We tend to know what we are talking about!
There are many lists of "best tactical flashlights" on the internet today. However, many of those lists are written by people who know nothing about flashlights! In fact, many of these people do not even own a flashlight. How can you tell? Just try to find a 'real, in-depth review' on their site! They just read reviews on Amazon or simply put a list together on the basis of some nonsense, and add some standard pictures. So I'll do my absolute best to help you with real knowledge. I've been active on flashlight forums since 2009.. (check out my ‘About Page’) and I have owned well over 100 flashlights in that time, and currently own a few dozen. I and my team hope to give you some real insight with many in-depth reviews covering all types of flashlights. Please ignore my non-native English, because I'm actually Dutch.. ; --)
Some of the ones on the list we have reviewed already, to those I added a link to the review.
In case you are more interested in extremely bright flashlights, check out our full list of the current brightest flashlights of the world. And yes, we reviewed many of them.
Tactical CR123 flashlight
Dual Output LED flashlight with 5 / 500 Lumens.
- Dual output 5 / 500 lumens
- Pre-focused TIR lens
- Including a single CR123A battery
Surefire is one of the most well-known brands with its military-grade flashlights. The EDCL1-T is named an EDC (everyday carry) light, but it has momentary ON as well, and can, therefore, be used as a Tactical Flashlight.
The difference between a normal tactical flashlight and the EDCL1-T is that it doesn't have a normal switch that will click for on or off. Half pressing the switch will give you 5 lumens, while a full press will give you 500 lumens, but you'd have to twist the tail-cap for continuous on. When you depress the switch it will just turn off, so there is no "click'. You really have to twist the tail-cap in order to use it continuously. The included clip permits the light to be carried bezel up or down by moving the clip's direction.
Its bigger brother (EDCL2-T) has a max output of 1200 Lumens, but it's larger.
Tactical AA flashlight
Klarus XT1A (2018 model)
Built for tactical operation, one touch access!
- Dual programming settings
- Tactical setting: 1 touch strobe, one-touch turbo, momentary on
- Outdoor setting: Momentary on, One-touch turbo, One-touch Low, SOS
- XPL-HD V6 LED
- Max 1000 lumens claimed on a 14500 cell and 300 lumens with AA
- Runs of all kinds of AA batteries
- Multi chemistry: Rechargeable NiMH and Lithium-Ion
- Built-in charge system
The Klarus XT1A is one of the very few real tactical flashlights that run of AA batteries. Initially launched in 2018, it has found quite a bit of favor in the flashlight community. The included 14500 lithium battery has a micro charger built-in, so you can directly charge the battery with a Micro USB cable. Any 5V USB phone charger should work. Although they seem to advertise it to be compatible with all kinds of AA batteries, we do never recommend using Alkaline batteries in flashlights! The Dual programming setting is great if you want to use it for EDC as well.
Tactical 2AA Flashlight
ThruNite Archer 2A V3
Currently one of the most powerful 2AA tactical flashlights available.
- 500 lumens Max.
- Quick access to Strobe (from On: press-and-hold side switch)
- 4 main modes
- Runs off 2AA batteries
- (Eneloops recommended)
Although the Thrunite Archer 2A v3 is already a little dated, there is not much in this category that can surpass it. The Thurnite Archer 2A V3 is currently the latest 2AA tactical flashlight Thrunite produced. 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.
Lithium Battery Powered Tactical Flashlights:
18650 Tactical Flashlights
One of the shortest tactical flashlights
- Very short tactical flashlight
- 1800 lumens from a single Cree XHP35 HD LED
- High Amp 18650 battery included
- 5 modes, plus strobe, SOS and beacon, and red Aux light
The Nitecore P18 is one of the shortest tactical 18650 flashlights on the market. Besides a very powerful CREE XHP35 LED it also has a little red AUX led on the side, that can be turned on by a dedicated mini switch. When the P18 is on, you can half-press the tail switch to access Turbo. When the light is switched off you can enter Turbo by a full press+hold fo the tail switch. At the same time, you'll have access to ultra low-mode by pressing both the tail switch and side switch. Although Nitecore mentions the use of a pair of CR123 batteries, I would suggest using a single 18650, simply because you can recharge it, and you'll be able to use Turbo mode. A pair of CR123A are too weak to activate Turbo.
Olight M2T Warrior
A tactical flashlight with an XHP35 HD
- Momentary Turbo, Turbo Momentary Strobe
- 3-way tactical tail-switch
- 1200 lumens
- 18650 or 2*CR123A
- Easy lock-out function
- 9500 cd
The Olight M2T uses a Cree XHP35 with a cold white tint, around 5500K. This is a little on the cold side though. With the protruding tail switch, the Olight M2T won't be able to tailstand. Of course, this is quite a common characteristic for Tactical flashlights. The dedicated momentary Turbo/ Strobe is a great feature. On top of that, you will have direct access to Moon, Turbo and Strobe. And Olight even includes a dual-direction pocket clip which gives you the opportunity to clip it into the direction you prefer. The M2T, which is an upgraded version of the M2R now uses an improved sealed switch. Many people complained about the M2R having switch issues because it attracted dirt and ended up malfunctioning.
Olight Warrior X
First tactical flashlight with a vibration alert?
- Very popular tactical flashlight
- 2000 lumens
- Package includes 3000mAh battery
- Magnetic charge system built-in (no need to buy a separate charger)
The Olight Warrior X is probably the first of its kind with an interesting Low Voltage Warning.... by vibration. When the light comes at about 30% battery level it starts vibrating once every 5 minutes. And when the voltage drops to 10% it will vibrate every minute. When it drops to 5% it does it every 10 seconds.
This is another flashlight that has lots to offer. It has 2 types of mode groups, 1 for general use and 1 for tactical use. This will fit most people's needs.
Powerful 18650 flashlight produced by Nitecore.
- 1800 lumens
- CREE XHP35HD
- Built-in charge
- 23000cd of light intensity
- 5 brightness levels + 3 special modes (SOS, Strobe, Beacon)
- Rechargeable Lithium battery included NL1835HP (18650)
- Compatible with 2*CR123 / RCR123
We are going to review the Nitecore MH25GTS soon so stay tuned. The MH25 GTS is the newest version in the Nitecore MH2x lineup. (after the MH25, MH20GT, MH23). It's an impressive and powerful tactical flashlight produced by Nitecore. Charging is done through the USB port, sitting on the tail-side of the light. The LED on the side indicates the Battery level. 3*blink=50% or more, 2*blink=below 50%, 1*blink=below 10% battery capacity. Read more on the Nitecore website: https://flashlight.nitecore.com/Server/detail/ad/1292. Or read our review of the Nitecore MH25GTS
Fenix PD35 TAC ltd editions
Limited edition of a long time seller!
- Output: 1000 lumens
- Tactical mode + Outdoor mode
- Light Source: Cree XP-L(V5) LED
- Runs off 18650 lithium batteries
- Compatible with 2*CR123 / RCR123
Fenix has introduced the limited edition cerakoted Fenix PD35 TAC s one of the most popular tactical brands on the planet. It is actually 2 flashlights in one, with the 2 types of mode groups. The Tactical and Outdoor mode. The Outdoor mode works just like a standard flashlight with 6 different output modes. The Tactical mode gives you direct access to Turbo mode to blind anyone within a 100 yards distance. Have a look at our review of the regular black Fenix PD35 TAC here.
Besides the Patriot Cerakote Finish, Fenix store also carries the following ltd editions:
- Blaze Battleworn Cerakote Finish
- Black Multicam Cerakote Finish
- Bronze Multicam Cerakote Finish
- Dark Multicam Cerakote Finish
- Thin Blue Line Cerakote Finish
- Digital Camo Edition Tactical Flashlight
Amazon doesn't carry these ltd editions except for the regular Camo version.
Malkoff MDC Bodyguard V2 18650
Specialized tactical use flashlight with 1150 out the front lumens
- 1150 out of the front Lumens (we tested 872 Lumens, see review link below)
- Tactical mode
- Light source: Cree XP-L cool white (6200K) LED
- Runs off a single 18650 or 2*CR123
- Reverse polarity protection
Is durability the key? Do you want a light that is built like a tank? Then consider getting the Malkoff MDC Bodyguard.
This flashlight was designed for use with two primary lithium CR123 Battery or one rechargeable Li-ion cell. The best balance of performance/runtime is achieved with a High Drain 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery. The input voltage is 3.4 - 6 volts. Input voltages of more than 6 volts may damage this flashlight. The Malkoff MDC is also protected against reverse polarity. The Malkoff Devices are Made in the USA. Some parts not domestically sourced.
If you are looking for a durable light with a lifetime warranty, this is the one to get. Check out the Malkoff MDC Bodyguard review for more in-depth information. Slip it in your pocket when you need 1000 lumens instantly without a complicated UI.
21700 Tactical Flashlights
The Fenix PD36R is the successor of the extremely popular Fenix PD35TAC
- Easy to use UI
- 1600 Lumens
- Side switch for changing modes, tail cap switch for turning on and off
- Includes a high quality 21700 type battery with 5000mAh
- Built-in charge system (no need to buy a dedicated battery charger)
Fenix upgraded the Fenix PD35 TAC with the PD36R, and what an upgrade it is. We reviewed the Fenix PD36R here. The Fenix PD36R provides great value for an all-round tactical flashlight kit. The package includes a 5000mAh battery, carry strap, deep-carry reversible pocket clip, holster, USB-C charging cable and spare o-rings. All in all, this is a great package, and great for gifting. The user interface is easy and straight forward. Use the rear switch to power it on, and the electronic side switch for changing modes. If you don't want to bother buying a separate smart lithium-ion battery charger and still want a high-quality flashlight, the Fenix PD36R should be on your wishlist.
2000 lumens with a CREE XHP35 LED
- Output: 2000 lumens
- Battery: included 5100mAh 21700 Lithium-Ion battery.
- Power indicator with 4 battery levels
- IPX8 rating: 2 meters submersible, waterproof and dustproof
- Built-in charge system with USB-C connector (no need for buying a separate charger)
I'm a big fan of Jetbeam's high-quality machining and anodizing. The Jetbeam JET-IIIMR tactical is a 2000 lumen successor of a lineup that started many years ago (2011 to be precise). So this means that this is a successful model in their lineup. The 2019 model now features a 21700 battery and a CREE XHP35 LED for an output of 2000 lumens and 390 meters of throw. This is more than double the amount of its oldest brother, from 2011.
They include a 5100mAh 21700 type battery, but you can also use a 18650 battery with an adapter. If you are interested in a Tactical Jetbeam flashlights, have a look at our Jetbeam PC20 (2019) review.
A 2019 model of Klarus claiming 4000 lumens!
- Output: 4000 lumens
- Battery: included 5000mAh 21700 Lithium-Ion battery.
- Intelligent Thermal Protection System (to stop overheating)
- IPX8 rating: 2 meters submersible, waterproof and dustproof
- Built-in charge system.
The Klarus XT21X is the second brightest tactical torch on the list. Claiming 4000 Lumens off a single 21700 battery. This is also Klarus' first 21700 tactical light!
Klarus being a long-time seller in the flashlight market, the XT21X is their first 21700 tactical flashlight with a Tactical setting and an Outdoor setting. Besides Fenix, KIarus is one of the few brands that focus on Military lights a lot.
Its tactical setting has 2 modes, One-touch Strobe, and One-Touch-Turbo... exactly as it is supposed to be.
Outdoor setting, on the other hand, has One-Touch Turbo and One-Touch Low. Using the side switch you'll be able to use SOS.
Acebeam L30 II
Most powerful tactical flashlight on the market!
- Output: 4000 lumens
- Light source: Cree XHP70.2 LED
- Light intensity: 34800cd (373 meters)
- Runs off 21700 lithium batteries (compatible with 18650 with an adapter)
- Built-in USB C charge system
Acebeam has been following the plow but with brighter flashlights than its competitors. The brand has become very famous very rapidly And the L30 II is one of them. Not only extremely powerful, but it can also throw a beam really far. This tactical flashlight is currently the most powerful with a single battery. You can also add a remote pressure switch as well as colored filters to complete the package. First announced in 2017, the second version was announced in 2018.
If you want the brightest tactical flashlight on planet earth, this is the one to get! No other brand currently beats the L30 II with its 4000 lumens!
Tactical Multi Cell flashlights
FENIX TK35UE - UPGRADE
Very popular Fenix tactical flashlight
- CREE XHP70
- 3200 lumens
- Runtime: 1.5 hours
- 22,000 cd intensity
- Micro USB charging battery holder
- Double switch for modes and power
The Fenix TK35 model has been on the market for many many years. During this time Fenix upgraded the LEDs and this edition has the Cree XHP70 high power LED. It also includes a new battery holder for 2 18650 batteries with a built-in USB charger. Unlike many other flashlights where you can simply plug the USB cable into the flashlight, the TK35 has a dedicated battery holder that needs to be taken out in order to charge. Batteries are not included in the package.
What is a tactical flashlight?
Before you start shopping around for your new tactical flashlight, you'd better understand what tactical flashlights are! When you start browsing some online shops like Amazon, you'll notice the word Tactical being used rather often. Some sellers call these types of flashlights also Military flashlights or military-grade flashlights. But in reality, they are just regular flashlights. So, what makes a flashlight a real Tactical Flashlight? Why are tactical flashlights used by the military or police?
In my opinion, a real tactical flashlight should have a mix of the following options:
- Should have 1 button to turn the light on and off with the same brightness! (Regular flashlights with 1 switch usually use the same button to change modes, but that isn't very handy in critical situations) where you should trust your flashlight and not skip modes from high to low for example.
- Should have a strobe option that can be accessed quickly
- Uses a forward clicky at the rear end of the flashlight so you can turn the light on and off without pressing the button completely (a reverse clicky need a complete press and will turn on after the click... and a forward clicky will power the light on before the click) so you can put your thumb on the bottom and decide how long you press the button to use the light, instead of having to click a second time to turn the light off.
- In most cases, they include some kind of strike bezel or crenelated bezel, in order to use it for self-defense or as a non-lethal weapon.
Some people suggest it should be able to attach to a pistol or gun. But that doesn't make it a tactical flashlight! Those are weapon mount flashlights.. a different kind!
What's the difference between a tactical flashlight and an EDC flashlight?
Please read the explanation above first. An everyday carry (EDC) flashlight doesn't need the functionality of a tactical flashlight. They can be great for outdoor activities like camping, but you shouldn't be using it when you are a first responder. An EDC flashlight can have all kinds of bells and whistles and up-to-date technology like built-in charging, Bluetooth connection, etc.. An EDC flashlight can usually fit in your pocket since it is meant to to be carried throughout the day. A tactical or military flashlight has a few fewer requirements and only needs a few settings, but you should be able to count on it in all circumstances!
Besides being lightweight a tac flashlight should have direct access to turbo and strobe, or at least should be extremely easy access. Depending on the situation it should always function in a standard manner. You can't have the light change modes accidentally. Besides this functionality, it should be able to be used in self-defense as well. Please read up on a flashlight before buying one, since many are selling tactical flashlights, but in reality are just general lights. Flashlights with more advanced settings and modes are in my opinion not recommended for a military or police light.
Many people still think a 1000 lumen tactical flashlight is all you need. An that could actually be true in rural areas.
What is the Brightest tactical flashlight?
If you are looking at just the brightest flashlight, then we have an excellent page dedicated to just that. If you are only looking for a tactical flashlight, the Acebeam L16 might be the brightest tactical flashlight with clear intense light coming from an XHP70.2!
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 and still not break the $50 mark. It's the best affordable tactical flashlight.
What is the best tactical flashlight under $30?
If you are looking for the best tactical flashlight under $30, you are going to have a hard time finding one. Below $30 you get all sorts of lights, but none of the ones you would like to depend your life on. Spend the extra few bucks and get the best tactical flashlight 2019 you can afford!
LumiTact G700, a military flashlight or military-grade flashlight? scam
Tactical flashlights are often referred to as Military flashlights. Unfortunately looking on Amazon or eBay, you'll soon notice that many sellers claim to sell Military flashlights or a "Military grade torch". Lights like the LumiTact G700 are a scam and aren't military-grade flashlights. You don't want to depend your life upon one of those. Seriously, IMHO these should be put in a category called: flashlight to toy around with". Check out this fun Youtube video: https://youtu.be/swSU5GbWjgM