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.
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.
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.
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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:
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.
I use a lot of flashlights and the problem is that I tend to lose them. Thus, while I like and appreciate high-end lights, they can be expensive to lose, crush, etc. As a result, I tend to try and find decent lights at a low price. In my recent trolling of Amazon I was intrigued by the LiteXpress LXL439001. You might think I was trolling for lumens but I am way over that – I want something in the 40-100 lumen range with good battery life, is LED, and rugged yet affordable. If I lose it, I don’t want to have an awful sense of loss.
I also prefer AA or CR123A batteries, which I buy in bulk. You guys may know this already, but shop for CR123A batteries on Amazon plus Walgreen’s Alkaline batteries are great and very affordable. When it comes to the CR123As, buy brand name and check reviews – all the major light manufacturers warn against the no-name cheap import batteries due to the risk of fire. I check brands such as Surefire, Energizer and Streamlight for volume deals on Amazon. The price savings are huge compared to local stores.
At any rate, what attracted me wasn’t lumens or some tacticool styling feature – it was the little rotary switch on the tail end and it stopped me dead. I loathe the “click and try to get it right” 3-5 mode lights. Seriously, they drive me crazy. I want something simple and predictable. I’m not even a huge fan of low-high-off but can deal with it. I’m sure you’ve seen the lights where they have all kinds of features – typically low, high, strobe, SOS, etc. You know what I really want – on and off. The LiteXpress has an on/off switch and the genius in in moving all the features to the rotary with symbols – I can go straight to whatever mode I want and if I hold the on/off button down, then the intensity can drop down from 122 by 10% increments.
You see, the LiteXpress is designed in Germany but built in China. There is an attention to design in this light that frankly surprised me so much that I bought it and decided to write about it. When the Amazon box arrived, I opened it up and found the light secured in a plastic blisterpack shell. Of course, I had to snap a few photos to share with all of you:
122 lumens max but can decrease to 10 lumens
Push-button on/off on the barrel
Rotary selector switch on the tail end. The modes are lock, high, flash (strobe or SOS can be selected), and temporary on/off. Pretty cool.
Three color filters that firm slide over the output end of the light
LED battery indicator: green = 100%, Yellow=approx 50% and Red=approx 10% remaining
It came with 2 Duracell CR123A batteries
I have been using it a few days now and really like it. It’s higher quality than I expected and you’ll find it hard to beat for $23. If you are looking for a decent flashlight, you might want to check it out.
Update on 7/1/14: We lost power last night and this flashlight was fantastic. I used it last night and this morning after the powerful storm went through. It worked great the whole time and even after at least 45-60 minutes of ontime the batteries are reported as “green” by the power indicator. We may well not have power tonight either and I will be using this more again if that happens.