Are you in the market for a tactical flashlight?
Maybe you are a law enforcement officer and need the best equipment possible to keep yourself and those around you safe. Or maybe you are a marksman or hunter and want the best light to aid at night.
Whatever the reason, if you are shopping for a tactical flashlight, there are a few things you should know.
First, what does tactical mean and what does it have to do with flashlights? Technically, the term tactical refers to any piece of equipment that is utilized during the application of military force. In particular, tactical flashlights originally were developed to be used alongside a firearm in situations of low lighting. These days, the term “tactical flashlight” is used to describe a piece of equipment that can be used in any emergency situation.
Do you know that flashlight everyone has beneath their kitchen sink, the clunky, plastic one with an enormous battery that is usually dead when you need it most? A tactical flashlight is the opposite of that. For starters, a tactical flashlight can mount to a firearm, which prevents a soldier or law enforcement officer from having to hold his weapon in one hand and a light in the other. This means the officer or soldier can aim a concentrated beam of light at a suspect or the opposition, which can be used to temporarily blind them. If the officer or soldier has a smaller light - say, the size of a pen - he or she can hold it easily in one hand while aiming his or her weapon with the other hand.
These flashlights also can be used as blunt weapons, as they are available in large sizes and are very sturdy.
In the armed forces, infrared filters can be applied to tactical flashlights; this is helpful because the infrared beam can be used in conjunction with night-vision equipment. Also, a sighting laser can be added to a tactical light mounted atop a weapon.
How else is a tactical flashlight different from a regular, household flashlight? Good question. A tactical flashlight is brighter: 100 lumens (the unit used to measure light) is average for an everyday flashlight, while a tactical flashlight offers a minimum of 200 lumens. This is the difference between seeing 10 feet in front of you versus up to 50. The brightest tactical flashlights on the market can reach 2,000 lumens.) A tactical flashlight is made of higher-quality material and is, therefore, heavier, which is useful in scenarios described below. Also, these flashlights often are weather resistant, corrosion resistant and incredibly durable. They are extremely difficult to break and do not need to be replaced very often. It also has a serrated edge, which can be used for a multitude of applications.
Personal uses for tactical flashlights
While this kind of equipment is utilized by those in law enforcement and the military, tactical flashlights are useful to civilians as well - especially the smaller versions, which can fit in a pocket or purse. Here are a few uses:
Self-defense: As stated earlier, some tactical flashlights are sturdy and very heavy, meaning they can easily be used as a weapon. The serrated edge can be helpful here as well. Also, the concentrated beam produces an extremely bright light, so if a person is approached by a suspicious person in the dark, they could shine the flashlight in the attacker’s eyes and disorient them, then use that time to run away. A flashlight’s strobe feature also would be advantageous in causing confusion in an attacker. In addition, homeowners who keep a handgun for home defense can mount a small tactical flashlight to their weapon.
In emergencies: During a car accident or if a vehicle becomes submerged in water, the handle of a heavy-duty tactical flashlight could be used to break a window.
Outdoors: For people who enjoy camping or exploring areas that are far from civilization, owning a tactical flashlight is a good idea as it can help in emergency situations.
What to look for in a tactical flashlight
These are the qualities to look for in a quality piece of equipment, such as the X700 Tactical flashlight:
Multiple light modes: Strobe light, SOS light (a flashing light) and continuous light. If a flashlight has different brightness settings, low puts off a small amount of light but has the longest battery life. High produces the brightest light but coincides with the least amount of burn time. These levels are accessed by pushing a button a certain number of times, depending on which level is needed for the task at hand.
LED light: Most of the tactical flashlights on the market are made with LED bulbs, which are extremely efficient and high performing. LED light is very bright and lasts much longer than other sources of light and bulb types.
High-quality materials, such as stainless steel, titanium or carbonized aluminum, which is often aerospace grade and makes the flashlight extremely durable.
Battery life: Find a tactical flashlight that charges quickly and can last for days when it is fully charged. A flashlight that comes with a rechargeable battery also is a good idea, although it will carry a higher price tag. For many, it is worth the cost.
Focus ability: The flashlight should be able to focus its light into a narrow beam, which could be used to blind an assailant or a wide beam that can disperse light over a large area.
Brightness: The light should remain bright for long periods of time before it begins to fade. The higher the number of lumens a tactical flashlight has, the brighter it will be. Experts recommend lights with 500 lumens or more.
As for the cost, that depends on the type of flashlight you are looking to purchase. A mini penlight tactical flashlight can cost as little as $7, while a 4800 lumens tactical flashlight with a rechargeable battery can cost $250.