The Klarus – XT11GT is the greatest tactical flashlights under $100. The Acebeam – EC35 can also function as a backup charger if you prefer a smaller light. The low-cost Lumintop – FW3A has a driver design, three emitters, and three emitters.
How we selected flashlights to test
We chose styles that would appeal to a wide audience when we chose a set of lights for our inaugural assessment of rechargeable flashlights in 2017. Instead of ranking for qualities that will stand out to someone carrying a duty light or attempting to keep safe in a dark alley, we concentrated on more economical lights and graded for tint and lengthy run times.
When we spoke with acquaintances who carry a light for security, border patrol, and sheriff duty, we discovered that they primarily chose whatever was offered at their preferred ranges or gun stores. Handgun and duty forums tended to focus on the big-name distributors who also make weaponlights.
We reviewed training materials from renowned unarmed combat instructors like Michael Janich and discovered that the most frequent advice was to choose a light that you can carry around with you constantly and fully incorporate into your training, rather than the biggest flashlight or the one with the sharpest “strike bezel.” The 6-D-Cell Maglights of the previous century may still be effective as a bludgeon, but they are not tactical in any meaningful sense.
We established a budget of $100 for each light but rarely went over $60 because there are so many great lights available at such reasonable costs. The HDS Rotary and TorchLAB BOSS were both deleted as a result, along with other well-known brands like Surefire and cutting-edge semi-custom designs. Nevertheless, we’re delighted we didn’t overlook any of the fantastic low-cost lights we did discover.
When determining which lights best met the criteria, we analyzed all of the top models that enthusiast reviewers had suggested. We also looked at availability and general popularity before choosing the top options.
Important features to consider
A forward-clicky tail switch:This type of switch will activate the light with a brief press if you ever wish to use it for signaling or to make momentary flashes. Reverse-clicky switches need to be fully pressed down before being released to operate. Although both has its benefits, those who desire an always-ready light tend to favor the forward-clicky variety.
Instant access to maximum output:All training manuals advise you to utilize a tactical LED flashlight’s powerful output to its fullest capacity if you want to maintain the upper hand during a combat situation. You’ll waste valuable seconds and perhaps even your own self-confidence if you have to stumble through four settings to reach the desired result.
Instant access to strobe: Bright, flashing light in the face will accomplish the work perfectly if you want to confuse someone. Although our border patrol expert says he doesn’t prioritize a strobe mode when purchasing a light, he has occasionally been grateful for having one. On the other hand, those who don’t want to use a light during a struggle will want to look for a light that never makes you switch between strobe and normal modes while adjusting output levels.
Instant access to dim output:Using a flashlight effectively sometimes involves peeking around a corner or under a table without revealing your location or impairing your adapted night vision. You can receive just enough light from a flashlight’s “Moonlight mode” or “Firefly mode” (preferably less than 1 lumen), and many flashlights have simple access to these settings so you don’t have to switch between other modes. When tracking on dirt paths, one of our specialists claims he employs low modes far more frequently than the others.
Battery Type:Although having a light that uses standard AA-type alkaline or nickel rechargeable batteries might be very useful, doing so reduces the brightness and runtime of your light. These cells can produce extremely useful output thanks to newer LED emitters and drive circuits, but if you want the brightest lights, lithium-ion chemistry is the new standard. The most popular form factor for these cells is the “18650” package, which measures 18 mm in diameter by 65.0 mm in length. These lithium-ion flashlight batteries can also be used to charge a phone with the help of our preferred emergency battery charger, the portable Folomov A1.
Emitter type and tint:There are a several major LED flashlight emitter producers, but Cree is by far the most well-known. You’re frequently looking at Cree – XP-L lights with a blue-green tint if you want a high lumen output for a reasonable price. A few flashlight manufacturers use carefully chosen emitters if you care more about seeing real color under your flashlights (yes, some people are tint snobs). There are two manufacturers, Nichia and SST, that produce reasonably priced emitters with high ratings for color rendering index, but you nearly always give up some efficiency and peak output to obtain that benefit.
Built-in charging:Given that the majority of people have developed a daily charging habit and have access to USB-compatible charging ports almost everywhere, flashlight manufacturers have begun implementing this technology for charging cells without removing them from the light. For most people, it’s a highly practical approach to keep a flashlight on hand, but it can be stupid if you have a team of employees who all require new batteries every day for duty lights.
Tail standing and reversible clips: Standing a light on its end to reflect light off the ceiling might be very helpful if you need to utilize it hands-free. Even better, you can attach the light to the peak of a ballcap-style hat using a pocket clip that opens toward the back of the light — Just don’t try it while wearing a Stetson that was issued for military service. Although these are situation-specific traits, we looked for them since we thought they would be useful.
Lockout mode:It’s beneficial to have a simple mode that turns off the main output while carrying a light in your pocket or whenever you leave it somewhere where children might find it. This can prevent you from accidently burning your leg with a high-output flashlight and will preserve your battery for when you need it.
01.Klarus – XT11GT
By turning up the maximum output to 2000 lumens and granting us immediate access to the most practical settings, the Klarus – XT11GT won our decision for the best budget tactical flashlight. Even the USB charging circuit makes it simple to keep this light charged and ready for any circumstance. All of these functions are offered in a light that costs less than $70; only a few years ago, some of these features were not available at all.
A dual-button tail switch is the standout feature in this design. A secondary paddle switch can be configured to turn on a disorienting strobe light in “tactical” modes or to start the light at a low intensity of 10 lumens for “outdoor” use. The large center switch always provides the maximum 2000 lumen output. By holding the side switch down for five seconds, you can completely turn off the programmed modes and midrange output levels, or you can unscrew the tail cap to completely disconnect the battery for storage.
- Sufficient to act as a searchlight
- You get quick access to the necessary modes thanks to two tail switches.
- Little enough to fit in your pocket
- USB charging is really practical.
- Larger than other lights in this category by a small margin.
- Tinted blue-green
- At 10 lumens, the “Low” setting is somewhat bright.
02.Acebeam – EC35 Gen II
The Acebeam – EC35 Gen II is more compact than our top pick and offers the option to utilize the internal battery as a phone charger if you need to carry a flashlight every day but are unsure if it’s worth the pocket space.
The Acebeam’s output of 1100 lumens is ordinary for contemporary lights of this size, but the clicky tail switch and a lengthy press on the side-mounted mode switch give you rapid access to the maximum and minimum levels. Thankfully, unlike some tactical lights, the tail switch is not very sensitive, but just in case, you can turn it off by half-twisting the tail cap.
- Excellent performance from a reasonably priced flashlight
- With the least amount of effort, all the modes you require
- Integrated USB charger with phone charging capability
- Good symmetry between size, output, and price
- Requires an additional cable to use the power bank.
- doesn’t properly tail-stand
- Tinted blue-green
- Brighter lights of this size are available.
03.Foursevens – Quark QK16L MKIII
You would anticipate some trade-offs to obtain a pocketable size if you wanted the best compact tactical flashlight. Jason Hui, however, seized on that challenge and used all of his years of design expertise to it to produce the almost flawless Quark – QK16L MkIII. Jason first gained notoriety for his incredible (and pricey) Prometheus custom spotlights, but in 2018 he purchased the struggling 4Sevens business to make his skills more widely available.
The following features are all first-rate in this light: A carefully thought-out reflector concentrates the color-accurate Nichia emitter to provide the perfect blend of a bright center spot and even fall-off coverage for mid-range visibility down to a few hundred feet. The first click on the best mode (number four) activates a 1-lumen moonlight mode, and a double-click activates the mode’s maximum output of around 700 lumens. This is about as nice as a one-button flashlight user interface can get.
- The most recent iteration of an innovative LED flashlight design
- The color and pattern of the beams are nearly ideal.
- Short and slender for easy carrying
- Additionally, the tail stand ring avoids inadvertent activation.
- The group’s lowest production
- You enter program mode after ten flashes, thus there is no signaling.
- The capacity of skinny 16650 cells is lower.
- No internal charger
04.Lumintop – FW3A
The Lumintop – FW3A is a community initiative that was made possible by two influential participants on the flashlight message boards. The interface was created by Toykeeper to accommodate both her own preferences and those of other lighting aficionados. You very much have to carry the handbook with the light while using other modes.
- A customizable duty-carry-capable light
- Output from three emitters is solely constrained by safety concerns.
- One of the smallest available 18650-cell lights
- Includes a great battery, yet is still around $60
- Safety circuits limit output.
- Too simple to become locked in non-tactical modes
- Feels more like a high-end product than a weapon of war
- No internal charger
05.Olight – M2T
The Olight – M2T is a brand-new tail-click design from a firm that has produced lights for other companies in the past. The tail switch offers you the most power and, if you keep it down rather than releasing it at the click, a strobe. You may dependably access moonlight mode using a side button (with a two-second press).
06.Streamlight – ProTac HL USB
Some of the best tactical flashlights include the Streamlight 88054 ProTac HL USB. Simple to operate and useful are the low, high, and strobe modes. The charging port cover is a sleeve that glides up and down the barrel, which is a wonderful touch.
07.Thrunite – TC12
The Thrunite – TC12 can be an excellent option if straightforward, reasonably priced, and brilliant are your main priorities. It costs $45 and has good output specifications in addition to a built-in USB charge circuit. Although the colour is varied across the beam and greenish-blue, the output is amazing.
08.Fenix – PD35 Tac
Duty-oriented mode on the Fenix PD35 Tac gives you immediate access to maximum output. The neutral white isn’t greenish-blue like the Thrunite since the Fenix emitters are more meticulously chosen for hue. This tactical version of the PD35 from Fenix does not come with a battery.