What is the best and brightest tactical flashlight?
June 14, 202113 min read
If you’re searching for your next flashlight, you might be considering a tactical flashlight. Genuine tactical flashlights are designed for use in self-defense and critical situations. Once you’ve decided a tactical flashlight is the best choice for you, you find yourself asking the question, what is the best and brightest tactical flashlight in the market?
The best and brightest tactical flashlights feature high brightness levels, strobe modes, throw switches for quick activation, and many other features, depending on the flashlight you choose. Most are focused on simplicity and easy-to-activate features.
Let’s dive deep and see what you need to know to choose a tactical flashlight that is best for your needs.
What should I look for in a tactical flashlight?
If you are shopping for a tactical flashlight, you want to consider several factors. The weight of the flashlight, type of lighting, mode functions, ease of operation, run time, power source, and durability. How you intend to use your flashlight will determine which of these features you need in a tactical flashlight.
The best tactical flashlights will do more than just shine brightly in the dark. They come with durable construction and feature sets designed for mission-critical, high-intensity situations.
A great example is theSTKR Concepts B.A.M.F.F. line of tactical flashlights. The B.A.M.F.F. 1000 lumen Dual LED Tactical Flashlight combines the best long distance visibility, close range lighting, battery life, and durability features. It’s lightweight, waterproof, and can be gun mounted with hardware included.
Let’s take a look at some popular tactical flashlight types, features and the best of STKR Concepts B.A.M.F.F. tactical flashlights.
Types of Tactical Flashlights
There are two types of tactical flashlights. Full-size tactical flashlights resemble large, police-style flashlights. They are usually between 8 and 12 inches in length and weigh a couple of pounds. Full-size lights are incredibly bright, with beams extending for long distances.
The second type of tactical flashlight is an EDC or everyday carry flashlight. These are a popular type of tactical flashlight as they are compact and, as the name implies, designed for you to carry everywhere. Don’t be fooled by their small size. These flashlights pack some serious punch in the lighting department.
Tactical Flashlight Features
It is expected that a tactical flashlight is one you would carry around with you all the time, so it’s essential to find one that is comfortable and lightweight. A comfortable weight will be different for everyone, so get a feel for a few to determine what feels best for you.
LED light source
LED (light-emitting diode) sources of light provide more excellent illumination for more extended periods of time than traditional, older light sources. Older flashlights used incandescent or xenon bulbs. These bulbs are not only expensive but get hot very quickly. They also use a lot of energy and quickly drain your battery.
LED technology offers a better and more efficient solution for flashlight manufacturers. They don’t use as much power, thus prolonging your battery life. They also don’t get hot with prolonged use and shine a brighter white light than older bulbs. LED bulbs are now standard equipment in tactical flashlights.
All tactical flashlights should have a standards sheet detailing the number of lumens. Lumens, defined simply equals the brightness of your flashlight. For a more detailed explanation on lumens, check out our lumen blog posthere.
A strobe mode on your flashlight is a very non-lethal method of defense. Strobe mode is most effective on a flashlight with a maximum output of at least 500 ANSI lumens. Look for a simple straight to strobe function that lets you quickly access strobe mode without fumbling around for buttons in an emergency.
Many tactical flashlights also have dim and bright light modes, so you can increase or lower your light's brightness as needed. Lower levels of light are also helpful to preserve battery life.
Ease of operation in any conditions
Easy access is definitely necessary for a tactical flashlight designed for self-defense and survival. Most tactical flashlights have a simple push-button so that you can access the button one-handed in the dark. Some models have switch-on tail caps, and some have slide switches on the side. Which one you choose depends on what feels most comfortable to you.
Max runtime length
You want to choose a tactical flashlight with a long max running time. It’s super inconvenient to constantly charge or change batteries if you’re using it as a survival or outdoor flashlight. Long runtimes give you peace of mind that your flashlight won’t run out of juice too quickly.
Some tactical flashlights are rechargeable, and some use batteries. Rechargeable flashlights are usually more user friendly because they’re easier to maintain. Other tactical flashlights use rechargeable batteries but don’t have a charging port. If you choose one of these, make sure you also pick up a battery charger.
Disposable Batteries or non-rechargeable batteries – These batteries are great for keeping backup power, as you just swap your batteries out with new ones. The downside is they’re expensive if you use your tactical flashlight regularly.
Rechargeable Batteries – These are more cost-effective than disposable batteries, but still make sure you keep a spare set. The advantage to these is you can recharge them without replacement.
Built-in batteries – The most budget-friendly battery option is a tactical flashlight with a built-in, chargeable battery. You don’t need to carry extras with you. However, the one downside to a built-in battery is that you either need to find a portable method of charging your flashlight, or your flashlight is rendered useless once you run out of charge.
Renewable Batteries – Some tactical flashlights will come with batteries that can bepowered up via solar panels or hand cranks. These types of batteries should be saved for emergency purposes only as their power level is not consistent and not as long-lasting as other batteries.
A tactical flashlights battery life is measured by the length of time it takes a fully charged flashlight to drop to 10% battery charge. The energy output of the light directly influences the life of your battery – usually, the brighter the light, the faster the battery drains. Tactical flashlights use energy in two ways: regulated energy and unregulated energy.
Regulated energy use – If your tactical flashlight is regulated, your light's brightness will remain the same regardless of battery life. The light will instantly go out when you run out of battery, but there isn’t an accurate way to know how much battery is left at any point in time. It’s essential to keep a backup if the abrupt power loss comes at a critical point in time.
Unregulated use – If your tactical flashlight is unregulated, the light brightness will gradually dim over time as the battery runs down. A steady loss of light gives you an idea of how much charge you have left and avoids an abrupt shut-off. Unregulated flashlights allow you to ‘budget’ your remaining battery life.
This might be one of the most important features to check out in a tactical flashlight. It needs to be durable and reliable. Many flashlights are constructed from aluminum alloy that is aircraft-grade, creating an ultra-tough flashlight. Flashlights should be impact resistant and waterproof.
Water-resistance – Throughout their lifespan, tactical flashlights are likely to encounter water in many scenarios. The most common cause of water damage to flashlights is heavy rainfall, but it’s not unheard of for them to be subjected to complete submersion during navigation of complex terrain. Because of this, it’s a good idea to make sure your tactical flashlight is equipped with water protection mechanisms. Water-resistance levels on tactical flashlights are rated with something called the IPX scale. An IPX4 rating is considered water-resistant, allowing the flashlight to function normally while being splashed by water from all directions. An IPX7 rating is deemed to be waterproof; it can be submerged in water up to one meter in depth for approximately 30 minutes and retain full functioning. An IPX8 rating is considered submersible for up to four hours in water deeper than one meter while maintaining function.
Specialized Tactical Flashlights
While many tactical flashlights are built for general use purposes, there are some that are tailored for more specialized use.
Spotlights – Spotlights are popular with law enforcement. They are also incredibly useful for a firefighter who needs light that breaks through smoke or dust. Spotlights shine a very bright light on a specific person or target point.
Lanterns – Much like a classic flame lantern, tactical lanterns light up very large areas by emitting light in every direction. They’re great as a temporary light source for reading or generally increased visibility. They can also substitute for room light indoors if you lack power.
Headlamps – Headlamps allow you to be hands-free and still have a focused light source. Attached to an elastic band that straps around your head, the light will shine in whichever direction you turn your face.
Weapon lights – Some tactical flashlights are designed to fit onto shotguns, rifles, and pistols. They allow you to use your weapon after dark in dangerous situations. For obvious reasons, these are often used by law enforcement and tactical teams.
What are tactical flashlights made of?
Tactical flashlights are designed to stand up under harsh conditions and take a lot of abuse. Because of their purpose, they need to be made of durable materials that don’t readily crack or break. Depending on which flashlight you choose, there are four basic materials used in tactical flashlight construction. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
Plastic, Polymer, or Composite Material
Plastic or composite flashlights are on the low end of the budget scale when it comes to tactical flashlights. This is the least durable material, and these flashlights usually don’t have technically advanced features. They are, however, lightweight and easy to carry.
Titanium is a very strong, lightweight material. It’s convenient and very versatile, but these features come with a price tag. Compared to other metal alloys, titanium is expensive.
Stainless steel is a durable material found in thousands of household items. It’s long-lasting, rust-resistant, and hard to dent or crack. Stainless steel flashlights won’t come with the higher price tag of titanium ones, but they are a little heavier to carry around.
Aluminum is known for being an extremely lightweight metal. It won’t quite stand up the same as titanium but will take a fair number of impacts and still retain function. Aluminum tactical flashlights are a cost-effective option for maintaining durability.
Types of tactical flashlight controls
You’ll want to choose a tactical flashlight with controls that are easy to operate and use. How easy your controls are to operate can mean the difference between detection and stealth, so choose wisely. There are three popular control types on tactical flashlights.
These controls are precisely what they sound like. Push for on and push for off. However, on a tactical flashlight, push-button controls often to cycle the flashlight through all different levels of brightness. This might make it difficult to turn your flashlight off in a hurry. Some push buttons also make a clicking sound every time they are pushed, which isn’t very stealthy.
A lot of older tactical flashlights have on/off switches that the operator must slide up and down. Much like push buttons, switches can make noise when used, drawing unwanted attention. Switches are also easy to slide accidentally in a bag or pocket, which can lead to your flashlight being left on and draining your battery unexpectedly.
Rotating bezel controls
A rotating bezel controls the brightness of your tactical flashlight by turning a bezel around the lens. This is possibly the most helpful control function on a tactical flashlight. It can be turned on and off in complete silence, and it’s tougher to switch on, preventing wastage of your battery life accidentally.
Light Beam Types
There are different types of light beams that can be transmitted by tactical flashlights. The type of beam your flashlight transmits will change how you use it.
Flood/fixed light beam
This a broad beam of light that covers wide but short distances. This type of light beam is helpful for surveying large areas, as might be done on search and rescue operations.
Spotlight/focus light beam
A spotlight is narrow but far-reaching. This type of light beam is useful when trying to focus on a single object or person far away.
Adjustable light beam
An adjustable light beam is probably the most useful. A tactical flashlight with an adjustable beam feature allows you to manually change the width and distance your light shines based on your needs at any given time. An adjustable beam allows you to have a flood beam and spotlight beam within a single flashlight.
Things to know about tactical flashlights
Tactical flashlights are, in some jurisdictions, considered defense weapons. They would make the perfect defensive device if you were ever attacked. Blinding light is disorienting, and the hard casing of a tactical flashlight can be used to strike your attacker. Obviously, they are everyday uses for these flashlights that don’t involve self-defense, but they can be used in this way if you needed to do so.
Don’t let the label of a defense weapon worry you. Tactical flashlights are perfectly legal as they really are a regular flashlight packed into an extra-durable casing. This is the case for many standard survival tools designed for harsh outdoor conditions, and a tactical flashlight is no different.
The basic operation of a tactical flashlight is not much different from a regular one. There isn’t much of a learning curve to operate it, so don’t worry too much that you won’t figure it out. The most significant differences are the modes and the casing.
Practical uses for tactical flashlights
We’ve talked a bit about how tactical flashlights are used by law enforcement or in search and rescues operations. Most people don’t use tactical flashlights in this manner on a regular basis. Let’s look at a few common ways to use tactical flashlights.
We’ve already talked about this a little bit, but tactical flashlights are fantastic devices to use in a situation that requires self-defense. They have bright lights that can be blinding up close and are made with hard casings should you need to use them as a weapon.
The small, manageable carry size of tactical flashlights mean you can take them with you everywhere. They fit in your backpack, purse, or even your pocket. If you ever need light, you have it at your fingertips. If you find yourself walking at night in a too dark area, you will be able to light up a fair amount of real estate.
When the power goes out in your home, the first thing you search for is a flashlight. Fumbling around in the dark is frustrating, and it’s almost guaranteed to be hiding in the back of a cupboard or under the kitchen sink where you can’t see it. If you regularly carry a flashlight with you, it will save you the effort of bumbling around in the dark.
Did you know you can use a tactical flashlight to light a fire? There are a few different ways you can do this. One method is to use the protective glass lens around the top of your light to create magnification with the sun to start tinder on fire. Another method that works if you have a high lumen output in your tactical flashlight is to simply shine it on flammable tinder long enough for it to ignite. You would want to reserve a third method for survival situations, as it requires breaking your light bulb. If you break it carefully so that you only break the outer glass and not the filament, you can place flammable materials around the filament and turn your flashlight on.
Tactical flashlights are often designed with durable, rough edges. They can be used to break a car window in an emergency.
A tactical flashlight can replace standard help signals of yelling and waving your hands, and they can be seen in the dark. Many flashlights have built in SOS light functions to signal for help, but you can communicate in Morse code just by waving your hand in front of the light.
What is the best tactical flashlight in the market?
STKR Concepts B.A.M.F.F. tactical flashlights
We’ve talked about a lot of available features in tactical flashlights. So now that you’re armed with this information, what is the best tactical flashlight in the market?
STKR Concepts has developed a unique line of dual LED tactical flashlights called B.A.M.F.F. flashlights, which stands for Broad Array Multi Flood Flashlight. The B.A.M.F.F. are a series of tactical flashlights that combine powerful spot lights for long distance visibility with a broad angle flood light for close range lighting. The dual LEDs can be used at the same time or separately to provide you with helpful light and increased visibility in any situation.
Very few tactical flashlights offer both flood and spotlight options, and even fewer offer you the ability to use both flood and spotlights simultaneously. The B.A.M.F.F. series allows the operator to flood their immediate area while casting a spotlight in the distance at the same time. This dual light combination gives you superb visibility at your focal point as well as in your peripheral vision. You will be able to see the trail ahead of you while seeing what’s your feet simultaneously.
Traditional flashlights give you the sensation of seeing with tunnel vision. By giving you a broader range of light, these tactical flashlights eliminate that sensation. They are designed for a variety of activities, including but not limited to camping, fishing, hiking, daily carry, and emergency situations. Let’s take a closer look at the available models of B.A.M.F.F. dual-LED tactical flashlights and the features they offer.
Features available on all B.A.M.F.F. dual-LED tactical flashlight models
Dual LED spotlight and floodlight
AA or AAA batteries, with Lithium-Ion batteries
Up to 1,000 lumens depending on the model
Multiple light modes: spotlight high and low, flood light high and low, SOS mode, strobe light
Half-press button mode selection with no click noise
Available tail button to change modes with dual remote pressure switch available in specific models
White light beam color
Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
All models come with a one year warranty
All models come with a lanyard
Model Specific Features
- 200 lumens of lighting capacity
- AAA batteries and battery cartridge
- 400 lumens of lighting capacity
- AAA batteries and battery cartridge
- This is the ‘special case’ as it breaks the B.A.M.F.F. mold with it’s size
- Standard B.A.M.F.F. size = 5.1” length x 1.2” diameter
- 4.0XL size = 7.4” length x 1.45” diameter
- 600 lumens of lighting capacity
- Lithium ion battery
- battery charger and USB cable
- AAA battery cartridge
- 800 lumens of lighting capacity
- Lithium ion battery
- battery charger and USB cable
- AAA battery cartridge
- 1,000 lumens of lighting capacity
- rechargeable Lithium ion battery
- USB cable
- gun mount kit
- remote pressure switch to change modes of lighting
- AAA battery cartridge
- this model has an extra light function, providing 5 modes: high spot light and flood light, medium spot light and flood light, low spotlight and flood light, strobe light, and SOS light.
Tactical flashlights are multi-purpose. Whether you want one to use it as a defense tool, a survival tool, or just a durable, easy to carry an everyday flashlight, you are sure to find one that suits your need. Whichever tactical flashlight you choose should have robust and durable construction, be compact for easy carrying, have multiple light functions, powerful light output, and long lasting battery life. The B.A.M.F.F. Dual LED Tactical Flashlights from STKR Concepts meet these specifications and more. Their line of tactical flashlights have models to fit anyone's needs in the market for a superior tactical flashlight.
Anything can happen at any moment in time. Being prepared can make a major difference in how safe you remain during an emergency. It’s recommended that everyone has an emergency kit ready so that they are prepared anytime that the unthinkable happens.