July 19, 2021 11 min read
Something that can be considered as one of the most important items of gear for any camper, outdoorsman, hiker, homesteader, or in fact, anyone is a tactical flashlight. A tactical flashlight can be used to ward off animals at night and provide light during power outages as well as help with tasks at night such as finding your way in the dark or performing repairs on a vehicle. Not all tactical flashlights are created equal, though, so which one is the best for you?
The best tactical flashlight is one that offers durability, reliability, weather resistance, bright light with variable modes, and self-defense capability, all wrapped up in a compact, lightweight design. The power source should also be easy to replace and use readily available components.
When you are looking for a tactical flashlight for your needs, you need to know what feature to look for in a flashlight that will make sure you are getting good quality. We will review some of the features and characteristics that you should consider making non-negotiable when selecting your tactical flashlight and some that are just nice to have. You can then choose your tactical flashlight with confidence, knowing it will serve you well when you need it most.
Tactical flashlights have a name that sounds cool and has that hardcore military-style appeal. But what actually separates a tactical flashlight from any other traditional or standard flashlight?
Tactical flashlights are the best choice in flashlights because they have a self-defense element to them; they are compact, durable, reliable, and made to withstand use in rugged conditions, which would result in standard flashlights to stop working. They are also brighter than most standard flashlights.
The “tactical” aspect of the name has connotations that give certain expectations to this style of flashlight that set them apart from any other run-of-the-mill flashlight. The features that are included in the design of tactical flashlights make them perfect for use in most civilian contexts and will give you an edge over any other flashlight should you need to call on the tactical features.
There are hundreds of tactical flashlights on the market, or rather I should say many flashlights that are “marketed” as tactical flashlights. But how do you distinguish the real McCoy from the fake to make sure that you are getting the best tactical flashlight for your needs and not some cheap item that is using marketing hype to make sales?
The main features to consider in a tactical flashlight will include the following key features.
Let’s detail the main features that make a flashlight tactical and the ones that make the flashlight the most useful and set it apart from the rest of the flashlight crowd! If the flashlight you are looking at does not highlight these as features of the product, you should shopping around a little bit more.
Durability is a key feature of a tactical flashlight because of the conditions that the flashlight is intended to be able to withstand. Most tactical flashlights that are worth considering as an option would all be manufactured from a lightweight metal, such as aircraft-grade aluminum or similar lightweight, rugged metal.
Any flashlight that is made from plastic or other similar materials is not created to handle the rigors that you can put a tactical flashlight through. Plastic will not fare as well if it is subjected to impact, such as if it is dropped or used as a self-defense tool.
A true tactical flashlight will be made from metal, and although lightweight, it will still have some heft to it, which makes it more effective as a self-defense tool.
Part of the durability and reliability of a tactical flashlight is the light source for the flashlight. Any tactical flashlight that does not use a quality LED as the light source should not be on your wish list. The LED will ensure a bright light that will not burn out and need to be replaced, and LED light sources are much more energy efficient. This will help to extend the life of the power source and keep your flashlight working for longer.
A tactical flashlight must be compact in size and design to make it easy to use in one hand and not cumbersome to use.
Typically, a tactical flashlight should be a little wider than the width of the palm of your hand. In other words, if you close your hand around the body of the flashlight, the beam end should protrude a little beyond your hand on one side, and the end of the flashlight with the switch should protrude a little from the other side of your hand.
This will give the beam an unrestricted path while making access to the switch at the rear an easy reach for your thumb. This position also allows the rim of the lens of the light to protrude from your hand to be used in a self-defense situation.
If the flashlight is any larger, it becomes unwieldy and cumbersome to use. It also makes it difficult to conceal or include as an EDC item in your everyday carry bag.
How tactical would you consider a flashlight to be if it could not withstand a little bad weather and continue to function reliably? Tactical implies rugged construction and the ability to withstand weather conditions that would cause other flashlights to simply stop working.
A tactical flashlight should at least be water or weather-resistant, but preferably waterproof. This feature will ensure that the flashlight will continue to work in adverse weather conditions, which is probably when you are going to need the light the most!
A tactical flashlight supplier that does not advertise their product as being waterproof is probably not being totally upfront about the performance of their product in wet conditions. If the product is not water resistant to some degree, it would be best to move to the next product on your list.
A tactical flashlight needs to work when you need it most, and you should have confidence in the product that it will be able to give you the light that you need, even in adverse weather!
The switch on a flashlight is generally the only moving part of the unit, and it is, therefore, the weakest feature and most likely point of failure on the flashlight.
A flashlight that does not have a robust and reliable switch mechanism cannot claim to be tactical, and the flashlight should not be considered as an option in this role.
The switch on a tactical flashlight is normally a pushbutton switch on the rear of the torch, and the placement of the switch and the mechanism is not by accident.
A tactical flashlight is intended to be held in a particular grip, with access to the switch by your thumb, or mounted to a firearm with the switch accessible from the rear of the light.
A pushbutton-style switch is a more reliable mechanism than a slide-style switch, and it is easier to waterproof. A switch on the rear of the torch is also easier to locate in the dark without fumbling all over the flashlight to find where the switch is to turn it on.
A tactical flashlight should give you a reliable and easily accessible power source for the flashlight. A flashlight that uses an unusual battery or uncommon battery as a power source should not be considered as an option to purchase.
The power source of a good tactical flashlight should be such that it is easy to replace without the use of any tools and uses a battery size that is commonly available. This will make it easy to carry spare batteries for the flashlight for extended trips in the field or to stash in your EDC bag.
If the flashlight is a rechargeable type, it should offer the versatility of being able to accept standard, non-rechargeable batteries as an option.
The main function of a flashlight is for illumination, and the same applies to a tactical flashlight. In fact, a tactical flashlight should have great illumination due to the fact that one of the uses of a tactical flashlight is for self-defense.
A good starting point for lumens for a tactical flashlight is 200 lumens Which will cover basic camping and utility needs. A flashlight with a lumen rating above this be brighter light but will also be heavier on battery utilization. Above 1000 lumens would be impractical from this point of view.
Often, tactical flashlights are touted as offering 2000 or 3000 lumens, and often, these figures are inflated to make the sale. A handheld tactical flashlight that says it can deliver 3000 lumens is not possible with the size of the power source or batteries that the flashlight can hold. If the flashlight is capable of generating a light of that brightness, the batteries will be drained of power in a very short period of time!
A tactical flashlight should be bright enough to provide good illumination and to disorientate a potential assailant if you shine the light in their eyes. The light should offer a wide-angle illumination option as well as a spotlight option for different circumstances.
Because of the multi-purpose nature of a tactical flashlight, the light is not only for illumination purposes but should also be versatile for different situations and also offer signaling capabilities.
In some instances, you don’t want an extremely bright light, and in some cases, you want a wide beam as opposed to a focused spotlight. Having the capability of controlling the intensity of the light is not only useful for different scenarios but also useful for conserving the energy in the batteries.
Why use an intense light and waste the energy in the batteries when you only need low-intensity illumination for your current activity.
The light intensity of a light is measured in lumens, which is often a cause for confusion when identifying how bright a flashlight is. If you want to get some clarification on what lumens are and how they work, to understand the topic better, take a look at our article “How Many Lumens Do You Need for a Work Light?” to get a good insight into the question of lumens.
Of course, a tactical flashlight cannot be labeled as such unless it offers self-defense capability for the operator.
With most tactical flashlights, this capability is in the form of a raised rim around the edge of the flashlight lens, as well as a raised rim around the power button on the rear of the flashlight.
The raised rim around the front usually has a jagged profile which offers some versatility in its use. It can be used to slam into the face or temple of an attacker, or the edge can be used to smash a car window to extricate you or someone else from a vehicle.
The rim around the power button protects the button from being activated accidentally but can also be used to slam against the head of an assailant to temporarily stun them while you make your escape.
The flashlight can only be used in a self-defense role if the construction of the unit offers some weight and if the material is durable to be able to withstand such impacts. If a flashlight does not have these features, it should not be labeled as tactical.
A tactical flashlight should not be so small that it compromises the qualities that make a flashlight tactical, in which case, it is simply a small flashlight. While small may be great to fit in a purse or a pocket, there is a limit to how small you can go in a tactical flashlight.
The best small tactical flashlight is one that is small enough to fit across the palm of your hand with the ability to comfortably having the lens end protruding from the side of your hand. The best size for a small tactical flashlight is 5-inches or more, which will comply with this standard.
Just as a tactical flashlight has a minimum size, it also has a maximum size. A flashlight that is longer than 7.5-inches starts to become bulky and cumbersome to maneuver in tight spots and, therefore, should not be much larger than this size.
A 7.5-inch light will fit nicely in the palm of your hand with about an inch and a half of the light protruding on either side of your hand. Most people have a closed palm width of about 4-inches, which makes 7.5-inches the maximum you should look at in a tactical flashlight.
At STKR Concepts, we have put a lot of research and development into our tactical flashlights, and we can offer you flashlights in both ranges.
Our smallest size tactical flashlights are 5.1-inches in length, and the longest is 7.4-inches in length. Our BAMFF 2.0, 4.0., 6.0, 8.0 and 10.0 tactical flashlights are all 5.1-inches in length, while the BAMFF 4.0XL is 7.4-inches in length.
The quality of a product is normally directly proportional to its price tag, so if you go too low on price when looking for a tactical flashlight, you will be compromising on the quality in some way. The compromise may be on durability, reliability, or brightness of the flashlight, and if the flashlight is going to be used as a tactical light, you don’t want to compromise on these features.
The best affordable tactical flashlight is one that will be well priced without compromising on the main core features that make a tactical flashlight a rugged and reliable illumination tool. Generally, a flashlight that is under $25 will result in a compromise on quality.
The best way to get a good quality yet affordable tactical flashlight is to look for one that is in the $25 to $35 price range and tick all the boxes on the features we have discussed.
If you are searching for a tactical flashlight in this price range, STKR Concepts has two options to offer you. Our BAMFF. 2.0 tactical flashlight comes in at $29.99, and the BAMFF. 4.0 slides in just under the wire at $34.99
Selecting a tactical flashlight by brand can be a little tricky. Some suppliers source cheap knock-off imitations made with substandard components and brand them under their own name, which can be a little misleading.
The best tactical flashlight brand will be one where the company has a good reputation, and the company focuses on quality and innovative products and has other products in the same sector. STKR Concepts is one such company that can be considered one of the best brands in tactical flashlights.
STKR Concepts is dedicated to providing lighting solutions for many aspects of daily life, including space lighting such as garage and workshop lighting, as well as outdoor lighting solutions. Our tactical flashlights are innovative and offer superior lighting capabilities to other similarly priced products on the market!
A tactical flashlight should give you peace of mind that you have a reliable tool in your hand that you can put your faith into working when you need it to and also fulfill all the criteria of what it means to be tactical.
The best tactical flashlight is one that meets these criteria and is backed up by a reputable supplier who has proven its commitment to providing quality and innovative lighting solutions and products.
If you are searching for a good tactical flashlight that lives up to all the marketing, then try out our STKR Concepts range of tactical flashlights. We offer great products without the BS and take pride in the innovations in our designs!
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