Streamtac 88040 ProTac HL Flashlight
When I was growing up, battery-powered illumination used to a hit or miss proposition. When the power went out, my dad fumbled in the junk drawer for his flashlight, unsure of its condition. In my house, this happened to be a chrome-plated, dual D-cell unit from Western Auto that had a faulty switch and dim, intermittent bulb. It wasn’t a tool that you couldn’t rely on, especially if you dropped it on the ground in time of need. Of course, that was nearly every time you used it …
Fortunately, those days of cheap slider switches and batteries with zero shelf-life are a distant memory. Advanced materials and electronics have transformed the once unreliable flashlights of yesteryear into dependable tools that can be relied upon when they are needed. In fact, many of the best are handheld marvels of engineering. Incorporating super-efficient light emitting diodes and powerful batteries into an ergonomic housing, flashlight state-of-the-art has been taken to an entirely new level.
Streamlight is one of the vanguard’s in this new wave of flashlight manufacturers. Located in Eagleville, Pennsylvania, they know their stuff: the company’s product line features flashlights powered by various rechargeable and disposable batteries, as well as a right angle light used by firefighters on their turnout gear. They have pioneered flashlight design and technology, and hold over 150 U.S. patents and over 100 U.S. and foreign trademarks.
For the general public, they currently produce an entire line of hand-held and weapon-mountable lights, with of their most popular being the Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL tactical flashlight. But beware: there are many cheap and inferior Chinese imitators currently flooding the market, all claiming to be “tactical” flashlights. Streamlight builds them for durability and reliability, the two most important qualities that define tactical-level gear. Plus, they back their flashlights with a limited lifetime warranty (2 years on electronics).
I was really impressed with the functionality of the Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL. First and foremost, it was the brightness that knocked my socks off. Using C4 LED technology, this diminutive torch shines at an amazing 750 Lumens, and for those who are not optical scientists, that’s the measure of brightness. In case you didn’t know, a lumen (symbol: lm) is the SI derived unit of luminous flux, a measure of the total quantity of visible light emitted by a source.
What does that mean? Suffice it to say that this flashlight can literally blind you with its brilliance. It’s far brighter than the ordinary incandescent unit of similar size and is more akin to a larger, high-powered spotlight. In total darkness, it will illuminate a very large area with it 270m beam distance, giving you the confidence to see where you’re going. To conserve power, it features 3 light output levels: high, low and medium. And with its TEN-TAP® Programming, you have a choice of three user-selectable programs: high/strobe/low; high only; and low/high beam.
I use mine to inspect the interior structure of commercial aircraft and it provides more light than I would ever need. It’s so bright, I can go without wearing reading glasses since the increased intensity precludes the need for additional magnification. Plus, I don’t have to worry about it falling out of my hand: it’s impervious to shock (it’s been engineered and tested to resist impact at 1 meter). Both the battery compartment and the glass lens are sealed with an O-ring, too—making the unit waterproof to a depth of 1 meter (for a duration of 30 minutes). Estimated operational lifetime? 50,000 hours!
Constructed of lightweight aircraft aluminum, the black enclosure strikes an impressive pose. In terms of usability, there’s a removable metal clip attached to the side of the barrel to secure it in your pocket, and a knurled finish that enhances your grip. It also comes with nylon belt case with Velcro flap, so it’s always at the ready. The front of the barrel is also equipped with rings that have a flattened area, preventing it from rolling on an inclined surface. Turning the flashlight on and off is easily and intuitively done by pressing a large, rubber-covered push button tail switch at the end of the barrel. Using this button in a variety of click sequences allows you to program the light for various modes, including strobe and various intensities.
Changing batteries is easy. All it takes is to unscrew the pack portion of the barrel (sealed with a rubber grommet) to replace a pair of 3-volt lithium-ion batteries C123A type (2 are included). Typical price for replacement? Less than 12 dollars for a pack of 6 from Amazon. But don’t worry about the power slowing fading over time: a solid state power optimizations scheme regulates the light intensity over and even range, throughout the course of the battery’s life.
I’ve had numerous flashlights over the years, including those made by Ray-O-Vac, Mag Lite, and more, and have to say I really like the look and feel of this Streamlight 88040 ProTac HL unit. The styling is spot on, without being too over-the-top. Yes, it’s more of an investment, but you won’t be disappointed with its performance. The brightness is unparalleled. It’s lightweight. It fits easily in one hand and has a professional feeling to it. Once you graduate to the next level of hand-held illumination with a tactical flashlight, there’s no going back to the Dark Ages.
|Material: Anodized Aircraft Aluminum||Batteries: 2 CR123A Lithium-ion|
|Weight: 0.64 ounces, 5.6 with batteries||High: 750 Lumens, 1.25 hrs|
|Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 1.4 inches||Low: 35 Lumens, 18 hr|
|Average Battery Life: 1.5 hours||Strobe Run Time: 2.5 hours|