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Guide to Tactical Lights

How to choose the right Tactical Light

When selecting a new torch there is a lot of options available to choose from, and finding the correct one for your needs can sometimes be a little bit confusing. The most flashy and expensive torch is not always going to be the best one that you will need for the job in hand. Super bright torches can have a lot of downsides, with issues like bulk, excessive battery drain and generating a lot of heat, while a smaller low powered light will be cheaper and more efficient to run.

Important factors to take into account when selecting a torch:

Usage | How will your tactical torch be used?

Runtime |  How much continuous light will your flashlight be able to provide before the battery or batteries run out?

Power Source | What powers the torch? Replaceable batteries or a rechargeable battery are the most popular options.

Brightness | How much light do you need you torch to provide? Some tactical lights even have multiple light modes.

specialist lighting systems for military, police, close protection & security

See our range of specialist lighting systems for military, police, close protection & security professionals

Usage | How will your tactical LED torch be used?

First thing to do when buying a new torch is to decide what its main use is going to be. This may seem like a bit of a silly question, but having the right choice will make your job easier and save you a bit of money. A large, heavy, super expensive and powerful spotlight is going to be no good for inspecting the underside of car or reading a map with when something like a smaller, cheaper penlight or headtorch you can keep in a pocket will do the job much easier. 

Every Day Carry | Most users simply require a handheld torch that is convenient to use for a wide range of tasks on a daily basis.

Searching | Sometimes a high power output and wide beam are what you need and these torches can be a lot more specialised.

Mounting | Do you require a weapon light that offers recoil resistance for mounting on to a firearm? Recoil resistance is a must for use with shotgun and more, this can be a highly requested feature for many of our specialist customers. Many military torches and headlamps can also be mounted on to a helmet for hands-free use.

Runtime | How much continuous light do I need before replacing the battery?

The runtime of a torch is usually determined by the type of battery and the efficiency of the light source used. When choosing your torch or head torch you will need to look at the battery runtime as this will determine if the torch will be suitable for your needs. If you need to be using the torch for long periods of time on duty, one with a battery life of only an hour will require a lot of battery changes to keep it working throughout your shift. Luckily a lot of torches have variable light modes, which when selected, allow the battery life to be extended in exchange for a lower light output.

Every Day Carry | When it comes to EDC, a long runtime it probably one of the most requested features as it reduces the amount of battery changes required, saving you time and money. Most tactical torches and military headlamps have multiple selectable modes of light that vary in power output; These torches offer you the best balance of power/runtime as you can select to use only what you need, when you need it. While rechargeable LED torches can cost a little more to start with, over time you will spend less, when considering battery changes, and are an excellent choice for EDC.

At Work | Are you going to be using the light continuously or sporadically? Do you have access to a charging source while at work and the torch is not in use? Runtime can become less of an issue if you are only using a light sporadically and have access to a charging source such as a USB. Some modern duty lights can be recharged via USB while you are at your desk or have access to a portable USB charger.
In the Field | It goes without saying that having the correct equipment while in the field is one of the most important factors that lead to optimal performance levels...and your lighting systems are no exception. Runtime is vital but often needs to be compromised for size and power; At times like these you need to keep things like ease of changing batteries, type of batteries used and how much continuous light you may possibly require to carry out your mission; Finding a balance is key and again, tactical torches was various light output modes become an option but sometimes simplicity of use becomes out on top. 

Power Source | What type of battery do I need my torch to run on?

The Power Source is a very important consideration in a torch, and one that is often overlooked. Certain types of batteries can be expensive, or difficult to find in your area, so it is good to know what is going to be available to purchase or even be issued to you. Most powerful torches run on CR123a or similar lithium batteries which, although probably the most efficient, can be expensive to purchase, but advances in light emitting technology have allowed good powerful torches with a decent runtime to work with cheaper AAA or AA batteries. Rechargeable batteries and torches are also a good way of reducing costs in the long term but can be more expensive to purchase initially.

Standard Replaceable Batteries | LED torches that run on standard batteries such as AA or AAA can be extremely convenient as they are easily sourced pretty much anywhere in the world. Their popular use also tents to lead to lower prices compared to lesser used types.

Lithium Batteries | These batteries offer more power in a smaller size and are ideal for compact electronics such as handheld torches. Their use has greatly increased over the years so sourcing them has become more convenient. They are also available in disposable or rechargeable models.

Integrated Battery | These batteries are probably considered to be the most convenient method of powering a light source...but that only counts if you have access to something to recharge them with. USB is easily the most common method and as long as you have access to a laptop, computer, wall charger or a portable power source, you can use them over and over again without needing to replace the battery.

specialist lighting systems for military, police, close protection & security

See our range of specialist lighting systems for military, police, close protection & security professionals

Brightness | How bright do I need the beam of light to be?

The brightness of the torch is usually record as the Lumens output. As tempting as it is to buy the torch with the biggest Lumens output you can find, using a 5,000 Lumen headtorch to try and read a map or walk through a campsite is just going to end up dazzling yourself and everyone around you. For duty uses a torch of around 65 to 150 lumens will be enough for most roles, where as a headtorch of 10-15 Lumens is perfect for reading a map, searching through a bag, or similar.

Quality | Prioritise brands to ensure quality & performance

When it comes to ensuring quality selecting a well-known brand with years of experience manufacturing tactical lights that are fit for purpose. Some of the most popular brands are:

Nextorch | The Smart Light | UKMC Pro
Petzl Tactical Head Torches | UKMC Pro
Nite Ize Lighting Solutions