Before we start with the CREE flashlight review, we need to clarify one thing first. CREE actually refers to the high output LED bulb that flashlights use and is not a brand of flashlight. Thus our CREE flashlight review is of flashlights that are noted to use CREE LED light bulbs.
CREE bulbs are organised into models, each with an increasing total flux/output. The models include: P4, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, R2, R3, R4, and R5. The P4 measures at 80 lumens, the Q5 at 107 lumens and the R5 at 137 lumens. However, it is important to note that a number of factors ultimately influences the output of a flashlight.
CREE Flashlights Review – The Top 3
For this CREE flashlight review, we use the average rating and user comments as it appears on Amazon to list the top 3 rated flashlights that use CREE LED bulbs below.
HexBright FLEX, 500 Lumen Programmable LED Flashlight
First on our CREE flashlight review is the Flex programmable flashlight. HexBright’s Flex programmable flashlight produces a solid 500 lumens through its USA CREE XM-L LED light, but which can be adjusted to produce a lower output of 50 lumens (Low), or 150 lumens (Medium). It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion 2400 mAh battery and constructed from rugged aircraft grade aluminum with an ergonomic grip.
This flashlight gets stellar reviews, with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 from 415 users. Out of the 414 reviews, only 3 users gave it a score of less than 4 (that is less than 1%!)
This flashlight boasts very good durability and construction quality – some users have noted some interesting stories where the flashlight was exposed to some tough circumstances (e.g. being forgotten beneath a moving car, being put in the wash machine, dunked into rivers..) and held up really well. The adjustable light beam produces good light beam at 500 lm, where some users also commented that they typically even adjust it to the lower 150 lm so not to blind other people when they use it outside. What differentiates this flashlight from the other flashlights on our CREE flashlight review is that it is Programmable – users love the fact that they can program the flashlight to use it in some innovative ways. There are not many negative comments about this device. Some users did mention they wished it was a bit smaller.
Surefire P2X Fury Dual Output LED
Two out of the three flashlights in our CREE flashlight review are tactical flashlights. If you’re looking for a more compact tactical flashlight that can fit in your pocket comfortably, the Surefire P2X Fury might be the choice for you. This light is made from anodized aluminum that has been crafted to military standards to better protect against damage.
The use of LED lights along with a micro-textured reflector creates a very focused and bright beam of light that maxes out at 500 lumens. On a low setting, the light produces 15 lumens. While slightly less powerful than the previously mentioned lights, this allows the light to have a slightly longer battery life with an hour and a half of battery life on high and a 46 hour battery life on low. The light also uses disposable 123A lithium batteries as a power source.
The activation switch and brightness settings are conveniently located at the base, and all of the controls center on the main power button.
When considering the cons while looking for the best tactical flashlight, the most common issues to note were awkward usage and heat issues. In order to switch between brightness settings, you need to press the power switch twice. That type of functionality is slightly awkward and time-consuming in tense situations to several users. While being pocket sized is nice, it would also be preferable to have a pocket or belt clip for easier access in emergencies.
In terms of heat issues, this may be manageable with a rail-mounted light, but it can be very irritating or even dangerous while using a hand-held light.
Streamlight 88040 ProTAC HL High Lumen Professional Tactical Light
For a hand-held option, the Streamlight 88040 ProTAC High Lumen Professional Tactical Light may be the best tactical flashlight for you. This tactical flashlight is at a perfect size to fit comfortably in most hand sizes and to carry around with no bulk or weight issue. The flashlight also comes with a holster and a belt clip if you’d like a more convenient method of carrying it around.
This light is made from the same aircraft grade anodized aluminum as the 6000 series flashlights with an additional waterproof coating to protect it even further. The waterproofing also makes it a good choice when searching for the best tactical flashlight for outdoor or hunting purposes.
The controls are located at the base of the light, allowing for easy and quick activation and brightness selection. The light has two brightness settings, high and low, with an additional strobe light option. On the highest setting, the batteries last for about an hour and 15 minutes with a lumen output of 600. On the lowest setting, the battery life extends to around 18 hours with a lumen output of 33.
The two main issues that users have noticed with this light are the battery life and the construction. This might not be the best tactical flashlight choice for people on a tight budget. The batteries needed for this particular model are CR123A lithium batteries, which currently cost around $14 to $19 dollars per package. With a battery life of slightly over an hour on high and many users stating that it doesn’t hold its brightness for nearly that long, this presents a pricey problem for many users. Some users claim to use rechargeable batteries to save money, but Streamlight warns against the usage of rechargeable batteries with this light for fire hazard purposes.
Several people have also noted various problems with the operation with issues ranging from broken switches, bad wiring and corrosion right out of the package.
What Do You Think?
Do you agree with our CREE flashlight review, or do you believe there are better CREE flashlights out there? Please share your comments with us in the comments section below.