Flashlights are useful to have around for anything from finding your tent in the dark to lighting your home when the power goes out, but there’s another reason you might want to spring for one of these powerful handheld lights––they’re highly underrated defense tools.
Whether you’re facing an intruder at home or encountering an assailant on a late-night walk with your dog, the right flashlight can temporarily disorient an attacker and give you enough advantage to get out of a dangerous situation unscathed.
Finding the right flashlight, however, can be an overwhelming process. To help simplify that process, we’ve laid out some options below to help you find a flashlight that best matches your needs.
Best flashlight for self-defense: SureFire Defender Ultra
- Brightness: Up to 300 lumens
- Battery: Rechargeable lithium
- Weight: 3.1 oz.
- Compact design––the whole flashlight fits in your hand
- Lifetime warranty
- High-strength aerospace aluminum construction
- Strike bezel for close-quarters conflict
- No medium brightness setting
- Easily broken clip design
Best flashlight for self-defense runner-up: Viper VTS-T03
- Brightness: Up to 350 lumens
- Battery: Rechargeable
- Weight: (not listed)
- Stun gun for self-defense
- Lifetime warranty
- Inexpensive price point for a dual-purpose device
- Short-life battery that requires frequent recharging
- Comparably dim light
- Sensitive on-switch that could accidentally turn on stunner
Best budget flashlight: Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight
- Brightness: Up to 900 lumens
- Battery: Rechargeable USB
- Weight: 6.2 oz.
- Water resistance for rainy weather
- 18-month worry-free warranty
- Water and cold resistance
- Low cost for its brightness
- Charging port buried inside flashlight
- Sensitive mode switch
- Dark spot near the center of the beam
Best budget flashlight runner-up: Smith & Wesson Penlight
- Brightness: Up to 40 lumens
- Battery: 2 AAA (included)
- Weight: 1.6 oz.
- Small, concealable size
- Lightweight design for everyday use
- Pointed tip for self-defense & breaking glass
- Weak beam
- No dedicated on/off button
Best overall flashlight: Pelican 7060 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight
We chose this flashlight because it offers the perfect balance of durability, reliability, and brightness. Perhaps a little pricier than other options, it makes up for that in longevity and an unmatched lifetime warranty.
- Brightness: Up to 402 lumens
- Battery: Rechargeable USB lithium ion
- Weight: 10.4 oz.
- Durable construction that endures years of use
- Unconditional lifetime warranty
- Lightweight lithium ion battery
- Dual on/off switches in tail and body mounts
- High price
- No ability to focus beam
Best overall flashlight runner-up: SOG Dark Energy Flashlight
While we gave the Pelican a slight edge for its superior warranty and battery life, this is a flashlight you can depend on when you’re out in the dark and need to escape a hostile encounter.
- Brightness: Up to 750 lumens
- Battery: Rechargeable
- Weight: 6.6 oz.
- Ultra-bright light on highest setting
- High, medium, low, and strobe settings
- Grooved bezel for improved striking performance
- Lightweight construction
- Low run time at brightest setting (105 minutes)
- No holster included
- Weak belt clip
- Limited lifetime warranty
Things to consider in a tactical flashlight
The best flashlight for self-defense should be available when you need it, so you’ll want to choose a light that is easy to store in your bag, pocket, car, or somewhere accessible in your home. Here are some other considerations when it comes to choosing a tactical flashlight for home or self-defense:
- Brightness: Flashlight brightness is generally measured in lumens, which is the visible light being emitted from a source. For reference, the average low-beam headlight on a car projects around 700 lumens, with a 1,200 high beam. But lumens aren’t the only measure of brightness. For example, a flashlight with a better reflector can appear brighter than its competitors with higher lumen ratings.
- Size: If you want a flashlight to accompany you as part of your everyday carry, look for one that is more compact and lightweight. Thanks to LED technology, smaller flashlights aren’t necessarily less powerful than larger ones.
- Battery: Most modern flashlights come with rechargeable batteries. If you want a flashlight to use primarily for self-defense, you might not need a battery that will sustain its highest brightness for hours on end. That said, if you want a flashlight to keep at home for both general use and self-defense, you might opt for a bulkier battery that can hold a bigger charge.
- Self-defense features: When it comes to self-defense features, brightness is the most important factor, but pay attention to the flashlight’s secondary features. Some flashlights come with serrated or toothed bezels to intimidate (and hopefully deter) would-be attackers. Others come with stun gun features that can incapacitate an attacker and give you time to get away.
Be prepared for anything
Whether the power goes out, your car breaks down, or you’re out in a quiet part of town after dark, you want a flashlight you can depend on when you need it most. If you’re anything like me, you’ll end up buying a flashlight for your car, your home, and another for your everyday carry.
Do you have a go-to flashlight not mentioned above? We’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below.