In many lines of work, a small portable pocket flashlight with a couple of hundred lumens worth of capability is just fine, other times you need to be able to light up a large area quickly. The problem is finding a medium size flashlight that isn’t heavy and cumbersome but still has a capable lens set up. The balance between size vs weight vs power is an equation that many people have to calculate, particularly people in the law enforcement area. The same can be said about anyone building an emergency bag or a deployment bag. In my professional lives over the years I have had to play that balancing game and until recently the winner of the “Medium Size Flashlight” debate was the MagLite, that was until I was introduced to the Streamlight Protac 4 HL.
The Protac 4 HL is the big brother to the Streamlight HL-X that was recently reviewed by Matt Shin here on the site. Streamlight is no stranger to the world of flashlights, in fact, the Eagleville, Pennsylvania based company has been at the leading edge of flashlight development for years. They offer over 100 different flashlights to cover almost any career field or need that you can think of. Streamlight makes lights for miners, military and law enforcement as well as all varieties of public safety and first responders and outdoorsman. In shorter terms, no matter your hobby or career chances are Streamlight has more than one model that will fit your needs. Enough about the company, let’s get back to why the Protac 4 HL is such a great light.
- Name: Protac 4 HL
- Manufacturer: Streamlight
- Body Material: 6000 Series Anodized Aluminum
- Length: 8.63″
- Barrel Diameter: 1.24″
- Head Diameter: 2.35″
- Tri Lobe Diameter: 2.29″
- Weight: 1 lb 1 Oz
- Battery Types:
- CR123 (4 needed)
- Streamlight 18650 Rechargeable (2 needed)
- Light Source: C4 LED with 50,000 hour life expectancy
- Lumens: 2,200 Lumens / 30,000 Candela
- Projection Distance: 346 Meters
Water Resistance: 1 Meter
Hands on Impressions
Ultimately we can tell you all the specifications of the light and how bright it is but what it always boils down to with any product is, how well does it work and how does it feel in your hands. When the Streamlight Protac HL 4 I obviously tore it out of the package and began to give it the once-over. I had over the years become accustom to the size and weight of my old Mag Lights, so when I grabbed the Streamlight out of the packaging I noticed one of its best features immediately. The Protac HL 4 is smaller than my old flashlight, but was also coated in a heavily textured rubber sleeve which was a nice touch. This rubber sleeve serves a few purposes in my mind, first it provides the user a better surface to grip, especially when your hands are wet or dirty. Secondly the rubber sleeve gives the flashlight a bit of thermal insulation which could help fight off properties cold temperatures. I live in Alaska and I can tell you grabbing an aluminum flashlight barehanded even for a few seconds in January or February can be brutal, unfortunately I’ve had to do it often in my careers. This little simple thing will win high marks from anyone living in a northern tier state.
The rear of the flashlight has what we are coming to expect as an industry standard, which is the operation switch being located on the rear of the light. The interesting thing about this simple feature is that it also houses the Streamlight “Ten-Tap” system. The system that Streamlight has come up with allows the user to cycle through several programming options in relation to the intensity of the light. On this model, there are three options. The factory preset programming is High/Strobe/Low, other modes available are High Only and High/Medium/Low. I found out through testing that the High setting which projects all 2,200 Lumens of light sucks the batteries down at an alarming rate. Overall I like the system but would prefer a simpler High/Low set up, Simple things work well for me.
While continuing my overview of the light another innovation became obvious when I set the light down to photograph it, the light doesn’t roll away when placed on a flat surface. The head of the light has three flat spots on the outside of light that allows the user to place the Protac HL4 flat on a surface while on it’s on. This is a huge deal with working on equipment or in confined spaces, I can’t tell you the number of times I have placed a light down only to have it roll away taking my only available light source with it. The engineers at Streamlight added these small features which make a huge difference to anyone using this light outside of an office setting.
Overall the Streamlight Protac HL4 is a great light for just about any user group that wants or needs a light that is easy to use and projects a ridiculous amount of light up to a distance of 346 Meters. It’s aluminum housing and combined with a huge head diameter was a welcome change compared to the lights I had been using, that being said there is only one drawback to this light. As you can tell from the above chart, battery life on these lights is shorter than I am used to, and honestly, I wish it was longer. CR123 batteries are getting cheaper but they still cost money, and honestly knowing that every two hours or so those batteries will be drained is frustrating. It’s, for this reason, I would recommend that anyone wanting to get this light pony up the coin and get the Streamlight rechargeable batteries and charger. It’s worth noting that the Streamlight rechargeable batteries can be recharged using either 12 volt, 120 volt or USB power. That should cover most available power options in North America anyway.
The build quality, warranty and overall fit and finish of this light is one of the best I’ve come across that is priced in a price range that is affordable to the common working man or woman. The average retail price for this light is in the $90 range, which is more expensive than other lights in its size range but I doubt very much those other lights produce 2,200 Lumens and offer the lifetime warranty. I would say that if you are interested in this light, wait for those holiday sales that will be coming up very soon, that would be the perfect time to pick one up. In my mind, this light with the rechargeable batteries should be able to replace many of my old tired lights. In short, this, in my opinion, is one of the items on a “Must Buy” list when it comes to lights.
We want to know what you think of the Streamlight Protac HL 4. Do you have a light that you think could be better than this one? What is it and why? We are curious as to what sort of lighting options are our readers using, and how are you using them? Drop us a comment in the section below or maybe a picture of your light at work. Thanks for taking the time to check out the Streamlight Protac HL4