Streamlight ProTac 2L Flashlight

By: Chris Warren.

(Updated 4-29-15)

I’m a member of that secret club of guys who are just fascinated with flashlights. I own probably over a dozen. The Streamlight ProTac 2L is my favorite.

The 2L retails between $35-$65 US;  the price places it at the low end of premium/tactical/professional grade (or whatever you want to call it) LED-based lights. Some lights can run into the hundreds of dollars. But let’s be real. Even a freak like me can’t come up with a reality-based excuse to spend three figures on…a flashlight.protac-2l

Luckily, I don’t have to because the 2L satisfies my flashlight yearning for not a whole lot of dough. The 2L is made of heavy grade aluminum and has a tempered glass lens and a sturdy metal clip; the only plastic on the outside it is the rubberized power switch at the end of the tube. Streamlight claims the 2L is waterproof to one meter for thirty minutes. I haven’t tested that aspect of this light, but my impression is that the claim is true.

The LED kicks out 260 lumens on high and 13 lumens on low. In the real world, high beam will clearly light up an area about a block out. There is also a strobe setting which is intended to be a passive personal defense device. The theory is that a bright blinking strobe will confuse and annoy an aggressor. My seven year old nephew likes to play with my 2L and has mastered the use of the strobe. I’m not sure about the confusing part but I can confirm it is absolutely annoying to everyone except a seven year old. I appreciate Streamlight’s effort, but I’m still going to pack a  gun as a “personal defense device.”

The light can be switched between modes by quickly tapping the switch: Twice for strobe, and three times for low beam. This takes quite a bit of practice and I often land on the strobe when I really want low beam. There is also a way to “program” it to disable the strobe. The programming process is very tricky and I have not been able to make the feature work. Perhaps it’s just me, but a flashlight should not come with a learning curve.

The Streamlight ProTac 2L uses two CR123A batteries. I can’t hold it against Streamlight for going with an expensive power source. A big beam in a small package requires something beyond the usual AAAA-AA-C-D battery options. The cost of the batteries is offset by a long runtime. What I don’t like is that you cannot use rechargeables. Streamlight states rechargeable batteries will damage the unit. I was unaware of this until my light started failing.  When I sent it in for repair, Streamlight returned a brand new 2L, no charge, not even for shipping. Included was an explanation that, they really really mean it, rechargeable batteries are off limits. I switched to disposable batteries and have not had a problem since.

My Streamlight ProTac 2L goes everywhere with me and doesn’t give me the “I must be nuts for spending so much on a flashlight” feeling I know I would have if I were walking around with a light costing two or even three times as much.

Pros: Lots of light without lightening your wallet. Very sturdy, all-metal construction. Streamlight stands by its product. Long battery run times. Excellent performance & reliability.

Cons: Difficult to switch between high-strobe-low. Does not work with rechargeable batteries. “Programming” a flashlight? Really?

Bottom line: Not a toy. True tactical quality flashlight performs far beyond its price.

Rating: 9.0/10.0

$35-$65 on line & retail.

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Photo courtesy of Streamlight. 


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