Every hunter has his ideas regarding what he feels is a must-have on every hunt, but everyone will agree that your firearm or bow/crossbow is a must, because at the end of the day we are there to hunt not just watch and stalk. As you all know, hunting is all about being prepared and patient, and because of that, you will find that the list of mush haves is quite large.
I would like to make the case that if we ever want to hunt at dusk/dawn/night we will also need a good flashlight in addition to everything else that is mandatory. Sadly, for us humans, we weren’t born with inbuilt night vision, so we have to compensate for our disadvantages with technology. That’s why I believe that a flashlight is 100% a must-have when you are planning on hunting in low visibility.
And if having a flashlight is a must-have, why not make sure that we can get the best we can for the least amount of money spent? That’s what my post is about, giving you all the tools and information, you need to choose the best hunting flashlight for the money. Hunting doesn’t have to be expensive if you know what to look for.
What to look for when buying a flashlight?
In principle, any flashlight will give you a bit of light in the dark, but not everything will be good enough to help you out when you need it. That’s why you must have confidence in each piece of gear you have with you because without confidence you won’t have many successful hunting trips.
Lumens and beam distance
Let’s start with the basics, and that means lumens. Lumens are used to measure the intensity of a light coming out of a flashlight, on the highest brightness setting and powered by new batteries. While having a lot of lumens by themselves sounds great, they are not the only part that matters when it comes to brightness. Strictly speaking about lumens, we usually see a flashlight with an output that ranges from 20 lumens to 3000+ lumens, the first one is enough to read a book at night and the second one can light up the side of a hill.
Beam distance is how far the light will travel before its brightness diminishes to the equivalent of a full moon’s light. Full moon illumination is generally considered adequate for navigating during the dark.
While lumens and beam distance usually depend on the power of the flashlight, the beam type depends entirely on the lens of the flashlight. As such, we can find three major types:
- Fixed/flood: In this case, we have a permanent wide beam which is suitable for walking, camping, and generally illuminating and area;
- Adjustable beam: This is the most common and versatile type because this allows users to switch between the wide beam and the narrow beam depending on the situation.
- Spot/focused: Like its counterpart the fixed type, this one offers a fixed narrow beam which is useful when you need to concentrate all your lumens on something specific (pathfinding, search and rescue, etc.)
Apart from the specs of the flashlight, another important aspect is the battery type. We also have here three distinct categories:
- Rechargeable: The most common and user-friendly battery type. We just have to plug the USB port into a power source and the lithium-ion battery gets recharged for another go. This battery type may be a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it in the long run because you don’t have to constantly change batteries.
- Renewable: These generally are flashlights that are equipped with a built-in battery that is energized by a hand crank or solar panel. These are usually seen in emergency kits because they can be charged pretty much anywhere.
- Disposable: This includes all types of common batteries, like the AAA or AA. A usual favorite for hunting flashlights is the CR123A battery because it has a higher voltage output but it’s still small and lightweight, the only downside is that it’s a bit more expensive.
Overall, when we think about durability, we think about two things, in particular, impact resistance and water resistance.
Generally, hunting flashlights are impact rated, meaning that they are tested by being dropped from ever-increasing heights onto concrete until the malfunction, and their max drop distance is determined. That doesn’t mean that it’s drop-proof, just that occasional accidental drops shouldn’t cause the flashlight to fail. Repeated impacts of any kind will inevitably lead to a dead flashlight.
Next up is water resistance, which is rated according to the IPX system. Some of the most common levels we find on hunting flashlights:
- IPX 4: Protected against splashing water from any angle.
- IPX 5: Protected against low-pressure water stream from any angle.
- IPX 6: Protected against high-pressure water stream from any angle.
- IPX 7: Protected against water immersion, for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1 meter.
- IPX 8: Protected against continual water submersion underwater conditions.
Usually, the IPX rating also covers dust resistance, so you should see a flashlight resistant to both water and dust.
This is usually measured in hours and represents how long it takes for the light output to drop to 10% of the max rated output on new batteries. Runtime is usually provided for each light setting, so you can get an idea of what peak performance looks like.
Size and weight
This is down to personal preference, but as a rule of thumb, usually bigger/heavier flashlights have a better runtime because of their increased battery capacity. Lightweight flashlights are easier to use and carry around for a long time but they have shorter runtimes and heavier flashlights have better runtimes but are more cumbersome to carry around with you. So, it just depends on individual preferences.
Materials and shapes
The most common materials you will find are plastic and aluminum alloy. Fancier flashlights have stainless steel parts or even use composite materials. At the end of the day, it usually comes down to individual preference again.
With regards to shapes, you usually see cylindrical or rectangle shapes, with cylindrical being the most common. Both shapes have advantages and disadvantages, but in my opinion, the cylindrical shape is probably superior to the rectangular one.
Fixed beam flashlights usually have only one mode of operation, and adjustable flashlights have more modes. These usually have a power setting (low, medium, high) and some even have strobe or SOS modes. In general, hunting flashlights have multiple modes because you need different options for different situations.
Some hunting flashlights have specially colored lenses. The most common lens colors are red, blue, and green. Red is used to “preserve” your night vision, blue/violet is usually used for tracking blood, and green is used to hunt hogs/cayotes/foxes and other varmints.
And with that tidbit of information, I guess this concludes this short chapter on what you need to be aware of before choosing any type of flashlight.
Best Hunting Flashlight for The Money | 5 of the Best Options in 2021
1TAC LED Ultra Bright Tactical Flashlight
This little (if you can call it that) flashlight from 1TAC is exactly the kind of great find I started out searching for. After doing some intense research and testing different models, this is the one that has impressed me the most.
There are a couple of things that blew me away, and those were that the people at 1TAC managed to cram so much power into such a small flashlight, and the fact that this is almost indestructible. I didn’t believe it myself until a buddy of mine drove his truck over the flashlight just to prove a point.
In addition to that, you also get the CREE XML2 LED which is marketed as the most powerful LED available today. In addition to that you also have 5 modes (low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS), and a service life of 100,000 hours of light.
As you can imagine, being so resistant is down to its aircraft-grade aluminum, but being so resistant to the elements is down to it being waterproof and dustproof (rated IP65). Overheating won’t be a problem for its small size because it has to overheat protection so you don’t get burned after long sessions of use.
Some other “minor” features that I can recall are the fact it has a 1x – 2000x telescopic focus zoom, an anti-slip body, magnetic base, and a utility clip.
Honestly, just judging by its size and power, not to mention all the other things it has going for it, I can say that this is among the best hunting flashlights for the money.
Not the best runtime, but that’s to be expected considering its small body
Magnetic base and utility clip
Streamlight 88054 ProTac Flashlight
When you mention Streamlight to most hunters, they instantly know that you are talking about a quality-oriented company. And this flashlight is no different from anything else they made in terms of quality.
This flashlight has a lot going for it, and it’s going to be hard to sum everything up in a few sentences, but I will try. So, we start with its max power output which is 1,000 lumens. That’s more than enough for almost any situation you will find yourself in.
This comes equipped with the proprietary C4 LED technology which makes the LED both extremely bright, impervious to shock, and gives it 100,000 hours of lifetime. The flashlight also has a tail cap switch for momentary or constant operation, three different user-selectable programs, and a pocket clip for your belt.
Durability wise we are talking about a body made of aircraft-grade aluminum, with a Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish. To top it all off, we have an IPX4 water-resistant rating and drop resistance of 1 meter.
This rechargeable flashlight has a metal sleeve that protects the USB charging port. In addition to that, you also get a 120V AC/12V DC adapter, USB cord, and a nylon holster. If we are talking about premium finish, materials, and overall quality, then this flashlight takes the top spot.
Odepro KL52Plus Zoomable Flashlight
This fantastic piece of OdePro gear is a superb alternative to the standard hunting flashlight. This bad boy’s focus and zoom are both adjustable, so you can use it for pinpoint precision or zoom out and use it as a spotlight. This flashlight’s light can travel up to 450 yards (413 meters).
There are four color LED modules included: red, green, white, and IR850nn. Out on the field, it produces enough light to get any job done. You can choose between red light for predator hunting, green light for pigs or other varmints, IR8500nn for night vision, and white light for everything else.
It also comes with a Smart Remote Switch, which means that it has an intelligent pressure switch that can free up your hands when you are carrying your firearm. It’s a no noise button, so you don’t have to worry about alerting your prey with it. Additionally, its also weather, water, and shock-resistant thanks to its aircraft-grade aluminum body and sealed gaskets.
You can also mount this on your shotgun if it has a Picatinny rail, and you can also fit multiple scope sizes thanks to its quick-release mount.
Short runtime of 3.3 hours
Four color LEDs
Low power output of 100 lumens
Smart Remote Switch
GearLight S1200 Flashlight
The GearLight S1200 is a powerful and versatile multi-purpose flashlight that comes in a mid-size package.
Above all, the GearLight S1200 is made of a sturdy high-strength aluminum body. As a result, it’s suitable for any harsh situations, both indoors and out. You can also rely on it during storms, floods, power outages, earthquakes, and other extreme weather.
Furthermore, its strong aluminum body is water-resistant, protecting it from rain, snow, and any accidental splashes. It’s designed to be nearly indestructible, which is impressive. This tactical led flashlight can also withstand a 10-foot drop or being submerged underwater for a short period. These attributes set it apart from the competition.
Its ultra-wide beam easily illuminates a large area with an all-most dazzling brightness. In comparison to old incandescent lights, the GearLight S1200 generates a light that is 12 times brighter.
Furthermore, the power consumption of this rechargeable led flashlight is extremely low, requiring only three regular AA batteries to operate.
It also eliminates the need for several LEDs thanks to its five mode settings (low, medium, high, strobe, and SOS).
Overall build quality is a bit lacking
Super Wide Beam
Feyachi FL11-MB Tactical Flashlight
Even though this is the last flashlight on this list, this doesn’t mean that it’s not as good as the other ones. The margin between the best of the best and all the others is not that wide as you may expect.
This flashlight from Feyachi comes with a 1,200-lumen output that can hit up to 200m when fully charged. The LED is a CREE XPL V6, which has a lot of power in a small package and still manages to be shock resistant.
The body of the flashlight is made of aircraft-grade aluminum alloy with a black anodized matte finish, to give it a sleek and durable look. It also has a waterproof o-ring with an anti-abrasive coating making it worthy of an IP65 rating.
It also comes with 2 types of switches, one constant on button and one momentary-on pressure switch to fit all your tactical needs. The dual switch tail cap allows users to enjoy the benefits of single-hand usage.
To assist with mounting it, it has a QD cam lock which allows you to quickly attach ad detach the whole structure in seconds.
1,200 Lumen Output
Strictly as a tactical flashlight, nothing
2 Types of switches
When it comes down to deciding who takes the top spot, I just couldn’t overlook the extreme resilience and very attractive price point of the 1TAC flashlight, and that’s why this is the best hunting flashlight for the money in my opinion. You get 1,200 lumens, 5 modes, zoomable light, a very good IP rating, and a magnetic price for what feels like pennies.
If you want to up the ante a bit, then the best premium hunting flashlight for the money is the Streamlight model. It has the best overall build quality, it’s rechargeable, has a high-capacity battery, extremely bright LED, and a body made out of aircraft aluminum body. While the other flashlights came close to this one, nothing beats it when it comes to quality.
For our best budget category, the winner is the GearLight model. You can a lot of bang for your money and that is saying a lot considering what the other flashlights on this list offer. This was a top contender for the overall prize, but the fact that it’s not rechargeable meant it couldn’t overtake the superior features and quality of the 1TAC flashlight.
As always, I want everyone to have access to as much information as they can before making a purchase, and I hope that I managed to shed some light on what you need to be aware of when searching for a great hunting flashlight. So, decide what you need from a hunting flashlight and then get the one you like the most from the list. Happy hunting out there!