The Best Flashlight Brands and their Most Popular Models

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Light beam

If you’re looking for a rock-solid flashlight, whether you need something tactical or just one, high quality light for your home, you won’t find it at Walmart or Home Depot.  Box stores have been flooded with cheap, sub-ten dollar LED flashlights and I can’t say I blame them either, because most folks aren’t willing to spend over $100 for a flashlight.  Even if you do find a light made by a reputable company, like Streamlight, it’s likely the only model you’ll find is their entry-level offering.  If you’re anything like me, entry-level won’t cut it, and over the past year, I’ve been asked dozens of times – “What are the best flashlight brands?”.  In this article, we’re going to talk about (4) of my favorite high-end flashlight manufacturers, and we’ll provide a brief review of one of their most popular models – let’s go!

SureFire

SureFire had its beginnings in 1969 with the founding of the Newport Corporation, which worked on the industrial applications of lasers. With the development of the first laser sight, Laser Products Corporation was spun out into its own company in 1979, making laser sights for police departments until it became SureFire, LLC in the year 2000. Today, they are one the best flashlight brands specializing in tactical flashlights and mountable weapon lights, which are favored by military, law enforcement and emergency personnel. The have over 100 flashlight models and for some government agencies, such as the FBI and the Federal Air Marshal Service, SureFire tactical lights are standard issue. Other SureFire products include sound suppressors, flash suppressors, muzzle breaks, combat utility knives, batteries, hearing protection and earpieces for tactical communication.

Surefire G2X Pro Dual Output LED Flashlight

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This is a top selling flashlight with two brightness settings, one that provides the maximum 320 lumens of brightness and another low setting of 15 lumens that preserves battery life and prolongs runtime up to 45 hours. It is powered by two CR123A lithium ion batteries, which are included and have a shelf life of ten years. The switch is located in the tail and can be pressed for momentary low light, clicked once for continuous light at the low setting, or clicked off and on again for the high setting. Unlike conventional bulbs, the LED emitter does not have any filaments, which can burn out or break, making it nearly indestructible. Micro-texturing on the reflector smoothly widens the beam for more peripheral illumination. The window is made from a durable polycarbonate that can withstand impacts as well as abrasions and scratches. Anodized aluminum comprises the bezel and the body is constructed from Nitrolon to guarantee toughness and resist corrosion. O-ring and gasket seals ensure weatherproofing for reliable operation in harsh environments. Weighing about 4.5 ounces and measuring only 5.2 inches long by 1.5 inches wide, the Surefire G2X Pro is a compact but powerful flashlight that is ideal for emergencies or routine use.

Find more Surefire flashlights here.

Fenix

Fenix Tactical is a Canadian company established in 2004 that specializes in manufacturing high performance LED flashlights for a variety of users. They have over 200 models available and are one of the best flashlight brands catering to a range of purposes. Their tactical flashlights are made for use by military and police and constructed with exceptional toughness to endure the extreme conditions they encounter. They are also designed with an excellent grip and high efficiency, digitally regulated optical systems to reliably produce a substantial amount of light, which can be crucial in dangerous situations. Fenix produces lines of smaller flashlights for conventional use and other products like camping lanterns, headlamps and bike lights.

Fenix UC40 Ultimate Edition CREE XM-L2 U2 LED Flashlight

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This flashlight has a bright 960 lumen beam with enough focus to light distances up to 223 yards. The Cree XM-L2 U2 LED incorporates high efficiency circuits into a design that digitally regulates the output for maintaining steady levels of brightness and allows the safe dissipation of heat. The protective glass lens is exceptionally clear with a non-reflective coating. A Fenix Tailored 3400 mAh high performance rechargeable battery is included along with a USB charging cable. There is also the option to use two CR123A batteries or a single 18650 battery, which is convenient, but the flashlight will not recharge unless a Fenix battery is in use. A side switch allows easy access to the four different settings and a strobe function, each of which will consume power at varying rates that are determined by the intensity of the beam. The lowest setting of 10 lumens provides light for up to 150 hours, the medium setting of 110 lumens runs for about 16 hours and the high setting of 400 lumens lasts for just under four hours. The turbo setting outputs a maximum of 960 lumens, taking around one-and-a-half hours to deplete the charge and the strobe feature also expends power at a similar rate. The body is fashioned from aircraft grade aluminum, designed to minimize rolling and resist slipping without being abrasive. The bundle comes with AC and car adaptors, spare O-rings, lanyard and holster.

Find more Fenix flashlights here.

NiteCore

NiteCore began as an OEM/ODM in 2001, which originally manufactured products and parts to specification for other companies to sell. After drawing years of experience, NiteCore began creating high performance LED flashlights of their own in 2007 and today they have more than 600 models, all of which are designed with precision and ease of use in mind. Flashlights are upgraded with the recent advances in LED and other technologies as quickly as they are made available, something few other companies do. This makes NiteCore products some of the most powerful on the market, appealing even to those with exacting standards and intense performance requirements.

NiteCore P12 2015 Version 1000 Lumens Precise Tactical CREE XM-L2 LED Waterproof Flashlight

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A smart design and impressive range of brightness has made this flashlight a popular favorite for those working in the military, emergency services, security and law enforcement. A Cree XM-L2 U2 LED provides a precise and intense beam distances up to 253 yards at maximum output. It runs on either a single 18650 battery or two CR123A batteries; the runtime will depend on the intensity level of the light. The voltage can be monitored with the power indicator’s secondary function. The flashlight runs for just over an hour with an output of 1000 lumens on the high setting, about six hours with an output of 240 lumens on medium and 28 hours with an output of 70 lumens on low. There is also an incredibly efficient lower setting that can last up to 520 hours by minimizing output to just 1 lumen. The preferred brightness setting can be stored by the internal memory for quick access. The power switch is located in the tail-cap and the side button controls levels of brightness and can activate features like the SOS, location beacon or strobe light. The body is durable enough to withstand falls between four and five feet and can resist submergence in water up to a depth of about two yards. A pocket clip, holster, lanyard and tactical grip ring are included with the flashlight.

Find more Nitecore flashlights here.

Streamlight

Streamlight, Inc. was founded in 1973 and is based in Eagleville, Pennsylvania. They currently design and manufacture a variety of lights used by military, law enforcement and rescue professionals. Along with tactical lights, Streamlight has products geared towards more casual use like mechanical and automotive work, while others are better suited for outdoor sports and activities. There are currently over 900 models available worldwide and all have the benefit of Streamlight’s outstanding customer service. The company is very feedback driven, taking into account customer suggestions and needs when improving or updating their designs. They also have one of the best warranties that covers any defects for the lifetime of the product.

Streamlight 88850 Polytac Flashlight with Lithium Batteries

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This competitively priced flashlight is excellent for everyday use in the house or on the job, yet still durable enough to withstand unfavorable conditions like extreme weather, making it also suitable for camping, hunting and other outdoor activities. The LED light features C4 Photonic Crystal Technology, which nearly triples the level of brightness compared a conventional LED. It also has no filaments or glass, so breakage is not an issue. The brightness output is 130 lumens and solid-state power regulation ensures the level of illumination remains consistent throughout the period of use. Two included 3-Volt CR123A batteries will power the flashlight for up to three hours and have a shelf life of 10 years. The tail-cap switch is easy to use; a slight amount of pressure will provide momentary light and a click of the button switches on a constant beam. The reflector is specifically engineered to deliver the best possible focus through the sealed Borofloat glass lens. The body is composed from a sturdy nylon polymer that has a PX7 rated design capable of tolerating impacts and remaining waterproof at a depth of 3 feet for half an hour. Streamlight guarantees this flashlight with a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.

Find more Streamlight flashlights here.

If you have any questions, or can think of a great light not mentioned, let me know by leaving a comment!

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Meet the Author

I'm a former US Marine, full-time father and husband, and part-time survivalist. I like old things, like music, furniture and time-tested survival technique, but there's always a place in my heart for new technology such as weapons and sleeping bag fill. I'm here to share my knowledge and experience, and I hope you'll share yours as well.

4 comments… add one
  • Nate May 13, 2016, 8:18 pm

    Have you looked at the Eagle Tac flashlights? I have owned one for 5 years now and it was my main flashlight when I worked nights as a police officer I have had mine ran over by 18 wheeler and also used on a pole for a underwater S&R and have had no problems.

    • Mike May 16, 2016, 12:01 am

      Thank you for your service Nate. I have not looked at those lights, but I will be now that you mention it.

  • Tom Aug 14, 2016, 3:25 pm

    Nate, how would someone approach a flashlight manufacture with an idea and working prototype?

    • Mike Aug 16, 2016, 2:03 pm

      Tom, I really don’t have a good answer to that. I have manufacturers contact me all the time wanting to sell me custom backpacks, but not flashlights.

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