A long-time friend has been having some difficulty finding a good LED flashlight that’s not too expensive, very bright, and with minimal modes.
- ~1000 lumens
- Not too expensive (I’m guessing under $100)
- Only one or two operating modes
Initially, the request was for just one operating mode, but I think that limits the selection pool too much. There are some one-mode LED flashlights, but there are more that are two-mode. It can be a hassle to have too many options, but some two-mode flashlights have an on/off clicky button, and the second mode is toggled to and from with a twist of the head module or tailcap. So, it could be used as a one-mode flashlight unless you needed that second brightness mode, often a low output power-conserving mode.
At the top of my head I thought of the Surefire G2X, shown above. It’s available in a one-mode “tactical” model, or a two-mode “Pro” model. Both have a max brightness of 600 lumens.
The Surefure G2 features a time-tested design, with a polymer body, polycarbonate lens, and durable construction. Both options are powered by two CR123A lithium batteries, and both are priced at ~$60.
Buy Now(Surefire G2X via Amazon)
I also thought of Elzetta, but their lights are not inexpensive. I’ve had one since I reviewed a sample provided to me in 2011, and I shared 5-year experiences about it in 2016. It’s still holding up well, and I might eventually buy a non-crenellated version for personal use/EDC.
There’s also the Fenix PD35, which is rated to 1000 lumens but has multiple output modes. There’s an “outdoor mode” with access to 6 different modes, but also a “tactical mode,” which has access to 3 modes, but defaults to the max brightness mode every time.
The side switch for mode changes might make the PD35 less of a hassle than flashlights which require mode cycling through the on/off button.
The PD35TAC is powered by two CR123A batteries or a rechargeable 18650 battery. It’s priced at ~$61 and doesn’t come with batteries.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
I have grown fond of Husky’s LED flashlights, but the last time I checked they don’t have compact flashlights at this level of brightness.
Lastly, good past experiences had me looking at Streamlight also. Shown here is the Protac HL, and there’s also a similar brighter rechargeable version, ProTac HL USB.
The Protac HL delivers up to 750 lumens of illumination. It has 3 output levels, BUT its “Ten-Tap” programming allow users to select between 3 different programs. The 3 programs are high-strobe-low, high output-only, or low-output only. So, although it’s a multi-mode LED flashlight, the Streamlight Protac HL can be configured to operate as a one-mode flashlight.
The user manual doesn’t mention if the programming is retained when you swap out batteries, but I’d hope it is.
It can be frustrating to have to program a flashlight to change it from factory settings, but the process is preferable to not having that option.
The Protac HL is also ~$61, and is powered by two CR123A batteries.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
There are lots of battery options. A 12-pack of Surefire batteries is $20-21. Or, a 6-pack of Energizer batteries is $11-12. I’ve heard good things about Streamlight and Panasonic batteries as well.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
See Also(Energizer 6-pack via Amazon)
Are there any other LED flashlight recommendations you might add to this list?
None of these options get very close to 1000 lumens, but I’d think that the operating modes are bigger purchasing consideration factors than absolute brightness.
There are very many less expensive “1000 lumen” flashlights on Amazon, but I don’t know how reliable those brands are, or how trustworthy their specs.
Have a look at this website – he does custom modifications of commercial lights, and he has a large and loyal following – I’ve acquired a few myself, and the lights have been excellent. The benefit of one of his modified lights is that – the UI is customizable as to the number of modes, etc.
Also – what do you want the brightness for? The beam profile and the lux can play an important role in whether or not the light does what you want. Do you want close up illumination, or really far away illumination? What sort of UI / switch do you want? How big or small are you willing to put up with? What type of cells (batteries) do you prefer to use in the light?
This is great advice.. having just got into the world of flashlights I’m amazed at the differences.. you have short range flashlights, pencil beam long range, etc… so it’s really a matter of picking the right torch for the job.
I like the Sofirn range of torches, the SP32A is a good one, it has ramping mode (hold the button down to go brighter, press it again to go dimmer.. really good).. runs on 18650 cells (get good quality genuine Samsung cells).. the only thing that torch lacks that would be nice is built in USB charging. But a Nitecore i2 is a good all purpose charger.
Good battery life is important, and the type of LED has a bearing on that.
I wish I’d found that website Mike recommends above earlier, as that would’ve saved me a lot of money buying different torches to buy..
One of my personal favorites that mostly fits the bill is the Light M2R warrior. It is semi tactical but the back cap button is single mode full on and the other is select. Magnetic cap and two way clip is really handy and it’s advertised 1500 lumens for $100
I love my Nitecore EC4s. I checked Amazon.com and it’s <$85 USD.
2150 lumens on turbo, 1100 on high. The pattern is very even (good on lower-power modes if you need to work on something close-up), but still has decent throw.
Now, it does have two buttons and many possible modes – but basically one button cycles the power modes and the other turns the light on and off. This means you could just pick your preferred output level and just turn the light on and off – or just enjoy all those setting since its very easy to navigate.
It’s all about acebeam l17
If you already own Milwaukee tools, the M12 flashlight model number2355 is 800 lumens and it is a very solid flashlight! Only $79 (tool only).
I have some of those high lumen flashlights from Amazon, and I will agree, they are a bit hit-and-miss.
Convoy S2+ with SST20 ($15)
General recommendation is the 4000K colour, and the 7135×6 (max amperage to led)
Can then configure it to a desired mode group, single 100% mode (12) or a high/med/low (6), or low/med/high (5).
Parametrek.com is a great source for finding lights that meet your needs. All the ones listed here should fall within your request. Most will have more modes, but a way to be single only. http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html?lumens=928+_&levels=1&price=_+100
Something like this Acebeam that will output 2000 lumens if you turn it on with the tail switch, and has modes if you use the side switch.
On the budget side Convoy is a great option. They’re a very budget friendly brand that is loved by a lot of flashlight enthusiasts. The only downside is that you’ll have to wait for it to ship from China. Some of the S2+ comes with adjustable firmware and you can change it to single mode. If you go that route I would suggest the 7135×6 option. The x8 option will be brighter, but will also get hotter. If you leave a note when ordering that you just want a single mode driver they’re pretty good at accommodating requests. They also have color temp options, I would recommend 4000k or 5000k to keep it neutral. 6500k will be pretty blue, and the 2700k will be like an old incandescent light bulb.
Personal favorite from Convoy is the C8+. The S2 is a nice pocket light but has a very floody pattern. The S2 is a little on the small side for the heat disbursement and the head usually becomes hot within a few minutes on high. C8+ also has a very customizable user interface, I think a dozen programmable modes for it and memory. The build quality of the Convoy lights I’ve purchased is remarkably good. Threads are near perfect with no grind to them and LED is well placed. 0 complaints for a $20 flashlight.
18650 is the way to go though, skip the CR123’s for an everyday light unless it’s a weapon light or you need a very small light. Using 2 in series results in pretty poor runtime especially if you’re trying to get to 1000 lumens. Cell matching and protection become important for those due to the risk of fire. Once you have a protected cell on the light and the voltage of one cell drops enough the light will just shut off, no warning just black. Using a single 18650 you get more wattage (7.4V x 750 mAh = 5.55 watts vs 3.7V x 4000 mAh = 14.8 watts) and cells are constantly being improved due to the demand. Surprisingly you can also get 18650’s now in most areas due to vaping.
I plan to buy a Surefire Stiletto. Rechargeable and slim with a pocket clip.
I recommend the sabre red tactical stun gun flashlight. Plenty of light and extremely effective when a situation rises and an aggressive education is required for an assailant to learn a valuable lesson. An assailant will likely not receive an aggressive education with strobe mode. I’d recommend a headlamp if you need light and prefer using both of your hands. How often does someone not need the use of both hands when shining a light on something? It’s very difficult to hold a flashlight and work at the same time when it requires two hands. And holding it with your teeth is disgusting.
Definitely check out OLight’s offerings such as the M1T and the Baton, as well as those from Coast/ LedLenser. The Coast products work primarily with AA/AAA batteries so you can actually take it on an airplane with you.
I’m really happy with the four Ledlensors I’ve brought over the last couple of years. They are a Leatherman brand, really nice quality and have all the brightness options you could need.
I buy three packs of these single-mode flashlights for $12 ($4 each):
…because they’re such awesome lights that they tend to “grow legs” and disappear when people borrow them.
They are super bright, with a very usable range of beam shapes, and importantly, their switches are reliable (a typical failing point on Chinese flashlights sold under countless brandnames on Amazon).
With the beam focused for max distance, you can actually see an image of the flashlight’s diode element projected 500 feet away.
In the lights I keep for myself, I use 3.7V 800mAH EBL 14500 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The lights that I let others borrow are loaded with standard alkaline AA batteries.
They’re not completely waterproof, but they have survived many rinses in the sink after night fishing, as well as walks in the rain with the dog.
I hate flashlights with totally useless (useless to me) SOS blinking modes and tactical blinding modes. I want a flashlight to turn on and turn off — and that’s it. That’s why I love the Ultrafire SK68 Single Mode flashlight.
I like those three-packs too, they’re good tools with the right amount of light for normal use, and inexpensive enough to get one for every drawer & car console box.
One thing I dislike is that almost all of these lights is that they’re black – exactly the wrong color for when you need one when light’s not plentiful. The first pack of those three lights I grabbed was a medium/shiny blue; very easy to pick out in a drawer or glove box.
I picked up a box of 10 similar lights ($20) for a family member (but they “have modes”), and learned that for a lot of these lights that a dab of Loctite on the front bezel will prevent the lens from being lost if you’ve got the thing clipped to a belt.
My favorite is the Anker LC130, I own 2. They are waterproof beasts, can be fully submerged for short durations. M12 is my next, although it was mentioned in other posts. I have others from klarus, and other big brands but those are more hype than performance. If you want cheap and powerful, but highly prone to burnout, then deal extreme.com. I don’t buy these any more but before I had a professional job these are what I could afford.
I actually use mostly the anker lc40
It’s just 400 lumens its small cheap rechargeable and bright.
I recommend that to any one looking for a cheap light..
Can’t go wrong with a made-in-CA 2C LED MagLite. Their warranty is unparalleled, and they have always had some great quality control. Not flashy or sexy, but… it’s a flashlight. A tool.
I’m liking the simplicity of the 2-mode O-Light Marauder. Not the requested 1000 lumen but nice and compact. They have two models, one low-first and one high-first.
Sometimes it helps to consider what you don’t want. Deal breakers for me are no 18650 or rechargeable cr123 support (looking at you, Surefire), and strobe in the mode sequence.
Isn’t the cheapest Maurader like $280 and pumping out 12,000 lumens (and the big one is like $600 and 25,000 lumens). Impressive light, but not sure it fits the parameters set out in this post. 😛
Whoops, my mistake! I mixed up the model names. I actually meant the m1t raider.
Fenix make a great light for under 100 3 or 4 settings 1000 lumen top setting durable as hell I have beat mine up still going I have two streamlight also but they are more than a hundred
Bradley T Frank
Get a Streamlight Protac HL-X
1,000 Lumens 27,100 cd on high mode.
Easy operation three stage switch- HI,Strobe,Low. Or choose different program it’s TEN-TAP programmable. Can take batteries out or whatever & won’t loose program. Good light, nice pocket clip. Bright, nice throw & spill. Sweet light & 18650 Streamlight battery comes with it. Micro usb plug into battery top to charge. Hard to beat! I literally have a ton of flashlights I think they’re cool but this one seems to suit your needs and it’s a darn good light. Go online, I paid $65.00
I’ve seen them at $96.00 too. Same light. Just check it out bro. BLF rules. God made the dark, so we’d have cool lights. .
Brad T Frank
Also, PROTAC HL-X is just great all around torch. Plenty tuff enough, that if you had to use to defend yourself- Be no problem.. I could wear out an assailant quick & put hurtin on em! Yep..yep.. Handy tool, no doubt. Even came with a nice case if you wish to use it but has a nice pocket Clip also. Good luck..
I have carried a SureFire 6P LED for over 10 years as my EDC. It’s been an excellent flashlight. Very bright just not rechargeable.
I recently purchased a Streamlight Stinger LED rechargeable flashlight. I am very impressed with the brightness and battery life. I bought the dual switch model with a tail cap switch and a switch on the side. It’s just a little too long to carry all day in a pocket.
I use this one. 65$ on Amazon.
I think the end user needs to clarify what their needs actually are.
Is this for outdoor use where they are looking for a long throw spot light with little spill over a long distance, or inside where they’re trying to illuminate an entire room from pitch black? Or general purpose and it needs to be a bit of both?
1000 lumens can be an arbitrary specification, because it’s measured immediately at the exit of the light. Two, different, “1000-lumen” lights, side by side, can have very different beam patterns and “brightness” at 10 ft or 100 ft, etc.
I have several Fenix lights and carry a Streamlight strion (not HP) for work every day. They both make great lights and I would recommend either/both. They both have output settings that are very simple to use… Fenix generally has a mode button on the side and the strion changes outputs with a long press of the tail cap.
I’ve put both brands through very rough conditions and they still run great.
(Streamlight has taken ~2 drops >50’ to concrete and the Fenix has taken a beating/been dropped from heights/submerged in oil/washed and dried with the laundry…)
I’m certain that Surefire makes a great product as well, I’ve handled them but haven’t ever owned one, but I’ve heard good things.
Already see a few mentions for O-Light brand, and I’ll throw mine in, as well. I have several of their lights and haven’t been disappointed yet. Most of them have a bit more than two functions, though (moon beam which is super low, low, medium, high, turbo, and strobe/sos), but they vary by model.
I keep all my expesive EDC carry lights in my toolbox now and carry a Harbor Freight Quantum 588 lumen light and the pen light in the truck and or pocket and am way happier with life.
Thorfire…on Amazon…18650 battery…$30 and fits 1″ flashlight rings for hanging off your AR or shotgun…plus super lightweight and minimal. 1070 lumens according to the manufacturer.
$15 bucks and exactly what they wanted: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00X3L239O/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_i_LBNnDbE9C3N5S
SeaLife makes a 900 lumen scuba diving light with a 14 degree beam called the Sea Dragon Mini 900 light. The light with the “Power Kit” includes a rechargeable battery and sells for $100. This aluminum cased Mini 900 light is waterproof to 330 feet is very popular with divers and rated as a best-buy by a number of diver publications. I have one and think it’s a great light. (Available at dive shops and Amazon.)
You really cant go wrong with the BLF.
Stuart, Buy one and do a hands on review. You won’t regret it.
I purchased my Fenix UC40UE flashlight 4 years ago and haven’t looked back. I’ve put it through hell and back and just keeps on going. Best part is it is USB rechargable. They discontinued it be they sell the FENIX PD36R RECHARGEABLE FLASHLIGHT which has 1600 lumens vs 1000 and an extra mode. No it doesn’t have two modes but whatever your last mode was it retains that in memory everytime you turn it on.
I like the harbor freight Quantum 588 lumens – they are super cheap and even though multimode, it doesnt get in the way as bad as some other cheap brands.
I’m happy to see a lot of Convoy fans here. Everybody should have a C8+ and a S2+, but you have to pick the LED manufacturer, color temperature, output current, body color…the process isn’t for beginners because you have to have a basic knowledge of popular LEDs from CREE and Luminous, but its very rewarding once you understand what you’re doing. Convoy is the best value in good flashlights.
Doug in Post Falls
Buy the $20 duracell from Costco. Buy five and stash four of them away. Next year buy five more, because you forgot where you hid them. Eventually you’ll find them and even if you lose 80% you still have more flashlights than the other guy and you’re money ahead.
First off I’ve had problems with ANY flashlight holding up over time. None of mine sit on the shelf at the house though. They are my tools and they are put to work.
To me there are kind of 3 types of lighting I use. There is the 1000+ lumen “area lights” I’ve bought plenty of cheap ones but right now the Milwaukee rockets are favorites around our sites. As long as you take care of the batteries, the lights themselves are very rugged. At $150-400 depending on model, this light fails the “$100” price in every way. But what a light. Unfold one on the ground and you can reload all your tools in your truck in comfort and ease. Carry it with you like a giant maglite and easily see where you are going. Set it on the floor and light up a cabinet and most of the room around you looking over your shoulder so few if any shadows. I love it for area lighting.
Second are portable traditional “lantern battery” type lights. In this task I hate to say it and they are not cheap but the venerable Maglites can’t be beat for ruggedness, cost, and light output, especially when you consider how many cheap ones you are going to buy to replace one Maglite. Yeah I know Maglite hasn’t exactly kept up with the times but it’s hard to beat “perfection” over the last 20 years. And any law enforcement person will tell you that it’s hard to beat the personal protective properties of a 4 D-cell maglite if you are in a bad situation. But personally my maglites now sit at the house for emergencies. I don’t take them on the job anymore. It’s sort of a lighting category that I don’t have much use for anymore. Maybe why I haven’t kept up with the times.
Finally there are task lights. This is where the 1000+ lumen lights are actually way too bright. 400-600 lumens is about right for most detailed tasks. If I were to use a 1000 lumen task light, I’d need sunglasses. Sort of defeats the purpose. The problem is ruggedness…pretty much they all suck in this category. I’ve used hard hat/head lamps, magnetic panel lamps, and all kinds of flash lights. None are very rugged. Either all the snakes and clamps and magnets are grossly undersized or mechanically weak or one or two drops and the internal components are destroyed. Or in the case of Streamlight at $20+ per battery, operating costs are insane, and the rechargeables have such a ridiculously short run time that battery management becomes a chore. So far the Nebo Slyde+ is my personal favorite in this category. Almost every electrical/mechanical distributor around my area carries them. The plus side is it is pretty bright and adjustable spot size. The side-lighting “COB” light does a good job of lighting a larger area. The magnet on the back actually holds to even not perfect surfaces really well. I’ve not really had any other magnetic lights that do as well except for the Milwaukee Rover. It’s a little large for a “pocket” light but still fits nicely in my work pants pockets. Runs on common AAA’s that you can get anywhere and runs for several hours on a set. In short it’s almost the perfect light. Pricing is reasonable…as in I won’t cry if I have to buy another one, which I have about once a year. The downside is that the push button on the side tends to fail quickly and the magnet can break easily from being dropped. So like all the others, I love this light but I’m not in love with the one I currently have because they don’t hold up like maglites.
And as far as the “multiple function” stuff, agreed there. The Milwaukee rockets have 4 “modes” but it’s just high / medium / low / off. The maglites have 2 modes (on/off). The Nebo’s have 4 modes on the button (on, off, red and flashing), plus opening the slide is a 5th mode if you want to call it that. I can do without all the flashing and the whole “red light” concept that I had decades ago in a Navy flashlight seems to be 100% gimmick…it is supposed to prevent messing up your night vision but my night vision is awful even without a flashlight (that’s what the light is for!) so I haven’t seen much difference between blind without red light and blind without white light. So personally I don’t have a use for the colored lighting either. In fact if Nebo dropped this silly stuff the button on the side could be far simpler and more importantly much more rugged and reliable.
I like different modes, especially brightness. But I do not like modes on the main power switch. That switch should be on-off only. Maybe in the future, you can twist the tail cap to ramp the brightness up and down, and have a mechanical rotary switch for strobe, SOS, etc. I like 4K-5K color, and I prefer 18650 cells.
I like the Streamlight Scorpion because it is wrapped in a rubber grip.
With the rubber exterior you can bite it in your teeth for a third hand option.
I’ve recently bought a NiteCore P12, around 50$; it kinda meets the requirements and build quality is quite good.
The beam is quite wide, so it fades away not so long away, but I find it a good light.
im a little late to this party. but i love my o-light m2r warrior. 1500 lumens and super long battery life. it has a bunch of different power levels and allows for instant access to the turbo mode with the tail switch. best part is it charges via a magnetic charge cable.
the one day i had it on the medium setting for about 8 hours and there was still lots of life left