Torches for police, security and military use.
For operational personnel a good, reliable, fit-for-purpose torch is an essential part of equipment.
Buying a torch that is right for you is relatively easy as long as you understand the basics of what you read in torch specifications. High price does not necessarily mean a good torch.
We are often asked, "what is the best torch?" We hope the information in our flashlight buying guide is useful to you.
The main 'component parts' of a torch specification are explained below;
Dependant on personal preference and the role for the torch. For a primary patrol torch most personnel choose a torch between 13 and 15cm in length - something that will fit snugly in the hand and still have a positive feel even with gloves on. For a back-up torch, 8 to 10cm is about right (just large enough to provide sufficient power, but small enough not to add too much weight), and for a 'reserve', 'bag' or 'vehicle' torch, most officers tend to go for a 2 or 3 D cell torch, so significantly larger as it is not going to be carried on general foot patrol.
With recent advancements in technology and cost, torches have moved on rapidly in the last few years - both in size (they're getting smaller and can pack more punch for their size than previously) and brightness, with the advent of technology we now commonly see people swapping to the LED Torch.
LED torches are much brighter than traditional torches, torchlight brightness is measured in 'Lumens'.
As a guide;
- 50 lumens : entry level power for a small back-up torch. Light output similar to a 3 D-cell Maglite, so just about enough for street stops and close work.
- 100-150 lumens: entry level for Patrol Torches and a good power for a back-up torch.
- 200-300 lumens: Good, solid power for a day-to-day patrol torch. Excellent light output for stop & search type scenarios and a good ability to illuminate a wider area and over a good distance.
- 500 lumens: Significant power. With technical advancements, this is fast becoming the industry standard for a Primary Patrol Torch. Really powerful and ideal for all street and patrol type work.
- 800 lumens: The sort of power that used only to be found in specialist search-light type units. Now available in smaller units, including a very small number of Patrol Torch sized units. Really impressive performance - will light a large area over a significant distance and provide 'commanding' light at close quarters. Suitable for all applications from Patrol, through Response, and to Search.
It is also worth noting that you could possibly upgrade an older style torch using an LED upgrade, such as the popular Maglite LED Upgrade kit.
Two main choices when it comes to torch batteries:
Standard AA or AAA.
Cheaper to buy than the alternatives and with a good 'power curve', meaning that power output is fairly even as the battery runs through its life. Run time is usually good (see below). Generally not recommended to use rechargeable versions as the power output is poorer.
More expensive to but that Standard batteries, but often smaller. Rechargeable versions are good if you are considering buying a rechargeable torch, often out-performing non-rechargeables. Negative points are that the power curve is more uneven than standard batteries, meaning that the beam can dim significantly when the batteries still have reasonable charge left, and the run time of lithium cells is generally poorer than that of standard batteries (particularly single cell lithium units).
Personal choice, but generally a choice between a traditional side-mounted switch and the more modern 'end-cap' switch (a rubberised push switch on the base of the torch). Most personnel now choose an end-cap option for their Patrol Torches as it gives good control with the thumb when the torch is held in the traditional shoulder-high tactical position.
A combination of battery type and capacity, power output of the torch (the 'power draw' by the LEDs), and the component quality with affect the run-time of the torch (the length of time a torch will run on one set of batteries or one charge of a rechargeable set).
A good benchmark is to look for a run time of about 4 hours on full power for a Patrol Torch and about 1 hour for a back-up torch. Don't forget that times quoted are non-stop run-times, and most torches are used for only a small percentage of a patrol shift.
Most standard operational torches come with a simple 'on/off' switch. Other options include staggered power (one press for a third power, two presses for two-thirds power and another press for full power), and some also have a strobe option. Depending on the switch gear on the torch, some have mode select buttons as well as the on/off switch, whereas others use a 'scrolling' system just using the one switch. Unless they have a specific operational need, many officers find anything other than simple 'on/off' can be frustrating to use. But again, personal choice.
Pouch & Vest Compatilibilty
With most torches being carried as belt kit or mounted on an operational vest, a pouch with the correct size belt loop or with the correct fitting doc for your vest is essential. Some torches are sold complete with a specific pouch, but if not, make sure the torch fits snugly (elasticated sides are good for this) and that the pouch has a top flap to hold the torch in place when you are running.
Waterproof / Water resisitent
Relatively few police and operational torches are certified as 'waterproof', because this is a quality controlled standard which adds expense to the production of the torch. However for general operational work, 'water resistant' if perfectly adequate. A reasonable quality water resistant torch should be able to withstand hours out in heavy rain, being dropped in puddles, and in some cases submerged in water for several minutes.
The best way to assess reliability and robustness of police and tactical torches is to look at online reviews by those already using them. These are generally objective and give a good benchmark against which to rate different brands. As far as modern LED units are concerned, expect 50,000 hours, so generally this is almost a lifelong unit.
Although neither a Patrol Torch or a back-up torch are particularly heavy, they both add weight to your belt kit or chest rig, so it is worth keeping the weight reasonable. As a guide, a back-up torch can be kept to below 50g empty (about 100g with batteries), while 120g to 150g empty (200g to 230g with batteries) is more realistic for a primary patrol torch. Much less than that and you need to be careful about quality, and very much more might be adding unnecessary weight unless the torch specification justifies it.
Standard accessories may include a wrist strap or lanyard and possibly a pouch. Some torches, particularly those intended for very specialised use, come with accessories such as weapon mounts or filter caps to change the light colour. So whether you're looking for a torch pouch or clip to hang your torch from your belt, there's a torch accessory that will bound to suit your needs.
We also have a selection of head torches and other specialist torch accessories that depending on the unit you are working on, may be worth considering as alternatives to the hand held torch.
So once you know the role of the torch you are buying you can use the above information to buy what's best for you without breaking the bank.
We stock a wide selection of torches by many different well known and respected police and military torch manufacturers, including;
LED Lenser Torches
Op. Zulu Torches
5.11 Tactical Torches
For further information please select the manufacturer by clicking the above or visit the torch section of the site or contact us - we're always happy to speak torches and help you choose the perfect torch for your needs.