There are times that call for a true tactical light — one that puts out a lot of light power and that includes lower-power settings for utility work as well as a strobe feature. One such example would be while clearing your house when you hear something go bump in the night. For everything else, you need a utility light with solid tactical light construction that is more directed toward helping one out with either day-to-day or urgent tasks. The new Streamlight Stylus Pro COB is one such utility light.
With a design based on the excellent Stylus Pro USB Penlight, the Stylus Pro COB ups the ante in terms of brightness and overall utility.
Instead of using a typical light on one end with a switch on the other, the Pro COB uses a linear “flood” LED strip located at the switching end. The flood is covered by a gasket-sealed polycarbonate lens to diffuse the light and protect the LED. The switch is similar in operation to the switch system used on the Streamlight USB Keymate. Pushing the switch once turns the Pro COB on to the low-power level, which provides the user with a 40-lumen flood that is bright enough for most non-emergency tasks. At this setting, the runtime is 8.5 hours. Pushing the switch again bumps the brightness up to a very powerful 160 lumens. This level of brightness is, in fact, within the brightness range of most handheld and weapon-mounted tactical lights.
A mere nine years ago, 120 lumens was the top-of-the-line power level for LED tactical lights and was totally accepted then as being effective in life-or-death situations. So … 160 lumens out of a handheld utility penlight? Quite impressive. At 160 lumens, the run time is reduced to 3 hours. Pressing the switch and holding it for three seconds — regardless of whether the light is on or off — will activate a strobing emergency signal mode. This is not the rapid kind of disorienting strobe found on a true tactical light, but rather one designed to be strictly for emergency signaling. It runs at what appears to be the full-power level and will flash continuously off a full charge for 7 hours. To exit the strobe mode, push and hold the Pro COB switch for three seconds again.
At the switch end of the light is a USB charging port. Using the included cable, you can charge the Streamlight from your computer’s power port, your car or a wall socket with a power plug adaptor. The port is covered by a soft rubber cover that plugs into the port — almost totally flush with it. While I prefer the sliding port cover of the Stylus Pro, the linear LED strip likely precludes that as part of the design. There is also a pocket clip to allow the attachment of the Pro COB to a shirt pocket. The Pro COB is IPX-4 water-resistant rated.
Interestingly, the power switch appeared to be made of solid black rubber (as one would find on any tactical light switch). Wrong. It’s made of a translucent-type rubber that shows the charging status — but only when hooked to the charging cable. If the Pro COB needs charging when hooked up, the entire switch surface glows red. Once fully charged, the switch will glow green. Note that when you purchase the Streamlight Pro COB, you will immediately need to charge it for proper operation, as it is shipped in a “Try Me” mode so that potential customers can see the linear LED in action. Once you hook it onto the charger, it disables the display mode and the light will function normally. I found that out only after reading the directions, because I couldn’t figure out why the switch wasn’t working as it should. Typical guy moment.
You might be a little confused as to what the forte of the Pro COB is. Well, the answer to that is found in what is normally the switch end of the light. In the base is a powerful magnet.
That’s right, the Pro COB light is designed to be positioned on a ferrous surface to provide light in awkward positions for important situations. Think of situations like changing a flat tire at night. Stick the Pro COB above the wheel well as you work on changing the tire on a dark road. (It won’t work well for that on new Ford F-150s with aluminum bodies or Corvettes, but most everything else is good.) Broken down at night and want more lighting power directed at cars approaching from your rear? Stick the Pro COB on your trunk or side of your car at the rear and turn on the signal strobe.
Today I used mine to help me with the mundane task of adding washer fluid. I purposely left the garage lights off and stuck the Pro COB on the fender to see how it worked. It turned out to be a very handy “trouble light.” The magnet holds the Pro COB very well from any angle or when inverted.
The Pro COB is bright enough to serve in any utility situation without being overpowering. For instance, we have a fairly large walk-in closet, and the Streamlight illuminated the entire area in an even flood of light, with no central spot. For short-term power outages, it would be ideal laying on its side on a table, or stuck to a refrigerator to provide basic or supplemental illumination as needed.
The Streamlight Stylus Pro COB is one of the handiest tactical utility lights to come down the pike. It would be great to have in an emergency or even along on a hiking or backpacking trip. The Pro COB is as easy to buy as it is to carry. Optics Planet has them available for only $39.79. I know I will have mine with me on my vacation travels this year. Don’t leave home without one.
More info at: www.streamlight.com