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Best Tactical Flashlights 2021: Our 10 Highest Ranked

Choosing The Best Tactical Flashlight for You

The word “tactical” gets thrown around a good deal nowadays and it seems to be just as likely to be a marketing ploy as it is to be a reliable description.

In terms of flashlights, a “tactical” flashlight is going to be a flashlight that is built with police/military/security applications in mind, and that is designed to be as reliable, effective, and easy to use as possible facing an emergency or in any survival situations.

The best tactical flashlight for you is going to depend on what situations you intend to use the light in and what for, so as you read the common features below, keep your intended purpose in mind and make sure whichever torch you choose from our list includes the features you will get the most use out of.

What Features Make A Flashlight “Tactical”?

Rugged Construction

Regardless of exactly what you intend to use your flashlight for, all the best tactical flashlights are going to be extremely durable. 

A reliable tactical flashlight is going to be as indestructible as possible and will often feature industry-standard ratings for dust and waterproofing, such as the IPX8 and IP68 designations

Rugged construction also means that your flashlight is built with maximum grip in mind. A tactical flashlight should include a knurled or otherwise textured body that allows you to secure a firm grip on the tool, even when wearing gloves.

Powerful Light Output

The primary self-defense feature of a tactical flashlight is not its use as a striking weapon, but rather as a tool used to blind and disorient would-be attackers.

The brightness of a flashlight is measured in lumens, and for reliable self-defense, you will want your tactical flashlight to have a minimum output of around 150 lumens.

Lucky for you, many of our lights listed below will be in the 1000+ lumen range and will also feature lighting modes like strobe and full burst (turbo) for just that purpose. Speaking of lighting modes: 

Multiple Lighting Modes and Quick Access

While the brightness of your torch is going to be the priority for self-defense, many of the lights below will also feature multiple lighting modes for added utility. For quick access, most tactical flashlights also have a tactical tail switch for momentary on/off or to reach modes like turbo, which will surely come in handy.

Some modes, such as strobe and turbo, are intended to blind and disorient would-be assailants, while other modes are more utility-focused. Super low-output modes, for instance, allow for longer battery life, while S.O.S. and beacon modes can be used for signaling emergency rescue.

Size and Weight

As mentioned previously, the best tactical flashlight for you is going to be the one that best suits your intended usage.

For most folks, that means being able to carry it in your pocket, on your belt, or clipped to your backpack, but you also want to be able to hold it securely in the palm of your hand

Be mindful of the overall length and diameter that best suits both your hand and your preferred method of carry, as well as the total amount of weight you will be comfortable toting around, batteries included.

Our Top 10 Picks For Best Tactical Flashlight

Fenix PD36R image

Fenix PD36R

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
LUMINUS SST-40 LED Output: 1600 Lumens Max 5.0 out of 5.0 Rating
USB-C Rechargeable Size: 5.4” x 1.1” 25 customer reviews
6 Lighting Modes inc. Strobe Weight: 3.0 oz Price: $149.21

 

The Fenix PD36R was a clear pick for our best tactical flashlight thanks to its fantastic 1600 lumen output, lightning-fast USB-C charging, compact size, and feature-rich body.

We really cannot praise this light enough. The premium LUMINUS SST-40 LED bulb is powered by an upgraded 21700 Li-ion battery, which not only produces a 928-feet throw, but can also be run for a full 5 hours on a quick 10-minute charge.

The body includes all the Fenix features we love, like the side-switch integrated battery life indicator and a tactical tail switch with momentary on/off functionality, as well as some bonus features, including a rugged strike bezel and a two-way body clip.

Lighting modes range from the powerful 1600 lumen “Turbo” mode down to the 30-lumen “Eco” mode, rated for 115 hours of run time. The popular strobe feature is also included for added self-defense functionality. 

Factor in IP68 waterproofing and a 5ft drop rating all in a 5.4” long package and you may very well have the best tactical flashlight currently on the market.

Shop the Fenix PD36R Fenix PD35 V2.0 image


Fenix PD35 V2.0

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE ZP- L HI V3 LED Output: 1000 Lumens Max 5.0 out of 5.0 Rating
IP-68 Rated Protection Size: 5.4” x 1.0” 5 customer reviews
6 Lighting Modes inc. Strobe Weight: 3.1 oz Price: $108.32

 

The Fenix PD35 V2.0 grabs a close 2nd of the best tactical flashlights for its high-quality, feature-rich construction, outstanding brightness, and simple controls.

This PD35 utilizes a Cree XP-L HI V3 LED, which is capable of emitting 1000 lumens up to a distance of 820 feet and will almost certainly outlive the average user thanks to a 50,000-hour lifespan. 

Its 6061-aluminum body is drop-resistant rated to 1 meter and water-submersible up to 2 meters for up to 30 minutes, as indicated by its IP68 rating. The body is the definition of rugged with ample knurling, a hard-anodized finish, an anti-slip design, and a sturdy integrated clip for your pocket, backpack, or vest.

 It has 6 lighting modes including a strobe feature, that goes all the way from the 1000 lumen “Turbo” mode to the 3-lumen “Eco” mode which boasts a 430-hour battery life. Mode selection is accomplished via a side switch with an integrated battery life indicator, as well as a tactical tail switch allowing instant activation of your last set power level with a momentary option available with a half-press of the button. Compared to the Fenix PD35 Tactical (also sold on our website), you will find that the throw distance is better and that it’s slightly shorter. The battery level indicator, mentioned above, is also a big plus.

Shop the Fenix PD35 V2.0 Fenix TK20Rimage

Fenix TK20R

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
Cree XP-L HI V3 LED Output: 1000 Lumens Max 5.0 out of 5.0 Rating
USB Rechargeable Size: 5.9” x 1.3” 4 customer reviews
5 Lighting Modes inc. Strobe Weight: 4.97 oz. Price: $153.36

 

The Fenix TK20R comes in at an extremely close 3rd place on our list for best tactical flashlights. 

Ultimately, its smaller sibling PD35 took the cake for its price point and range of features, but the TK20R includes some premium additions that justify its cost and popularity. For instance, the USB-rechargeable feature along with an included 18650 rechargeable battery is nice to have, especially when considering that the PD35 does not include a battery in its price. The TK20R features the same Cree XP-L Hi V3 LED and 1000 lumen max output but benefits from an increased throw of a whopping 1,017 feet.

The dual-layer aluminum body gives added strength and features knurling for strong grip and a removable anti-roll ring to keep the light stationary on flat surfaces. The body is IPX-8 dust and waterproof (submersible up to two meters) including the USB charging port itself, which is internally treated to stay waterproof with or without the included rubber dust cover.

As far as lighting is concerned the TK20R has four lighting modes (plus a strobe feature) which range from the full 1000 lumen “Turbo” mode with a 1 hour 50-minute runtime, down to the 10-lumen “low” mode, which will run for 160 hours on a full charge.

Finishing out the package is a pronounced strike bezel, which increases functionality for self-defense and other applications requiring the light itself to be deployed as a striking tool.

Fenix TK22 Ultimate Edition image

Fenix TK22 Ultimate Edition

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
Glass breaking bezel Output: 1600 Lumens 5.0 out of 5.0 Rating
IP68 Waterproofing Size: 5.9” x 1.5” 2 customer reviews
Type C USB Recharging Weight: 5.29 oz Price: $167.63

 

The Fenix TK22UE (Ultimate Edition) is another great tactical flashlight and it’s worth every penny.

The TK22UE is feature-rich utilizing a Luminus SST40LED and 21700 Li-Ion battery to power all five of its operating modes, which include a 1600 lumen “turbo” with a throw up to 1,328 feet, and a variable-frequency strobe that oscillates between 6Hz and 15Hz every two seconds to further disorient and confuse would-be assailants.

One of the most robust flashlights on the market, the TK22UE is built from A6061-T6 aluminum and is designed to handle temperatures ranging from -35 C all the way up to 45 C without issue. Both the tactical tail switch and side switch are torture-tested with 100,000 activations a piece to ensure they will last the life of the flashlight. Now, that is impressive!

Klarus XT21X image< 

Klarus XT21X

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE XHP70.2 LED Output: 4000 Lumens 5.0 out of 5.0 Rating
IPX8 Waterproofing Size: 6.3” x 1.6” 1 customer reviews
Dual-Mode Control Weight: 5.57 oz Price: $199.00


Although the XT21X is the only Klarus flashlight on our list, the Klarus brand is synonymous with high-quality and they have tons of innovative lights across their lineup.

The XT21X is a favorite for its powerful 5000mAh 21700 Li-Ion battery which allows this torch to produce a massive 4000 lumens of output on its highest setting.

The XT21X also gets high marks for its dual-mode control, for allowing users to switch between a utility-oriented “outdoor mode” with seven available outputs, and the self-defense-designed “tactical mode” which reduces the output modes to just the full-power essentials, one-touch turbo, and one-touch strobe.

This awesome flashlight also features a lock-out mode to prevent the flashlight from being operated in error and a USB 2A port for convenient recharging.

Fenix TK35UE image;

Fenix TK35UE

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
Cree XHP70 LED Output: 3200 Lumens Max 4.9 out of 5.0 Rating
Tactical and Outdoor Modes Size: 6.5” x 1.9” 10 customer reviews
7 Output Modes inc. Strobe and SOS feature Weight: 10 oz. Price: $216.73

While it is not going to be the most pocket-friendly light in our roundup, there is no denying the Fenix TK35UE has incredible potential as a tactical flashlight. Bear with us on this one, you will see.
From a brightness standpoint, the TK35UE is an absolute powerhouse, utilizing a dual USB-rechargeable 18650 Li-ion battery housing to throw 3200 lumens up to 984 feet from its CREE XHP70 HI bulb.

The TK35UE also features an innovative triple mode selection switch that allows the user to cycle between tactical, outdoor, and a power lockout mode which prevents the user from switching on the flashlight accidentally.

The outdoor mode features seven output options, ranging from the 3200-lumen “Turbo” mode, intended to use in dark wilderness areas, down to the 20-lumen “Eco” mode which will run for 152 hours on a full charge.
Tactical mode, on the other hand, gives two practical options geared toward self-defense use: A “reduced” 2000 lumen Turbo mode with ample brightness for tactical situations, and a strobe mode which brings back the full 3200-lumen output.

All controls are located on the robust tail section, including an output mode selection button with Fenix’s integrated battery life indicator, as well as a standard tactical switch allowing for one-touch on/off operation or momentary activation with a half-press. We told you it was impressive!

 Fenix UC35 V2.0 image

Acebeam L16 

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE XP-L HI V3 LED Output: 1000 Lumens Max 4.2 out of 5.0 Rating
Micro-USB Rechargeable Size: 6.1” x 1.1” 11 Customer Reviews
IPX8 Waterproof Weight: 4.51 oz. Price: $157.17

Acebeam started out creating high-quality lighting for outdoors enthusiasts but have expanded their product line in recent years to include tactical flashlights as well. The L16 flashlight is the most popular of their tactical lineup.

Using a CREE XHP35 HI LED powered by an IMR18650 rechargeable Li-Ion battery, the L16 achieves a 2000 lumen throw up to over 1950 feet, which is incredible considering much larger and heavier options on our list like the Fenix TK35UE are not even close to that distance (the TK35UE reaches +/- 984 feet).

Tactical features of the L16 include a tail switch with one-touch access to the full 2000 lumen turbo mode and a momentary on/off option, aggressive knurling and milling on the aircraft-grade aluminum body, a deep strike bezel, and an anti-roll collar.

The six lighting outputs range from the previously mentioned 2000 lumen Turbo down to a 1-lumen “Firefly” mode with a 500-hour runtime. It is also worth mentioning that this unit could also qualify as a “hunting” flashlight, Acebeam carries a broad range of accessories you can purchase for the L16, including a remote switch, making the L16 an ideal candidate for a weapon-mounted light.

Fenix UC35 V2.0 image

Fenix UC35 V2.0

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE XP-L HI V3 LED Output: 1000 Lumen Max 4.7 out of 5.0
Micro-USB Rechargeable Size: 5.5” x 1.0”/span> 11 Customer Reviews
IP68 Rated Protection Weight: 3.13 oz. Price: $139.81

 

A welcome update on a long-standing classic in the tactical flashlight world, the UC35 V2.0 takes all of the features users loved about the original UC35 and packs them down into an even smaller size, while also increasing output to 1000 lumens and adding a strobe function.

Speaking of output functions, the UC35 V2.0 features six of them now, starting with the 1000 lumen “Turbo” (the strobe is also 1000 lumens) and dropping down from there to the 1-lumen “Moonlight” mode, which will run for an impressive 800 hours.

The body of the UC35 V2.0 includes all the features Fenix fans love, like a button integrated battery level indicator, tactical tail switch, rugged knurling down the body, and a sturdy pocket clip.

An included 3500mAh 18650 Li-ion battery powers the CREE XP-L HI V3 LED to throw its 1000 lumens up to 872 feet, so you’re getting a ton of power in a pocket-friendly package. It’s an awesome pocket-friendly flashlight if you ask us.

Nitecore MH10 image

Nitecore MH10

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE XM-L2 U2 LED Output: 1000 Lumens Max 4.5 out of 5.0 Rating
Micro USB Rechargeable Size: 5.11” x 1” 4 Customer Reviews
IPX-8 Waterproofing Weight: 2.65 oz. Price: $82.77

Nitecore is one of the best tactical flashlight brands and the MH10, for its price specifically, is a long-running favorite among our customers. The CREE XM-L2 U2 LED bulb boasts a maximum output of 1000 lumens and a throw up to 760 feet thanks to its precision digital optic reflector.

The body is aircraft-grade aluminum with a military-grade HAIII anodized finish and features high-quality knurling for good grip, an anti-roll collar behind the head, and a sturdy pocket clip.

Output modes range from the full 1000 lumen high function down to an “ultralow” setting at just 1 lumen, allowing the light to run for 520 consecutive hours on a single charge. The MH10 also includes a strobe, SOS, and beacon function, all of which operate at the 1000 lumen intensity for optimum impact and visibility. It is (really) easy to use and USB rechargeable, which makes it perfect if you’re looking for an everyday carry flashlight, that’s also pocket friendly.

Nitecore MH10 image

Nitecore P30

Standout Features  Specification FlashlightWorld Rating
CREE XP-L HI V3 LED Output: 1000 Lumens Max 4.5 out of 5.0 Rating
Outrageous Throw Distance Size: 5.57” x 1.96” 6 Customer Reviews
IPX8 Waterproofing Weight: 5.83 oz. Price: $127.16

 

The Nitecore P30 is a specialty flashlight with tactical applications. Engineered as the ideal light for hunters, the P30 is built with a focus on achieving the longest beam throw possible while maintaining a steady output, similar to a searchlight.

Due to its advanced Precision digital Optic Technology, the P30’s reflector allows a single 18650 rechargeable battery to throw a 1000 lumen beam over 2000 feet using a single CREE XP-L HI V3 LED.

The P30’s focus is mainly on low-light hunting applications, but it also includes a variety of tactical features including its knurled aluminum body, a strike bezel, as well as a side switch designed for tactical applications that provide easy access to 5 brightness levels and 3 special modes: strobe, S.O.S. and beacon.

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