Best flashlight for a cop?
May 18, 2011 11:08 AM   Subscribe

What is the best flashlight for a police officer?

I have checked out some of the online police bulletin boards, but I thought I'd poll the hivemind as well. What is the Cadillac of flashlights for a cop? Money is no object. I want it to be very powerful but not ridiculously heavy, since it needs to hang on a cop's flashlight loopy thing on his belt sometimes. Also not so small that it can't be hung on the loopy belt thing. So far the front runner seems to be the Streamlight Stinger LED HP DS rechargeable flashlight, but is there something even better or more popular among police? This is in the US. Anonymous because it will be a gift.
posted by anonymous to Technology (18 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Firesword-V? Apparently it will blind people momentarily.
posted by GuyZero at 11:12 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've heard good things about SureFire from my LEO friends. They have entire sections of tactical lights, built not just to be bright and light, but easy to grip when wet, easy to grip with a pistol in the other hand, and capable of bashing someone's skull in if you absolutely have to, which I'm sure has come up.
posted by disillusioned at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2011

I don't know what a cop's flashlight loopy thing is, but the 4sevens maelstrom s12 is absurdly bright and almost fits in my pocket. it's 800 lumens on high (the stinger is 200). Feel free to memail me if you have questions or want me to measure anything etc.
posted by duckstab at 11:27 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might want to check with his department, there are some lights that are banned by some departments, i.e. the 6 D-cell Maglite is considered a weapon in places.
posted by Marky at 11:30 AM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not a cop, but as an EMT we work side by side and carry a flashlight for a lot of the same reasons. I recently bought a Surefire E2D Defender - its tiny, powerful and generally awesome.
posted by blaneyphoto at 11:39 AM on May 18, 2011

Here are the top 50 flashlights reviewed at FlashlightReviews. Some of those would be great candidates, I'd think.
posted by limeonaire at 11:57 AM on May 18, 2011

My retired uncle from Detroit PD had a maglite and was considered the standard (back in the late 90s).
He did use it as a weapon as well as he had a racial slur associated with it.

I think the new maglites come with leds as well, but I am not sure.
posted by handbanana at 12:20 PM on May 18, 2011

Decent selection at Brigade Quartermasters as well. I know they do a lot of business with LEOs in the Atlanta area (or they used to, anyway). Might be worth giving them a call to see if they have any recommendations.
posted by jquinby at 12:29 PM on May 18, 2011

I'd go with SureFire, specifically the 6P LED. If his department trains in the Rogers technique, maybe a C2 LED. Streamlight makes nice lights, but I'm not as intimately familiar with them.

Ignore the loop-hanger. To make it more special, get a nice leather flashlight holster for his duty belt. Every holster maker out there makes one for the ubiquitous 6P.

LEDs are the way to go, and the smaller, more powerful lights are the way to go. Usually the light will be used to just light things up, and the small lights work fine for that. Occasionally the light will be used with a handgun to clear buildings, hold suspects, etc, and the small lights are superior for that. However, 99% of the time, the light will be sitting on the belt. The small lights are *perfect* for that.
posted by graftole at 1:41 PM on May 18, 2011

Without a doubt, the flashlight that has best suited me is the SureFire E2D LED Defender flashlight.

The thing is small. It's rugged. It's got fucking TEETH on the front and back ends. TEETH, my friend. These teeth are good for a number of things: for defending oneself against badguys, for breaking windows, for scrawling out "SEND HELP PLZ" on rock faces if you find yourself pinned down for 127 hours or something.

It's got a hole in the base for a lanyard, and you can purchase metal loops that're designed to break apart when enough force is applied. This is very handy for when you're, say, exploring rock faces at night and have your flashlight lanyard looped around your wrist, and you fall, and the flashlight is stuck between some rocks. Well, the loop will break away, and you'll continue your fall to certain death or get your damn arm stuck in a boulder or summin, but at least you won't be hanging in the air with a lanyard tourinquet around your wrist which would result in pain, numbness, and eventually necrosis and your hand falling off. Nope, instead you'll just feel a slight snap of the loop breaking as designed, and continue your fall.

It's bright. Bright as hell. 200 lumens. There's a low-output mode of 5 lumens as well. In most cases, I use 5 lumens and let me eyes adjust. This is useful when stalking badguys. But when badguys are all around you, or on the attack, i just press the button to 200 lumen mode and blind the motherfucker. 200 lumens is BLINDING. And the beam pattern is TIGHT.

There's a nice feature where you can twist the base off a quarter turn (it's still firmly secured to the body of the light), and the flashlight won't activate. So there's no accidental activation of the light. When you're patrolling your sector for the enemy badguys, though, you'll want to crank that thing tight and be ready to roll.

The batteries last forever. None of this rechargeable crap. We're talking heavy duty batteries. We're talking batteries that you should order directly from SureFire, because they're all quality controlled or something. You can buy a 12-pack of them here, for cheap. I've got two of these flashlights and use them regularly, and still haven't had to change out the batteries.

Why two? Well, I don't have a fancy police officer uniform, so I don't have a fancy place to put my light. Right now I have two carrying profiles: home defense mode = I have both lights near me, I blind the intruder with one light and throw the other one, TEETH FIRST at the dood, before I run down to the kitchen to grab my home defense skillet. Other carrying profile: one in the car, one at home. Either way is effective. Haven't had a single intruder yet.

But seriously, these flashlights kick ass. They've got some fancy circuitry in them that allows for long battery life. They're ridiculously durable. They're very easy to hold and grip. They're very, very bright. They're small. They're relatively lightweight owing to their size. And they've got TEETH.

Short version: 200 LUMENS. COMPACT. HAS TEETH.
posted by herrdoktor at 3:26 PM on May 18, 2011 [8 favorites]

I just want to point out the Firesword throws out 3,000 lumens.

Not 200. Not even 800. 3,000.

If you think 200 lumens is blinding, 3,000 is going to go all Ark of the Covenant on the bad guys.
posted by GuyZero at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2011

Law enforcement not my field - but here is a thought: I would think the ideal solution would use rechargeable batteries that are more or less "standard", so that spares could be easily carried or borrowed if needed. Don't want to run low in the middle of a tricky situation.
posted by Kevin S at 4:00 PM on May 18, 2011

I have a SureFire G2 Nitrolon. It's small, solid, and absurdly bright. The batteries don't last too long, though it is one of the incandescent models. The LED models are supposed to have a longer battery life. I imagine they also give off less heat, which is a plus, because purportedly these flashlights can set things on fire if they accidentally come on inside a bag.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:24 PM on May 18, 2011

A few years ago, friends in law enforcement carried this. Don't know what the current state of the art is.
posted by gjc at 5:16 PM on May 18, 2011

This question is often discussed over at, and I recommend you ask it there.
posted by fake at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2011

I'll second fake's comment. There's an unbelievable number of non-police-officers who put an insane amount of effort into geeking out over which flashlights are best.

Some quick notes: You want LED because it is much brighter and lasts longer per charge. The brightest LEDs are rated at 700 lumens, BUT they are "binned" by quality: a manufacturer might buy grade-D 700-lumen LEDs, which actually only put out 350 lumens. Of course they won't mention this fact on the package, and it's not easy to estimate a light's brightness so reviews etc are unreliable.

Most of the good LED lights use standard-size 18650 lithium ion batteries. These are the same across many manufacturers, and are used inside things like laptop battery packs and electric cars. If you get a flashlight that uses these, get a couple of extra sets of batteries and a charger too.

The shape of the lens and mirror behind the bulb has a huge impact on how the light appears. A better-made light will look much brighter just by having a narrower projection pattern. sells lots of flashlights straight from manufacturers in China, so they may be a bit ahead of US retailers. Then again, they aren't exactly known for their high-quality service. The customer reviews on the site may be worthwhile.

Finally: if you have serious money to blow on this, get an HID flashlight. These have much more complicated electronics than LEDs, and in addition use bulbs that are fragile and can burn out. But they are insanely, ridiculously bright. Here's an example one.
posted by miyabo at 7:44 PM on May 18, 2011

Dunno how heavy you want it, but my local thugs cops used to pack around 6-D Maglite flashlights. I myself pack a 4-D in my car, for emergencies and/or the zombie apocalypse.
posted by Heretical at 10:31 PM on May 18, 2011

Check Fenix or Surefire. Both those companies make amazing flashlight, every forum gives raves about them and a comparable maglite pales in comparison. I have a pocket fenix that outshines and lasts longer than maglites several times its size.
posted by radsqd at 12:09 PM on May 19, 2011

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