Best Flashlight Under 30 Dollars For Pocket Carry


I know — everything’s subjective. However I have owned this pocket – tactical – penlight – flashlight for several years, and it may the best flashlight (of its type) for under 30 dollars.

Here’s why I like it, and why I believe it’s one of the best of its type for the money.

It’s the Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro LED Pen Flashlight.

Streamlight Stylus Pro (Black with White LED) Penlight
(view on amzn)

More pictures below:

Why it’s the best flashlight under 30 dollars (Penlight style)

1. It fits perfectly and comfortably in my pants pocket. The reason it’s particularly suitable is the pocket clip which snaps onto the flashlight near the tail cap, and the overall dimensions of the flashlight (shown below).

2. If you wear any sort of cargo pants with multiple pockets (as I do), then the Streamlight Stylus Pro will clip especially conveniently and comfortably to any one of them. The clip is strong enough so not to worry about losing it.

3. If you’re looking to carry a small flashlight as part of your EDC (every day carry), and if the flashlight is not very comfortable or practical to carry, then chances are you won’t carry it. Chances are that you will carry this one (I do).

The Best Features Of This Flashlight

I find that this flashlight is good for general purpose, given its small size for a pocket carry.

1. The LED puts out 100 lumens. While 100 lumens is not exceedingly bright, I have found the level to be bright enough for normal applications. I recall relying on this particular flashlight a few years ago — for many continuous hours late into the night — tracking a 400+ lb blackbear through the forest around my property. The hunter made the shot, the bear took off… It was a long night. Fortunately I had my Streamlight Stylus Pro in my pocket!

2. The tactical push button. The tail mounted button will operate momentarily or pressed fully for on/off. The cap is waterproof, as is the entire flashlight (o-rings at all threaded fittings).

3. The flat black anodized paint will prohibit reflections – making for good tactical stealth.

4. The dimensions seem to be perfect. Total length is 5.25 inches. Widest diameter is 5/8″ while most of the body is 1/2″.

5. The body of the flashlight is solid and appears to be aluminum. Corrosion proof.

6. The reflector lens is of a polycarbonate material and apparently is very unlikely to break. Mine has only a few minor scratches with several years use.

7. While I prefer AA batteries for my other flashlights, this pen flashlight takes two AAA batteries which is necessary given its narrow diameter. The specs indicate a run time of 8 hours. I’ve run mine 4+ continuous without issue (the black bear experience noted above).

I took several pictures for your interest:


If you’re going to buy one…

Note that if you check out the link above, there are several models and colors of this flashlight. My first one was the black one. Later I went to buy a 2nd flashlight and bought the camo model. However I missed the fact that it has a green LED. Though I kept it – good for maintaining night vision rather than a white light. But not great for general visibility. Just saying…

Continue reading: Best Keychain Flashlight


  1. Hi Ken
    I carry a Kootek flashlight that I get from Amazon. They come in a 5 pack for under $30. Things I like about this flashlight are it has a reverse pocket clip that allows you to clip it on the bill of a ball cap making it a hands free head light, it uses one AA battery, it has an adjustable lens, and has smooth edges that wont cut holes in your pocket.

    1. I second that nomination for the Kootek…The style and function are good… we use them all the time around the home…
      Usually at night in the dark when I am wandering around… I end up stepping on that darn light on the floor.. Hurts good. Kids keep leaving them laying about the house.

      Also good for placing in a gallon or 1/2 gal milk jug to create a safe lantern. Used them during our last Hurricane event. The light on a single AA lasted about 2-3 hours or so strait run. We also passed extras out to our friends… One lady was grateful to have it.

  2. I also have one of those Streamlights and love it! It is the perfect flashlight for looking into small areas (like my overcrowded file boxes) of family history. One little push of the end button gives you the directed light you need. Such a cute little flashlight.

  3. Saw a nice streamlite yesterday at the gun shop, rechargeable, uses the same batts as my IR illuminators on night scopes, not sure how much it cost, im sure not under 30$

    This little light you are showing looks real handy, going to get a few for my truck and gfs car and atv,

    Have lost all my good flashlights to duracell garbage batteries,

    So got to re stock,

    Going all LED and rechargeables

      1. hah. got that damned Duracell out of the flashlight. soaking in lemon juice worked. threw in an energizer and it works fine. On to the Maglite. All these mini-flashlights. I miss the days of lugging that 8# wet cell around on my butt with my cap-lamp underground. But those are long gone now too.

      2. I too had a recent Duracell issue with new cells never installed in a Costco 3 pack of LED lanterns. All labeled as OEM made in China. Another incident with Duracell involving a record-able children’s book. Hate the product. And as I recall from my skydiving days 25 years ago that there was an automatic opening device for reserve canopys that recommended the old coppertops. But those where back in the 80s and 90s.

        I do like my Atomic Beam as it seems to be a very reliable 5 function light’ Five functions are high, medium, low, strobe, and sos. It is also focusable and will really light up a small area on tight beam. I have a similar one by Bell+Howell that has all of the same functions and appears to be just as good, however….. The Atomc Beam one has an off position between each function, the Bell+Howell just goes to the next function with each push of the button. The Atomic Beam sits on the nightstand and when I turn it on it will come on in the strobe function. Anybody coming into the room will be blinded for a short period. The Bell+Howell would have to cycle through 3 functions before hitting the strobe.
        Rechargeable batteries are available for both but not supplied.

        A tad bit on the large size for everyday carry but doable. They are in all vehicles and wife’s purse. I only use lithium batteries in these lights

        We also have a visor mount flexible light for the car that quit working. Took it apart and removed the leaking energizers. They were rather old and newer energizers went back in after soaking the terminals in vinegar.

  4. Ken,
    Heres a question you might know the answer to,,,
    The USB rechargeable, does it shut off automaticly when batts are charged? Stupid question i suppose

    1. Hey Kula,
      I have five different brands/models of chargers, and yes, they all shut off when charged.

      If you are looking for a handheld flashlight that has a built-in charger,

      The Clarus G20 is a great choice.

      It’s definitely bigger than the one Ken has in the article, but it’s nice to not to have to remove the battery for charging.. it uses a 26650 battery…just plug in a micro USB cord and it also automatically shuts off when charged. I think the brightest of its four intensity levels is a little over 3000 lumens (on high setting)! Also has a lockout mode to keep it from inadvertently turning on when in a pocket or rolling around in a vehicle!

    1. BlueCat…, you beat me to it. Check out the new one which is rechargeable.
      I have the Streamlight micro-stream, great little light. I had a stylus-pro until I accidentally dropped it from about 3 ft. onto a linoleum floor, when the the light was off. I saw a flash from the LED, checked it, and nada. I really liked it, as it totally met the need for which it was used.
      Thought that I would try the Inspector. Have been satisfied so far. Have to admit though, that, thus far, I have not dropped it.
      I have the larger Streamlight that Ken has reviewed, at least I think that he has. I know that it was reviewed on a tactical channel, as the guy uses his for EDC.
      Also, since it was on sale, $36.00, I picked up a Nebo rechargeable RedlineX IPX7. Uses 18650. I needed the extra power. I have two issues with it. It has paddle switches on the tailcap, which can be accidentally turned on without your being aware of it, especially if you carry it inside of a pocket. I remedied that by making a shim from a match stick, and sliding it underneath the paddles. A small piece of Gorilla Tape on the side secures the shim when I’m using the light. The other issue is that it doesn’t have a pocket clip. Which can also be remedied with a little ingenuity. Max lumens is 1,800 on turbo. Plenty for the average Joe.

      1. Albeit, Streamlight has a limited lifetime warranty. While the Nebo warranty expires 1 year from date of purchase.

    1. – Guido,
      Thing is, Nobody knows for sure. D/T the small size and lack of wires, they may be. Thing is, again, nobody knows for sure.
      Myself, I’d prefer to use an LED until I do know for sure. An old-style AA Mini-Mag without batteries and wrapped in paper, then foil, and paper again and stuck in a fruitcake tin is a cheap backup. (along with a few packs of the old Xenon bulbs done the same way.) Maybe not great, but for about ten bucks…
      – Papa S.

  5. Flashlight technology has exploded, even in the last fifteen years.

    When I started on the police department, we were issued a Ray-o-Vac Woodsman 2 d-cell light. Most bought their own 4 d-cell Ray-o-Vac with incandescent bulbs which threw about a 50′ puddle of yellow light. Later, Kel-Lite offered a heavier duty light that stood up better to abuse (you could hit some one with out it disintegrating), but wasn’t much brighter.

    Then Streamlight started offering a rechargeable flashlight that was much brighter……and much more expensive. The year before I retired, Streamlight marketed the Stinger, a very bright and compact rechargeable light. I bought one, came with a car and a house charging platform. Cost $129 +tax, as I recall.

    Now, I have several lights that are smaller, much more powerful, rechargeable, and cost a fraction as much. Funny, that 16 year old Stinger, that seemed so bright when I bought it, now seems weak in comparison.

  6. – What i have on my person right this moment, and have for about ten years now, is the AA Mini Maglite LED Pro. With rechargeable batteries it just barely fits inside the $30 limit, but it has been very reliable and I have had no complaints about it. Everything from looking at swollen tonsils, working on the car, and looking for a misplaced special needs client in the dark over a 50 acre campus, it has worked like a champ. It is a little on the bright side for some of the things I have asked it to do, but for older tech and readily available, I cannot complain.
    – Papa S.

    1. – I do have the AAA version in the outside pocket of my bag – I rarely use it, but it is worth carrying. It’s about as bright as the 2D cell flashlight Dennis mentioned above. It does make a good backup light, though.
      – Papa

    2. – Correction, 4D cell. My bad, I failed to proofread.
      – Papa

  7. I have two of the AA mini-mag light LED flashlights (non-Pro) and like them. I also have a one AA Felix LED pocket flashlight, which has become my flashlight of choice.

  8. I’m a big fan of the Felix e12 (130 lumens and 1 “AA) and streamlight micro stream (1 “AAA”). Both are on Amazon.

  9. I have one of those pen lights, only it is made by Ray o vac. takes a single AAA battery. I use it at work, and it is as tough as nails. I give it a beating and it keeps on shining. It’s silver in color though, not a good color for tactical stealth.

    1. When your shining a flashlight at someone, are they gonna describe the color of your flashlight?

    2. Also, if your worried about reflection, just hit our light up with some plastic dip flat black

  10. I have a lot of flashlights. From Amazon 5for$5 CCS crap to Surefire. If they made a Maglite in the last 30 years I bought it.

    Reviewed a lot of flashlights also.

    Maglite ML300L 2-cell and AAA mini mag led make great gifts. Can find them on sale for $20 and $8 respectively. The AA Pro version is nice also but eats batteries. I like these because they are indestructible.

    I have several of the Streamlight nonUSB penlights originally posted. Fits nicely into the pocket where a knife would go.

    However, best bang for buck is:
    Microstream USB
    ProTac HL-X USB

    The Microstream USB has two light modes. Better than the Stylus Pro. The ProTac is programmable.

    I have many of both. I have a Microstream USB that probably has 250 charge cycles and has been run over by cars several times. The Print eventually fails and the paint wears off the sharper corners. The battery life plummets after about 20 charge cycles then is fairly stable for the next 100.

    The Microstream USB is awesome for its price. Every go bag, every car, every plate carrier, etc has one.

  11. Due to leaking batteries, ( mostly Duracell leaking batteries ) the lights my wife and I use at work are AAA Minimag lights with the LED bulbs. The price is still less than $30 per light.

    I still have a good number of inexpensive headlamps from REI that use AAA batteries as well. ( look through their selection and the least expensive ones are around $20 in price ).

    I still have a few xenon bulb lights around the house. I keep the minimag’s around the house beside doors in cabinets. These days, I am using Energizer batteries with better luck and fewer leaks.

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