Choosing Flashlights for Policemen
Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’re already in law enforcement or you’re on your way to becoming a member of the law enforcement community, so you know just how important of a tool a flashlight is for a police officer. That’s why you’re here – seeking help in finding the right torch to meet your needs and the situations you face on a daily basis.
Many officers come in with a preconceived notion that brightest is best. But that isn’t always the case. There are hundreds of models of tactical flashlights on the market. Talk to 10 different people about which one is best and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. That’s why, when it comes down to it, the choice is usually all about personal preference and budget.
What are they used for?
Police officers use flashlights for a multitude of reasons, including:
- Identifying threats
- Identifying suspects
- Helping see in dark places
- To disorient attackers
- Low-light shooting
- Improvised weapon
- Night traffic stops
- Reading and writing tickets
- Looking at driver’s licenses
What are they made of?
The type of material a tactical flashlight is constructed from relates to the flashlight’s weight and durability. In other words, how light or heavy is the flashlight and can it stand up to wear and tear. Most flashlights are constructed from one of the following materials.
- Plastics, composites, polymer – These materials are usually of lower quality, not as heavy-duty, and therefore don’t stand up to wear and tear as well.
- Stainless steel – Stainless steel is extremely strong, however, it’s also heavy which makes it less than an ideal choice.
- Titanium – Titanium is strong and can be lightweight as well. The downside of titanium is the expensive cost.
- Anodized aluminum – Most manufacturers now use anodized aluminum because it’s tough, yet light, and not as expensive as titanium. Anodizing is an electrochemical process used on metals which makes the aluminum more durable as well as chip resistant.
The downside to anodized aluminum is that it’s responsive to extreme climates, meaning handling the flashlight in extreme weather conditions can be difficult. If the weather is hot, it can become too hot to handle the aluminum and vice versa, it can become too cold as well.
What are your needs?
Not all tactical flashlights are the same, and not all are the correct one for you specifically. You know what kinds of situations you encounter daily and what environments you typically work in. Think about those situations and environments carefully. What does a typical workday look like in your world? Ask yourself some questions.
Do you patrol in a location where you may need to project a beam at a great distance, say over 400 meters? Or do you handle lots of nightly traffic stops or work mainly in a residential area? If so, typically you won’t need a beam that illuminates at great distances. Instead, you’ll want to find a flashlight which can light up the interior of a car well.
These are just a few questions to take into consideration when deciding which flashlight is best for you. Think about your daily duties, grab a pen and paper, and brainstorm what situations you face. Then you’ll have a good understanding of what to consider and look for in a tactical flashlight.
What to consider in a tactical flashlight
There are several factors and components to consider when purchasing a tactical flashlight. Some may be of greater importance to you than others. Think about the ones that matter most to you and rank them in order of most important to least important. This will help you decide the right torch for you.
- Budget – Tactical flashlights can range in price from around $20 to over $400. Most of our popular models sell for between $30 and $100, which is still quite a price gap. Taking into account your budget is important.
- Size – Experts and other officers recommend a flashlight that is small enough to keep on your belt at all times, even when seated in your vehicle. You also want one that you can pin under your primary arm, making it easy to perform other tasks simultaneously. This position also puts the light in the ideal spot while writing a ticket at night.
- LED or incandescent – Most manufacturers have switched over to LED bulbs. Why? LED bulbs are more energy efficient so you won’t go through as many replacements, plus they break less easily than incandescent bulbs when dropped.
- Brightness – Lumens are the unit of measurement of how bright an LED light bulb is. The more lumens, the brighter it is. Remember, brighter doesn’t always equal better. You need to think about your needs and decide what’s best for you. However, you do want at least 120 lumens which are bright enough to disorient an attacker.
- You should also think about brightness levels. Will a simple on/off switch with a single brightness level be enough, or do you need two brightness levels, or perhaps even multiple brightness levels depending on your work situation and environment?
- Durability – Because it will see lots of action and use, you’ll want a flashlight with rugged construction so it can take a beating and keep going. As mentioned earlier, many manufacturers are using hard-anodized aluminum because it is so tough, yet remains relatively light as well. Another factor to consider is whether the metal is “machined” which helps make it easy to grip, especially in bad-weather situations.
- Waterproof – Going hand-in-hand with durability, you’ll want a flashlight that has a good amount of waterproofing, especially if you work outside most of the time in the elements, including rain, snow and other wet conditions.
- Ease of use – Although it can be fun to get caught up in all of the options and bells and whistles many newer model flashlights come with, you still want it to be simple to use. In stressful situations, you don’t want to be fumbling around, trying to find the on/off switch. You want something you can handle quickly and easily at all times.
- Power source – A fancy term for batteries, most flashlights come with one of three power sources. Because your flashlight is such an important tool for your job, you want one that has a power source that’s reliable.
- Disposable CR123A – This type of battery is most often found in flashlights with the most lumens because it’s a strong battery and provides a great amount of power.
- AA and AAA batteries – These batteries provide the least amount of power and are found in less expensive and less bright flashlights. Their positive side is that they are easy to find and inexpensive.
- Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries – These batteries possess great power for bright flashlights, plus you won’t have to constantly purchase new batteries. They come with a USB connection so you can charge them almost anywhere.
- Accessories – Flashlight accessories include gun mounts, different lenses, diffusers, holsters, and lanyards.
Choosing the right flashlight for you
There is no one correct choice of flashlight for policemen. It really comes down to your specific needs and what you can afford. This is an investment in your career and making your day-to-day life on the job easier and safer.
Let’s take a look at five of our top flashlights for policemen. We’ve tried to include one for every budget.
- Streamlight Stinger LED Rechargeable Flashlight – $106.99 – $147.99
One of our top-rated and top-selling models, Streamlight is a trusted, industry-leading brand that many police officers swear by. This model boasts an unbreakable polycarbonate lens with scratch-resistant coating and shock resistance, making it perfect for those with action-packed jobs.
The on/off switch is simple to use, and it comes with three settings – high brightness, low brightness, and strobe. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. This model is perfect for every police officer, no matter what your daily routine entails or what’s unexpectedly thrown your way.
- Nightstick Xtreme Lumens Polymer Tactical Flashlight – $34.99
For those on a budget, this torch from Nightstick offers good value for the money, including 500 lumens of brightness which can produce a beam that goes up to 150 meters. It’s made from nylon polymer, so it’s not as durable as others are, but it does come with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer. This model is well suited for officers with slower beats and who tend to conduct a lot of traffic stops.
- SureFire G2X Tactical Flashlight – $63.99
This flashlight has 320 lumens of brightness and runs on two 123A lithium batteries. It offers power and value, as well as simplicity. It’s compact and fits in the palm of your hand which makes it easy and convenient to carry.
- Pelican Tactical L.A.P.D. Flashlight with AC Charger – $186.99
In a unique collaboration between the Pelican brand and the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pelican 7060 LED was created and made the standard issue flashlight for all L.A.P.D officers.
So what’s different about this flashlight? It uses a dual switch technology which lets officers activate the light by either a body-mounted patrol switch or a tail-mounted tactical switch. This allows the user to grip the light in several different positions while still controlling activation of the light.
This flashlight is perfect for officers who may find themselves in many unique and tricky situations on a day-to-day basis and need ease of use depending on the situation they’re in that particular moment.
- SureFire 6PX Flashlight Tactical LED Black – $85.99
This tactical light is made of hard-anodized aluminum which helps make it resistant to scratches and corrosion. It’s also sculpted to provide a secure grip at all times. It features a tactical tailcap switch which can be pressed for momentary-on and twisted for constant-on.
It offers 200 lumens of brightness and a runtime of approximately two hours. It’s also waterproof, so it’s a great model for officers who are constantly in the elements and weather.