Tactical Flashlights: Ultimate List & High-Quality Equipment in 2018

Tactical flashlights come in two versions, a hand-held flashlight that is used by law enforcement agencies and military personnel for personal use in the dark, and gun mounted flashlights that provide extra directional accuracy for tactical use in dark environments.

Due to their intensity (measured in Lumens) tactical flashlights may also be used as momentary blinding weapons, causing the enemy to suffer temporary blindness which is enough time for the attacker to either overcome the opponent and either subdue them or shoot them.

PhotoProduct nameMore information
1. SureFire P3X Fury Tactical Ultra-High Single-Output LED1. SureFire P3X Fury Tactical Ultra-High Single-Output LEDView on Amazon
2. Nitecore MH25GT 1000 Lumen USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight2. Nitecore MH25GT 1000 Lumen USB Rechargeable LED FlashlightView on Amazon
3. ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L Cool White Flashlight3. ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L Cool White FlashlightView on Amazon
4. Fenix PD35TAC 1000 Lumens4. Fenix PD35TAC 1000 LumensView on Amazon
5. Nitecore MT10A Multitask Tactical Flashlight5. Nitecore MT10A Multitask Tactical FlashlightView on Amazon
6. PROTAC® 1AA FLASHLIGHT6. PROTAC® 1AA FLASHLIGHTView on Amazon
7. Nitecore MT10C Multitask Tactical Flashlight7. Nitecore MT10C Multitask Tactical FlashlightView on Amazon
8. Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight, 1300 Lumens8. Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight, 1300 LumensView on Amazon
9. Olight M2R Warrior 1500 Lumen9. Olight M2R Warrior 1500 LumenView on Amazon
10. Thorfire Powerful Flashlight, BLF Q8 5000 Lumen, 4 XPL LED, Professional Tactical Light10. Thorfire Powerful Flashlight, BLF Q8 5000 Lumen, 4 XPL LED, Professional Tactical LightView on Amazon
11. Klarus XT11GT 2000 Lumens11. Klarus XT11GT 2000 LumensView on Amazon
12. ORCATORCH T20 980 Lumens Compact Police Tactical Flashlight12. ORCATORCH T20 980 Lumens Compact Police Tactical FlashlightView on Amazon
13. Streamlight TLR-2® Gun Light13. Streamlight TLR-2® Gun LightView on Amazon
14. Streamlight TLR-4® Gun Light14. Streamlight TLR-4® Gun LightView on Amazon
15. Streamlight TLR-1® Gun Light15. Streamlight TLR-1® Gun LightView on Amazon
16. Inforce WML White16. Inforce WML WhiteView on Amazon
17. SureFire X300U-B T-Slot Mounting Rail17. SureFire X300U-B T-Slot Mounting RailView on Amazon
18. Inforce APLc18. Inforce APLcView on Amazon
19. SureFire X400UH-A-RD Ultra-High-Output White LED + Red Laser19. SureFire X400UH-A-RD Ultra-High-Output White LED + Red LaserView on Amazon
20. C5L Green Laser Sight + Tactical Light20. C5L Green Laser Sight + Tactical LightView on Amazon
21. HSP Inforce WML 400L Black21. HSP Inforce WML 400L BlackView on Amazon
22. Orion H40-W H20-R H20-G LED Flashlights22. Orion H40-W H20-R H20-G LED FlashlightsView on Amazon
Some tactical flashlight is large units and acts as clubs as well as torches, as such, police officers have been trained to use their large tactical lights for clubbing extremely violent offender during a procedure.
The basic features that make most flashlight tactical include:

Lightweight: the body is made of aluminum, or carbon composite and is light enough to mount a gun and not cause any aiming issues.

Shock Resistant: they must be able to withstand blows and knocks that can occur during deployment.

Reliable: they must be able to maintain their light at all times, and when mounted be steady. Which means that their battery is long lasting and can be recharged during operation.

Powerful: with varying light levels, they must be capable of delivering a high-intensity beam of light.

Water/Dust Proof: tactical lights are expected to perform in many environments, so they are designed to withstand water (underwater) conditions as well as dust.

Optional features may include:

  • Laser Sighting: some units will include a laser beam option to allow accurate aiming of weapons.
  • Color Filters: some units will come in different colors for identification during team activities, as well as reducing the light to a level that can be muted during the operation.
  • Infra-Red (IR): some units will include an IR option, allowing them to be used in conjunction with night vision units.

To sum up, a professional tactical flashlight whether mounted or handheld is as strong as a tank, withstands adverse environments and provides a long steady high-intensity beam of light with options for task specific requirements.

Handheld lights

Handheld flashlights are designed to be used with light hand-held weapons, and police have been training with the use of a hand-held torch while using a hand-held gun since the early 1930’s. Handheld units must be small, easy to carry, easy to operate and reliable. They must produce enough light to allow the user ease of aim, as well as the ability to see extremely well within the path of light.
flashlight
For ease of use, most tactical flashlights will have special features making them effective tools in handgun operations. The designs will include slimness of the body, an added ring for fitting over a finger to assure the unit does not drop, and some will include an easy to use an on-off switch that will allow the holder the ability to control the light source in situations where stealth is key.

Some units will come with a lanyard so that when a magazine must be replaced or bullets filled into a barrel, the torch will not be dropped when the user needs to reload. Specialty units designed for law enforcement will include a “crown” around the lenses, this is not for “beauty” this is a tactical weapon attachment and is used by the enforcer during a close combat situation. The crown is used in a hammer fist strike.

Weapon-mounted flashlights

The first patented weapon mounted light was way back in 1912 (over hundred years ago), this was the first time a shock absorber unit was added to a flashlight to enable it to operate with the recoil of the gun. Since then, materials science and mechanics have gone a long way, and today’s units are small, extremely resilient, and extremely reliable.

Weapon lights, the standard name for weapon mounted flashlight allow the user to retain both hands-frees for holding the weapon and increases operational excellence as well as the integrity of the operator’s maneuverability.

These units have to be confidently mounted on a weapon, and since weapons are not identical, weapon-lights have to come with the compatibility to meet different weapon mounting systems. You will usually see these units on rifles, sub-machine guns, and shotguns. Law enforcement has them on handguns for close combat situations.

Rifle mounted flashlights must be extremely robust and easy to operate and control. They must have the ability to withstand the continuous recoil of a sub-machine gun or the extreme recoil of a powerful rifle or shotgun. As such their design is “chunkier” than handgun units or hand-held units.

They are more like mini-tanks with thicker casings and stronger light covers (re-enforced glass). However, these lights are barrel targeted, which means that they face the direction that the barrel of the weapon is being pointed at. This is a problem in situations where you need to maintain stealth.

Mounts

Since each gun maker has different standards of fabrication, the mounting methods vary. Some light manufacturers produce units for specific firearms, while others create generic mounting options. The two most frequently used methods of mounting include:

Picatinny Rail: commonly called a “pic rail, is the MIL-STD-1913 rail, as well as the Standardization Agreement 2324 rail. This is a system that enables mounting on a hexagonal rail platform with multiple transverse slots.
Clamps: These are basic round clamps used to fasten the unit onto the barrel of the weapon.

Lighting

One of the main uses of the tactical flashlight is to momentarily blind the target, which reduces the risk of retaliation for a fraction of a second, and that is enough time for the officers to react with a split-second advantage. That is why the light feature has to be both high intensity for combat situations, the low intensity with a wide beam for search and identification purposes, and long range, to give the officers an advantage over longer distances.

Very few companies provide a >300-meter effective beam, which is crucial for SWAT and other combat units. If you find such a unit, expect it to be extremely reliable and effective, since it was developed for tactical purposes in mind.

A note about terminology:

  • Lumens concentrates on the intensity of the light but not focus.
  • Candela is a peak beam intensity unit of measure.

As a general guide:

  • High lumens with low candela means a bright flood type pattern.
  • High lumens with high candela means a bright, focused beam.

Beam distance means how long the beam will project in Lux terminology. Lux means full moon conditions.

Bulb

LED is now the accepted norm, due to the advances in modern technology, LEDs have replaced Xenon bulbs and now provide the most powerful sources of light. Another advantage of LED is that they conserve power, preserving battery life as well as providing a high-lux, high-efficiency white LED light.

Battery

Lights will only work with a good power source, and two factors make a good power source, longevity and strength. The stronger the power source, the stronger the beam, and the longer it will last.

In general, lithium batteries are the main power source for tactical flashlights. They provide a lower internal resistance and perform better in cold weather, they also leak less than standard alkaline batteries.

Many people actually prefer the rechargeable NiMH and Nicad battery units, this is due to the ability to recharge during operations by connecting the flashlight via a USB cable to an external power source. This extends the flashlights life and as such provides a longer and more relabel usage.

Filters and Lenses

Some tactical flashlights come with filters and lenses for special operational requirements. Red light filters are used for some night operations since they cause less “flash” on the operator’s eyes when handling momentary flashback glaring from reflective surfaces.

White-blue light gives officers the ability to contrast blood. Infra-red lights are used when night-vision units are in operation since they only show up via the night vision device. Another reason for colors is to identify different operatives in a combined task force operation.

The Best Tactical Flashlight

In this review article, I will present to you some of the best tactical flashlights on the market today. I have split this review into two sections. Section I will present the best handheld a tactical flashlight, and Section II will present the best weapon mounted (weapon-lights) flashlights. As far as I am concerned the way to rate the best units are the five basic features that were mentioned above: Lightweight, shock resistant, reliable, powerful and water/dust proof.

I don’t factor in additional options even if they are abundant, since these are not the main reason but the exceptions, and no matter how many options you have if the main unit is not good, all the options in the world won’t make it better.

Buying Tip #1: Don’t be fooled by options, concentrate on the main unit for your specific requirements.

Buying Tip #2: Buy from a reputable firm, you know what you are getting and in tactical situations, relying on a cheap unit will cost you your life.

Here are the best tactical flashlights:

Section I: Handheld Tactical Flashlights

1. SureFire P3X Fury Tactical Ultra-High Single-Output LED

Surefire is one of the leading brands and has years of experience as well as thousands of satisfied tactical customers using their models. You will find Surefire units in use in all emergency services as well as military units.

The P3X Fury is a great 1,000 Lumen flashlight that can be used in any situation. It is great for signaling, searching and just lighting the way or temporarily blinding an attacker. The beam has great peripheral light but is far-reaching. This model includes a 34.8mm bezel, which makes it compatible with all their beam filters, diffusers, and covers. The head has six machined flats that stop this unit from rolling around.

The P3X is a strong versatile and provides high output with initial usage. IT can provide nearly 2 hours of far-reaching (over 100 feet) high beam intensity, and it manages the heat issue admirably. This is a very good buy for a basic sturdy and reliable model.

Specifications:

  • Output (high) 1000 lumens for 2.25 hours
  • Output (low) 15 lumens for 60 hours
  • Length 6.8 inches (173 mm)
  • Weight with Batteries 7.2 ounces (204 grams)
  • Bezel Diameter 1.37 inch (34.8 mm)

 

 

2. Nitecore MH25GT 1000 Lumen USB Rechargeable LED Flashlight

Nitecore is another reliable supplier of tactical flashlights. This unit provides along distance tactical advantage over many models, as its 1,000-lumen beam can reach up to 400 meters. They include an eight flat ring that stops the unit from rolling.

This is a versatile, strong unit, that will give you very good operational conditions for night hunting and extreme camping situations. The switch from strobe to user-defined brightness is a useful feature.

Specifications:

  • Output (High) 1000 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 452 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)51100 cd
  • Max Runtime 36 h 0 m for 1.5 d
  • Length 160 mm / 6.29 in
  • Head Size 40 mm / 1.57 in
  • Weight 143 g / 5.04 oz

Nitecore Manual PDF
 

 

3. ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L Cool White Flashlight

The TN12 (2016) XP-L is a Thrunite’s portable LED flashlight, and uses a CREE XP-L V6 LED to generate up to 1100 lumen. It incorporates a Unique Firefly Mode, and it is a slim and lightweight model.

This unit is a great Every day carry (EDC) unit, it includes a none mode changing forward switch and a thermal limit feature that allows you to relax. The firefly setting is a great 0.4-lumen non-invasive lighting for reading maps while in stealth mode.

Specifications

  • Output modes: Strobe (1100 lumens /3.8 hours), Turbo (1100 lumens /95 minutes), High (435 lumens /4.2 hours), Medium (175 lumens /11.8 hours), Low (18 lumens /5.5 days) and Firefly (0.4 lumens /74 days)
  • Beam intensity: 12800 cd.
  • Beam distance: 226 meters.
  • Dimension: 143mm (Length) x 25.4mm (Diameter).
  • Weight: 86g (without batteries)

 

 

4. Fenix PD35TAC 1000 Lumens

Fenix is another leading brand name, and you will never go wrong with one of their models. The Fenix PD35 Tactical Edition LED Flashlight is a great EDC. In fact, I can attest that this is one of the best EDC flashlights ever used on firefighting missions. It comes with six output modes. This model is a small and clean design which is very comfortable in hand. With a wall thickness of 1.9mm, it is solid and built very exceptionally well.
Specifications

  • Output (High): 1,000 Lumens
  • Beam intensity: 10000 cd.
  • Beam distance: 200 meters.
  • Dimension: 5.5″ (139mm) x Width: 1″ (24mm)
  • Weight: 87g (without batteries)

 

 

5. Nitecore MT10A Multitask Tactical Flashlight

Nitecore provides us with another reliable tactical flashlight. This unit is a great EDC that gives good value for money. This is a model you should buy if you are seeking more than a standard flashlight with good tactical features but without the full tactical pricing.

Specifications:

  • Output (High) 920 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 170 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)7300 cd
  • Max Runtime 120 h 0 m for 5 d
  • Length 107.9 mm / 4.24 in
  • Head Size 25.4 mm / 1 in
  • Weight 113.4 g / 5.04 oz

 

 

6. PROTAC® 1AA FLASHLIGHT

This extremely small unit is great for any tactical user unless you have bear-sized hands, then this unit is too small for you. With just over 4” in length, this truly tiny unit will throw a 250-lumen light for 76 meters, making this a perfect EDC for standard use. This is less of a tactical light, more of a perfect civilian flashlight. If you want a small backup unit for personal use, this is one I would consider.

Specifications

  • Output: 50 lumens high, 6 lumens low, 50 lumens strobe
  • Runtime: 1h 45min high, 22h low, 4h strobe
  • Battery: 1 x AA
  • Length: 3.97.”
  • Diameter: 0.9″
  • Weight with Batteries: 2.3 oz.

Product Sheet PDF
 

 

7. Nitecore MT10C Multitask Tactical Flashlight

Nitecore provides us with another reliable tactical flashlight. This unit is a great EDC that gives good value for money. This version of the MT10 series is slightly stronger than the MT10A model. This is a model you should buy if you are seeking a small, versatile, and reliable tactical flashlight.

Specifications:

  • Output (High) 920 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 190 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)9000 cd
  • Max Runtime 170 h 0 m for 7.08 d
  • Length 91.2 mm / 3.59 in
  • Head Size 25.4 mm / 1 in
  • Weight 57 g / 2.01 oz

 

 

8. Anker Ultra-Bright Tactical Flashlight, 1300 Lumens

This is Anker’s pocket-sized flashlight, I have included it in the tactical hand-held division only because it gives similar performance and is waterproof IPX7. What makes this a worthy holder of a best handheld tactical flashlight is its simplicity. Sometimes you just want a model that doesn’t make you coffee while you wait.

Specifications:

  • Output (High) 1300 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 250 m
  • Dimensions 2.36 x 7.09 x 2.36
  • Weight 0.84 lbs

 

 

9. Olight M2R Warrior 1500 Lumen

What can be said about the Olight M2R Warrior, go soldier go. This is an exceptional tactical (full tactical) handheld light that provides you with all the bells and whistles you expect from such a unit. Its exceptional blinding capabilities are backed up by a 1,500 lumen LED that can be set as far down as 1 Lumen for stealth reading. It is also IPX8 waterproof.

The Olight M2R Warrior is awesome. From design detail to lighting efficiency, this model delivers everything you expect from a tactical handheld flashlight.

Specifications:

  • Output (High) 1500 lumens (Turbo)
  • Beam Distance up to 208 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)9000 cd
  • Max Runtime 170 h 0 m for 7.08 d
  • Length 130 mm / 5.12 in
  • Head Size 25.4 mm / 1 in
  • Body Diameter: 24.4mm / 0.96 in
  • Weight 149 g / 5.26 oz

User Manual
 

 

10. Thorfire Powerful Flashlight, BLF Q8 5000 Lumen, 4 XPL LED, Professional Tactical Light

This is sort of a hybrid Maglite and tactical handheld. It’s massive yet compact, powerful with 5,000 Lumens and can be used as a torch and club. This monster will blind anyone daft enough to try and attack the holder. It comes with a tripod mount since its chunky enough to support one and all its connectors are gold plated for perfect conductivity.

The unit runs off 4 batteries that provide with up to 1,500 hours of power. It also comes s with a NarsilM programmable multi-channel feature so you can have a lot of fun setting up different modes. Its reach is up to 490 yards and has a temperatuare regulator built in.

If you are looking for true power, exceptional lighting and will allow for the size, which is still extremely compact for what you are getting, then this is the ultimate handheld tactical flashlight you could ever hope to buy.

Specifications

  • Output (High) 5000 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 492 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)50000+ cd
  • Max Runtime Moon 2LM/1500h
  • Max Intensity Runtime Turbo 5000LM/40min
  • Dimensions 132mm x 59mm x 50mm
  • Weight 400 g without the batteries

 

 

11. Klarus XT11GT 2000 Lumens

The Klarus XT11GT is a great unit with the Klarus double tail cap switch. This unit provides a strong 2000 Lumen beam, is a standard unit and can be sued for both tactical and civilian use. There isn’t much more I can add to this review, this is a solid, dependable tactical flashlight, it’s powerful and can provide you with excellent service.

Specifications

  • Output (High) 2000 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 316 m
  • Dimensions 25.4mm D x 142.6mm L
  • Weight 130 g without the batteries

 

 

12. ORCATORCH T20 980 Lumens Compact Police Tactical Flashlight

The ORCATORCH T20 is a 980 Lumen LED flashlight that was specially designed for law enforcement and military applications. This is a compact, sturdy and reliable model that delivers a high-intensity beam over 280 meters and is IPX8 water resistant. This unit includes a strong crown for close quarter combat. This is a great buy for security officers seeking that extra edge.

Specifications

  • Output (High) 980 lumens
  • Beam Distance up to 281 m
  • Beam Intensity (High)19800 cd
  • Dimensions 25.4mm D x 142.6mm L
  • Weight 130 g without the batteries

 

 

Section II: Gun-Mounted Tactical Lights

13. Streamlight TLR-2® Gun Light

The Streamlight TLR-2® comes with an integrated red laser for aiming accuracy. This model is a small, light and sturdy, built like a tank it can withstand anything you throw at it. It is powered by two CR123 lithium batteries which give you a 2.5-hour runtime, and with laser only, you will get 48 hours of battery runtime. The Streamlight TLR-2® can provide up to 300 lumens and 12,000 candelas.

This model is fitted with an adjustable rail grip and weighs only 4.72 ounces.

Product Instructions PDF
Product Info Sheet
 

 

14. Streamlight TLR-4® Gun Light

This is another great Streamlight mounted tactical flashlight. This model is an ultra-small, very light and sturdy, built like a tank it can withstand anything you throw at it. It is powered by two CR123 lithium batteries which give you a 1.5-hour runtime, and with laser only, you will get 48 hours of battery runtime. The Streamlight TLR-4® can provide up to 125 lumens and has three modes, that include LED only, Laser only or both.

This model is fitted with an adjustable rail grip and weighs only 2.81 ounces.

Assembled in the USA

Product Instructions PDF
Product Fact Sheet PDF
 

 

15. Streamlight TLR-1® Gun Light

This is the third Streamlight mounted tactical flashlight I am reviewing here, which goes to show how amazing this company is. This model is an ultra-small, very light and sturdy, built like a tank it can withstand anything you throw at it.

It is powered by two CR123 lithium batteries which give you a 2.5-hour runtime, and with laser only, you will get 48 hours of battery runtime. The Streamlight TLR-1® can provide up to 300 lumens at 12,000 candelas. This model is fitted with an adjustable rail grip and weighs only 4.18 ounces.

This model mounts directly to Glock-style rails and to all MIL-STD-1913 (Picatinny) rails.

Assembled in the USA

Product Fact Sheet PDF
Product Instructions PDF
 

 

16. Inforce WML White

This is the Inforce WML model which provides up to 400 lumens of strong white light. It comes with three modes that include constant, strobe and momentary. It can last for 1.5 hours or runtime and weighs in at 3 ounces. Its very compact, coming in at 4.1” light with a 1” diameter bezel. The mount is an Integrated MIL-STD-1913/NAR rail. It is also waterproof up to 66 feet, so its great for scuba related needs.

Spec Sheet PDF
 

 

17. SureFire X300U-B T-Slot Mounting Rail

This is Surefire’s little beast of a flashlight. The X300U-BTwas designed for multiple uses, conforming to MIL-STD 1913 rail-equipped rifles and handguns, this unit provides you with a strong 600 lumens of light. They include their proprietary (TIR) Total Internal Reflection lens for beam focusing and has 1.5 hours of runtime.

If you are looking for powerful light in a tight and adaptable body, look no further.

This unit will fit most rails mounted weapons—click here to view them.
 

 

18. Inforce APLc

When it comes to reliability, Inforce provide the ultimate example of their APLc model. This unit provides 200 lumens for 1.5 hours of runtime. It only weighs in at 2 ounces, making it one of the ultra-light models around. It comes with two modes, constant and momentary. It actually weighs in at 1.87 ounces, and it is only 2.43” long and 1.17” diameter. It integrates with all with MIL-STD-1913 rails.

Spec Sheet PDF
 

 

19. SureFire X400UH-A-RD Ultra-High-Output White LED + Red Laser

If you are seeking true powerful light in a solid, model with additional laser sighting, then you want the Surefire X400UH-A-RD. Believe me, you do. This model comes with 600 lumens of focused power. It includes the Nylok® adjustment screws that make recoil configuration a thing of the past.

It has ambidextrous controls, and you can add DG grip switches so you can adjust it without taking your hands of the gun grip. Fully waterproof and sits on any pic rail. This model will run 600 lumens for 1.75 hours of runtime. The laser is a red 5 mW / 635 nm unit, and it is powered by 2 123A lithium batteries.
 

 

20. C5L Green Laser Sight + Tactical Light

This is the Viridian C5L green laser + tactical light which is perhaps one of the smallest units you will find, most probably the smallest unit with a laser and light combo. This model provides a 100-lumen beam that can be expanded by the proprietary RADIANCE® light feature.
This model, while being so small and light will provide a 100-lumen constant and 140-lumen strobe light, a 2 miles at night red laser and 4 hours of constant runtime, 7 hours of strobing and 1 hour of the laser. There is an optional INSTANT-ON® activation unit that allows you to define the activation methods.
Manufacturers Video

 

 

21. HSP Inforce WML 400L Black

This is another Inforce winner, this is their INFORCE® WML WHITE HSP unit that was designed with the help of Haley Strategic™ and designed for low light tactical applications. This model provides a powerful 400 lumens. The mount is an Integrated MIL-STD-1913/NAR rail. It is also waterproof up to 66 feet, so its great for scuba related needs.
 

 

22. Orion H40-W H20-R H20-G LED Flashlights

The Orion H40-W is one of the strongest small mounted flashlights you will find. It provides a whopping 500 lumens for 75 minutes over 175 yards. Its compact: 5.2″ L x 1″ D weighing in at 3.4 ounces without the battery make it a very powerful alternative to consider mounting on your gun.

This unit is IPX7 waterproof and uses 2 CR123A Batteries. The H40-W comes with a proprietary pressure switch and universal rail mount. This unit is great for home invasion protection.