Okay, here's a rant. Just like the rest of you flashoholics, I'm frustratingly fed up with so many lights that claim to be 'tactical' when obviously they're NOT. I'm also sick and tired of manufacturers that loosely throw around the term 'tactical' - as if a black colored flashlight automatically means a tactical light! Or how about that 'tactical' fridge light?! Ugh...
1. The true definition of a handheld tactical flashlight (as defined by Paul Kim of Surefire) means those that are used by special agents, S.W.AT, law enforcement, military personel, for attack and/or rescue missions. For instance, a team of FBI agents with one hand holding a gun and the other holding a flashlight, silently surrounding a warehouse of potential enemies... and then storming in to rescure hostages, gun fight etc.
2. It must have a tail mounted forward switch to allow for momentary operation and preferably a twist action for constant on. The button must also be protruding (eg. Surefire L5) - this enables the user to 'signal' silently with the light, even with gloves on, which is very important as you often only use the light for fractions of a second.
A forward clicky that makes no sound when clicked - eg. Novatac 120T, can also be a tactical light. This requirement, obviously excludes most chinese lights, which are reverse clickies, and have their switch recessed, which is NOT suitable for tactical use - bad tactile feedback. (Eg, the Fenix lights, which are far too complicated U.I and turning it on makes noises that will give away your position - hence they're not tactical lights.)
An example of a tactical situation with a tactical light:
Below is NOT a tactical situation nor a tactical light (although some manufactuers would have you believe that this is a 'Tactical light' allowing nightly fridge raids to combat hunger strikes!) Lol
An example of a true Tactical light: There's only a few manufacturers that make true tactical lights. Surefire, Novatac (only the 120T), and Gladius Night-ops are few of them. SUREFIRE L5 and Novatac 120T shown below: Notice they all have protruding switches to allow easy activation in times of danger. They also have forward switch meachanism allowing for momentary signaling to blind suspects or alert other team members.
Below is NOT a tactical light: (Reverse clicky, which means it's noisy operation, doesn't allow forward momentary operation, far too complex U.I., and button shrouded by the body, which is a big NO-NO for tactical lights.) Shown here is a Fenix L2D-CE... NOT a tactical light.
Nor is this: The bright orange clicky, and non-protruding switch is a big NO-NO for tactical lights.
Anyways, rant over. I'd also like to point out that twisty lights (ie those which require a twist to turn on) are NOT tactical lights, despite what manufacturers would like to tell you. The twist action is far too cumbersome to be used in dangerous situations, and require both hands to activate.