I’ve got the typical EDC thing down cold; phone, blade, wallet, keys, firearm(s). But when the movie theater shooting happened in Colorado, I realized I was missing a key item: a flashlight. I hadn’t carried one in the past because I used my phone as a light in the rare instance I needed a little illumination. But that’s just what a phone give you: a little illumination. It’s not exactly something I could use in a defensive situation. Imagining myself in the shoes of one of those moviegoers really made me see the need for a good light that I could carry everyday. So I did some research and went shopping. I looked at a lot of lights, focusing primarily on Streamlight and Surefire. Finally I landed on the StreamLight ProTac 2L and here’s why . . .
I needed the right balance of size, weight and power. I considered everything from lights the size of a Glock 19 magazine down to a tiny pen light. The ProTac 2L was just barely small and light enough for me to carry everyday while packing a big 180 lumen punch. I really wanted something that could light up a dark parking lot or a back yard if I needed it. This light handles all that with ease, reaching out to a maximum distance of 126 meters. With that much power in such a compact package, I’m pretty pleased with its rated run-time: 2.5 hours on high beam and a whopping 50 hours on low.
Made in China from aircraft aluminum, this torch is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter, just over 4.5 inches long, and weights under 3 ounces with the batteries. It’s anodized in basic black and has a removable pocket clip.
About that clip: it’s very respectably sturdy, keeping the light right where I put it all day long. I typically carry mine in my left back pocket on the far left side and have yet to find a position where the light has been pushed up and out, or even moved around in the pocket. If you’re not using (or don’t like) the clip, the body has three flat areas molded into it that will keep it from rolling off a table. It comes with a stylish nylon belt holster, too.
The ProTac uses tailswitch activation that allows for 3 modes; high, strobe and low (in that order). That low setting puts out only 10 lumens. But it’s great for putting out just a little light in a room where you’ve got a sleeping child and you’re trying to tip-toe past the little plastic booby-traps he’s planted. It would also serve as a decent lantern inside a tent.
The strobe? Well, let’s just say that setting is only for those you want to send into a light-induced seizure. It’s fast, and it’s bright…just ask my wife.
I have two issues with this light. First, cycling the modes on the tailswitch takes a light half-push of the switch. That’s not something I think I could do effectively in a defensive situation, and that makes the strobe feature really more of a cool novelty. Second, the batteries (2 CR123A lithiums) aren’t something you’re going to find on every battery rack you run across.
The battery situation is both a plus and a minus, though. Plus: they’re compact, long-lasting and provide good power, keeping the size of the light down (a high priority). Minus: they can be hard to find when they do finally run out. But I buy bulk packs of 12 on Amazon for about $23 so it’s usually not that big a deal.
Streamlight makes a shorter, lighter version of this same light, the ProTac 1L, that runs on a single battery. It comes at a price though, losing 70 lumens and 45 minutes of run-time. The increase in size with the 2L was an easy tradeoff to make to get the additional output. After 2-3 weeks, I’m really liking having this light on me every day. Its mighty handy and I’m already surprised how often I’ve pulled it from my pocket to light something up.
Length: 4.68 inches
Major Diameter: .9 inches
Barrel Diameter: .77 inches
Weight: 2.8 oz. with batteries
Lens: tempered glass, o-ring sealed
Output: 180 lumens (high), 10 (low)
Runtime: 2.4 hrs (high), 50 hrs (low)
Distance: 126 meters (high), 35 (low)
Price: about $50 street
Ratings (out of five stars):
Design: * * * * *
It’s maybe a hair on the thick side, but perfect in length. The thickness is only a function of the battery size. Plus, let’s be honest, it just looks cool.
Durability: * * * * *
It seems durable enough. Waterproof, tempered lens, strong clip, aluminum construction. Not a whole lot to go wrong, really. I’ll let you know when I drop it, though.
Usability: * * * * *
I want to complain about activation of that damn strobe feature, but I shouldn’t. The tailswitch is the most effective way to use this light and without additional controls, the half-press of the switch to cycle through the functions is the only way it should work. I didn’t buy it for the strobe anyway, so the 2L gets 5 stars here too.
Value: * * * * *
This light will cost you roughly $60. Not cheap, but not a bad sticker price for something as compact and powerful as this. And your first set of batteries are included.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
In case you can’t tell, I dig this thing.