Are you looking for an LED torch? In the USA, Maglite is still the standard bearer when it comes to good quality flashlights at an affordable price. However, in recent years, its number one position has been slowly eroding due to competition. In this review, we will compare Maglite's LED torch against its top competitors.

Maglite LED Torch

First, let's look at the mini Maglite LED flashlight. Most people are more familiar with Maglite's baseball bat-sized tactical torches (if only from cop movies). You can still find them around, although they are slowly being replaced by their LED versions. But for general use, these massive torches are not practical. Fortunately, Maglite produces a smaller cousin. When buying online, make sure not to pick the wrong model. Maglite is a popular brand with good reason. There are so many different models that it can be quite confusing.

In general, the mini Maglite LED torch is very well made. The aluminium casing is sturdy, and most models are water resistant. The LED throws a bright white light a reasonable distance. You could certainly find a brighter LED torch, but only if you are willing to pay 3 to 5 times more. Compare the mini Maglite's $20 to $40 list price against the Surefire's $70 to $150 (on Amazon). On 2-AA batteries, the mini Maglite's light can last around 8 hours without dimming.

Quality control for the mini Maglite LED torch is very good. Practically no one complains of getting a unit that doesn't work out of the box. You will not find any models of the Maglite LED torch on Amazon's bestseller list, probably because no one ever needs to buy a replacement. Any complaints tend to be minor, best characterized as "If only they included the kitchen sink, it would be perfect." That said, if you do not need the reliability of a Maglite, there ARE cheaper flashlights you can buy.

Smith & Wesson Galaxy 13 LED Flashlight

The S&W Galaxy LED torch is a little more expensive than the mini Maglite. The light is not thrown as far (okay up to 20 feet), and is a little dimmer. Quality control is not as good - when it works, the Galaxy LED torch is not going to suddenly break (unlike the cheap China-made torches). But there have been a few complaints of new torches with problems. Fortunately, there is a lifetime warranty and the manufacturer has been very good about honoring it (so far).

Where the Galaxy LED torch differs from the mini Maglite LED torch is in its dual-light system and longer lasting light. The Galaxy has 10 LEDs for white light, and 3 LEDs for red light (when you need to maintain night vision). The white LEDs last 30 hours while the red LEDs last 80 hours of continuous use before the battery runs out. It also throws a wider beam compared to the mini Maglite.

Both the mini Maglite and S&W Galaxy are rather chunky and more suitable as reliable general-use flashlights rather than pocket lights.

Super-Bright 9 LED Heavy-Duty Compact Aluminum Flashlight (from Neiko)

This is Amazon's bestselling LED torch. Very cheap at $10 (list price), although it frequently sells for half of that online. At these prices, you can buy one for every room in your house plus one for each car you own. Works decently, light is reasonably bright up to 10 feet. It is a good throw-away torch where numbers are more important than quality. It is good enough for parties, and more than good enough where you know you are going to lose the flashlight anyway. As long as you do not need absolute reliability - there are many complaints of new torches not working, and a few of these LED torches have stopped working suddenly - it is good value for money. It is quite small and easy to carry around.

'GIANT Light - Small Package' LED Flashlight - 21 LED or 28 LED (from eToolsCity)

This is another bestselling LED torch on Amazon and other online retailers. It produces more light than Neiko's 9-LED torch, but costs 2-1/2 times more (list price $25, usually half-off if bought online). Everything said about Neiko's 9-LED torch applies to this flashlight as well - your typical cheap low-quality made in China product). Of course that's also what everyone said about Japanese electronics 20 years ago and Korean products 10 years ago.


At this time, Maglite has no real competition. When I need quality and reliability, I would still go for the mini Maglite LED torch. However, if I had to buy online, I would buy the Smith and Wesson Galaxy instead, because it is less confusing - I know I won't get the wrong model. If budget is tight, and the LED torch is not for my own use, and reliability is not a concern, any of the China-made brands is good enough. Of course, this is in North America. If I was in South East Asia, I would certainly buy the cheap China flashlights - the equation changes a lot when you can buy 5 flashlights for $2 to $3.