Last Updated JAN 2018
Those who are used to hunting on the early hours or who stay a lot in the outdoors know the heavy importance of having the best hunting flashlight on hand that they can carry everyday. Typically, you realize the necessity of having a flashlight handy just when you need one and you happen not to have one. You might need one when searching for some misplaced keys. On the extreme, you might need a tactical flashlight for self defense. No matter what the application, a hunting flashlight is always an invaluable must-have tool.
Why you might need a hunting flashlight
There are many areas of use for employment of the best flashlight for hunting. The most dominant uses are for law and military enforcement, along with hunting. For hunting, this kind of gear helps illuminate your direct aim, blinds the prey and lights up a broad territory in the woods. The compact size eliminates problems while hunting. It will not hide visible objects and will not hinder precision during aiming. Some models are easily usable with most weapon mounts and filters to fit specific purposes.
Unlike a regular flashlight, a tactical flashlight has well-shielded components that can withstand the heavy gauge recoil from a hunting rifle. Military flashlights are advanced safety units mounted directly under a rifle barrel. They can be utilized to supplement a laser target pointer, a riflescope and others. A hunting flashlight with a strobe or SOS capability can do high frequency blinking that enables you to perform signalling. This specific capability lets military personnel confuse opponents on the field, to temporarily blind them, to influence their mental condition and provoke stupor and agitation, as well as to frighten animals away, which proves to be helpful during particularly dangerous situations.
Since many violent crimes happen at night, you will need a good quality hunting flashlight for self defense, such as when you have to park at a darkened area. Premium quality models can even be used to strike down an attacker.
What to consider when buying a hunting flashlight
Unlike a regular flashlight that you can just pluck off the store shelves, a hunting flashlight should be bought while taking careful consideration of several factors. This will entail some research to ensure that you are getting real value for money.
ANSI FL1 Standards
To even out the playing field for flashlight manufacturers, the ANSI FL1 standards were introduced. Knowing about this specific element helps you interpret the details set out in the standards sheet of a product. The standards include a number of elements such as light output, run time, beam distance, peak beam intensity, impact resistance and water resistance.
The light output refers to the lumens rating that denotes the total amount of light coming out of the front tip of the unit. The run time refers to how much time the light will take to reach 10 percent of its initial output. Thus, if a unit starts at 90 lumens, this refers to how long the continuous light will take to get down to 90 lumens. The beam distance is the parameter of distance measured in meters at which the intensity of the beam gets to 0.25 lux, which approximates how much light a full moon outputs when the night is clear.
The peak beam intensity, which is measured in candela, refers to the beam’s brightest point and tells you how bright that particular point will be. The impact resistance of a specific model is measured in meters and indicates the height from which the unit can get dropped onto a concrete surface and still be able to work properly, without the light getting broken or cracked.
The water resistance component is measured in three levels namely, IPX4, IPX7 and IPX8. For IPX4 units, you have a flashlight that can withstand water splashes. An IPX7 certified model, on the other hand, can get submerged to one meter for half an hour and will still work. A flashlight rated at IPX8 can be submerged deeper than one meter for up to four hours and can still do its job.
With the numerous advancements in LED technology, bulbs of other types have been rendered virtually obsolete. Incandescent type bulbs including krypton ones are still used in some flashlights models but there’s nothing on the market that quite comes close to LED flashlights in terms of run time, brightness versatility, impact resistance and general energy efficiency.
You can go for units that use disposable batteries, with the most common sizes being double A and triple A. Another popular choice is CR123A, which is more expensive than the first two and may prove to be tougher to find. CR123A, however, offers greater voltage output despite having less weight and size, so you can expect a brighter flashlight inspite of a smaller and less hefty unit. Units that run on D batteries are baton-sized models that provide light and security and ensure they will be easy to find in a pocket.
A rechargeable model comes with built-in lithium ion batteries that can get juiced up via USB connection to a PC, a solar panel, or an AC or DC outlet. This kind of flashlight may have higher acquisition costs but this will be effectively offset by its low ongoing operational costs since there won’t be repeated purchases for disposable fuel cells while also reducing the waste that gets into landfills. A renewable unit features a built-in battery that can be energized by cranking a turbine or via a solar panel, making it ideal to include in an emergency preparedness kit.
Light is dispersed according to the lens reflector surrounding the bulb. You have three options on beam type: fixed or flood type, characterized by a single beam width and is good for general applications including walking and camping; focused or spot type, which is a single beam condensed as a spotlight that can penetrate long distances, perfect for fast-paced applications such as route finding; adjustable type, which has a range of widths varying from wide to focused and any point between the two, for versatility in use.
A flashlight boasting a regulated power supply is mostly able to keep a consistent, near-peak level of brightness throughout the life of its batteries. On the other hand, it may have dropped light output near the end, which can be sudden and considerable. As the power gets drained from a unit with unregulated power supply, the light will grow progressively dimmer while being bright at the onset.
For general applications, you won’t need more that a single setting. There are models that come with two or more operating modes such as low, medium and high, as well as boost levels. This enables you to cast an extra-strong light when needed. Bear in mind that the runtime gets reduced when you choose a brighter mode. Other modes include strobe or SOS capability, user programmability, and mode sequencing.