Light Show: Streamlight Roundup

One of the most misunderstood and underutilized tools in a gun owner’s toolbox is the modern flashlight. For this reason, low-light/no-light training should be considered not an extra but a necessity. Knowing how and when to use lights isn’t gimmicky and cool but falls solidly under the realm of must-have skills for self-defense purposes. Attending a low-light course is the best way to hone those skills. In such a course, the shooter will learn about manipulations, reflections and myths versus reality.

‘Buy Once, Cry Once’

Skills aside, the quality of the light used matters. One of the frontrunners in the weapon-light slice of the gun industry is Streamlight, a manufacturer that’s racked up almost 50 years in business. Streamlight was founded in 1973 and considers itself a hands-on company. Team members take low-light classes and do it all, from hunting to sport shooting. They listen to customers, take feedback from members of the industry and work to constantly improve upon existing models.

At Streamlight, it’s understood the most hazardous moments in a gun owner’s life will likely take place in the dark. Based on this knowledge and related experience, the company strives to create safety-rated lights to suit a variety of self-defense scenarios.

Before we go any further though, let’s get some definitions down.

 

Streamlight was founded in 1973 and considers itself a hands-on company. Team members take low-light classes and do it all, from hunting to sport shooting.

 

The word “lumen” is a late-19th-century repurposing of a Latin word that translates as “light.” Merriam-Webster defines lumen as “a unit of luminous flux equal to the light emitted in a unit solid angle by a uniform point source of one candle intensity.” Put simply, lumens are the measure of just how much light is put out by an electric light, and a brighter light emits more lumens than a dimmer one. On the scientific side, lumens are the measure of light visible to the human eye from a light source.

It’s also worth noting that lumens are absolutely not the same as watts. A 60-watt incandescent lightbulb is equal to 800 lumens, and to light an average-sized living room, you’d need 5,000 lumens (or five 100-watt incandescent lights).

But those watts are representing energy use. A 60-watt incandescent light produces 800 lumens and uses — you guessed it — 60 watts of energy per hour. Lights such as those made by Streamlight are designed to be more energy-efficient (and brighter) than the old incandescent lights most of us grew up using.

ProTac HL-X USB/ProTac HL-X Flashlight

SPECIFICATIONS MAX OUTPUT: 1,000 lumens RUN TIME ON HIGH: 1.5 hours RUN TIME ON LOW: 23 hours BEAM DISTANCE: 330 meters MAX CANDELA: 27,100 LENGTH: 5.43 inches WEIGHT: 5.7 ounces AVAILABLE COLORS: Black

ProTac HL-X USB/ProTac HL-X Flashlight

ProTac HL-X USB/ProTac HL-X Flashlight

A hand-held flashlight has a place in every shooter’s pocket. Even if you prefer a weapon-mounted light for self-defense purposes, you should own a quality hand-held light. The hand-held ProTac HL-X USB/ProTac HL-X Flashlight is part of Streamlight’s new product lineup for 2018. The light measures 5.43 inches long and weighs in at 5.7 ounces, ideal for my hands and useful in a modified FBI grip with a handgun or up against the mag well of a carbine.

This model is a multi-fuel light that can be run using either a rechargeable 18650 USB battery or two CR123A lithium batteries. The rechargeable battery is a useful feature considering not only its reusability but also the simple fact that CR123As, which are not exactly bargain batteries, can be difficult to find in some areas. Run time with the light set on high is around 90 minutes; run time on low is 23 hours. Using a combination of the two brightness settings, I’ve had the light last for days of low-light training before I gave in and charged it even though it had not yet shut off.

The ProTac HL-X USB has a 1,000-lumen output, landing it at the higher end of the lumen-output options and making it a solid choice for a multi-use hand-held light. Its beam distance is 330 meters (1,082 feet), giving it the brightness needed to search rooms in most homes.

One of the myths bandied about the interwebs is that a brighter light will bounce back and blind its user. This is an issue easily solved through proper use — and one of many reasons to take low-light/no-light classes. As for me, I prefer to make use of all the lumens I can get.

ProTac HPL USB Flashlight

SPECIFICATIONS MAX OUTPUT: 1,000 lumens RUN TIME ON HIGH: 1.5 hours RUN TIME ON LOW: 20 hours BEAM DISTANCE: 374 meters MAX CANDELA: 35,000 LENGTH: 7.08 inches WEIGHT: 9.24 ounces AVAILABLE COLORS: Black

ProTac HPL USB Flashlight

ProTac HPL USB Flashlight

If you’re in the market for a somewhat larger light that’s useful with and without a gun, the ProTac HPL USB might be right for you.

This light is 7.08 inches long and weighs 9.24 ounces, boasting an output of 1,000 lumens and a beam distance of 374 meters (1,227 feet). Like other models in the Streamlight lineup, the ProTac HPL USB is multi-fuel-capable and powered by a lithium-ion battery, an 18650 USB-rechargeable battery or two CR123A batteries. The rechargeable option is my preferred method since it greatly reduces the frequency with which I have to go in search of CR123As.

Another useful feature of the ProTac HPL USB is the included black holster. It’s made from rugged, heavy cloth and has a built-in loop so that it can be carried on your belt alongside your spare magazine pouch.

Microstream USB Pocket Light

SPECIFICATIONS MAX OUTPUT: 250 lumens RUN TIME ON HIGH: 1.5 hours RUN TIME ON LOW: 3.5 hours BEAM DISTANCE: 68 meters MAX CANDELA: 1,150 LENGTH: 3.87 inches WEIGHT: 1.2 ounces AVAILABLE COLORS: Coyote, blue, red, black

Microstream USB Pocket Light

TLR-8 Gun Light With Laser

If you prefer a significantly smaller light, check out Streamlight’s Microstream USB Pocket Light. The Microstream is 3.87 inches long, weighs 1.2 ounces and has a high-lumen output of 250 lumens. And just as the greater bulk of the ProTac HPL USB has its benefits, so does the diminutive size of the Microstream, which fits nicely into pockets of all sizes.

TLR-8 Gun Light With Laser

SPECIFICATIONS MAX OUTPUT: 500 lumens RUN TIME: 1.5 hours BEAM DISTANCE: 131 meters MAX CANDELA: 4,300 LENGTH: 2.15 inches WEIGHT: 2.64 ounces AVAILABLE COLORS: Black

There are two schools of thought on weapon-mounted lights. One side feels they’re definite self-defense assets, while the other believes using a weapon-mounted light to search pushes the risk of aiming a loaded gun at an innocent person far too high. Personally, I get the most use of my weapon-mounted lights while hunting — a time during which I’m not concerned about aiming a loaded firearm at a feral hog — and fall on the side of believing care must be exercised when using them for home defense.

There is, indeed, risk of aiming a loaded firearm at a loved one or other innocent. Whichever side you fall on, remember yet again the value of good training. Don’t base your opinions and assumptions on the conversations you see on internet forums or gun groups. A dose of reality and rational thought is best when it comes to firearms.

Don’t base your opinions and assumptions on the conversations you see on internet forums or gun groups. A dose of reality and rational thought is best when it comes to firearms.

The TLR-8 Gun Light with Laser is the latest in Streamlight’s lineup of weapon-mounted lights. As the name suggests, it includes a laser. The light and laser can be used simultaneously or separately depending on the buttons you push. The TLR-8 mounts to railed handguns with a screw that can be tightened using a penny, which simplifies matters if you don’t carry a toolbox everywhere you go. The laser is easy and fast to zero and withstands impact and use while still holding zero.

As for specs, the high output of the TLR-8 is 500 lumens, putting it at midrange for brightness. Beam distance is 131 meters — 429 feet — and max candela is 4,300. The laser is red and produces a 640 to 660 nm wavelength (“nm” stands for “nanometers” and refers to the generated power of the laser’s visible beam).

The black housing measures 2.15 inches in length and weighs 2.64 ounces, making it a negligible addition weightwise to your handgun of choice. It runs on a single CR123A battery, with a total high-output run time of 1.5 hours. For battery longevity and general safety, the TLR-8 has an additional feature where the housing cap can be clicked a partial turn counter-clockwise so the light won’t be drained during storage or transportation.

If you don’t have a railed handgun, the TLR-6 is available for non-railed guns.

Having spent time running the TLR-8 in low-light shoot houses and during feral-hog hunts, I’m comfortable attesting to its durability and battery life. Even caked with Texas dirt and switched from a Glock 20 to an RP9, it’s kept on going. Placement on your gun’s rails does matter since finger length varies and will affect your ability to easily manipulate the controls; with some time and practice, it’s relatively easy to grow accustomed to the light-and-laser combo’s controls and use.

If you don’t have a railed handgun, the TLR-6 is available for non-railed guns. In fact, I have one on my favorite 1911 and have been pleased with its performance.

Stay on the Sunny Side

Whatever brand or size of light you select, put it through its paces. Don’t trust a hand-held or mounted unit without running it in low-light situations and subjecting it to something of a beating. You don’t want the light you’ve selected for self- or home-defense purposes to flicker off the first time it strikes a wall or is dropped to the floor. A good weapon light should be bright, durable and easy to operate.

Of course, like everything else in self-defense, you will require some training to become truly proficient. Flashlight skills matter and take time to cultivate. Remember, you know neither the time nor the place you will be forced to defend your life or the lives of those you love, so get to training without further delays. And when you do, take a good light.

Sources

Streamlight: Streamlight.com

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