As we’ve moved from burning branches to battery-powered tubes, the number of options for handheld light has multiplied. You may think that all flashlights are the same, but boy you’d be wrong.
Here are the five basic categories of flashlights...
Key-chain/EDC. Typically 3” or less in length, these flashlights are an essential part of one’s EDC (Everyday Carry) kit. Their small size allows you to stick them in your pocket, stash them in various bags, or — and this is the easiest, most foolproof option — attach to a keychain. With their low light, they are intended to be used as a backup or emergency flashlight, not your primary one. The plastic variety often runs on coil cell batteries, like what you’d find in a watch, so when it dies; you’re better off replacing it entirely versus going through the hassle of replacing the battery. There are also some slightly higher-powered aluminium versions out there that will run on a single AA or AAA battery. In general, a keychain light won’t break your bank.
Utility. This is what you’ll find in most houses as a general use flashlight. It’s not a serious light by any means. It’s probably lightweight, made of plastic, and gives off just enough light to get the job done. They’re cheap, and will last a few years for your most basic flashlight needs.
Tactical. A tactical flashlight is simply a flashlight that’s been designed for tactical (i.e. military or police) use. Many tactical flashlights are designed to be mounted to a weapon for low-light shooting. They’re typically smaller than traditional flashlights, emit much more light, and are made of weapon-grade aluminium for maximum durability. While tactical flashlights are designed primarily for military and police units, they’re also a really handy everyday and personal defence tool for the average Joe.
These will generally be 3-7” in length, and are meant to be carried on your person as a self-defence tool. They may be small, but they pack a punch.
Heavy-Duty or Industrial. These are the heavy, generally aluminium flashlights that you have in your house or garage, or on a worksite for extended use. Because of their hefty weight, some people carry them as a personal defence weapon as well. They give a lot of power but retain their handy size at generally between 5-14” long. They’re usually too big for a pocket, but still easily handheld.
Emergency. These are hand-cranked or solar powered lights that don’t rely on batteries. They’re used mainly in emergency kits.