Updated: March 25, 2017
Hey! I’m Scott and I have compiled several reviews of the best tactical flashlights for the money on the market for this review. If you would like to skip reading through this, then you can see my favourite flashlight here. I have been a hunter & camper for most of my life (it all began when I was a youngster, camping with my father and brothers). In my 20’s I was also in the military, stationed all over the world in various field situations that required me to hone in on basic survival skills. So, I have learned quite a bit about outdoor equipment over the years, and I will also let you know about the best tactical flashlight for the money. Whether you are a camper or hiker like me, have other types of outdoor hobbies, or find yourself in a job that requires you to learn more about the basics, I wanted to create a platform for you! Keep reading to learn more about my tactical flashlight reviews; you won’t be sorry.
My Recommended Tactical Flashlights
I have created a comparison chart of my top picks, showcasing the KEY pros and cons of some of the best tactical flashlights for the money, including both handheld and weapon mounted tactical options from my reviews. From ‘lower-cost options with powerful components’ to ‘bright, efficient, and most expensive’ I have made sure to provide a well-rounded comparison that will help you make the decision that is best for you!
NOTE: Be sure to bookmark this page and check back often because I will be updating or even removing reviews, as I come across new tactical flashlights to review.
The first piece of advice I can give to you is, you definitely should read this tactical flashlight review all the way to understand which light accommodates your particular needs. Initially, you may think this is inconsequential, but hear me out!
Over the years, my research has led me to discover many positive and negative reviews, with the bad comments coming from people who have bought cheap tactical flashlights. Upon making their purchase, they always seem to wonder why they’ve ended up with something that’s low-quality and poorly designed, and overall, just simply isn’t suitable for what they are trying to do. Like many of the negative reviews I’ve stumbled across, I too have made this same mistake (more than once I have to say)!
If the military taught me anything, it was the power of the gut instinct. Sure, my gut told me to spend the $50, $75 or even $100 it would have taken to get long-lasting, powerful tactical flashlights, but over the years, I have wasted countless dollars that would have allowed me to buy the better-made option multiple times.
Why am I telling you about my embarrassing track record with flashlights? Because I don’t want you to waste money, like I did! Eventually, I made the investment into top flashlights that were quickly proved to be worthwhile investments and lasted longer than I ever imagined. Wow, was I surprised! The quality of materials, longevity of the lights, efficiency, and overall tactical performance DRAMATICALLY outperformed every budget flash light I had ever included in a review in the past!
In a nutshell, whether you need this for hunting, camping, law enforcement, or just general everyday carry, you are better off buying the highest lumen flashlight for the money. Investing into a torch from this tactical flashlight review, is one thing you most certainly will not regret.
Selecting the best tactical flashlight: Pay Attention to the Specs
Selecting the best tactical flashlight involves knowing what you’re going to use it for and making sure you can rely on it in the most extreme survival situations, as even the top rated flashlights might leave you in the dark if you don’t make the right purchase. Like I mentioned before, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with low-budget torches that failed me when I needed them most. The best light is going to be there for you through thick and thin, and that’s what i looked out for in my tactical reviews. It’s going to be an instrument of survival. One of the specs I recommend paying the most attention to when selecting using my tactical light reviews, is the lumens. Imagine a scenario where you’re deep in the wilderness and suddenly you get injured and can’t hike out. You’re deep in the woods, so there’s no cell service. Now if you’re an experienced outdoorsman like me, you’ll have told somebody about your approximate location, but it could still be several hours until they send a search party. As night starts setting in, your best bet for signalling for help is going to hopefully be right on your hip. Hopefully you bought a great tactical torch with a high lumens output because that high beam intensity is going to help you when you need to signal for SOS. And that is exactly why you need to read these tactical light reviews, because you might just find yourself in a situation and not know if you can rely on your Tac Light.
The run time is also crucial when choosing your torch, and it’s one of the main reasons why I do not recommend thinking your smart phone is the best substitute for a dependable light. Your smart phone is going to be drained of battery after 5 or so hours, but if you chose the right model, your light is going to run anywhere from 40-250+ hours. The best tactical flashlight won’t have you worrying about when you might need to charge it next. You can keep it with you and depend on it for weeks of straight usage, and with some extra batteries thrown in your tactical bag, you’re good to go, and thats why I create these reviews, to help you.
The other important spec is durability. The best tactical flashlight is going to be able to take as hard of a hit as you can, as i have tested in my best tactical flashlight review. This baby isn’t going to shatter or break apart at the slightest bump. Military and SWAT professionals know how important durability is, which is why they carry the heavier, sturdy lights. They don’t equip themselves with cheap, flimsy lights that just get left in the glove box or in the junk drawer at home. They know that the right flashlight is going to be with them at all times in some tough situations.
Battery Type, Moisture Resistance, and Accessories
The other specs to consider when choosing the best tactical flashlight are battery type, moisture resistance, and accessories. If the battery type is too difficult to find, then that unit might not be the best option. Ease of use is one of the main features that makes something tactical. Moisture resistance is also something look for. You don’t want the torch to fail on you just because some moisture seeped under the light cover. Lastly, accessories can be important for tactical situations. The best tactical flashlight can easily be secured to you with a holster, or if it doesn’t come with one, you can attach it to your person or bag with a clip.
Hopefully my extensive list of specs, pros, and cons in the tactical flashlight review will help you choose a great companion on your every adventure.
PRODUCT REVIEWS - TOP 5 FLASHLIGHTS
I have had the predecessor of this compact Klarus for years now, and I have been raving on about it to anyone that would listen, saying that this is one of the best tactical flashlights. When placing orders for this review, its needless to say that I was stoked to see that the Klarus XT11 has been updated and is now called the XT11S. Trust me when I say, this flashlight packs a true punch while being comfortably small.
First of all, it has a true brightness of 1100 lumens, making it one of the best brightest flashlights that I reviewed this time around. It also only weighs a mere 4-ounces (without the batteries) which goes up to about 7 ounces with the batteries, making this a super light, yet sturdy tactical companion.
While testing the new XT11S on one of my most recent hikes through a wooded mountain range, I noticed how great it works in extreme low light settings. And being able to charge the unit via USB cable from my portable backup power gave it a massive edge. All in all, I think it’s pretty clear why the Klarus XT11S is hands down my top winner under $100.
- Runs at 1100 Lumens
- Weighs only 4 ounces
- Uses one 18650 industry standard battery
- Runtime ranges from 2 – 260 hours depending on the beam intensity
- Very high beam intensity
- 5 different light modes
- USB Charge point
- Long runtime when combined with quality batteries
- Great accessories
- Belt clip isn’t ideal; I would suggest buying a belt holster
This handy little flashlight (under 50 bucks) is a true star performer for all those wanting to spend a little less money and yet get one of the best flashlights. It’s incredibly light, weighing just 3.2 ounces (with the batteries loaded) but it still performs at an astonishing 260 lumens. During the testing period, I really enjoyed how this light handles, as its straight design with a simple tail-switch fits very nicely into my hands.
One of the key features this budget flashlight has that really surprised me, is that it’s waterproof up to 1-meter in depth and can be submerged for up to 30 minutes! Now while I don’t usually go under water, I feel that this feature would come in very handy if you are caught outdoors during a bad rain and are trying to build your tent up in the wet and dark.
- Has two outputs 13 and 260 lumens
- Waterproof up to 1 meter
- Uses 2 – CR123A batteries (which are included)
- Comes with belt holster
- 3 beam modes
- Budget friendly price
- High quality product
- Delivered with Batteries
- Very lightweight
- Relatively short runtime
- Clip is a little loose; would suggest using belt holster
This beast is a true powerhouse, and all that while being relatively cheap. Weighing in at a full pound (with the batteries loaded) this unit is almost dangerous! When I first received this unit, I saw a lot of resemblance to the old Maglite’s I used to use, before LED Flashlights hit the market. Once I got a chance to start testing the Coast HP17TAC I realised that its nothing like a Maglite. At 615 lumens, it’s a lot brighter, and with a battery life of 15 to 51 hours, I feel confident that this unit will not let me down anytime soon, which is amazing considering it is under 100 dollars.
The fact that it uses 3 D-Cell batteries doesn’t bother me much, it’s the price that really hits home for wanting to own such a powerhouse. I purchased some rechargeable D-Cells and a charger so that I always have a second set of 3 batteries on me or in the car. I will say that I did stress test the flash light a little bit and can only recommend it, as it performed very well during my drop and humidity tests making it one of the best tactical flashlights for the money.
- Very bright 615 Lumens
- Shipped with 3 D-Cell Batteries
- 2 Different brightness settings
- Very Sturdy Build
- Great Battery Life
- Extremely long reach
- Weather sealed unit
- Weight (doesn’t bother me)
- Cost of D-Cell Batteries
As the title suggests, this is a great cheap tactical flashlight. This is one of those “does exactly what it says on the tin” kind of deals. At just under $20, this tactical light is a bit of a bargain.
To keep things simple, here is what I would recommend:
If you are a someone that uses their torch maybe 2-times a year while looking for something in your storage space or as a backup in the car in case you break down, this is the light for you. If you are a serious user or have to use the device in your profession, I would suggest that you go for a more professional setup.
All in all, it performed well and has some perks, such as the AAA-battery converter.
- Up to 600 lumens output
- Shipped with both 18650 battery, as well as a AAA-battery converter
- Includes battery charger in package
- Up to 40-hours of operation on a full charge
- The price is fantastic
- The included battery converter and charger
- Light-weight at just 5.2 ounces
- Not the best build-quality on the market
- Relatively short runtime at just 40-hours max
- You get what you pay for
What a fun flashlight to review! The Foursevens Mini 123 stays very true to its name, being just 2.3 inches long and weighing under 1 ounce it truly is one of the best small flashlights under 100 bucks. While testing the Mini 123, I was seriously impressed by the amount of power that the little guy can exert. 216 lumens to be exact, and all of that from just one CR123A battery. While it arrives without any accessories, it does get delivered with your first small CR123A battery to get you started straight away. During the test, I was able to get about 120-hours of use out of one of these small batteries, while the manufacturer says you can get up to 150 hours in total.
All in all, I would suggest that anyone that works or spends a lot of time outdoors and is looking for a cheap compact light, has one of these either on their key ring, or at the very least stored in their backpack ready to go as this is without a doubt the best small flashlight under 100 dollars.
- Weighs under 1 ounce
- Uses 1 x CR123A battery (included)
- Sturdy moisture resistant build
- 216 lumens at max brightness
- Up to 150 hours of runtime
- Extremely light
- Great price
- Long runtime
- Very small
- Lack of accessories
Other Flashlights To Consider
If you are looking for a top, heavy duty and rotund flashlight that is great for the outdoors, this big boy is the top pick! Coming with six military like modes, projecting light at over 1988 ft. (606 meters) I personally know a lot of ex-military that swear by this particular model for its dual controls, compact body design, waterproofing, and the guarantee from Fenix Lighting. Considering the tough situations that people in SWAT or military services may find themselves in, I have heard many of my old colleagues praise this particular unit for their jobs.
This light has such impressive features, but those features are going to cost you, it is certainly not cheap. Even more, it doesn’t come with many additional accessories, but if you are interested in those, you can buy them bundled. Among one of the more expensive lights on this list, I couldn’t help but rave about this one. Despite its very specific military audience, it is definitely one worth the investment—for the right type person that is, and if its not for you, just continue to read the tactical flashlight review.
- Up to 2600 lumen turbo output
- 18650 batteries (not included)
- Six output options
- Up to 200-hours on low beam
- Great for search and scouting missions
- Ideal flashlights for professions that are extreme
- Limited-Lifetime guarantee Fenix Lighting
- Weight can be too much for some
- Doesn’t come with batteries
This is a fair and standard flashlight that I feel could compliment many individuals. With three different tactical operating modes, anti-roll face-cap, belt clip, and color options, many gravitate to this particular tactical light. When I tested this, it performed well, but despite its durability, I am not convinced that the price warrants the quality. Coming equipped with 2 CR123A batteries, I was impressed with the fact that this is literally a tactical light you can open up and go, straight from the box. If you are someone that is happy to spend a bit of money, but doesn’t want to shop around, this is a great option for you!
- Up to 750 Lumens
- 2 CR123A
- 3 output modes
- Average battery life 1.5 hours (highest mode)
- Handy and lightweight design
- Choose other color besides black
- Various operating modes
- Battery life isn’t that great
- Big ticket for average item
At first glance, this compact flashlight is a top option! Coming with max 1000 lumen, two CR123A lithium batteries, a well-placed tail switch, and a compact design in every way, this is a high-performing piece for sure. This is a tactical unit that I would happily suggest for hobbyist that spend a lot of time outdoors and are interested in a light mechanism to keep handy. During my tests, I noticed that it didn’t handle falls from big heights during my drop tests, so that is definitely something to keep in mind when ordering.
Recognizing the above point, I would say this is another great torch that comes with plenty of features, but I am not as convinced on the quality for the price. While this is a top option, you may want to consider that it failed some of my drop tests and that its components are pretty standard. I will say, I was really impressed with how far the tactical beam will reach (656 feet).
- Up to 1000 Lumens
- 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery OR two 3V CR123A
- 6 output modes
- Average battery life 1 h.r and 10 minutes (highest mode) and 140 hr. (lowest mode)
- Option for different battery types
- Great Design
- Various output modes
- Big price tag for pretty standard flashlight
- Failed drop tests
The EagleTac G25C2 is a great flashlight all-around. It has a very high manufacturing quality and works super well. The manufacturer says that its waterproof, but only at a restricted depth and time, so I was a little afraid to test it out. Needless to say, this light is great for the outdoors, especially if you expect to be in rainy terrain.
And it does come with a compact strike bezel, and belt clip which can come very handy if you do plan on taking this unit hiking for instance.
It also comes with a tactical tail switch which can of course be handy while wearing gloves, or of course if you want to mount this on your firearm.
I will say, that other than the manufacturing quality this is a fairly no frills tactical light, and its not cheap, being priced over $100.00 I am not sure it’s your best purchase, and for that reason its ranked 9th on my list of top 10.
- Limited waterproofing
- Up to 310 yards’ beam
- 1180 Lumens beam intensity
- Weighs approx. 4.8 ounces
- Uses 2 x CR123A batteries
- Great manufacturing quality
- Long beam range
- Multiple beam settings
- Lack of accessories
The SureFire Defender, what a beautiful flashlight to have as part of your professional kit. While it’s nowhere near cheap enough to be on any budget flashlight list, it makes up for its price in quality. The Defender is one of the few units I have tested under the $200 mark that you can buy spare parts for, not that you’d need them.
The output range is between 5 and 500 lumens depending on the beam intensity that you choose. Which of course has a direct impact on the life you will get out of the 2 CR123As.
What is somewhat disappointing with this flashlight is that it doesn’t come bundled with any accessories despite the price as well as not being compatible with the common 18650 rechargeable batteries. All in all, I would give this a 10/10 for people who use these kinds of flashlights professionally, as its very unlikely to let you down. On the other hand, someone that is trying to buy a cheap flashlight, this is not for you!
- 2 light modes 5 and 500 lumens
- Fantastic Quality
- Uses 2 CR123A batteries
- Can be clipped onto firearms
- Weights approx. 4.8 ounces
- Fantastic feel
- Great battery life on lower setting
- Build quality
- Strike bezel built in
- Very bright
- Only 2 light settings
- Lack of accessories
- High price for what you get
Learn How to Select for Your Needs! Personal and Professional Uses for the best Tacticals
When it comes to discovering best tactical lights for either a personal or professional requirement, look no further! Below I have detailed both professional and personal instances that may require my tactical reviews, detailing all the specifics. From a vast range of careers (security, police, and SWAT officers) to hobbyists (hikers, campers, and fishers) I have done my best to cover and offer as much advice and options regarding the type of led light that is going to best suit you. Of course, for everyone, it is always going to boil down to personal preference and budget, but hopefully with my guidance, I can help you figure out which highest performing torch for money is going to be best for you!
Depending upon the kinds of gigs that you do, I have personally known many security officers that are ex-military that work as personal security guards for high-clientele. I also have become acquainted with people that work in prisons or in low-risk security jobs, just to simply have something to do. Wherever you find yourself, having a dependable unit as a security guard is a must, and it is best to look for one that is easy to hold, made of quality materials, and has added features of a holster and/or pocket clip.
Police officers have a lot to consider when they are looking for one of the best torches that is going to serve them in the field. Working in compromising situations myself, I always found it essential to have a torch that was very lightweight, produced a significant beam, and was waterproof so it could withstand every weather condition. With modern conveniences, I also advise you to look for a light that has the ability to be charged in your cruiser AND comes with batteries and a charging cable, taking all of the guess work out of your purchase. As a police officer, you must consider this as a worthwhile investment that will get you through situations that you never anticipated!
Members of a SWAT are accustomed to the most extreme situations, meaning they need units that are proven to withstand every kind of situation. I have noticed that many SWAT members are interested in torches that produce a beam that goes up to (or even surpasses) 1000 lumens, making it quite a capable torch for scaring off intruders or even temporarily blinding an assailant in the case of close combat. Of course, there are options that are lighter and that average civilians use for protection, but SWAT members are never going to be disappointed in a light that over performs in every way.
Compared to SWAT equipment, my experience has shown that military personnel are typically looking for equipment that is primarily defined by its extended range rather than the intensity of the beam and thats not always easy to find even in the best of units. Mil-spec is usually made of lightweight, but resilient materials such as carbon fibre, aluminum, or magnesium alloy since they are expected to be used in less than hospitable conditions, i.e. deserts, mountain ranges, or underground caverns. High-end special ops lights are also usually either waterproof or water resistant.
Camping and/or Hiking
As a hiker and camper myself, I know how extreme the darkness can get and how many unexpected things can happen in the wilderness (especially at night) that may require a dependable unit. If you find yourself looking for this type of light, you really need to be looking for a light, waterproof, and sturdy piece that is going to be resilient in every type of condition. In my experience, a flashlight that has a guarantee to last a long time is also helpful in these situations, as you may not have access to a power source to recharge your equipment.
Even the most experienced & enthusiastic outdoorsman would tell you that it is always a good idea to have a torch on hand whenever possible. An outdoor strobe is one of the best types of lights hunters can invest in. These lights typically run on high capacity rechargeable batteries as they tend to consume a lot of power within a very short time. Some also prefer a strobing laser combo, especially those that like cutting edge technology. A tactical light with laser and strobe feature are commonly used for long range weapons, such as scope rifles, the AR 15 is a great example of this. Some also fit Glock pistols and shotguns, depending on their specifications.
From the bait to the catch, fishing in the dark is a pastime that many hobbyists indulge in year-round. Whether you are fishing from a boat or bank fishing, you need to have a dependable light source (besides the stunning moon) that will allow you to see when you are putting on your bait, casting, reeling, and taking your catch off the line. It is always important to consider the elements and accidents that could be around the corner, so make sure you have selected one that is waterproof and comes with clips that make accessibility easier, you will see all details of these in my tactical flashlight reviews.
Protection: Self-Defense, Home-Defense, etc.
If you are interested in investing into a unit that serves dual purposes of a household device and as a self defense tool, you should really consider purchasing one that comes with various modes making it a strobing flashlight. An excellent source of protection if you found yourself in a compromising situation, it is important that you explore options that are versatile, long-lasting, well-made, and dependable in every type of possible emergency. Whether you are faced with a home invasion, flash floods, tornados, hurricane, or any other extreme, investing into a dependable all weather companion is a must, so do your favour and read my tactical flashlight review. Keep in mind that if you are looking to use it for self defense, then the strobing feature will be invaluable for you.
Many people don’t consider having a light for signalling until they find themselves in a situation that calls for one. An important purchase to make that is handy for a variety of people, like drivers, farmers, or hikers to name a few, a strobing flashlight that is capable of producing a high beam is a significant investment to make. You should be looking for a battery unit that will last at a minimum of 150-hours, is lightweight, and is renowned for being a durable piece of equipment.
The best gadgets have evolved from being rudimentary illumination sources to fully functional tools that can save lives, prevent crimes, and apprehend lawless criminals. Here are some of the available accessories to choose from, along with their main functions/uses.
Assault or Aggressive Strike Bezels
These can be attached and detached as the need arises. They are very useful when fending off an attacker who is physically imposing and/or too close for comfort, or for breaking glass in any kind of rescue attempt. They’re usually made of tougher material since they are expected to be used for hard knocks and other types of blunt force.
This is mainly for hands-free use, which is ideal for when you are hiking or biking in the dark. There are small reversible clips that can be used on a belt or a hat, or removable mounts to attach to the handlebars of any bicycle. There are also attachments for pistols and long guns, which can easily turn a handheld tactical flashlight into hands-free weapon light.
Holster or Holder
Perhaps one of the most practical accessory to get, preferably one made of genuine leather or ballistic nylon for additional protection. Some are open at the top, allowing for easy drawing and holstering, or for more physical adventures, there are also a few that can be closed off with Velcro or snaps, to prevent the light from bouncing out.
There you have it, my 2 cents on the best accessories and uses for some of the best tactical flashlights for the money!