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Sight is the sense we rely on most. That’s why any outdoorsman or woman with reasonable experience will carry at least a single flashlight. Plus, we need to be ready if the entire grid goes down. Modern versions have become more feature-packed and high-tech than ever, creating a subcategory known as the tactical flashlight.
Many of these lights share similar characteristics. They are compact but deliver moderate to high output in lumens, they have robust and grippy frames, and they are designed to integrate with the rest of your survival kit. They could even serve as a self-defense weapon. Here are the tactical flashlights we’d put in our kit.
The G2X is an industry standard for a reason. It combines a high-powered light, simple operation and multiple modes to deliver a quality solution that’s available for around $60. With a Nitrolon body, super-tough 600-lumen LED emitter and anodized aluminum bezel, the G2X can serve as a weapon in a pinch and stands up to the elements in any situation. SureFire is one of the most trusted names in the industry because of its ability to deliver quality products like this. The G2X comes in a variety of colors and grip styles to complement any task-specific loadout.
Technophiles will quickly recognize the Anker name. This brand is better known for producing Bluetooth speakers and USB cables than tactical lighting equipment. However, the LC90 showcases what this company can really do. Its price point beats the competition every time, given the feature set this light delivers. The LC features a 900-lumen Cree LED that can reach a distance of up to 1,000 feet. The light beam is zoomable, allowing you to produce a more focused, long-range beam or spread more light in a closer area — similar to the high and low beams on your car. A hardened aluminum case and six-hour battery life complete the package.
This aesthetically pleasing newcomer to the world of tactical flashlights packs a tremendous amount of technology into a compact design that your friends will want to check out. Built to have a lower profile and a better grip than round flashlights, the Flateye is available in a variety of sizes with outputs of up to 2,100 lumens and a range of 640 feet. Because of its unique UNROUND design, the Flateye seals better than competing flashlights and can wear the label of waterproof. It can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water. It also features unique cooling fins and up to 40 hours of battery life.
The 69260 TLR-1 HL might not have the easiest name of our selections, but it can sure get the job done. Designed as a dedicated weapon-mounted light, it produces 800 lumens of output and features a simple-to-use mounting system that can integrate easily with most common weapons systems. The simple attachment system keeps your hands away from the muzzle when mounting and unmounting the light, and an ambidextrous on/off switch allows you to operate it using either hand. Like the Panther Vision, it’s waterproof, but this light only has about 1.25 hours of runtime.
If output is a priority for you, you should consider the Fenix PD35 TAC. This little powerhouse is just over 5 inches long, but it produces 1,000 lumens of clear light from a Cree XP-L V5 LED. With a beam distance of 650 feet, the Fenix is a pocket-sized alternative to many larger flashlights. It also benefits from the option to use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and can run in any of six specific output modes. Capping things off on this very complete package, the PD35 is fully waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
What may have you shouting four-letter words is the impressive performance this creatively engineered light delivers. It’s designed for a full-on survival scenario, complete with a seatbelt cutter, window breaker and siren. Perhaps more useful is this flashlight’s ability to charge your devices using the built-in solar panel. Don’t worry — it still does good work as a proper flashlight. The SHTF uses a Cree LED capable of up to 1,200 lumens, features aluminum construction and has a reach of up to 500 meters.
You want a tactical flashlight that is extremely bright? With a ridiculous maximum output of 2,000 lumens thanks to a Cree XP35HD E4 LED, the Klarus XT11GT is the most powerful light on this list. It benefits from several features that make it painless to use, such as a tail-mounted switch to toggle between three operating modes. It also features rechargeable batteries that can be plugged into a household USB cable. At roughly $85 retail, this is one of the more expensive options we list. However, its rugged construction, powerful output and the selection of accessories included make the XT11 GT a solid choice for serious outdoorsmen.
Streamlight makes our list for the second time with the venerable ProTac 88040 HL light. With a handsome, timeless design, the 88040 gets a 750-lumen C4 LED with up to 250 meters of range. It features an aircraft aluminum body with knurled texture for excellent grip and can operate in three different modes: high, strobe and low. The light is also programmable, allowing you to quickly switch it on to your mode of choice. It can also be mounted to your favorite weapon. Best of all, it’s offered at a middle-of-the-pack price-point of about $60.
These eight lights provide something for everyone, whether your needs are for form-factor, weapons integration, outright performance or even sleek looks. Anyone who’s never used a tactical flashlight before should be outright impressed with the performance and versatility each of these lights offers. We suggest you pick up one or more for your home and bug-out kit. You never know when you’ll need a little extra light.