Tactical Flashlights: The Ultimate Guide For Beginners

tactical flashlights

Over the past years, flashlights have evolved at a high rate. Gone are the days when each household had one flashlight which enjoyed a central storage location, probably in the kitchen cabinet.

This was the go to lighting device in the whole house whenever the power went out, the fuse blew or you wanted to search for something in the darkness.

Fast forward, in today’s world, everyone is using a tactical flashlight. This is a flashlight that can be used to tackle all the real-world problems that require adequate illumination. This flashlight is unlike the plastic models that use the standard bulb and other inferior materials.

Instead, the light is made of the most rigid materials and utilizes powerful, energy efficient LED lighting technologies.

Indeed, there is much to learn about the tactical flashlight: starting from history, uses, and so much more. If we start discussing about this amazing lighting tool, we’ll probably never get to the end. We have therefore decided to freeze the whole story into one post that has each and every bit of information you’d wish to hear about a tactical flashlight.

Here’s our ultimate guide to the tactical flashlights:

What Is A Tactical Flashlight?

We start with the most obvious question: what exactly is a tactical flashlight? I’ve met with people who have been using a tactical flashlight but didn’t have a slight idea what it was.

To them, it was just an ordinary light. Likewise, I have met folks who are holding on to simple LED quality that comes in the name of a tactical flashlight. Most people are actually confused at the mention of the term tactical flashlight.

So, what is a tactical flashlight? It is more than the kitchen model you know. It is a light designed to confront specific situations that are related to combat (military or police operations). A tactical flashlight is therefore a device that has been constructed to execute all the tactical missions.

For this reason, they are made from highly durable materials, mostly the aircraft grade aluminum metal alloys. They’ve waterproof designs of varying degrees.

They emit more light using powerful LED circuits (some even uses up to 4 LED bulbs!). They’re typically smaller than the old flashlights and can be easily carried in your pockets or purses.

Above all, these flashlights can be mounted directly on a wide range of weapons to help you shoot more precisely in dark conditions.

If your light meets a couple of the above features, you have a tactical model with you. Otherwise, you’re still holding on to the model that your grandpa used in his days.

Why Use A Tactical Flashlight?

Why the hell should I stop using my current flashlight and send my money on the tactical flashlight? I know you might be asking yourself this question, trying to convince yourself that it’s not necessary to buy the tactical model. But you’re totally wrong in this. And the moment you start using the tactical light, you’ll realize how much you’ve been missing in your life.

Here are some of the top reasons why every man MUST carry a tactical flashlight with them today:

1. Personal Defense

One of the top reasons why tactical flashlights have become so popular today is the fact they’re the simplest and the most unimaginable personal defense tools. If you’ve not carried your gun with you, or you’re traveling to/living in areas where the guns are restricted, a tactical flashlight becomes a necessity.

After all, no one would suspect that a simple petite flashlight can break skulls. There are two main ways of using this light when under attack.

One, it helps you identify the attackers. As you know, an attacker relies on the darkness advantage to do criminal activities without being identified. But it’s time to surprise them with this light. It outputs extremely bright light that helps you identify everyone around you.

Another way that this light becomes you aide when under attack is that it comes with strobes mode. Got no idea what the strobes mode is?

Well, this is simply the output mode of light in ultra bright signals. The mode is always set to use the maximum lumen output of the flashlight. If your light supports this output mode, follow this simple trick nest time you’re under attack. Activate the mode and direct it to your attacker’s faces.

They’ll be totally disoriented with the bright signals and will try to cover their faces. Within this period of confusion, you own the stage- escape or launch at attack.

Here’s a video about how to use tactical flashlights for self defence:

2. They facilitate precise Shooting

Are you a night time hunter?

Good. Now, do you want to bag more games that you have ever done before? A tactical light is the vital tool you need to add to your nighttime hunting kit today to experience successful shooting sessions.

As we’ve said earlier, one of the top features in most tactical lights is that they can be mounted on a wide range of guns. These lights are designed in such a way that they fit directly and tightly into most rail systems. There are also a number of accessories to help you secure them to any rail system your gun might be bearing.

With a gun mounted light, you’ll be able to identify your targets more clearly (including those that are yards away). Also, the flashlight gives you a clear view of your gun sights better in the middle of total darkness.

3. Emergency Situations

In case of an emergency and the power runs out, a tactical light will be of great help. The light outputs insanely bright light that illuminates your world and allows you o carry on with your tasks.

4. Improvised weapon

Yes, this light is also an improvised weapon. This is supported by the fact that its bezel is toothed/serrated. Is your serrated? Please confirm… if yes, you’ve got a great light model with you that you can use in cases of emergency situations e.g. to break the door of a car. Breaking the house windows is equally simple and possible with this model of light.

5. Search things around your house

As much as you’d use the tactical light in various tactical operations outside your home, you can also employ it search for misplaced stuff around your house. My tactical light can attest to this fact. It is frequently used by my kids to search for misplaced remotes and toys. I also use it to search for various things.

While still at it, it’s important to note that most tactical lights act as excellent power backups in homes whenever a blackout occurs. Some are even designed to stand on their tail, enabling them t act as lanterns or candles!

6. Medicine fields

Any medical doctor in the house? Doctors too have not been left out in the use of this amazing flashlight. If you’re a medical expert and you’re not already using this light, you are also missing a lot.

The ultra bright light produced by these lights enables the dentist to examine their patient’s teeth better. Doctors are able to look deep down into the throats of their patients to have an idea of the extent of the strep throat or any other illness in the mouth.

The uses of a tactical light are limitless. You can use them to confront any situation that requires sufficient illumination.

History of Tactical Flashlight

Along our story, it’s also good to know how the tactical flashlight came into this world. The first kind of tactical light was invented in 1900. This tactical light was very different from the modern one. It relied on the dry cells batteries for its power. The LED was a strange term to this generation and they, therefore, used the incandescent light bulbs.

This light had a basketful of problems. It was designed using delicate materials which broke down the instant it fell off your hands. The bulbs were highly fragile and couldn’t withstand the acceleration associated with the firearm recoil.

Years later (in 1912), a US patent for night sight firearms was issued. This was an attempt to improve the way firearms operated when mounted with the tactical light. The new light came with its bulb mounted on a shock absorber below the gun barrel. The weapon’s grip was also modified to hold a dry cell as well as the pressure switch.

The tactical light has undergone multiple improvements since then. Today, we’re familiar with an extremely compact light that fits directly to any firearm out there. And these improvements are ongoing. Next time you might get a collapsible or a chipset tactical flashlight. You never know.

Types of Tactical Flashlight and Their Usage

Just as there are many reasons why should you use a tactical flashlight, there is a also a wide range of options of tactical lights to meet your specific needs. Different tactical lights and their specific uses are:

Handheld Tactical Flashlight

This particular flashlight is more of an everyday carry (EDC). It is therefore mainly designed for use without a forearm. Given that you need to carry it with you everywhere, it comes with such an extremely compact design so that it fits in your pocket or rucksack without difficulties.

The light is also extremely lightweight to ensure that it does not feel like a burden to you. The fact that this light does not come with a rail clamp system does not mean that it cannot be used with your gun in poorly lit situations. The tactical light is held in one hand while the gun is held in the other hand.

Police and military camps used to undergo this kind of training on how to hold the two tools on your hands for accurate shooting.

Top Mounted Tactical Flashlight

This is yet another type of combat flashlight that has been specially designed to fit on the top of your rifle. It mounts to your weapon directly and securely and you don’t need additional tools to fix it.

Once it’s fixed, the light offers you a good targeting. Given that this light produces a far reaching beam, it’s ideal for both close and long range targeting.

Bottom Mounted Flashlight

As its name suggests, this weapon light attaches beneath your firearm. It comes with a quick attach/detach clamping system that enables you to directly fix it at the bottom part of your weapon.

One benefit of using this light is that leaves the sighting line ultra clear- awesome for precise shooting. From the simple fact that it also produced ultra bright light, it is perfect for easy target identification in both far and close distances.

Laser Sighting Tactical Light

If you would like to improve the accuracy of your aim, this is the top tactical light you need. Everything about the light, including the design, resembles that of a tactical flashlight.

However, unlike the usual tactical light that produces LED light only, this light outputs both LED and laser light (either green or red in color) which greatly improves how you aim at your targets. The light also allows you to use both light modes simultaneously or either of them.

Side Mounted Flashlight

This tactical light is simply mounted on either side of your firearm, with the help of various accessories. It also generates the blinding white light that enables you to identify targets far away from you and thus shoot more accurately. It’s an ideal tactical light for both right and left-handlers.

To help you get the most out of a tactical flashlight, various flashlight manufacturers have come up with various different accessories. Since these accessories are directly related with the tactical light, we’ll also discuss them below:

  • Colored filters or LED bulbs: Usually, the LED bulb produce natural white light. While this light is brilliant and bright enough for your illumination needs, it might not be useful for some tactical missions.

    The colored filters are therefore designed to convert the natural white light into the color of your preference. This is especially helpful for nighttime hunters who are able to avoid distracting their prey by preserving their night visions using different colors.

    Red is usually preferred when you want to preserve night color. Green light on the other hand is perfect for identifying blood.
  • Siren: There is also a miniature siren that you simply buy and use with your tactical flashlight. When turned on, they activate loud noise which can be used to draw attention or drive off your attackers.
  • Battery charger: Most rechargeable tactical lights come with the battery charger to enable you to recharge the battery when its power runs low. If no charger is included in the package, you can get one from your local shop as they’re readily available.
  • Remote pressure switch: These are usually designed to help you engage your tactical flashlight even when you’re away from the body. They make it easier for you to hide your actual position.

How to Choose the Best Tactical Flashlight?

The shopping process is always straightforward, but not for all products. A tactical flashlight is one of the products that require much attention when making a purchase.

If you don’t have a clue what you should look for when buying a tactical light, there are high that chances you’ll end up buying a piece of junk that will bring more frustrations to your life and nothing commendable.

So, how do you choose the best tactical light?

To answer this million dollar question, we’ve come up with a definitive guide below:

Always ask yourself these questions when buying a tactical flashlight:

How much brightness does the flashlight output?

Of course, all of us would go for an ultra bright flashlight. The brightness of the flashlight cannot be looked at without involving the maximum number of lumens it outputs. This is simply because the number of lumens determines the amount of brightness. There is a big difference between 90 lumens and 200 lumens.

But again, it’s important to note that high brightness means you’ll suffer some battery life. Nevertheless, you’ll be able to enjoy powerful light output that allows you to see more, throw a longer beam, and help disorient your attackers.

Note that you’ll find a flashlight that outputs up to 2000 lumens of light and beyond. For brightness, you’ll never lack the perfect option.

Does it support different brightness modes?

Sometimes, too much or too low brightness might prove unnecessary depending on the conditions you’re working in. It’s, therefore, important to consider a tactical flashlight that allows you to vary smoothly the degree of light produced.

Changing the level of light simply means adjusting the LED system so that it outputs a brightness of a lower or higher number of lumens.

Again, the market is filled with flashlights that support up to 6 different levels of brightness (including the Strobes and SOS signal modes which are excellent for disorienting attackers and signaling respectively).

What’s its user interface like? Is it easy to use?

For sure, nobody would like to send their hard earned cash on a flashlight that comes with a sophisticated interface. There are flashlights that take you months to learn fully how to operate them fast.

Also, there are lights whose interfaces are straightforward and operating them is very easy. Whenever you’re looking for a flashlight, therefore, don’t forget to look at the extent of the friendliness of the interface it comes with.

Does the flashlight come with portability features?

You want to carry the flashlight with you every day, right?

But again, you don’t want it to feel too much of a burden to you. This is where the aspect of size and the weight comes in. The most portable product is one that comes with a compact size such that you can easily tote it around.

Too small flashlights, however (ones that have the size of a pen) might not be the right option for you if you want to enjoy a higher amount of brightness as well as use them for personal defense. The tactical flashlight should also be extremely light so that it does not add much weight to your pants or your kit.

Some lights even come with additional portability features such as wrist lanyards, holster, etc., to facilitate easy carry and storage.

Is it waterproof?

A flashlight that bears a waterproof design (gasket r O-ring sealed) means that it’s ready for use in all real life situations, including use in heavy rains and other wet conditions. So, next time you’re buying a tactical flashlight, remember to check whether it’s waterproof.

Rugged Construction?

Since they’re meant for use in combat situations, tactical flashlights should have the highest level of durability possible. Most brands employ the hardest metals in the construction of their flashlights, the most popular one being aircraft grade aluminum metal.

On the contrary, there are brands that use low quality, weak materials to design their lights. Which material would you like your flashlight to be made of?

Of course, you would go to the one containing hard metals. Other than featuring durable and stable metals, these flashlights come with a dustproof, scratch resistant, and rustproof coating.

Does the flashlight use LED or Incandescent Bulbs?

There’s a wide rift between the incandescent and LED bulbs. Folks who’ve used the incandescent bulbs before have made similar complaints against it. For example, the bulbs aren’t energy efficient, they break easily when dropped, and they need frequent replacement since they burn out easily.

LED bulbs, on the other hand, are very energy efficient, have a long lifespan and do not break easily. It’s no wonder the top rated brands employ LED technology in their products. What’s more, these LEDs are impervious to shock and can withstand the recoil force produced by your firearm.

What’s the Price of the flashlight?

You get what you pay. If you want to get a high-quality tactical flashlight with all the great features, then you have dig deep into your pockets.

For a simple tactical flashlight with a very short lifespan and a few features, you only spend a few dollars. Only a fool will purchase a low-quality light which means visiting the flashlights shop every month to seek a new one.

This is wastage of money. Instead of all this, why don’t you make on time investment of high quality, durable flashlight that will serve you for generations?

What about the flashlight’s power source?

Generally, all flashlights use batteries. Most of them allow you to choose between rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. If you go for non-rechargeable batteries, e.g. the AA and AAA models, they’re cheaper than the rechargeable models. However, given that you’ll need to replace them with new ones whenever they run out of power, the overall flashlight maintenance cost will be a bit higher.

For the rechargeable batteries, they’re expensive. But once you buy them, you won’t have to keep on replacing them, cutting down the maintenance costs. Some flashlights come with their rechargeable batteries which mean you won’t have to spend more money on batteries. This might be a great deal for you.

Have you looked at the consumer reviews first?

It’s very important to go through the reviews of previous users of the tactical flashlight you intend to buy. Why? These people have already used the product and fully understand its merits and demerits. Each tactical light on the market has hundreds of reviews if not thousands.

Hovering over these comments, you’ll be able to make a wise decision on whether to buy the light or not, based on its overall performance.

What are some good tactical flashlight Brands

There are over a hundred brands making tactical flashlights today. Each brand claims to be the best. But you’ll only know the truth of these claims after using their products.

Testing a product from a brand you’re not familiar with might be a risky path as you might come to discover that their products are not great as they claimed. The best way out is to know the best brands that manufacture high-end flashlights. Fortunately, we have come up with a list of such labels to make things easy for you.

Top tactical flashlights brands include:

Streamlight

Streamlight is one of the most popular manufacturers of high end, most durable and the brightest tactical flashlights capable of working under any situation without disappointing.

Based in Eagleville, Pennsylvania, this brand is surely the number solution for all your tactical light needs.

SureFire

SureFire is another top brand whose tactical lights have won the hearts of every outdoor enthusiast out there. The great reviews that accompany all their products will confirm this to you.

The company is based in America, Fountain Valley, California. All their tactical lights are durable, waterproof, and employ powerful LED systems to output ultra bright light that meets all you illumination needs.

Fenix

Fenix-Store came into the flashlights arena about 8 years ago. It’s popular for its affordable, high-quality tactical lights.

Like all the brands we’ve mentioned above, Fenix flashlights are made from the most durable materials, are capable of enduring the hardest tactical situations, and employ the high-performance LED circuits.

NiteCore

NiteCore is also a leading manufacturer of high-end tactical flashlights. I’ve personally used a couple of NiteCore tactical lights and have been satisfied with their brightness level and ability to last for many years under frequent use.

Other acceptable brands that offer top quality flashlight are EcoGear, ThruNite, and UltraFire.

How to Use a Tactical Flashlight?

Operating a tactical flashlight is an easy task. But how do you use it to approach different situations? This is where we miss the point…

Let’s say you wake up in the middle of the night and hear some strange sounds. They’re not in any way familiar to your pets. You’re even lucky to hear some men arguing over which room to enter first.

One thing is for sure! You’ve home invaders right at your compound. How do you use a tactical flashlight in such a situation?

The first step is ensuring you have sufficient light around you. You’re not trying to act like a forensic expert or a CSI here, so switch on the main lights.

This improves your safety. But if it’s not safe or convenient to put on the lights, no need to panic. You have got the tactical flashlight with you.

How to use your tactical flashlight to move through the darkness? First, you MUST NOT leave it On the entire time. This will make you an easy target.

Instead, use the light in the Light ON-Scan-Light OFF-Move pattern. That is, put the light on, scan the area around you to look for threats, put it off and move ahead.

Repeat this pattern each time. Your attacker is likely to attack at the point where they last saw the light. Following this pattern, therefore, ensures you’re totally safe.

How to Use your Tactical Flashlight when you’re not Armed?

Can the tactical flashlight be used as a weapon?

Yes, you can. If you find yourself surrounded by would-be attackers, and you don’t have your firearm with you, a tactical flashlight will be a great weapon.

Quickly shine the flashlight’s beam on their face (strobes modes will work great) and dominate their eyes. This blinds and disorients them momentarily, giving you a nice opportunity to flee or engage them. If you lack combat skills, or you’re not sure if the attacker is armed, the best option is to run for your life.

But if you’re courageous enough to engage the attacker, quickly hard-hitting their face with the toothed bezel would be enough to take them down. Alternatively, hard kicks to their knees or groin would be a nice way to attack as they won’t see them with all the light shone in their eyes.

Tactical Flashlight vs. Pepper Spray

Between pepper spray and a tactical flashlight, which one will more helpful to you when under attack?

Let’s learn some few facts about the two defensive tools:

  • If you spray your assailant with pepper, there are high chances that you’ll come into a close range fight, and pepper will get into your own eyes as well.
  • Some pepper sprays aren’t much effective. Just the other day a friend was telling me how he sprayed his attacker, and he wiped it away as if it was not a big deal.
  • A strong spray would make a man break into tears like a small kid
  • Most of the situations that require you to use the spray can simply be avoided by being situation aware
  • The space utilized by pepper spray is beyond measure
  • A tactical flashlight blinds and disorients the attackers monetarily, allowing you to flee
  • In case you get into a fight with the attacker, you can use the “swim mode” technique to hit them hard using the serrated bezel and possibly win the fight
  • A tactical flashlight with ultra-bright light and powerful beam throw will allow you to scan your area and thus create a situational awareness
  • A tactical carry is very compact and lightweight

My conclusion

I’d rather carry a tactical flashlight than a pepper spray to defend myself. Though a powerful spray works great, what would be the result if it also gets in your eyes? Or what would happen if the spray isn’t as powerful as you thought? You’d only have yourself to blame for choosing the spray over a tactical flashlight.

How to Take Proper Care Of Your Tactical Flashlight?

You have a great tactical flashlight? Good. Whether the light remains great or fades in term of quality, performance, durability, is a decision that lies in your arms.

If you want to maintain your flashlights prowess forever, you must religiously adhere to the tactical flashlight maintenance tips below:

  • To begin with, always make an effort of thoroughly cleaning your flashlight- from the lens, casing, battery compartments, etc. this ensures that you remove all the debris might affect its performance and strength in the long run.

    For the best results, always use alcohol, terry cloth, or microfiber fabric to clean your flashlight.
  • Replace the broken parts. Examining your tactical flashlight regularly will help you discover the broken parts and replace them on time. Mostly check the O-rings it plays an important role in preventing water and dirt from getting into the light.
  • Lubricate the flashlight. This is a very important step that prevents the O-rings from drying up. It also enables the springs to move smoothly, preventing them from breaking up.
  • The final maintenance tip for a long lasting tactical flashlight is protecting its parts from corrosion.

    The main parts of a tactical flashlight that are prone to corrosion include the battery contacts and springs. To do this, use Deoxlt Gold, a product that has been manufactured specifically to fight corrosion.

Final Verdict

We’re done with ALL the basics of a tactical flashlight. Having read this article, you now fully understand and appreciate these special flashlights.

The remaining task is for you to look for the right flashlight from the thousands that are lying on the market. By specifying your budget, features, and specific needs, you’ll surely come across a tactical flashlight that you’ll enjoy using for the rest of your life.

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