View Full Version : Tactical Lights - How much light is enough?

January 15, 2010, 02:41 PM
I'm confused. I own a lot of LED lights - some headlamps, some flashlights. One is a luxeon, whatever that is. One is a 1-watt, which is the brightest flashlight i own - brighter than a standard 4 cell Maglight.

I need a real tactical light. I want the strobe function, plus a very bright beam, both for the incapacitating results they can have. A lower power setting might be nice. But how do you compare a 3-watt LED, to a 240 lumen LED, to the LED insert for my 4-Dcell Maglite, and etc. Here is a link to a light at a large internet retailer:http://www.sportsmansguide.com/net/cb/rechargeable-240-lumen-tactical-light.aspx?a=569506

What do all of you think? Good enough? Needs to be a Surefire?I like the rechargeable aspect and the strike bezel, but how many lumens are enough? How about this one?

Just soliciting opinions - style, power, features and price. What do you use and why?

Glenn Dee
January 15, 2010, 02:53 PM
What exactly is a tactical light?

January 15, 2010, 03:41 PM
I have a tactical light on my Viridan X5L laser and it is awesome, the strobe mode makes it impossible to look at the light for very long (in the dark or semi dark).

The problem I have is finding a holster that is comfortable to use it on my SIG P220 Carry, so for the moment it is sidelined.

I looked at the Night-Ops Gladius Maximis Illumination Tool from Black Hawk, its really pricey but it kicks out a lot of power and has the strobing mode.


Another product that seems interesting is the Detonics Pulsefire Flashlight which supposedly can flash once every 20 milliseconds.


I have looked at a few others but these seem to be the top two of my list for tactical lights.

January 15, 2010, 03:41 PM
My own experience has been that for a "serious situation" light there are several factors to consider.

Brightness - Generally you want to find something in the 80-100 lumen range.

Flood vs Throw - Generally you want a somewhat wider "flood" type of beam so it lights up a whole area at once not just a spotlight on a tiny space.

Physical size - a modest size means you are more likely to have the light with you when you need it.

On one end of the spectrum, these Energizer flashlights (http://www.energizerlightingproducts.com/productlines/ultimatelithium/Pages/ultimate-lithium.aspx) (sold at Target) are really excellent for the money ($45 or so). I have one in each car as they are tough and the lithium batteries are not affected much by cold.

At the other end of the spectrum is pretty much anything by SureFire (http://www.surefire.com/) (now being sold at Home Depot of all places). Often quite expensive but tough and then some!

January 16, 2010, 04:42 PM
But how do you compare a 3-watt LED, to a 240 lumen LED, to the LED insert for my 4-Dcell Maglite, and etc.

I have both, Huge difference. The 240 lumen LED like my Cree beats the 3-watt hands down. But the 3-watt is still very useful.

I go along with the 80 lumen as a starting level. The good news is bright LED's are now a lot cheaper and can be had from stores like Target, etc. I do have a Surefire that is in the 220 lumen range, but it's powered by CR123's. I also have lights in the 80-200 range that are powered by either AA or C cells. I really like that because you don't feel limited by cost running these all you want.

Tactical light is a broad term. I think is usually means a light with more flood that spot or throw. This type of light is great for confined areas like sweeping rooms etc. Lights with good throw are needed for searching distance but tend not to have a lot of side spill for close work.

For low cost go to Target and look at the Life+Gear lights, River-rock, or Inova. For higher cost look for Surefire or equal. In that league I have a Wolf-eyes rechargeable lithium light that gets in the 250 lumen range, but cheap it's not.

Another good dealer I have dealt with and also recommend.


January 16, 2010, 04:47 PM
What exactly is a tactical light?

A target to shoot at. I.M.O.

Double Naught Spy
January 16, 2010, 04:50 PM
Have to agree, for indoor work that going over 100 lumens ends up with light that can be too bright such that its reflected light back to the person with the light is too much. It is certainly more than enough for typical pistol distances.

My personal choice these days is to avoid anything not LED. LED lights now are plenty bright and have the throw necessary to be very good at distance and do so without the heat of xenon and other sorts of bulbs. LED lights are not as subject to shock (impact) breakage as xenon or filament bulbs.

January 16, 2010, 04:52 PM
My personal choice these days is to avoid anything not LED. LED lights now are plenty bright and have the throw necessary to be very good at distance and do so without the heat of xenon and other sorts of bulbs. LED lights are not as subject to shock (impact) breakage as xenon or filament bulbs.

Second that. I think up to the 300 lumen range xenon's are a dying breed.

If you have money to burn you can check this out.


Oh, and if you want to blind someone for life get an HID light. 3000 plus lumen's in your hand.:)

January 16, 2010, 08:48 PM
1,000,000 lumens... hard to put on the belt though



in all seriousness though... i roll with a surefire, never let me down before

Double Naught Spy
January 16, 2010, 09:35 PM
Another nice aspect of the LEDs is that they tend to run cooler and take longer to heat up than conventional lights.

January 21, 2010, 08:08 PM
IMO about 150 Lumens with 3 adjustment levels covers most jobs.

For general LED flashlight information you can't beat the Candlepower Forum, and their LED section.


www.4sevens.com A great vendor.

I have lights up to 200 lumens.

Tactical? Crenelated head and perhaps tail to be used as hand held weapon.
Pulse tailcap switch for quick hit blinding.

A couple of my latest acquisitions not really tactical, I was just looking for the latest, smallest, high output everyday carry (EDC) light(s).

4Seven Preon Kit. 2XAAA or comes with a body conversion for 1XAAA. 160 lumens, 3 light levels plus strobe, sos etc. with the latest Cree Emitter. I like it in the 2X format. I carry it in my shirt pocket like a pen. My pants pockets have enough stuff. Tail cap clicky switch.

The other new one to wear around the neck while camping, Quark Mini 1X123A 160 lumens. 3 light levels. Twist head to operate. Kind of like the Maglite only much better.

Shown with a LWS .380 for size comparison.


Quark Minis are available in AA or 123A format.

Here is the Preon, shirt pocket. It's my favorite for daily travel. I have Sanyo Eneloop rechargeable AA and AAA to juice a few of my lights. Good stuff and you can do an Amazon search for charging kits and rechargable batteries of the Sanyo ilk.


January 21, 2010, 08:58 PM
I love my Blackhawk Gladius. Have two of them and been a daily carry tool for past 2 or more years. It is pricey though. Bought a Solarforce L2P from Jimbo (sp) on the forums here and I gotta say an amazing light, brighter than my Gladius at almost a thrid of the cost. Hands down best money spent. Also have an original Surefire 6p, a couple Scorpions and a Surefire G2. Yes I have a flashlight fetish. Last week I bought a Olight M30 rated a 700 lumens. Its my new favorite toy but it cost $160 or so. Its a little bigger than I wanted but got use to it fast.

January 22, 2010, 05:24 PM
After using a Surefire with Malkoff M60 drop in I don't think there is a better light out there.


pro tc
January 23, 2010, 12:28 AM
hey guys i just got this light i know its not a surefire but it seems to work well.