar names that inspire confidence.
This flashlight is designed for the person that is looking for a mid-priced option to mount on their rifle but it can easily be used as a regular flashlight. It has a noticeably mean-looking bezel for self-defense. It almost looks slightly sharpened in some places.
1200 lumen brightness is plenty of power for almost any situation. It is a good compromise between power and overall weight. For example, the 8000 lumen Wolf Eye is nice but very large and offers more power than the average person needs regularly.
You do have to keep the battery charged via an external battery charger. At full luminosity, you can expect 4 hours out of a single battery. At that rate, it may be a good idea to have an extra battery so you can have one in use and one fully charged.
It features a pressure pad switch and remote switch to make it easy to turn off and one under a variety of conditions in the field.
This is pretty similar to the Marmot and in the same price range. You get a tactical light that offers you the option of attaching it to a rifle, a remote on/off and a pressure switch. The manufacturer says it is designed to take recoil well and be virtually indestructible.
1200 lumens is a lot of light. With each set of batteries, you get 4 hours at 1200 lumens for a distance of 600 feet. This light takes includes two 18650 lithium batteries and a charger but the light itself only takes a single battery so you can always have one that is fully charged and ready to rock.
Anker seems to be a reliable brand of electronics. I have been very happy with the outdoor grade wireless Bluetooth speaker I bought from them and the verticle mouse I use for my laptop. They seem to have acquired a good following of customers on Amazon which stands out to me in a marketplace that is so competitive.
Anker keeps it simple with this flashlight. While they combine a tactical head and tough aluminum body, this doesn’t look quite as tactical as many of the choices on this list.
At 900 lumens this flashlight is a great value for your home or car. It offers a bright light out to 660 ft and offers some illumination as far away as 1,000. It includes a USB cord for charging but no actual stand-alone charger. Just the charger you use for your cell phone would work or a USB outlet in your car. You get 6 hours of light at the medium beam setting with a single charge.
For a long camping trip where you use it a lot, you could always take an extra battery or a small battery bank. I like my Jackery Armor 9000 for trail use because it is rugged and offers a little more power than a lot of small battery banks.
I have a tendency to like things with the Bushnell name on them because Matt and I have used their binoculars often over the years. We bought a small set 14 years ago and still have them.
The handle of this light is shaped for a good grip and no slippage towards the bezel. I like having the end of a flashlight a bit larger to stop my hand. I did a few practice jabs with a tactical light and having that stop helps.
The clip on the aluminum body helps keep your light where you need it and avoid loss on trips. 400 lumens is a nice brightness for household use and finding your way in the dark but not the best for seeing a great distance or over a large area.
Many of you will recognize the 5.11 Tactical Name. I sure did. I have been coveting the tactical kilts they make actually. Nothing like a skirt with a lot of pockets. Well anyway, this is there answer to a small tactical flashlight. At 179 lumens this is not the brightest light but sometimes you just want something you can throw in a small bag.
Again, how many times have you found out that you forgot to put the main flashlight back in your vehicle? Small lights are great to have.
Unfortunately, since the light is small, so is the battery. This light runs on AA batteries though so it is easy to keep some charged up. Unfortunately, on the high setting, this light only lasts for 53 minutes but it is very bright for its size. On the low setting, you get a much longer run time of 13 hours on a set of AA batteries so it is recommended that you use the lower setting unless you really need a lot of light at once.
Some of the 5.11 Tactical lights run on button batteries which I do not care for due to their cost and availability.
Overall a good light to have when you want something small but it may be a good idea to keep some extra batteries around in case you find yourself using the highest setting for very long.
This is just your basic small tactical flashlight. I chose this model because it seems to have been a big seller and there are a lot of positive reviews. There are plenty of inexpensive lights out there but I have found sticking with the lights that seem to have been tested out a lot is a good way to go.
While this is a small light, it certainly has a nasty looking end for defense. If I had really big hands I might not choose this light because it could be awkward to wield.
At 300 lumens, this is bright enough to use around the house or to find your way around your car on the road. It operates on a single AA battery or 14500 battery. Unlike a lot of the flashlights discussed in this article, the batteries are not included so be sure to buy some at the same time. Adding a flashlight and not adding extra batteries can lead to being short on batteries eventually. A new flashlight is a good reminder to replenish your stock.
Of course, Energizer has got in on the tactical flashlight market. This company has been making flashlights and batteries forever it seems like. This is a basic tactical light with a classic flashlight design. The big difference is the end which is made for defense. A handy clip helps you take the light securely along on your adventures.
The light is USB rechargeable so no worrying about constantly needing new batteries. The head seems to quite thick but the bezel is not really that pointy for a tactical light. Still a good solid choice for a basic light that offers 700 lumens of light. There are plenty of flashlights on this list that cost more and provide less light.
This is a budget-priced flashlight with an amazing grip and tough bezel for self-defense. It comes with a padded case that I think I would never really use for the flashlight but would be good for storing other items in.
The light takes a single AAA battery that you place in a holder that fits down in the light. It also includes a rechargeable battery and charger. While the exact lumens are not given in the description, people say it is quite bright and the manufacturer states that you can see 600 feet ahead. This has been a really popular light on Amazon with over 6,000 reviews.
Even though this is a budget-priced light, it still offers a decent zoom function.
Smith & Wesson makes a lot of different products so I am not surprised to see that they offer a small budget-friendly tactical flashlight for stashing and everyday carry.
The bezel is substantial and shaped to cause a lot of pain if needed. I would not expect less than that from Smith & Wesson. The body of the flashlight varies enough to help out with grip and slippage which is very nice to see as a feature on a small light.
215 lumens is a nice size for a light that you can stash anywhere, even in a small backpack or handbag.
The Gearlight is a basic tactical light with more than 2500 ratings. It runs on AA batteries and provides up to 1200 lumens of light, making it a real bargain in the world of flashlights.
This is certainly not a fancy light with a lot of bells and whistles. Although it seems to market itself in the tactical flashlight category, it doesn’t feature a bezel with points for increasing the damage of being hit by it.
I thought I would include this one because while it fails in that regard, it is still a good bright light for everyday use and it is budget-friendly so you can have a few scattered around if needed.
What is your favorite tactical flashlight? Have you had a negative or positive experience with any brands that we should know about? It would be interesting to hear the experiences of anyone that has actually been in a situation where they used a flashlight for self-defense.