As we start our #InCommons series, we will begin by building a list of all basic and vital needs that we can discuss in great detail. All of us share in common a sense of self-defense, security and protection – whether its physical or digital, we all seek that peace of mind existance to know we are “half-way” prepared for the unexpectedly unknown nature of life.
One of the biggest trends this year has been the message of self-dense and self-protection, in the form of one handy gadget called a “tactical flashlight”
Reviewing What Makes The Best Flashlights
Despite still being early in the year, tactical flashlights have already become a big deal, trending on many social websites around the internet at almost record-breaking speeds. However, with this increased interest in the flashlights, more of them are starting to flood the market. This sudden growth in the industry can make it hard for buyers to find the perfect tactical flashlight.
Recently, there have been newly-formed and detailed tactical flashlight guides available for you to at least see the bright lighting specifications and powerful tactical qualifications that make up these trending LED lights.
What is a “Tactical” Flashlight?
Tactical flashlights are heavier, more durable, and higher powered than regular flashlights. This sturdiness makes them perfect for emergency uses or whenever users need to be in dark areas.
Unfortunately, the word ‘tactical’ can be thrown on almost any product these days, despite the fact that it is actually defined as being something that is made to achieve goals in war. This is why it’s even more important to be sure that any flashlights purchased are, in fact, tactical.
There are hundreds of ‘tactical’ flashlights sold online that claim police forces and military units use them. However, not a lot of these claims can be verified and, in fact, most LED flashlights aren’t used by professionals. With a little extra research, however, a few tactical flashlights are used by military personnel.
What’s the Average Price for a Tactical Flashlight?
Because the tactical flashlight market is so diverse and has so many different levels of durability, the prices can vary. A low quality ‘tactical’ flashlight can cost about $10, while a flashlight that puts out thousands of lumens can cost up to $2,000. It all depends on what the customer wants and the intended use for the product.
For those looking for real tactical flashlights, anything under $80 probably won’t live up to user expectations. Anything under $80 is also less likely to be used by police or military forces. It’s important for users to be aware that tactical flashlights under this price point might be knock-offs or less durable.
However, there are users that won’t need the capabilities of a true tactical flashlight. For those who just want a flashlight that is slightly more sturdy than regular flashlights, but isn’t as powerful as a real tactical flashlight, the prices can start as low as $10. However, one of the most popular LED lights of 2016 has been the X800 Shadowhawk Tactical and is priced at over $50 for one unit only. It is best advised to look into how those work and review all of the properties and characteristics to see if the cost is justifiable.
Comparing Tactical Flashlights
Because even the best tactical flashlights come with so many different variations, it’s important for potential buyers to know what to look for when considering a purchase. There are a few specific characteristics and specs that every serious buyer should consider.
- -Bulb (Halogen, Xenon, or LED)
- -Lumens (Brightness)
- -Battery Type (Self-Powered, Included or Not, Type Needed)
- -Additional Features
Certain points will matter to some people and not to others, so it’s important for buyers to specify exactly why they want a tactical flashlight and then determine which of the characteristics above are important to meet those needs.
Reasons for Purchasing Tactical Flashlights
There are tactical flashlight companies that like to scare potential customers so that they’ll purchase the flashlight. These tactics aren’t just unrealistic, but they play on people’s fears to convince them that the only solution, the only protection, any person needs is a tactical flashlight. While there are many great qualities about tactical flashlights, they’re still flashlights.
Most experts say there are only four reasons for purchasing a tactical flashlight:
- -Emergency or Survival Measures
- -Illuminating Dark Areas
- -Locating Things in Dark Areas
While each of these reasons can be blown out of proportion, a closer look at what tactical flashlight owners actually use their device for clarifies the many purposes for using these flashlights.
Some of the most common uses for tactical flashlights are:
- -Walking Dogs at Night
- -Night Fishing
- -Blinding Attackers
- -Finding Items during Power Outages
- -Blinding Potential Attackers
- -Hitting Potential Attackers
If a potential buyer doesn’t find any of the situations above something that he or she experiences frequently, a tactical flashlight might not be the best choice.
For those who live in areas where there is heavy crime or frequent storms and power outages, the flashlight serves as a great option for self-defense or to provide extra light. And since most thieves will run away if they see a bright light, a tactical flashlight is also a good option for those who have or are afraid to experience break-ins.
The Parts of a Tactical Flashlight
While every tactical flashlight will vary slightly, there are a few key parts that will remain the same. Below is a brief overview of these parts.
Battery Compartment: The area where the batteries are placed inside the flashlight.
Bezel: The edging that surrounds the lamp at the front of the flashlight.
Button or Switch: Located on the tailcap of the flashlight, this allows the flashlight to be turned on or off.
Clip: Many flashlights come with a way of attaching the flashlight to clothing, like a pocket or keychain clip.
Head or LED Housing: The body of the flashlight that surrounds the lamp area.
LED: The center of the lamp that emits light through a lens and reflector. Or, the actual device that releases light.
Lens and Reflector: The glass that covers the LED and is held in place by the bezel. This reflects the light from the LED and multiplies it to create the bright light for which tactical flashlights are known.
Tailcap: The end or rear area of the flashlight.
Determining Tactical Flashlight Certification Standards
Recently, with the rise of rip-off flashlights, more focus has been put on certification standards of tactical flashlights. The most common one, the ANSI FL1, has helped keep the standards for these flashlights consistent. This allows potential buyers a deeper understanding of what they’re purchasing, so they can be sure they’re getting quality.
There are a few things that ANSI FL1 looks at to determine the quality of a tactical flashlight. They are listed below.
Light Output: The light output is determined by how many lumens the flashlight releases. Lumen ratings specify these levels.
Life Span: This is determined by seeing how long it takes for a tactical flashlight to use 90% of its power. This helps potential buyers know how long they can use the flashlight before needing to replace the batteries.
Beam Distance: How far from the flashlight until it reaches 0.25 lux, a measurement of light intensity. The light of a full moon is 0.25 lux, so this is determined by measuring how far a person can get from the flashlight and still have that amount of light.
Peak Beam: The brightest a beam can get at any time.
Water Resistance: There are three different levels of water resistance in tactical flashlight. They are IPX4, which is water resistant, IPX7, which can be submerged to a meter for 30 minutes, and IPX8, which can be submerged to a meter for four hours.
True, quality flashlights will list these ANSI FL1 standards. If a flashlight that claims to be tactical doesn’t have this information, then it isn’t held to these standards and is probably a knock-off of poor quality.
Top Considerations for Buying Tactical Flashlights
For those who are getting a little overwhelmed by all this information, here is a quick and easy to follow guide on what to consider when buying a tactical flashlight.
Consider the Budget
As mentioned at the beginning of this piece, often the price of a tactical flashlight gives it away. Most quality flashlights are over $80, though they can go up to $2,000, depending on what extras are needed. However, not all flashlights that cost more are going to be of higher quality. That is why it’s important to make sure a tactical flashlight meets ANSI FL1 standards before purchasing it.
Consider the Size
Every single person is buying a tactical flashlight for a specific reason. This reason should help potential buyers figure out what type and size flashlight they need to purchase.
For example, handheld flashlights come in the following sizes:
- Micro: Fit on keychains.
- Mini: Between 2-3 inches.
- Small: Between 3-4 inches.
- Medium: Between 4-6 inches.
- Large: Over 6 inches.
Once the size is decided on, the type of flashlight needs to be decided on, too. There are three main types of tactical flashlights. Each one serves a specific purpose.
Handheld: Can be carried easily or placed in a bag or purse easily. Usually not very heavy.
Headlamp: Made to be attached to helmets, hardhats, or scuba gear.
Weapon Light: Created to be attached to weapons, like pistols or other forms of firearms.
While these are the three main options for tactical flashlights, there are also hybrid versions. For example, a handheld flashlight that is also a Taser. This makes it a weapon light, despite being handheld.
Consider the Power Source
As already mentioned, tactical flashlights are purchased for specific reasons. When these reasons are taken in to consideration, the power source is one of the most important. If the flashlight is for emergency uses, for example, it might need to be self-powered.
For those who don’t need the flashlight for anything too specific, a power source that is easy to find, like AA batteries, is probably the best option. However, purchasing a tactical flashlight that takes batteries can be complicated, as well, since there are four main battery options for these flashlights.
Disposable Alkaline: These batteries are like the one mentioned above, AA or AAA, even C or D batteries. They can be found in most stores and are easily thrown away when they run out.
Disposable Lithium: These are the batteries best loved by survivalists, because they have such long shelf lives (10 years). They produce more power, but are also disposable, like alkaline batteries.
Rechargeable Lithium Ion: Often called rechargeable Li-ion, these batteries produce a large amount of power and are rechargeable through regular methods. However, they are expensive and need specialized chargers to work.
Integrated Rechargeable: These batteries charge by being plugged directly into the wall. This means there’s no need for purchasing extra batteries or a charger, since everything is included.
Consider the Brightness
As mentioned above, the brightness of a tactical batteries is one of the ways to determine its quality. The brightness in these flashlights are determined by the number of lumens the bulb can produce. For example, to blind a person temporarily, it takes a minimum of 100 lumens. This is usually the cut-off for tactical flashlights, with anything under 100 lumens being considered a regular flashlight.
Here’s a brief overview of what different lumen levels can be used for:
100-149 Lumens: Perfect for walking at night. Can also temporarily blind individuals approaching in the dark.
150-299 Lumens: Can light a large room or medium sized outdoor space. Can cause temporary blindness even if an individual is approaching it a lit room.
300-699 Lumens: Can light an entire football field. Is usually only seen in SOS mode or burst mode.
700+ Lumens: Only needed for specialty jobs, like in the Special Forces or other military and police operations.
Consider the Durability
One of the main reasons behind getting a tactical flashlight is that the materials used to make these flashlights are of higher-quality, meaning the flashlights are more durable and sturdy. The materials used to make these flashlights can also determine if the flashlight is waterproof or not.
Some of the most popular materials used for making tactical flashlights include:
Anodized Aluminum: Used in most tactical flashlights. Comes in Type II or Type III, with Type III being the most resistant and durable.
Stainless Steel: An extremely strong material, though it is heavy, so should only be considered if the tactical flashlight will be used in self-defense.
Titanium: A very expensive metal that has the strength of stainless steel as well as the lightness of aluminum. Only seen in the highest-quality flashlights.
Best Tactical Flashlights on the Market
Below is a researched list of the most popular tactical flashlight brands available for purchase today. As mentioned earlier, which one a potential customer purchases will be based on their needs.
- Shadowhawk X800
- Lumitact G700 Military Grade LED
- Vizeri Focusing
- SOLARAY PRO
- OxyLED MD20
- Helotex G2
- Surefire G2X
- Nitecore EC4S 2150
- UltraFire WF502B
- Streamlight 88031
- FordEX Group 330lm
- DB Power WF 501b
- Guard Dog Security with Stun Gun
- Smith & Wesson Galaxy Elite
- NEBO Redline Select 5620
- Wagan EL2498 Xtreme Brite-Nite
As you can see, there are many types and commonalities between these newly crazed military-grade tactical flashlights. It is up to you to determine which aspects and qualities you are looking for most, and go from there.
We hope you have enjoyed the #InCommon challenge and content part 1 series of self-defense, protection and security. We will have much more coming soon! Please let us know your feedback about the tactical uses and purposes of flashlights.