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My Hunt for the Best Budget Tactical Flashlight

Is there such a thing as a budget tactical flashlight? Everyone’s love the concept of tactical flashlights, but who loves the expensive price of tactical flashlights?

What we need is a light that can be used for an EDC light, but could also be bright enough to serve as a budget tactical flashlight.

EDC Budget Tactical Flashlight

I have a couple relatives who are involved in Law Enforcement. They are constantly giving me the rundown on the various uses of the tactical flashlight, especially for home defense.  I understand their wisdom that a super bright flashlight could be handy for home defense as well as for camping or prepping.

My search started poorly. I was floored at the prices of tactical flashlights and regular flashlights just didn’t produce the amount of light needed to blind an assailant or home invader. I need a budget tactical flashlight. Does such a thing even exist?

One day this all changed. I was shopping at a local Home Depot store and happened to wander down the aisle with the flashlights. I stopped to browse and there on a high shelf, I saw a Coast PX 25. The label on the display caught my eye. It read “208 Lumens”.

“208 Lumens” didn’t sound like much to me, but I saw the “try me” sticker, which indicated to me that I could tinker with the flashlight through the packaging.

I pulled one of the PX25‘s down from the display. The package information informed me that it was powered by AAA batteries. That’s a huge plus for me since I really try to standardize on devices that run off of AA and AAA batteries.

“AAA batteries, that’s cool.” I thought, and while looking directly into the LED bulb, I, without thinking, activated the on/off switch on the butt.

HOLY COW! I was blinded.

I swear that it probably looked like a comedy movie was being filmed. I knocked boxes off the shelf in my panic, while trying to get that evil, evil PX25 back into the display box. I had colors swirling in my eyes. Dear Heavens, what did I do to myself.

If you’ve never been on the receiving end of 208 lumens, it is very bright. If 208 lumens is that bright, I can’t even imagine how bright those real tactical lights are.

I decided that, even though the Coast PX25 had visually assaulted me, for no good reason, that I’d really like to have one. I wasn’t buying it at Home Depot though, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I went home, got on the internet, and headed to amazon.com to order that Coast PX25, for less than $30.

Two days later I had my budget tactical flashlight in hand. I tore open the shipping box and inside was a really classy-looking Coast Box. Oh, this was going to be good.

EDC Budget tactical flashlight coast px252

I opened the box and there with the flashlight and nice nylon belt carry sheath, were 3 brand spanking new Duracell AAA batteries! Wow, Coast knows how to treat a consumer!

The Coast PX25 itself is made of strong lightweight aluminum with a nice textured grippy finish. It also has 2 sides with flat spots so it won’t roll away. It’s well constructed and feels like a high quality item. It also has a Lifetime guarantee!

I put the batteries in the PX25 and while safely aiming it away from my face, turned it on. Even in broad daylight, this light was bright. I couldn’t wait for night fall.

When night came, I snuck outside to my back deck. My neighbors houses are about 75 yard away, so I wanted to see if I could see the light on their houses. I could. Not only could I see it, but I lit those houses up.

Whoops, sorry neighbors, my bad.

I then shined the light into the forest behind my house. I could see eyes way out in the distance, in the woods. That was a flipping deer out there.

I love this light. These are my new go-to flashlights. I promptly ordered 2 more. I think I’m going to mount one of them on my home defense shotgun, and put one in my bug out bag, leaving 1 more to put in my truck’s glove box.

This box has 2 modes, on and off. It doesn’t have the strobe feature that many of the true tactical flashlights have, but I didn’t feel that for $30 that I really needed strobe.

If you want a great EDC budget tactical flashlight (ok, technically it’s not a true tactical flashlight, but it’s super freaking bright) that won’t cost you hundreds and hundreds of dollars, will light up anything within 400 feet and will blind anyone looking into it, then the Coast PX25 is probably right for you. They are less then $30, so you can afford to grab a couple!  Be sure to check out our EDC survival flashlight buyers guide that gives you all the must know aspects of choosing the right EDC survival flashlight

 

What this $4 Budget Tactical Flashlight?

I kept seeing this 4 dollar budget tactical flashlight, and finally decided to give it a try.

A tactical light, is a flashlight that is normally used in conjunction with a firearm, to aid low light target identification, allowing the marksman to simultaneously aim and illuminate the target.

Tactical Flashlights are almost a necessity these days. If you are doing anything in the darkness, they are perfect for lighting up the area with an amazing amount of light, blinding an attacker or home intruder. I needed a budget tactical flashlight, but some of those “tactical” flashlights can cost a fortune.

I had seen the FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight in my Amazon searches numerous times, but didn’t give them much though. I finally kicked myself in my cheapskate pants and shelled out the $4 to buy one of these Mini Cree Led Flashlights! I mean really, it’s $4.

It seems that most of the Mini Cree Led Flashlights ship from China, so the waiting game began. I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived about 7-8 days after ordering.

I don’t place much stock in cheap Chinese mass produced items, so I was mentally prepared myself to accept that I had wasted $4 on a flashlight that probably wouldn’t last or measure up.

I was surprised by the heft and solid feel of this flashlight, once it was in my hands. It’s a nice looking flashlight, with a solid feeling aluminum housing. It looks like it should cost more than $4, but the proof is in the pudding, time to find a decent AA battery and fire this light up!

Testing Methodology

There is one initial test, that has accidentally become a standard in my flashlight testing. This test never happens intentionally, but does happen every time I get a new flashlight. This test is now referred to as “the retina scalding”.

“The Retina Scalding” happens when I am examining (aka: staring at) the bulb or emitter diode, then without thinking I activate the power switch. I don’t know what genetic defect causes this to happen, but it happens every single time…. and I’m always surprised.

Yes, I realize there must be something wrong with me.

Previously I had accidentally performed this test, in a Home Depot with the Coast PX25, causing quite a commotion, and as a result, many boxes were knocked from the shelves and onlookers were frightened.

The Test

I had located a brand new Energizer AA battery and stuffed it into the battery compartment. I was turning the Mini Cree Led Flashlight over in my hands and was intrigued by the lens covering the Light Emitting Diode (LED), it looked like it was a magnifying-type lens.

That’s when it happened. My fingers knew I was at my weakest, and they activated the power button. My brain was not involved in this movement at all, and appeared to be just as surprised as my eyeballs.

Arrrrrghhhhh! MY EYES! MY EYES! MY EYES! WHYYyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

Another successful “Retina Scalding”. There, I’ve blinded myself in broad daylight with the FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight and it was stunning, I only saw blobs of color for quite some time after this. Keep in mind this is in broad daylight so at night, this blindness would be so much more disorienting. This would give you the advantage you need to gain the upper hand against evil doers!

The FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight is rated at a whopping 300 lumen. It is visibly brighter than the Coast PX25, which weighs in a 208-230 Lumen.

I had a project that I needed to do, up in our attic. There are no lights up there and this light lit it up like daytime. It worked like a champ the entire time I was up there (probably an hour). I’ve also used this outside at night and always seem to be surprised by how much light it can generate from a AA battery.

Budget Tactical Flashlight
Left: Cree Mini, Right: Crane PX 25

The Mini Cree Led Flashlight puts out a blast of searing light from one AA battery and is even brighter if you use the 14500 batteries in it. I recommend the Tenergy 14500 batteries, if you want to go that route.

Recap

It’s a nice looking flashlight, with a solid feeling aluminum housing. If I didn’t know better, I would swear it had cost way more than the $4 that I paid for it. It’s compact size makes it a breeze to toss in your pocket and forget about it, until you need to wield that blast of light!

I like this light enough, that it has earned a spot on my bedside table, where I can grab it in the dark of night, should the situation arise. I am suspicious of it’s long term durability, being that it’s from China (what’s not from China these days?), but I’ve been using it for about 6 months (as much as one can use a flashlight) and it’s still working fine.

If you need a budget tactical flashlight, but can’t afford hundreds of dollars, then I recommend the $4 FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight. You’ll be better off with the FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree Led Flashlight, than with no tactical light at all.

9 COMMENTS

  1. There are tremendous values in flashlights these days. The technology is amazing. For a truly versatile prepper flashlight, look for one that has a multiple levels of light. A low light ( ~15 lumens) is useful for finding something in the dark when you don’t want to disturb others nearby (or may not want them finding you!). A medium light (~ 100 lumens) for normal use. And a high, bright light (~ 180 lumens) for when you just need to light up an area. A strobe function is good for warding off attackers, and some lights have an S-O-S function built in as well. I just bought a 2-pack of flashlights with a separate small keychain light included at our local Sam’s club for $20. Uses 3 AAA batteries (included for each light). A lot of good info is out there for the search. Fenix makes a lot of good lights that suit a variety of needs. 4Sevens is also a good source. I carry a small light on my keychain from 4Sevens that can put out a whopping 180 lumens if I need it to. And it is not much bigger than the CR123 battery that it uses, but also has lower light levels for other tasks. A lot of info is out there. Flashlight technology has come a long, long way.

  2. I LOLed when you talked about being blinded, flailing around. Sorry for laughing at your downfall.

    I’d love to see a comparison between what you have and my EDC carry:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006E0QAFY/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006E0QAFY&linkCode=as2&tag=geesgu-20

    Pros:
    * $5.22. Yes, five dollars and twenty-two cents.
    * Requires only one AA
    * Up to 300 lumens (In my experience, more like 150 but real friggin bright all the same. Requires a special battery for more light.)
    * Solid clip (Can be a pain pulling out of my pocket, so tight!)
    * Strobe mode
    * Stands on its endcap
    * Glass lens
    * Adjustable focus
    * Anti-roll
    * Aluminum body, seems strong
    * Compact
    * O-rings, though the focusing collar may not be water-tight. I’m sure it’s splashproof.
    * Lots of 5 star reviews on Amazon
    * Did I mention $5.22??

    • Oddly enough I ordered one of these to test out. They ship from someplace in China, so I still have a few weeks of waiting before mine arrives. I am glad to hear that you seem to feel pretty positively about it. At first I was hesitant to order it, but as you said $5.22 isn’t bad at all.

      Always glad to amuse my readers with my compulsive actions that could have been prevented by a moment of thought 😉

  3. If you have recently lost or broke a flashlight, or if you are in the market for a new, better brand, then you are probably facing a lot of decisions about what kind of flashlight to purchase, and what will work best for your various needs. LED flashlights have risen in popularity, as have batteryless flashlights. ,”

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  4. The coast lights look nice, thanks for the article. These lights are easier to find since they are available at some of the big box stores. Other brands like surefire and streamlight are way more expensive and are hard to find sometimes.

  5. AAA tactical lights are great, but there are very small lights which run on lithium-ion batteries that give you even better brightness. And, more importantly, beam throw!

  6. Easily the best flashlight for its size and brightness. I carry it every day and abuse it and it has held up remarkably. Super bright and I love the spot and spill. It’s definitely better than any other Streamlight or surefire I have for that size and brightness.

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