Best Tactical Flashlights of 2023

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Tactical flashlights with 2AA batteries

ThruNite Archer 2A V3

Currently one of the best 2AA tactical flashlights available.

Thrunite Archer 2A v3 in hand
Thrunite Archer 2A v3 runtime 10 minutes
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:500 lumens (We measured 446 lumens)
Battery type:2 AA
Charging:No built-in charging
Best for:Every Day Carry / Utility / Tactical
Extra:Very affordable

Although the Thrunite Archer 2A v3 is already a little dated, there aren’t any competitors better than this one. The Thurnite Archer 2A V3 is currently the most up-to-date 2AA tactical flashlight Thrunite produces. The tail switch is used to activate and deactivate the light, while the side switch is used to change its output. This means that the tail cap switch can be used for Momentary mode! It has 4 main modes and Strobe. You can access strobe by doing a long press with the side switch.  If you are looking for a tactical 2AA flashlight, you can’t go wrong with the Archer. 

Please check out our full Thrunite Archer 2A review here.

This is why we would recommend the Archer 2A v3

  1. Uses readily available AA batteries
  2. Great value for money at only $29 (outside sales)
  3. Has 4 main modes
  4. Quick access to Strobe (when on: press and hold the side switch)

Interested? Buy from one of the following stores.

Best Military Tactical Flashlights with 18650 batteries

Olight Warrior Mini 2

A Short Tactical flashlight with a proximity sensor

Olight warrior Mini 2 in hand
Olight warrior mini 2 runtime vs mini 1
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:1750 lumens (We measured 1658 lumens after 30 seconds)
Battery type:18650 lithium-ion (proprietary)
Charging:Magnetic built-in charging

The Olight Warrior Mini is a pretty short tactical 18650 flashlight, with a powerful Luminus SST40 LED. If you carry flashlights on you and are looking for a small tactical light, pay attention.

One of the unique characteristics of some of Olight flashlights is the different colors of anodized aluminum they offer. Mine is a special edition, but they are also available in black, and a few more.

During our test, we noticed that the runtime of the Warrior Mini is exceptional. It runs for 19 hours at 100 + lumens in Medium mode, while Turbo and High mode last more than 4 hours each. Its highest output of 1750 lumens (which I measured at 1658 lumens after 30 seconds). After the output drop to 500+ lumens it continues running at this output for more than 3.5 hours, which is just amazing from a single 18650 battery.

The included battery can be charged with a normal lithium-ion battery charger (using a trick) but it’s recommended to charge it inside the flashlight. If you want to read all the details about the flashlight, we have a very in-depth review for you. Please find out more about the Olight Warrior Mini 2 here.

This is why we would recommend this flashlight:

  1. Relatively short flashlight
  2. Long runtime and plenty bright
  3. Olight has a great warranty and customer support
  4. Easy-to-use UI
  5. Proximity sensor gives an extra layer of protection

Buy from one of the following stores. Use our exclusive discount coupon at Olightstore to get an extra 10% off: 1lumen

Fenix TK35UE v2

The Fenix TL35UE is a dual 18650 tactical flashlight

Fenix TK35UE v2 holding
Fenix TK35UE v2 runtime graph zoomed in
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:5000 lumens (We measured 5224 at turn on)
Battery type:2*18650 lithium-ion (proprietary)
Charging:No built-in charging

There are only a handful of dual 18650 tactical flashlights on the market, and the TK35UE v2 is one of them. This is the latest edition sporting 3 emitters with a total of 5,000 lumens.

And yes, our copy reached over 5,000 lumens albeit on turn-on. Read our in-depth review of the Fenix TK35UE v2 for all the juicy details.

The most self-explanatory benefit of this dual 18650 setup is a longer runtime. Having 2 batteries in parallel will double the capacity, and therefore extend the runtime. Oh, please don’t forget to buy 2 Fenix button-top batteries together with the light because flat tops don’t work, and unprotected button-tops can be too short!

This is why we would recommend this flashlight:

  1. You can replace the batteries when you run low (no built-in batteries)
  2. Great sustained output and good runtimes
  3. Instant access to Turbo mode and Strobe

First time buying from Fenix Lighting US? Use 1Lumen20 to get 20% off your first order. Only for new customers

Best Tactical Flashlights with 21700 batteries

Fenix PD36 Tac

The Fenix PD36 Tac is the successor of the extremely popular Fenix PD35 TAC

Fenix PD36 TAC in hand
Fenix PD36 TAC runtime full
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:3000 lumens (We measured 2590 at turn on and 2079 after 30 seconds)
Battery type:21700 lithium-ion
Charging:No built-in charging, but included battery has USB-C port

We reviewed the Fenix PD36 Tac extensively. It provides great value for an all-round tactical flashlight with USB-rechargeable battery (5,000mAh). Keep in mind that USB rechargeable batteries are more expensive than ones without USB ports, and the good thing about the PD36 Tac, you can use normal 18650’s as well.

The package also includes other flashlight accessories like a carry strap, a deep-carry reversible pocket clip,  a holster, a USB-C charging cable, and two spare O-Rings, so you are set from the get-go. . If you don’t want to bother buying a separate battery charger and still want a high-quality flashlight, the Fenix PD36 Tac should be on your wishlist. And in case you want to attach it to a rifle, there are many additional weapon mounting accessories like remote switches and rail mounts.

All in all, this is a great package, and great for gifting during the winter holidays, when natural light is usually sparse.

This is why we would recommend the PD36 Tac flashlight:

  1. You can replace the batteries when you run low (no built-in batteries)
  2. Battery with USB-C port is included, so you can charge it on the fly
  3. 2 mode groups, Duty mode and Tactical mode, so you can use it in different situations

First time buying from Fenix Lighting US? Use 1Lumen20 to get 20% off your first order. Only for new customers

Olight Warrior 3s

A tactical flashlight with a dual-stage switch

Olight Warrior 3S in hand
Olight Warrior 3S battery life chart
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:2300 lumens (We measured 2568 at turn on)
Battery type:21700 lithium-ion (proprietary)
Charging:Magnetic charging

We extensively tested the Olight Warrior 3S and came to the conclusion this is one of the highest-quality tactical flashlights currently on the market. It’s the successor of the M2R PRO and Warrior 3, and performs even better, both in terms of lumens and throw. Of course, the highest output is only available for the first few minutes, but the options and accessories are superb.

Charging works via the included MCC3 magnetic charging cable. All in all, this is a great tactical flashlight with some great features in a ready-to-go package. Read our full in-depth review for all the details.

Use our special code: 1LUMEN for an extra 10% off at Olightstore

This is why we would recommend the Warrior 3S flashlight:

  1. Flashlight comes with rechargeable 21700 (proprietary) battery
  2. Magnetic USB charging system
  3. 2 mode configurations, so you can switch between ‘normal and tactical’ mode group
  4. Proximity sensor for extra safety (which can be switched off)

Use our special code: 1LUMEN for an extra 10% off at Olightstore

Olight Warrior X3

First tactical flashlight with vibration alert for low battery power?

Olight Warrior X3 handling
Olight Warrior X3 runtime full graph
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:2500 lumens (We measured 2545 )
Battery type:21700 lithium-ion (proprietary)
Charging:Magnetic charging

The Olight Warrior X3 is quite a unique tactical flashlight as it comes with a Vibrating Low Voltage Warning system. When the battery level goes down to 30%,  it starts vibrating once every 5 minutes. When the battery SOC(State of Charge) drops to 10%, it will vibrate every 60 seconds. When it drops to 5%, it does so every 10 seconds.

This is another flashlight that has lots to offer. It has a simple UI with only 2 modes, 1 Turbo and 1 Low. No hidden modes like strobe or anything else. Probably my favorite, or even the best tactical flashlight with 21700 batteries. We did an in-depth review of its, please check it out here: Warrior X3 review.

This is why we would recommend the Warrior X3 flashlight:

  1. The flashlight comes with a rechargeable 21700 (proprietary) battery
  2. Magnetic USB charging system
  3. Very simple but effective UI, with only 2 modes, but with dual stage switch
  4. Vibrates when battery runs low!

Use our special code: 1LUMEN for an extra 10% off at Olightstore

Best Affordable Tactical flashlight

ThruNite TN12 PRO

Best budget tactical flashlight

ThruNite TN12 PRO inhand
ThruNite TN12 PRO runtime
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:1900 lumens
Battery type:18650 lithium-ion (included)
Charging:USB-C charging

If somebody asks: what is the best affordable tactical flashlight you recommend: the answer is Thrunite TN12 PRO. For less than $50 you get an affordable tactical light with lots of accessories and plenty of power.

The user interface is easy to understand, so everyone knows how to use it within a minute. It also includes a strobe mode, that can be accessed easily with 3 clicks of the side switch (while on or off).

The accessories include a holster, lanyard (if you don’t like pocket clips), extra o-rings (for water resistance), and a spare side switch membrane, and a pocket clip. Just add a high-capacity 18650 battery and you’re ready to go. If you are looking for a budget tactical flashlight, you can’t go wrong with the TN12 PRO. 

Oh, and of course we reviewed this flashlight as well. So please check out our in-depth review of the Thrunite TN12 PRO here.

This is why we would recommend the TN12 PRO flashlight:

  1. The flashlight comes with a rechargeable 18650 battery
  2. USB-C onboard charging
  3. Lots of accessories included

Brightest Tactical flashlights

Nitecore TM9K Tac

World’s most powerful tactical flashlight with 1 battery

Nitecore TM9K Tac holding
Nitecore TM9K Tac runtime turbo
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:9800 lumens (We measured 11,500 lumens for a second)
Battery type:21700 lithium-ion (built-in, not removable)
Charging:USB-C charging

The Nitecore TM9K Tac is definitely a special breed. It’s about the size of a C8, but multiple times the output. Instead of the average 1000-2000 lumens tactical lights, the TM9K does 10 times that amount, but only in short bursts though. Since Turbo can only be activated momentarily, by continuously pressing the tactical switch.

With the built-in 21700 lithium-ion battery, you can get a burst of over 10,000 lumens. The 9 LEDs are sitting in a shallow reflector that results in a maximum candela of 23,425 cd or 306 meters of throw. High mode still reaches 136 meters / 149 yards. If you want the baddest and brightest Tactical light, get this one.

This is why we would recommend the Nitecore TM9K:

  1. Simply the brightest Tactical light with a single battery
  2. USB-C onboard charging

Keep in mind that Turbo mode is only momentary, so it’s great for instant sun-like brightness, but only for a fraction of a second.

Nitecore TM20K

World’s most powerful tactical flashlight with built-in battery pack

Nitecore TM20K switch
TM20K runtime 30 min
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:20,000 lumens (We measured 18,167 lumens at turn on, 3105lm after 30 sec)
Battery type:2*21700 lithium-ion (built-in, not removable)
Charging:USB-C charging

The Nitecore TM20K is extra special. Not just because of the astounding lumen rating of 20,000 but also because of its size and form factor.

The 3 switches are all at the tail end, so the TM20K is designed to be carried with your thumb at the end and your pinky towards the head. You can actually carry it cigar-grip style, using the clip for extra grip, though it’d get heavy after a while.

The UI looks a bit overwhelming with 3 switches, but it’s quick and easy to learn.

This is currently the brightest official tactical light on the market. period.

This is why we would recommend the Nitecore TM20K:

  1. The brightest Tactical flashlight
  2. USB-C onboard charging
  3. Ready to go, so you don’t need to buy a separate charger
  4. 3 switches for specific use cases

Keep in mind that Turbo mode is only momentary, so it’s great for instant sun-like brightness, but only for a fraction of a second.

Best Tactical Thrower

Acebeam L35

Brightest tactical thrower, with 5,000 lumens

Acebeam L35 holding in hand
Acebeam L35 runtime chart
Specification:Specified:
Max. brightness:5,000 lumens (We measured 6189 lumens at turn on)
Battery type:21700 lithium-ion (included)
Charging:No onboard charging, but the battery has USB-C charging port

The L35 kit came with an Acebeam-branded 5100 mAh 21700 battery.  It has a built-in USB-C charging port. The charge rate was observed to be only 0.75 amps, which seems a bit low for such a large-capacity battery. So either be prepared for a long charge cycle or pop it into your favorite charger assuming it can handle such a long cell. It was able to fit in my Vapcell S4+, though it was wedged in at an angle.vs non protected fit?

Check out the best 21700 battery chargers to see which one will fit these cells best.

If you have some spare unprotected, flat top 21700 batteries around, you are good to go. Flat tops work as well.

This is why we would recommend the Acebeam L35:

  1. The brightest Tactical thrower
  2. Non proprietary battery
  3. Rechargeable 21700 battery with USB-C port included
  4. Throws plenty far with lots of lumens
  5. Sustainable high output

Get 11% off your next order at Acebeam.com with our unique discount coupon: 1lumen323
Simply add the coupon code at your checkout.

FAQ Torch/tactical Flashlight

There are lots of listings on eBay and Amazon that mention being tactical flashlights, but in reality they are not. Here’s some questions for you

Tactical flashlight questions

  • What is a Tactical Flashlight?

    Before you start shopping around for your new tactical flashlight, understanding what makes something a real tactical led flashlight, is quite important! When you start browsing some online shops like Amazon, you’ll notice the word Tactical being used rather often. Some sellers actually call these types of lights also military flashlights or military-grade flashlights, while most of them in reality, are just plain regular flashlights. We wrote an article about this specific topic: What’s a tactical flashlight, go read it. 

  • What is the Brightest Tactical Flashlight?

    Looking at just the brightest flashlight, we have an excellent page dedicated to just that, with the entirely impractical Imalent, but nice, Imalent MS18.
    If you are only looking for a tactical flashlight, the Nitecore TM9K might be the brightest sustainable tactical flashlight currently available. This can change, of course. Check out our list with the brightest tactical flashlights we reviewed. 

  • LumiTact G700, J5 military flashlight or military-grade flashlight? It’s a scam

    Tactical LED flashlights are often referred to as Military flashlights. Unfortunately, looking on Amazon or eBay, you’ll soon notice that many sellers claim to sell ‘super bright tactical flashlights’ or “Ultra bright military-grade torch”. Lights like the LumiTact G700 or J5 Tacticals are an actual scam and aren’t military-grade flashlights at all. It’s a simple zoomable aa flashlight with adjustable focus. And AA flashlights (with 1 AA battery) are never bright. They’re not good flashlights. period..  You don’t want to depend your life on one of those. Seriously. 
    IMHO, these kinds of lights should be put in a category called: “Flashlights to toy around with when bored“. Check out this fun Youtube video. It’s just a classic from Advanced Knife Bro: https://youtu.be/swSU5GbWjgM

  • What is the best smallest tactical light?

    One of the smallest tactical lights is the Klarus XT1C. Definitely check out our list with the smallest tactical flashlights for more interesting ones. 

  • What is the Best Tactical Flashlight under $50?

    The best tactical flashlight under $50 must be the Thurnite TN12 PRO we reviewed. Great all-round package with lots of accessories and great quality. It uses a 18650 lithium-ion battery, so you need to buy a battery and charger separately. 

  • What are the most pupular tactical flashlight brands?

    There are lots of great brands producing Tactical flashlights. But some pay lots of attention to this specific market. Brands like Fenix, Nitecore, Olight, and Klarus are amongst the most popular ones.

  • What is the best affordable tactical flashlight?

    My first question would be: what for? Do you plan on using 18650 batteries? When will you be using it? Generally speaking, the Klarus XT1A seems to be the cheapest of the bunch, not breaking the $50 mark. It’s the most affordable tactical flashlight, while still not sacrificing important features. It does lack the battery life of its bigger 18650/21700 counterparts, but easy availability of NiMH cells counters that a bit. 

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