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The Brightest Tactical flashlights
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Stop relying on Amazon reviews, top 10 websites, or manufacturer’s specs.
We test flashlights to separate the wheat from the chaff.
We currently reviewed 378 flashlights!
The list will be updated once we review brighter tactical flashlights during the year. In case you are interested in the best tactical or military flashlights, check out our best tactical flashlights guide here. Or check out our most powerful flashlights list, if you just want to brightest, non-tactical flashlights.
Brightest 18650 Tactical Flashlights
Thrunite BSS v4
|Max output||2,523 lumens (we measured 2,336 at turn on, and 2,190 at 30 seconds)|
|Max beam intensity||15,750cd, but we measured 14,775 (243 meters / 265 yards)|
|Battery||Thrunite IMR18650 with 3100mAh included (but any 18650 battery will work)|
This is a great all-around 18650 light. It’s compact, easily makes 2300+ Lumens, doesn’t get too hot during extended high output runs, and the beam is nice and versatile, with more output than any SST40 or even XP-L2 light in this class.
It’s in the small details that elevate an okay light to a truly great one, and the Thrunite BSS V4 has that. Great handling, nice fit, and finish, for a decent price. As far as 18650 lights go, there aren’t many that do more, better than this one. However, if I could change one thing, I’d put in some kind of visual LVP notification (a blink, blip, something) to supplement the indicator light because the abrupt shut down at the end of the runtime tests was annoying.
Fenix TK35UE v2.0
|Max output||5,000 lumens (measured 5,224 at turn on, 4822 at 30 sec)|
|Beam intensity||40,000 cd (measured 40,500 = 402 meters / 440 yards)|
|Battery configuration||2*18650 (long batteries only)|
The Fenix TK35UE v2 stands in a long tradition. And the TK35UE v2 is currently the latest and brightest tactical flashlight with 2*18650 batteries from Fenix. And it’s a pretty unique flashlight in a way because it runs on 2*18650 batteries in parallel.
There aren’t many, if not any, tactical lights with this battery setup. So in this category, it easily wins :–)
During our testing, we saw that Turbo mode could easily reach the claimed 5,000-lumen output, and after 15 minutes its output was still above 2,000 lumens. It could even sustain a 2,000+ lumen output for the first 1.5 hours, which is an amazing achievement. Especially if you compare this to other flashlights.
Don’t get fooled by looking at just the maximum output, but look at the runtime charts for what they can really do. The TK35UE v2 is a great example of a high-performing tactical flashlight with instant access to strobe and Turbo mode.
When you buy one, make sure you get the right version! TK35UE v2, and not the 2018 model or the older UE v1.
Brightest 21700 Tactical Flashlights
|Max output||5,000 lumens (we measured 6,189 at turn on, and 5,609 at 30 seconds)|
|Beam intensity||57,000cd (477 meters 521 yards)|
|Battery configuration||Acebeam 5100mAh with USB-C port included|
It’s a definite powerhouse with its 5000-lumen rating, yet despite using a Cree XHP70.2 LED which is normally floody, it maintains a respectable 480 meters while maintaining a fairly svelte figure for such a powerful tactical light.
The L35 kit comes with an Acebeam-branded 5100 mAh 21700 battery and has a built-in USB-C charging port. But if you have some spare unprotected, flat top 21700 batteries around, you are good to go. Flat tops work as well.
If you’re in the market for a fairly compact high-output flashlight, do yourself a favor and check out the Acebeam L35 – this thing is awesome!
Nitecore TM9K Tac
|Max output||9,800 lumens (we measured 11,508 at turn on, and 3,471 at 30 seconds)|
|Max beam intensity||18,000cd (268 meters 293.45 yards)|
|Battery||Built-in 5000mAh 21700 High Amp battery|
Like any other high-power flashlight, the Nitecore TM9K Tac produces heat like no other. Turbo mode is only available with Momentary On. This means that Turbo is only available when pressing the switch. Keep this in mind when you look for your next high-power tactical flashlight. Within 10 seconds it drops from 11,500 lumens down below 4,000 lumens. A USB-C cable is included in the package, but no USB charger. Also, the built-in battery is not user-replaceable.
Nitecore is a big brand and has lots of experience with high-power flashlights, so if you want to have a little more confidence in quality control and warranty, consider this one!
What is the brightest military flashlight in 2022?
The brightest military flashlight is the Nitecore TM20K, with a claimed output of 20,000 lumens. It is powered by 2*21700 batteries (built-in), and maintains the output only momentarily.
Please don’t trust what other websites say! They show flashlights that aren’t even ‘Tactical’.
How many lumens should a tactical light have?
A tactical flashlight only needs a few hundred lumens in most cases. If you need the most powerful tactical light possible, have a look at the list above and check out the extensive reviews. The sustained output is probably even more important.
What’s the best tactical flashlight in the world?
The best tactical we reviewed can be seen in our list of the best tactical flashlights. If you want a great all-around tactical flashlight, check out the Acebeam L35.