10 Brightest Tactical Flashlight Reviews & Buying Guide (2018)
Tactical (or “military grade”) flashlights are a cool and useful tool to own. A flashlight is something anybody will need at some time or another, and owning a durable, reliable, and super bright flashlight is just a good investment.
Unfortunately, the market has been flooded with shoddy products, many of which flat out lie about the power of the lights. I’ve painstakingly searched through all of these available on Amazon, and separated the wheat from the chaff as best I can.
If you’re in a rush, I can give you my top recommendations for the brightest flashlight, but if you want a more detailed list I’ll get to that in just a moment.
In a Rush! Here Is Our Top Choice
Niwalker Ultra Bright
Our Top Choices On The Market
Top 10 Brightest Models On The Market
1. Niwalker Ultra Bright
While not necessarily the best flashlight I’ve ever seen (though it’s very good!) this is certainly the brightest. Boasting 9500 lumens at the maximum setting, it’s over 150% more powerful than the next strongest flashlight on the list, which is why it makes its way on here despite that some might quibble it’s a searchlight instead of a tactical flashlight (like one other entry).
It’s tactical enough for search and rescue personnel, so it belongs here.
In any case, it’s super bright and a very simple flashlight with all 5 settings you’d expect from a tactical flashlight (high, medium, low, Strobe, and SOS), a very durable construction (being IPX7 waterproof, i.e. splash and rainproof, with aircraft grade aluminum construction), and even a 36 month warranty on most parts.
For the price (between $200 and $300) it’s hard to beat in quality, and I can’t find one brighter.
2. Nitecore TM28 Tiny Monster
Nitecore is THE brand for bright flashlights; they have a winner in every category, from 2000 Lumen options on AAA batteries, up to this (tiny) monstrosity.
It’s compact, lightweight (just under a pound), boasts a roughly 1000 hour max runtime (varies a bit depending on the setting, but 3100 mAH 18650 batteries are no slouches regardless of setting), and four CREE XHP35 HI LEDs, able to cast light up to 764 yards.
Rounding things out are five brightness settings, along with two distinct modes (Daily and Search), as well as three special functions (Strobe, SOS, and Beacon) and a handy digital display showing exactly how much charge the flashlight has left.
It will cost you a pretty penny (in the ballpark of $400, varying slightly by seller), but is an invaluable tool and well worth it for any survivalists, search and rescue professionals, or anyone else who spends a lot of time in remote places where lots of light on demand can be a literal lifesaver.
3. Buysight Bright Searchlight handheld
This one is technically a searchlight, but it’s a kind favored by search and rescue personnel, which is “tactical” enough for me.
This ultra-bright flashlight outputs a whopping 6000 lumens, enough to clearly illuminate out to around 800 meters (over 2600 feet, and slightly farther than our winner) with two light modes (CREE 2 LED), and ends up as waterproof (to splashing, don’t submerge) and extremely lightweight for the size (under 1.5 lbs) even if it isn’t exactly compact.
Rounding things out is a lithium-ion battery, rated for long use (difficult to give a concrete estimate since it depends on which light mode you use and whether it’s completely sustained use) and a handy USB port that can be used to charge your phone in a pinch (making it great for emergency scenarios if you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere).
All in all, a worthy product for the modest (under $30!) asking price.
4. Sofirn Q8 Professional Searchlight
This thing is amazing, with my only complaint being its awkward shape (being roughly the size and shape of a soda can). That minor gripe aside, it’s an incredibly durable (essentially drop proof, heatproof, and coldproof, as well as waterproof to at least 2 meters), super bright (5000 lumens) flashlight with an incredible battery life (1500 hours off of 4 button top 18650 batteries), and LEDs that cast up to 601 yards.
My favorite part is how intuitive the switch works. Instead of 5 distinct settings and multiple buttons, it has a single button that ramps the brightness up the longer you hold until it reaches maximum, making it impossible to screw up turning on the right setting by accident. Elegant simplicity is the soul of design, in my opinion.
This flashlight is insanely good, especially for the under $70 price tag, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone and everyone.
5. Fenix LD75C
While bright, this one sacrifices a lot on battery capacity. It hits 4000 lumens on its turbo setting (plus a 200 lumen white LED; it has green and red lights too), but at the cost of only an hour and a half of effective use time.
Normal for the 2000 lumen options below, but not up to snuff for the 6000 lumen options above (which operate longer on their 4000 lumen settings). Even the more reasonable high setting (which drops to 1800) only operates for 3 hours.
This puts the flashlight in an awkward spot.
On a more regular list, I’d put it lower since it is of demonstrably lower quality than many options above and below it. It’s expensive (over $300) and has very few settings and a low battery life. But this one is ranked in order of BRIGHTNESS, not quality (except where brightness values tie), so it takes up this spot.
I see little reason not to purchase the Tiny monster instead for only about $100 more.
6. XML T6 2Pcs Military Grade
These are a bit of an odd duck, being he only “true” 3000 lumen flashlight I could find (many claim it, but few actually have it), and in a super cheap package (a little over $20 for the two pack).
These are simple, no frills flashlights. Light enough to comfortably carry but with enough heft, balance, and hard contact points to thwack somebody if the need arises; It’s almost the exact same kind of flashlight my dad used to carry around in his truck (but a bit shorter and lighter) and serves as a reliable, simple option.
Still, it has the five settings you’ve come to expect (high, medium, low, Strobe, and SOS on a simple dial) so you’re not stuck on full blast all the time and works well as a cheap flashlight for walking at night with.
My only real gripe is it only comes in a two pack (no option to buy one), but that’s an incredibly minor complaint.
7. Nitecore P36 MT-G2
Nitecore squeaks in again at the top of our 2000 lumen flashlight bracket. It’s a simplistic design this time, but a very elegant one, with a comfortably shaped handle and ten brightness options.
Eschewing the digital buttons and readouts this one favors a more traditional rotary setting selection, and is impact resistant (up to 1.5 meters) and all around well constructed.
While the battery life leaves something to be desired (only about 45 minutes of continuous on its “turbo” 2000 lumen setting), I’m not as harsh here because it’s not competing with a much better product in the same price bracket; it’s about average for these smaller, weaker flashlights in the under $100 range.
All in all a very sensible buy for the price, and much like all of these 2000 lumen options is a great middle of the rad price range for people that want or need a quality flashlight, but can’t justify spending $300 to $400 on one.
8. FENIX TK35 Ultimate Edition 2018 version
A big drop in brightness, but also a big drop in price over our winner, having a little a third of one (2000 lumens) and is nearly a quarter the other.
This one has a single CREE XHP 70 LED and runs on four 3v batteries or two 18650s (not included).
While this one only has 3 special settings (tactical/indoor, outdoor, and “lockout”, which prevents the flashlight from accidentally turning on if the button is bumped) they’re all very good, and it comes with a standard (for high-end flashlights) 5 brightness settings plus Strobe and SOS. The price is much more reasonable than the Nitecore, making it a good buy even if it isn’t nearly as bright for those who just want a really good flashlight but don’t necessarily NEED something as high powered as the “Tiny Monster”.
This one gets docked a few points for lying about its brightness output in the description (claiming 3200 when it only shines 2000), but it’s still a good flashlight.
9. Klarus XT11GT
Going even cheaper, we have this nice Klarus, another 2000 Lumen flashlight (this time honest about it) with a scratch resistant lens, drop resistant body, lockout mode, and one look battery capacity indicator, plus a roughly 36 hour operating capacity.
This one lacks a few settings from the above options (being limited, essentially, to Outdoor and Tactical modes, each of which includes two brightness settings plus Strobe and SOS), but it’s also a fair bit under $100 so that more than justifies the relatively slight decrease in function.
This sits as the perfect middle ground between the professional options showcased above and more casual options below, having enough options to justify the purchase for an enthusiast or professional on a budget, but not being break the bank expensive.
10. Ustopfire TC 1200
A decent cheap option, this one coming in at under $20 for a solid 2000 lumen flashlight.
It’s nothing to write home about, but it has 5 basic brightness settings (high, medium, low, SOS, and Strobe), a “zoom” (narrowing or tightening the light beam, essentially the same as the Tactical or Outdoor option of the more expensive models), and sturdy construction.
It has a few complaints about rare issues with the construction of the light (one notable one with strange flaws in the LED arrangement), but customer service is reportedly willing and able to easily replace any defects, so no harm no foul.
Pick this one up if you need a cheap, bright flashlight for everyday use. A perfect flashlight for he average person that lives out somewhere with few ambient light sources that sometimes needs to go out at night.
Final Verdict: Our Top Choice for Your Money
Niwalker Ultra Bright
There are some strong contenders for the top flashlight on this list, though only one unequivocal winner for brightness (the Niwalker searchlight). The Sofirn Q8 sweeps the show for its best balance of price and brightness (plus the simplicity of design and use), while I’d suggest the Nitecore for true tactical options (the Strobe option is a must have there, which the Sofirn seems to lack).
The rest are good, but are demolished in any given category compared to those three; unless the Sofirn is out of your budget range, stick to those top 3 picks.