EDC Pocket Flashlight Roundup

By Anner

Remember the days of D-cell MagLites that doubled as batons? I doubt many carried one of those everyday, save Law Enforcement or utility workers. Most sat in a glovebox or toolbox until a flat tire on a rainy night provided them some attention.

Thankfully, this bustling free market economy of ours generates outstanding innovation. For a Jackson or two (or three) you can purchase a pocket-sized flashlight that will illuminate Mars. Here are some of my favorites:

1. O-Light S1R – The Ruger LCP II option

Courtesy Olight

The low-threat environment or ultralight hiking model

O-Light is stubborn about maintaining their on/off button on the side of the bezel. This limits defensive use options, such as gripping the light as a striking weapon or integrating into a two-hand hold on a handgun. However, it still throws gobs of light and plays to O-Light’s now-classic minimalist footprint.

O-Light’s pocket clip design is one of the best, providing a deep and secure carry inside the pocket while not wearing on the pants pocket fabric. For travel or camping, one of the most useful features is the ‘moonlight’ mode, generating a measly 0.5L. It’s like a nightlight, providing guidance to the bathroom or to the tent’s exit without disturbing others in the middle of the night.

The S-1R is the flashlight version of the Ruger LCP II…the tiny pocket model that’s probably more than you’ll ever need, but you internalize moderate guilt knowing you should buck up and pack a real caliber. And yet, you keep carrying it because it’s perfectly convenient. The S1R is my home carry, hiking, and church-carry option; anywhere I will mostly be in daylight anyway, or with more tactical options available off-body.

Specifications:
Battery type/qty: 1xCR123A or RCR-123A (micro-USB rechargeable)
Length: 2.1”
Weight: 4.5oz
Output/runtime: 600L/0.9h, 300L/1hr, 60L/6h, 15L/30h, 0.5L/15 days!

Note: S1R II model offers 1000L/1.5 minutes, then 300L/0.7h, $65
# of brightness settings: 5

Street price: $60

2. StreamLight ProTac 1L-AA Dual Fuel – The GLOCK 19 option

Courtesy Streamlight

The true EDC general purpose model

The ProTac 1L-AA serves as a jack of all trades. It mostly fills the hand and features a lightly crenelated bezel, providing a striking tool option. The tailcap switch offers momentary on, or click-on with a firmer push. The default brightness is always full blast, unless you fiddle with StreamLight’s TEN-TAP functionality and change the operating mode (I never have).

Those 350 lumens are plenty to melt an attacker’s face or illuminate a long hallway, and 40 lumens is a gentler setting for routine light throw. The dual-facing pocket clip is excellent and keeps the knurled tailcap away from fabric.

The coolest feature of the “Dual Fuel” is the ability to accept 1xAA or 1xCR-123A battery. StreamLight incorporated two sets of threads on the flashlight’s cylindrical body, allowing a wide range of movement to accommodate the different lengths of the two batteries. Max brightness and run time suffer with AA batteries, but if your CR-123A burns out while on the road, even the dingiest gas station should have AA’s laying around.

StreamLight has never been a lumen powerhouse. They’re the Toyota Tacoma of the flashlight community; incremental improvements undergird highly reliable circuitry and excellent QA. Oh wait, that was supposed to be a GLOCK 19 analogy.

If I had to sell off every flashlight I own, the ProTac would be the last to go.

Specifications:
Battery type/qty: 1xCR-123A or 1xAA
Length: 4.2”
Weight: 4.8oz
Output/Run-time, using CR-123A: 350L/1.5h, 40L/16h
# of brightness settings: 2 (strobe programmable)

Street price: $40

3. O-Light I3T EOS – The NAA Pug option

Courtesy Olight

Quite possibly the best budget buy on this list.

The I3T is the only model on this list I’ve never handled, but the specifications intrigue me. The I3T may convince the world that everyone has room on their person for a decent flashlight at a respectable price point. 180 lumens would work for self-defense, yet most folks would only ever need the 5 lumens setting to illuminate a lock, cabinet, or basic movements in familiar territory during a power outage.

Specifications:
Battery type/qty: 1xAAA (alkaline only)
Length: 3.5”
Weight: 1.4oz
Output/Run-time: 180L/0.3h, 5L/16h
# of brightness settings: 2

Street price: $20

4. StreamLight PolyTac X Series – The FN509 option

Courtesy Streamlight

A duty light for a rough and tumble life.

Speaking with a few LEO buddies of mine, this is the perfect type of light for their use. It’s lightweight for its size and output, and every ounce adds up on a duty belt. 600L can light up a long alleyway or sear retinas. The size offers up a strike option, though the polymer bezel wouldn’t hit as hard as aluminum. In a drastic scenario, such as long-term power outages following a natural disaster, 34 hours of 50L output would enable the officer to execute search and rescue operations for three nights without a recharge. Polymer is ‘warmer’ to the touch than aluminum, a feature that folks in colder climates will appreciate if using a bare hand to grip the light.

The PolyTac accepts either CR-123A or 18650 (rechargeable) batteries. If your 18650 dies and you can’t find a USB port to charge it, a supply of expendable CR-123A’s will keep you running. If mushroom clouds start appearing on the horizon, I’ll be grabbing this light to keep on my person at all times…the same as my FN 509.

Specifications:
Battery type/qty: 2xCR-123A or 1×18650 (higher output/run time)
Length: 5.5”
Weight: 5.6oz
Output/Run-time, CR-123A: 600L/2.75h, 260L/5.5h, 50L/34h

Note: 18650 adds run-time to these outputs, up to 2h extra at 50L
# of brightness settings: 3

Street price: $37

5. An ode to the H&K line of flashlights

Courtesy Surefire

The theme of this list has been $60-or-less flashlights, most of which I’ve used and abused and trust to function as advertised. Notice a glaring omission from the list? Yep…SureFire, the gold standard of hard-use, tactical illumination.

I’ve owned, used, and somehow lost enough SureFire models along the way, at $80-$250 a pop to learn that lesson. I’ll likely purchase a Stiletto model soon ($100), given its slim design and outstanding features (650L/4.8oz/$100/control interface), but I can’t ignore the overwhelming budget-friendly nature of a $40 light that throws as many Lumens and functions as reliably as a Surefire.

6. Honorable Mentions

Courtesy CrimsonTrace

CrimsonTrace CWL-300: Included as a freebie in a LaserSaddle purchase, the CWL-300 has performed admirably in a classic EDC role. I’ve yet to experience an issue, but online reviews are mixed. At $40, look for a longer track record of reliability before experimenting with CrimsonTrace’s foray into handheld lights.

Courtesy Fenix

Courtesy NiteCore

Fenix PD35, NiteCore P10GT, and similar models: Chunky, 18650-cavernous aluminum bodies, and Hulk-like output embody these modern-day MagLite C-cell nightsticks. If size and weight aren’t a factor, these models can double as Bat signals in Gotham. Some models in this class only accept 18650 batteries, requiring a recharging ability you may or may not have in dire times.

Conclusion

With so many excellent EDC flashlight options available today, selecting a reliable and practical option is positively overwhelming. Start with a basic idea of your expected use, narrow it down by the footprint you can reliably carry at all times, stick to reputable manufacturers, and don’t venture into too exotic of a realm on battery types. When in doubt, select a AA, AAA, or CR-123A, use lithium batteries regardless (when able), and just as with you do with your EDC gun, carry, carry, carry.

comments

  1. avatar John Boch says:

    I used to be a big proponent of EagleTac lights, but carrying them everyday, they develop issues. Everything from switches going bad to other internal electronics. Eventually they stop working altogether. Oh yes, they have a lifetime warranty. But you have to ship them to Taiwan or China for warranty work.

    And when I did that, I was appalled when they just changed out internals instead of simply sending a new light. Their customer service techs must be paid at about 5 cents a day because I know it took some time to replace the guts and send them back to me instead of simply pulling a fresh product and sending it back, which is what I expected.

    I think I see one of those O-lights in my future. Maybe more than one. Because I see at lot of them in our Everyday Carry posts.

    1. avatar Thixotropic says:

      I own 6 Surefires and 2 Streamlight weapon lights.

      None of that Chinese made crap with high lumen ratings, unreliable performance, and dubious longevity.

      Do y9urself a favor and spend $150+ on a Surefire E2D Ultra dual output 1000/5 and EDC it.

      1. avatar JD says:

        Olights are good to go. I own 4 of them now and have been using 2 of them since 2014. EDC, camping trips hunting and fishing trips, not a singular problem. For the money Surefire doesn’t do anything better. Olights 18650 batteries are also the best I’ve used, by far.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        With the exception of one Streamlight I own nothing but Surefire. Around ten last count. You get what you pay for.

        1. avatar ron says:

          Sometimes. Surefire and Streamlight have really fallen behind though. They are fine for some things, but are overpriced. In another comment I mentioned that they were charging $80 for those Sidekick lights. After black friday, it went down to $30. So, what changed that they could all of a sudden charge less than half? People weren’t buying, that’s all that changed. If they can still make an acceptable profit at $30, then they were completely ripping people off at $80.

          I’ve used some, and they really do not seem to be of better quality in any way. The polymer body MIGHT be better in some situations than a harder aluminum one. Maybe. Several Chinese companies offer lights that have more functionality, are submersible in water for a few feet, and are now adding dustproofing. They are still drop resistant. Unless you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, they don’t die after a couple of drops from waist high like the Energizer plastic ones do. They are much better than they used to be.

          Streamlight has a large advantage in some work sectors though. They have more intrinsically safe models than the others that I’ve seen. Fenix did recently release one that seems like a direct competitor for some of the Streamlight handheld models though. But…that’s their only one right now. So Streamlight still has the intrinsically safe headlamps. None of that matters for the average consumer though.

      3. avatar mrbadnews says:

        I don’t know. I’ve got 3 Chinese old style Polytacs that I carry in my tool bag with hammers and prybars any what not. They’re all like 100-150 lumen LEDs w/o that clicky cap. They get beat a lot more than the ones on my rifles. I can usually get them for about $15 on the ebay auction. They been going for several year now. I’m very happy with them. But,.. they’re pretty big for EDC.

  2. avatar Ken says:

    Just load a free flashlight app on your iphone

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      Everyone I see using a phone light is holding it awkwardly with a few fingers, ready to drop. I want to grip my light……or have it strapped to my head. I hear those phones are expensive and the glass breaks easily and don’t take AAA batteries. (I don’t have one.) Correct me if I’m wrong.

      1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

        +1…you’re not wrong.

    2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      That was a stupid thing to say. A phone is not a combat light.

    3. avatar ron says:

      That works, but it’s not the best all the time. Makes it hard to use the phone and light at the same time, really doesn’t go at all far, and uses the phone’s battery fairly quickly. I’ve used my phone light quite a bit, but it’s not a good replacement for a dedicated light. Heck of a lot better than nothing though!

    4. avatar William Burke says:

      Five or six pathetic lumens. Woo-hoo!

      No thank you.

  3. avatar Grumpster says:

    My Fenix E12 is my constant companion. I keep it loaded with an Eneloop AA rechargeable. I like AA because of the size and you can get them anywhere. My E12 just rides in the bottom of my pocket.

    1. avatar Justsomeguy says:

      Amen

    2. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      The Eneloop batteries are *serious neat things. (As long as you didn’t get an eBay or Amazon counterfeit. And they are *heavily* counterfeited online. Beware! )

      They retain 80 percent of their charge after one year. Many rechargeables of that type ‘self-discharge’ after a few weeks or months. That makes them useless in a flashlight, in my book.

      Eneloops kick serious ass for AA batteries.

      If it’s a flashlight in daily or near-daily use, I’ll use a LiPo rechargeable battery. If it’s one that will be put away, like in a vehicle glove box, it gets CR123A batteries, with the 10-year shelf life…

  4. avatar DD says:

    Since im a cheapskate,ill settle for mini maglite pro..Its still a pain in the ass to carry in a pocket,but at 21.00 out the door i will take it..272 lumens and takes any crappy AA batteries you can dig up..i have dropped it on concrete,dropped it in the river,washed it in my pants.still working.

    1. avatar William Burke says:

      SLD (Severe Lumen Deficiency).

    2. avatar Paul says:

      I carried a mini-mag for years. I bought rechargeable batteries for them, and when they started using LED bulbs, that’s what I started buying. They are very good lights. Then I stumbled across the UltraFires with the 18650 batteries. Initially, they cost a couple dollars more than a min-mag. But, prices have dropped, and today, I can find the Ultras using various brand names for as low as $8 apiece for 2-cell lights on the internet. Often times, the batteries that come with them are trash, so I’ve bought a pile of Panasonic NCR18650B. Comparable to the Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries in quality. So, $8 flash, and $12 batteries, price is comparable to the mini-mag.

  5. avatar pwrserge says:

    In my experience everything SureFire does StreamLight does better. I have one SureFire scout light that was sho shittily built that the switch cable tore off of the back and I had to replace it with the pushbutton just to get some use out of the light.

    Much as with anything else, you pay for quality. You can either pay up front or you can pay later when the quality is crap and you have to replace the part.

    1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

      Sold! Can I get them at most retail stores?

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Academy and Bass Pro have them in my area. Many LGSs carry Streamlight.

        I get mine from Briteguy.com

        1. avatar Victoria Illinois says:

          Thanks

      2. avatar pwrserge says:

        Amazon is just fine for most basic gear.

        There’s a reason why I only own 1 SureFire light and 6 Streamlights. (2x Scouts, 2x weapon lights, 2x pocket lights)

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          “Amazon is just fine for most basic gear.”

          The high-dollar flashlight stuff gets counterfeited all the time on Amazon – eBay.

          Find a seller with a good reputation…

        2. avatar neiowa says:

          and Amazon is a “leading” prog company. Screwem

        3. avatar Mr. Nebby says:

          I brought a Pro Tac on Amazon and when I got it I discovered it was counterfeit. It wasn’t through a 3rd party seller either. It was sold and shipped by Amazon.

  6. avatar WI Patriot says:

    I have a couple of Walther Tactical Pro lights…bright white LED, CR123A bats, eats ’em alive, no striking bezel, but with gun in hand, I don’t expect to have to strike…it is about the diameter of a roll of nickels, so there is that…No strobe or momentary…

    Inexpensive and reliable…

  7. avatar Johnny Go Lightly says:

    Not Maglites but Kel-Lite. Played role in the origin of word “Tonk” …. lol

  8. avatar jwm says:

    Headlights. Great for fishing, hunting, camping, and power failures. Handsfree use. Not every need for a light involves combat.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Agreed. I keep one in my truck and get home bag.

      I also have a cap bill light that is excellent. It was a giveaway gift. Made in China bit I use it a lot.

    2. avatar Mike says:

      Zebralight headlights, single 18650 cell, capable of over 1000 lumens, and multi level output control down to moonlight levels lasting for over a month continuous. I harvest batteries from old laptop packs and basically it’s an unlimited supply of batteries. If it’s only one light I’m allowed to have it’d be one of these.
      Braun wand light from harbor freight is a less portable but awesome light using a 18650 cell as well. I have many CR123a lights no longer used because of the expensive battery cost. 18650 cells are the way to go.

  9. avatar M1Lou says:

    I have a 5-cell Maglite I keep in the door of my truck. I found it in a box after many years of sitting neglected. It was what all of the cool kids had in the early 1990’s in Boy Scouts. That or the 6-cell. It’s also there as a self defense tool since I work at a giant “gun-free” zone. It’s not something you want to carry around.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Yes. Carried 6D Maglite (with NiCads, they were heavier) waaaayyyy back in my days of pizza delivery.

      I’ve heard they were effective clubs…

      1. avatar Longhaired Redneck says:

        Many years ago I had a 7-cell MagLite, but it melted in a house fire in 1991. MagLite quit making them because they went through bulbs too quickly – 9v bulb in front of a 10.5v power supply. The replacement 6-cell MagLite lives by the bed next to the Sig P226. My Fenix PD30 is the EDC, and my new Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X may soon force the MagLite’s well deserved retirement.

      2. avatar bontai Joe says:

        I have a 6 “C” cell Mag Lite next to my bed. I went with the “C” cell version because it is a little smaller in diameter and easier for my arthritic hand to grip tightly. Probably not as many lumens as the new lights throw, but I can beat someone into submission with it, and if it breaks, Mag Lite will replace it free.

        1. avatar ron says:

          I had looked for a 4 D cell with an LED instead of a bulb. Couldn’t find one. They had the 3 C cell. It worked, but was a bit shorter than I’d like for a club. Decent light though, until I started using it for a tire thumper!

      3. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        “Yes. Carried 6D Maglite (with NiCads, they were heavier) waaaayyyy back in my days of pizza delivery. ”

        I never got that extreme with my Maglite back in the day of working in the acid factory.

        But thanks to that environment of rough use in an atmosphere drenched in sulfuric and phosphoric acids, my little 2-C-cell Maglite has ‘battle-worn’ look to it that would shame some of those gun paint jobs. The knurling on the body is worn smooth in places from being contact with an acid-covered heavy rubber glove. I really need to pick up a replacement rubber switch-cover for that thing…

    2. avatar techs says:

      D-cell MagLite – The 1911A1 .45ACP option
      Popular in EMS when no defensive weapons of any kind were allowed — might still be. Popular with LE back in the decades before all these less lethal electronic doo-hickies were invented. Four-cell seemed to provide the best balance between powerful and manageable. They also provided better light than most batons.

  10. avatar Aaron Walker says:

    1st up, the article states the Fenix PD35 as being about the size of a c-cell Maglite. This is incorrect, its only about 5.3inchs long and can fit into a shirt pocket. It tosses out a wide beam out to 100yds or so…With about 1000lms of power….Also, personal use both a Jetbeam Rf-28 1500lms XHP50 LED pocket light, an Armytek Doberman prov3 white xhp-35 HI at 1700lm. Maglite Tac 350lm, etc….

    1. avatar Anner says:

      It was a bit of an exaggeration, I’ll hand you that. The point is that every other light on this list is truly pocket friendly. Even the 18650 StreamLight narrows down considerably south of the bezel and allows 80% of the length of the flashlight to sit inside the pocket.

      I carried a large NiteCore model for a while and got tired of the girth (sts). It’s not much larger, but that little extra length and full-length width is a factor.

      1. avatar Sam says:

        No, it’s not “a bit of an exaggeration.” It’s false.

        You have a hard time with facts, huh?

  11. avatar Paul says:

    I work nights, and often need good lighting at hand. I carry UltraFire XML-T6 flashlights. The “tactical” part is an unthought of extra, for me. These UltraFire lights simply light up the night, especially the two cell variety. Single cell does well enough, but the two cell does better. A cheap $10 holster is pretty much a necessity, because these things don’t fit well in any pocket. In recent years, I’ve bought dozens, and sold many of them to coworkers. One in the truck, one in the car, one or two on my desk recharging, one in my toolbox, and one on my belt. I would offer a link – but this post already feels spammy. No, I’m not an UltraFire rep!!

  12. avatar Andre in Tx says:

    Zebra Light SC600. It’s not “tactical”, but it’s popular with cavers who abuse flashlights more than most EDCers. Mine has been dead reliable for the year I’ve owned it.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      Zebralights are great lights, I have the headlight version, which makes it the most useful light for blackout duty, as it’s hands-free and we’ll follow you from room to room as you need. The most important aspect is the ability to throttle down the output to whatever you need. Lights that have high output and only one high output are very limiting for utility purposes, as they will be blinding for close work and have short run times. The zebra light has both blinding output and very low levels capability for super long run time.

  13. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I like Streamlight. Stylus Pro is 100 lumens, slim and easy to carry in a front pocket, has a great tail switch for intermittent use.

    Still like Maglight for my truck. A 2 Cell D or 3 Cell C LED runs long and has a great beam.

    I also light the ProTac mentioned in the article and its 2 AA sister.

    Plenty of great options out there for everyone. Even cheap light are pretty awesome compared to the old bulb lights.

    Halcyon days…..just like pistols.

    1. avatar Cuteandfuzzybunnies says:

      You can get way more power out of smaller lights with modern cells than a c or d cell maglite.

      I have a hand held light that Max is 6500 lumens and it’s about 6 inches long.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I know that. I find the Maglites a good combination of size, light, and battery life.

        I have a couple of light as bright as my 3 C Maglite but they cant tough the 14-16 hour run time at 600 lumens or 40 hours at 100 lumens.

        On ECO mode it made a great nightlight after hurricane Michael.

        YMMV. We have lots to choose from. I paid 35 dollars for the Maglite ML50L… a bargain.

  14. avatar NM says:

    The Stiletto is one awesome EDC/task light… lightweight, easy to program and use. Mine goes with me everywhere. Being able to clip it onto a hat has come in very handy on numerous occasions in the 6 months I’ve owned it.

    I do also still carry a P2X Fury Tactical for “tactical” use… but now having the Stiletto as a task light means I don’t have to worry about running down the Fury’s batteries.

    1. avatar Jon in CO says:

      The beauty of the Stilletto is the rechargability. When I use it, the yellow light comes on, I toss in on a charger. On occasion it turns on it my pocket (I carry it in my back pocket) but since it’s a rechargeable, it’s not a huge deal. It’s flat, has a bright and low setting (3 technically) and works fine for everyday tasks.

      1. avatar Ron says:

        Many Olight, and some Fenix, models are rechargable. Most of the lights from both can use rechargeable Li-Ion batteries. They also have a lot more functionality.

        1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

          In my experience with LED lights over the last 16 – 17 years they are only getting better as the technology matures. For example: I have a two year old Fenix HL60R headlamp that goes camping, hunting, kayaking, hiking, etc with me. Very bright (950 lumens when you need it) and can be dialed down to just enough to rummage around in the tent when you don’t need much light. It has a USB port and will also take spare 18650 batteries or two cr123’s. Many of the SAR people in this area use the Fenix lights because they are well sealed and durable as all heck.

  15. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

    The Fenix PD35 only gets an Honorable Mention from the writer…balderdash, he is exhibiting a rampant case of Lightism. I own a PD35 that is used daily…it has never failed to work when needed.

    SureFire WAS the gold standard back when they were the only game in small tactical lights using the (relatively new) CR-123 batteries and noble gas incandescent bulbs….then technology passed them by in a blinding flash of light.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      Very True. I still have two that work.

      They dominated for awhile.

    2. avatar Anner says:

      The CREE LED revolution killed their market dominance.

      1. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

        Yup, and SureFire has been playing catch up with the LED revolution ever since. They are still living off their earlier name recognition as a highly specialized military, police, fire and EMS light provider…jobs that other light providers are now doing as well or better than SureFire and for a whole lot less $$.

  16. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I like having a light I can use as a stabbing weapon if necessary. The BBS V3 is only $40. I have one. Its great.

    My First Proper ‘TACTICAL’ Flashlight? Wowtac BSS V3 Review

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TepS-u1gqnk

    Sharpened Flashlight Strike Bezel Testing

  17. avatar Michael says:

    I started carrying a Safariland, 3 “C” Cell, Kel-light with an extended spare bulb end cap in or around 1975. It went out a second story window amidst some nocturnal unpleasantness and sat out in the rain soaked grass and mud for the rest of the night. Went back the next morning, cleaned it off…worked fine. Settled on a 5 “C” cell Maglight, you know, the one ya can’t hardly find any more. Perfect balance for an attitude correction anywhere between collar bones and shoe bottoms. I live in a free state now and stand by the Buckheimer/ Denver sap I got from AZ Custom in FL. Good times…I requested catalogs from ShureFire and Streamlight on the same day. Streamlight showed up three days later 1st class USPS. Hello, ShureFire…I’m still waiting. Last time I checked, that little customer service oversight cost your company well over $1,000.00 in lost business. Is that what the politicians mean when they say, “too big to fail”? Your mileage may vary.-30-

  18. avatar Sam says:

    I find this article very out of touch with the industry. You’re missing a lot of good brands just because Cabelas doesn’t carry them, but they’re all readily available on the internet. Zebralight, Emisar, Acebeam, Thrunite, Foursevens, BLF/Astrolux, Convoy, Klarus, Malkoff, Elzetta, Imalent, Klarus, Nitecore, Jetbeam, and many others all make some top tier EDC flashlights. Yes, many of them (not all) are Chinese, but the same goes for Olight and Fenix. Before they put lots of money into marketing in the US, those were just no-name Chinese brands. The only reason people know about them is marketing. I’d highly recommend reading further about the state of the LED flashlight industry in 2019 before doing another EDC flashlight round-up like this.

    I don’t consider any of the flashlights listed in the article to embody what consumers are asking of the industry anymore. Instead, I’d recommend taking a look at the Zebralight SC64, which has a long-running, regulated output and is capable of sub-lumens to as bright as 1000+ lumens in a form factor barely larger than its own battery. The Emisar D4 can produce 4000 lumens in bursts and is available with a wide variety of warm white and high CRI emitters that produce a useful, diffuse beam at lower outputs. The PflexPro mod of the Convoy S2+ with triple Nichia emitters produces a lot of warm, high CRI light with a useful UI if you prefer a tail switch. Those would be my top three picks for an EDC flashlight in 2019.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      2nd the Klarus!

    2. avatar Anner says:

      An article referencing every solid product would be a novel. There’s a limit to the reader’s attention span, and this isn’t The Truth About Flashlights. It’s a quick article on some good products that I can honestly recommend to others. Some of the exotic companies produce flashlights with outstanding specs, but then suffer from other issues (overheating, QA, etc). Those would be more appropriate for a flashlight connoisseur.

      I need out on flashlight specs over at http://flashlightreviews.ca/. SelfBuilt, the author over there, is a wealth of info.

      1. avatar ron says:

        But when is the last time he posted something new? I subscribe to his YouTube, and it’s been years.

        1. avatar Anner says:

          I just read the reviews so I don’t have a good meter on how recent his material is. Maybe it’s all way out of date and I’m missing some amazing developments.

      2. avatar Sam says:

        Anner, that is a deliberate strawman. I didn’t say the author needed to write a compendium, and I specifically suggested three flashlights that should have been included, so you should not have gotten from my post that I am demanding a novel. All I want to see is that the author did their homework, which I don’t think they did.

        Some flashlights overheat when the (variable) brightness is turned up to 4000 lumens, you say? Irrelevant. This article references flashlights that have a max brightness of 200-800 lumens and the “overheating flashlights” you’re referring to do not overheat at those levels.

        1. avatar Anner says:

          Write up a “Part 2” with your inputs and email it to DZ. It sounds like you have a lot of practical experience and knowledge here that TTAG readers would appreciate reading. I’d like to read it.

  19. avatar LarryinTX says:

    I think we just did this recently. Guys, if you are concerned by how you can recharge your 18650, try to imagine how you will possibly create a few shiny new AAA cells! Solar powered chargers are on the market for pennies to keep your 18650 flashlight running for a million years after TEOTWAWKI. For $50 you can get any of a hundred lights which will outperform *ANY* AAA cell light at any price. Like several hundred lumens for a week or more. 1200 lumens for 90 minutes. Night lite level for GET THIS, NOW, 74 *DAYS* without recharging. Spending less than $5? AA or AAA may be your best bet. Otherwise, look at 18650 lights, the 18650 more important than the light. Just to get you looking in the right direction, goggle the ThruNite TC15, try to find something with AAA which can even be compared. Yes, I am a bit of a flashlight freak, sorry.

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      ThruNite TC15, around $50, hides in your hand, 5 settings from less that a lumen for over a month to 1800 lumens, charger built in, try this; Charge it up, toss it in your glove box and use it as needed for a year. Then, set it on a table on medium power and leave it for 10-12 hours, turn it off and charge it, and you’re ready for the next year. Then imagine a AAA equivalent. At any price.

      1. avatar Anner says:

        I’m going to look into this one. Thanks for the recommendation!

    2. avatar Mike says:

      Phlashlight phreak elightist!
      18650 is the best overall cell with its low self-discharge capability and capacity. I do carry a AAA thrunite lanyard-clipped to the corner of my pocket for EDC instant access but get out the larger 18650 zebralight for the times I need extended flashlight use, and especially when needing a hands-free light.

  20. avatar Steven says:

    As a retired Leo, I owned boxes of maglites, streamlights, surefire, and the list goes on. Lots of them because they all crapped out after continued use on the job. Finally I purchased a flashlight from lapolicegear their brand. The first one i purchased because it was half the price of comparable brands. So it turns out their brand is better than all the others. I use nothing but lapg lights now.

  21. avatar Juanrudy Verdin says:

    Ive become partial to a nightforce ed11 i cant remeber the other that runs on 14500 my olight baton srlls series and my favorite edc that i have on me everday laugh as you may is my astrolux s1 with direct drive and high drain batteries it will produce 1400+lumens for 60 seconds then step depending how you program it it will run 2.5 hours at 250 lumens instant access to strobe when needed ive had for over 3 years everyday use and no issues

  22. avatar Ron says:

    Some of Surefire stuff is made in China too. I’ve tried a couple of their lights. Not only were they unimpressive, but there was no justification for the higher price. Especially on models they’ve been selling for years. They have come down some, and that’s good. The durability MAY be more, but Olight and Fenix are drop test rated. Until black Friday surefire was selling those Sidekicks for $80. Now they are $30. What does that tell you about how much you’re paying? DB Guardian is marketed as an outdoor light, but is not even waterproof. $170 for that one on their site.

    Many Olight, and some Fenix, Nightcore, Thrunite, lights are rechargeable. They also have batteries that can be removed easily, so if it does die, you can drop in a fresh battery. All of those, plus Zebralight, use batteries that are rechargeable.

    I’m willing to pay a little more for US made, but it needs to be at least equal, not lesser. American companies need to get moving. Surefire and Mag have been surviving off name recognition. That time is drawing to a close when you can get another product that is : cheaper, still durable, waterproof, more modes, dustproof in some Fenix lights, good customer service.

    1. avatar Longhaired Redneck says:

      I’ve had my Fenix PD30 for 7 or 8 years now, bought just as the new PD32 was replacing it. I’ve carried it nearly every day since then, cycling the switch multiple times daily. From time to time I field strip and clean all the mung off of it, and in a cleaning last year it failed to work after reassembly. I got on the phone to Fenix to order a replacement tail switch, and the service representative refused to tell me how much it would cost, only asking for the serial number on the unit, and my address. A couple of days later the new tail switch arrived in the mail, no charge. That is customer service above and beyond expectation.

      1. avatar Ron says:

        That doesn’t surprise me. I had almost the same experience with an Olight M2R.

        I’ve contacted one of the US distributor for Fenix a couple of times. They always took care of the problem without giving me a hard time.

        Thrunite took care of an issue for me; but, it was on a boat out of China. They never sent me any tracking info, so after a month I just wrote it off. Nope, replacement light came in, just no communication.

        For work I’ve been using the PD35 V2. They’ve add dust proofing to a lot of their newest lights. I work around a lot of dust, so that’s appealing to me. On my keychain stays a UC02 stainless. Outside of work, if I’m not testing a new light, I carry either an Olight S2R Baton II, or a Zebralight SC600 Mk III.

  23. avatar Mike Oregon says:

    I’ve been carrying a Led Lenser F1r for about 4years, durable, good battery life, about $125.00

    1. avatar ron says:

      I’ve used some of their less expensive lights. I liked them. Kept having them turn on in my pocket and killing the watch batteries though. If not for that, who knows, I might still be using that.

  24. avatar Larry says:

    I’ve owned Surefires since the 3P came out , to many to count .

    Today for me O-Light and Fenix , Surefires been caught napping and passed by .

    Great US made lights , by my Olight at 1/4 the price is a better light , and Surefire doesn’t have to many watch pocket or key chains lights for those who don’t want to tote a 5 inch handlight.

  25. avatar JimR says:

    Love my nitecore MT10A. EDC for 3 years and zero issues. Takes AA or 14500, red light and 900 Lumens.

    1. avatar ron says:

      I’ve got one of those too. Rarely carry it now, but refuse to get rid of it. Takes any current AA style battery on the market, and has a ton of features.

  26. avatar SoCalJack says:

    My EDC experience, Olight and Streamlights are GTG for WML and hand held with tail switches. I’ve dropped them all and they take a beating. Coast flashlights, they flicker, after being dropped a few times. For headlamps, I buy the Energizer ones and put them in trucks, bags, and tool boxes.

  27. avatar B.D. says:

    Streamlight Protac 2L-X and a Microstream are my main EDCers. I just found the coyote microstream that has two modes so I’ll be trying that out. At the home I got a big ol Streamlight something or other thats like 2k lumens and some headlamps in my pack, house, and truck. Batteries everywhere.

    I’ve been stranded here in NW Montana before, nothing too serious, but without a light, life would have sucked. I would have been walking through the woods in the low ready like it was AFG if not for my lights.

  28. avatar neiowa says:

    Maglite was (or is?) a US company and those lights were all US made.

    Find a modern LED lite that is not Chicom (PLA) are a minimum has guts/LED made in Chicomland (by a PLA factory). That is by the enemies of the US

    1. avatar Anner says:

      Try finding a single automobile made 100% in the US from US-sources raw materials. MagLite may be 100% US parts and labor (I don’t know), but their product features/specs have long been eclipsed by handier, more powerful, more efficient designs.

      That’s not quite how it works these days

  29. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    Fenix beats all.

  30. avatar raptor jesus says:

    My phone has a flashlight, and I carry my phone everywhere. It also functions as a camera, field notes, and even a phone. Plus it has all of human knowledge accumulated on the internet at my fingertips.

    1. avatar Anner says:

      A phone is a handy item. If all means to charge devices goes out (power outage, on a walk, etc) then I’d rather preserve my phone’s battery life for comms (calls and texts). My phone is also not very water resistant unless I use an unwieldy case or keep it in a plastic bag. Having a stand alone flashlight solves both of those issues, even if it’s a dinky keychain model.

  31. avatar Centralva says:

    Malkoff Devices is my preferred flashlight in all sizes, they’re tough, simple, and the shrouded tail caps stop accidental activation and button wear that plague some of my other lights. Surefire, HDS systems and stream light have also worked well for me.

  32. avatar jimmy james says:

    I own a metric s#it ton of flashlights. Every brand and size. My EDC keychain light is an ITP 1AAA. Around 100 lumens with a twist the head to activate. Best $20 I ever spent. I have a 5 or 600 lumen Surefire E2D in my go bag. It’ s pretty awesome and has come in handy more than once. Lights with buttons other than on the tails are asking for trouble. I like a light that can tail stand. 123A lights are too bulky for EDC to me. Ive had or have Fenix, Jetbeam, Eagletac, and a bunch of other Chinese junk toy lights. They only brand I will go in the deep dark woods with or trust my life on is Surefire. Their old filament lamp heads and removable LED heads were junk but they have come a long way and they are not made in China in a sweat shop. Their CS could still be a lot better but I think they are the best thing going in the hand held light business.

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