Best Budget Tactical Lights

A tactical flashlight is a part of every law enforcement, search and rescue and soldier’s loadout. Most self-defense- and preparedness-minded people carry one or at least keep one close at hand. Besides being able to see in the dark, tactical lights are used to identify targets and temporarily blind an assailant. Many lights will transition from handheld to weapon-mounted with the appropriate mount. They can also serve as a non-lethal weapon or glass-breaker. Lights designed for these specific purposes can cost hundreds of dollars and have lots of bells and whistles—usually driving the price up. But a good tactical light can be basic, as well. Sometimes, the fewer features, the better. The K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) method may be more desirable.

What Makes a Light Tactical?

Well, …that’s kind of up to you. Some people get picky about how some light switches operate and claim that a flashlight can’t be tactical if it’s on/off button is a certain way. Some swear that tactical is only for use in the military. A military flashlight needs to have a narrow beam and only be bright enough to read a map without giving away your location. Law enforcement needs are quite different than a soldiers’—especially when searching down suspects at night and in dark spaces. Civilians need a good light that will identify people and can temporarily blind them, as well as be reliable when the power goes out.

Though not all features will be agreed upon, a tactical light needs to be bright enough to identify and disorient targets, help you aim your gun in the right direction, be able to operate with one hand, and have an easy-to-turn-on tail cap switch.

Price and name brand aren’t nearly as important as lumens, size, construction, bulb and battery life when shopping for a flashlight. Sure, there are very reputable brands that everyone has heard of and buying one of those lights won’t disappoint; however, there are plenty of quality lights out there you shouldn’t discount just because they aren’t what the cool kids are buying.

One nice thing (if sometimes very overwhelming) about EDC gear is the huge variety to choose from…whatever your needs are, you’ll find a plethora of products that will meet those needs. Narrowing down the list is where it is easy to get lost. Fortunately, it’s simple to get folks like us to talkin.’ All you gotta do is ask, “What’s your favorite light?” and you’ll have more than enough opinions to start making some decisions.

Listed here are some of the favorite tactical lights of the Best in Bunch crew, along with our opinions on functionality, ease of use and reliability…of course.

How we narrowed down the list:

  • The light must shine over 100 lumens—the minimum allowed for this purpose.
  • It must be lightweight, compact and comfortable enough to carry every day.
  • It must be made to withstand rough use, as well as heavy recoil.
  • Type of bulb, beam throw, focus and battery life.

NEBO Redline Select RC 6189 3100 LUX LED

Price: $59.99

Features:

  • 3100 LUX
  • 222’ meter maximum throw
  • High, medium, low and strobe modes
  • 4x adjustable beam spot to flood
  • USB rechargeable
  • “Stealth Light” green low-mode glow

What we love:

  • Long battery life—2.5 hours on high
  • Adjustable beam
  • USB rechargeable—will also charge your other USB devices
  • Glow-in-the-dark push button for quick deployment
  • Price

What we don’t love:

  • Not waterproof
  • Bulky
  • Rotating knob to switch through modes—is not as quick to get to strobe as other models

Surefire G2X Tactical

Price: $60.95

Features:

  • LED
  • 600 lumens
  • Single mode
  • 200’ maximum throw
  • Tail cap switch operation
  • Nitrolon polymer body exclusive to Surefire
  • 123A batteries with 1.5-hours run time
  • 5.20” long, 1” diameter, 4.4 ounces

What we love:

  • Affordable price for Surefire
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to carry

What we don’t love:

  • No adjustability in beam
  • Tail cap button is momentary on only, you twist for constant on
  • Narrow beam

Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL 750

Price: $68.13

Features:

  • C4 LED
  • 750 lumens
  • 270’ maximum throw
  • High, low and strobe programmable modes
  • O-Ring sealed
  • 3V CR123A batteries
  • IPX7 waterproof
  • 1-meter impact resistant
  • 5.40” long, 1” diameter, 5.6 ounces

What we love:

  • Excellent weapon and self-defense light
  • Easy one-handed operation
  • Durable

What we don’t love:

  • Battery life is one of the lowest we’ve tested
  • No battery indication light
  • Throw isn’t as great as others on this list

Sightmark SS600

Price: $70

Features:

  • Cree T6 LED
  • 3 modes: 600 lumens, 100 lumens and strobe
  • Type II MIL-SPEC anodized
  • IP67 waterproof rated
  • 5.4×1.4×1.4,” 7.9 ounces
  • Glass-breaking bezel
  • Includes red, green and blue filters

What we love:

  • Versatile filters
  • National Tactical Officers Association tested and recommended
  • Bright, clear white LED
  • Hefty and durable
  • Easy, one-handed operation

What we don’t love: No access to strobe mode on the push-button tail cap

Fenix PD35Tac 1000

Price: $72.95

Features:

  • Cree XP-L (V5) LED
  • 1,000 lumens
  • 5 modes
  • 656’ maximum throw
  • Type III hard-anodized
  • IPX8 waterproof
  • 5.4” long, 1″ diameter, 3.1 ounces
  • Strike bezel
  • CR123 or rechargeable battery-powered
  • Tail cap switch and side stainless steel button

What we love:

  • The size—compact and lightweight
  • Fits well in the hand
  • Perfect for EDC
  • Versatility
  • Operation is straightforward
  • Outdoor mode has 6 modes from 8 lumens all the way to 1,000 lumens
  • Strobe mode is 1,000 lumens
  • Withstand serious impact and abuse without flickering
  • Wide beam

What we don’t love:

  • Body gets hot on “turbo” mode
  • Battery life

Pelican 7600 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Price: $89.37

Features:

  • 3 LED colors: white, red and green
  • 738’ maximum throw
  • Lumens: Low-37, medium-479, high-944, low beam distance- up to 225 meters
  • Low, medium, high, and strobe modes
  • Type III hard-anodized finish
  • IPX8-certified
  • USB lithium Ion rechargeable battery with battery level indication
  • CR123 battery backup
  • Anti-reflective AR lens coating
  • 6.2×1.4×1.3,” 6.9 ounces

What we love:

  • USB charging
  • Programmable tail switch that lets you easily and quickly access modes you use most frequently
  • Durability
  • Red LED option to preserve night vision

What we don’t love:

  • Though the beam’s focus allows you to see what you need, even in the peripheral, it is not adjustable
  • Takes a long time to charge

Klarus Upgraded XT11GT

Price: $89.95

Features:

  • Cree XHP35 HD E4 LED
  • 2,000 lumens
  • 402’ maximum throw
  • Turbo, low, strobe and SOS modes
  • Primary, mode and side switches
  • Type III MIL-SPEC hard anodized
  • IPX8 waterproof
  • USB charging and CR123A battery-powered
  • Scratch-resistant hardened mineral glass lens with AR coating
  • 5.59” long, 1″ diameter, 4.58 ounces without battery

What we love:

  • Versatility—this light literally does it all except setup as a lantern or shop light
  • SOS mode option
  • Multi-switch
  • Brightness

What we don’t love:

  • Width of beam
  • USB charging port cover

Though “tactical” means different things to different people, there are some basic features that an EDC (everyday carry) light should have. It needs to be bright enough to stun a perp so you can plan your next move, be light enough to carry easily, and dependable and durable. Any of these lights—all under $100—will serve its tactical purpose. It all depends on you and which extra features you find most beneficial.

What light do you carry every day? Tell us its pros and cons in the comment section.

Prices here reflect what was listed at the time of original publication and are subject to change.

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