14 Feb Choosing The Best Tactical Flashlight (for Airsoft & Milsim)
Choosing a Tactical Flashlight
Today we go a little bit deeper in the knowledge of blinding your opponents, namely we’ll be talking all about tactical flashlights.
Before we go deeper into this subject. Please subscribe to our blog page by filling in the form on your right. This way you will get notified and won’t miss out any of our informative blogs.
Like always with these kind of blogs, we provide you guys the basic understanding and knowledge needed for these kind of products. This gives you a basis to start looking for this kind of stuff, so you don’t buy yourself trash.
why do you need a flashlight
First and most obviously is to light up areas that are too dark to see in with the naked eye.
The second reason, is to identify targets. And when it comes to Airsofters, some really have a shoot first mentality. And that leads to lots of team kills in our experience.
Now, the third function of a flashlight is “self-defense”. This means using it as a defensive or an attacking tool. This by blinding an opponent with a powerful flash or using it as a punching tool.
Speaking in terms of Airsoft, that last one might probably be a bit too much.
What to look out for
First up, if you’ve been looking for any sort of light before. You probably already heard about things like Lumen and Candela. So what are these terms and why are they so important?
Most of you probably already know the more Lumen, the better when it comes to blinding your opponent. But why is this?
The amount of Lumen is a unit created to express the total amount of visual light emitted in all directions by a light source.
It might be a bit difficult to understand putting it in these words. But to give you an idea of the difference in Lumen we made some examples.
Now, when it comes to the use of Lumen. We’ve found an article stating that there are manufacturers claiming to provide certain amounts of Lumen. While in reality they only provide half of the amount shown on the box.
In order for you to not be ripped off. You want to look for manufacturers that show an amount in the so called ANSI Lumen.
This means that these lights are externally tested by the American National Standard Institute. This guarantees the amount of Lumen they claim to provide, is indeed correct.
The next thing you should pay attention to, is the amount of Candela a flashlight provides. This expresses the peak beam intensity in the amount of light in every part of the light beam. Or in English how bright your light is.
To get an idea of the quantity of this, 1 Candela more or less equals the light intensity of one wax candle. So, the higher the Candela, the more intense the emitted light is.
Do notice that the Candela amount shown on the box is the one emitted at its highest mode.
So, that clears the technical term part of flashlights.
Types of flashlights
Tactical flashlights can be divided in what we know as normal flashlights, sidearm flashlights, your typical assault rifle flashlights and some other exceptions mostly specifically designed for one specific weapon model.
And of course there’re also the flashlight/ laser combos, but that’s not for today.
Specific flashlight vs handheld tactical flashlight
The difference between those more specified flashlights is that they are generally lighter in weight. This is because normal flashlights require an added mount, pressure pad and other stuff. While the specified ones are build with all that stuff already implemented.
And in some cases they’re also easier to use. Take for example the sidearm flashlights. It indeed makes them much easier to use than having to use a separate light.
Only difficulty is getting a holster that fits your specific handgun and mounted light.
But nevertheless, when it comes to all the tactical flashlights in the world. Without a doubt a normal tactical flashlight is definitely the most versatile one you can get.
If you think about it, you can mount it on your AR and take it off again. You can put it in you pocket, or use it in conjunction with your pistol. Use it to read maps and search for stuff. Or even check your teammate his vitals without pointing a barrel in his face.
Reliable flashlight features
The most standard features have to do with reliability and toughness. For this it is always recommended to have one that is shockproof so it can handle a beating.
Another basic feature you want your flashlight to have, is it being waterproof. This can vary to certain pressures or depths. It’s not that we expect you to start diving with it, but this will make sure it can handle being wet.
Something most people overlook in Airsoft. Is their flashlight being capable of handling recoil. Again if your gun has some sort of recoil.
Make sure the stuff you mount on your weapon can handle that force.
Furthermore something that’s good to know is, flashlights can get really hot in certain areas. Especially the ones with a high light output.
The reason why is stated in Joule’s first law. But the point is, avoid touching the area of such a light with this icon when you’re using it.
To deal with the heat, some flashlights are equipped with a so called temperature control system. This protects the internals and ensures the best performance. Which again adds to the reliability factor.
So, what more makes your flashlight reliable?
One thing is, it’s runtime. Namely, you don’t want your flashlight to leave you in the dark when you need it the most.
So, make sure your flashlight can handle a few hours on its highest level. Any of the lowest brightness levels will then surely make it run for days. But be aware that this also depends on the battery you’re using for it. Obviously the more milliampere hour a battery has, the longer it can run a flashlight.
A very handy option some flashlights feature is a battery indicator. This will always keep you notified of its status and remembers you to charge it if needed.
If your flashlight doesn’t have an indicator. Make sure to charge your battery before going wherever you want to go. Or get yourself a charged spare one.
Nowadays you can charge it through the frame itself. And some batteries can even be directly charged after taking it out of the flashlight.
Speaking of recharging, it’s always easy to have a flashlight of which the battery can be recharged with an USB cable.
This way you won’t have to spend money on extra batteries or a battery charger. And thus makes your kit that bit lighter too.
Anti-roll & textured grip
Two other very common features you’ll find on these lights are an anti-roll design and a textured grip to prevent you acting all clumsy and avoid damaging it as much as possible.
Another thing you want to look out for is the maximum beam distance.
Now, don’t expect to blind your opponents at the maximum beam distance range. But it will give you an idea of how well your flashlight will perform at nighttime. When looking across the horizon to find certain objects, location marks or people for example.
Unfortunately there is no indicator of the effective tactical usage distance for flashlights. So make sure to test it before you try to blind opponents from 50 meters away and actually just present your location to them.
When it comes to the additional options for tactical flashlights, there’s a lot. So, we’ve made a list of what we think might be important and why it might be important.
One of those options that flashlights can have are different colors or wavelengths of light they emit. Some have very special functions, like the UV type ones. But when you need a more multifunctional usage, you want to look for either a red, a green or a blue colored light.
-Red lights are mostly used for nighttime hunting, because some animals can’t see red light. But it’s also good for map reading because it doesn’t disturb night vision.
-A green light on the other hand is also suitable for tactical and hunting purposes. This is because a green beam of light can’t be seen from aside.
-A blue light is perfect for reading maps and charts and can also be used with night vision and navigation devices.
So, for the Milsim guys out there, this information might come in handy.
A mode that’s not as important to everyone, but always good to have is a SOS mode.
You never know when you get hurt being on your own or when you want to signal your teammates for when you need back-up and have no other way to communicate with them.
More specifically some flashlight have different modes and can even be programmable. This by selecting different presets that suit your specific needs.
Possibly the most important ability is to dim your light. This allows you to see where you’re putting your feet without emitting high amounts of Lumen and revealing your position.
Another very effective mode when it comes to self-defense is the ability to go strobe. This will not only blind your opponent, but it will also disorientate them if you are close enough.
Now, there are a lot of other modes flashlights can have. For example, replicating police lights by emitting blue and red light. But if you are not on active duty it’s even illegal to use something like that. So, be aware of what you buy.
So, that’s about it for the modes a flashlight can have that we think are the most important ones.
Quick access buttons
Next, some tactical flashlights are provided with quick access buttons. This can for example, be a direct strobe function or an easy dim button.
This makes a flashlight much easier to use. Due to the buttons being on a more natural spot when you grab on to it.
So that’s it for the options on a flashlight we wanted to cover for you guys. Let’s talk a little bit about the possible accessories.
Tactical clip & hook
The most basic accessories you’ll find are a tactical clip to hook your light onto something and a tactical ring that helps you to use a flashlight with pistol shooting.
These are things you very regularly see on these kind of tactical lights.
Another thing you very commonly get with such a flashlight is some sort of pouch to mount it on your belt or carrier with a MOLLE loop. This obviously allows you to easily carry it with you.
A very common accessory is to use a green, red, blue or whatever available polycarbonate or plastic covers.
Above their more multifunctional purposes like mentioned before. These might also be a neat option to protect the light bulb against incoming BB projectiles. So, people might not break your expenses.
Another option you find these days what makes a tactical flashlight truly look like something tactical is a strike bezel.
A bezel of course also has a function beside looking cool. Which is to strike someone or break glass with it. So, if you’re looking for something like that for whatever you do.
Mounting a flashlight
If you do not have a specific AR flashlight, you might consider putting a normal one onto your primary weapon system. Most military flashlight manufacturers will provide a range of mounts for their range of flashlights.
But if that’s not the case, you don’t have to worry. Because there are also universal mounts available on the market. So, you surely have the ability to mount your light if you want to.
This will mostly come down to personal preference. And in order to do so, you might need an extra accessory like a pressure pad.
Now, if you do mount a flashlight on your primary. You will need to consider about how you want to access it when it’s mounted on your weapon.
When it comes to pressure pads for tactical lights, you mostly don’t get a lot of choice. Because these are brand and sometimes even model specific.
Also a thing to consider with these is that although your flashlight itself has some sort of quick access modes, like the dim and quick strobe function. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the pressure pad also provides these functions.
So, make sure to check for that before getting one, because a limited usage definitely won’t make it better.
Thanks for reading our blog
“Choosing a Tactical Flashlight (for airsoft)“
If this kind of stuff helps you out, make sure to share this content with your fellow airsofters by using the share buttons on your left.
If you have some remaining questions about stuff regarding flashlights, ask them in the comments below.