KEY POINTS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A TACTICAL FLASHLIGHT
There is much confusion as to what exactly makes a flashlight tactical or not. One of the main factors about tactical torches everyone agrees on is that they were designed specifically with professionals in the law enforcement and military sectors in mind. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t make fantastic torches for the average person to use as an everyday carry, or even keep in a draw in the house for emergencies.
The purpose of this article is to show you, the reader, some of the most common characteristics that make a torch tactical nowadays, as well as show you that even if you don’t work as a police officer or soldier, it’s never a bad idea to have one of these on you, in your car, or in your home.
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WHAT MAKES A FLASHLIGHT TACTICAL?
The Wikipedia definition is: “A tactical flashlight is a flashlight used in conjunction with a firearm to aid low-light target identification, allowing the marksman, law enforcement officer or soldier to simultaneously aim a weapon and illuminate the target.”
This is absolutely correct, however, a flashlight being used in conjunction with a weapon isn’t what makes it tactical – it goes much deeper than that: it needs to be bright and powerful enough to deter or disorient an attacker and tough and robust enough to be used as a blunt force self-defense weapon if necessary. Functionality and ease of use cannot be stressed enough when it comes to tactical flashlights, and as they are often mounted onto weapons, they need to be built tough enough to withstand the recoil from firing these weapons and still function without fail. Let’s delve a little deeper into what, by today’s standards, makes a flashlight tactical or not.
First and foremost, in our opinion, one of the most important characteristics of a good tactical flashlight is the tail cap switch.
EASE OF USE – TACTICAL TAIL CAP
When used under high-stress, fast-paced situations, as is usually the case for law enforcement, the user needs to be able to instantly switch the flashlight on and aim in the right direction without giving it a second thought. The tail cap switch on tactical lights is designed for just this.
No rolling the flashlight around in your hands in the dark trying to find the side switch to turn it on, the second you grab your light with a tail switch, with a very quick movement you can flash your target to ID them, and just as instantly switch it off so as not to give away your own location.
Also very importantly, when mounted onto a weapon, side switches on the light source would often be inaccessible or inoperable due to the gun’s mounting equipment.
POWER AND BRIGHTNESS
In LED lighting, lumens measure the brightness of a light (this is different than watts, which measures the amount of energy in a light). In simple terms, lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light (to the human eye) from a light source.
When it comes to a tactical flashlight, where your light is often used to temporarily blind or disorient a would-be assailant or attacker, the brighter the better. The idea is for the light to be bright enough that someone would need to turn away or shield their eyes when shone directly in their line of vision. Typically, most tactical flashlights nowadays boast a light output of 1000 lumens and up (most flashlights for everyday use in urban areas or inside your homes would typically range from 300 to 500 lumen)
As mentioned before, tactical flashlights are designed for people in law enforcement or military fields and need to be able to withstand rough handling in often extreme weather or environmental conditions. Basically, they need to be weatherproof, shockproof, and able to take a beating and still function with reliability.
Tactical flashlights are usually made from military-grade aluminum or another durable metal. When used in the field, they are often used to break open a window, for example, or in extreme cases, used as a weapon of self-defense in itself, so they really need to be tough. The best tactical flashlights are even equipped with a strike bezel to further increase their functionality in this regard.
Also, when mounted on weapons, tactical flashlights need to be shockproof enough to withstand the recoil from firing a weapon and remain functional.
One of the most important function modes for a good tactical flashlight is the Momentary-On option. Basically, what this means is the user should be able to give a gentle push or slight depression on the switch, switching the light on to 100% brightness until you release the switch, instantly switching the light off. This allows for law enforcement or military personnel to quickly flash a target without giving their own position away.
Although there are different opinions on mode functions, some tactical flashlights have 3 mode settings (low, medium, and full power) as well as a strobe setting. This is a rapid continuous flashing cycle of the light, causing disorientation, or flicker vertigo, often allowing the flashlight user the much-needed time to react as needed. Strobe mode is also extremely useful in emergency situations where you are trying to draw attention to yourself or your position for assistance.
Tactical torches, when used in the field, are often needed for 12-hour shifts or more. It is therefore vital that they are reliable enough to know that they will remain charged for the duration of that time. That, or that there is an easy recharge option available.
Lightsaver takes great pains to check the quality of all our products, check out this video of us testing some of our tactical lighting here!