What is a Tactical Flashlight

Many tactical flashlights are designed to be mounted on a firearm while others are handheld models. They usually emit more light than traditional flashlights and are lighter in weight and often made from weapon-grade aluminum for maximum durability. It is called a tactical flashlight because they were originally used by law enforcement officials and military soldiers.

What makes them tactical is that they are easy to use, extremely durable and packed full of features. It would be safe to say that most, if not all, are waterproof. While designed for “tactical” uses, these flashlights have found their way into family homes and used by everyday civilians. Tactical flashlights usually have a non-slip surface or is ergonomically contoured.

Form Factors

  • Handheld – These are shaped like your typcial “tube-like” flashlight. The usually feature a quick access switch on the back end of the flashlight. They range in size from about 4-inches to around 10-inches long.
  • Gun Mount – Gun mountable flashlighs are usually much shorter than handheld flashlights and come with integrated or separate mounting hardware for firearms. These are built to resist the impact and shock from firearm use. Gun mounted flashlights are often used with a remote pressure switch to easily turn on the light at a moments notice.

Bulb Type

For any tactical flashlight, it is recommended to choose a model that utilizes LED bulbs rather than incandescent bulbs. Incandescent bulbs are rather fragile and can break easily if the flashlight is dropped. The shock from discharging a firearm can also break the filament. Luckily, most tactical flashlights use LED bulbs.

Some models feature multiple LED lights for maximum light output. Some even incorporate red LEDs that can be used as an emergency beacon. LED bulbs also have a longer life than any other bulb available.

Flashlight for Self Defense

Some tactical flashlights can be used as an effective means of self defense! The self defense models typically have a serrated bezel around the front end of the flashlight that can be used to hit an attacker. A few models even feature a built-in stun gun! However, check your local laws before deciding to arm yourself with a stun gun flashlight.

Because tactical flashlights are made of aluminum, they can withstand multiple strikes to attackers. Try that with your plastic flashlight! Another self defense move is to use the intense light from the flashlight to temporarily blind an attacker before striking them with the flashlight.


Some tactical flashlights use common batteries like AA and AAA. However, many use other types of batteries that are a little less common and they may not necessarily be found as a spare lying around in a home. A few models even include rechargeable batteries. The good thing is that a lot of these flashlights come with batteries included. Our comparison charts specify which units come with batteries. This means the flashlight can be put into use immediately out of the package.


Because of the fancy name, it may be common to think that tactical flashlights are more expensive. That is not necessarily true. Most cost about the same as any flashlight found in department stores. Of course the more features, the higher the cost. The typical “tube-style” flashlight is quite affordable.

However, when considering weapon mounted flashlights, prices are typically higher. In some cases, much higher than a standard handheld flashlight.