Best Tactical Flashlights

20 Best Tactical Flashlights

Posted in GEAR, GEAR GUIDES By

A tactical flashlight can be an important tool in your everyday carry toolbox, but doing a quick Google search for the best tactical flashlights won’t do you much good if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for in the first place.

Depending on what you do for a living or what you require from your gear, flashlights that are too small may not be bright enough if you work in security, law enforcement, or in consistently dark environments, and won’t help much in the way of self defense. In contrast, tactical flashlights on the larger side won’t be as EDC-friendly as their smaller counterparts and will be much more difficult to carry in your pocket.

The best tactical flashlight not only sheds plenty of light on a dark situation, but it also provides plenty of functionality, is built like a tank, and can provide a valuable means of self defense in a situation that surely requires it. Whatever your candlepower requirements, and no matter your budget, i’m sure you’ll find a suitable tactical flashlight on this list that not only meets your EDC needs, but also your tactical objectives.

 

The Best Tactical Flashlight

Similar to everyday carry knives, the best tactical flashlight is the one that suits you and your needs best. What may be the best tactical flashlight for me may not necessarily be the best tactical flashlight for you. For instance, someone on the hunt for an EDC flashlight may prefer a more compact, pocket-friendly model, while a police officer or firefighter may require a much larger, often rechargeable tactical flashlight capable of producing more candlepower and that provides much more functionality such as different brightness settings and a strobe mode. People require different things from the tools they carry. Keep this in mind as you read through my list below of the best tactical flashlights available right now.

Another quick note: While we do make a small commission on the Amazon links below some of the tactical flashlights we’ve listed, Amazon most of the time provides a slightly better purchase price, and other times sells the product at nearly half of the original manufacturer’s asking price. We consider this mutually beneficial — for both us and you, the reader.

Fenix PD35 Tac Tactical Edition Flashlight

Fenix PD35 Tac Tactical Edition Flashlight

A leader in their field, Fenix continues to advance the technology of both portable and outdoor illumination, specifically with their PD35 Tactical Edition LED Flashlight — an everyday carry favorite for many. I, myself, have owned the Fenix PD35, and consider it hands down the best tactical flashlight for both on shift as a firefighter and for off-duty everyday carry.

At five and a half inches long, the PD35 is short enough to carry in your pocket, yet substantial enough to keep up with it’s larger flashlight counterparts. You’ll get up to 1000 lumens from it when you really need it via a turbo mode, while five other outdoor modes provide the output you need for the situation at hand — while saving power. Simple yet effective, the Fenix PD35 Tactical Flashlight won’t let you down no matter how dark your days become. – $72

Surefire R1 Lawman

Surefire R1 Lawman

Surefire is as synonymous with tactical flashlights as Kershaw is with EDC pocket knives, and one of their best and brightest is the R1 Lawman. Designed specifically for law enforcement officers yet just as accessible for anyone else without a badge, the R1 Lawman delivers up to an impressive 1,000 lumens of light output and boasts a tactical tailcap switch with three separate output modes along with three different light output levels via a head switch.

Not only is the R1 Lawman Flashlight brighter than the sun peeking through your shades every Saturday morning, it’s also tougher than nails thanks to a Mil-spec hard anodized aluminum construction that has been gasket-sealed to keep out all of the elements — moisture, dirt, dust, and sand. – $339

5.11 Tactical XBT D3 Flashlight

5.11 Tactical XBT D3 Flashlight

5.11 Tactical often gets a bad rap by those who claim to know about EDC gear — especially knives, tactical flashlights, and even pens of the tactical variety. And while 5.11 Tactical’s boots may not hold up to wear and tear very well from my own personal experience, I consider the XBT D3 Flashlight to be one of the 20 best on the market.

It’s strictly powered by disposable batteries, which means you can’t recharge it on the go for your next shift in your cruiser or at the fire house. You’ll get plenty of run time with a fresh set of batteries, however, and an impressive 1231 lumens of light output on the high setting. Of course, there’s a low setting too that will give you a better-saving 100 lumens, along with an aggressively-designed bezel for self defense applications, an anti-roll rubber ring, and a water and impact-resistant aerospace grade aluminum construction. You can’t hurt it. Many have tried. – $130

Streamlight ProTac HL USB

Streamlight ProTac HL USB

Streamlight’s Microstream Flashlight is definitely a favorite among among everyday carry enthusiasts, and their larger ProTac HL USB is one of the best and brightest tactical flashlights on the market.

The best part about the Streamlight ProTac HL is that it can be recharged on the go via any USB charging device and the included USB charging cord, while backup batteries ensure that you’ll never be left in the dark. Three different output settings deliver between 85 and 850 lumens of light and between an hour and a half and 12 hours of run time, while a separate strobe setting not only signals for help, but can disorient an impending attacker.

As for everyday durability, the ProTac HL tactical flashlight features an IPX4 water resistant and impact resistant anodized aluminum construction, a removable pocket clip, and, what I consider to be a necessary component of any tactical flashlight — a push-button on/off switch for simple and rapid operation with one hand when seconds count. Would you trust your life to the Streamlight brand? I have, and would again. If this one isn’t for you, scroll even further for more options. – $98

Smith & Wesson MP12 Tactical Flashlight

Smith & Wesson MP12 Tactical Flashlight

If you frequently find yourself trapped, alone, and in the dark with no clear way out at either your day time job or night gig, then Smith & Wesson’s MP12 Tactical Flashlight is your best choice for survival. Although my previous statement is a bit theatrical, there’s no denying that the MP12’s 875 lumens of output on it’s highest setting will shed some light on a dark environment.

A battery-saving, low-output mode will give you 43 lumens and just shy of 3 hours of run time, while a click on and off tail cap switch ensures quick and efficient operation with one hand. How does it stand up to real-world, everyday use? Thanks to an anodized aluminum exterior housing, a shatterproof lens, and a waterproof seal, the MP12 Tactical Flashlight will survive just about anything you throw at it — drops, sand, dirt, and the occasional rain shower. – $49

Blackhawk Night-Ops Legacy Tactical Light

Blackhawk Night-Ops Legacy Tactical Light

Not many companies around know tactical gear quite like Blackhawk, which makes their Night-Ops Legacy Tactical Flashlight a no brainer for anyone who has used any of the brand’s other tactical gear. While it’s 570 lumens of light output is considerably less than the other flashlights on this list — although still more than bright enough to carry on a daily basis — the Night-Ops Legacy is easily the most functional tactical flashlight on this list for a variety of reasons.

A few of those reasons include an ANSI FL1 reflective rating, a multiple-position rotating switch that controls the flashlight’s four output settings, a recessed push button that provides both momentary and constant “on” settings, and compatibility with offset rail mounts. A hard-coat anodized aluminum exterior doesn’t hurt either, especially against hard use day in and day out. – $90+

Surefire UDR Dominator

Surefire UDR Dominator

If what you’re looking for from a tactical flashlight is pure, unadulterated, raw light output, then the brightest flashlight on this list — the Surefire UDR Dominator — is no doubt the one for you. While the UDR Dominator is in no way pocket-friendly and quite expensive, it’s output of 2,400 lumens of bright white light on it’s highest setting is perfect for military tactical missions, border security, or just lighting up your house like the Fourth Of July when the power goes out.

It’s also virtually indestructible thanks to a dust and moisture-proof Mil-Spec hard anodized aluminum body, while dual fuel capability allows it to be both recharged daily or run on disposable batteries for higher output. Additional features include separate head switches for constant-on, momentary-on, and high output, 9 different, battery-saving light output levels, and an onboard power gauge. – $1,370

Fenix LD41 Flashlight

Fenix LD41 Flashlight

Fenix lands on this list once again, this time by way of the LD41 Flashlight. This high-performance, duty-ready tactical flashlight will feel just at home at a remote campsite as it will by your side pulling third shift on the K-9 unit. Brightness won’t be a problem with it’s 960 lumen output, and reliability on the street or in the woods is ensured thanks to a Cree XM-L2 LED rated for 50,000 hours of use.

A push-button tail cap switch, a tactical momentary-on function, four distinct brightness levels, and two strobe modes are all standard on this model, but when push comes to shove, its anti-slip, anti-roll, IPX-8 waterproof, type III, hard-anodized aluminum construction — (say that three times fast) — will ensure it stands up to the daily abuse you know you’ll love inflicting upon it, while also providing a means to fight back a perpetrator in a pinch. – $78

EagleTac T25C2

EagleTac T25C2

The word tactical gets thrown around a lot, especially when referring to EDC gear. To me, a tactical flashlight not only looks the part, but also has functionality at the forefront of it’s design. With this in mind, i believe the EagleTac T25C2 to be the most “tactical” tactical flashlight on this list.

The flashlight utilizes a Cree XM-L2 LED that provides an impressive light output of 1180 lumens, should you need it, in a concentrated beam that can project to a distance of nearly three football fields. Other built-in features found on the T25C2 Flashlight include a tactical mode with multiple brightness levels and a strobe mode, a rubber cigar grip, a removable pocket clip, a drop-in module for utilizing different LED bulbs with varying output and wavelengths depending on your needs, and a unique energy saving feature that reduces lumen output by a quarter after you run the flashlight on turbo mode for over 3 minutes.

It’s also built to stand up to the real world, offering up a hard anodized, aerospace aluminum construction that stands up to falls, inclement weather, and the side of a would-be attacker’s face. It’s one helluva tactical flashlight to carry both in your pocket and on your duty belt. – $85

Gerber Cortex Flashlight

Gerber Cortex Flashlight

I’m very partial to Gerber gear — the Gerber stuff from Portland, not China. And while the Cortex Flashlight is, in fact, made in China, it’s one of the few on this list that I actually own, use, and no doubt love. For it’s size and price, the Cortex is a quality tactical flashlight that should be given some serious consideration.

With adaptability at the forefront of its design, the Gerber Cortex Tactical Flashlight is crafted from solid aluminum and delivers a maximum output level of 675 lumens when bright light is critical such as overwhelming an aggressor or when identifying threats, as well as a softer strobe mode for everyday tactical duties.

The Cortex Flashlight can utilize multiple power sources when several options are critical, including either three Lithium CR123 batteries or two AA batteries, with the former providing the most lumens output. The Cortex Tactical Flashlight is also waterproof up to IPX7 standards, rendering it an effective tactical flashlight both in the field and around the house. – $70

5.11 Tactical S+R A6 Flashlight

5.11 Tactical S+R A6 Flashlight

5.11 Tactical lands on this list again, this time in the form of the S+R A6 Flashlight. Although not as flashy as other flashlights on this list, the S+R A6 is very practical, and delivers everything you need in an everyday tactical flashlight, and nothing you don’t. 3 pairs of AA batteries are responsible for over 600 lumens of light output that can be turned on and off via a rotary tail cap, while reflective handle inserts render it easy to locate in the dark should you drop or misplace it.

Much like anything 5.11 tactical makes — be it knives, tactical pens, or flashlights — the S+R A6 was engineered for durability and everyday use thanks to an anodized aluminum construction with a thermoplastic rubber overmold and heavy duty sleeve bezel at the handle for protection against impacts and a secure grip in all weather conditions. – $100

Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra

Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra

If there’s one brand that’s synonymous with quality tactical gear, it’s Surefire. The Surefire name has landed on the list on several occasions, this time by way of the E2D LED Defender Ultra. The E2D Defender Ultra is a public safety favorite for it’s compact, pocket-friendly size and it’s ability to perform on the job. It’s been field-tested by both law enforcement and firefighters alike — including myself — with mostly positive results.

It’s a dual-output flashlight, boasting over 500 lumens of brightness on the high end, a power-saving 5 lumens on low beam, and a simple-to-use push button tail cap to operate it. Additionally, it’s a suitable tactical flashlight for self defense applications, by way of it’s blinding 500 lumens and it’s specially-designed bezel meant for inflicting blunt force trauma on an attacker. – $188

Olight M20SX Javelot Tactical Flashlight

Olight M20SX Javelot Tactical Flashlight

Olight’s new M20SX Javelot is essentially an updated version of the company’s popular M20-X Warrior tactical light. So what makes the M20SX better than it’s predecessor? Several reasons, actually, including a much brighter 820 lumens, a modified LED that increases the flashlight’s beam distance to over 1,200 feet, and not one, but two tail switches for accessing three output modes and a tactical strobe mode.

Additional features include an anodized aircraft-grade aluminum construction with heavy knurling throughout and a combat grip ring for a superior grip during use. Carry it in your pocket, duty belt, in your bag, or even mount it to your weapon thanks to a variety of compatible tactical accessories. – $80

Pelican 7600 Tactical Flashlight

Pelican 7600 Tactical Flashlight

Pelican flashlights have always been a staple in the everyday carry community thanks to their compact, EDC-friendly size and user-friendly designs. The best tactical flashlight the brand currently has to offer — at the time of creating this list — is the Pelican 7600.

At just a hair over 6 inches long, the Pelican 7600 is compact enough to comfortable carry in your pocket or on your belt, yet large enough to make a difference in a poorly-lit environment. It’s also rechargeable via USB, which you’ll need to do quite often when operating at it’s full capacity of 900 lumens.

Aside from the aforementioned and a few other notable features — such as optional red and green LED’s for traffic control and for preserving your night vision during tactical missions — the Pelican 7600 four different operating modes, an integrated battery level indicator, and an IPX8 waterproof hard anodized aluminum construction. – $84

SOG Dark Energy DE-06

SOG Dark Energy DE-06

SOG is in the business of offering no-frills tactical gear for not only military, law enforcement, and firefighters, but also for the discerning everyday carrying citizen. The SOG Dark Energy DE-06 tactical flashlight is no exception, and offers a variety of features typically required of a light, and nothing that’s not.

While the entire SOG line of Dark Energy flashlights will do you right, it’s the DE-06 leading the way, offering up the most bang for your buck at 687 lumens of light output. That’s quite modest for this list, but a tactical flashlight is about more than just lumens, and the DE-06 is built around this premise.

Multiple power settings — momentary on/off, 100% power, 40% power, reading, and tactical strobe — can be quickly accessed via a single button switch, while a lightweight aluminum exterior is checkered and knurled to perfection and then anodized for a superior grip in any environment and for maximum durability. – $100

Surefire P3X Fury Tactical Flashlight

Surefire P3X Fury Tactical Flashlight

At the risk of sounding redundant, the Surefire brand made it’s way onto this list a total of four times. It could be that I am partial to Surefire flashlights — I have used several of them many times in the fire department — or that they do, in fact, make the best tactical flashlights on the market. Again, everyone has their preference, so buy what works for you and enjoy your new flashlight.

If your new tactical flashlight happens to be the single-output Surefire P3X Fury, then you’ll appreciate all 1,000 lumens of it, especially when searching, signaling for help, simply finding your keys in your backpack, or temporarily blinding a would-be attacker in the dark of night. The flashlight’s beam is far-reaching, yet offers plenty of peripheral light and a wider central area for maintaining awareness of your surroundings.

It’s a simple yet effective design, and one with a single tail cap switch for quick on and off. The only downside to this flashlight si that the tail cap switch only activates the momentary-on mode. For a constant-on beam of light, you have to actually twist the tail cap clockwise. While not a huge deal in and of itself, it’s a deal breaker for me because complete control via the tail cap switch renders a tactical flashlight much more efficient to operate. – $169

5.11 Tactical TMT P3MC Flashlight

5.11 Tactical TMT P3MC Flashlight

For a brand that began as a clothing company, 5.11 Tactical is doing really well in the tactical and EDC tools market. The third one by the brand that i feel is worth mentioning here is the P3MC, a rechargeable everyday carry model in their popular TMT series lineup.

While it’s 357 lumens of light output is a bit on the low side for this particular list, it is more than adequate for regular field use or everyday carry, and will even successfully blind an attacker in the dark temporarily. It boasts Cree XP-GB LED’s and three different output modes, and is completely rechargeable.

Perhaps the most notable feature of this 5.11 tactical flashlight, or any flashlight by this brand for that matter, is their construction. This one is built like a tank thanks to an IPX4 water and impact resistant aluminum body heavy on the knurling. It’s knobby construction makes it easy to hold onto with a gloved hand in both wet and dry conditions, while a standard tactical bezel works wonders in close quarters self defense. – $120

Fenix PD40

Fenix PD40

The Fenix PD40 is the beefier, brighter older brother of the Fenix PD35 further up on this list. And while it’s bulkier (albeit only 6 inches long) design is less likely to fit comfortably in your pocket all day, it carries with it an impressive 1,600 lumens of eye-scorching light that can easily light your path in the dark 650 feet ahead of you thanks to a Cree MT-G2 LED and a new 26650 Li-ion rechargeable battery.

It’s tough-as-a-tank housing is made from lightweight, impact, heat and water-resistant aircraft-grade aluminum that has been anodized and coated to be anti-reflective for a truly tactical look and feel. In my personal opinion, this could be the best Fenix tactical flashlight available today if it came with the rechargeable battery and charger when you buy it. Sadly, these have to be purchased separately. – $100

5.11 Tactical TMT L2X flashlight

5.11 Tactical TMT L2X Flashlight

The 19th on this list is easily my favorite tactical flashlight by 5.11. It’s the EDC-friendly TMT L2X. A slimmer profile and lightweight aluminum design renders it more suitable for pocket carry, along with an integrated pocket clip. It’s also ideal for law enforcement and firefighters alike for it’s simple to use high and low modes, while an intelligent switching feature lets whoever is wielding it adjust the brightness preferences on the go.

It’ll give you 638 lumens for up to 3 hours, and 52 lumens on the low setting for over two consecutive days of continuous use. And or those of you who are as hard on their equipment as I am, you can drop this one on the ground or carry it in the rain and it will continue to light your way. I give this one extra points for it’s EDC-friendly design. – $100

CRKT Williams Tactical Applications flashlight

CRKT Williams Tactical Applications Flashlight

Last but not least is this little gem from renowned knife brand CRKT. Measuring in at just over 4.5 inches, the Williams Tactical Applications Flashlight packs quite a punch for it’s minute, everyday carry-friendly size.

With 320 lumens on the high end, 5 lumens on the battery-preserving low end, and 2 output modes in between them accessed from the rubber tail cap button, it’s got a setting for any task — be it blinding your attacker, finding Christmas decorations in the attic, or filling out a report on a late-night call — and a durable aluminum body that can stand up to the elements just as well as it’s larger counterparts. – $64

Best Tactical Flashlights

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