Depending on where you’re traveling or your preferred quarry, hunting is a sport that can be practiced day and night. In some cases, you may want to work in total darkness, while in others, you may want to wait until the early morning. Any veteran hunter understands that if you want to hunt at night, you need to have a reliable light source, both for success and safety. As a result, a flashlight is a piece of equipment that every hunter needs to have in their arsenal. Here’s a profile of 10 of the standout options in 2020, from the top of the line to the budget-friendly.
Why You Might Need a Flashlight?
In the past, night hunters would be reliant on their basic sight and intuition when trying to target an animal. However, nowadays, we fully understand how a flashlight is a more practical and effective option. Not only does it help light the immediate area so you know where you’re shooting, but can also blind an animal for an instant, making it easier for you to get your kill shot. Some hunters favor headlamps for this purpose, but a flashlight may be a better fit for your budget and your personal preferences.
As the need for hunting-friendly flashlights grows, manufacturers have responded in kind, providing something that’s light and compact to be easily carried. Some options also have forehead and gun-mount capabilities so your hands are free to aim. As an added benefit, a durable, long-lasting flashlight is useful for a variety of other situations, like emergencies at home, regular camping, or just walking at night.
How Did We Pick These Products?
We understand the importance a hunter places on their light for nighttime hunts, so we went to painstaking lengths to try and find the best of the best. After perusing different consumer reviews and ratings, we narrowed things down to the top 30 before actually testing things out themselves. The results you see in this article are a combination of our tests, as well as the tests from different volunteers that brought the products for themselves. We’ve based our rankings on the following major traits:
- Bulb type
- Battery lifespan
- Lumen Output
- Beam type
Along with checking these traits on their own, we also compared the different flashlights to each other to check our ranking. We also reached out to some expert hunters for their thoughts and recommendations of some of the brands and models.
Points Of Consideration Before You Buy
Say that you read this article, and still aren’t convinced that any of these flashlights are the right one for you. That’s okay, but you still need to have a flashlight around, and a good one. Here are some of the key traits you want to look at for your own independent shopping to find the right quality.
The right bulb: For the brightest lights, you’re going to want to look for models that use LED bulbs. There may be some out there that use the traditional krypton/incandescent bulbs, but these are falling out of fashion. From shock resistance to brightness to efficiency, LED is the clear winner.
Durable materials: Most flashlights you see today are going to be made from either plastics or aluminum allies. If they have a stainless steel head, they will be better suited to handle impact after an accidental fall. However, even if a product has a high impact rating, remember that manufacturers test this by dropping the flashlight on a heavy floor. Don’t expect it to survive any impacts far heavier than that.
Water resistance: Along with durability and resistance to impact, resistance is water is essential. You may find yourself in a situation where you need to use your flashlight in the rain, or accidentally drop it in water. If you see an IPX4 rating, that shows that it can handle raindrops and water splashes. If you see an IPX7 rating, that shows it can still function after being immersed in water for 30 minutes. If you see an IPX8 rating, it can still function after 4 hours of immersion.
Lumen: Brightness may very well be the most important trait for a hunting flashlight, and the maximum flashlight is measured by lumen. A flashlight’s lumens can go between 25 to 3500. However, the rating may only apply to specific circumstances, so make sure that you do additional product research.
Beam type/distance: The ultimate type and length of your light beam are based on the reflector around the lens. The three different types are as follows:
Flood/fixed: Has a single width beam, is suited for all general applications.
Adjustable: Allows a hunter to switch between a focused light and floodlight based on the situation.
Focused/spot: Uses a condensed single beam. Best suited for finding routes or quickly looking at something.
By comparison, beam distance shows how many meters your eye can see through the light, compared to the light of the moon. Lighting mode may impact the distance.
Lighting modes: Most flashlights just have one mode, but others may include low, medium and high settings. Hunters will also want to look for added features like SOS/strobe features for emergencies, or specialized filters that cause blood to glow. These can be useful for game tracking. Some advanced models also have USB connectivity for you to customize your lighting sequence.
Battery runtime: Added features are nice, but you can’t forget the fundamentals. When you look at a flashlight, it will generally be measured in hours for a total runtime until it reaches 10% of its top rating. In essence, it’ll tell you how long you need to go before getting a battery replacement. Long hunting trips require a higher runtime.
Battery type: There are also three main batteries you are going to encounter when flashlight shopping, all with their pros and cons. Rechargeable batteries are Li-ion batteries charged via USB. They cost more at first but will make up for that in the fact that you won’t have to buy it repeatedly. Disposable batteries are your basic AA and AAA options, along with the rarer CR123A types. Larger batteries are generally powered by D batteries for better runtime and brightness. Renewable batteries are charged via a cranking turbine and are reserved for emergencies most of the time.
Size/Weight: There’s a balancing act at work here when it comes to choosing the size of your flashlight. Larger ones have better battery capacity, but they can be difficult to move around and take up a lot of space in your bag.
The Top 10
To start we’re going to cover our 3 favorite flashlights in terms of performance, before moving on to the best budget options.
A hunter wants a flashlight that performs well with plenty of durability, and we found the Streamlight 88066 ProTac Flashlight to be the best option. It uses a C4 LED bulb to create a top brightness of 1000 lumens for up to 50,000 hours. As a part of our testing, we did a live-fire test and saw that it stood up to shock and vibration from most weapons. This flashlight runs on both CR123A and rechargeable Li-Ion batteries, complete with strobe, high, and low settings. The strobe setting is essential for emergencies, the high mode has a distance of 332m, and the low setting runs for 22 hours with 60 lumens and an 80 m distance.
In terms of durability, it is made of machined aircraft aluminum, complete with a tempered glass lens resistant to shock. You can bring it with you in temperatures as low as -40°F to highs of +120°F. It is also water-resistant from splashes and immersion. This flashlight model uses a rail clamp so you can easily attach it and remove it from your handgun or rifle. It also offers a remote switch for constant operation and stays compliant with RoHS and European Community directives.
- Long-battery life
- Several lighting options
- Attaches and detaches quickly
- Can run off of two battery types
- High performance
- Custom lighting available
- Batteries not included
If you want a high-quality flashlight for night hunting, this is a winner all-around. It can handle both CR123A and Li-Ion batteries with a high lifetime and runtime. It also offers a nice mix of versatility and ease of use, easy to mount and unmount from your gun as needed.
If you’re looking for plenty of lighting power, the Streamlight 69266 TLR-1-HL is an excellent match, with 800 lumens, a Boro Float glass lens, and a wide beam pattern to make object and animal recognition easy. This flashlight has a temperature operation range between -40°F to +120°F and keeps proper illumination at all battery levels using current regulation.
The flashlight is powered by 3V CR123 lithium batteries with a 10-year lifespan and is equipped with a rail grabber which allows for quick mounting and unmounting on guns with Glock and Picatinny rails. If you need to make an emergency signal, you can also activate the strobe mode. An additional feature of note is the tethered battery door with latch, minimizing the risk of losing your battery door.
- Wide beam pattern
- A good fit for security as well as hunting
- Versatile grip clamp for attachment to firearms
- The strobe can be programmed
- Works at a wide temperature span
- Resistant to corrosion, rust, and shock
- No low lighting mode (only strobe and high)
This flashlight earns its top honors, with a well-build and sturdy construction. It is also specifically made for hunting applications with its strobe function and high lumen/distance. It’s also well-suited to be mounted on a variety of different gun types and features.
For the highest lumen output, this is our choice. The Streamlight 69256 TLR-2 has an 800 lumen-output LED bulb, allowing you to quickly scour the area and easily identify people or animals nearby. You can also see at further distances, up to 245 meters with the engineered reflector. One notable thing about this flashlight is that it is a light and laser combination. The green laser helps support general visibility as well as provide additional targeting. Note that on light mode, it runs for 1.75 hours, compared to 17 hours for laser only mode. You can also use an LED/laser combination and strobe mode.
In terms of construction, this is made from anodized aluminum, with a black finish and chemical-resistant housing. For additional features, the model allows for elevation and windage to help you see targets more efficiently. Finally, a single-hand snap and screw ability allows you to attach your flashlight to a gun without needing to touch the muzzle.
- Highest lumen output on our list
- Beam extends to 245m
- Can use light and laser functions at same time
- Lifetime warranty (limited)
- Large temperature range
- Can scope targets from a far distance
- Made of sealed aluminum
- Cannot be recharged
The brightest flashlight on our list, this combines an extremely bright LED with lasers for sighting in both day and night hunting. Even if you need to repeatedly unmount and mount it, it’s easy to zero in on your next prey. It can also handle regular impact from firearms and extreme temperatures.
The rest of our list focuses on affordable hunting flashlights that don’t compromise on performance.
If you’re looking for a gift for your hunter or outdoorsman in your life, this makes a great fit. The powerful, mid-sized light is made of tough aluminum for application outdoors or at home during emergencies like power outages and floods. Its LED bulb is 12 times as strong as your traditional incandescent bulb and can be powered either with 3 AA batteries or using 18650/26650 rechargeable batteries.
Made of aluminum, this flashlight is lightweight but also capable of handling a fall from a 10-foot height. On top of this, it is made to handle rain and snow. Other additional features include the ability to zoom in or out on objects to cover a wider distance, as well as 5 different lighting modes. For handling, you can operate it with 1 hand due to the tail switch, but this does not have a gun mount setting.
- Designed to be weighty and durable
- Can be used in settings beyond hunting
- Lower price
- Resists water, weather, and shock
- Adjustable zoom feature
- Adaptable to multiple batteries
- Cannot be gun-mounted
For affordability and performance, this flashlight strikes a nice balance. It’s rough, dependable, and has a solid weight to it. What sets it apart from other options is the wide set of different features, including a zooming function. You can also easily power the LED with cheap or rechargeable batteries.
In terms of an LED light for top value, J5 Tactical V1-Pro Flashlight is a great fit. Depending on your setting, it can light as far as 600 feet, the length of two football fields. It also puts a powerful 300 lumens behind this, all off of just one AA battery.
For construction, this flashlight has a threaded finish and aircraft aluminum body for less slippage and more toughness. It can also handle falls and water if needed. When you’re out hunting, you can switch between a high and low setting, as well as the strobe setting for emergencies. Finally, this compact flashlight has a 1-year warranty and a skilled support team to handle any issues that may arise.
- Well-suited for low budgets
- Extremely bright LED
- Adjustable focus setting
- Small design
- Runs off of 1 AA battery
- 3 different lighting modes
- Impact and water-resistant
- Only runs on disposable batteries
This is a solid flashlight for hunting applications, with a sturdy and small design that’s easy to fit in any hunting back or backpack. In addition, the body is well suited for a solid grip, and you get 300 lumens out of a basic AA battery, meaning a low cost of entry.
Even as a budget option, this is a favorite among hunters as a reliable and rugged option. Like all Maglite items, it’s made from top-notch engineering for a lightweight, reliable, and corrosion-resistant combination. In addition, it’s also fully sealed to keep the inner components safe from corrosion and rust. Finally, it uses a diamond knurl design to support your grip, letting your focus a beam without having to waver.
To project the beam, all you need to do is rotate the head, making this great for climbing and fishing as well as hunting. The Mag-LED technology makes this one of the most long-lasting models out there, running off of a 3-cell D battery that runs for 2 years. In addition, it’s USA-made, which means a higher standard of production. For a last piece of confidence, Maglites are the favorite of military, rescue officers and law enforcement. It also has a limited lifetime warranty to protect your investment.
This model is one of the most favorite among rescue officers, military and other law enforcement agencies in emergency situations. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty which means you’ll get a replacement if it fails while on normal daily use.
- Compact, high-quality design
- Cutting edge LED light tech
- Customizable beam and focus
- Easily graspable with diamond knurled body
- Cannot be recharged
If you want a general-purpose flashlight that can occasionally be used for hunting, this is a good choice. It uses a sealed aluminum construction to resist water, shock, and dust. In addition, it can provide 168 lumens for 8- hours, and is made in the USA.
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This offering has a powerful 900 lumen Cree LED, projecting up to over 1000 feet, so distance is not a problem. Always have your prey in your sights with this item. To keep this power always at your disposal, the flashlight comes with a rechargeable battery, 1A adapter, and micro USB cable. It also has an overcharge prevention circuit that cuts down on heat and raises the battery’s lifespan.
This is also a standout in terms of versatility, the conventional low, medium-high, as well as strobe and SOS settings. Your LED can also run 50,000 hours, with a smart circuit that allows for consistent lighting. Finally, it’s well-constructed as well, made from anodized aluminum with a compact, threaded design.
- High brightness
- Aluminum chassis for lightness and durability
- 1000 foot lighting distance
- Has a rechargeable battery
- 5 different light settings
- Need to purchase charger adapter separately
The primary purpose of this flashlight is reliability, which it accomplishes with a 900 lumen LED light. You can also adjust it as needed with the 5 different available settings, with up to 1000 feet of distance. In high mode, it lasts for 6 hours and can even withstand heavy rain.
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The first thing you notice about this particular option is the different conditions it can handle. With an operating range of -40°F to 140°F and water resistance, it’s well-suited for any conditions or any weather. It also has a variety of different features for your convenience, including a save off feature to avoid turning it on by accident, as well as a rail clamp system that can quickly attach to firearms without any added tools.
In terms of power, this flashlight runs with a 500 lumen C4 LED light, that can reach up to 131 m. Along with this, there are two different switches so the left and right-handed can use this comfortably. Last, you can use quick or long presses for operation or strobe mode.
- Left and right-handed people can use this light
- Can be mounted and unmounted quickly from many different guns
- Shock and water-resistant
- Made from anodized aluminum for top durability
- Strobe function for emergencies
- Battery care may be difficult
This is a great affordable option for those who want a flashlight to mount. One particularly notable feature is the ability to remove a battery without unmounting the light. In addition, it can be used by both left-and-right-handed hunters.
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The Olight PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie flashlight is powered by a polymer battery and charged by a magnetic charging contact, meaning that charging doesn’t require a battery removal or additional cord. It also has added features like a quick detach/attach mounting system that allows you to stick or release within a second. If you want more time, slide it along the length of the pistol to find the best position.
In terms of construction, it is made from a shock, rust, and water-resistant aluminum alloy. It has an impact resistance of a meter drop, but still stays compact and light. It only weighs 2.56 ounces and measures 2.1 x 1.3 x 1.3 inches, meaning you can carry it concealed if you wish. Finally, this has a powerful output of 600 lumens with 100 meters of beam distance.
- Can be quickly charged without an added cord
- Made from durable aluminum
- Usable with Picatinny and Glock rails
- Can be removed or installed in a second
- Light and portable
- Strong performance (600 lumens, 100 m beam distance)
- The battery is rechargeable, but can’t be removed
If you have a Glock or Picatinny rail, this is a good flashlight for you. It’s also easy to handle it due to the switches on both sides, designed to avoid accidental triggering. The rechargeable battery is also a nice benefit for people tired of heading to the store to buy disposable ones.
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Many night hunters prefer a flashlight they can easily mount on their weapon and the
Surfire X300 does a great job of that. It puts out 600 lumens in the green/yellow spectrum, ideal for the human range of vision. For more lighting, it utilizes a TIR lens with a smooth beam for additional lighting. The flashlight is powered by a disposable CR123A battery on purchase, but you can buy an additional battery and adapter.
In terms of functionality, this has a customized locking feature that aligns well with universal and Picatinny rails. It also has an IPX7 water resistance rating to handle heavy weather conditions and submersion. Its aluminum body is also well suited to deal with rust and corrosion.
- Solid battery lifespan
- Suitable for Glock and Picatinny rails
- Resistant to water, rust, and impact
- Uses yellow-green spectrum for sighting support
- One finger switch makes operation quick and simple
- Charger and rechargeable battery sold separately
If you’re looking for a reliable flashlight for hunting and more, this is a good match, with an off-white 600 lumen LED. Even for a budget option, the beam is strong enough to identify prey at a distance while temporarily blinding them. It also can resist shocks and vibration from its high-grade aluminum body.
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Other Potential Options
While these didn’t rank in the top 10, we also profiled these flashlights over the course of our search. They may be worth taking a look at if you see some other options you want to use.
- Streamlight 69260 TLR-1 HL Weapon Mount 800 Lumens Tactical Flashlight
- J5 Tactical V1-Pro Original 300 Lumen Ultra Bright, LED 3 Flashlight
- Evolva Future Technology T20 IR Infrared Night Vision Flashlight
- Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Hunting Flashlight with IR850 LED Light
- Anker 1300 Lumens Bolder LC130 LED IP67 Water-Resistant Tactical Flashlight
- Streamlight 69272 TLR-6 100 Lumen Tactical Pistol Mount Flashlight
- Streamlight 69290 TLR-6 100 Lumen Tactical Pistol Mount Flashlight with Red Laser
- Streamlight TLR-8 Gun Light with Laser
- SureFire Sidekick Ultra-Compact Triple-Output Keychain Light
- Streamlight 69270 TLR-6 Tactical Pistol Mount 100 Lumen Flashlight s
- Olight PL-MINI 2 Valkyrie 600 Lumens Cree XP-L HD CW LED Modular Weaponlight
- SureFire G2X Series LED Flashlights with Lumen Upgrade and Tough Nitrolon Body
- Orion H40-W 500 Lumen LED Tactical Flashlight with Pressure Switch
- Streamlight 69220 TLR-3 Weapon Mounted Tactical Light
Caring For Your Flashlight
So, let’s say that you’ve picked up one of these flashlights and are ready to get hunting. Before you start, it’s important that you understand the art of upkeep. Proper maintenance of your flashlight will ensure that it’s functional and effective for a long time. Here are some of the key steps you need to do so.
Cleaning Your Flashlight: If you see any dirt on the outside of the flashlight, you can use a pad and alcohol to remove it. For flashlights with threads, you can get rid of the dirt with just a soft toothbrush. Be sure to clean the lens as well. A dirty flashlight lens can cut down on the brightness.
With the exterior taken care of, you need to start working on the interior. Open up the battery compartment, unmount the battery, and clean any dirt that you see. With this taken care of, you can examine the springs, using an alcohol pad to clean between the curls. Wipe the threads as well to avoid any leftover grease.
Replacing Parts: Replacing batteries when they die is generally easy enough, but there are other components you need to be mindful of, like the O-ring. These are designed to keep water from getting inside, and are what make good flashlights waterproof. Be sure to examine it regularly, and if you need a replacement, only buy the same type.
Lubrication: To keep working properly, you need to minimize the risk of rust for your flashlight. Your manufacturer will generally provide a recommended lube. With this lube, apply it to the o-ring, threads, springs, and anywhere that contacts the battery.
Your flashlight ought to be free from rust to keep it functioning as it should. You might apply the manufacturer’s recommended lube on the body and other parts including the O-ring, springs, threads, and battery contacts.
When you choose a hunting flashlight, your top priority is going to be having the right beam and brightness both for helping you scope out areas and blinding animals. Based on that criteria, we saw the Streamlight 88066 ProTac Flashlight as our top model. Powered by a combination of CR123A and 18650 Li-Ion batteries, this provides 1000 lumens and a beam distance of 141 meters.
For those who need a flashlight and are on a budget, our favorite option is the GearLight High-Powered LED Flashlight S1200. It’s high brightness and durability mean that it will last for a while, and with multiple lighting modes, you won’t need to make another purchase to supplement it. Best of all, it’s light and compact to fit in any hunting bag.
However, if you are going to go it on your own while searching for potential options, just understand the importance of figuring out what traits you value most before settling on a product.