My wife asked a great question recently – are there any flashlights still being made in the USA? Yes, there sure are!
One thing to note is that most LED flashlights will have some imported components or parts. LED emitters, for instance, are usually sourced from different countries, depending on the brand and type.
Because of this, unless a maker specifically says their LED flashlights are 100% made in the USA – and I don’t know of any that does – it is best to consider that they are built here with domestic and global components.
Does it matter whether there are any LED flashlights still built in the USA? To some people and organizations, absolutely. Personally, I do have a special interest in USA-made products, although not exclusively. It’s not the made in USA aspect that makes the following brands of flashlights special, but also their generally exceptionally good product quality.
Following are 6 high-quality American flashlight manufacturers that enthusiastically stand by their products.
Maglite LED Flashlights
I’m sure you’ve heard of Maglite, and recognize their iconic metal-bodied flashlight design.
I own a fair share of Maglite LED flashlights, and one or two incandescent flashlights that I converted over with LED emitters, and will hold onto them forever.
Maglite’s classic flashlights have been outshined by modern designs which are smaller, lighter, and brighter.
Maglite has come out with new lights over the years, and continues to show signs of life and even momentum.
They are a safe bet and with a strong warranty policy.
Interestingly, Maglite has a new Marvel collaboration, with Spider-man, Venom, and Punisher themed decorations.
If you’re unsure what to buy, I recommend the Maglite Mag-Tac 2-cell CR123 LED flashlight. It’s compact, weather-resistant, and highly durable.
At the time of this posting, you can buy the grey Mag-Tac with plain bezel for ~$46.
If you want a solid USA-made LED flashlight for under $20, the Maglite Mini 2xAA is your best bet, currently priced at $18 via Amazon.
I have a small collection of older Maglite 2xAA and 3xAA LED flashlights, but they don’t see use anymore. I won’t part with them, but I now have better-performing options from other brands.
Surefire LED Flashlights
Surefire is a hugely popular brand of LED flashlights, specializing in models for military, law enforcement, and EDC (everyday carry) applications.
Generally, if an LED flashlight is designed to be durable and reliable enough for tactical use, it will be strong enough for general everyday use. On this note, some tactical LED flashlights are suited for everyday use, but there are usually some design factors that could make them less than ideal.
I have had some great experiences with Surefire LED flashlights, and continue to use the G2L I purchased at least a decade ago. I remember the purchase too, I used a gift card to snag one from Lowe’s. That flashlight delivered 80 lumens of light, and I recently upgraded it with a new 3rd party emitter to keep it useful.
Surefire has some interesting designs, and being a popular law enforcement and military supplier, they have tried to keep up with the times.
I bought my first nitrolon-bodied Surefire G2-series LED flashlight to save on cost, as their aluminum-bodied 6P flashlights have always been higher priced, and have been surprised at just how durable it has been. There’s still the option to get aluminum-bodied lights, but Surefire’s nitrolon flashlight construction is mature – tried and true. Regardless of the body construction, their nitrolon lights have metal bezels to help dissipate heat.
The G2X is a good EDC light, powered by 2X CR123 lithium batteries. It’s offered in pro, tactical, and combat styles, with the pro being a good everyday choice with dual output high and low brightness modes. The Pro or Tactical models are priced at ~$60.
Elzetta LED Flashlights
I haven’t tried Elzetta’s newer LED flashlights, but I have been very impressed with the sample they supplied for review years ago. I recently bought a 3rd party drop-in emitter upgrade for it, and was surprised to find that it wasn’t as much of an improvement as I had anticipated, meaning the Elzetta light hasn’t been pushed into obsolescence in the same way as many older flashlights.
Elzetta’s new models allow for customization, where you select the flashlight size (number of cells), tailcap style (user interface), bezel ring (plain or crenelated), and lens (standard or flood light).
My Elzetta sample is still going strong after 9 years, and I expect it to keep on going.
Similar to the other LED flashlights here, Elzetta’s Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie LED flashlights are powered by 1x, 2x, or 3x CR123 lithiu, batteries, respectively.
Elzetta’s lights still seem to be predominantly aimed at law enforcement and military users, but are versatile enough for civilian use as well.
Although I have not (yet?) tried any of their newer models, Elzetta continues to have a great reputation (from what I’ve seen).
The “standard” EDC model would be the Bravo with high/low tailcap and standard (non-crowned) bezel ring. With metal body construction, fully-potted electronics, and modular components, a Bravo as described will set you back $210.
Malkoff Devices LED Flashlights
I have known about Malkoff Devices for a very long time, with their claim to fame being drop-in modules for quick Surefire LED flashlight upgrades. Indeed, I purchased an M61 “mod” and in an instant my old Surefire G2 LED flashlight was much brighter.
Malkoff Devices also makes several series of LED flashlights, with the MD2 shown here.
I have purchased a couple for review purposes, and have been impressed with their construction.
Malkoff Devices’ LED flashlights are made in the USA, with some parts not domestically sourced. They’re not pretty, but extremely sturdy.
Many (if not all) Malkoff LED flashlights are modular, and so you can customize a flashlight to your choosing or change parts out later on.
As Malkoff Devices specializes in drop-in modules, you have a wide selection when it comes to beam tint and brightness options. They offer several pre-built flashlights, but you can also piece together a flashlight to suit your needs and wants.
Their warranty policy deserves being quoted:
Our products are built tough for real world use. We offer a lifetime warranty. If a Malkoff product ever fails in use. Please return it. We will repair/replace for no charge.
I would consider their M61 high/low switch MD2 flashlight to be a good starting point. It’s priced at $137, and signing up for Malkoff’s newsletter will knock 20% off that price.
HDS Systems LED Flashlights
I have been curious about HDS Systems for a while, and I added their Rotary to my editorial wishlist after Anthony wrote about it here.
HDS Systems kicks things up a notch and to a higher price level. Their compact EDC LED flashlights are mostly centered around a 1x CR123 form factor.
The most compelling aspect of HDS System’s USA-built LED flashlights are their brightness controls. The Rotary allows you dial in the brightness to match the task at hand, and you could reprogram the light for greater customization options.
Their flashlights aren’t the brightest. They don’t come in bright colors or emblazoned with comic book character logos. And they certainly aren’t value-priced.
But what you do get are carefully designed LED flashlights highly suited for EDC and general use, available in EDC, executive, bicycle, tactical, and specialty variations among others. You can order a custom-built flashlight where you have added body and LED emitter options.
An off-the-shelf HDS Systems Rotary will set you back $294.
McGizmo LED Flashlights
McGizmo’s LED flashlights are the pinnacle of USA-built EDC LED flashlights.
What do you want in an LED flashlight?
First, select the LED. If you don’t know your preference, research the options and go for a cool (bluer) or neutral or warmer (yellower) tint. I think ~4000K or 4200K is a good neutral-white color for everyday LED flashlights.
Then determine what head style you want. Do you want a floodlight? Spotlight? General purpose light?
How do you want to power your LED Flashlight? Choose your battery style and body size.
Ordering a McGizmo flashlight is done through email with the owner/maker, Don McLeish. This isn’t done in a “click and buy” fashion. If you want one of these lights, you do your research and follow instructions (provided in the ordering info link below).
McGizmo lights are modular, and so you could change things up later on if your needs change dramatically. As with Malkoff Devices, you do need to be careful about battery configurations, as different light engines have different voltage requirements and compatibility ranges.
I should also mention that the HIVE light engine allows for extensive programming, if you’re interested in something like that. It’s optimized for rechargeable batteries, but you can reprogram it for CR123 lithium cells and a lower cut-off voltage.
Here are two possible configurations:
- Nichia 119V LED
- AA converter/light engine (1.5V)
- SunDrop head and lens (medium flood light)
- 1xAA battery body “pak”
- Added 1/4″ x 20 hole in the pocket clip
- XP-G2 LED emitter
- Hive (3V) converter/light engine
- Haiku head module (general wide spot light)
- 1x CR123 (or RCR123/16340) battery body “pak”
Component prices are shown in the CPF ordering info page, and the two light configurations above should come out to be $445 and $460, plus shipping fees.
McGizmo LED flashlights are premium products that you don’t need. They’re beautifully machined from titanium, expertly designed, and if you customize it just right, it’ll serve all of your lighting preferences. This one is strictly for enthusiasts, meaning there are plenty of other workhorse flashlights out there.
As with other enthusiast-level products, these flashlights seem to have a high resale value. I have also seen 3rd party services for refreshing or modifying the appearance of well-used McGizmo flashlights.
From $45 to $450 (and up), none of these LED flashlights are inexpensive, but most options seem to be affordable for what you get.
If you ask me, the Malkoff Devices MD2 would be among the best choices as a heavy duty workhorse model. You could change its configuration down the road, but I think the high/low model is the most versatile choice to start with. If you want to save on money, you could go with a single brightness output model, but having a low brightness mode is usually a very useful feature.
The Maglite Mag-Tac is a great value, and the Surefire G2X is also a good choice.
Frankly, I don’t think that $50 is too much to spend on a flashlight that sees frequent use, or one that is expected to see hard use. I’ve spent less, both with and without regrets.
You can get decent LED flashlights for less money, but the point of this post was to show you competitive and cuztomizable USA-built LED flashlights.
Built in USA LED Flashlight Recommendations
If I had to pare it down, I would say:
The Maglite Mag-Tac is a good option, but the Surefire’s G2X user interface might be better for most people.
There are also very many quality flashlight brands that fit between, above, and below these offerings. If there’s a brand or particular model you think should be included in a follow-up or update down the road, please let me know!
CR123 lithium batteries hold high capacity, and the chemistry gives them a long shelf life. Lithium batteries hold up well in colder temperatures as well.
I’m done using alkaline batteries in flashlights where possible, after one too many products destroyed by leaking batteries. NiMH batteries last longer (in my experience), and in addition to being rechargeable, they are better at delivering the higher output needed to drive today’s brighter and more powerful LED flashlights.