Our top choice for an all-around tactical flashlight is our best seller, the PowerTac E5. Cranking out 950 lumens when set on high, the E5 is more than bright enough to light up your surroundings. In fact, you will find that the medium setting of just over 400 lumens is more than enough light for most tasks. The light is quite compact and easy to fit in a pocket yet boasts a 250 meter throw and a wide beam that will light up the room. This is a great light for every day carry, for use in urban environments, and does well when mounted on a shotgun, but is not our top choice for mounting on a rifle.
Our top choice for a pistol mounted light is the Streamlight TLR-1. Now offering 300 lumens, this compact light provides more than enough illumination for pistol range engagements. It comes with an integral mounts and a variety of inserts to fit the rails on most popular pistols. Best of all, it is an industry standard and many holster makers, including Safariland, design their holsters to accommodate pistols with the TLR-1. The only weak point of this light is the latch on the battery cover, which is counter-intuitive. Either read the instructions carefully, have someone show you how to open it, or find a You Tube video, because trying to force this latch open will just break the light.
While the TLR-1 and variants like the HL and HP models can be used on rifles, our top choices for rifle mounting is the PowerTac Gladiator which produces a tight 750 lumen beam with a throw of more than 650 meters. This is achieved in part due to the size and shape of the flashlight head. Please note that this light may not fit on your gun if you use some third-party rifle mounts that do not provide enough space to accommodate the head. The PowerTac mount that comes with the weapons kit version of this light is the way to go.
Filling the gap between the E5 and the Gladiator is the PowerTac Warrior. This is a nice intermediate light that is a bit large for pocket carry but ideal for carrying on a belt. It is lighter and shorter than the Gladiator, but still offers a 400 meter throw and 650 lumens. If you can only get one light and need it to do double duty, the Warrior is an excellent choice.
Please note that all of the lights mentioned above can be used with rechargeable batteries and several are available with recharge kits. We will look at the pros and cons of rechargeable batteries in the not-too-distant future.
Also, we recognize that there are many other brands of flashlights available, some of them quite good, some of them questionable, and we have not been able to test them all. We know the people behind PowerTac flashlights and have carried their products (both in our store and in our pockets) for years. We have found that they outperform Olights and Inova flashlights, two brands with which we have had negative experiences in the past. We have also offered a few Streamlight varieties for the better part of a decade, always with good feedback from our customers. While we respect the SureFire brand of lights, we find their pricing is so high that it does not make good economic sense for the individual to buy them when there are other high-quality brands of lights available at a significant savings.
Use the comments to let us know what is your favorite light and what you like about it.