It is the unwitting ally of criminals, and the shroud that hides the helpless or lost. For millennia, mankind has fought to reclaim the night with the aid of campfires, candles, and incandescent lights—and now, with the most technologically sophisticated LED lights we would have never dreamed of just two decades ago.
Streamlight is one of the leaders in the LED lighting industry, and they are consistently improving the designs on what seems like a monthly basis. The brand offers a wide variety of products, including weapons lights, headlamps, penlights, hand-held lights and lanterns for campers and hunters alike. Not only is their selection diverse, the performance of their products ranks among the best available. One of the company’s more recent products is the new ProTac HL 4, which we spent a good amount of time assessing its capabilities and comparing its performance to other products we had on hand. We’ll just start off by noting that the HL 4 isn’t your typical flashlight.
Using just four CR123 batteries, the ProTac HL 4 has a maximum output of 2,200 lumens. That’s not a typo. That’s 2,200 lumens. I remember when I got excited about the first 60-lumen hand-held light almost 25 years ago. Now, we’re talking about almost 37-times the output from a single LED bulb in a portable form factor.
While the ProTac HL 4 isn’t a light you can hide in the palm of your hand, it still comes in just under 8.65-inches long, with a barrel diameter of 1.24 inches. The diameter of the head is 2.35 inches, and the entire package weighs just 1.10 pounds with four CR123 batteries loaded. That’s not bad at all, considering the level at which this light is capable of performing.
The body is constructed of anodized aircraft aluminum, with a rubber sleeve for a positive grip and to act as a thermal guard. The HL 4 is rated at IPX7, which means it is waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes, and it is impact-resistant to one meter. The light has an anti-roll head for when it’s placed on surfaces, and the heart of the HL 4 is the C4 LED, which I’ve started to call “The Beast.”
The user has the option of powering the HL 4 with the four CR123 batteries, or he/she can opt for Streamlight’s rechargeable 18650-battery package. Instead of using the standard CR123 batteries, the recharging package includes two 18650 button-top batteries that can be used in the HL 4.
Streamlight’s data indicates a slight edge in run-time performance with the two rechargeable 18650 batteries, which can be recharged up to 500 times. One of my favorite battery stores on the net has this recharging kit for under $40. That’s a lot of value if you weigh that against buying 2,000 CR123 batteries for approximately the same amount of usage.
IN THE HAND & FIELD
While first using the HL 4, I was surprised by the wide light dispersion, though I was definitely pleased by the sheer volume of light coming from such a relatively compact flashlight. Rather than act as a narrow spotlight, the HL 4 is more of a high-intensity floodlight. Even so, the sheer power of the output provides plenty of light in the distance. From a tactical perspective, the ProTac HL 4 is a great, hand-held solution for flooding a subject with light in order to maximize visibility. A couple of these lights, on scene, can assist primary responders with near-daylight visibility in the dead of night at intermediate distances. Because the light output can be changed, the HL 4 can be used normally with the 600-lumen setting or the 60-lumen setting. If engaging a threat, the 2,200-lumen setting can be used to briefly blind or disorient the individual—adding another option to the officer’s arsenal.
The HL 4 was easy to program and operate via the TEN-TAP switch, which allows the user to change the effects or programs. For instance, one option might just be high, medium and low, and another available option is high, strobe and low. Allowing the user to program preferred choices makes using the light more intuitive, and it precludes confusion with too many settings being available at once.
The size-to-performance ratio for the HL 4 is excellent, and it’s very comfortable in the hand during use, and easy to manipulate. The rubber sleeve not only acts as a guard against heat from the flashlight’s body, but it’s also handy for a positive grip in wet conditions.
All in all, the ProTac HL 4 lived up to all of its promises. Streamlight packed a potent amount of performance into this new offering. With an MSRP of just $175 (street price is significantly less) and a lifetime warranty, not only is the HL 4 one of the best performing LED flashlights on the market, it’s one of the best values as well. That’s the hallmark of quality, and the new benchmark set by the ProTac HL 4.
- Model: ProTac HL 4
- Length: 8.63 inches
- Weight: 1.10 pounds (with batteries)
- Battery Type: (4) CR123 / (2) 18650
- Barrel Diameter: 1.25 inches
- Head Diameter: 2.35 inches
- Output Level: 2,200 (high); 600 (medium); 60 (low)
- Run Time (CR123): 1.50 hours (high); 4 hours (medium); 40 hours (low)
- Warranty: Limited lifetime
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the August print issue of World of Firepower Magazine.