Best Flashlights for Home and Self-Defense

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.

*Data current as of 2/15/2019. Prices and specifications subject to change. 

Best overall flashlight: Pelican 7060 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight

Best overall
Pelican 7060 Rechargeable Tactical Flashlight
    Up to 402 lumens
    10.4 oz.

    Pelican is known for its quality, dependable products, and this flashlight exceeds the company’s reputation. It was made in collaboration with the LAPD to be the standard issue tactical flashlight for its officers.

    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.

    • Pro BulletDurable construction that endures years of use
    • Pro BulletUnconditional lifetime warranty
    • Pro BulletLightweight lithium ion battery
    • Pro BulletDual on/off switches in tail and body mounts
    • Con BulletHigh price
    • Con BulletNo ability to focus beam

    Best overall flashlight runner-up: SOG Dark Energy Flashlight

    Best overall runner-up
    SOG Dark Energy Flashlight
      Up to 750 lumens
      6.6 oz.

      Dark Energy Flashlight cuts through the dark with a stellar 750 lumens. A tactical strobe setting and grooved bezel help you to disorient and defend against potential attackers.

      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.

      • Pro BulletUltra-bright light on highest setting
      • Pro BulletHigh, medium, low, and strobe settings
      • Pro BulletGrooved bezel for improved striking performance
      • Pro BulletLightweight construction
      • Con BulletLow run time at brightest setting (105 minutes)
      • Con BulletNo holster included
      • Con BulletWeak belt clip
      • Con BulletLimited lifetime warranty

      Best flashlight for self-defense: SureFire Defender Ultra

      Best for self-defense
      SureFire Defender Ultra
        Up to 300 lumens
        Rechargeable lithium
        3.1 oz.

        Equal parts small and powerful, the SureFire Defender Ultra thrives in self-defense situations. We like this flashlight for its high-strength strike bezel that can help you get out of a dangerous encounter in close quarters. And a 300-lumen high beam packs plenty of brightness to disorient an attacker in the dark. Its compact size makes it easy to carry with you anywhere.

        • Pro BulletCompact design––the whole flashlight fits in your hand
        • Pro BulletLifetime warranty
        • Pro BulletHigh-strength aerospace aluminum construction
        • Pro BulletStrike bezel for close-quarters conflict
        • Con BulletNo medium brightness setting
        • Con BulletEasily broken clip design

        Best budget flashlight: Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight

        Best budget flashlight
        Anker Super Bright Tactical Flashlight
        Starting from 
          Up to 900 lumens
          Rechargeable USB
          6.2 oz.

          Anker created something special in its Super Bright Tactical Flashlight. You’d be hard-pressed to find a higher quality flashlight for under $30. At its highest setting, the light beam supposedly reaches approximately 1,000 feet (more than two football fields). In most cases, the medium beam should offer plenty of power and boasts a solid six-hour run time on a full charge. And with its water and cold-weather resistance, this Anker flashlight is as reliable as it gets out in the elements.

          • Pro BulletWater resistance for rainy weather
          • Pro Bullet18-month worry-free warranty
          • Pro BulletWater and cold resistance
          • Pro BulletLow cost for its brightness
          • Con BulletCharging port buried inside flashlight
          • Con BulletSensitive mode switch
          • Con BulletDark spot near the center of the beam

          Best budget flashlight runner-up: Smith & Wesson Penlight

          Best budget flashlight runner-up
          Smith & Wesson Penlight
          Starting from 
            up to 40 lumens
            2 AAA (included)
            1.6 oz.

            Compared to the Anker, this isn’t the brightest flashlight, but the Penlight thrives in a way that other lights do not––it’s small enough to carry with you everywhere you go. Its pointed tip is also made to break glass, which makes it a useful purchase for your car.

            • Pro BulletSmall, concealable size
            • Pro BulletLightweight design for everyday use
            • Pro BulletPointed tip for self-defense & breaking glass
            • Con BulletWeak beam
            • Con BulletNo dedicated on/off button

            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.