With the emergence of LED technology, flashlights have changed quite a bit. They are smaller, brighter and more energy efficient. Many new models are so compact that they fit in your pocket, while still providing a powerful portable light source, the main reason most people use them. The tactical LED flashlights discussed here do indeed meet this purpose but also offer much more than the typical flashlight you keep at home.
Tactical flashlights are often designed to very high quality standards, even to military grade standards using materials like aerospace grade aluminum (high strength and quality to be used in aerospace manufacturing). The more expensive (usually > $80) tactical flashlights, which are built to these higher standards can be used by military and police personnel and are super sturdy, high-powered, made to withstand high impact and are for the most part made to be waterproof.
They are also designed for different purposes like self-defense, hunting and emergency situations. These different and specific purposes are what differentiate tactical flashlights from general purpose flashlights you’re probably accustomed to keeping in your home.
A common feature of tactical flashlights is their brightness. They are so bright that the light would hurt your eyes to look at them. With one of these handy in a self-defense situation, you have an advantage of being able to flash this bright light at your opponent to temporarily blind them and give you time to run away or take another action. Most of the models described later in the article also have bezel edges (the bezel is the outside edge surrounding the light at the head of the flashlight) which help make the flashlight an effective weapon against an attacker. See the video below to get some insight into how a tactical LED flashlight can be used to defend yourself against an attacker:
Since tactical flashlights are meant to be accessible at all times for emergency situations, they are often small enough to fit in your pocket or to attach to your belt with a clip.
These flashlights are so useful and effective for self-defense, for use in emergencies and in many more less stressful applications; they are a must have! They also make fantastic gifts and stocking stuffers on Christmas! Below, you will find great information for some of the most popular tactical flashlights. The prices and features vary greatly among them. You are bound to find one that will fit your needs and budget.
- 1 Surefire Backup Click Switch Dual Output LED Flashlight
- 2 SureFire E2L Outdoorsman Dual Output LED Flashlight
- 3 Supernova Guardian 1300 Professional Series Ultra Bright Rechargeable Tactical LED
- 4 1000 Lumen Helotex G4 Tactical Flashlight
- 5 NITECORE P12 2015 Version 1000 Lumens Precise Tactical Flashlight CREE XM-L2 U2 LED
- 6 Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL High Lumen Lithium Professional Tactical Light with White LED
- 7 EcoGear FX LED Flashlight (TK120)
- 8 Klarus XT11S Cree XP-L HI-V3 LED 1100 Lumens 18650 Tactical Rechargeable Flashlight
- 9 SureFire Defender Series LED Flashlights with Strike Bezel
- 10 Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 Lumen CREE XP-L LED Tactical Flashlight
- 11 Coast HP17TAC 615 Lumen LED Flashlight with Tactical Strobe
- 12 ZeroHour XD-Tactical Flashlight with integrated USB Battery Backup
- 13 Which Tactical LED Flashlight Is Best For You?
The EB1 backup, made by Surefire, one of the most reputable manufacturers of tactical flashlights, is extremely compact (1.14 x 4.37 x 1.14 inches and weighing only 3.3 ounces). Despite its compact size, it offers a powerful high intensity 200 Lumen beam. (Note that lumens is a measure of the total light output of the flashlight. Depending on the type of lens, this output can be more focused creating a high intensity light or more spread out lighting a large area with less intensity). The LED emitter and TIR (Total Internal Reflection) lens make it possible for this little flashlight to have a far-reaching focused beam, i.e. up to 30-50 feet in complete darkness. This blinding beam would certainly overwhelm an adversary and help identify danger in the dark. You can switch between this high output setting and a low 5-lumen setting (ideal for reading a map or checking a manual) by clicking a push button. Using the low output setting can provide up to 40 hours of runtime!
It is a very rugged tactical flashlight, built using high-strength aerospace aluminum, so you don’t have to worry about being gentle with it. It fits very comfortably in your pocket making it so convenient to carry around wherever you go, ready to use when you need it most.
Another amazing tactical flashlight made by Surefire is the E2L Outdoorsman. It has many of the same features as the EB1 with two output levels, a 5-lumen low setting and a slightly lower but still powerful 110-lumen maximum setting. The E2L Outdoorsman is also made with the same high-strength aerospace aluminum and TIR lens for the focused beam. It is also slightly larger with dimensions of 4 x 2 x 7.5 inches and weighing 4.2 ounces.
This flashlight has some of the best reviews. Many owners of the E2L love the long lasting battery life. The low 5-lumen output is quite sufficient for most everyday applications, like taking an evening walk or finding your way in a dark room (perhaps during a power outage). With a click of a button, you can turn it into a weapon against an attacker or shine far into the dark to be aware of your night-time surroundings. This flashlight is highly recommended.
The Supernova Guardian 1300XL has a light intensity of 1300 lumens, far exceeding the flashlights we’ve looked at so far! It uses an ultra bright CREE XM-L U2 LED bulb giving its incredible brightness and large area of focus. When combined with strobe mode and its super-focused beam, this flashlight will disorient and blind an attacker in seconds (even during daylight). Here are some more features:
- Scratch and shock resistant
- Textured anti-slip grip
- 5 modes of operation (low, medium, full, strobe and SOS)
- Removable belt clip
- Rechargeable and comes with 2 rechargeable lithium 18650 batteries and charger
- Also comes with a sleeve that holds 3 AAA batteries as an alternative power source
- Waterproof casing
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.8 x 1.8 inches; 5.1 ounces
- Can be mounted to a rifle using the iPROTEC LG Universal Long Gun Mount
- Remote pressure switch for firearm mounts
There’s a soft touch button to cycle through the different modes, but settings cannot be saved. When you turn it on, it will default to the brightest light mode. Also, the focus of the light beam cannot be adjusted like some other flashlights. Apart from these two negative points, this is a very affordable tactical LED flashlight, especially for the brightness and features it offers.
The Helotex G4, at 1000 lumens output, has a far beam throw and a three hour battery life at high mode (it also has low mode and strobe mode). It’s a great entry level model selling at under 50 dollars! It features o-ring seals for weather resistance and has a belt clip built in. This little tactical flashlight, however, does not have the beam focus feature.
- Product Dimensions: Length: 5.5″, Tube Diameter: 1″, Bezel Diameter: 1.4″; 5 ounces
- 3 Modes: High, Low, Strobe
- Toggle between modes with a tap on the on/off button at the rear of the flashlight
- Reverts back to high mode whenever it’s turned on
- Uses CREE XM-L2 LED bulb
- Runs on two CR123 batteries or a single 18650 rechargeable battery (not included with the flashlight)
This is another amazing flashlight that’s small enough to carry around in your pocket or purse. It is very durable and is in high demand. It’s probably one of the best deals with all you get for the price.
Nitecore P12 offers astounding 520 hours of runtime on a single charge – that’s when using its lower output setting! It’s impact resistant to one and a half meters, which means it’s tough and can withstand a drop. The Nitecore P12 boasts a peak beam intensity of 13,500cd. With this flashlight, you can store preferred brightness settings unlike some of the flashlights reviewed earlier. It also has a side switch making it easy to operate with one hand.
- Product Dimensions: Length: 5.47 inches, Diameter 1.00 inch; 3.1 ounces
- Waterproof: IPX-8 (2 meter submersible) See this forum post for an explanation of the IPX8 Standard
- Uses either two CR123 batteries or a single 18650 rechargeable battery
- Peak Beam Intensity: 13,500 cd
- Beam Distance: 253 yards
- Accessories include a holster, pocket clip, a lanyard (to hang it around your neck) and a tactical ring (grip)
- High: 1000 lumens for up to 1 hour and 15 minutes
- Medium: 240 lumens for up to 6 hours
- Low: 70 lumens for up to 28 hours
- Lower: 1 lumens for up to 520 hours!
- Special Mode: Strobe, SOS and location beacon
This is another great value providing high quality for the price and would make another great entry level model!
The Streamlight ProTAC HL is available in models ranging from 70 lumens to 850 lumens. It is completely waterproof making it perfect for extreme circumstances and uses C4 LED technology to provide its extreme white light. This tactical LED flashlight also comes in black and pink offering some variety in appearance, has an anti-roll face cap and belt holster. The beam is not adjustable and has a reach of about 10-15 feet.
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches; 5.6 ounces
- Comes with 2 CR123A batteries (average 1.5 hour battery life)
- Comes in black or pink
- Aircraft aluminum
The EcoGear FX is a lower cost model but has some unique features and makes an awesome entry level tactical LED flashlight. It has a zoom function for focusing the beam on a targeted area or widening the beam to illuminate a large area. With a maximum light output of 1200 lumens and 5 modes of operation, the EcoGear FX is versatile and great for hiking, camping, security and general household use. It includes spare o-rings, a pre-attached lanyard and contains a powerful CREE T6 LED chip.
- Product Dimensions: length: 6.25 inches, Head Diameter: 1.5 inches, Body Diameter: 1.1 inches; 5 ounces
- Zoom: x1 x250 x500 x1000 x2000
- Solid high quality aluminum
- 5 Modes: High, Medium, Low, Fast Strobe, SOS Signal
- Runs on three AAA alkaline batteries or one 18650 lithium-ion battery (not included)
Klarus XT11S, weighing only seven ounces when loaded with batteries, offers a true brightness of 1100 lumens, which is quite high for a hand-held flashlight. Furthermore, it has five different light mode settings providing a range of 2 to 260 hours of runtime and instant turbo mode for emergencies. It charges from a USB port.
- Uses CREE XP-L HI V3 LED (lifespan of up to 50,000 hours)
- Runs on one 18650 battery or two CR123A batteries
- Battery capacity indicator
- Side switch with a lock function
- Modes: Conventional Tactical Mode, Hunting Mode, Ultimate Tactical Mode
- Memorized Function Ability
Surefire offers some of the best tactical flashlights on the market. The SureFire Defender Series LED flashlights offer two models, a 300 lumens and a 500 lumens flashlight. They are reliable and very compact, even fitting in your pocket. Both come with two output levels, either 300 or 500 lumens on high depending on the model and 5 lumens on low for extended runtime. Features include a built in belt clip, a strike bezel for defense, a sturdy aerospace aluminum body and a tight extended beam.
Other features include:
- Dimensions: 4″ x 2″ x 8″
- Weight: 7 oz with a shipping weight of 8 oz
- Tight, far-reaching beam with enough surround light for peripheral vision
The Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 is another pocket-sized tactical flashlight that is very bright. Because it has a sturdy protective housing, it will last for years. Furthermore, the Cree XP-L (V5) LED used by the Fenix PD35 is estimated to have a 50,000 hour life span! Constant brightness is maintained digitally. The Fenix PD35 has a momentary on function, and it can be mounted to a rifle.
This tactical flashlight has a tactical mode and an outdoor mode, which you can switch between by pressing and holding a side button for 3 seconds. In tactical mode, there are three output settings:
- Turbo providing 1000 Lumens for up to 1 hour and 10 minutes
- Low providing 60 Lumens for up to 29 hours and 15 minutes
- Strobe providing 1000 Lumens
In output mode, there are 6 settings:
- Turbo providing 1000 Lumens for up to 1 hour and 10 minutes
- High providing 500 Lumens for up to 2 hours and 55 minutes
- Mid providing 200 Lumens for up to 8 hours and 30 minutes
- Low providing 60 Lumens for up to 29 hours and 15 minutes
- Eco providing 8 Lumens for up to 140 hours
- Strobe providing 1000 Lumens
- Measures at less than 5.51″
- Up to 1000 Lumens
- Uses CREE XP-L(V5) LED – lifespan of 50,000 hours
- Low-voltage indicator for battery replacement
The Coast HP17TAC is a larger tactical flashlight at 13.12 inches in length. At this length, it can double as a defense weapon. This flashlight is water resistant and impact resistant making it extremely durable under harsh conditions, so much that it’s backed by a lifetime warranty! At the highest output setting of 615 lumens, it still has a 15 hour run time. It also has a high powered strobe mode and a low output of 64 lumens which can provide up to 51 hours of run time.
Additional features include:
- Weight: 1 lb (2.4 lbs shipping weight)
- Dimensions: 13.1″ x 1.5″ x 1.5″
- Color: black
- Material: Aluminum
- Beam distance of 882 ft on high and 154 ft on low
- Includes batteries
- COAST’s lifetime guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship
The ZeroHour XD is a 1000 lumen tactical flashlight that can also be used as a battery backup power source for smaller electronic devices, like smartphones. This power is accessible via dual USB output ports. It uses a super bright CREE XM-L2 LED bulb to provide up to 1000 lumens. With low, medium and high power modes, it can provide the balance you need between efficiency and performance. On low mode, you can get run times of up to 160 hours (at 20 lumens), 13 hours on medium and 6.5 hours on high. Its wide beam and great distance (throw) can light up your whole yard.
Tactical flashlight status is earned by its durable stainless steel bezel, potentially making it a solid weapon against in a threatening situation! Furthermore, this flashlight will not break! It’s built like a tank. The ZeroHour XD is definitely one of the most versatile tactical flashlights on the market. Here are some more features and accessories for this amazing tool:
- 1,000 lumen CREE LED bulb
- Durable aircraft aluminum body and stainless steel bezel
- Over 10000mAh of power for mobile devices
- USB power adapter
- USB charging cable
- Microfiber carrying bag
- Drawstring backpack
- 3 x 3400mAh 18650 batteries
- Dimensions: 2.28″ x 7.28″
- Weight: 13oz without batteries / 17.8oz with 3 batteries
- Modes: Low-Med-High-Full + Strobe/SOS
Which Tactical LED Flashlight Is Best For You?
There are many factors to consider when selecting a tactical LED flashlight: cost, purpose, features (light output, light modes, size, type of switch, etc.). The most feature rich flashlights are the ZeroHour XD and Surefire Defender, but they are also the most expensive. Most of the other flashlights reviewed here are in the $50-$100 range and will offer the quality and durability you would expect from a true tactical LED flashlight. Choose the one that offers the features you most desire. There are hundreds of tactical flashlights to choose from. This is just a short list of proven and highly reviewed flashlights with which you can’t go wrong!