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Type flashlights into any search engine and you receive an absolute plethora of results.
The choice is tremendous, with each promising to provide you with the brightest, longest-lasting, and most durable illumination solution on the planet. Initially, it looks like there are a plethora of possibilities.
But, there’s an issue.
Many of these flashlights are sub-standard, will not stand up to any kind of extreme use, and have disappointing battery life.
Furthermore, a large number are generic clones—identical torches originating from an overseas supplier, which importers rebrand once they hit these shores.
Luckily, there’s a solution.
Selecting a torch from a reputable and respected manufacturer will ensure you receive the reliability and quality you deserve.
The Top 10 Best Flashlight Brands
Below are my picks of the best flashlight brands currently on the market.
As requirements differ between users— so the ideal manufacturer of the optimal torch will also vary—these are in no particular order. Instead, they simply represent the ultimate in quality flashlights.
Let me start my selection of the best flashlight brands with perhaps one of the most well-known illumination companies of all—Maglite. Its history reflects the real American dream.
Although he was born in New York City in 1930, Anthony Maglica spent most of his childhood in his mother’s Croatian homeland. However, after World War II, this Eastern European country was in tatters and under authoritarian Communist control.
Wishing to free himself from these constraints, Maglica returned to America in 1950. He trained as a machinist and took numerous jobs to enable him to save enough money to buy his first lathe. After months of hard work and living on the breadline, he amassed sufficient funds to make a $125 downpayment on his first machine.
Working out of a garage, he began to make precision parts for the military and aerospace industry. In 1974, he incorporated the company Mag Instrument—delivering his first flashlight in 1979. Mechanics, firefighters and police officers praised its immensely durable aluminum construction.
This original Maglite torch’s rugged build has become synonymous with the brand. While the product line has expanded continuously over the last 40 years—it’s still the large and robust Maglite that people recognize.
The 4D Maglite remains popular with security and police officers. This isn’t just because of its ability to deliver impressive illumination in a sturdy case—but also as its robust and baton-like construction means they can wield it as a protective weapon.
Its heft comes not only through the sturdy anodized body—but also through the weight of the four D-size batteries which power the unit. However, there’s more to the modern Maglite catalog than this sole flashlight.
Today, Anthony Maglica continues to oversee the production of his flashlights from the company’s headquarters in Ontario, California. He only allows new flashlights onto the market when he is personally satisfied that the products meet his exacting standards.
Another home-grown company with a history stretching back over 45 years.
Streamlight began its operations in 1973, and currently operates out of its base in Eagleville, Pennsylvania. It’s perhaps best known for its tactical handheld and firearm-mountable flashlights.
However, it’s not desk-bound designers that are responsible for the product development.
Streamlight prides itself on being a hands-on company. As such, the designers get out in the field and experience the demands that their flashlights will undergo. Streamlight’s research team undergoes firefighting training, takes courses in low-light shooting, goes fishing, hunting to encounter the extreme environmental conditions of the great outdoors.
The result is flashlights designed from experience—not theory. It results in Streamlight being considered one of the ultimate manufacturers of tactical illumination.
For the firearms enthusiast, the ProTac 88066 continues to be a customer favorite. This gun-mounted flashlight delivers an impressive 1000 lumens while weighing only 6.4 ounces. It’s equally at home on carbines, sub-machine guns and rifles. You can power this torch by two CR123A batteries or a rechargeable 18650 cell.
Streamlight also manufactures a vast range of handhelds—typified by the PolyTac 88850. This high-impact resistant flashlight emits 1000 lumens. With a tail-cap push-button—it’s particularly suited for tactical and self-defense situations—incorporating a disorienting strobe.
In addition to their tactical devices, Streamlight also produces headlamps and work lamps for uses ‘on-site’ or in workshops and garages.
If you need a company associated with security—SureFire has to be one of the best flashlight brands.
Back in 1969, Dr. John Matthews—an engineer with a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology, founded the Newport Corporation. He believed that the future lay in laser technology—and resolved to create these optical devices for use in industrial applications.
This venture was both successful and profitable. However, as much as Dr. Matthews relished his commercial achievements—he found that this business was a little stale, and he was unable to generate any kind of passion for industrial lasers.
Hence, he turned to his lifetime passion—shooting.
In 1979, he patented his first design for a gun-mounted laser sight. With his board of directors, a little concerned about this new direction—Dr. Matthews formed a new company—Laser Products. Its sole purpose was to make commercially viable laser-sights for firearms.
Their first products, sights for the Colt Trooper and the Ruger Mini-14, had moderate success. But, it was an ancient sporting competition that led to worldwide recognition.
Dr. Matthews received a call from the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT team. They politely asked whether they could have some shotgun laser mounts to use for additional security during the 1984 Olympic Games.
Naturally, he fulfilled their request.
From here, his business grew from strength to strength, becoming a world-leader in firearm-laser technology. Ever the entrepreneur, he then moved into weapon-mounted flashlights—torches he called the SureFire.
This product name became so synonymous with the company, that Laser Products changed its moniker to SureFire LLC in 2000. It’s one of the most respected tactical brands both for public and military use—supplying the US Armed Forces.
Today, Surefire’s product line incorporates over 100 flashlight models. A staple favorite amongst gun owners is the SureFire M600DF—a weapon-mounted light which generates 1200 lumens powdered by a 18650 cell. Its anodized aluminum body, tempered glass and O-ring seals make it ideal for use in harsh terrain and environmental conditions.
Additionally, the handheld E2T-MV flashlight is a highly versatile tool—suitable for use as either an everyday or tactical device.
It’s time to leave the home-ground of the USA and travel overseas.
Fenix (pronounced phoenix) is a Chinese manufacturer of illumination equipment, operating out of Shenzhen, China.
However, forget the stereotype.
While this Far Eastern country is a base for mass production of budget flashlights, Fenix remains one of the best flashlight brands on the market. With a workforce of over 400 people, experts respect it as a leader in military, outdoor and law enforcement illumination solutions.
The company began in 2004, with a focus on creating world-beating, high-quality light tools. With a serious helping of investment in research and development, Fenix introduced its first product—the L1+ flashlight—onto the market in 2005.
This initial foray into illumination was successful. Reviewers and users welcomed this palm-sized torch, considering it one of the most powerful for its size and giving it numerous awards.
Over the past 15 years, Fenix has expanded its illumination-lines, manufacturing over 200 different products, including flashlights, headlamps, lanterns, and cycle lights.
Currently, the Fenix PD36R is gaining a significant amount of attention. This rechargeable tactical flashlight delivers 1600 lumens and can illuminate up to a distance of up to 928 feet. Powered by a high-capacity 21700 Li-ion cell, it will function on one charge for around 23 days (at five hours per day).
A tail cap activation button provides this flashlight with an authentic tactical feel, while the belt clip means you can swiftly deploy your torch in emergency or self-defense situations.
While Maglite had the visionary Anthony Maglica in the USA—in China, a young David Chen had a similar entrepreneurial vision.
Back in 2009, Chen’s college studies were disillusioning him. He believed he could become more successful by moving away from academia and getting down to business in the real world.
Hence, with nothing but a dream, he dropped out.
He established the ThruNite company in the same year in the city of Dongguan, Guangdong. His focus was to create innovative and world-leading LED products—delivering quality yet affordable tools that didn’t only look good—but were also highly practical.
His success snowballed—requiring him to move from his original base to the manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.
The ethos behind ThruNite is simplicity—both in its illumination products and business model. This makes it one of the best flashlight brands in the market.
Typically, ThruNite’s models are remarkable for their ease of use. They offer everything that the end-user requires without superfluous frills. Furthermore, ThruNite moved away from a B2C (business to consumer) to the M2C (manufacturer to consumer) model.
This enables the business to remove additional costs, keeping prices for the customer highly competitive. Additionally, it also ensures that the buyer knows they’re purchasing an original product.
Using Amazon as its primary platform, ThruNite has warehouses in the United States, Japan, Germany, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Canada and China. Thus ensuring speedy delivery worldwide.
Its product line is diverse, including LED illumination in the form of tactical flashlights, key chains, penlights, searchlights and headlamps.
The ThruNite TN40S is one of the most powerful long-range flashlights currently on the market. It delivers an immense 4450 lumens, lighting up to a distance of 3776 feet. Equipped with 4×18650 lithium cells, it includes ITC technology to ensure this seriously strong lamp doesn’t overheat.
At the other end of the size spectrum, the mini ThruNite Ti4 penlight emits 252 lumens. Small enough to fit into your pocket, it’s ideal for emergency responders, doctors and dentists.
However, don’t assume because it’s small, it lacks durability. The body is aircraft-grade aluminum, and the penlight carries an IPX8 rating—meaning it will prevent water ingress at depths greater than 3.3 feet.
In 2001, Nitecore was a simple Chinese OEM (original equipment manufacturer)—making electronic parts for third party flashlight manufacturers. During this time, it gained an excellent reputation due to the high build quality and reliability of its products.
After six years following this business plan, an entrepreneurial member of staff suggested it would be beneficial if they cease this operation, and instead use their expertise to make their own branded flashlights. This resulted in Nitecore releasing its first LED torch in 2007.
Over the past 13 years, NiteCore has gained worldwide recognition for its products and received a multitude of awards. These include the American International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), the Japanese G-Mark (Good Design) and the German iF Design Award.
While a for-profit company, it prides itself on its charitable work and social awareness issues. Typical examples include donating flashlights for search and rescue after the 2012 Yiliang County earthquake—and delivering free MH1A torches to the USA after Hurricane Sandy.
Nitecore is undoubtedly best-known for its LED flashlights. However, their business model also includes the retail of headlamps, batteries, chargers, gun mounts and bicycle lights. Its tactical flashlights have possibly gained the most attention, although they also make everyday and household carry lamps.
The Nitecore NM01 is a perfect example of this latter category. Its simple-to-use features make it ideal for even the most novice of users—while still providing 1000 lumens and a throw of over 585 feet. Being just five inches in length and weighing 3.52 ounces—it’s perfect for slipping into your pocket or keeping in your emergency or first-aid kit.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, illustrating Nitecore’s desire to produce a torch for all markets, is the P12 tactical flashlight. With both strobe and SOS features, it’s as useful as a self-defense tool as a search and rescue torch. It incorporates a tail cap switch for overhand use—and a memory function that remembers your last beam setting.
Although one of the newest manufacturers in the LED illumination category, it has a deserved place in this best flashlight brands top-list.
Klarus began in 2011, producing flashlights from its base in Shenzhen, China. Its name comes from the Latin word clarus—meaning clear and bright.
With its in-house research and development team, Klarus focuses on bringing new and innovative illumination products to the market. Klarus exemplified this in March 2013, when it developed the world’s first dual switch (body and tail cap) flashlight, the XT11.
The clean and yet almost futuristic appearance of their products has led to numerous appearances in the entertainment world. The RS80 flashlight featured in the movies The Mummy (2017), The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2014) and in the TV series The Whispers (2015).
Klarus’ numerous lights cover different categories, with the initial letter(s) of each model denoting its particular use. These include bicycles (BK), tactical (XT-extreme), and hunting (FH).
Take, for example, the Klarus Mi7. In this case, the letters indicate that its a mini flashlight—and a seriously powerful one. Featuring a Cree LED, it emits 700 lumens, despite the body being no larger than 3.43 inches. While suitable as an everyday carry torch, its titanium casing and IPX8 waterproof rating make it equally suitable for extreme outdoor use.
A slightly larger everyday example is the Klarus E1. This flashlight, powered by a 18650 lithium cell, is rechargeable through a USB cable. It provides over 1000 lumens and promises up to 18 days runtime. It’s suitable as a daily carry or for keen survivalists.
The Olight company began life in 2006. Working out of Shenzhen, China, their initial focus was to create everyday flashlights for European consumers.
While successful, it decided to branch into the military, tactical, and hunting spheres. As such, Olight’s market expanded to the USA—and it’s these more specialized areas for which it’s best known.
Their product line includes everyday-carry, tactical, gun-mounted, and military.
As an example, the NAME flashlight. From its tan coloring and heavily-studded body, you know immediately that this is a serious light designed for armed forces use. Although a tiny 2.48 inches long—this flashlight delivers 1000 lumens powered by a rechargeable 16340 battery.
For the tactical enthusiasts, Olight creates numerous high-end flashlights suitable for military, security, or self-defense use, such as the M2R Pro Warrior. It’s not only the 1800 lumens, angled bezel, and anodized aluminum body that make this truly tactical—it’s Olight’s attention to the accessories.
Unusually, it includes a belt-mountable holster. While you can use the built-in belt clip, utilizing the holster provides a more secure mounting and allows you to deploy your flashlight swiftly when needed.
It’s attention to detail such as this that have gained Olight the reputation as a military and tactical specialist.
This company is another recent newcomer to the flashlight market, starting its production of flashlights in 2004.
This Chinese manufacturer, unsurprisingly operating from Shenzhen, aims to provide mid to high-end light solutions for use in numerous fields, including aviation, marine, military, law enforcement, and industrial applications.
In addition to the main JETBeam portfolio, it also produces other illumination products under its NITEYE sub-brand. This line specializes in bicycles, headlamps and searchlights.
One of its best-selling flashlights is the JET 3M Pro. This torch, with a Cree XP-L LED, has a maximum output of 1000 lumens. Specifically, JETBeam has designed this flashlight for military and law enforcement use—reflected in its angled striking bevel, type III aluminum body and a disorienting strobe feature.
With its headquarters in Lexington Kentucky, Elzetta originally made a name for itself in the flashlight market without making a single torch.
Elzetta’s initial foray into the illumination world was by manufacturing gun mounts for third party flashlights. However, it wasn’t long before it began to produce some of the most extreme survival and firearm-related flashlights on the market.
Today, it’s self-proclaimed Toughest Flashlights on the Planet are highly popular with shooters, preppers and survivalist.
Elzetta’s unique selling proposition is customizability. Many of Elzetta’s flashlights are modular—allowing you to select the specific components of your equipment—and not pay for extraneous frills that you don’t require. Once you’ve made your choice, Elzetta builds your selection to order in the USA. Furthermore, many of this company’s flashlights can be laser-engraved.
Elzetta’s product line includes flashlights, spare components, shotgun and Picatinny mounts and riot shield lights.
One of the few flashlights it retails, which isn’t modular, is the Elzetta Bones.
This torch has the familiar, performance and extreme reliability of the modular versions—but without any frills. Hence, ‘bare bones.’ This makes it an excellent choice for those people who want a top-end illuminator but are on a tight budget.
Powered by two CR123A batteries, this flashlight has a continuous runtime of 1.5 hours. Although, it can also accommodate a 18650 rechargeable lithium cell (not included). It has a seriously bright 650 lumens illumination and will stand up to harsh treatment with its Type III aluminum shell.
Additional Best Flashlight Brands
If you’re a flashlight aficionado, you may feel a little peeved if your particular favorite manufacturer isn’t included above in my best flashlight brands list.
Sorry about that!
Remember, this is purely a subjective run-down based on my personal preferences. However, there are a few other extremely worthy companies that could have easily made this article.
Here are some other seriously impressive brands—all of which deliver quality, rugged and reliable flashlights that will provide years of faithful service.
A word about what to avoid out there. Don’t be tempted by the mass market clones. Don’t be fooled by whatever is selling well or being pushed by Amazon.
I consider anything that even looks like these flashlights below a waste of money. They will work for a while, but will surprise you when you need it the most. In the end, you get what you pay for. Check out our Best Flashlights section to select a reliable, quality tool for your needs.
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Choosing your flashlight from one of the best flashlight brands means owning a reliable and long-lasting piece of equipment. In most cases, these extremely durable tools will outlast numerous purchases of cheaper products—leading to long-term savings.
Furthermore, quality flashlights can be lifesavers.
Whether used for search and rescue, SOS location, or even in self-defense situations—they can prevent a tragedy. Don’t put your trust in a low-end, unknown product that could fail at the most serious of times.
Instead, choose from one of the best flashlight brands—it’s the bright thing to do.
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