Lumens VS Candela – How Many Lumens Does A WPN Light Really Need?

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hk usp streamlight tlr 1 hl
For anyone shopping for a weapon light for one of their guns may ask the question:

How many lumens should a tactical flashlight have? and what's the deal for lumens vs candela?

A modern weapon light between 500 to 1500 Lumens & high candela rating (16K to 70K+) are desirable for:

  • Positive target identification
  • Threat control while maintain safe distance
  • High candela beam penetrates fog, rain & other ambient lights

More lumen intensity is always better to adapt to changing tactical environments, but this is also a conversation about candela vs lumens.

In this article, you going to get a comprehensive understanding of lumen intensity and candela 

What is Lumen, Lux & Candela

lumen vs candela vs lux
  • Candela measures the strength of the light emission (It's the key spec to throw the beam far)
  • Lumen measures total light output
  • Lux measures the illumination intensity of an area

Note: The difference between lumen and lux is that the lux takes into account the area over which the luminous flux is spread.

Knowing this helps you make purchase decisions!

Based on FL1 standard the bright spot of the light beam is used for Candela rating. Higher the candela, the more concentrated light beam center is.

More candela doesn't always mean good, it can be counterproductive if you use it inapporiately, which we explain why in the next few sections.

Lumens VS Candela

How Many Lumens Do I Need For A Weapon Light ?


MODLITE plhv2 head light beam

NOTE: Using high-intensity light for up-close illumination causes washout & blinding effects

Anything over 600 or even 1500+ lumens is good for a modern weapon light.

Feature X300U VS Baldr Pro R

Surefire X300 throws the beam down range, and the Olight Baldr Pro R has brighter flood beam up close

How To Make Sense Of Candela Ratings

High candela light is about throwing the beam far to PID targets & control threats.

If you compare a high candela light (lower lumen) vs a low candela light (higher lumen). The higher candela can shine the beam further.

Basically this is what you gonna see:

Features PLH 5K VS OKW 18350

glock 19 with surefire xh30 TIR beam pattern
fn 509 ls edge low light shoot

The more candela the better it is for keeping a good distance away from a threat, and you can still do the following:

  • Positively identify threats at distance (Not just barely seeing the outline)
  • Penetrates through fog, rain, street lights & other ambient lights
  • Hot beam spot helps control threats at a safe distance

For civilians, 5-20 yards is pretty much the average distances for most documented self-defense cases.

Based on the FL1 standard, whatever distance you think you need, you should look for a light with 2X the range.

Dirty Flashlight Lens Can Dilute Lumen & Candela Performance

clean-weapon-light-lens
clean-vs-dirty-flashlight-lens

Note: Keep your light clean

For Long Distance Positive Target Identification

modlite plhv2 in action 35 ft
holosun acss long range shot low light

For long-distance reach, it's always best to use the highest candela weapon light

dd mk18 handguard with hotbutton setup

We recommend the Surefire M600DF, MODLITE PLHv2, Cloud Defensive REIN and the new Surefire Turbo serious weapon lights (2022)

This is extremely helpful in tactical situations where police officers and military operators need to be able to focus the light to assess the threat as well as getting good illumination on the surroundings for max situational awareness.

Weapon Light Beam Pattern Comparison

modlite okw vs plhv2 vs plh 5k head

Different weapon lights have different beam types, candela amount and lumen intensity.

See more of this please click here