The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2024)

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In your search for your next everyday carry flashlight, you've probably seen the word "tactical" used to describe them. But based on the results, it might not be immediately apparent what exactly makes a flashlight tactical or why you might even want a tactical flashlight in your own everyday carry.

The best tactical flashlights do more than shine a light for you in the dark: they come with a feature set and construction that lets you get to your mission-critical work, especially when lives might be on the line.

In this guide, we'll explain the difference between general-purpose everyday carry lights and tactical ones and introduce you to some of the best tactical flashlights you can buy right now.

What makes a flashlight "tactical?"

Tactical flashlights are designed with critical situations and self-defense in mind. Unlike regular everyday carry flashlights, which tend to sport lower output and moonlight modes for longer runtimes, tactical flashlights usually feature high-output brightness, a strobe mode, a forward-throw switch for momentary-on activation, aggressive knurling, and sometimes a strike bezel. There's also a focus on simplicity in the interface, with lights in the class often featuring fewer modes and quick access to high outputs, sometimes with specialized, easy-to-activate switches.

Our Top Picks

The Best Overall Tactical Flashlight:Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel [Buy] / [Full Review]

The Best Tactical Flashlight on a Budget:RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro [Buy] / [Full Review]

The Brightest Tactical Flashlight:AceBeam Defender P17 [Buy]

The Heaviest Duty Tactical Flashlight:SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF [Buy]

The Most Compact Tactical Flashlight:Nitecore EDC27 [Buy] / [Full Review]

Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel
RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro
AceBeam Defender P17
SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF
Nitecore EDC27
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (3)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (4)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (5)
The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (6)
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Max Output: 1,700 lumens
Max Output:12 cards
Max Output: 4,900 lumens
Max Output:1,500 lumens
Max Output:3,000 lumens
Battery:1x18650 or 2xCR123A
Battery:Built-in 330mAh LiPo / 14500 / AA
Battery:21700
Battery:18650
Battery: Built-in lithium ion
KeyFeatures:EDC and High Candela versions
KeyFeatures:USB-C charging port
KeyFeatures:Battery with charging port
KeyFeatures: Single button operation
Key Features: OLED digital display
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The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (7)

The Best Overall Tactical Flashlight: Cloud Defensive MCH Dual Fuel

Purchase

Key Features

Programmable interface

EDC and high-candela options

Low-profile, deep-carry clip

Specifications

Max Output

1,700 lumens

Battery

1x18650 or 2xCR123A

IP Rating

IPX8

Rating

Just released

Price

$$$$

While the original MCH, in its everyday carry and High Candela iterations, was already one of the best tactical LED lights you could buy, the new Dual Fuel model takes the versatility up a notch. As the name suggests, the light can now take its power from a 18650 battery like before, or you can use two CR123A primary cells instead. Using CR132A will lead to a noticeable decrease in output and throw, but the main advantage is using the batteries. CR123A lithium primaries are light. Unlike their alkaline counterparts, they have a 10-year shelf life, minimal drain, and no chance of leaking. The other new feature is a programmable interface for the MCH, an absolutely welcome upgrade from the original High/Low modes. While those were undoubtedly serviceable, the two-mode system pales compared to the new output selections.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (8)

The Best Tactical Flashlight on a Budget: RovyVon Hybrid H3 Pro

Purchase

Key Features

Dual switch

Dual power source

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

600 lumens

Battery

Built-in 330mAh LiPo / 14500 / AA

IP Rating

IPX7

The H3 Pro improves the idea of a penlight and gives it more practical and tactical capabilities, with a 600-lumen output from a Cree XP-L LED that throws a beam up to about 393 feet. And the business end of this 7075 aluminum-bodied flashlight comes with a defensive strike bezel that works well in emergency situations. The side switch lets you navigate the output down to a 0.5-lumen moonlight that lasts up to a reported runtime of 56 hours. But for quick access to Turbo, you can use the H3's tail switch, which also comes with momentary activation. The built-in 14500 battery is rechargeable, but you can power the light with standard AAs you can quickly source in a pinch.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (9)

The Brightest Tactical Flashlight: AceBeam Defender P17

Purchase

Key Features

Dual tail switches

Strike bezel

Battery with charging port

Specifications

Max Output

4,900 lumens

Battery

21700

IP Rating

IP68

Rating

Just released

Price

$$

For sheer maximum out-the-front power, it's hard to beat the Acebeam Defender P17. With 4,900 lumens coming out of its Cree XHP 6500K LED module, you can functionally use it as a tactical searchlight to identify things and people in the distance out to 3,700 feet in front of you. With all that power in your pockets, it's essential to keep the battery life going, and that's easy to do since AceBeam designed its included 21700 battery to take USB-C cables directly. The dual rear tail switch is easily actuated even when wearing gloves, and it separates functions from light outputs and modes.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (10)

The Heaviest Duty Tactical Flashlight: SureFire P1RZ-IB-DF

Purchase

Key Features

IntelliBeam adaptive brightness

Single button operation

CombatGrip

Specifications

Max Output

1,500 lumens

Battery

18650

IP Rating

IPX7

Rating

Just released

Price

$$$$

SureFire has specialized in tactical lights for decades, and the everyday carry community continues relying on their high-powered torches in the LED era. The primary draw from the P1RZ-IB-DF is SureFire's proprietary IntelliBeam technology which automatically adjusts the LED module's output based on their environment. This gives you a tactical flashlight that runs itself without fumbling through endless modes and button presses. SureFire also designed the ergonomics of this bombproof flashlight to include a CombatGrip, making it easier to hold for law enforcement on duty with their service pistol.

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The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (11)

The Most Compact Tactical Flashlight: Nitecore EDC27

Purchase

Key Features

OLED display

Ultra-slim and flat design

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

3,000 lumens

Battery

Built-in lithium ion

IP Rating

IP54

Rating

Price

$$

The EDC27 from Nitecore provides tactical features in a novel package that doesn't scream tactical to the untrained eye. It features dual Luminus SST40 LEDs in a double TIR lens structure that provides a wide flood beam and a max of 3,000 lumens out the front. It's IP54-rated for water resistance and thinner than most standard flashlights; it’s designed to act and carry like a pen or knife. This tactical flashlight also features easy access to Strobe with its dual rear tail switch. The OLED digital display provides real-time information about the light and, most importantly, the fast-charging USB-C rechargeable battery built into the body.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (12)

Fenix PD36R Pro Tactical Flashlight

Purchase

Key Features

Dual tail switch

Included holster

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

‎2,800 lumens

Battery

21700

IP Rating

IP68

Rating

Price

$$

The Fenix PD36R Pro tactical LED flashlight has a MOLLE/PALS webbing-compatible holster that lets you attach it to your gear, belt, or vest on a mission. The light itself sports a max of 2,800 lumens out of its Luminus SFT70 LED module with an impressive throw out to 415 yards. The light comes with a 21700 rechargeable li-ion battery, and the IP68 waterproof and shockproof body accepts USB-C cables.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (13)

Streamlight ProTac 2.0 Tactical Flashlight

Purchase

Key Features

TEN-TAP programmable interface

Included holster

USB-C charging port

Specifications

Max Output

2,000 lumens

Battery

SL-B50 battery pack

IP Rating

IP67

Rating

Price

$$

The TEN-TAP technology built into the tail switch of the Streamlight ProTac 2.0 tactical flashlight lets you change the selectable modes. With it, you can have the light go High/Strobe/Low, High only, or run Low/Medium/High instead. That increased output emits a maximum of 2,000 lumens for up to 2.5 hours, and Strobe can run for 4.25 hours in an emergency situation for signaling and disorienting purposes. The light is USB-C rechargeable, and the pocket clip is removable based on your mission needs.

Tactical Flashlights: Buying Guide

Like other everyday carry flashlights, tactical flashlights share some essential features when choosing a particular light for your everyday carry. We will focus on a few of the best flashlights and the most critical aspects and discuss why they are necessary for tactical use cases and everyday carry.

Beam and Brightness

Brightness is the key thing with any flashlight, but especially with tactical flashlights. Maximum brightness, lighting modes, output, and beam distance are essential for tactical lights like the Fenix PD35, allowing you to see objects in the dark and at a distance. That brightness is measured in terms of lumens: the higher the number, the brighter a light can get. Some tactical lights use multiple LED modules to accomplish this feat. Others rely on shaping the beam with reflectors for maximum performance in the distance thrown and area covered.

Battery Type

Traditional alkaline batteries, such as AA batteries, AAA batteries, and D cells, and even lithium cells like CR123, have largely gone by the wayside in the tactical flashlight design world. You can still find lights that use or accept these battery cells, but for the most part, they have been replaced with designs that utilize lithium-ion rechargeable batteries like the 18650 and 21700. These batteries can be charged in a cradle, but the trend nowadays is to accept USB cables directly into the aluminum body of light for convenience. The high performance of these batteries allows for high maximum outputs and Turbo modes like on the PD35 Tac.

Most of the best tactical flashlights are compatible with the ubiquity and speed of USB-C cables and chargers. Some even feature important features like magnetic charging, especially lights like the Olight Warrior X. Others still use micro USB charging but can be on the slower side of USB rechargeable tactical lights.

Durability

Tactical flashlights are intended to withstand a beating during extensive law enforcement or military use. An excellent tactical flashlight will often be made from hard-anodized aluminum, with a top-tier IPX8 rating for waterproofing, allowing it to run immersed for some time. That also makes them resistant to dust ingress. And their LED modules, reflectors, and emitter designs have been made to be virtually indestructible.

Higher-end lights even include additional internal protections like potted electronics, where its more sensitive components are coated with hardened epoxy or resin to prevent damage.

Size and Weight

While pocketability is the most important for everyday carry use, this imperative is less critical in the tactical realm. While there are high-quality compact tactical everyday carry lights, operators of tactical flashlights tend to bring them in holsters or attached to a weapon. This allows them to be bigger than one a civilian would manage to keep on hand daily while providing more brightness, runtime, and performance.

Features

Aside from the flashlight's output, some particular features are more critical in a tactical light. For example, tactical lights tend to come with a strike bezel, allowing the user to strike with the light in a defensive situation and break through glass and other material in an emergency. Belt clips and MOLLE/PALS compatible holsters for gear and webbing attachment options are essential. Dual tail cap switches and output modes come in handy. Strobe is good for the momentary disorientation of a target. And the ability to attach the flashlight to a weapon and actuate the buttons remotely and hands-free is essential too.

Best Tactical Flashlights FAQs

What flashlights do Navy SEALs use?

Like other military branches, Navy SEALs have broad access to currently-issued mil-spec high-lumen tacticalLED flashlights on their missions. Many bright lights can be used as long as they are in the official NSN system, including SureFire and Streamlight weapon lights, USGI impact-resistant right-angle flashlights, and infrared emitters on a headlamp for low-profile night vision usage.

What is the best military tactical flashlight?

The best military tactical flashlight can withstand the shock and strain of abuse on the battlefield. Old-style flashlights with incandescent bulbs don't work, even the heavy-duty Maglites that used to be favored by tactical personnel in the past.

How many lumens is good for a tactical flashlight?

An excellent tactical flashlight has over 1,000 lumens in its full brightness mode. It's essential to have that lumen count be ANSI verified, as it means the manufacturer has gone through the time to certify that their testing system is compliant. This includes lights made from brands like Fenix, ThruNite, and SureFire. This means you can trust their stated specs and not discount them as pure marketing.

What flashlights do law enforcement use?

Individual law enforcement officers have broad discretion about the lights they carry (because they buy them for themselves), which is why we hope this guide is helpful to them and you. Law enforcement tends to take lights that excel in multiple ranges. They also can use high-output and throw lights for searchlight purposes.

How We Picked

Decades of experience and deep connections in the everyday carry industry give us a unique viewpoint on the market to inform our product recommendations. We have the depth of information for thousands of products that have come before and an extensive eye on the market to see what's new and trending for each piece of gear. The result is a buying guide that we feel is informative and useful for of every trade, industry, and budget.

What is Everyday Carry?

Everyday Carry is both the concept of what people carry in their pockets and the process of picking out gear that thoughtfully considers what one wants or needs in their daily lives. It encompasses everything from style to preparedness to utility, meaning an entire industry full of valuable tools and essentials to choose from.

Why You Should Trust Us

Our team has decades of combined experience in all aspects of everyday men's essentials, from wallets to pens to bags and everything in between, and we know where to find great gear ideas that you may not come across at your local stores or when shopping online. Our expertise with the industry and familiarity in design, materials, and usability help you make more informed choices when it comes to picking up your next piece of gear.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (14)

Jonathan Tayag

Senior Contributor


About the Author

Jonathan Tayag is secretly an information technology and corporate security expert who prefers to moonlight as a creative event and commercial photographer whenever possible. His varied experience and substantial travels have led him to seek, without even thinking about it at first, the best gear for the best use at the best price available. Before the concept of EDC (everyday carry) firmly took hold, Jonathan already spent untold amounts of time optimizing for the best-in-slot pieces of gear, from cameras and lenses to pocket knives, pens, and bags and packs. In November 2015, Jonathan joined EverydayCarry.com and has since written numerous articles and guides to help impart his knowledge to the community as a whole.

Jonathan's photographic works have appeared on numerous online websites, print, video, and television outlets for over a decade. Jonathan's previous clients include Blizzard Entertainment, Red Bull, ESL, Razer, and several other endemic and non-endemic esports sponsors and brands. His work also features heavily in online competitive gaming communities, especially those of the StarCraft and Fighting Game genres. You've likely seen his work if you've spent time in a stream or in-game chat over the years.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (15)

Bernard Capulong

Founder and Editor-in-Chief


About the Reviewer

Bernard Capulong is an everyday carry (EDC) gear expert, entrepreneur, all-around nerd, and the founder and editor-in-chief of EverydayCarry.com—the largest online community for EDC gear enthusiasts. Since founding Everyday Carry in 2009, he’s built over a decade of experience in the industry, reviewing and highlighting brands and products, including pocket knives, flashlights, wallets, watches, bags, pens, and much more.

Bernard is known for bringing everyday carry out of obscurity and into the mainstream, having been published or featured in various publications such as GQ, TIME Magazine, The New York Times, VICE, HYPEBEAST, Outside, and many others. He has also played a part in curating, designing, and developing digital and physical products, resulting in successful crowdfunding projects or limited edition collaboration products with established softgoods brands. He stays on the pulse of the EDC industry by attending trade shows, participating in online interest communities, and actively engaging with fellow gear enthusiasts on social media.

In addition to being the editor-in-chief and main social media personality for EverydayCarry.com, Bernard is an avid gearhead and collector in general. His personal collections span technical bags, fountain pens, digital cameras, retro gaming hardware, personal hi-fi audio gear, and mechanical wristwatches, to name a few. Bernard Capulong is a prominent figure and trusted authority in the everyday carry industry with a career dedicated to helping people discover this hobby and stay prepared with quality gear.

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (16)

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The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (17)

Alex

·March 21, 2023

I picked up the EDC27 recently and I frickin love it. I mean, 3000 lumens is overkill for EDC but it's fun to have that capability hahaha. the Ultralow (15 lm) and Low (65 lm) light levels are really useful though

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The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed (2024)

FAQs

The 7 Best Tactical Flashlights in 2024, Ranked & Reviewed? ›

The best flashlight: ThruNite Archer 2A V3

If you're looking for a reliable flashlight that's easy to use, provides a range of beam settings and won't break the bank, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is a great all-around option.

What is the number one rated flashlight? ›

The best flashlight: ThruNite Archer 2A V3

If you're looking for a reliable flashlight that's easy to use, provides a range of beam settings and won't break the bank, the ThruNite Archer 2A V3 is a great all-around option.

Who makes the best flashlights in the world? ›

More
  • Best Overall: Fenix PD36R V2.0 Rechargeable Flashlight » ...
  • Best Budget: Anker Rechargeable Bolder LC90 LED Flashlight » ...
  • Best Everyday Carry (EDC): Nitecore EDC27 Ultra Slim Flat EDC Flashlight » ...
  • Best Rechargeable: Olight Baton 3 Pro Rechargeable Flashlight » ...
  • Best Tactical: Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Flashlight »
Jan 18, 2024

What is the most powerful flashlight on the market today? ›

Brightest flashlight IMALENT MS32 200,000 lumens

IMALENT MS32 Brightest Flashlight With up to 200,000 lumens, the brightest flashlight on the market. In the flashlight industry, it is also the limit of flashlight.

What is the highest grade flashlight? ›

The brightest flashlights in the world, as of 2024?
Imalent MS32Imalent SR32
Claimed distance (meters)1618 m2080 m
We measured1245 m1765 m
Best in category#1 Brightest + highest sustained output#2 Brightest
Buy at:ImalentstoreImalentstore
7 more rows

What is the best rechargeable tactical flashlight for 2024? ›

The Olight S2R Baton II Flashlight was our top pick for its rugged build and high IPX8 waterproof rating. This flashlight is long-lasting and ideal for camping or emergency preparedness. If you need a cheaper option, the GearLight S1000 LED Tactical Flashlight is affordable yet durable and comfortable to carry.

What flashlight does the military use? ›

What type of flashlight does the military use? The military uses a variety of lights depending on the application, however the common foot soldier is most likely to carry a tactical flashlight. Tactical flashlights prefered by the military are designed to be mounted to a weapon or armor.

Who makes the toughest flashlights? ›

Maglite set the standard for tough flashlights, but Rayovac, Coast, and LED Lenser now make even brighter bruisers.

Who makes the best police flashlight? ›

Acebeam L35. The Acebeam L35 is one of those flashlights that can be used for multiple occasions, and for many circ*mstances. The beam is a combination of spotlight and floodlight, but also producing over 6,000 lumens at turn on. And with the appropriate UI, it's great for law enforcement, and general police use.

How many lumens is a good flashlight? ›

150 - 500 lumens: Everyday tasks indoors and outdoors, DIY. 500 - 1000 lumens: camping, fishing, walking, hiking and running at night. 1000 - 3000 lumens: outdoor activities. Over 3000 lumens: Hunting, Police, Search & Rescue.

Do maglites still exist? ›

Maglites are produced in several colors such as black, silver, blue, red, green, purple, gold, and different finishes. Originally Maglite flashlights used krypton or xenon incandescent bulbs. Current models have LEDs, although the older models are still widely available.

Are MagLite flashlights good? ›

Excellent Light. I have to give this 5 stars. Its probably the best value in bright (more than 500 lumen) LED flashlights right now. - The new momentary/on/off button is quieter and has a shorter throw as compared to older style MagLite.

Is Streamlight good quality? ›

Toughest, brightest, longest lasting lights I have ever owned. Streamlight® is the only light I will ever buy. I have a Stinger LED that is over 10 years old (had a bulb, switch and lens replaced with no charge and no questions asked for warranty) when it stopped working, a Stinger...

What flashlight shines the farthest? ›

The IMALENT SR32 is the longest throw flashlight for various circ*mstances, if you want the longest throw and most powerful flashlight, check out the IMALENT SR32. IMALENT MS32 Brightest Flashlight With up to 200,000 lumens, the brightest flashlight on the market.

What is the most powerful flashlight that can start a fire? ›

A 100-watt light bulb clocks in at around 1,750 lumens. The Torch Flashlight from Wicked Lasers, touted as “the world's brightest and most powerful flashlight,” blinds the competition with a whopping 4,100 lumens. That's enough juice to cook an egg or ignite paper, as the videos below demonstrate.

How many lumens are best for a flashlight? ›

150 - 500 lumens: Everyday tasks indoors and outdoors, DIY. 500 - 1000 lumens: camping, fishing, walking, hiking and running at night. 1000 - 3000 lumens: outdoor activities. Over 3000 lumens: Hunting, Police, Search & Rescue.

What is the world's brightest production flashlight? ›

The world's brightest torch with 100,000 lumen output. Utilizes 18 pcs of CREE XHP70. 2 LEDs.

What is the best rechargeable flashlight for the money? ›

More
  • Best Overall: Coast XP11R Rechargeable Dual Power LED Flashlight » ...
  • Best Budget: Blukar Super Bright LED Flashlight » ...
  • Best For Extra Brightness: Infinity X1 5000L Dual Power Flashlight » ...
  • Best Pen Light: Coast HP3R 500 Lumen Rechargeable LED Penlight »
Feb 12, 2024

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