Streamlight PROTAC HL USB Flashlight

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(FORWARD
Flashlight manufacturers and marketers face an increasingly difficult set of challenges to remain competitive and relevant in an increasingly crowded marketplace. “Old guard” U.S. companies such as Streamlight and Surefire go toe-to-toe with many quality products from around the globe. This is good for consumers – we have more choices at more competitive prices. Competitive prices are certainly important – whenever a review of a light is posted, inevitably a comment is posted resembling; “I can buy brand X light for half as much!”  Or, “if I paid that much for a light my spouse would (insert punishment here) me, and I’d deserve it!”  I will confess that even this reviewer can be accused of sometimes having jaded opinions. Many a quality flashlight has passed through my hands through the years, and my current collection of lights is quite large.  So I was very pleased to discover that this Streamlight is a very good and useful tool.)

When Streamlight sent the PROTAC HL USB for review, I was prepared to be unimpressed.

Pity.  Shame on me.

This is a good, well-made, very usable light. It has what I consider to be a few flaws, but overall it is a very desirable product.

The particulars (taken from Streamlight’s product sheet):

“The Pro Tac HL® USB is a versatile tactical light that can charge from multiple sources and use three battery types; Streamlight rechargeable lithium ion battery, two CR123A batteries, or commercially available Rechargeable Li Ion cells. This light will charge from a laptop or most USB wall chargers. Multi battery versatility means you can always use primary disposable cells to power the light when a charging source is not available. Designed for use in all markets, it features a tail cap switch for momentary or constant on operation, three different user selectable programs and a pocket clip for convenience. The aluminum housing with Type II Military Spec anodizing helps make the light extremely durable and abrasion resistant. Packaged with a removable pocket clip and holster. Available in Black.”

Case material: 6000 series machined aircraft aluminum with Type II MIL-Spec anodized finish.

Dimensions and weight: Length: 6.50 in. (16.5 cm) Head Diameter: 1.23 in. (3.1 cm) 1.07 in. (2.7 cm) – 7.2 oz (204 grams) with Li Ion rechargeable battery. (included in purchase)

The light is programmable via Streamlight’s “Multi-function, push-button tactical tail switch. One handed operation of momentary, variable intensity or strobe mode. TEN-TAP® programmable switch allows user selection of one of three different programs: high/strobe/low (factory default), high only, or low/medium/high.”

Output is rated by Streamlight as follows:

Output ratings

These outputs are measured with a full charge – about 10% into the run time outputs drop considerably. Based on my integrating sphere Streamlight’s ratings appear to be accurate at turn on and after extended run times. Realistic outputs during my week of use measured around 500, 300 and 50 lumen on high, medium, low (I did not charge the light for a week.)

The light comes with the already mentioned rechargeable battery as well as a micro-USB cable and nylon holster. I didn’t use the holster as the included belt clip works functions well for my needs.  I did try it with an AW 18650 cell and it worked perfectly, although as Streamlight stated the internal charger would not charge the battery.  2 Surefire primary cells also worked just fine.

After my week of use the light has proven to be more impressive than originally expected. Each morning I walk my dog well before sunrise. I have an extensive stable of ‘go to’ lights to use on the walks, but I preferred the Streamlight all week and never had to charge it. The stated run times seem accurate if not conservative.

The beam is a nice white beam that transitions nicely from spot to spill with consistent tint throughout the beam. I reprogrammed the light from its factory setting of “high/strobe/low” to “low/med/high”. Low seemed to be adequate for most of my needs.

2 gripes – the act of switching modes could be easier. You have to really time your clicks to move through the levels. I would like to see the button press timing increased slightly for more intuitive and ‘natural’ mode switching. The other gripe is the spacing between the levels. Your opinion may differ, but 10/200/850 might be more useful. Before someone starts lecturing on output, it is fact that the human eye has difficulty discerning increases in brightness of less than 50%, and in many cases 10 lumen would be as useful as 50 and 200 as useful as the stated 350, plus logically run times would increase.

Charging is easy – slide a cover down to reveal the ubiquitous micro-USB port and plug in to any USB power source. I used a wall-wart charger that came with some other gizmo I have.

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The clip has already been mentioned, but it is strong, easy to clip on to a belt, and easy to remove if you prefer to not use the clip and/or use the holster.

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Dimensions are given, but most likely every reader of TFB is familiar with the old Surefire 6P – here is a comparison photo of alongside my old reliable 6P.

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So this reviewer gives the light thumbs up. Value is something that every potential purchaser has to measure for themselves, but I consider the light to be a good value. List price is around $180 and the selling prices tend to be around $130 most places – Amazon has it for $128.66 as of the time of this writing. It comes with Streamlight’s “Limited Lifetime Warranty.”



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!


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  • Budogunner

    I’m one of those who usually chimes in about cost, but I have to say it looks like a decent price point relative to product and features delivered this time. Streamlight might be zeroing in on the sweet spot of price and performance.

    I’ll still do fine with my little Redlines, but I wouldn’t regard anyone who purchased one of these add insane.

    Many thanks to the author for really living with the light for a while and writing an honest review. Much better than just a press release and greatly appreciated.

  • mzungu

    If it can attaches to a gun, then maybe it’s gun relevant. Otherwise it’s just a slow news Monday jibblish no different than any flashlight off any Walmart shelf.

    • sliversimpson

      I enjoyed the article. Thanks, TFB, for keeping us informed!

    • JHNC

      If you believe a Wal-Mart flashlight is as good as a streamlight. Then you have no business commenting.

      • Blake

        I gave everyone in my family a $15 Streamlight Microstream for pagan winter festival last year (along with an Eneloop ULSD AAA). The lanyard & hat clip are both particularly handy.

        My brother is a mechanic & has beaten the everliving crap out of his (to the point where it almost doesn’t have any paint left on it) & it’s still waterproof.

    • Blake

      I happen to like the flashlight, knife, & pack reviews; as long as they don’t pop up more than once a day or so I don’t find it distracting. I’ve become a Streamlight fan as a result.

      If you don’t like ’em, just don’t click on the article…

    • Blake

      I gave everyone in my family a $15 Streamlight Microstream for pagan winter festival last year (along with an Eneloop ULSD AAA). The hat clip & adjustable lanyard are both particularly handy.

      My brother is a mechanic & has beaten the everliving crap out of his (to the point where it almost doesn’t have any paint left on it) & it’s still waterproof.

  • Kjk

    Why do a lot of gun sites, ppl care about flashlights?

    • Nashvone

      Other than tacticool guys that want every option available mounted to their AR, they have their uses. At 4am in a dark forrest, it’s no fun to fumble around in the leaves for that knife you just dropped. For home security, when seconds count, you really don’t have time to be searching for the light switch when your entering a dark room.

    • flashlights are cool. we are at heart gadget and gear nerds

    • Kjk

      Agree to disagree. Just wondering what these ppl do with the dozens of high end flashlights they own. They arn’t watching reviews on lamps and other everyday stuff.

      • Dan

        How else are you supposed to identify a possible threat a night? A table lamp is a pain to carry in a pocket. And don’t get me started on the troubles of hauling around an extension cord.

        • MR

          Portable generator. Duh.

      • Dan M

        The same thing(s) that I and others who own multiple firearms do with them – enjoy owning them and occasionally using them. Same as all my hand tools – glad to know that they are there when I need them. YMMV.

    • Blake

      I think anything that you everyday carry or take to the range is fair game as long as the main focus of the site remains firearms (e.g. less than 10% non-firearm content).