A good tactical flashlight is a heavy-duty, durable torch that is used for more than just power outages and left in a kitchen drawer the rest of the time. These stronger, higher powered flashlights have features that make them great for rugged outdoor use, self-defense purposes, search and rescue operations, and are even used by members of the military and police officers. They need to be waterproof, have a high lumen level, and many are even equipped to be mounted to a long gun, such as a rifle or an assault weapon.
With so many different types of tactical flashlights available, it may seem a daunting task to find the right one to suit your needs, so here are the key features to look for when buying a tactical flashlight, to make your choice just a little bit easier.
- Size – If a flashlight is too heavy, you won’t be comfortable carrying it around with you at all times. That’s why it is important to find a small torch, one that can fit in the palm of your hand, or into a pocket or bag. If you don’t carry it on you, it is of no use on a dark street where you may need it not only for lighting purposes but for use in defending yourself from attack.
- Lumen Output – Tactical flashlights usually have high lumen levels, but really, anything over 120 lumens is good for civilian use. There are a few reasons why you need such a bright light. The first is to light your way, obviously, but not just the area in front of you. You want to be able to see far ahead, so you can be aware of any possible threats before they are in the range of harming you. Another reason is that brighter lights can blind anyone coming at you, making them stop and shield their eyes, giving you the opportunity to escape and seek help if needed.
- Housing – As careful as you may be with your light, you may at some point drop it, or need to use it as a weapon in the event of an attack. A high-quality tactical torch is made of hard-anodized aluminum, which is extremely durable, yet still lightweight and easy to carry. A texturized grip is also important, so the light doesn’t slip out of your hand when you need it.
- Waterproof – If out in the rain, you don’t want to have to worry about shielding your light, or keeping it hidden. It is useless if it can’t be used at all times. That’s why waterproofing is so important. Look for one that uses rubber O-rings in its gasket seals, to ensure no water will leak into the housing. Also, check the waterproof rating, to see if it can be submerged, just in case you drop it into a puddle.
- Bulb Type – There are two types of bulbs to choose from. Incandescent bulbs are not as common, and should probably be avoided because they have a tendency to break easily. LED’s are stronger, will not break if dropped, and use less energy, which means your flashlight’s battery will last longer.
- Switch Style – There are a few different switch types, including sliding side switches, push buttons on either the side or tail and twistable tail switches. All are usable, but the best options are the ones that only require one hand. Push button sides or tails are the easiest to use and keep your other hand free, just in case you need it.
- Light Modes – Tactical flashlights usually have multiple light modes, and some even include SOS and strobe functions. In emergency situations, such as getting lost in the woods, these can be handy, but ordinarily, you won’t need them. And though it may be easy to push the button a few extra times to find the level you want, you may need those extra seconds to check your surroundings or deter an attack, so it is probably best to do without them.
Remember, the tactical torch that works for your buddy may not be best for you, so always look closely at the features each flashlight offers, to ensure you have bought a handy tool that you will use for years to come.