Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB / ProTac HL 5-X Review

Preface

The rather popular Dual-Fuel (2 x 18650 OR 4 x CR123A batteries) ProTac HL 4 has recently been replaced by an even brighter HL 5-X model.

Is the new model worth the upgrade or getting if you are looking for a high output 2 x 18650 battery flashlight?

Note: There is 2 options for the ProTac HL 5-X model — ProTac HL 5-X USB (comes with 2 x Streamlight 18650 batteries) and ProTac HL 5-X (comes with 4 x Streamlight CR123A batteries). Both samples will be mentioned in this review.

Packaging & First Impressions

This is what the light will come with as shown below.

  • The review samples came in the Plastic Clamshell packagings, there is an alternative Box packaging as well.
  • The threads and o-rings were mildly lubricated. Threads were rather smooth and clean (no gritty feeling).
  • The side switch requires a somewhat firm and deliberate press to activate and helps in preventing any unwanted activation of the light.
  • Anodizing of the light is uniform without any missing specs.
  • The entire body section of the flashlight is covered in a non-removable rubber sleeve to ensure excellent grip.
  • The provided lanyard & split ring is able to support the full weight of the light and should hold up to the test of time.
  • No holster and/or pocket clip is provided.
  • For the ProTac HL 5-X USB model, the battery compartment holds the provided non-proprietary Streamlight Micro-USB rechargeable 18650 2600mAh batteries and/or Keeppower 18650 3400mAh batteries with sufficient room for a slightly thicker battery width. Fatter 18650 3500mAh batteries should be able to fit without issue as well.
  • For the ProTac HL 5-X model, the battery compartment holds the provided non-proprietary Streamlight CR123A 1400mAh batteries with almost no battery rattle – unless shaken vigorously from side-to-side.

Note: Due to the number of batteries being inserted, do take extra caution to ensure that all batteries are inserted into the battery tube with the positive end in.

ProTac HL 5-X USB

Front:

Back:

Box Contents:

ProTac HL 5-X

Front:

Back:

Box Contents:

Quick Overview (Manufacturer Specifications)

  • Body Material: Black HAIII Aluminium and non-removable Rubber Sleeve
  • LED: XHP70.2
  • Battery Format: 2 x 18650 or 4 x CR123A ONLY
  • Output & Runtime (with included 2 x Streamlight 18650 2600mAh batteries / with included 4 x Streamlight CR123A 1400mAh batteries):
    • Low – (250 lumens / 11h 30min) / (250 lumens / 10h 30min)
    • Mid – (1000 lumens / 3h) / (1000 lumens / 2h 30min)
    • High – (3500 lumens / 1h 15min) / (2500 lumens / 1h 30min)
  • Max Beam Distance: 452m / 385m
  • Beam intensity: 51,000cd / 37,000cd
  • Waterproofness: IPX-7 Standard (1m)
  • Impact Resistance: 1m
  • Dimension: 242.1mm (length) x 31.5mm (body diameter) / 59.7mm (head diameter)
  • Weight: 550g (including 2 x Streamlight 18650 2600mAh batteries) / 522g (including 4 x Streamlight CR123A 1400mAh batteries)
  • Accessories Included:
    • 2*Streamlight 2158L (18650 2600mAh) batteries / 4*Streamlight CR123A 1400mAh batteries
    • 1*Micro-USB “Y” Cable / Not Applicable
    • 1*Lanyard / 1*Lanyard
  • MSRP: ~$175 (BOX / Plastic Clamshell style) / ~$145 (BOX / Plastic Clamshell style) (Scroll down to see Where to Buy this flashlight at better prices.)

UI (User Interface)

UI for this light is suitable for a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) or walking/hiking/search & rescue light as it is extremely straightforward to use.

Switching ON and OFF is done by the side mechanical switch on the light, so momentary activation is possible.

Normal Operation

From OFF:

  • 1 * 1/2 Press – Direct access to MOMENTARY MODE 1; releasing it will switch the light OFF & Full Press to select MODE 1.
  • 2 * 1/2 Press (<~0.4 secs between each Press) – Direct access to MOMENTARY MODE 2; releasing it will switch the light OFF & Full Press to select MODE 2.
  • 3 * 1/2 Press (<~0.4 secs between each Press) – Direct access to MOMENTARY MODE 3; releasing it will switch the light OFF & Full Press to select MODE 3.

From ON:

  • 1 Click – Light will switch OFF.

Mode Programs Configuration (Streamlight’s TEN-TAP Programmable Switch)

The modes are configurable with the following 3 Programs.

  1. HIGH – STROBE – LOW -> HIGH – STROBE – LOW (Factory Default)
  2. HIGH only
  3. LOW – MID – HIGH -> LOW – MID – HIGH

Note: for illustration, in the Factory Default Program (Program 1) – MODE 1 is HIGH, MODE 2 is STROBE and MODE 3 is LOW.

To switch between the 3 Programs, carry out the following steps.

  1. From OFF, 1/2 Press the switch 9 times (<~0.4 secs between each Press).
  2. HOLD the switch on the 10th time till the flashlight switches OFF.
  3. The light is now in Program 2 (assuming that the light was in Program 1 before Step I).
  4. Repeat Step I & II to get the light into Program 3.

Form Factor

For flashlights that are intended to use for a BOB or walking/hiking/search & rescue usages and for possibly an extended period of time, form factor is extremely important.

Despite its length (due to the 2 x 18650 form factor), this light feels rather well balanced in a medium sized hand (slightly head-heavy). Switching between overhand and underhand holding method is easy with its form factor. The Rubber Sleeve on the body of the light ensures that it will always be “grippy”, even with wet hands/gloves.

On a side note, this flashlight’s size and weight fits perfectly under the arms when requiring for hands-free usage.

The light will tail-stand without any issue, even with the lanyard attached.

For a light this size, it could really use a complimentary holster to complete the package and would help protect the lens & flashlight during transport.

Size Comparison of the flashlight next to the CR123A battery and 18650 battery respectively:

Charging Process

Only the Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB model has this charging capability. However, unlike what the name suggests, the USB is not in-built to the flashlight but is in-built to the 18650 batteries instead.

With the provided Micro-USB “Y” Cable, the batteries were charging at ~1.10A. If only 1 battery is charged, the charging rate is at ~0.55A.

The RED indicator depicts charging in progress and GREEN indicator depicts charging has completed.

Beam Style/Beamshots

For this light, the spill, corona and hotspot is somewhat predictable due to the rather large TIR (Total Internal Reflection) optic. The LED is fully covered under the TIR optics. With the LED used, the beam is still sufficiently “throwy” for recognizing items in the mid to slightly further distance.

The above beam profile is a rough interpretation of what is seen when white wall hunting. The beam has a wide circular hotspot with some slight corona and some spill (almost all of the beam produced is focused into the hotspot). It also helps that the XHP70.2 LED is perfectly centred in this sample. There are some beam artifacts (no dark “donut”) in the beam when whitewall hunting but not visible in real world usage.

All of the beamshots taken below are done so with the following camera settings ([ProTac HL 5-X USB (2 x 18650 Batteries)] LOW: 1/3sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, MID: 1/5sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB and HIGH: 1/13sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB / [ProTac HL 5-X (4 x CR123A Batteries)] LOW: 1/3sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB, MID: 1/5sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB and HIGH: 1/10sec, F3.5, ISO100, 5000K WB).
Some pictures have been adjusted slightly to depict as close as to what is seen in real life. The distance of the light from the door is 4.6m.

ProTac HL 5-X USB (2 x 18650 Batteries)

Control shot:

LOW (250 lumens):

MID (1000 lumens):

HIGH (3500 lumens):

ProTac HL 5-X (4 x CR123A Batteries)

Control shot:

LOW (250 lumens):

MID (1000 lumens):

HIGH (2500 lumens):

Mode (Output) Spacing

Mode spacing appears to be progressively brighter to the eye and the modes are well spaced enough to be able to know which mode one is currently in. With that in mind, TLR tend to view mode spacing as battery life indicators (amount of runtime left) rather than the specific output (lumens).

Since this light isn’t marketed for indoor usage, it is somewhat understandable that the “LOW” mode (250 lumens) is rather bright in terms of output. That said, a lower “LOW” of around 100 – 150 lumens region would increase usability for up-close usage and increase runtime at the same time.

The only difference of getting the ProTac HL 5-X USB (2 x 18650 Batteries) over the ProTac HL 5-X (4 x CR123A Batteries) would be the bump in output of the USB version from 2500 lumens to 3500 lumens.
To be clear, ProTac HL 5-X (4 x CR123A Batteries) model will still produce 3500 lumens, if 2 x 18650 batteries are used instead.

Tint & CRI

Streamlight did not disclose the tint (color temperature) and/or the CRI (Color Rendering Index) for the LED used in their light. For this light, a guesstimate would be in the 6000K to 6500K and 70CRI ballpark.

However, due to the emitter used, there are tint shifts throughout the beam profile. For the ProTac HL 5-X sample, the hotspot is almost cool white whilst the corona possess a slight yellow-green tint; and the spill having a slight purple tint.
This is however, not as noticeable in real life.

For the ProTac HL 5-X USB sample, it has a slightly yellower tint throughout the beam profile instead.

This “phenomenon” is one of the more commonly known side effects of using the high output XHP70.2 LED and does not affect the flashlight in any way.

Waterproofness

The light was subjected to warm water submersion, followed by cold water submersion and left under room temperature running water tap whilst running on HIGH.

No signs of water intrusion in the head, switch or tailcap was seen.

Lockout Capability

No electronic lockout but mechanical lockout is possible when needed, like during transportation in a bag.

A quarter turn (anti-clockwise) of the tailcap will enable mechanical LOCKOUT.

Quick Comparison to Previous Generation

DescriptionStreamlight ProTac HL 5-XStreamlight ProTac HL 4
LED UsedXHP70.2XHP50
Switch PositionSide SwitchTail Switch
Max Output (2 x 18650 Batteries)3500 Lumens2200 Lumens
Max Output (4 x CR123A Batteries)2500 Lumens2200 Lumens
Max. Beam Intensity51,000 cd30,000 cd
Max. Beam Distance452 m346m

Scale Comparison (Ruler)

Summary

To sum up, we believe that the most important part of any review is if given the chance to purchase the same light for our own EDC or to gift to our loved ones out from one’s pocket (wallet), would we still do it?
For this light, it is a YES, if the tint shift is not an issue for your usage.

The configurable 3 program modes, “grippy” rubber sleeve, dual fuel (2 x 18650 or 4 x CR123A batteries) compatibility and a makeshift emergency window breaker (owing to the size/heft of the flashlight) are all plus points for this flashlight.

However, as mentioned earlier, this flashlight could really use a complimentary holster to help protect its lens and body during transport.

On a side note, if this flashlight is used by LEOs, we recommend the Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X for the use of CR123A batteries for misson-critical situations like for the Elzetta Alpha we reviewed previously. For all other situations, the Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB would be more economical in the long run, with its in-built Micro-USB 18650 batteries.

Here are some of the other high output flashlight options we have reviewed recently.
From Left to Right: CR123A Battery, 18650 Battery, Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB / ProTac HL 5-X, Nitecore Concept 2 and Imalent RT70.

As with all gears, two is one and one is none.

Stay safe,
The Lite Review


Disclaimer: Lights & batteries were provided for by Streamlight (manufacturer) for this review. No other compensation was provided.


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