Reviews Of The Best & Brightest LED Flashlights
There are a lot of different reasons why you might need a high lumen flashlight. Perhaps you live in a rural area where the only light is from the moon and your trusty flashlight. Maybe you work an evening security detail, or you just want a solid flashlight for when you walk the dog late at night. Whatever your needs are, we’ll help you find the top high intensity tactical flashlight!
What Makes a Flashlight Bright?
There is a lot of noise when it comes to judging a flashlight's brightness output. If you don’t care what the difference is between LED and an Incandescent is feel free to fly past this part.
Lumens & Candlepower
The lumens of a light measures the bulbs output. This is important to note, just because a flashlight claims it has a max output of 1000 lumens doesn’t mean it operates at that level. It’s not uncommon to compare flashlights side by side that have identical lumen ratings only to find one of the lights is significantly brighter.
Why would a company advertise a 600 lumen flashlight that only operates at 300 lumens? Cheap flashlights will often do this because if their light operated at 600 lumens it would only last for 25 minutes.
Peak Beam Candlepower
This measures how bright, the brightest spot on a focused beam of light is. This metric is rarely given and again, can be pretty misleading. A tighter beam will have more candlepower than a flood style light.
What Is The Difference: LED and Incandescent
Without getting Bill Nye on you the short answer to this question is LED lights were revolutionary when they were developed because they provide 100,000’s of working hours. Incandescent bulbs are going to have a much shorter life expectancy but generally can outperform an LED in terms of distance and power.
Now, you may be wondering if this is an article about the brightest flights why are most of them LEDs? In most cases the brightest Incandescent lights are impractical. There is not a lot of purpose to having a light that throws out a ton of.
I’ve found time and time again that Streamlight really is the best of both worlds. They don’t necessarily have the brand power that Surefire does and they’re not as cheap as some of MagLite products but they seem to have found their niche: high quality products at fair prices.
I can’t say the tactical flashlights they manufacture are cheap, because $70 for a flashlight isn’t cheap but man do they work and do they ever work well.
When you hear stories of $80 flashlights breaking within a year and the manufacturer fails to honor the warranty you love this kind of statement.
Streamlight's Limited Lifetime Warranty warrants this product to be free of defect, including the LED, for a lifetime of use. Switches and electronics have a two (2) year warranty with proof of purchase.
Needless to say, Streamlight stands behind the products they build. Like some of the other high end lights we review the Streamlight 88040 ProTAC is manufactured from high grade aluminum with an anodizing finish. and the glass is tempered.
Lumens, Settings and Battery Life
The 88040 offers three settings, low, high and strobe.
Low: 33 Lumens -18 hrs – 60m
High 600 Lumens - 1h 15min – 250m
Strobe 600 Lumen – 2h 30mins – 250m
It also has a momentary on switch, which is handy in a wide range of practical situations.
Overall 88040 ProTAC HL High Lumen
At just $75 this is one of the best high lumen tactical flashlight on the market. There are others, which are comparable, but none that are in the same price range as the Streamlight 88040. It received 4.7/5 stars which is pretty remarkable from so many reviewers.
The World’s Brightest Flashlight: The TORCH
Wicked laser’s advertises their product The TORCH as the world’s brightest flashlight. It is an incandescent bulb that produces a whooping 4100 lumens of white light
While many high end lights offer lifetime warranties the TORCH only offers a year warranty. The other downside to this flashlight is the bulb has an expected life of 2000 hours. Granted, 2000 hours is a long time and depending on how you’re using it could last a lifetime. However, if you’re in an occupation such as search & rescue that requires constant use of a flashlight it’s only going to take a few short years to burn it out.
The TORCH does have some upside, it’s light is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from other flashlights. They claim it’s powerful enough to fry an egg, and while I’ve never tried this, this video does the job for us.
Generally speaking when folks ask for recommendations on a bright flashlight I usually initially recommend some of the brightest LED flashlights. If you’re going to shell out $100+ for a high end flashlight you want to make sure you’re going to have it for the rest of your life.
Unlike some of the competitors Thrunite’s top selling lights are all their most powerful lights. They’re not cheap but they’re durable and throw a ton of light.
The TN12 is constructed out of aircraft grade aluminum and is water tight. The surface has been anodized as you would expect with any high quality light. Finally, the glass is tempered which helps absorb the shock if you do happen to drop this light.
To sum it up, if you drop this off a ladder it’s not going to break. If you’re going to pay for all those lumens it better damn well not crack on first impact. It’s a little heavier at 2.2lbs than some of the slimmer tactical flashlights we cover but chances are you can manage the extra pound.
Lumens, Settings and Battery Life
This is an article about the most powerful flashlights on the market, the lumens is likely what interests you. This sucker throws off 1050 lumens and has great range at 218m. It’s entertaining to turn off all the lights in your house and then flood it with this light.
If your flashlight gives off 2780 lumens, you’re going to want multiple settings. The ThruNite TN30 has 6 settings, ranging from 1lm. to 2780lms.
0.3 lm 1585hrs
20 lm 74hrs
280 lm 2.5hrs
800 lm 1.5hrs
1050 lm 1.5hrs
And the last setting it comes with is a strobe function which throws 1050 lumens and lasts two hours. It’s worth noting these run times are based 2x 18650 batteries which are top of the line.
Overall ThruNite TN12 Flashlight
The ThruNite TN12 is a beast. For every day use this is a terrific flashlight that I would recommend to anyone outside of military and police officers.
There are a number of reasons I can’t recommend this light for servicemen and women. First off the number of settings is a little much to swap through. Also I find flashlights such as the Streamlight to be a little easier handle and not to mention if you want to rig one of these up to a firearm that’s clearly not going to work.
With all that said, if you’re an avid outdoorsman, need a high quality flashlight around the farm or want a powerful beam if you’re walking in rural areas at night the ThruNite delivers. Overall it received 4.6/5.0 stars on Amazon.
“FENIX TK76 2800 Lumen Triple Beam CREE XM-L2 U2 LED Flashlight with Two Smith & Wesson LED CaraBeamer Clip Lights and EdisonBright Battery Sampler Pack”. That’s a hell of a product description.
Truthfully, I’m not sure what you could possibly need this light for except for the simple fact that it’s badass and spills a ton of light.
As is the case with almost every solid flashlight on the market it’s manufactured out of aircraft aluminum, anodized to harden the outside and the glass is tempered to make it shatter resistant. Notice I didn’t say “proof” I said resistant, so don’t take a hammer to it you will be able to break it.
Lumens, Settings and Battery Life
The ridiculous part about this flashlight is it actually has 3 separate bulbs. It features 2 Cree XM-L2 LEDs and one Cree XM-L2 T6 LED light. You can flick between general mode and tri-mode which toggles between using three heads or just a single head. From there you can choose between four separate modes, with a maximum output of 2800 lumens and a minimum of 7 lumens.
It also has a button which allows you instantly toggle between strobe and the normal setting. On the lowest setting the flashlight will last for 20 hours, while on the highest setting (tri-mode turbo) it will last just over an hour.
Overall FENIX TK76
The TK76 is a fantastic piece of equipment but it is a little bit overkill. There aren’t a lot of practical situations, which I can see the FENIX TK76 excelling in. Search and rescue workers might find the flood functionality to be useful on a light with such immense power.
Overall, I would probably opt for something a little bit smaller that has less features.
The highest lumen tactical flashlight I was able to find was the Barska BA11630. However, after additional research this would NOT be the product I personally would buy.
After doing my research I quickly discovered the BA11630 isn’t made with the same quality materials as some of the other manufacturers. This may sound like lip service more then anything else but using aircraft grade aluminum followed by an anodizing process is critical.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that majority of the complaints are based around the flashlight being dropped or mishandled and then suddenly it stops working.
The tube diameter of this flashlight is 1” so technically you could mount it on most standard weapon mounts. I would advise against testing it on an AR or a shotgun, even a pistol might rattle it to the point where it no longer works.
Lumens, Settings and Battery Life
Admittedly this light does produce a massive amount of light, and it’s rated for 1200 lumens. There is nothing in the similar price range that can touch that. However, there is a good reason for this, the overall quality of the light has suffered.
One positive is it comes with rechargeable batteries which is a significant enough investment to mention. At the highest setting it runs for 2 hours, while at the lowest setting it runs for 6 hours.
Overall BARSKA - BA11630
Reviewers have given this product 3/5 stars which is suspect at best. What’s even more significant about this product is the number of reports of the flashlight breaking and then BARSKA not honoring there one year warranty. As an aside, high end flashlight manufacturers will offer more then a one year warranty on a tactical flashlight.
Final Thoughts On Some of the Best & Brightest LED Flashlights
Depending on what your budget and your needs are there are several quality high powered flashlights on the market. If you are really only interested in the very brightest flashlight the TORCH is your ticket.
Not everyone needs a high lumen flashlight, if you’re in the market for a quality light at a reasonable price we recommend the Maglite S4D016. Keep in mind the Maglite isn’t designed for intense weather or environments.
If you think you may want to mount the light to weapon or you want a slick, durable light for everyday use the 88040 really does outperform the competition in terms of price and quality.