Buying the best tactical flashlight for the money is more a challenge today with the dizzying lineup of choices and options. Get ready for sticker shock. You may see products that cost far more than you expect. Let’s review the specs and features you need to investigate before making your purchase.
In a hurry? Then let’s cut to the chase: the Streamlight ProTac 2L-x Professional Tactical... is the perfect blend of price and performance – and earns Survival Cooking’s top pick.
The Streamlight 88062 ProTac 2L-X 500 lm Professional Tactical Flashlight is appropriately named for a product that works with both rechargeable Li-Ion cell battery or two CR123A ones which are included. The former is an optional purchase. It delivers 500 lumens in a military-grade, waterproof casing.
It has three operating modes including strobe. It provides 2.5 hours of light at the brightest setting and 30 hours at the lowest.
- It is waterproof for 30 minutes in three feet of water.
- It’s lightweight at just under 5 ounces.
- It has a removable pocket clip.
- ULTRA BRIGHT & LONG-LASTING - Easily light up an entire room or focus in on objects up to 1000 feet away! 10 times brighter than old incandescent lights. Conveniently powered for hours with 3 AAA batteries or one 18650 rechargeable battery. (Batteries not included)
- COMPACT, ADJUSTABLE FOCUS, & FIVE MODES - Compact enough to fit in your pocket, backpack, or purse allowing for easy storage and quick access. The wide-to-narrow beam zoom makes it ideal for use around the house, dog walking, or camping. Choose from 5 useful settings (High|Medium|Low|Strobe|SOS).
- WATER RESISTANT & VIRTUALLY INDESTRUCTIBLE - Built for rough handling, this flashlight can survive a 10-foot drop or being temporary submerged under water. You can even freeze it, boil it, or run it over with a truck and it will still work! Suitable for use in heavy rain, snow, or emergency situations.
The GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 include two lights run by three AAA batteries or a rechargeable one, not included. You do get two cases and lanyards with your purchase too. It can illuminate up to 1,000 feet away. It has five modes including an SOS one. It’s made of military-grade aluminum and is impact resistant.
- It is value-priced with some extras thrown in too.
- It has an anti-roll feature that’ll indeed come in handy.
- While it’s lightweight, the AAA will add to the weight considerably.
- It’s not waterproof but instead water-resistant.
- SHED BRIGHT LIGHT TO YOUR STEPS with a 2-pack set of full 1000 lumen rechargeable flashlights illuminating an area of 1000ft ahead! The BRIGHTEST LED flashlight set for your safety at home and outdoors is also easily used as a powerful LED headlight!
- AN UPGRADED WATERPROOF MINI FLASHLIGHT SET is all you need for your night activities in the open air or in case of a power failure. MULTIPURPOSE and perfect for 1000+1 purposes, this set will be your camping, hiking, travel, running or emergency flashlight kit!
- FEATHER-LIGHT, COMPACT & PORTABLE everywhere, this pocket tactical flashlight will be tossed in your backpack, handbag or pocket and follow you on your weekend trips, hunting, fishing or backpacking. Smart handheld design in TRAVEL-FRIENDLY 5.51"X1.3", weighing just 4.37oz!
The AYL Super Bright LED Flashlight Set is similar to the previous one with the inclusion of a second light too. The brightness level is 1,000 lumens and runs on both rechargeable and AAA batteries. Unlike the GearLight, it is waterproof. It has five modes including strobe and emergency. It also has a zoom feature which we found useful.
- It is a good value for the money.
- It is easy to operate even one-handed.
- It is extremely bright.
- SUPER-BRIGHT: 800-lumen (max) Cree XPG2 S3 LED combines with PDO technology for extreme lighting performance. Features High / Medium / Low / Ultra-Low / Strobe modes and Memory Function.
- LONG-LASTING: Up to 60 hours (Ultra-Low mode) of constant brightness from the included rechargeable 3000mAh battery. Recharge in 4 hours with any 5V 1A USB output and the included Micro USB cable.
- WATERPROOF & RELIABLE: IP67-rated and designed for almost any weather conditions, its military-grade aluminum-alloy body and 1.5m impact resistance endure scratches, abrasions and corrosion.
The BYB Rechargeable Flashlight delivers 800 lumens in five different modes. It is IP67 water resistant. It has an excellent battery life at 60 hours at its lowest setting. It also has a memory function which is quite useful. The rechargeable battery is built into the product which makes it easier to recharge especially with its non-slip texture. It weighs in at just over 6 ounces.
- The flashlight has an 18-month manufacturer warranty.
- It includes a clip and built-in rechargeable battery.
- It doesn’t have an SOS mode.
- You can’t replace the battery.
- 1000 Lumen max utilizing Cree XP-L (V5) LED with a lifespan of 50,000 hours
- Uses one 18650 rechargeable Li-ion battery or two 3V CR123A Lithium batteries
- Tactical tail switch with momentary-on function
The price tag of the Fenix PD35 TAC 1000 Lumen CREE LED Tactical Flashlight puts it squarely in the big boy toy category at just under $100. It includes a charger and both lithium and rechargeable batteries. It delivers a bright light at 1,000 lumens on the high setting. It’s a specialized product that runs in both tactical and outdoor modes.
- The eco setting in the outdoor mode has a battery life of a whopping 140 hours, the longest of any products we reviewed.
- It includes the batteries.
- It’s heavier at over 1 pound.
- It’s expensive and hard to justify the cost unless you use it—a lot.
Things to Consider When Buying The Best Tactical Flashlight
The technology—and the prices—have advanced rapidly in recent years with the rise of LEDs. It’s worth noting that a hot area of research focuses on making them more affordable. The quality varies considerably with the features. Specifications to check include the following:
- Bulb Type
- Battery Size
We’ll discuss each one in detail to guide your purchase.
The familiar bulbs are a thing of the past now. Instead, you’ll find them with xenon which is an unreactive gas or LEDs. The most expensive products use the latter. You may also see tricked-out ones powered by krypton with an incandescent bulb. LED is the most efficient with a lifespan that can reach 100,000 hours of use. It’s more efficient too because it diverts more energy to light instead of heat.
This feature is where the rubber meets the road and perhaps is the essential one to consider. You’ll find it denoted in lumens which is a quantitative measure of its output. You’ll see flashlights with under 100 to north of 1,200 or more. It’s not necessarily tied to price because other options affect the value of this product.
To put it into perspective, a flashlight with a brightness of 800 lumens is the equivalent of a 60-watt light bulb. It’s a more useful measure because it gives a better indication of what you’d want from a light source rather than how much juice it taps.
Battery power is typically AA or AAA though you will see rechargeable lithium in more expensive products. Pay attention to the number you need. It will affect the average life and weight which can, in turn, affect its usefulness and practicality. Bear in mind that environmental factors such as temperature can impact its use too.
You’ll find the cost of a tactical flashlight runs anywhere from under $10 to others well into the thousands of dollars for professional models. Costlier flashlights have extra features to justify the price tag including different modes, strobes, materials, and waterproofing. Decide the ones that you’d consider must-haves and work from there.
As you can see, buying the best tactical flashlight for the money is more than just picking the most affordable product. The bells and whistles don’t often speak to the practicality of it in the field. Therefore, the smart shopper is the informed one who knows which specs matter most.