I hit the switch on the new Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB tactical flashlight and said, “Holy smokes!” I was standing on my front porch in total darkness. But as I unleashed 3,500 lumens of white LED light from the most powerful hand-held tactical light I had ever used, the entire front yard was fully illuminated. I would have found anyone hiding in my yard in short order.
I remember when I first started to carry a Streamlight SL-20 — one of the earliest rechargeable duty lights — some 35 years ago. Its incandescent lamp projected what seemed to be an incredible light beam: 20,000 candlepower. (Lumens weren’t the standard measurement for determining light power back then.) The SL-20 served me very well for several years, far outclassing the standard D-cell police flashlights of the time. Streamlight still makes the SL-20, but it is LED-powered and much brighter, rated at 60,000 candelas. The kicker? Those 60,000 candelas equate to only 350 lumens, which means that my old “ultra-bright” SL-20 was putting out somewhere in the neighborhood of 116 lumens. How far we have come!
A Real Workhorse
If I worked night patrol, the ProTac HL 5-X would certainly be riding in the cruiser with me. Its 6000-series machined aluminum case gives the light a weight of 19.4 ounces. When combined with an overall length of 9.53 inches, the ProTac HL 5-X is easily carried but could also double nicely as an emergency impact device. The rubber grip helps maintain a secure hold. A wrist lanyard is included. The ProTac HL 5-X light head is anti-roll, so it stays in place on a tabletop.
The 3,500-lumen output of the ProTac HL 5-X is activated by a single off/on switch mounted in the traditional flashlight position. It is programmable via Streamlight’s “Ten Tap” technology, allowing the user to tailor the switching sequence to his or her particular needs. The activation switch has both constant and momentary “on/off” capability, which is a critical feature for a tactical light.
|Setting||Lumens||Beam Length||Run Time With 18650||Run Time With CR123A||Candela|
|High (With Rechargeable 18650)||3,500||452 meters||1.25 hours||–||51,000|
|High (With CR123A)||2,500||385 meters||–||1.5 hours||37,000|
|Medium||1,000||237 meters||3 hours||2.5 hours||14,100|
|Low||250||120 meters||11.5 hours||10.5 hours||3,620|
|Strobe||–||–||1.5 hours||1.25 hours||–|
The momentary feature also serves to cycle through the light settings, which are factory pre-set in — what I think is — the best sequence. Using the momentary function, one tap starts at the full-power setting. A quick double tap of the switch selects the strobe setting, which runs at full power, and a series of three taps selects the low-power setting. Pushing down in any selected setting locks the light in that mode.
The ProTac HL 5-X is a multi-fuel design. It can operate using the Streamlight 18650 rechargeable batteries or four CR123A Lithium cells. This is a very handy system and means that you can carry a set of CR123As with you in case the rechargeable batteries drain down. However, there is a price to pay in lumen output between the two fuels.
|Fuel Source||Full Power||Strobe||Low Power|
|18650 Rechargeable||3500 Lumens||3500 Lumens||250 Lumens|
|CR123A||2500 Lumens||2500 Lumens||250 Lumens|
Streamlight has the dual fuel system in place because of the setup for recharging. The ProTac HL 5-X cannot be placed in a charger for recharging. The 18650 batteries have to be removed and attached to a special USB charger that can plug into the two cells simultaneously. This is a bit inconvenient compared to dropping the entire unit into a charger.
The inconvenient charging system, however, allows the ProTac HL 5-X to be waterproof in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. If Streamlight had used the sliding metal sleeve plug-in system on this light, it would only be “splashproof” under the IPX-4 rating. That is less than desirable for heavy all-weather outdoor use.
If you have property to defend or protect, the ProTac HL 5-X is for you. Take it with you in your ATV or 4×4 when checking the property. However, you don’t need a large chunk of property to get use out of the ProTac HL 5-X. It would also excel as a camp light in remote areas or on a farm. It would shine as a bugout or survival light. If you want to use it inside your home, you might want to adjust the Ten Tap setting to have a lower light output as the first.
The ProTac HL 5-X is available online for $79.99 without the rechargeable battery setup and $110.25 with. If you are short on cash, you can buy the light without the charger initially (four CR123As are included in the package) and add it 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.