Flashlights are indispensable tools in every outdoor adventurer’s arsenal. They provide you with a bright beam of light so that you can make your way around even in total darkness, illuminating your way and helping you find what you need or do what you need to do without a problem. But nowadays, with the great variety of flashlights available, how do you decide which one is right for you? Well, the truth of the matter is, everyone’s needs are different, but one thing is certain – you want a tactical flashlight instead of a conventional one. To the inexperienced adventurer, this may be puzzling. What does tactical flashlight mean? And what makes a flashlight tactical? Well, there are a couple of distinctions, but it all comes down to three key differences – utility, reliability and self-defence capabilities.
Traditional flashlights are very one-dimensional. All they can do is shine some light into a dark area. Tactical flashlights, on the other hand, can do much more. Their cutting-edge design and high-grade build can provide assistance in a wide range of situations. For instance, you can use them as a digging tool and dig some hard dirt surface with them, break a window to escape a dire situation or to strike and blind a potential aggressor (which I’ll talk to more about in the self-defence section). The light output provided by a tactical flashlight (I have the Olight tactical torch and I’m loving it), can illuminate a wide or a narrow area far ahead of you. Some Olight tactical torches come with as many as 2000 lumens or more, whereas conventional flashlights typically come with a maximum of 100 lumens.
In case you didn’t know, lumens is the measurement of brightness in LED flashlights, and it represents how bright the beam of the flashlight is. Naturally, the more lumens a torch has, the brighter it is. However, one downside to having more lumens is that the batteries burn at a much quicker rate. Luckily, most tactical flashlights come with powerful batteries that can be recharged.
As you can imagine, most conventional, everyday flashlights are made from a range of cheap materials, which is reflected in their low price. Materials such as cheap aluminium, low-grade steel, plastics, etc. aren’t as durable as they need to be for use in the rough Australian environments, which is why most of them fail only after a couple of months use and need to be replaced. On the other hand, tactical flashlights are manufactured using much better materials, such as high-grade aluminium, and some parts are even made of stainless steel and titanium. Further, they can be coated with special materials like anodised aluminium which makes them scratch-resistant. As a result, tactical flashlights are completely water-proof, weather-resistant, corrosion-resistant and shock-resistant. In other words, they’re incredibly durable and sturdy, making them ideal for any activity.
As briefly aforementioned, tactical flashlights can be used against potential attackers. They’re perfect for blinding and even striking an aggressor. These are non-lethal methods to protect yourself, which can be extremely useful when your life is on the line. This is exactly when you need a strong, reliable piece of equipment. On the other hand, a standard flashlight will probably fall completely apart when you swing at an attacker, leaving him angrier than he was before.
Tactical Flashlight Recommendations
I’ve had the pleasure to use a couple of tactical flashlights, and here are my favourites.
Olight M1X Striker
Weighing only 80g, the Olight M1X Striker is an aggressive LED flashlight that can illuminate with the power of 1000 lumens. It features a rear and side switch for ease-of-use, and you can swap between the five levels that allow you to go from 0.5 lumens to the maximum 1000. It also features a strobe mode and two CR123A lithium batteries or a single 18650 lithium-ion battery. The simple user interface and aggressive strike bezel make it the ultimate self-defence flashlight. You get all of this for an affordable price, usually ranging below $100, depending on where you buy it from.
SureFire P2X Fury
Designed with durability in mind, the SureFire P2X Fury offers a myriad of features. It has the lighting output of 600 lumens, and it’s equipped with a LED emitter that allows it to stand the test of time. Further, it comes with a tail-cap click switch, allowing you to press it shortly to turn the flashlight on for a short time period or hold the switch down longer to use it for a longer time period until you hear a click sound, at which point you get permanent light. The SureFire is compact, lightweight, and made of aircraft-grade aluminium.
A rechargeable, compact flashlight that’s lightweight and provides the lighting output of 2000 lumens. It’s equipped with a dual style tail switch, allowing you to use it with one hand. Further, it features a side switch that can assist with more advanced operation. It offers a range of practical functions, such as USB charging, an indicator for battery-capacity, a side-switch lock capability and a smart temperature control system. Additionally, it offers three operating settings: tactical, advanced tactical, and outdoor.