In truth, there are a number of best tactical flashlights for self-defense.
Now, I’m not trying to get you to buy multiple lights. What I’m trying to do is to help you understand that there are a number of different needs in which a specific light may be the best answer.
In other words, there is no one specific best tactical flashlight for all needs, but there are a number of best tactical flashlights for specific needs.
Best tactical flashlights
So, what are the best tactical lights that meet the needs outlined above in the five various defensive needs situations?
These are my takes and what I use. Now, to be completely open, I have looked and reviewed almost all the tactical lights available on the market, and although new lights come out every day, I still feel comfortable with my selections – time after time. Your needs my differ but these lights truly meet the specific need and are worth your consideration.
So, before I get into all the detail and background, here are my suggestions for the best tactical flashlights:
Every Day Carry
The Klarus Mi7 is reasonably priced, small enough to fit in a purse or jean pocket, and yet it’s powerful at 700 lumens while offering an effective and easily accessible strobe.
Additionally, it has a side button which makes it convenient and unobtrusive to use. A rear button light necessitates lifting the arm up in the air whereas a side button allows for carrying with your hand down to your sides.
It also offers a number of features and options:
- click one for high beam
- click again for low beam
- double click for strobe
- triple-click for battery power level – 1, 2, or 3 flashes to show low, medium or high (70% and better) battery power,
- finally, press and hold for lockout which is indicated by two flashes (this prevents accidental discharge of the battery) and triple tap to get out of the lockout.
I provide this to all members of my family as it just as easily fits on a key chain as it does in a jean key pocket.
I’ve simply not found a better EDC light in this size, and with this power.
The Klarus XT2CR offers a number of features that make it an ideal home protection tactical light. It’s powerful at 1600 lumens and big enough to store in a dresser drawer and retrieve easily.
Another feature is the use of CR123A batteries with having a 10-year shelf life. Granted you can use a 18650 battery and achieve a higher lumens value but 18650 batteries do no have the shelf lives of the Cr123A and I would have lower lumens with a light that works rather than a potentially higher lumen with a light that doesn’t work.
Finally, the rear paddle on the XT2Cr offers immediate access to a strobe, while the center button allows for momentary and permanent on positions. The use of a rear button control is appropriate for home protection since you are actively trying to identify and disorient any home invader vs. trying to look more inconspicuous in an EDC situation.
The XT11GT has essentially the same features as the above XT2CR, here, however, you have a longer throw which is critical in a traffic situation in order to effectively warn oncoming traffic moving at high speeds.
The XT11GT also uses either the CR123A or 18650 and I would keep the higher lumen 18650 and ensure that you have your batteries fully charged. Fortunately, the XT11GT has a mini-USB charging port that can be connected to many of the USB ports available in today’s autos.
Use in Unknown Spaces
Here we’re talking about unknown spaces where the chance of back splash and user disorientation are much higher.
The SureFire Fury IntelliBeam is a one of a kind Tactical Flashlight solution that will work effectively and safely in this type of situation. Some claim the double-tap to evoke the strobe is more difficult than necessary but it can be done with a little practice.
Again, there is only one reliable solution for backsplash and the IntelliBeam is that solution.
I have two strong recommendations when using a handgun in a darkened environment:
- always, always have a light to identify the potential assailant, and
- have the light attached to the handgun (known as mounted) vs. handheld.
- granted law enforcement personnel are trained in handheld lighting techniques, but the average person should always use a mounted light source. Trying to juggle a light with a handgun is problematic if not dangerous for someone untrained in the various techniques. Avoid the problems and get a mounted light.
Nothing is more tragic or avoidable than shooting at a home invader without the identification of that individual. Unfortunately, time after time this axiom is violated only to result in tragically shooting a friend or relative. Don’t do this.
I’ve used and tested all the available weapon-mounted lights and recommend the Streamlight because it uses the long-lasting CR123A batteries and has an easily accessible temporary and permanent on as well as a strobe.
I think this is the best light out there.
Now for some more background…
What is a tactical flashlight?
What are tactical flashlights and how do they differ from regular flashlights?
Historically, flashlights have been large tinny flashlights with bulbs that constantly burnt out and batteries that were heavy and bulky. In other words, think Maglights.
The problems were numerous:
- they were big and bulky, especially if you needed more light because more batteries (usually D cells) equaled more light,
- they were unreliable – the bulbs would burn out or the alkaline batteries would expire – usually at the most inopportune time,
- they weren’t waterproof,
- they weren’t shockproof,
- they usually had a single side switch,
- they weren’t concealable, pocketable or able to fit nicely in a purse, and
- they didn’t offer any options other than on and off – no strobe, different light settings, etc.
- they were, however, especially with 6 D cell batteries, useful for hitting objects…
The tactical flashlight changed all this, for example:
- size and battery configurations offer many different size options,
- the LED light, can last 50,000 hours and lithium batteries, can have a shelf life of 10 years or more,
- all quality tactical lights offer various degrees of waterproofing,
- tactical lights may offer tail, side or tail and side switches, (this is important for defensive holds)
- all quality tactical lights also offer various degrees of shock proofing,
- different available sizes are concealable to pocketable and pursuable,
- options include various program modes, strobes, SOS, low light features, extended runtimes, and even intelligent light adjustments.
- As a last resort, they are still useful for hitting objects and even offer various bezels to facilitate this.
What self-defense options do tactical flashlights provide?
According to a USNews study:
“…more than half of drug violations, larceny/theft, simple assaults and property crimes occurred during daylight hours, between 7 a.m. and 6:59 p.m. However the more serious crimes – murder, rape/sexual assault, robbery and driving while impaired – still happen more at night, from 7 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. The exception is the weekend when the majority of all kinds of crime take place at night.”
Identify the treat
Tactical light allows you to identify the threat.
Is it a friend or foe? Is it one person or a small group? Are they armed or not? You need to quickly access your situation in order to determine what your options are – in other words, fight or flight.
Disorientate the attacker
Not only will a tactical light allow you to disorientate any attacker – specifically by the brightness of the light and even the use of a strobe. It also effectively conceals you and your location since the perpetrator’s depth perception is also altered with a bright light. Furthermore, this facilitates your ability to flee the scene in which your attacker is trying to regain their orientation.
Provide for an improvised striking object
As a last resort, the tactical light, especially with the development of the front bezel, allows you to effective strike your attacker. This will further disorientate the perp and facilitate your ability to retreat to safety.
There are obviously more serious and arguably more effective self-defense options, such as handguns. These, however, may or may not either be available or even allowed in the situation to which you find yourself.
The beauty of tactical flashlights is that, if selected correctly, that could be available in any situation. No one has any restriction on tactical flashlights with the exception of TSA where the light is obviously and blatantly a striking instrument.
Tactical lights for self-defense is like photography, the best camera is often the one you have with you.
What are the different self-defense needs?
It’s important to develop some self-defensive scenarios since each situation will elicit a different best tactical light.
Let’s look at the following:
In everyday carry (EDC) situations, you are looking for convenience as well as tactical options and power.
You’re looking for momentary-on, permanent on and strobe to be easily remembered and used even in high-stress situations.
The ability to easily carry a light either in your pocket or purse, that is neither noticeable to you or others is paramount.
If it’s too big you’ll end up not carrying it. If it doesn’t have to correct options, it will be ineffective.
I like a size that can fit in my key pocket or a size that can be attached to someone’s keyring. By the same token, I want something that has 300 or more lumens, a strobe and can be controlled by one button, preferably a side button.
With a home protection light, I’m looking at a bigger light that can be stored in a drawer or dresser next to the bed. It needs to be bright enough to really illuminate and identify a home invader and also have a quickly accessible strobe button. Finally, it needs to have a long battery life since it may lie dormant for a time but needs to be ready to go in an emergency.
Automobile protection is very similar to home protection as far as the requirement listed. In addition, auto protection needs to have a long beam to act as a warning to oncoming traffic in case of an accident.
Use in Unknown Spaces
The qualifier for unknown space protection is to avoid incapacity of the operator because of backsplash. In your home, you know the various walls and which spaces have reflective sides, in unknown spaces you don’t necessarily know this and you need to automatic protection to keep you for getting yourself disorientated.
With handguns you need a light that offers enough brightness, is attached to the handgun so you’re not dealing withholding the light with one hand and the handgun with the other.
You’re also looking for momentary-on, permanent on and strobe to be easily remembered and used even in high-stress situations.
Summary and further information
If you’re interested in exploring other tactical lights, feel free to review my article on the best tactical flashlight manufacturers and flashlights and the article which lists 80 of the best tactical flashlights available with notes on intended uses.
The above are my favorites and your taste and needs may differ.
Fortunately, we have enough viable choices to make everyone happy.
Be well, always be prepared.