Tag Archives: Self Defense

The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 2 – Out of the box & performance report

As mentioned in the first post, I ordered a Streamlight 88081 from Amazon. It arrived and, of course, I had to immediately check it out. Here are a series of photos with the story told in the captions.

This is the 88081 with the 18650 USB rechargeable batteries
The box has twp tables talking about performance metrics based on the type of battery used. The left table is for CR123A batteries and the right is for 18650 batteries. The model I bought comes with the 18650 class batteries (two of them are used at a time) so the right table is applicable.
The first thing I noticed was how it felt – there’s a nice solid heft to it, the rubberized grip is very positive and it fits my hand real nice. Note, I wear XL-sized gloves for reference.
Here’s the business end of the light. Notice the interesting lens. It kicks out one hell of a bright focused center but still radiates a very broad cone of light. It is not adjustable but I really haven’t found the need to change it after using it for over a month.
It has some big fins for heat dissipation. Note, the rubberized surface is only on the handle – the emitter head is just anodized aluminum to allow for cooling. Good idea on their part. The longest I’ve run the light about 5-10 minutes. It does warm up but I’ve not run it long enough to see just how hot it can get.
These are the Streamlight brand Micro USB rechargeable 18650 batteries. I was unsure about the concept at first but they give you a ton of options for recharging in your home, vehicle or even with a big battery in the field.

Streamlight USB Rechargeable 18650 Lithium-Ion Battery - 2 Pack - 22102

$27.68
End Date: Sunday Dec-1-2019 7:56:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $27.68
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 22102 Rechargeable Li-Ion Lithium-Ion 18650 USB Battery Set - 2 Pack

$27.69
End Date: Monday Nov-25-2019 12:17:15 PST
Buy It Now for only: $27.69
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
Because I already have an 18650 charging cradle, I bought some spare 18650 batteries. OLight makes good gear so I got a pair of their batteries. As I write this, they are in the light right now. I also bought them because I wasn’t sure how the Streamlight USBs would perform and the short answer is that if I had it to do over, I’d buy a second pair of Streamlight USBs because of the flexibility to charge just about anywhere. DO NOT BUY CHEAP BATTERIES!! You risk performance and them catching fire/exploding.

Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$19.95
End Date: Saturday Nov-16-2019 18:36:12 PST
Buy It Now for only: $19.95
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Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$19.95
End Date: Saturday Nov-16-2019 18:36:12 PST
Buy It Now for only: $19.95
Buy It Now | Add to watch list
They use a nice beefy spring on the tailcap. This spring is a failure point on cheap lights along with the switch. I’ve never had a spring or switch fail on a Streamlight product.
According to my Bushnell 1200 laser range finder, the hedge row at the back behind the trees is 65 yards. You can see the very bright center and flood light around it.
The bush to the left of the driveway is 62 yards away. Again, you can see the very bright focused center beam and broad light to the sides.

TEN-TAP Programming

I have a pet peeve with some lights – I loathe the ones with tons of modes where you need to click the power switch to cycle through them – low, medium, high, strobe, SOS, etc. What a pain in the butt!! Streamlight wisely made the PROTAC HL programmable via what they call “TEN-TAP”. Mine is set to high beam on and off. That’s it. Sure, I can adjust it if I ever want to but all I need right now is the high beam and I don’t want to have to fumble around clicking the button to get to the high beam mode. Streamlight has a page that tells more about how to program your light – click here.

Bottom Line

I really, really like this light. It is the brightest one I own now and when we pull down the trash at night, we can see everything very clearly. If there are any coyotes, I am sure they are getting the heck out of Dodge as soon as they see that light and hear us coming. Furthermore, the light has enough heft that if we do need to hit something with it, the blow will do massive damage – you’d be amazed what a freaked out fat man can do 🙂 At any rate, I have no reservations recommending this light to you.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$102.52
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:51 PST
Buy It Now for only: $102.52
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$101.46
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $101.46
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Protac HL5-X Series 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight CR123A

$85.71
End Date: Thursday Dec-12-2019 7:04:19 PST
Buy It Now for only: $85.71
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88075 Black Protac HL 5-X 3500 Lumens LED Flashlight w/ Batteries

$85.63
End Date: Thursday Dec-12-2019 7:04:10 PST
Buy It Now for only: $85.63
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Black ProTac HL 5-X 2500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$87.16
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:55 PST
Buy It Now for only: $87.16
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X Tactical USB Flashlight 88080 18650 Bat 3,500 Lumens

$103.99
End Date: Sunday Dec-1-2019 3:59:57 PST
Buy It Now for only: $103.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X FREE SHIPPING

$69.99
End Date: Friday Dec-13-2019 13:53:38 PST
Buy It Now for only: $69.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight USB Rechargeable 18650 Lithium-Ion Battery - 2 Pack - 22102

$27.68
End Date: Sunday Dec-1-2019 7:56:40 PST
Buy It Now for only: $27.68
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Flashlight up to 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

$112.99
End Date: Tuesday Nov-19-2019 5:46:59 PST
Buy It Now for only: $112.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 1

One Sunday morning at about 7am, I was putting stuff in the trunk of my wife’s car when a surprised coyote carrying a dead reddish brown cat in its jaws ran by me about 20 feet away. I was startled but not especially worried – you could tell the ‘yote was just as surprised as I was. I knew we had them in the area but this was the closest I had been to one.

A few days later, my wife and I were pulling our trash cans down our long 300 foot driveway at night and all the woods and bushes are dimly lit. My wife said she saw a dog or something running across our yard in front of a hedge. My eyes are crap now and I didn’t see it until it reached the driveway and turned to run away from us – it was another coyote. Well, that did it for me, I wanted us to have a heavy flashlight with one hell of a bright beam to carry when we pulled the trash cans out at night.

My wife will tell you that I am fascinated by flashlights and have quite a collection. I have converted 3, 4 and 5 cell MagLites to LED – they had the weight but not the brightness that I wanted. I wanted something that would absolutely nuke the immediate area in light. I needed something that would push a ton of light in a flood pattern about 100-200 yards and that meant something with well over 1,000 lumens. My 250-500 lumen lights would light up a pretty large area but I wanted a tactical nuke that would light up a big chunk of our yard and stun/scare anything caught in its beam.

The other mandatory requirement that I must emhasize was reliability. I’ve had a ton of cheap import lights fail me – sometimes its the switch, sometimes the cheap under-powered spring pushing the batteries forward, etc. Most of the time, when you buy a cheap light, you get a cheap light. I honestly wanted a light the family could rely on and if they needed to swing it as a club in self-defense to hit a coyote, or any attacker really, it would still reliably work.

If I am going to put my family’s safety on the line with a light, such as this case, there are only two brands of light to be considered – Surefire and Streamlight. Surefire lights are excellent but usually priced outside of my reach. Streamlight on the other hand, is a great combination of excellent quality and affordability. My everyday carry light is usually a Streamlight Microstream and has been for the last 2-3 years. The only weapons lights I buy are Streamlights – either from the TLR or PROTAC series. I’ve never had one fail on me so I am confident with this brand in general.

Thus, I started my journey broad by surfing the web and reading and quickly narrowing my choice down to the Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X LED light.

The PROTAC HL 5-X Flashlight

As mentioned, I did a ton of reading. The specs on this light were wicked and convinced me to order one:

  • 3,500 lumen on high using 18650 batteries or only 2500 if using CR123A
  • Can use either two 18650 reachargeable batteries or four CR123A batteries
  • Three operating programs – 1) High/Low/Strobe 2) High Only 3) Low/Medium/High
  • Light output and battery life depends on both the mode and the type of battery:
    • High (18650 USB): 3,500 lumens; 452m beam; runs 1.25 hours; 51,000 candela
    • High (CR123A): 2,500 lumens; 385m beam; runs 1.5 hours; 37,000 candela
    • Medium: 1,000 lumens; 237m beam; runs 2.5 hours (CR123A); runs 3 hours (18650 USB); 14,100 candela
    • Low: 250 lumens; 120m beam; runs 10.5 hours (CR123A); runs 11.5 hours (18650 USB); 3,620 candela
    • Strobe for signaling or disorienting: runs 1.5 hours (CR123A); runs 1.25 hours (18650 USB)
  • 9.53 inches long
  • Weighs 1 pound 3.4oz with the Streamlight USB batteries
  • Rubber sleve over an aluminum body gives both a sure grip and is a thermal insulator

Yeah, it was definitely #1 on my “this is the light to get” list. An interesting note is that you can buy complete kits including Streamlights USB reachargeable 18650 batteries. I’m used to the traditional batteries that go in a charger so this was new to me – these batteries have a small micro USB port on each of them and Streamlight can supply a USB cord that plugs into the charger of your choice. Their cord has a split head for charging the two batteries at once. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

The problem with a great many rechargeable batteries is the need for a dedicated charger -either tying up the whole light as you plug a cord into the light or the batteries are removed and put in a charging cradle of some type. With the Streamlight 18650 USB batteries, things are actually simpler – many folks have USB chargers all over the house, in cars, at work, etc. All you need is a charger and any micro USB cable – there’s nothing proprietary to deal with. The light can still use regular rechargeable 18650 batteries as well – I use both but may well get another set of Streamlight 18650 USB batteries. I already have the charger in my office but I don’t have the flexibility I just mentioned.

So, I ordered the full USB kit from Amazon and they did their usual great job of shipping.

How Did It Perform?

As they say, that is a story for another day, or at least the next post so click here to read it. I’ll tell you though, it is one heck of a light and totally lived up to what I hoped for.

Fresh out of the box.

Click here to read the next post that has many photos of the light, its parts and night time photos showing the illumination.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


The following are current eBay listings for a variety of PROTAC HL 5-X lights and not just the one I bought:


Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$102.52
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:51 PST
Buy It Now for only: $102.52
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$101.46
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:58 PST
Buy It Now for only: $101.46
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88075 Black Protac HL 5-X 3500 Lumens LED Flashlight w/ Batteries

$85.63
End Date: Thursday Dec-12-2019 7:04:10 PST
Buy It Now for only: $85.63
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Protac HL5-X Series 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight CR123A

$85.71
End Date: Thursday Dec-12-2019 7:04:19 PST
Buy It Now for only: $85.71
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88074 Black ProTac HL 5-X 2500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$87.16
End Date: Saturday Nov-23-2019 5:21:55 PST
Buy It Now for only: $87.16
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X Tactical LED Flashlight 88074 - Dual Fuel 3,500 Lumens

$89.99
End Date: Sunday Nov-24-2019 9:22:37 PST
Buy It Now for only: $89.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X FREE SHIPPING

$69.99
End Date: Friday Dec-13-2019 13:53:38 PST
Buy It Now for only: $69.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight 88075 ProTac HL 5-X Handheld LED Flashlight 3500 Lumens, Black

$85.58
End Date: Sunday Dec-1-2019 10:00:24 PST
Buy It Now for only: $85.58
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X Tactical USB Flashlight 88080 18650 Bat 3,500 Lumens

$103.99
End Date: Sunday Dec-1-2019 3:59:57 PST
Buy It Now for only: $103.99
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Michigan Gun Exchange’s CPL Class Was Excellent!!

This past Sunday, my wife and I attended Michigan Gun Exchange’s 10 hour Concealed Carry Firearms Training class. It was so well done that I felt I needed to write it up and pass along the info so let me give you a bit of background.

I grew up with rifles and shotguns but not really pistols. When my dad was a boy, he borrowed my grandfather’s tiny derringer to hunt squirrels. As he told me, he got excited and accidentally got the web of this thumb in front of the little barrel and shot/nicked himself. Well, that turned him off to pistols and then in WWII they were issued shot out 1911’s that couldn’t hit the side of a barn. My dad had a Marksmans Badge and was the finest shot I ever met with a rifle but he just did not care for pistols. As a result, I did not have a firearms pistol until college around 1989. What little I knew about how to shoot one, I learned from friends and none of them had formal training either. In other words, I knew my pistol knowledge was lacking big time.

So, for years now, my friend, Scott Igert, and others, have told me I need to get a Michigan Concealed Pistol License (CPL). This isn’t just an application where you simply fill out a form – I would have to take a class. Whoa.

What held me back was three fold – 1) I sucked at pistols and didn’t want to be embarrassed — I have a tremor and have always joked that I might do better at throwing the pistol at the target. 2) Finding the time to actually take the class. 3) Finding an instructor who could actually teach.

Getting Started

What got my wife and I to finally act was the desire to better protect ourselves. It seems like there is so much violence these days that we really owed it to ourselves and our family to proceed with the CPL. This also included the need to better understand defensive pistol shooting for both of us.

To be clear, we paid for this class and while Scott and I have been friends for years, he had no idea I was going to write this post until I sent it to him to review.

Prior to the class, I’d met Andrew Zachary only a few a times as he manages Modern Antique Firearms while Scott is at Benton Township serving as a police officer – his full time day job which he then leaves and goes to his second full time job as the owner of Modern Antique Firearms and Michigan Gun Exchange. That means Andrew gets to wear a lot of hats but he is the chief instructor for a reason — he’s really good at teaching.

That’s Andrew in the front. Brooks Bouwkamp, a range safety officer, is the fellow with his back to us fixing a target. All pistols were cleared and sitting on the tables when this photo was taken.

I was in the shop one day when Scott was working at the township in his police officer role and watched Andrew work with a young lady who wanted to buy a pistol. He was very patient and explained everything. He wasn’t talking down to her or anything negative and that made me realize that he probably was a good teacher. It was a hunch but I’ve learned a lot over the years about what makes a good teacher.

In addition to seeing his interaction, I had also heard good things about Andrew from folks who took his class. You see, on top of Andrew being a good guy, he is a certified instructor from both the NRA and USCCA (United States Concealed Carry Association) plus years and years of experience.

The Day of the Class

Seven us, including my wife and I, showed up at the Stevensville Grand Mere Pistol Club on Sunday, June 9th at 7:45am, and Andrew kicked things off promptly by 8am. It was raining outside so we all felt better about being indoors!

I could immediately tell that Andrew really cared about the topic and was an effective presenter – he wove in facts, stories, humor and practical tips together. He encouraged note taking, told us where to find more information in the accompanying course book and also had a projected presentation with videos.

The class was well thought out and took a big picture approach to self-defense. It’s not about how to kill or something crazy like that – it’s about how to defend yourself and it builds from the ground up. I used to take Tae Kwon Do years ago so there were a lot of parallel concepts that I could relate to. The best way to defend is to not be in the situation to begin with and only use the force necessary to stop the attack. Personally, I hope I am never in such a serious situation that I have to defend myself with a firearm.

Back to the topic – the class had two portions – most of it was us gathered at a table in a classroom setting and the other involved actual shooting at the range.

Classroom portion

Andrew started with a lot of very straight forward recommendations about avoiding incidents to begin with – be aware of your surroundings, don’t go down dark alleys, have your house light on, set the alarm, etc. The point, and it is a very valid one, is that the pistol is a last resort and a CPL license actually puts more liability on you in many cases because now a firearm is involved. A lot of legal considerations were covered both in general and for the state of Michigan specially.

In terms of a formal agenda, the classroom portion covered:

  • Developing a personal & home protection plan
  • Self-defense firearms basics
  • Shooting fundamentals
  • The legal use of force
  • Violent encounters and their aftermath

In the classroom, Andrew also had training pistols that looked like Glock 17s but were colored bright red and shot a laser. These let us safely practice our grip and trigger pull before we even got out to the range.

Range Portion

We then headed out to the very nice indoor range at the Grand Mere Pistol club. It was clean, well lit and equipped. By this time, Scott Igert and Brooks Bouwkamp had showed up to assist Andrew. This enabled them to ensure safety and give tips from multiple perspectives. For example, one time Brooks saw from across the room that one lady was canting her pistol up as she pulled the trigger.

Safety was stressed first and foremost. Ammunition was set out in five round groups and you could only load the mag when instructed. They would ensure everyone was ready and then we’d load the pistols with them always facing downrange and we’d then do the drills. After set of five rounds, we would clear the weapon and place it back on the table.

I should point out that only four folks shot at time so our class went through in two batches. My wife was in the first batch and I was in the second. Guys, there is a huge benefit to letting a true instructor explain things to your wives objectively. She learned a ton.

My fear of being embarrassed was unfounded. The other students were all starting out also and the instructor team offered tips and encouragement the whole time.

Scott is watching the student on the left. My wife, on the right, did a great job – I am very proud of her!!

Remember how I told you that I sucked at pistols? Folks, I have always had to use a bench rest to get any degree of accuracy. The following photo is from a 50 round box of 9mm 115gr Fiocchi FMJ ammo with my legally registered Polymer 80 Glock 34 clone. That middle group was done with the sights shooting for accuracy at 10 feet. The rest is from defensive point firing. This is easily half the size of what I would have done before the class. Most of the shooting world is probably better than me but I am very happy with the improvement.

Most of the rounds in the circle were shot during aimed fire. Do you see the few groups that are touching? I have never done that before in my life with a pistol without a rest. This was all from the Isosceles stance with the grip Andrew taught me that combines an isometric principle of pushing slightly with my right hand and pulling slightly with the left. I will be practicing that a ton.

Result

We wrapped up between 6 and 7pm and, to be honest, the time flew by. We did take a 30 minute break for lunch and I feel like we learned a ton. My wife and I compared notes and really liked how the class was handled and what all we learned.

Andrew on the left and Scott on the right wrapping the day up answering questions one-on-one.

If you are worried about having an instructor who is a jerk or is there to stroke their own ego, that is not Andrew. He’s there to teach and that’s the highest compliment I can give any instructor. If you are looking for class to get your CPL or even just a solid class for self-defense with pistols, I highly recommend what Michigan Gun Exchange has put together. Their phone number is 269-944-5788.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.