- Streamlight Protac 350 Lumens $39.99
- Streamlight ProTac Rail Mount 1: $98.99
- To enter the Midsouth Shooters’ GunsAmerica Giveaway contest, click this link: https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/landingpages/gunsamericagiveaway.aspx
Streamlight has a handy lineup of small, versatile flashlights and weaponlights that run off multiple power sources called the ProTac series. The ProTac series covers basic personal lights for everyday carry to multi-function weaponlights with rail mounts and tail switches.
We got a chance to play with a couple of their Dual-Fuel ProTac lights from Midsouth Shooters and they proved more than capable. These lights can run off of either CR123A or AA batteries are priced right for anyone looking for a quality product without turning to an unknown alternative.
Specifically, we tried out the ProTac 1L-1AA and Rail Mount 1. These lights run on your choice of either a CR123A 3-volt lithium battery or common AA alkaline, lithium or rechargeable 1.5-volt household battery. While they perform better with CR123A cells, the ability to fall back to a power source you can find at any grocery store or gas station is invaluable.
The ProTac 1L-1AA is a pocket-friendly light that comes with a stiff spring clip as well as a nylon belt holster. The Rail Mount 1 is a bigger light with an integrated Picatinny-compatible mount and an optional tape switch.
To accommodate both battery cell bodies Streamlight could have gone with just a big conical spring and left it at that. Instead, they developed a cradle system that telescopes up and down inside the light. The cradle capture each battery by its positive terminal, eliminating rattle and ensuring a solid power connection.
The light bodies are machined aluminum with an anodized finish for light weight and durability with a high-output LED light source. Different ProTac models offer different light modes. These lights have three light modes: High, strobe and low. The high output on both is intended to be bright enough to light up a subject in daylight indoors and the low setting dim enough to comfortably read by in low or no light.
Both lights are brighter with CR123A cells but are still capable with off-the-shelf batteries. I tried them with a few different types of AA cells and found that the output varied accordingly with the quality of battery used. This means that Streamlight’s specs are more guidelines, but that’s pretty standard for this kind of gear. Streamlight rates the lights at a solid 350 lumens on high with a new lithium CR123A cell. Like brightness, battery life varies depending on cell type and light usage. They also put out a some heat, especially on high — above body temperature, but only just.
With the ProTac 1L-1AA you can expect around two hours of full-power brightness with a good battery, four hours on strobe and 32 hours on low power. The Rail Mount 1 gets around 1.5 hours on full, a little more with a lithium battery and from 8 to just under 15 hours on low depending on battery type. Again, all of these are subject to use and battery type, and quality and the brightness will drop as the battery life goes down.
If you need longer runtimes, keep in mind that the 1L-1AA and Rail Mount 1 are two of Streamlight’s more compact, lightweight ProTac lights. Streamlight has a full line of ProTac lights including models with higher outputs and longer battery life — if you don’t mind the extra weight. Personally, I prefer to carry less and replace batteries more often.
These are lightweight lights. The 1L-1AA weighs 2.7 ounces with an alkaline battery and 2.4 ounces with a lithium cell — about the same as a medium Swiss Army knife. You could easily carry it in a shirt pocket if you had to.
The Rail Mount 1 weighs between 4.1 and 4.5 ounces depending on the battery type. The tape switch adds an extra ounce. That includes the mount itself, which is integral to the light body. It’s a solid choice for anyone in the ounces-is-pounds mindset and doesn’t want to make a rifle feel front-heavy.
The integral mount uses a typical knurled thumbscrew and lateral sliding clamp for attaching to a Picatinny rail. One nice touch is that the thumbscrew is captive and won’t screw off and get lost. Also, the knurls are not aggressive and there is nothing sharp on the Rail Mount 1 if you want to use it as an index for your support hand.
Both lights come standard with a power switch on the end cap. The lights come on with a soft push and lock on and off with a hard click. Rapidly pushing the button cycles between modes, full power, strobe and then low power. Once you’ve selected a mode you can lock the light on with a hard push and solid click.
Additionally, you can select from three more light “programs” using the Streamlight “Ten-Tap” function of the lights. By rapidly pressing the switch ten times, holding down the switch for a full second on the tenth time you cycle the light to the next program. The default program is full power, strobe, then low power. The other settings are full power only; full power and strobe only; and low power, full power, no strobe. Low power, full power no strobe is my preferred setting. With a quick press I can light up an object without blowing out my night vision, and if I need it, full power is just a double-click away.
A lot of tactical lights have multiple light levels and strobe functions, but the Ten-Tap system is a really nice feature. Initially, we expected it to be a throwaway add-on, something companies do to make their products stand out on paper. But once you have the option of pre-setting your light’s functions, it’s hard to turn back.
The lights are ruggedized to withstand regular drops from heights up to 2 meters and have hardened glass lenses. Glass is nice on a light as it generally provides better clarity and beam focus. They’re also water-resistant and sealed front and back with O-rings. Both ends have extended bezels for extra protection. The 1L 1AA also sports a lanyard loop on the end cap. The Rail Mount 1 does not, but it also wouldn’t benefit from a lanyard.
Additionally, the Rail Mount 1 can be operated using the included tape switch. The switch has two buttons: A clicking on/off button and a press-and-hold strip. Tape switches really open up all the options when it comes to light placement and handguard compatibility.
With the Rail Mount 1 you don’t need a full-length Picatinny handguard, you only need about three slots of rail space for the light. The tape switch can go anywhere within reach of the 7-inch cable. The tape switch comes with a set of stiff polymer Picatinny rail adapters as well as a double-sided 3M tape strip to mount directly to a handguard or forend. Also included are plenty of zip ties and two screws to anchor the tape switch to a handguard.
Both lights have fixed lenses and throw similar beams. At the center of the beam is a bright, very evenly lit circle surrounded by a wide, dimly lit cone. The center circle is bright and uniform enough that you could easily use it to frame a target in the 7-yard range or closer and even farther out with practice. At 7 yards the inner circle is about torso-sized. A light is no substitute for a sight, but if you have to use the Rail Mount light to get on target it will certainly help.
The outer light cones do a good job of lighting up surrounding areas. They’re about 60 degrees, maybe a little less, and also fairly uniform. While not as bright the 1L-1AA model’s beam is downright perfect. The Rail Mount 1 has a slightly brighter edge at the fringe of the outer cone, but it’s not distracting.
These lights are value-oriented but they bring a construction quality and feature set that would have made them cost a lot more just a few years ago. The ProTac 1L-1AA retails for less than $40 while the Rail Mount 1, with the tape switch and all the mounting hardware, runs under $100. These lights ship with batteries included; one AA and one CR123A.
If you don’t have a steady supply of CR123A batteries or just want the option to use AA batteries in a pinch, these lights should be on your radar. Especially when you take the price into consideration — these lights are very competitive.
Midsouth Shooters is a great resource for products like the above pieces at great prices. The company is offering you the chance to win one of the items covered in this and future GunsAmerica articles on Midsouth’s products. Just click the link, and gain tons of entries right up until the giveaway scheduled for 11-23-16. In addition, you can receive a free copy of the 240-page Reloading and Shooting Supply catalog from Midsouth Shooters! For more than 45 years, Midsouth Shooters has provided reloaders and shooters top-quality supplies and great prices. Click on the link and sign up to receive your free copy. See why so many shooters across the country shop at Midsouth Shooters.
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