Whether you’re an everyday man, a handyman, a
policeman, or a military man – or woman – a high-quality light (or torch)
should be a go-to part of your gear lineup.
Given the fact that darkness consumes between one-third and one-half of
the entire day, having quick access to light can be crucial, even
lifesaving. Just think about how often
you may use a flashlight at home for everyday tasks: power outages, scouring
the attic, working in the garage, you name it.
These situations may not be life and death, but when it comes to
tactical use a proper flashlight is more than just a tool for light. Today, flashlights are more than a tool, but
an extension to one’s self-defense kit.
Hand-held lights have the capability to blind, break glass, pierce skin,
maim, and otherwise deter a combatant.
Still, there’s a flashlight for every use out
there and what they’re capable of doing has come a long way in the past decade
or so. There is no one-size fits all
hands-free light and not all torches are designed for tactical or self-defense
purposes. It’s important for every
consumer to consider their individual needs and what it is they want to get out
of a flashlight, aside from the illumination itself. Keep in mind, that a flashlight is only good
when its within reach.
There are several factors to consider when
choosing a hand-held light, especially if you’re looking for something to add
to your everyday carry lineup. We’ve
compiled this brief guide and a listed a few of our favorite tactical and
everyday torches here at DNA Tactical to help you decide what to look for in a
A light’s level of brightness is measured in
lumens. Lumens represent the intensity
of the light emitted from the source in all directions. This measurement does not represent the variable focuses of the beam but instead
the output of the bulb inside the lights default beam angle. Lumens can range in number from around 20 – a
run-of-the-mill budget light – to blindingly bright 3,000 lumens or more. Today, pretty much lights are being made with
LED bulbs, which are much more intense in brightness, impact resistant, and
longer lasting – especially on low power settings – when compared to
– Disposable batteries are usually either alkaline or
lithium-ion based. They have upwards of
a 10 year shelf life, are relatively inexpensive, and offer long runtimes for
most torch models. The replacement time
for disposable batteries is subject to the amount and duration of use, but
their low price points equates to the ability to keep more spares on hand.
– Most rechargable flashlights use nickel cadmium
(NiCd), lithium ion, or nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. Torches using these types of batteries are
generally more expensive, but the rechargeable capabilities of the batteries
offer lower long-term operating costs.
With the higher price tag comes a brighter light and easy charging
capabilities (usually micro-USB) with the tradeoff of an increased
self-discharge rate when not in use.
As mentioned, most lights come in either flood light or spot light, or
a combination of the two. Additionally,
every light is designed to channel light its light to a target area. They’re usually tested by the manufacturer to
gauge the distance the light will cast.
The number of lumens will determine the output, or brightness, of a
light, while the beam distance determines how far that output will reach to a
Most lights designed for tactical use are made
of high-quality durable materials intended to take a beating. Many of them undergo testing in the design
process that involves dropping them on the ground six times from varying height
levels (measured in meters). This test
is intended to determine if the light will maintain its functionality after
repeated accidental drops by the everyday user.
The majority of hand-held lights also undergo
waterproof testing on the IPX system.
Ratings from 1-4 on the IPX scale are suitable designed to withstand
splashing and light rain. From there,
torches typically receive an IPX7 or IPX8 rating for complete submersion (after
the impact test). IPX7 models can withstand
a temporary submersion in water at a depth of one meter for 30 minutes. IPX8 lights can be submerged for up to four
hours at the depth specified by the manufacturer.
A Few DNA
Surefire is known for its top of the line
torches, and the UDR Dominator is as close to that line as it
gets. It’s a premium tactical light at a
premium price, but rest assured you’re getting what you pay for. Measuring a hair shy of 12-inches in length,
the UDR Dominator puts out an impressive 2,400 lumen LED light (on high)
powered by its rechargeable Lithium-ion battery or twelve standard 123A
disposables, which allow for optimum output.
On its lower setting the Dominator emits a mere 14 lumens of light that
can shine consistently for nearly a day (22.75 hours). In between its highest and lowest setting are
options for seven other output modes ranging from 28 to 1275 lumens.
The Dominator is essentially a search light in
handheld form and weighs just under 2.5 pounds with batteries loaded. Thus, this hand-held torch is ideal for many
military, police, border patrol, and maritime missions, or any instance where
an intensely bright spotlight will keep the odds in your favor. In addition to its nine brightness settings,
this Surefire torch contains a strobe mode and has three pushbutton switches at
the heat to opt between always on, momentary-on, and MaxBlast mode, allowing
for maximum light output. To keep track
of its power, the Dominator also has a 3-color LED lit fuel gauge so you’ll
always know when it’s time to recharge.
At a price point of well over a grand, the
Dominator light lives up to its name both in light strength and overall
durability. The torch is O-ring and
gasket sealed to repel water, dirt, and dust and is made of a military-spec,
anodized aerospace aluminum rated for nearly any task and designed to withstand
nearly any impact you put it through.
The light can be charged via 120V outlet or 12V accessory socket with
the included DC adapter – no batteries need to be removed and no charging
cradle is needed. If you’ve ever wanted
to know how a top of the line torch performs, the Dominator won’t disappoint.
Tactical A.T.A.C. R1 Li-Ion Rechargeable Tactical FlashLight
The 5.11 Tactical A.T.A.C. R1 Tactical is an
affordable hand-held torch option for a variety of both professional and
recreational lifestyles. The R1 uses
Cree LED technology to produce up to 339 lumens of bright, white light. On its high setting, the light can run for
three hours but the R1 really ‘shines’ on its low setting for up to 74 hours
off a single charge. The A.T.A.C. gives
the user three light mode options: high, low, and strobe in addition to a
momentary-on “boost” mode with a maximum burst of bright light with
no added sound.
The light is made of aerospace grade aluminum
and uses its Cree XP-GB LED backed by a regulated circuit that operates to ANSI
FL1 standards. That basically means its
strong, bright, and up to tactical code.
Its both impact and water resistant to be used in the toughest of
everyday outdoor and law enforcement and military applications. The light is rechargeable and includes both
AC and DC chargers and a charging cradle, but a dual CR123A battery back is
also included, which will increase the lights overall brightness strength. In essence, whether you’re a backpacker,
infantryman, waterman, or anything in between the 5.11 R1 Tactical will get the
job done without breaking the bank.
Compact Pocket Light, Rechargeable Battery
Also known as the Sidekick, the Surefire Compact Pocket Light looks a little
like an old-school cell phone or pager.
It’s designed to be extremely compact and used for everyday carry for
anyone looking for a pocket-friendly rechargeable LED torch. It’s built with an integrated split ring and
designed to be small enough to be attached to a set of keys so you’ll have
access to a Surefire light wherever you go, and it’ll always be on-hand in case
The MaxVision beam is capable of emitting
300-lumens of light at up to 50 meters, allowing for easy navigation and
illumination whether in a dark parking lot, at the campground, or around the
house use. The Sidekick also has a
medium setting at 60 lumens and low setting at a mere 5 lumens, good for
reading, close up tinkering without being blinding, or using outdoors in the
pitch black without skewing your natural night vision.
The Compact Pocket Light is rechargeable via
its micro-USB charging port and lithium ion battery. The polymer body is lightweight, weather
resistant, and child-friendly. It comes
in three colors (black, white, and pink) and is backed by SureFire’s one-year
guarantee. With a simple but effective
design and the SureFire stamp, the Sidekick is the true embodiment of an
everyday carry compact hand-held light.
From lanterns to compacts and everyday carry
to beastly tactical beams, there is no one-size fits all hand-held light. The above are just a few examples of what we
offer at DNA Tactical and we encourage doing your research before investing in
a hand-held light you’ll use everyday, whether you’re spending a hundred bucks
or over a grand. A good torch is
essential to any tool kit, everyday carry, or law enforcement gear and our full line of flashlights has something for
every department and price range.