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If you’ve looked online for a new flashlight lately, chances are you’ve seen the word “tactical” used to describe some models. A tactical flashlight is typically built for more rugged use than a regular model, with a heavier-duty aluminum body. Most are impact-resistant and water-resistant, and some are even fully waterproof for a period of time. They won’t roll around on a flat surface, and while brightness varies by model, they are typically brighter than the average flashlight you would stash in your kitchen drawer.
Tactical flashlights can be used for just about anything. They are built to withstand considerable wear and tear, have a an optial spotlight capabilities, can help you see hotspots or dark corners (like in basements behind furnaces) and are especially well suited for the outdoors. These flashlights are smaller and designed for easy every day carrying and use.
Here are six of the best tactical flashlights on the market:
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Best Overall: Fenix FX-PD35TAC
Bright, simple and reliable, the Fenix FX-PD35TAC is a tactical flashlight that owners say they’re proud to have at the ready. At 6 inches long and only a few ounces, it’s small and light, but make no mistake – with maximum brightness of 1,000 lumens and beam distance of 656 feet, it has ample light and power for just about any task. It also takes either rechargeable batteries or non-rechargeable CR123A lithium batteries.
The FX-PD35TAC is built for the long haul, with a 50,000-hour LED, stainless-steel side switch, anti-roll aircraft-grade aluminum body and anodized anti-abrasive finish. It’s even waterproof to 6.5 feet for 30 minutes. There are two operating modes: tactical and outdoor; settings include turbo, high, mid, low, eco and strobe. Runtime ranges from 70 minutes on turbo to 140 hours on eco. Owners say this is a high-quality flashlight, with outstanding brightness and intuitive, easy-to-use switches. They also appreciate the carry clip and momentary-on feature, activated with just the press of a button. Some do complain that the batteries and charger aren’t included, though. It’s backed by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty.
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Best Budget: J5 Hyper V Tactical
Cheap flashlights are a dime a dozen, but owners say the J5 Hyper V Tactical Flashlight is among your best choices in a crowded field. This 400-lumen flashlight can throw a beam up to an impressive 800 feet – that’s more than two football fields – but weighs just 4 ounces and is just 5 inches long. It’s powered by three AAA alkaline batteries, so if you want a model that can use rechargeables, look elsewhere.
The J5 Hyper V doesn’t have as many modes as other models – you’ll only get high, low and strobe – but it has a convenient belt clip and an anti-roll aluminum case. It also has adjustable zoom that allows the beam to go from wide to narrow, a feature usually found on pricier flashlights. It is not waterproof, however. Owners say they’re surprised at how sturdy this flashlight is for the money, but others complain that the belt clip is flimsy or the brightness wasn’t as promised. There is a money-back guarantee, but no formal warranty.
03 of 06
Best Ultra-Bright: Streamlight 88060 Pro Tac HL 4
Whether you need the brightest possible light for outdoor activities or need assurance that you won’t be left in the dark during a power outage, the Streamlight 88060 Pro Tac HL 4 offers a dazzling maximum output of 2,200 lumens – that’s enough for activities like caving or even nighttime search and rescue missions – and an extremely long beam distance of more than 1,100 feet. Like the Fenix FX-PD35TAC, it can run on either rechargeable lithium-ion batteries or disposable CR123A lithium batteries.
The Streamlight is on the bigger side at just under 9 inches long, and it weighs just over a pound – unsurprising, given its power. It’s waterproof up to a bit over 3 feet for 30 minutes and features a sure-grip rubber sleeve and an aircraft-grade, anti-roll aluminum anodized body. You’ll get high, medium and low modes as well as strobe; runtime ranges from 90 minutes on high to 43 hours on low. A wrist lanyard and momentary-on are other features. Owners are thrilled with how much light this model puts out, with most saying it’s the brightest flashlight they’ve ever used. A few caution that the extreme brightness means it washes out objects that are close by, though. It’s backed by a limited lifetime warranty.
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Best Compact: Nitecore P12 Compact Tactical LED Flashlight
They say good things often come in small packages, and that’s certainly true of the Nitecore P12. This rechargeable flashlight weighs just a few ounces and is only a bit over 5 inches long, making it easy to hold in the palm of your hand, shove in a pocket, or keep anywhere you’re crunched for space. But it’s also impressively powerful, with a maximum light output of 1,000 lumens and a beam distance of up to 756 feet.
The Nitecore can be powered by its rechargeable batteries (a charger is included) or two CR123A lithium batteries. It has four light levels – high, medium, low, and “lower,” – as well as strobe, S.O.S. and even a location beacon. Runtime is 75 minutes on high and 28 hours on low. It’s also waterproof to over 6 feet and impact-resistant. Built-in memory keeps tabs on your selected mode, which is easy to select with a side-mounted button. Owners love how much light they get from such a small package and say battery life is great. A few say the flashlight died after several months, though. It’s covered by a five-year warranty.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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Best Water-Resistant: Orcatorch T20 Tactical Flashlight
True to its name, the Orcatorch T20 Tactical Flashlight is waterproof underwater two meters (or for 30 minutes). Beyond that, though, it offers a respectably bright 980 lumens and an impressive beam distance of 1,000 feet. It also offers a convenient USB charging option – just plug the light in directly to a USB port. (It’s also compatible with disposable CR123A lithium batteries.)
The Orcatorch includes both a clip and a holster for versatile carrying options, but at just over 6 inches long and 6 ounces, it’s still small enough to shove in a large pocket if you’re in a pinch. Like most other tactical flashlights, it has an impact-resistant aircraft-grade aluminum body with an anti-abrasive finish. Versatile operating modes include turbo, high, medium, “moonlight,” S.O.S. and strobe; maximum runtime on turbo is just over four hours, relatively impressive compared with other models. Owners say there’s not a lot this flashlight can’t handle, and they love getting rechargeable batteries and a charger included with purchase. It’s backed by a two-year warranty.
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Best Rechargeable: Supernova Guardian 1300XL
The Supernova Guardian 1300XL Tactical Flashlight is a bright, well-rounded model that includes two rechargeable batteries and a charger (often a separate purchase on other models). It also runs on three AAA alkaline batteries (included, too) if you’re in a pinch, though. As its name suggests, maximum brightness is 1300 lumens – enough for everything short of intense nighttime searches.
With the Supernova Guardian, you’ll get a removable belt clip; anti-slip handle; waterproof, shock-resistant aluminum casing; and five operating modes: full, medium, low, strobe and S.O.S. The flashlight also has a handy memory feature and a rigid strike bevel for anyone who has to use it for law enforcement or security duty. It’s relatively compact at around 6 inches long, and weighs only 5 ounces. Reviewers say the light is bright, well-made and easy to use, though there are some scattered durability complaints. It’s backed by a five-year warranty.