Tactical flashlights are hardcore lights used by hunters, EMTs, the police, and outdoors people. This type of flashlight is appropriate for hunting, hiking, general use, and as a self-defense tool. As someone who hikes up the side of mountains at dawn and dusk regularly, a tactical flashlight is always on me. The one light I trust is the Streamlight ProTac HL USB. With 850 lumens and the ability to be recharged by USB, this tactical flashlight gets the job done. This isn’t the only tactical flashlight I use or the only one I recommend. All of these lights are built tough and can be relied upon when you need them.
Best Overall: Streamlight ProTac HL USB
When you need intense bright light, the Streamlight ProTac is the tactical flashlight you want by your side. With 850 lumens and C4 LEDs, The Streamlight ProTac pumps out three times as much light as the competition. The ProTac is crafted from heavy-duty anodized aluminum that can withstand drops and shuffling between bags, trucks, and the field. A tempered glass front protects the LEDs and will not crack or scratch, even when dropped. This tactical flashlight is also O-ring sealed, so moisture, rain, snow, or sand will never shorten its lifespan.
In the field or at home, you can’t beat the intensity this flashlight puts out. Whether zoomed-in close or wide, this flashlight highlights objects and your environment like no other. C4 LEDs are durable enough to withstand rough travels and have a 50,000 hour lifetime raging. The housing on this light accepts lithium-ion batteries, and the flashlight is chargeable by USB, so it’s easy to top off in the car, on a computer, or anywhere you go.
My favorite features on this light are the removable side clip and the anti-roll face cap. The durable clip lets you attach the flashlight to a belt or backpack so you can go hands-free, and the face cap prevents the light from rolling when you set it down. This light could use a battery indicator so you don’t have to guess at how much life is left. Carrying extra batteries can alleviate that worry. It’s also pricey but, as someone who’s toted this light around for years, it’s well worth the investment.
- USB chargeable
- 850 lumens
- Anti-rolling build
- Accepts regular and rechargeable batteries
- Could use low battery warning indicator
Streamlight ProTac HL USB
Best light for adventures
With 850 lumens, rechargeable batteries, and state of the art LEDs, this tactical flashlight can run 750 continuous hours. Wow!
Best Value: Vont LED
The Vont LED tactical flashlight is a compact model that feels good in the hand. Powered by AAA batteries, the weight is kept light, so this unit is a pocketable flashlight that will never weigh you down. A side clip is included to attach the flashlight to a jacket, backpack, or pocket.
The mode switch on this light is on the butt end. It’s a bright red rubberized button that you use to switch between high power, low power, and strobe. It works well, but this flashlight doesn’t save your previous settings, and that’s my only real complaint. If you choose the high setting and turned the light off briefly, it would be nice if remained on the high light setting when you turn it back on. It doesn’t. Instead, you have to cycle through the low and strobe settings to get back to where you started.
This tactical light is guaranteed to survive a 10-foot drop. Impressive! I can attest to the fact that it’s built tough. I’ve dropped it numerous times, and it’s even been run over by my car, and all is working well. If what you want is a lightweight tactical flashlight that stands up to bad weather, this affordable offering from Vont is a wise choice.
- 3 modes of operation
- Clip for hands-free usage
- Adjustable focus
- Efficient battery
- Does not save light mode settings
Small but mighty
Vont’s indestructible tactical flashlight is ideal for camping, hiking, or use around the house. The light is bright, and the size and price are small.
Best Rechargeable: PeakPlus LFX1000
PeakPlus makes one of the most trusted tactical flashlights in the world. This multipurpose light is packed with features that make it the right light for almost any purpose. This kit includes the flashlight, one rechargeable battery, a battery charger, a padded case, a battery holder, and the user manual.
Five light modes and a zoom function are the major pluses for PeakPlus. You can switch between full, medium, and low brightness, plus you’ll get a strobe and SOS light. The 1,000 lumens light up to 500 meters, and by zooming the light in you get a very focused light that can pinpoint objects and locations up to half an acre away. Depending on the light settings you’ve chosen, battery life ranges from two to five hours.
I have but one complaint and that’s with the wrist strap. The flimsy nylon strap secures itself to the butt end of the flashlight with a thin nylon roping material that frays and eventually breaks. Since there’s no side clip, this is problematic. You’ll want to replace the strap with something more durable. Strap aside, this model puts out a tremendous amount of light and comes with so many extras, it’s one of my favorite tactical flashlights today.
- 5 modes
- Telescoping beam
- Lots of extras included
- 1,000 lumens
- Flimsy wriststrap
So many features
The PeakPlus comes with a ton of extras, including a padded carrying case. Coupled with rechargeable batteries, this is a great light for any use.
Best Water Resistant: GearLight LED
If you need a flashlight that functions properly in rain, sleet, hail, and snow, this two-pack set from GearLight should slip to the top of your list. Each tactical flashlight in this kit is equipped with 1,000 lumens. The flashlights have five modes of operation: low, high, medium, strobe, and SOS.
These flashlights accept three AAA batteries or a single rechargeable battery, none of which are included. The beam of light emitted is clear and bright, but not quite as far-reaching as some of the other flashlights on our list. For that reason, you won’t want to use these for hunting or climbing down a mountain after dark. They are a good fit for those who need a little extra light while walking the dog, camping, or puttering around the basement or backyard when the sun goes down.
This is one of my favorite handheld flashlights because of its superb grip and easy-to-adjust light settings. The housing is also military-grade and can withstand drops, water, and general bumping around. There’s a hand strap included, but serious flashlight users and the more active will want to wear the included canvas carrier on their belt or backpack.
- Fits nicely in the hand
- 5 modes
- Works in rain and snow
- Includes 2 flashlights and 2 cases
- Heavy-duty build
- Batteries not included
- Not as bright as other lights
Best Water Resistant
Two lights are better than one
The GearLight kit includes two flashlights and two holders. This water-resistant model is sturdy, compact, and great for camping or around the house use.
Best for Self-Defense: Anker Bolder
The original tactical flashlight had two purposes: light up the world around you and put a self-defense tool in your hands. The Anker Bolder holds fast to tradition. The extra-long handle, all-metal body, and scalloped bezel are built for striking and protecting oneself.
The Anker Bolder has 900 lumens and Cree LEDs that shine over the length of two football fields. The light is zoomable with both wide and narrow beams offered. The battery is rechargeable, and a micro USB cable is included to get the job done. Once charged, this tactical flashlight can light your path for up to six hours
If there’s a not so good side to the Anker, it’s with the handle. It’s comfortable and grippy when dry, but is very slippery when wet. This light has slipped out of my hands a few times in the rain and snow. Wrapping a bit of tape around the handle does wonders, but it’s not an ideal solution. If you want a true tactical flashlight that’s super bright and can be used to protect yourself, the Anker Bolder is the clear winner.
- 5 settings
- Rechargeable battery included
- Super bright light
- 6 hours of battery life per charge
- Solid feel in the hand
- Grip can get slippery
Best for Self-Defense
A real tactical flashlight
Anker Bolder is small enough to fit in your pocket and heavy enough to protect yourself. This a bright light with five settings, and it’s rechargeable.
Best Size: JV Hyper-V
J5 Tactical has a reputation for making high-quality flashlights, and the J5 Tactical Hyper V can stand right up there with the best of them. This model can light a room or zoom in on items up to 800 feet in the distance. The three focus modes on this light all work well, including high, low, and strobe.
The J5 Tactical Hyper V is water-resistant and can survive a nine-foot drop with nary a scratch, thanks to its aluminum alloy body. It weighs four ounces, so it’s lightweight enough to stuff into a pocket as well. The J5 is kept in business with three AAA batteries (not included).
The only thing that may turn some off is that the belt clip can be a challenge to remove. It requires 1.5mm hex wrench to get the clip off. It takes a bit of time and patience, but it is removable. That minor inconvenience out of the way, this is a compact, reliable, and super tough flashlight that should earn a place in your glovebox or camping gear.
- 3 modes
- Compact design
- Sturdy thick clip
- Belt clip is difficult to remove
A basic light for your pocket
The J5 Tactical Hyper V has three mode settings and also zooms in and out by twisting the handle. It’s small, bright light perfect for your car or home.
The one tactical flashlight I consistently take everywhere is the Streamlight ProTac HL USB. I rely on this light’s USB charging feature in the field and at home. With an average run time of 750 continuous hours and thousands of momentary burst of light, this is a winner for hiking, hunting, walking after dark, or even doing work around the house.
The ProTac is small enough to be pocketable. It can also be clipped on a belt, pocket, or backpack. If you find the clip gets in the way, it can be removed. Lighting needs are adjustable. You can switch between high, medium, and low, plus there’s a built-in strobe for emergencies. I rely on this unit to light my way up the mountainside at sunrise and back down at sunset, and it’s never let me down.
If there are improvements to be made, it’s with the lack of battery indicator light. This is a vital feature for those of us who play in the dark. I’ve taken to carrying spare batteries but would prefer to shed the extra weight in favor of an indicator. Other than that, this is a magnificent tactical flashlight for indoor and outdoor use. Its heavy-duty design makes it a future-proof choice that’s worth every penny.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide