Streamlight ProTac HL®3 High Lumen Lithium Tactical Flashlight

For your consideration is the Streamlight ProTac HL®3 flashlight. This is one “beast” of a bright light at a rated 1100 lumen. Based upon the readings from my integrating sphere, the light makes good on the lumen claim, at least at initial turn on with fresh batteries.

Features / specs (taken from the Streamlight web site):

  • C4® LED technology, impervious to shock with a 50,000 hour lifetime
  • TEN-TAP® Programming – Choice of three user selectable programs:
  • 1) high/strobe/low; 2) high only; 3) low/high
  • High for maximum illumination: 1,100 lumens; 36,000 candela; runs 1.5 hours
  • Low a less intense beam and longer run time: 35 lumens; 1,200 candela; runs 36 hours
  • Strobe for disorienting or signaling: runs 1.5 hours
  • Multi-function, push-button tail switch for one-handed operation
  • Optimized electronics provides thermal management and regulated intensity
  • Solid State power regulation provides maximum light output throughout battery life
  • Durable anodized machined aircraft aluminum construction
  • Anti-roll head prevents the light from rolling away when you set it down
  • Removable pocket clip
  • O-ring sealed glass lens
  • IPX7; waterproof to 1 meter for 30 minutes; 1 meter impact resistance tested
  • Includes three 3V CR123A lithium batteries and nylon holster
  • 10 in. (18.03 cm); 9.3 oz. (263 grams) with batteries
  • RoHS compliant
  • Limited lifetime warranty

As mentioned, the light includes 3 Duracell CR123 lithium batteries. I have used rechargeable “123” (16340) cells for years and prefer them, but the product instructions plainly state to not use such cells. We assume that the light is not designed to handle more than 9V.

I did try 2 AW brand 17500 cells (fully charged these two batteries combine for 8.4V) and they fit perfectly and operated the light just fine. I am not saying it’s okay – not suggesting you do it – just telling you that I did experiment and it did work. If you buy one of these and ‘poof’ your light, then I doubt that Streamlight would honor a warranty claim. You probably should stick to “primary” lithium batteries.

This is not a small light, but it’s smaller than the ubiquitous MagLite. It would serve well as a duty light.

The clicky switch has a firm, tactile ‘feel’ that was the way I like one to be.

























Large head and smooth reflector coupled with the LED combines for a long throwing beam with a decent amount of side spill for peripheral lighting.












As mentioned in the specs, this light can be set to one of the available 3 programs using the “ten tap” method.   From the “off” position, you tap the switch 9 times then “hold” it on the 10th tap until the light switches off. That action advances you to the next of the 3 programs. Factory default is “High-Strobe-Low”…the next program is “High Only” and the 3rd position is “Low-High”.










There is a nice, long clip that can be removed by the user.


It also comes with a nice ballistic nylon holster.


Streamlight discusses their LED quite a bit on their site – it is designated “C4” by Streamlight, and I have not run across that designation from any other manufacturer. The LED emits a mostly white tint light with just a hint of a green tint when shone on a white wall. That probably does not matter to most people, but I thought I would mention it anyway!


The Streamlight HL3 has a list price of $155. A quick search of the web reveals that it can be purchased for around $90 at many well-known web retailers.

Dan M

Love firearms and flashlights – and they go well together. I’ve been admiring and writing about quality flashlights for about 9 years…built my own integrating sphere….done a few mods. Proof positive that a 59 year old can still love toys!


  • Pilgrim

    Bought one of these as soon as it was released back last summer, from MidwayUSA. Been using it heavily ever since for night shift oilfield work and general tinkering off duty. Great light has become my favorite, but would be EVEN BETTER with a middle 200 lumen setting (giving a low-medium-high 3-tap program selection), AND be compatible with rechargeable batteries. I’ve burned thru a small bucket full of tho$e pricey little lithium 123 buggars!

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    I believe the C4 LED in question is actually made by Luxeon, this being their K2 TFFC or a related derivative. Outside of Luxeon, the most likely other source manufacturer would be Cree, although I don’t think this is the case with the ProTac HL3 ( I could be wrong ).

    Incidentally, C4 LED’s from various manufacturers have been around for some years now. The acronym simply stands for “Controlled Collapse Chip Connection”, one of several approved electronics industry methods used to attach electrical components to circuit boards.

    • Dan M

      Great info – thanks!

      • DiverEngrSL17K

        You’re welcome, Dan — hope it helped a bit.

        • Dan M

          It did help. In all the years I’ve followed flashlights I’ve kinda limited myself to Cree, Nichia and some Luxeon. I believe you are correct that the “C4” is a Luxeon manufactured LED.

          • DiverEngrSL17K

            Thanks for letting me know, Dan! You can’t really go wrong sticking with established manufacturers like Cree, Nichia and Luxeon, although I would venture to say that, with the exponential growth in the LED market in recent years, there are other innovative manufacturers who are definitely worth looking into for all sorts of applications.

  • It’s not the volts that matter – it’s the amps. The power capacity. Volts is a measure of currrent flow. Amps is a measure of current density (or power potential). Picture two jugs of apple juice that are equally wide and have equal-sized spouts. However, one jug is twice as high as the other jug.

    You start to pour the juices from both jugs at the same time. Since the openings in the jugs are identical, the juice flows out of them at the same rate. Which jug will run out of juice last?

    The one twice as high.


    Because it holds twice as much juice, it can deliver twice as much juice – OR – last twice as long before it runs out of juice.

    Rechargeables don’t hold onto their juice for as long as non-rechargeables can. They may start off having the same power capacity, but that power drains away a lot faster. That’s what allows them to be recharged in the first place.

    It’s the case with all battery-powered electrical equipment (computers, smart phones, portable radios, flash lights, etc.) that use rechargeable batteries. They may be advertised to last 6 hours between charges, but what they are saying is that they will keep putting out the same amount of electricity for 6 hours but at a steadily decreasing rate.

    The more load that is applied, the more the power will start flowing at a slower rate. So, even though these batteries will keep your flashlight lit continuously for 6 hours, it will start to grow dimmer and dimmer as time goes on. Instead of getting 4.5v, it will drop to 4.0v, then 3.5v., then 3.0v., then go black.

    Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries (NiMh) can hold onto their charges at constant voltage rates for longer periods than can rechargeable lithium or alkaline batteries. It is still a better deal to always use rechargeable NiMh batteries with the highest amperage available.

    If you can only carry non-rechargeables, use lithium batteries.