In case you were wondering, I keep writing about Streamlight because they keep coming up with creative, industry-leading lighting products. Even though their products are not always totally new from the ground up, the updates and technological upgrades regularly applied to their lineup keep the company at the forefront of the tactical and utility lighting field. One such upgraded product is the Streamlight ProTac HL-X USB handheld tactical light.
The current ProTac series of handheld lights consists of 20 different variations, ranging from handheld tactical models to rail-mounted weapon lights to high-intensity pocket and utility models. Many of these lights are now rechargeable.
The ProTac HL-X USB is made of anodized aluminum, ensuring that it will survive a lifetime of use. The LED bulb is housed in an anti-roll head. The flashlight has four different light settings. The highest setting provides 1000 lumens, has a 330-meter beam length and runs for 1½ hours. The medium-power setting puts out 400 lumens with a range of 200 meters and runs for 3½ hours. The lowest power setting puts out 65 lumens with a range of 80 meters and runs for 23 hours. A high-speed strobe is available with a run time of 2½ hours.
The ProTac HL-X USB light’s tail cap switch has both a momentary-on mode, accessed by pressing lightly, and a constant-on mode, which is activated by pressing the switch down until it clicks.
The ProTac HL-X USB, like a number of other Streamlight models, is equipped with the TEN-TAP programming system, which allows the user to set the light up to his or her liking by selecting from three different available modes. The factory default mode gives the user high, strobe and low settings (in that order) as he or she presses through the settings by momentarily activating the switch. The second available mode is full power beam only, and the third mode provides low, medium and high settings without the strobe.
The ProTac HL-X USB is a dual-fuel light. Its ability to be powered by more than one source gives the user the ultimate in versatility. It comes equipped with the new Streamlight 18650 USB battery, which has a built-in USB port. This battery eliminates the need for a USB port to be built into the light itself, as is the case with the 850 Lumen ProTac HL USB flashlight. By eliminating the charging port on the light itself, the light becomes more waterproof. To recharge the HL-X battery, remove it from the flashlight and plug the included charging cable into the battery. After plugging the battery in, a tiny, built-in LED glows red if the battery needs to be charged. The LED glows green when the battery is fully charged. It is a pretty slick setup, and a USB charging cable and nylon belt holster are included in the package.
The flashlight can also be fueled by two CR123A batteries. This feature comes in handy during emergency situations. If your 18650 battery runs down, and you are without a cable, you can be up and running again if you packed some extra CR123As. The dual-fuel capability also comes in handy if the 18650 loses its charging capability.
I find that the ProTac HL-X USB’s dual-fuel capability is a significant improvement over the older ProTac HL 3, which requires three CR123As and has a maximum output of 1100 lumens, only 100 lumens more than the HL-X USB. However, runtime of the ProTac HL3 in high-power mode is a full half hour longer than the HL-X USB, so it is not totally outclassed by the newer addition to the ProTac line.
The ProTac HL-X USB comes equipped with a very long pocket clip, which has a built-in eyelet to clip a lanyard to it. I find the clip gets in the way of getting an easy grip. Fortunately, the clip can be easily removed by taking out two small Phillips screws. Removing the clip also makes the HL-X easier to use with the included belt holster.
I found that the ProTac HL-X USB is easy to carry for daily use. Its 5.43-inch length makes it comfortable to carry in the pocket. The same cannot be said of the 7.10-inch ProTac HL-3, which is better utilized as a belt-carried light.
The low-power 65-lumen setting is important for utility use and will be needed more often than the full-power setting during civilian use. The full-power beam is fully capable of illuminating my entire front yard. When used at close range and aimed at a light-colored surface such as a white wall, it results in a lot of splash-back from the beam, which can momentarily affect your vision. The strobe mode can be used effectively as a defensive tool to dazzle and disorient without affecting your ability to shoot from behind the beam. The strobe mode can be considered a force multiplier for any handgun you carry for defense. In fact, it may prevent you from having to fire a shot.
The ProTac HL-X USB represents another major (but incremental) step forward for Streamlight tactical lights. I found this model on sale online for $81.99. If you want the HL-X without the 18650 rechargeable battery, the current sale price is $69.99 and includes two CR123As. You can add the 18650 battery later.
About Scott W. Wagner
Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.