Best tactical flashlights

Best Tactical Flashlights for Preppers in 2017

ModelLumensModesBattery TypeUser Rating (Out of 5)Price

Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL
6003 modes2 CR123A batteries4.6$$
Check Price

4,0004 brightness levels + strobe4 x Fenix ARB-L2M 18650 OR 8 x EdisonBright CR123A lithium batteries4.8$$$$
Check Price

1,2005 modesSOLARAY 18650 3.7v 3000mAh Lithium-ion Battery4.5$$
Check Price

SureFire G2X Pro
3202 brightness levels1 x CR123A4.8$$
Check Price

SureFire E2D Defender
5002 modes2 CR123A batteries4.6$$$
Check Price

Streamlight 75458 Stinger DS
6403 modes + strobeNiMH battery OR NiCd battery (both rechargeable)4.8$$$
Check Price

Fenix PD35
1,0009 modes1 x 18650 OR 2 x CR123A4.6$$
Check Price

Klarus XT11S
1,1005 modesRechargeable 18650 Battery4.6$$
Check Price

J5 Tactical V1-Pro
3002 brightness levels + strobe1 x AA OR 14500 Rechargeable4.4$
Check Price

2017 Tactical Flashlight Buying Guide

Let There Be (Flash)Lights!

When I was a kid, I thought that being chased through the woods would be a much bigger concern in my life.

I can think of numerous scenes from tv shows and movies where a group of campers is out minding their own business when one of them hears a noise. Of course the trusty, knuckle-headed leader decides to go check it out.

best tactical flashlight reviews

As soon as he (let's be honest, it's always a "he". Guys are dumb) gets out of sight of the camp, the flashlight flickers and fails, bringing with it the eerie sounds and howls of the night. After a couple of hard smacks to the palm, the light comes back but NOW THERE'S A ZOMBIE 2 FEET AWAY!

Cue the running through the dark forest scene, stumbling over every root, branch, rock, and tree frog along the way.

I may not have ever dealt with this particular scenario (yet) but the one thing I took away from it is that light is important and having a dependable flashlight will literally be the difference between life and death at some point.

While I'm still waiting on my Blair Witch Project scenario, I've made sure that I have a flashlight that will still be shining brightly long after I've been eaten.

One that can be dropped, drowned, beaten, and bumped and still be bright enough to light up the night or blind any man or beast hoping to do me harm.

Along with my knife, my flashlight is part of my Every Day Carry (EDC) so it has to be small and light as well as reliable and bright.

Fortunately, tactical flashlights fit the bill perfectly.

tactical flashlight reviews

What is a Tactical Flashlight?

Remember those old school flashlights (or "torches" for our friends across the pond) that we grew up with? The big, bulky things that ran off of 32 D batteries, weighed 24 pounds, and used incandescent bulbs that you apparently had to keep thwacking against your palm to get them to work.

Well today's flashlights put the old Maglites to shame. Technology has brought us more efficient bulbs (LEDs) and batteries (lithium ion) as well as lighter, stronger casings. They're brighter, smaller, lighter, use less power, have longer battery and bulb life, and are more durable. They are literally better in every way other than doubling as a hammer.

But before we get too far, let's break down what makes a tactical flashlight different. There are a few traits that every tactical light needs to have.

It needs to...

  • be really freaking bright
  • be really freaking durable
  • come in black

I think, by law, you're not allowed to call a product "tactical" unless it comes in black.

"Tactical" is to gear as "organic" is to food. There are no hard and fast rules about what does or doesn't qualify or any governing body to enforce those rules. And anything can be "tactical" (any tool used for or with a tactic) just like ALL FOOD IS ORGANIC. They're just buzzwords used to sell products at higher prices.

Depending on who you ask, the answer will vary but here are my requirements for a tactical flashlight:

Strike Bezel

Besides being painted black, the most recognizable feature on most tactical flashlights is the strike bezel. Granted, not all tac lights have a strike bezel (like the Streamlight Stinger) but, for the most part, the piece around the lens (the bezel) will have a staggered (crenelated) pattern. Think of the battlements of a castle.

The bezels are designed like this to provide a hard edge for self defense and emergency situations. From breaking glass to breaking faces, the strike bezel can really come in handy when you need to shatter or damage something.

Tactical flashlight anatomy

High Lumens

While there are no hard rules for what is and isn't a tactical flashlight, the general consensus is that it must produce 100+ lumens. This is the tipping point where human pupils dilate significantly and vision is impaired for a short time (AKA "retina burn").

Of course blinding people shouldn't be the only use for your light. 100+ lumens should be enough to light up at least 50 yards in front of you, which should be enough for almost every activity outside of spelunking.


Typically, the best tactical flashlights use anodized aerospace aluminum for the body. Cheaper lights will use plastic, which isn't as durable, or steel, which is heavy. The anodized aluminum provides a nice balance between durability and weight. It's light enough to forget you're carrying it but solid enough that if you forget you're carrying it and drop it on the pavement, you won't have an issue.

For the bulb, manufacturers use either LED or xenon bulbs. Specifically, CREE LED bulbs are very popular in everything from the <$10 flashlights to the high end $100+ ones.

Finally, be sure to check the o-rings and gaskets around the bezel and tail cap. Some companies cut corners in this area by using cheap plastic or just skipping using them altogether. The gaskets play an important role in keeping your light and battery compartment watertight so pay attention to these.

Tail Switch

On/off switches on the tail end of a flashlight seem pretty normal now but think back to your childhood. Those old Maglites had body switches. And remember the ones that you had to turn the bezel? It took decades for someone to think to move it to the end.

The tail switch design allows you to operate your light easily with one hand. It is especially useful when using an overhand grip, like when holding a gun in your other hand (like with the Harries, Surefire, or neck index techniques), where your thumb is directly over the on/off switch.

The other benefit of a tail switch is that it is easy to press, even when you're wearing gloves.

surefire flashlight techniques

Some models have tail and body switch so you can activate them whichever way you carry them.

Textured Grip

Having a textured grip is one of those things that seems like a no-brainer until you realize how many flashlights don't have one.

Whether your hands are wet, cold, or gloved, you still want to have maximum control over your light. Some manufacturers, like SureFire, actually have specifically placed rings so you can easily hold the flashlight between your first and second fingers (like the picture above).

Multiple Modes

All tactical flashlights should have at least 2 modes; a high and low brightness setting. These levels allow your flashlight to serve more than one purpose. You can have the high mode for blinding and searching or you can use the low mode for when you need to last a long time.

Some models have up to 5 brightness levels plus 3 modes. That seems like overkill to me. The strobe feature I can see being useful in a handful of situations but the rest can be a nuisance that you have to cycle through every time to get to the setting you want.

Like 21 speed mountain bikes. I mean, really, how many do you need? I usually just find one and stick with it til the wheels fall off.​ 

"Tactical" Rant

tactical flash light reviews

What Are Tactical Flashlights Used For?

​There are a number of uses for these flashlights. Outside of the obvious military and law enforcement applications, high powered lights that can withstand the elements and serious abuse can come in handy to civilians as well when you're...

  • Hunting
  • Camping
  • Night fishing
  • Searching for the remote behind the couch
  • Doing construction
  • Exploring drainage pipes
  • Signaling aliens
  • Doing household repairs
  • Getting the cat from under the house
  • Etc.
uses for tactical flashlight

So now you know what makes a tactical flashlight different than other flashlights and some situations where it would be useful. But do you know how to properly use one? Here are some uses for a tactical flashlight:

Self Defense

High lumen flashlights are very effective as a nonlethal weapon and, unlike other weapons, you can take them on planes, to concerts, etc. Even kubatons and tactical pens are getting seized at TSA. No one bats an eye if they see you with a flashlight but god forbid your SOB holster peeks out because now everyone at Chuck E Cheese thinks you're a bad father.

The most obvious self defense method is to use the strike bezel like an ice pick and gouge at your attacker's face . And depending on its size, you can also use your flashlight like a roll of quarters to give your punches a little more 'oomph'.

Another great thing about having a super bright flashlight is that it "hides" you from your attacker behind a wall of light. All they can see is blinding light so you could be holding a gun or standing there naked and they'd have no idea what you're doing or even what you look like.


Of course, the primary purpose of a flashlight is to illuminate.

Whether you're up in the attic trying to find the squirrel nest, searching for firewood for your campsite, or clearing a bunker in enemy territory, you need light to see.

And having a bright light makes your job even easier.


A major benefit of having a very bright light is that you can use it to alert rescue crews to your location or send discrete signals across long distances silently.

You can plan an escape or just tell your mom you love her from down the street.​ Some tactical flashlights even have a strobe mode that flashes "S.O.S." in morse code.

If your tactical flashlight doesn't have an S.O.S. feature, just remember three short, three long, three short. Repeat as necessary.

Best LED flashlight

How to Find the Best Tactical Flashlight

On the surface, it can be hard to choose between all the models on the market today. They're all black, they all look alike, and it can be tough to compare one to another.

Which is why you should check for the ANSI FL1 Standards icon. ANSI FL1 is standardized testing for flashlights in these areas:

  • Light Output - Measured in lumens
  • Run Time - How long the battery will last at at least 10% of its "initial light output" (the brightness level at full charge)
  • Beam Distance - AKA the "throw", measured in meters
  • Peak Beam Intensity - In candelas, measures the brightest point of beam
  • Impact Resistance - How high you can drop it onto concrete without fatal damage
  • Water Resistance - 3 levels
    • IPX4 - splash resistant
    • IPX7 - 1 meter underwater for 30 minutes
    • IPX8 - More than 1 meter underwater for 4 hours


You don't want your flashlight crapping out on you when you need it most. The majority of current tactical flashlights are made out of high-quality materials like anodized aluminum. Plastic is crapstic when it comes to tactical flashlights that need to perform under pressure.

Anodized aluminum provides a nice balance between something light enough to carry every day and something that won't break if you happen to misplace it under your car tire.​

Also, for this, and many other reasons, LED bulbs are a must. LEDs can take a beating and, because there is no filament to break or moving parts, if you drop it, it'll shake it off faster than T Swift in the cold.


Your optimal flashlight size will depend on how you plan to use it. Will you be carrying it in your pocket? Will you be mounting it to your weapon? Will it just be sitting on your kitchen countertop?


While you don't want to weigh down your bug out bag (or pockets for that matter) with a heavy flashlight, you also don't want one that's too light and flimsy. It should be a good weight that feels solid in your hand. Especially if you need to use your "torch" for self defense.

Water Resistant

Typically, if you're using a tactical light, you aren't going to be in the most optimal of conditions. Whether you're hiking through the rain or that pipe you were fixing just burst, your flashlight needs to keep working so you can too.

I'd recommend at least a rating of IPX7. That means you can drop it in the lake or accidentally wash it and still be good.​

Good Battery

Usually, tactical flashlights use high capacity batteries like the CR123A. They are usually rechargeable but be warned, the plugs are normally proprietary.

The downside of this is that if S has HTF and you lose your charger or a battery craps out, finding a replacement will be difficult.

waterproof flashlight

My personal choice is a light that only uses one AA battery, because I buy them in packs of 100. But I sacrifice power and battery life for this convenience. A good compromise would be to have a main flashlight that uses the fancy batteries and a backup that uses AAs.

Unfortunately for you off-the-gridders, you generally won't find hand crank or solar powered tactical flashlights so you're pretty stuck with batteries.


There is some debate on LED vs Xenon (HID). Xenon bulbs are usually better for seeing through water and having a longer throw (for the most part) but LED has MUCH longer life. Like up to 50,000 hours long, on average. That's 5.7 YEARS of continuous illumination.

Also, LEDs don't heat up like the Xenon bulbs, can take a lot more abuse, and use far less power so they are able to run longer.

Can you see where I'm going with this?


Brightness is measured in lumens. Here's a simple math equation to remember: More lumens = better.

The best tactical flashlights have different modes and brightness levels so you don't sacrifice brightness for battery life. You can use the high setting when you need it and the lower lumen modes for longer tasks

The majority of tactical flashlights fall in the 300 to 1200 lumen range.


How far the flashlight can cast a beam determines how far you can see.

Imagine you're driving your car on a rural road and all of a sudden, there's a deer in the road! You don't have time to swerve so you hit it and now Bambi's dead, your car is totaled, and the kids are crying.

If your headlights had a longer throw, you could have seen that deer in time and safely gone around him.

Not all manufacturers will list the throw of their lights so you may have to do some digging on forums.​

brightest tactical light

Color Temperature

​Another factor to consider is the color temperature of the bulb.

Really bright whites are great for blinding attackers but they wash out whatever you're looking at, kill you night vision, and can give you a headache after a short while.

Think sunlight vs fluorescent lights.

Typically you want to stick between 5,000 and 7,000 Kelvin for a good balance of natural light and brightness.

Optional Features

Some tac flashlights come with extra features like zoom lens, weapon mounts, or even tasers.

A zoom lens lets you quickly switch between a tight, narrow beam and a wide, flood beam. This allows you to tailor your light to your situation like blinding a wild boar or trekking down a dark path.​

A weapon mount allows you to attach your tactical flashlight to your rifle, handgun, crossbow, what-have-you to free up your hands. Even if your flashlight doesn't come with a weapon mount, there are plenty of aftermarket kits available.

​And for those of you who think that tactical flashlights just aren't "tactical" enough, there are some models available with tasers built into the strike bezel. I've got no comment for the effectiveness of these but just know that your battery life will suffer if you're pumping 50,000 volts into a bad guy. 

Most powerful flashlight reviews

The Best Tactical Flashlights For Sale

When I was looking to write a post on the best tactical flashlights for preppers, I thought, 'who would know best?'. These flashlight reviews are made up from sampling the opinions of people who actually use these tools every day; from law enforcement officers to fire fighters to military personnel.

For this reason, you might not see some of the more popular models on this list. But being popular is not what makes something the best. Trust me, the most popular option is just the one with the best marketing, not the best product.

ModelLumensModesBattery TypeUser Rating (Out of 5)Price

Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL
6003 modes2 CR123A batteries4.6$$
Check Price

4,0004 brightness levels + strobe4 x Fenix ARB-L2M 18650 OR 8 x EdisonBright CR123A lithium batteries4.8$$$$
Check Price

1,2005 modesSOLARAY 18650 3.7v 3000mAh Lithium-ion Battery4.5$$
Check Price

SureFire G2X Pro
3202 brightness levels1 x CR123A4.8$$
Check Price

SureFire E2D Defender
5002 modes2 CR123A batteries4.6$$$
Check Price

Streamlight 75458 Stinger DS
6403 modes + strobeNiMH battery OR NiCd battery (both rechargeable)4.8$$$
Check Price

Fenix PD35
1,0009 modes1 x 18650 OR 2 x CR123A4.6$$
Check Price

Klarus XT11S
1,1005 modesRechargeable 18650 Battery4.6$$
Check Price

J5 Tactical V1-Pro
3002 brightness levels + strobe1 x AA OR 14500 Rechargeable4.4$
Check Price

Streamlight 88040 ProTAC HL Review

Best Tactical Flashlight for the Money

The Streamlight 88040 ProTAC HL definitely meets our requirements for a tactical flashlight. Its body is made from machined aluminum, it has 3 modes (high, low, and strobe), it has a strike bezel, and it comes in black.

It also has some great features like the ability to program the 3 modes into different configurations, a run time of up to 18 hours, and an included holster.

However, it does have some faults as well. The way you switch between modes can be... confusing to say the least. You click once to turn it on, double click to switch, single click to go back, but not when the moon is waning or sea turtles are mating.

Another issue is the low mode. It's just not low enough. At 35 lumens, it is still too bright. It'll kill your night vision and give you a headache if you use it for more than 15 minutes.

Which brings me to my final point. The way the light works (to save battery life, I assume) is by turning the LED on and off rapidly. It does it so quickly that you'll probably never be able to tell but if you're looking at something that is moving, like a fan, you'll definitely notice that the blades seem to not move or go backwards. I get queasy easily so this that's just not something I can handle.


  • 600 Lumens
  • 3 modes
  • Run time of up to 18 hours
  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • Comes with holster
  • Great value


  • Cycling through modes can be confusing
  • Low setting is too bright?
  • Strobe effect on low setting is disorienting

The ProTac HL really is a great flashlight, especially for the price. It's very bright, has multiple modes, is waterproof, and is light and small enough to carry all day. 

Unfortunately, the way you're supposed to cycle through the modes is too confusing and could be a danger if you needed to quickly blind an attacker​. Also the strobe effect on the high and low settings, while some might not even notice it, is a deal breaker for me.

Fenix TK75 Review

Brightest Tactical Flashlight

With a 650 meter throw and an 11 day run time, the Fenix TK75 is a BEAST. It also has 4 brightness modes and strobe. Normally I'd say this is overkill but when you've got 4,000 lumens, it's a big step down to 15. Also, the strobe and burst settings can be quickly selected (if the light is already on) with one button.

One of the most useful features is the battery level indicator. No more wondering if you've got hours or minutes left before your light conks out.

Now for the bad: It's not light. The anodized aircraft aluminum body makes the TK75 20.28oz WITHOUT the batteries which can get weary after a while. In fact, Fenix actually included a shoulder harness because of this! To quote their website, included in the box is a "Back support system, effectively release holding fatigue"​. But it's still lighter than holding a floodlight, I guess.


  • 4,000 freaking lumens!
  • Can take proprietary or standard batteries
  • 11 day runtime
  • Battery level indicator
  • 4 modes + strobe/burst


  • Price
  • Size
  • Takes half a second to turn on
  • Weighs over a pound (20.28 oz)

If you're looking for something that is literally going to light up the night, this is your best choice. It's hella bright, has grrrrreat battery life, and is cheaper than a spotlight.

However, just keep in mind that it's not going to fit in your pocket and you might want to hit the gym if you plan on carrying it for extended periods of time.


Best Every Day Flashlight

The Pro ZX-1 has 5 modes: High, medium, and low beam selection as well as a bright tactical intruder strobe and SOS emergency signal mode.

It is also very versatile by having a zoom lens that provides both "throw" (distance) and "flood" (wide coverage).

The body is made from aircraft grade aluminum​ which gives it a good weight and feel but it still doesn't feel as solid as the Streamlights or Fenix.

On the case of batteries, the Soloray uses a proprietary 18650 3.7v 3000mAh battery or 2 AAAs. You do also get a pair of rechargeable AAAs and a wall charger.

Now to the important part; the Pro ZX-1 isn't actually 1200 lumens. It's probably closer to 3-400lm. Which is still a lot. But if you went to McDonalds and they only gave you a third of your order, you'd be pretty upset.

Lastly, they say imitation is the highest compliment. Solaray better start getting out their thank you cards now because there are quite a few flashlights that look eerily similar to the Pro ZX1. Like the LumiTact G700, BrightMAX 3000, or the XML T6.


  • Good value
  • Focus lens
  • Great flood light
  • Comes with a lot of accessories


  • Not actually 1200 lumens
  • Feels a bit cheap

Overall, I'd say the Solaray is good for everyday tasks but not something you'd want to have to depend on in a sticky situation.​ It's probably perfect for walking your dogs at night due to the flood setting and light weight but for anything more strenuous than that, the Streamlight 88040 is a better choice at the same price.

SureFire E2D Defender Ultra Review

Best EDC Flashlight

The E2D Defender is easily one of my favorite tactical flashlights. It doesn't have the most features or highest lumens but it does its job and it does it well.

Of course, it's made from mil-spec anodized aerospace aluminum (Can I just say AAA from now on?), it has a strike bezel, and it comes in black so it definitely meets our requirement there.​

The high brightness setting is a blinding 500 lumens while the low setting is a modest 5. 5 lumens may not seem like a lot but it's perfect for me when I'm walking at night and don't want to draw too much attention or kill my night vision. Plus it lets the battery last more than 60 hours.

The two modes (high and low) are plenty for me but I'm a simple guy. There's no strobe or S.O.S. setting and if you want something between 500 and 5 lumens, you're SOL.​

I should also mention that this particular model was recommended by more than one police officer. I figure if those guys are willing to bet their lives on it, it's probably good enough for me.​

If you're looking for a deal, though, this isn't it. The Ultra is definitely on the higher end of our scale but in my opinion, it's worth every penny.


  • Bright
  • Durable
  • Simple
  • Long battery life
  • Compact


  • Not cheap
  • Only two modes

If you're one of those people who buys a few high quality items rather than a bunch of lower quality ones, you'll want to take a look at the E2D Defender Ultra. You may pay a lot but it'll pay you back ten fold.

Surefire G2X Pro Tactical Flashlight Review

Best Pocket Flashlight

The Surefire G2X is a bit unlike the rest of the bunch. Sure, it's black, has a tail cap switch, 320 lumens, and 2 brightness levels. But you'll quickly notice that the strike bezel is more "bezel" than "strike" and, more importantly, the body isn't made out of aluminum.

That's right. While the bezel still rocks the standard anodized aerospace aluminum we've all grown accustomed to, the body is made from Nitrolon polymer. Though it may not be quite as tough as aluminum, the Nitrolon is lighter and is easier to hold in cold weather.

Also, and this might be nitpicky to some of you, I don't like how you have to cycle through the low setting first before getting to the high setting. If I needed to surprise an attacker, I want to be able to do it as quickly as possible.​ If this is a deal breaker for you, you can get this model that only has one output level (320 lumens)

​The G2X won't be winning any beauty pageants any time soon and it doesn't have all the whistles and bells that many other tactical flashlights have. What it does have it dependability. SureFire flashlights are aptly named. They work. Every time.

When you hold the G2X Pro, you can tell it's made from high quality materials by people who know what they're doing. And that's more important to me than a strobe feature or a bonus solar keychain doodad. ​


  • Simple
  • Reliable
  • Bright
  • Good value


  • Plastic polymer body
  • No real strike bezel
  • No accessories

The G2X is for the kind of person who just wants their tactical flashlight to work when they need it. There aren't any special codes or handshakes to learn just to operate the thing. It does its job well and that's it. And that's why I like it so much.

Streamlight 75458 Stinger DS Review

Best Police Flashlight

Ahhh do you feel that nostalgia? That's what I get when I look at the Stinger DS. It's like a Maglite 2.0.

This Streamlight​ model came highly recommended from a close friend who has been a police officer for the past decade and teaches at the training academy. So I figure he might know what he's talking about. 

Now I'll admit, she's not the prettiest bird on the branch but, like the G2X, she does her job, does it well, and doesn't complain.

You'll quickly notice that​ the bezel is not crenelated and that the Stinger is a bit bigger than the other flashlights on our list. But that girth comes with 640 lumens, 3 brightness settings (640, 340, and 170 lumens) plus strobe, and up to 4 hours of run time.

Of course, 4 hours doesn't sound like much when you consider the Fenix TK75 has a run time of 11 days but that's 4 hours at 170 lumens, not 15. Which should be plenty of time to find that baddie and bring him to justice.

The other thing you might notice is the on/off switch on the body. Did I just break my rules and let a non-tail cap switch light onto our board? Don't be ridiculous. If you were wondering what the "DS" stood for, it's "dual switch". Which means that there is a power button on the side and on the tail cap. So you can turn this baby on no matter which way you hold it.

The final point I'd like to make is that the throw on this is 297 meters. That's a pretty damn long way.


  • Long throw
  • Good battery life
  • Dual switch


  • Uses special batteries
  • Not compact
  • No strike bezel

I've never personally used the Streamlight Stinger DS but I've heard from many law enforcement personnel who swear by this flashlight. And if it's good enough for them, it's definitely good enough for me.

Fenix PD35 Flashlight Review

Best Tactical Flashlight

Fenix PD35 LED Flashlight

At 1,000 lumens, the Fenix PD35 is a very powerful light, especially for its size (5.4 inches long).

It's IPX8 rated, which means it's waterproof, and has a run time of up to 140 hours.

It's also one of the smartest lights I've reviewed outside of the Fenix TK75. Even if I put the battery in backwards, there's a chip protecting me from accidentally frying the circuit board. And it remembers which setting you turned it off at so when you turn it back on, you don't have to cycle through a bunch of modes.

Which brings me to the one thing that I don't like about the PD35. Try to follow with me here. The "outdoor" mode has 6 brightness levels, including strobe. The "tactical" mode has 3 brightness levels. And getting from one to the other involves holding, pressing, double clicking, and triple clicking like I'm sending morse code.​


  • Very bright
  • Compact
  • Well made


  • Bit of a learning curve to cycle through modes

​Basically, anything good I've said about another tactical flashlight here applies to the PD35. The TK75 was my favorite but because of its size and considerable weight, I just couldn't see myself using it daily. The PD35 is an excellent compromise and, in my opinion, is the best tactical flashlight you can buy right now.

Now I just have to figure out these damn modes...​

Klarus XT11S Review

Best Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Klarus XT11S Review

I had originally overlooked Klarus when I was writing this list so thank you to John Dianez for suggesting it.

I'm going be honest, I am very impressed with the Klarus XT11S. It's meets all the requirements for a tactical flashlight. It's extremely bright (1,100 lumens), it has a crenulated strike bezel, it's tough as nails (IPX8 rated), it has multiple modes including strobe, it has a textured grip and a tail switch, and it comes in black.

But what impresses me is how the XT11S goes above and beyond:

  • It has two tail switches to make it easier to use when wearing gloves
  • It has a protrusion toward the end to make it perfect for using the Surefire technique
  • It has three modes (tactical, outdoor, and tactical assault) with multiple modes within those such as Instant Low-Light, Instant Turbo, and Straight2Strobe
  • There is a spring at the front and the tail end of the battery compartment to provide more shock resistance

And my favorite feature? That it's rechargeable. That's huge for me since I don't want to have to buy a bunch of 18650 batteries that only fit my flashlight. It also means that, paired with a solar or crank charger, the XT11S can last you quite a while in the wild.

The biggest downside with the Klarus XT11S that I've found is that the modes are pretty tricky.

You use tail switch to turn it on and off and the side button to adjust brightness levels, strobe settings, etc.

Switching modes may involve multiple steps like press four times, hold for ten seconds, put your right foot in, and do the hokey pokey.

So don't throw away the manual.​


  • Very bright
  • Easy to use with gloves
  • Well made
  • Instant Turbo mode for emergency situations


  • Bit of a learning curve to cycle through modes
  • Too bulky for EDC

This is a very close race between the Fenix PD35 and the Klarus XT11S.

They both have everything you could ask for out of a tactical flashlight. They're both extremely bright (1,000 lumens vs 1,100), both IPX8 rated, and both very competitively priced at under $100. ​

But if I had to pick one, I'd say the Klarus is the winner by a nose strike bezel. It's slightly brighter and has a few more features but mostly, it's rechargeable and that'll save you a lot of money in the long run.

J5 Tactical V1-Pro Flashlight Review

Best Backup Flashlight

Let me start by getting this out of the way: The J5 V1-Pro flashlight costs 5 times less than the next cheapest light we've reviewed. 

So obviously, the quality is going to be as high as a tactical flashlight that costs $100+. With cheaper lights you'll notice that the machining might not be as exact, the LED may be misaligned, etc. They also won't have a lot of the features you don't hear about like overheat protection, polarity protection, and flux capacitors. As long as you keep in mind that I'm not trying to compare them equally, I think we'll be good.

You've probably already read most of the features from the image but I'll go ahead and run through them with you again.

Strike bezel? Check. Tail cap switch? Check. Zoom focus? Check. Aircraft aluminum body? Check. High, low, and strobe modes? Check.

​What I love about these flashlights (and all of the copy cats) is that they run off of 1 AA battery. Do you know how many AA batteries I have in my house? A lot. And I imagine if the world ever fell that I would easily be able to find enough to last me well after wolves have eaten my corpse.

​The J5 is also surprisingly bright for a sub $15 light. I've been given dozens of crappy, cheap flashlights in my time and none of them have come CLOSE to what the V1-Pro can do.


  • Takes 1 AA battery
  • Bright (for a "cheap" light)
  • Inexpensive


  • Not as high quality as others

I definitely wouldn't rely on this as my only flashlight. But as a backup in your bug out bag or glove box, I don't think you can go wrong with the J5.

BONUS! Free Tactical Flashlight!

ultrafire tactical flashlight

This is my favorite cheap tactical flashlight. It's a lot like the J5 V1-Pro but smaller. And I think it looks better. Also like the J5, I wouldn't want this to be my primary flashlight but as a backup, I can't think of a better choice.

I will warn you, each shipment I've received has varied. Whenever I buy something on Amazon, I throw one of these in my cart. Then I put it in a drawer or backpack or give them to friends and family. You never know when you'll need a light and if you're going to buy a cheap flashlight, it might as well be a really good cheap flashlight!

Like I said, every one I've bought has been slightly different than the others, in terms of quality. On one, the tail switch doesn't protrude as much. On another, the lens fell out about an hour after I got it. 

But they're still worth the $3-6 I pay for them and I like having a flashlight at hand whenever I need one.​


  • Uses 1 AA battery
  • Inexpensive
  • Bright (for a "cheap" flashlight)


  • Not the best quality
  • Never know what you're going to get


Wow... that was a lot of words!

There is so much more I could talk about when it comes to choosing the best tactical flashlight​ and about 30 more flashlights I'd like to review but I think this should give you a good start. 

What tactical flashlight do you use? Let us know in the comments!​


  • steve c

    you’ll never know you needed it until you dont have it

  • Mark Arthur

    nothing beats a good light, not having one may leave you feeling helpless

  • Megan

    Great article

  • Jeff Richards

    It was the article that made me want to purchase the light and I’m glad I did. They are well worth it.

  • Kevin Coahran

    there is nothing more important than a good durable and dependable light it is the essence of life literally.

  • lola blue

    I can use this for so many things.

  • Jane Taylor

    being new to prepping, I am amazed at the information in this article and thank you for it. I would love to have this and can think of many instances where it would be handy to have.

  • Dan Duler

    Very informative, thank you.

  • Sharon Bugar

    It looks very well made and I like the look of it. I could use this for home or out camping.

  • Tammy Iler

    This lookshould aweosme! Thanks for the chance!

  • Janice Cash

    Sounds like the perfect durable & dependable light.

  • Sweeps Krazy


  • sharpLess

    I can see again, hehe

  • CactusPete23

    Cool !

  • CactusPete23

    VERY cool

  • John OConnor

    Very cool!

  • Anita Kennett

    This was a very well written article if truly enjoyed. Thanks for sharing.

  • mapoffla

    Appreciate the info, thanks.


    Great flashlights to have…especially when confronted by a zombie in the dark! (so says this dumb guy!)

  • Nia

    Wow, great tool !!

  • Margaret King

    This is a awesome flashlight love to win.

  • shannon fowler

    this looks perfect for late outdoor adventures.

  • Rich D

    thanks for the info!

  • Horace

    Looks like a winner.

  • Anita

    thanks for the information on it awesome

  • Justin Sparks

    I work night shift as an Animal Control Officer and this would be great to have

    • It sounds like you could definitely use a good flashlight at that job! What do you use now?

      • Justin Sparks

        Just my own personal little rinky dink flashlight…not alot of room in the budget for a nice flashlight for me lol

        • I just ordered a ThruNite T10 that has been pretty reliable so far (and uses AAs which I have plenty of) but you should really check out those $4 Ultrafires. I’ve been very impressed with them for such a cheap price. I’d be curious to see how one stacks up to yours

  • Horace

    Most Excellent.

  • debbiewelchert

    I don’t have a tactical flashlight yet but now from your wonderful article I have a better chance of picking a really good one out.

  • Gina Stevens

    I do not own a tactical flashlight. But, after reading this informative article, I need one now! Thanks for the chance to win one!

  • Michael Howell

    I need a good flashlight, for real. Mine is bad and drains batteries incredibly quickly. Thanks for the list!

  • CactusPete23

    Cool lights !

  • belinda bell

    i would love to have a flashlight like this

  • belinda bell

    I need a flashlight like this. When I need my flashlight the batteries are always dead

    • Same here. I’ve got flashlights stashed all over my house as backups to backups (mostly those $4 ones that take AAs). You should look into the Nitecore Tube ( It’s rechargeable and costs like $10

  • RobtJr60

    Thanks for the information. I’m looking for a good flashlight to add to my EDC.

  • Jeffrey

    This looks like a great tactical flashlight to own for all events.

  • Linda Flakes

    Hope to win

  • kimdavis

    very informative, I need a good flashlight,

  • Sandy Bonesteel

    There is a whole lot of useful, helpful information here.

  • Tracy Jason

    oh yes

  • Darla Peduzzi

    This would be great to have! Thanks for the giveaway!

  • Moose

    I would like to have for EDC. Looks like a great light.

  • Fuzzerrelli

    Will be looking at this Fenix PD35 Tactical flashlight for the next build that I do!

  • Jeff Richards

    I want a couple of these flashlights. It seems that every time I use a flashlight, I drop it and the bulbs break.

    • That’s what’s great about the CREE LEDs, they can take a beating. No more worrying about shattered bulbs!

  • Gasman

    Very Cool

  • timmy06

    I don’t own a tactical flashlight I thought a flashlight is a flashlight never looked into before but after reading your article wow was I wrong thanks for the info.

    • I felt the same way before I started doing more research into them. Couldn’t figure out why someone would pay so much for a flashlight. You can get those at the dollar store, right?

      Now that I own a few higher end lights, I totally get it.

  • Big Sky

    this flashlight is great! I love the options and would love to have one in my bag!

  • Kristen Faro

    Thanks for this info. Never can have enough good flashlights around.

  • Theresa

    Living in the south, where hurricanes occur, a bright AND long lasting flashlight is needed. These sound great.

  • CactusPete23

    Very Cool Light

  • Peter Mogish

    Cool light

  • disqus_c496vhLB64

    Could always use a good flashlight!

  • Cindy Williams

    i like the multiple uses for this flashlight

  • Bill Ryan

    Good reviews, I like the pro and con on each light

  • nice

  • Lisa Ogle

    I am moving to a new apartment and I realize I do not even own a flashlight.This one sounds like just what I need.

  • Kevin Coahran

    love the fact that you have taken the time to break it down to see what format of tactical light suits the individual best .

  • helobuff

    Great reviews! It helps when reading reviews before purchasing. Thanks for the great info.

  • Trinity Rosario

    I love that there are self defense uses listed for it! That’s great!

  • Laurie Murley

    wow this sounds like a great flashlight

  • John Dianez

    where are the Klarus lights? They are awesome!