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An EDC flashlight is one of the best pieces of gear you can carry, along with a decent pocket knife and/or a multitool.

The basic features to look for in an EDC flashlight are durability, output (in lumens), and length of charge. In other words, get you one with a metal housing that can take some abuse, one that puts out a good amount of light and takes awhile to run out of juice. A good pocket clip is also key.

It’s up to you whether to get a more standard model or a tactical flashlight. The latter will tend to be more durable, and will be rated for impact in case you need to use it as an improvised weapon.

Since an EDC flashlight is also meant to be portable, you’re looking for a balance of factors. The smallest length, diameter and weight with the highest output in lumens while still being durable.

As for your light’s power source, it’s best to go with a flashlight with a removable battery. Some have fixed rechargeable batteries, which is fine for the most part, but leaves you in the lurch if you forget to charge it.

Removable batteries let you switch between rechargeable batteries or disposables at will and/or as needed. Therefore, flashlights powered by AA batteries, CR123a or 18560 batteries give you some flexibility, as rechargeable li-ion batteries and disposables are available for both.

So, what are some good examples of worthy lights? Here are 7 outstanding EDC flashlights. This list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, just some good examples with some good features that should get you thinking about what you want and need in an EDC light.

Fenix PD35 Tac. Credit:

The Fenix PD35 TAC is a great choice. It features a Cree XP-L LED light source, with output of 8, 60, 200, 500 or 1000 lumens, and a max distance of 200 meters. Battery life is 140 hours of operation at the lowest setting and 1 hour 10 minutes (depending) at the highest.

The housing is aircraft-grade aluminum, with a knurled housing for grip, castellated housing around the tail switch, and a pocket clip.

The base model is black, but there are some different finishes available (digital camo) and a tactical model as well.

Dimensions are 5.4 inches long, with a 1-inch diameter head, perfect for most pockets though a holster is included if you wanted to wear it on your belt. Weight excluding batteries is 3.1 ounces. Power comes from either one 18650 Li-ion battery or two CR123a batteries. You have to supply the batteries or pay an extra $25 to get one that includes them. MSRP is $69.95 for the base model, but you can get one cheaper if you shop around.

Courtesy Amazon

If you want even more portability, the Olight S1 Mini Baton is very small, but quite powerful for its size. Powered by a single rechargeable CR123a battery (with micro USB charging port), the Mini Baton has five brightness settings, starting at 0.5 lumens up to 600 lumens, with a maximum beam distance of 130 meters.

The light source is a Cree XM-L2 LED, and has a strobe setting. (I start impromptu raves with it all the time. It’s a thing.) Run time (depending on output level) is 15 days of operation down to 55 minutes.

The housing is textured anodized aluminum, with a side switch and pocket clip. Dimensions are 2.13 inches long and 0.83 inches in diameter at the head, and it weighs a scant 4.52 ounces. Olight throws in the battery, so no worries there. MSRP is $49.99.

FourSevens Mini Turbo MkIII (courtesy Amazon)

Another good compact flashlight option is the FourSevens Mini Turbo MkIII. The Mini Turbo MkIII uses a Cree XPL-HI LED light source, with a minimum output of 1.5 lumens and maximum output of 700 lumens and max beam distance of 200 meters.

There is a burst mode, which is a strobe, if you desire one, as well as beacon and SOS modes as well. The party piece is that you can set the configuration mode to your liking, so you get to choose what settings the button (on the rear) actuates.

Battery life is 90 hours of use on the lowest setting and 50 minutes on the highest. Dimensions are 2.38 inches long, with a head diameter of 0.96 inches and loaded weight (with batteries) of 1.8 oz. The housing is 6061-T6 anodized aluminum.

MSRP is $65 or $75 with a charger for the single RCR123 Li-ion battery. You can also use CR123a batteries in a pinch, but it will diminish max output to 500 lumens. Not uber-cheap, but quite compact for the light output, which makes it a good EDC flashlight.

Still not bad for a pocket flashlight.

Some people, though, want more tacticality. They are oh so tactical. REALLY tactical. You just don’t know how tactical they are. If your name is Chad or Kyle, and you only wear Oakley sunglasses, drive a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 edition) and wear Coyote Tan or FDE Kydex underwear with 5.11 tactical pants to your office job, then Streamlight may have just the EDC flashlight for you.

Actually, they’re great for anyone.

The Streamlight ProTac series has some great lights, including two compact carry models for EDC use. Both have 6000 series aircraft aluminum with a black anodized finish (tactical) with castellated light and rear switch housings in case you need to hit something with it. The glass lens is tempered for impact resistance. Both have different light configurations in Streamlights TEN-TAP programming, so you can set what the button selects. Both have a strobe function for having a tactical rave.

First is the ProTac 1L, the more compact model.

Streamlight ProTac 1L. Credit:

The ProTac 1L is capable of output of 22 lumens (low mode) to 275 lumens (max distance of 143 meters) with run time of 24 hours to 2 hours depending on settings. The pocket clip is said to be unbreakable. The 1L is 3.43 inches long, 0.9 inches in diameter at the head, and weighs 2 ounces with a battery. The power source is one CR123a lithium battery. They go for about $40 on Amazon.

ProTac 2L. Credit:

If you want a bit more power, but still with a compact form, the ProTac 2L is much the same but adds a second CR123a battery. This bumps max output to 350 lumens, max distance to 159 meters, overall length to 4.77 inches (head and barrel diameter remain the same) weight to 2.8 ounces and runs about an extra $10.

Minimum output rises to 30 lumens, with a run time of 35 hours and max output (350 lumens) has a run time of 3.25 hours. It’s the same, just a bit bigger and a tad more powerful; you might call it the ProTac Long Wheelbase.

Both are excellent compact EDC flashlights, and are very affordable.

NiteCore also makes some good lights for the tacticool set AND those folks wanting a compact-yet-powerful EDC light. NiteCore doesn’t screw around with illumination, as their lights tend to feature higher outputs than many others despite their compact size.

Nightcore Concept1 Credit:

If you want a sleek, powerful light, the Concept 1 uses a Cree XHP35 HD E2 LED and boasts a max output of a massive 1800 lumens at the highest setting, with lower levels of 1, 80, 300 and 800 lumens as well. On the minimum setting, run time is 300 hours, but falls to 30 minutes (depending) on the highest setting.

Best use is with a 3.6V 18650 battery (with output of more than 8 amps) but dual CR123a or RCR123a batteries can be used if needed, though 123a batteries will only yield 800 lumens of output and max distance of 220 meters. It also features a strobe mode and the light will blink to indicate charge status.

The aircraft grade housing is impact resistant, with a knurled rear quarter, stainless steel pocket clip and magnetic battery cover so you can actually mount it to a magnetic surface. Dimensions are 4.39 inches long, and the head diameter is 0.96 inches and weighs 2.18 oz. Light, compact, sleek and powerful. Without batteries, it’s about $60 on Amazon.

Nitecore EC23. Credit:

If you wanted to go the tactical route, the NiteCore EC23 is essentially a tactical version of the Concept1. Outputs are almost the same with graduated output levels of 1, 55, 300, 908 and 1800 lumens, and max distance of 255 meters. Run times likewise range from 300 hours to 30 minutes in the 1800-lumen Turbo mode.

However, the EC23 adds a knurled housing, castellated rear housing and a slide switch to control the button program. The push-button is on the rear and the slide switch is on the barrel. The EC23 also adds a location beacon pulse mode.

The EC23 is slightly bigger, at 5.06 inches long, 1 inch in diameter at the head and 2.75 oz in weight. The power source is the same; a single 18650 battery (3.6V, 8A+) or two CR123a/RCR123a batteries (sans Turbo mode) can be used. However, the tactical model is actually cheaper by about $13 for the base model sans battery; you can get a flashlight/battery/charger bundle for about $73.

These are just SOME of the great EDC flashlights available on the market right now. There are literally scores of great options out there. Feel free to sound off about some of those others in the comments and let us know what’s in your pocket.

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  1. Streamlights been my go-to for a long time. Affordable, bright, durable, but my most favorite part on the bigger ones is the program switching. My 2lx goes from high to low. The newer coyote microstream goes from low to high. I hate strobes, so it’s nice being able to program them out.

    The branding of “tactical” on these flashlights is just a marketing gimmick. Don’t get too caught up in it. Most of us who found out about these brands are prior/current military or some form of Leo, and that’s a big part of the market. All the flashlights in this list are pretty good.

    • Had my Gen 1 SureFire 9P since the early ’90s. Still my go-to light in my vehicle. Amazed it’s performed so well for so long.

      • That’s funny. I have a surefire as a backup in my truck, but I’m not sure what kind I’d have to look at it. Either way, I’m amazed it still works too. It’s definitely over 10 years old, but it has all the cool features like red, yellow and blue toggles as well as IR. I found it at the bottom of one of my old bags when I moved. Put it back in rotation ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Great light.

        There are kinds of high-performance LED upgrade modules you can get for it to bring it into modern times…

        • Did that for my (also Gen 1) AA Maglight I got way back in the ’80s when it first came out. Then upgraded to led bulbs when they were available about ten years ago. It was my go-to pocket light for about 25 years until the anodized aluminum frame finally oxidized beyond repair recently. I almost gave it a proper funeral and burial out in the vegetable garden, I loved that thing so much.

          Nowadays I have so many flashlights and knives, I don’t know what to do with them all.

          Funny, though…that cheapo light I got from the NRA a few years back (when I was still giving them $$)? I use it as my “rough and tumble” light in my vehicle. I have the SureFire 9P with my gun and holster, my headlamp in case I encounter a nighttime emergency and need to be hands-free, and my dumb little NRA light for general use (or to lend to someone else…I won’t care if they get rough with it or drop it).

  2. I started out the the ProTac 1L, and have since moved to the 2L. Was pleased with the 1L, was all the light I needed, and very compact and easy to carry. I only switched to the 2L because it fits my large hands a bit better. Very best up cosmetically from riding next to knives in my pocket, but works without issue all the same! I also got a pair of streamlights rechargable 18650 batteries so I don’t have to worry about buying cr123’s anymore. I gave the 1L to my brother who is a health and safety inspector for the county, he says he uses it daily while doing inspections.

  3. My Black scout wowtac BSS 3 flashlight is dual use. It has a strike bezel over half and inch in length. And It has 1100 lumen in power. $40 a great deal!

  4. I’d like to hear from others about recommendations for a single-AA cell light.

    Usable with regular AAs and NiCad and NiMh rechargeables.

    Fenix used to make one…

    • My preferred lights are all single AA units. I usually use NiMH batts., unless it goes in the car where I use alkaline. My favorite is the Fenix LD12, which looks a lot like the first picture in the article, except it is much smaller. I want a brightly lit scene so I can see what’s happening, not burn the other guy’s retinas out.

      In the car, I’ve got a Fenix LD09, which is even smaller, but it’s not good for “defensive” use because it first comes on dim, and only gets brighter when you fiddle with the on/off switch. Much better, small and cheap is the Thorfire TG06S. Hit the switch once and you’ve got max. brightness. Fiddle with the switch and the dimmer settings are available for long run times.

      • The Streamlight 1L-1AA uses a CR123A battery for maximum brightness AND can also use a AA battery if you don’t have or can’t find a CR123A, making it a great EDC option. The clip on both the 1L and 1L-1AA sucks however. It can pop completely off if stressed.

  5. Buy American. Yes, expensive, but, better than shipping-off jobs and national wealth. In addition to Surefire, check out Elzetta (did I say, expensive?). There must be others, too.

    • Because sometimes there is less than optimal light.

      Not necessarily for tactically operating but for doing less tactical things.

      Finding stuff in the bottom of your briefcase, under you car seat or glove box.

      Or maybe negotiating a stairwell with a power outage.

      I use my Stylus Pro more than my pocketknife most days.


      • Still doesn’t explain why I “need” one as part of my EDC…
        I understand the need for a flashlight, I have plenty of them, 3 in my truck alone, but to carry one is just ludicrous, that is unless you go creepin’ around…

        • Making sweeping statements is ludicrous as I just detailed my use of a light, daily.

          You are responsible for determining your “needs”.

          If you dont think you need one, then dont carry it.

          You will probably never “need” your gun. You can leave that in your truck as well.

          Pay your nickle and make your choice.

        • Apparently you are one of the few who never needs one on the go then. If you are happy not carrying one, then don’t. For most of us, there are TONS of reasons to carry one. Same reason we carry anything else really.

        • Specialist38,

          “You will probably never โ€œneedโ€ your gun. You can leave that in your truck as well.”

          I’m quite sure that I’ll need my gun well before I’ll need a flashlight in a defensive situation…

          You keep doin’ you…

        • B.D.,

          “Apparently you are one of the few who never needs one on the go then.”

          One of the few…??? I’m sure there are more that DON’T need to carry a light than there are those who THINK they need to carry one…

        • I didnt say anything about a defensive use for a light. (Seems to be your trigger)

          I carry a small light for them same reason i carry any other tool, it’s useful and I might need it.

          Even if near my truck, I dont want to make trips to my truck to get a light as I would not want to retrieve a pocket knife if I needed one.

          Dont use money in a defensive situation but I carry that too. I guess cheeseland is always lit by folks with sunny dispositions.

  6. My favorite carry light right now is the Surefire Stiletto – it is light, bright, has sensible switching, is rechargeable and can be clipped to a hat for use as a headlamp.

    I still carry a P2X Fury for defensive purposes but the Stiletto gets a ton of daily use.

  7. Have been carrying a fenix PD 35 ( older version) for about 7 yeArs now, has been used hard and has never had a probem.

  8. I’m a CO that only works the night shift so as you can imagine, I use my lights a lot. I love the cheapo 18650 zoomable lights that you can get for 5 bucks on Amazon because they use lenses instead of a reflector. This gives me an even field of light with no bright spot in the center, perfect for count time or shaking down areas. The only problem is, none of them remember what mode you want when you turn it back on and they all eventually start flickering and automatically switching modes. I splurged and got myself a Fenix PD35 v2.0 and within a week it had the same flickering problem.

    • This right here. While I am not going to criticize anyone else’s choice in light I have purchased cheap imported lights that run on a single AA in lots of 7 or 9 so that I had plenty of spares around that I could share or give away on short notice as needed. Being able to put others to work in the dark in a moment of unplanned for adversity is a fantastic value. The life cycle is not great but they are reasonably bright.

      I have also had decent luck with some of the “Atomic Beam” type lights.

  9. My Nitecore Concept 1 has stunning capabilities. It’s truly impressive, but its switch design is awful. It always comes on in my pocket, pack, briefcase, wherever it’s being carried. I finally removed its fancy high-current cell and it lies dormant in my drawer. I went back to my P12GT. It’s not as bright but I won’t find my jacket pocket melted.

  10. For my “tactical” light, I have an old Surefire G2X. Simple, simple, one brightness. Push the button and it comes on. It sits on my nightstand.

    For almost everything else, I use one of 2 cheapies I buy on amazon. One uses an 18650 and is zoomable. It is very very bright. Certainly as bright as anyone needs in normal use. Zoomed all the way in I can illuminate airplanes coming over my house.

    The other light is a very small light built around a AA battery. Its not bright enough for searching for kitty when she hasn’t come home for the night, but more than enough for a dog walk or even a walk in the woods. I’d guess 300 lumens.

    This is all I need.

  11. I have had good luck with OLight and am currently using the M1T Raider for EDC with their tiny I1R EOS on my keychain as a backup. Works for me….

  12. I’ve owned 1 of almost every brand out there and based on those experiences, Surefire is still the only light I’m willing to bet my life on. I do carry an ITP 1-AAA keychain light however. Just bought a new one as my 10 year one finally died. Also just bought a SF weapon light for my M4orgery. Buy once, cry once.

  13. Best lights are made by Malkoff Devices. I own several of them. Made in America. Very durable.

  14. I have a bunch of great lights from Nitecore, Fenix to Surefire. I really want to purchase a Surefire Stiletto Pro, but it’s not out yet. I get really frustrated when companies launch products at Shot Show in January and now here we are 5 months later and they still aren’t available.

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