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You never know when or where you’ll need to light up the night. And not just to illuminate a potential target in a defensive situation.

Life presents its challenges. You could have a flat tire on a lonely 2-lane road on your way home. You might be assembling one of those annoying IKEA cabinet units and need some extra light in an interior corner. Or maybe you dropped something that rolled under the bed and, well, it’s dark under there.

Streamlight’s ProTac HL USB flashlight is notable because it will run off of three different power sources. It comes with a rechargeable USB battery. But if that runs down, it will also run on an 18650 cell or a couple of CR123A batteries you can find in almost any grocery store or gas station.

I’ve owned this light for years now and it’s lived in my car’s center console for the past five. I keep it tethered to one of the USB ports in there so it’s always with me and always fully charged.

Mine puts out 850 lumens on its high setting for over an hour if I need that much (I rarely do) or about 85 lumens on low beam for 12 hours. The current model cranks out 1000 lumens.

You can switch between those two intensities and a strobe setting with Streamlight’s easy Ten-Tap programming feature. You can also switch it to a low/medium/high configuration.

This flashlight isn’t small (about 6.5 inches in length) and you could use it as a decent bludgeon if you had to (it weighs 7.2 oz). It’s not cheap ($95 online for the current model), but the ProTac HL USB is tough, water-resistant, versatile and always ready. It’s a great option for an emergency preparedness kit or go bag. And it definitely doesn’t suck.

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  1. There is no reason for these kinds of devices to continue being made to use USB for charging. These need to be wireless.

  2. I was given one of these at the steel mill I work at. It’s definitely a tough sob, that has never let me down in 6 years of operation. I almost lost it last year; it spent 4 days at the bottom of a cold rolling mill, subjected to heat, oil and water. When we went down for maintenance, there she was, no worse for wear. if I do lose it, I’ll be getting another one, toot sweet.

  3. I admit I’m a flashlight snob. It started decades ago by getting the rechargeable Maglite® like the cops had. It’s so old and obsolete now it’s of no use. It wasn’t LED and Maglite® doesn’t make an upgrade. sigh 🙁

    Then I started getting into Surefire products having several of their 6PX pros. Nice flashlights but they aren’t rechargeable and face it, buying batteries sucks ass. I suppose I could buy the 123A batteries as rechargeables and buy a charger but I didn’t. I’ve also had a Streamlight 4AA flashlight for a heck of a long time and used it when I twisted wrenches. I’ve gotten many replacement parts for it from Streamlight and the things still working. I do have rechargeable batteries for that. The Streamlight has been an amazing product having been dropped at least a thousand times and Streamlight has stood by their warranty.

    Good things happened when Amazon made me a Vine® participant. I got flashlights galore for free. A few were pure crap which I gave away but all were rechargeables and a number of them were very nice, replacing the 6PX on the nightstand next to the P229.

    Those rechargeable are very similar to the Streamlight ProTac HL and having a long history of using Streamlight products, I wouldn’t hesitate buying one. As noted in the article, having a good flashlight around is an absolute must.

  4. Question: how “Hot” does it get? Ref: the little “HOT” warning on the light end.

    • It does get pretty hot if left on for several minutes at a time. In my line of work, I have it on only briefly at a time while I inspect mechanical parts on the mill. if I need light for an extended period of time, we have other lights suitable for that task.

  5. I need a good flashlight.
    I was using one of those headlamp flashlights when fishing, you cant see nothing but bugs, so I magic marked the lens in red and that got rid of the problem.

  6. Where I live you can’t find Cr123A batteries in grocery stores or gas stations, you are lucky to find them in hardware stores.

    • I live in a MegaOpolis and there are no grocery stores or gas stations with CR123A’s and if there are, they want $8 a piece for them.

  7. I don’t have this particular model, but I do have several Streamlight products. They are all quality. I remember a few years ago, when I first began to comment here, there was a daily article about someone’s EDC. I was regularly ridiculed for pointing out the lack of a light. Sometimes, even the missing knife and especially a reload. Who needs one of those?

  8. Lordy, this thread is amazing! You guys realize you’re enthusing about a flashlight which is NOT LED, right? LEDs don’t get hot! My Thrunite lights (some closing in on 10 years old now) warn against heat on the highest setting, but the heat is not from the bulb but from the point the battery (18650 or more) discharges into the light, the light’s aluminum casing is heated. Of course, it is pitting out 1200 lumens at that point, specs say it will do that for 90 minutes on a full battery but it will be too hot to hold after 10 minutes. I needed the high setting for 3-4 minutes once, case was uncomfortably hot after that time. But I was illuminating an overwater search of an area 1/4 mile away at the time, which was successful. And these flashlights are small and light, cost around $50, have 5 power settings . Seem to be indestructable, I don’t even know how many I’ve bought now, family, friends, every car, on and on, probably at least 10, not one failure. Power settings go from “firefly”, barely enough to find your way in pitch dark, battery lasts 3 MONTHS, to 1200 lumens, lasts 90 minutes. Ya’ll come on, join this century!

  9. Something else about rechargeable flash lights or flashlight batteries. Murphy sez they will be dead when you are trying not to be and Murphy was an optimist.

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