Are you in the market for a reliable, versatile flashlight? Whether you're a police officer, military personnel, or a law enforcement professional, having a tactical flashlight is invaluable. But with so many options and features to consider, knowing where to start can be challenging. That's why we've written this ultimate tactical flashlight guide. From understanding what tactical lights are and their advantages to selecting the best one for your needs, we've got you covered. So let's dive in and shed some light on this essential tool.
Choosing a Tactical Flashlight
What Is a Tactical Flashlight?
A tactical flashlight, most often used by law enforcement and military personnel, is characterized by a few features:
- Rugged build
- Extremely functional design including strike bezels
- High brightness levels, multiple light modes
- Long battery life
- Durable, waterproof body
An important differentiation between tactical and regular flashlights is that a tactical light can often be used in a high-stakes, self-defense situation. These lights are also capable of temporarily blinding an assailant.
Tactical Flashlights vs. Regular Flashlights
Tactical flashlights offer several advantages over regular flashlights, such as durability, extended battery life, and high brightness levels. They typically have multiple light modes, such as Strobe and SOS, that can be useful in unexpected situations. Some lights, like the Fenix TK22 TAC, have intuitive tail switches that simplify switching lighting modes — an important advantage in a quickly-shifting situation. Rechargeable tactical flashlights also add to an officer’s preparedness levels by always being ready to go after a few hours of charging.
What’s the Typical Lumen Output Range of Tactical Flashlights?
The lumen output range of tactical flashlights can vary widely depending on the specific model and intended use. Fenix tactical lights range from 30 to 3100 lumens. The Fenix PD35R, when used on Turbo mode, throws a maximum of 1700 lumens an impressive distance of 1158 ft (353 m). The higher the lumen output, the brighter the light beam. It’s important to know that using a tactical light on its brightest setting will naturally reduce its runtime. So, it’s best to only switch modes as necessary when using a tactical light.
What Are the Most Important Tactical Light Features?
While several features distinguish a tactical light from a regular light, these are the most important tactical flashlight features:
- Brightness: Crucial for illuminating dark environments and enhancing situational awareness.
- Long runtime: Important for officers on the field for long durations.
- Versatility: When no two situations look alike, officers need a tactical light that can adapt easily. Features such as multiple modes and strike bezels provide functionality and flexibility.
- Durability: A tactical light must keep up with the rugged, demanding environments officers often find themselves in. Features like shock and waterproofing ensure the flashlight withstands harsh environments and heavy use.
What is the Average Cost of a Tactical Flashlight?
The average cost of a tactical light can vary depending on the specific model, features, and brand.
Entry-level tactical flashlights can cost around $20-$30, while more advanced models may cost upwards of $100. Fenix high-performance tactical flashlight prices range from $60 to over $400 for the Fenix LR80R, which throws an impressive 18000 lumens and is the brightest Fenix flashlight on the market.
Cost often reflects the flashlight's quality, durability, and features, with higher-priced models typically offering better performance and reliability. To select a tactical light for yourself, you will want to balance your choice of model with budget, features, and intended use.
Using a Tactical Flashlight
How Do I Use a Tactical Flashlight’s Different Modes?
Tactical lights often feature special light modes for specific purposes. These modes can include strobe and SOS. Strobe mode can be used for self-defense, as the rapid flashing can temporarily blind an attacker. SOS mode is useful in emergencies, sending a signal in Morse code to summon help. Some tactical lights feature unique methods for throwing light. For instance, the Fenix HT30R is a diffused white laser flashlight that creates a tightly focused spotlight beam, all with little spillover light.
Are There Legal Restrictions on Using and Carrying Tactical Lights in Certain Areas?
Generally, most areas have no specific legal restrictions on using or carrying tactical flashlights. However, it's important to note that some places may prohibit carrying any type of weapon, including flashlights that could be used as a weapon.
Additionally, some states and municipalities have regulations regarding using certain flashlight features, such as strobe or high-intensity modes, that could be considered disruptive or dangerous.
Regarding air travel, the Transportation Security Administration allows passengers to bring flashlights in their carry-on or checked bags, but with some restrictions. The flashlight must be packed so that it cannot accidentally be turned on during the flight, and the batteries must be securely installed in the flashlight. Check the latest TSA regulations before bringing a tactical light on a plane.
When Should You Use a Tactical Flashlight?
For law enforcement professionals, police officers, and military personnel, tactical flashlights are essential for various situations. These include conducting searches, clearing buildings and rooms, identifying potential threats, and signaling for backup. Tactical lights can also temporarily disorient an assailant, allowing officers and soldiers to gain the upper hand. Also, tactical flashlights are useful for activities such as night patrols and rescue missions.
Using a Tactical Flashlight for Self-Defense
A tactical flashlight can be a valuable tool for self-defense because of its high lumen output, which can temporarily blind an attacker and provide an opportunity to escape or defend oneself. Additionally, tactical flashlights' sturdy construction and durability are useful as striking tools in close-quarters combat situations.
I am Not in Law Enforcement, Should I Carry a Tactical Light?
Even if you aren't a military or law enforcement member, there are several reasons to consider carrying a tactical flashlight. For example, medical emergency personnel like paramedics and emergency medical technicians use tactical flashlights to locate and assess patients. Similarly, a tactical flashlight can be a valuable tool if you camp, hike, or live in an area with frequent power outages or natural disasters.
How Do You Select the Best Tactical Flashlight?
When selecting a tactical flashlight, consider a few key factors.
Lumen output: Consider the situations you encounter most frequently. If you work in the field and regularly face low-light environments, a tactical light with higher lumens can be indispensable. However, if your needs are less demanding and do not require extremely bright light, you may find that a tactical light with slightly lower lumen output but longer runtimes is a better fit.
Ease of Use: When selecting a flashlight, look for models with durable materials and reliable batteries. These will ensure the light withstands regular use and provides consistent performance. Additionally, think about the light's size and weight and control accessibility. For example, a flashlight that is too bulky or heavy may be challenging to carry, but one that is too complicated to operate can be frustrating to use in unexpected situations.
Budget: Consider your budget and choose a flashlight with the best value. Check out our helpful post for more useful tips on choosing the best tactical light.
The Best Fenix Tactical Lights
Some of the best Fenix tactical lights and their features include:
- HT30R: Jaw-dropping beam distance, white laser light, dual rear switch
- PD35R: High lumens, dual tail switches, quick charging
- TK16 V2.0: Stainless steel strike bezel, two tactical tail switches, IP68-rated protection
- TK22 TAC: Single-handed operation tail switch, practical tactical lockout, ultra-long runtime
- LR80R: Impressive lumen output, removable handle, intelligent brightness downshifting sensor
- GL19R: Rechargeable weapon light, multiple brightness settings, ambidextrous switching
For a closer look at some of these top-performing tactical lights, check out our blog post, where we list our best tactical flashlights of 2022.
Be Ready for Every Situation With Fenix Tactical Flashlights
From understanding what makes them different from regular flashlights to selecting the best one for their needs, there are many features to consider when choosing a tactical light. Whether you're in the market for a reliable, durable, functional light or an ultra-bright powerhouse model, Fenix has them all! Check out the complete selection of Fenix tactical flashlights today!