Best Tactical Flashlights - Best LED Tactical Flashlight 2017

Best Tactical Flashlight

best tactical flashlight

If your only experience with flashlights before are those tiny flashlights that you use when the power goes out, then, getting the best tactical flashlight can open up a whole new world for you. These flashlights are designed for security and law enforcement individuals who need light and something they can use to protect themselves with. For this reason, a tactical flashlight costs more than the basic lights you keep in your emergency kit. We’ve looked at 72 tactical flashlights and completed more than 94 hours of research and testing to create this review, so that we can tell you that the Niteoore p12 Flashlight is the best tactical flashlight to buy for most people.

Top Pick

1. Niteoore p12 Flashlight

$49
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A good flashlight offers a trustworthy performance: Can last for a long time, gives several warnings especially when the batteries need to be changed, and has easy to cycle in between modes. After talking to numerous security and law enforcement individuals who have ever used various flashlights such as Niteoore P12 flashlight, we managed to determine that Niteoore P12 flashlight is the best flashlight.

Being the latest addition to Nitecore Precise Series, Niteoore p12 Flashlight features the most current Cree XM-L2 at 1000 lumens. The flashlight can produce an incredible beam of high-intensity light that has a throw of approximately 253 yards. You can use the tail cap buttons to control the power on and off. The flashlight also features a front side button that can switch output levels and other functions such as the SOS and Strobe. Combining its top quality, intuitive operation, and its high performance, the Niteoore p12 Flashlight is ideal for law enforcement, security personnel, military, and rescue personnel.

Why our reviews are trustworthy

At reviewlatest.com, we have been reviewing tactical flashlights for many years. We have spent more than 90 hours researching and testing flashlights this year.

Did you know that the first flashlight was created by David Misell in 1899? This first flash light had 3xD batteries. These batteries were put in a tube that served as the handle of the device.

In writing this review, we have looked at almost 100 types of tactical flashlights. Besides, we keep up with other top quality reviews from other leading companies including Amazon, Good Housekeeping, and Reevoo.  Our primary aim is to provide a comprehensive review for you to get all the information you need about the product. We talked to experts in tactical flashlight development, Eagle Scouts, and veteran police officers to figure out the features that set out the best tactical flashlights apart.

While we are always interested in what others have to say about the products we research, we go a step further and do our own testing of  tactical flashlights, both ourselves and members of our product testing program, who used the flashlights and gave their feedback via our product testing panels.

*This review covers the best tactical flashlights before and as of the time, we wrote this review.

Our other top picks

After testing a broad range of flashlights, we found that Nitecore P12 Flashlight is the best for general use. It features an impressive battery life (more than 18.5 hours at the highest setting). Among the flashlights we tested, the Nitecore P12 Flashlight offered the brightest light. However, it had a maximum output of about 1000 lumens and thus, it can offer adequate power for everyday activities. For backpackers and hikers, this flashlight is a perfect way of supplementing a headlamp. This is because even with batteries, the flashlight weighs 4.3 ounces and our testers reported that it was comfortable enough to hold the flashlight for a long time.

We highly recommend Maglite XL200 for an emergency kit. Among the flashlights we tested, it is the most compact. It’s also half-ounce lighter and an inch shorter than the Nitecore P12 Flashlight. Well, we can’t call the Maglite XL200 a powerhouse because it tops out at only 172 lumens. However, it has a perfect battery life of about 18.5 hours and unlike other popular flashlights, Maglite XL200 runs on AAA batteries that don’t need a trip to a specialty store.

Fenix TK35UEis an excellent choice if you require a powerful flashlight without paying extra cash. This flashlight caps out at 2000 lumens even when on the highest setting (this means that the flashlight is equivalent to 125-watt electric bulb)! It weighs approximately 10.05 ounces (twice as the Nitecore P12) including batteries. However, it’s unquestionably the brightest flashlight we tested and has a good battery life of about 10 hours.

Who should get this

If you have ever heard the term EDC or ‘Every Day Carry’ and its meaning, a flashlight is among the things you must carry. Whether on a camping trip or an emergency or even as a part of your home tool kit, a lightweight flashlight is one of the things you shouldn’t lack.

How we selected

We started our flashlight selection process by finding all of the best tactical flashlights for sale in both online stores and the physical stores. Some of the stores we considered include REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Gander Mountain, and Cabela’s.  We ended up with a list of 72 flashlights of different brands and models. Our primary intention was to find flashlights that were easy to use, had a perfect design, and for the price, would provide the perfect light for hikers, backpackers, law enforcement personnel, and anyone else who would wish to use a tactical flashlight.

Have you noticed that much of the latest tactical flashlight advertising is awash with industry specifications and buzzwords? In fact, most of the these adverts are worthless at best, and at worst, they are outright lies! This is because there has never been a wide ranging intensive study ever done to determine the most superior tactical flashlight. The good news is that we have tested a broad range of  types of tactical flashlights and consulted with experts to determine the best flashlights for different environments. We talked to experts in the tactical flashlight development, Eagle Scouts, and veteran police officers to figure out the features that set out the perfect flashlights apart. Here are some of the things we considered when selecting the tactical flashlights. Choosing a good tactical flashlight is important if you need to get the full value of your money.

Simplicity is a virtue: The primary goal of a flashlight is to provide light in a dark environment. Though this sounds simple and straightforward, our experts pointed out that most flashlights have extras that might hinder this goal. Some features such as USB port tend to drain the flashlight battery and this interferes with the lighting abilities of the flashlight.

Tail-mounted on/off switch: We consulted one of the Eagle Scouts who spends much of his time camping and hiking the Appalachians. The scout disclosed that unlike the traditional side flashlight, a tail switch (one that you click on using your thumb) is less likely to accidentally switch on in your backpack or your pocket. One of the police officers we talked to also seconded this argument say, “…it’s true. One way of preserving the battery life of your tactical flashlight battery is by making sure that it doesn’t accidentally switch on.”

Quality of the components: According to the experts, we consulted, one of the major factors that draw a clear difference between the best tactical flashlights and the runners-up is the quality of the flashlight’s workmanship. Lifetime warranty is one of the gauges of quality you can use for your EDC (Every Day Carry) tactical flashlight. Note that lifetime warranty is a signal that the manufacturer is confident that the product will stand the test of time. For regular users, we slightly relaxed this criterion, opting for tactical flashlights with a minimum of 25 years warranty (this can be perceived as a practical lifetime for many electrical devices).

Low-battery warning: The current tactical LED flashlights are designed to provide a consistent level of light for a long time. The limitation associated with such a flashlight is that unlike the traditional flashlight that dims as the batter’s power goes low, the LED tactical flashlights can instantly go off when their battery goes below a particular output voltage. This isn’t a good experience especially if you are pursuing a suspect in the dark or changing a flat tire by the roadside at night.

Weight: Weight is an important factor to consider especially if you want to use the flashlight as a weapon. While you need a flashlight that you can carry without feeling tired, it should also be good enough to injure an attacker and keep them off. Unless you are lokking for a small tactical flashlight.

Bulb type: The perfect tactical flashlight is an LED tactical flashlight or any other form of LED technology. This is because LED bulbs last longer and produce better light. Besides, those that use halogen light may also last longer (a few months of regular use).

Lumens: Different tactical flashlights produce various amounts of lumens. A flashlight with less than 100 lumens is suitable for home use especially when there is power outage. If you need a tactical flashlight that can incapacitate an attacker, you need one that has higher number of lumens such as 500 lumens, 1000 lumens or more.

Battery type: Checking the type of battery used by your desired flashlight can help know the right extras to keep at hand for emergencies. Opting for a rechargeable tactical flashlight is important. This means that you don’t have to keep on buying batteries.

Run time: Whether you need a power source to help when the power goes off in your home or you need to chase a bad guy down through the forest, we strongly advise that you look at the run time of the flashlight you intend to purchase.

Therefore, we decided to eliminate all tactical flashlights that don’t feature any battery life indicator. Note that our top picks Fenix TK35UE Flashlight and Nitcore P12 Flashlight have a low battery power indicator. On the other hand, the Maglite XL200 uses an unregulated circuit that powers down more slowly.

Lastly, we made one-off cuts within each producer’s line of products to select between tactical flashlight models with the same features and specifications. For instance, Fenix PD35TAC light is similar to Fenix PD32. In such a case, we chose the most affordable model. We also eliminated a few tactical flashlights from companies that offered substandard client service during our data collection process.

After the difficult task of choosing the 8 top tactical flashlights, we went a step further to test them.

How we tested

We needed a stand in test for the measurement known as Peak Beam Intensity, so we used a phone-based light meter to test each contender in an entirely dark 21 foot room to record the amount of lumens at the brightest point in the middle of each light beam. For all the tactical flashlights we tested, the Pelican 7600 Rechargeable, Olight M20SX Javelot and the Nitecore P12 were among the brightest, clocking more than 200 lumens at the brightest section of the beam we measured in testing. The Fenix TK35UE flashlight blasted the wall at the end of the room with an immence amount of light.

It’s important to mention that most tactical flashlight manufacturers give battery statistics based on an uninterrupted use of the flashlight at a single intensity. For us to verify the published battery life statistics, we left the flashlights switched on at their high setting. Then, we timed them to know how long they can continue to offer enough light to navigate a dark apartment. The test results revealed that Fenix TK35UE lasted for 11 hours while Maglite XL200 and Nitecore P12 flashlights still had strong light after 18.5 hours.

To determine the usability of each tactical flashlight we had on our list, we gathered a panel of at least 10 testers. Five of these testers had small hands while the other five had large hands. We asked each of the users to hold each flashlight for a few minutes. One of our testers claimed that the SOG Dark Energy flashlight had a tail switch that was nearly impossible to operate even with both hands. Other testers described its edges as ‘too jagged and sharp’. Besides, the Pelican 2380 and Gerber Cortex scored low because their switches require the user to use a lot of force when switching the flashlight on and off.

A larger proportion of the tactical flashlights we tested provided various modes of light intensity. Therefore, we had to check how easy it is for the user to cycle between them. The process of switching from one light intensity mode to another requires the user to use a complex combination of side buttons and light-clicks to choose and then lock the desired mode. During our test, we offered preference to the tactical flashlights that were easy to use and switch between different light intensity modes. A larger percentage of our testers preferred Nitecore P12 and the Pelican 2380 for their simplicity when it comes to changing batteries. To change the batteries for the flashlights, all you need to do is to unscrew the tailcap, drop out the used-up batteries, then slide in new ones.

Full tactical flashlight reviews

2. Maglite XL200 LED 3-Cell AAA Flashlight

Price: $36
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The Maglite XL200 features 5 different lighting mode with motion control functionality. This remarkably versatile flashlight can turn on and adjust constantly between bright and dim and can also remember your preference the next time you switch it on. Besides, it can produce a strobe that can be adjusted from fast to low and keep the setting even after use. The Maglite XL200 can assume a “Nite Lite” mode meaning that the flashlight can come on bright then gradually dims to darkness. Then when touched or moved it instantly throws the required light. The flashlight can also produce an automatic ‘SOS’ signal and also prevent accidental activation with its ‘lockout’ feature.

Apart from these stunning features, Maglite XL200 is easy to use, features a compact design size ideal for your pocket, and has high-performance 3-cell AAA batteries.

3. Fenix TK35UE (2000 Lumen) Cree XHP LED Tactical Flashlight

Price: $131
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Fenix TK35UE tactical flashlight integrates high performance and exquisite workmanship. With its most current Cree XHP 50 LED, the flashlight can deliver a maximum output of 2000 Lumens with a throw distance of at least 1050 feet. It also features five distinct brightness levels, a strobe, and an automatic SOS flashing signal. Surprisingly, all these stunning features are accommodated in a small, more compact flashlight body.

Fenix TK35UE uses 2- 18650 Li-ion rechargeable batteries. However, four 3V CR123A Lithium batteries are a great alternative to the two 18650 rechargeable batteries. It also features dual tail button switch is conveniently placed for quick and simplified operation. This flashlight is perfect for outdoor searching, hunting, caving, and any other environment that requires a high-lumen light with a small profile.

4. Olight M20SX Javelot M20-X LED Flashlight

Price: $79
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The Olight M20SX Javelot M20-X LED Flashlight is a new generation of a 2-tail-switch flashlight. The flashlight’s output level has been enhanced to 820lm. It uses one 18650 battery or can also be powered by two CR123A batteries. The flashlight’s LED lamp is processed using a unique technology which improves the light range to approximately 370 meters.

Olight M20SX Javelot M20-X LED Flashlight features numerous tactical accessories including a remote pressure switch, weapon mount, and a filter. It also has three distinct brightness levels that range from 25 lumens to 820 lumens. Besides, the flashlight has strobe mode Cree LED that has a smooth reflector. This reflector can create a highly-focused beam of light that maximizes the throw distance (the flashlight can throw light up to 1214 feet). Olight M20SX Javelot M20-X LED Flashlight also has a multi-function click tail switch that helps the user to turn the device on and off easily. The device is perfect for law enforcement, hunting, search and rescue, and other outdoor activities.

5. SureFire R1 Lawman

Price: $341
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Just as the popular Kershaw is synonymous with EDC pocket knives, SureFire R1 Lawman is synonymous with the best tactical flashlights. It is designed particularly for law enforcement personnel and also can be used by just anyone with a badge. This flashlight can deliver impressive 1,000 lumens of light. It also boasts of a top quality tactical tailcap switch. The tailcap switch has three distinct output modes along with three light output levels through the head switch.

The SureFire R1 Lawman is brighter than the sun rays peeking through your shades every morning. Besides, it’s harder than nails, thanks to a Mil-spec hard aluminum construction that is gasket-sealed to keep moisture, sand, dust, dirt, and more at bay. Whether you are a law enforcement officer or you simply need a flashlight for hiking, SureFire R1 Lawman is a perfect choice.

6. Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Price: $75
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Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight is a robust lighting tool perfect for professionals including police, firefighters, aerospace, military, industrial, and other personnel who needs a perfect flashlight. Constructed pelican tough, this flashlight can provide the required Lumen brightness and safety whether at home or in the field.

The Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight is approximately 6 inches long. Therefore, it’s compact enough to fit in your pocket and strong enough to bring a significant amount of light in a poorly-lit environment. You can also recharge it using the available USB. However, you may need to recharge the flashlight when operating it at its full capacity (which is usually 900 Lumens).

Apart from the notable features mentioned above, the Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight features four distinct operating modes, an IPX8 waterproof hard anodized aluminium construction, and an integrated battery level indicator.

This flashlight is perfect for different outdoor activities including camping, hiking, search and rescue, caving, and more.

7. Columbia River Tool’s F1010 Flashlight

Price: $60
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The popular CRKT flashlight series designed by James Williams offer a strong LED output light perfect for personal safety, outdoor use, self-defence, and tactical operations. The device features hard-coat, black, anodized aluminium body which is strong and enhances the durability of the flashlight. It also possesses projected lens reflectors that offer maximum brightness of blinding light. Thus, the user should not flash this light directly into one’s eyes for a long time.

The Columbia River Tool’s F1010 Flashlight also has industrial-grade rubberized tail-cup button that the user can push to control the various light modes. With its 320 Lumens on the high end, 5 Lumens on the lower end (battery-saving mode), and two other output modes in between the high end and lower end modes, the flash light user can set it for any task. Be it blinding your attacker, filling out a report on a night call or finding your holiday decorations in the attic, the Columbia River Tool’s F1010 Flashlight can serve different purposes.

8. Fenix PD Series 1600 lm Flashlight

Price: $99
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Never allow the size of a flashlight to fool you. The Fenix PD Series 1600 lm Flashlight is equipped with a strong Cree Mt-g2 neutral white LED. Besides, the device is powered by powerful one 26650 Li-ion battery which is rechargeable. The flashlight produces a 1600-Lumen output with 200 meters beam distance.

Why buy a flashlight?

Flashlights are among the items that you can use for far more than you expect and are solely missed if you lack one at the right time. Here are some reasons you should buy an excellent flashlight.

1. Self-defence

Flashlights are very help in situations that require self-defence especially when it’s dark. Keep in mind that modern tactical flashlights are very bright. By bright, we mean it hurts one’s brain to look directly at the light. If anyone is threating you, then, you can flash the tactical light in their eyes and blind them temporarily as you get a way to save yourself.

Besides, most tactical flashlights have bezel edges. If you are a law enforcement officer, a militant or police officer, you can use these bezel edges of a tactical flash light to break a window. Besides, you can use the edges to hit an attacker on the head. It can crack one’s skull if smashed too hard. Hitting the attacker will make them give you some attention.

2. Identify threats

A tactical flashlight is a flashlight like any other. It can offer enough light if you are working in dark environment. Besides, if you are walking at night and you need to light so that you can identify a potential danger, a tactical flashlight is a great tool.

3. Can help in emergency situations

If power goes out, having a flashlight means that you have instant light.

Additional sources

  1. Energizer. Flashlights – The History
  2. Tacticals.org. A comparison and review for Tactical Flashlight
  3. Survial Edge Lights. Flashlights – Which one is right for you
  4. Maglite. Maglite Tactical Flashlights
  5. FlashlightWiki. LED (light emitting diode)
  6. ANSI.  Flashlight Performance Standards