Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Review: Streamlight ProTac HL 3

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New for 2014, the Streamlight ProTac HL 3 marks the company’s first entry into the 1000+ lumen tactical flashlight market.  Following a similar design as the previous ProTac HL, the new ProTac HL 3 is powered by three 123A lithium primary batteries and boasts a maximum output of 1100 lumens, with a 35 lumen low mode and a strobe mode also available.  The ProTac HL 3 is also programmable, allowing users to select one of three preset programs based upon their needs.

The ProTac HL 3 has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $155 and can be found at retail for around $90.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 – Overview

The ProTac HL 3 arrives in a plastic clamshell blister pack containing the light, three Duracell DL123A batteries, a nylon holster and an owner’s manual.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Constructed of 6000 series aluminum with an anodized black finish, the ProTach HL 3 measures a relatively compact 7.10 inches long.  The body and tailcap are knurled, providing additional grip.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Batteries install from the tail with electrical contact provided by a spring in the tailcap and a metal tab at the head.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

A removable pocket clip snaps onto the body and provides a lanyard attachment point.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Four cooling fins adorn the head of the ProTac HL 3 and are machined flat at three points around the head’s circumference.  The flats provide some resistance to rolling if the light is laid on its side.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

The Cree XM-L2 emitter and smooth reflector are protected by a glass lens with anti-reflective coating.  The bezel is mildly crenelated with three projections around its perimeter.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

The aluminum tailcap houses a forward-click switch which allows momentary operation with a partial press and constant-on activation with a full press, and click, of the switch.  The tailcap switch is partially shrouded by three small projections on the tailcap which reduce the possibility of accidental activation and allow the light to tailstand if necessary.  The tailcap switch operates with a clearly audible click.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 tailcap

The ProTac HL 3 fits easily into its provided nylon holster.  The holster has a Velcro closure for the front flap and an adjustable Velcro attachment point on the back.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 holster

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 – Manufacturer’s Specifications

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Output (high)

1100 lumens (1.5 hours*)

Output (high)

1100 lumens (1.5 hours*)

Output (low)

35 lumens (36 hours)

Length

7.1 inches (180 mm)

Body Diameter

1.0 inch (25.4 mm)

Bezel Diameter

1.64 inches (41.7 mm)

Cooling Fins Diameter

1.73 inches (43.9 mm)

Weight (w/ Batteries)

9.3 ounces (263 grams)

*Total runtime until output drops to 10% per ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 Standard

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 – Operation

Featuring Streamlight’s established TEN-TAP programming, the ProTac HL 3 allows users to select one of three different programs:  High/strobe/low, high only, or low/high.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Program 1 – High/strobe/low (factory default)

  • High Mode (1100 lumens) – From off, tap and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.
  • Strobe Mode (1100 lumens) – Tap twice quickly (within 0.4 seconds per tap) and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.
  • Low Mode (35 lumens) – Tap three times quickly (within 0.4 seconds per tap) and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.

Program 2 – High only

  • High Mode (1100 lumens) – From off tap and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.

Program 3 – Low/high

  • Low Mode (35 lumens) – From off, tap and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.
  • High Mode (1100 lumens) – Tap twice quickly (within 0.4 seconds per tap) and hold for momentary operation.  Click for constant-on and click again for off.

To advance to the next preset program, starting with the light OFF, tap and release the switch quickly 9 times (within 0.4 seconds per tap) and tap and hold the 10th tap until the light turns off.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 – Performance

The Cree XM-L2 emitter and smooth reflector combine to produce a beam with a tight center hot spot and bright spill.  The overall beam has a slightly cool tint with a very small amount of green present in the corona around the center hotspot.  The intense center portion of the beam is effective to 100 yards distance while the spill provides plenty of illumination out to about 30 yards.  The beam cuts off abruptly at the edges which may reduce glare from nearby objects but also limits peripheral vision.

The following slides show the ProTac HL 3 compared to a variety of other lights to give some perspective with regard to output and beam profile.  The images can be compared across their full widths using the slider and additional comparisons can be viewed by using the navigation buttons in the bottom-right corner of each image.

The following lights were used in the comparison (with links to full reviews):

  1. SureFire P2X Fury (review)
  2. Streamlight ProTac HL
  3. Elzetta Bravo with AVS Head (review)
  4. SureFire M3LT
  5. Klarus XT11 Upgrade Version (review)
  6. Elzetta Charlie with AVS Head (review)
  7. SureFire M6LT
  8. SureFire P3X Fury (review)
  9. Malkoff Hound Dog (Cool White XM-L2 version)

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 Beamshots – 30 Yards to Swing

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 Beamshots – 40 yards to Swing

Runtime

Battery Station 123A lithium primary batteries were used to measure runtime performance of the ProTac HL 3 in high mode.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3

Although two 17500 lithium-ion rechargeable batteries will fit and function, Streamlight does not currently support any rechargeable battery options for the ProTac HL 3.

 

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 runtime

When operated continuously in high mode, output drops steadily over the first several minutes until it levels out just below 60% of its initial level.  Output remains at this level for an additional 45 minutes followed by a long decline as the batteries are depleted, providing the user plenty of warning to change batteries or switch to a backup light.  Performance appears to match the manufacturer’s claim of 1.5 hours of runtime according to the ANSI/NEMA FL1 2009 Standard.

The head of the ProTac HL 3 heats up rapidly during the first several minutes of operation and then stabilizes along with the output.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 – Conclusions

The Streamlight ProTac HL 3 should be a heavy hitter in the 1000+ lumen handheld light market, particularly when considering its price point below $100.  As with several other lights with similar performance, the ProTac HL 3 does not maintain its rated output when used for extended lengths of time but it does sustain a very respectable 600+ lumens for over 45 minutes.  Even at this reduced level, the ProTac HL3 will still reach further than most similar lights at their full output thanks to its tightly focused beam.

Part of this is due to the fact that Streamlight didn’t just add a longer battery tube and different electronics to their existing ProTac HL.  Instead, the new ProTac HL 3 uses a substantially larger head which allows the use of a considerably larger reflector and provides more mass for drawing heat away from the LED.

Streamlight ProTac HL 3 vs ProTac HL

Although it comes equipped with a pocket clip, the large head and length of the ProTac HL 3 do not make it a good candidate for pants pocket carry, although it is easily carried in a cargo pocket or inside jacket pocket.  The clip also provides additional resistance to rolling which is necessary when laying the flashlight on anything other than a very slight incline.

The body and tailcap thread together smoothly and there is only a slight amount of battery rattle when the light is subjected to impact.  Overall, the ProTac HL 3 feels solid in the hand and the black Type II anodized finish is very even.  The included nylon holster is adequate but not particularly notable.

Operation of the ProTac HL 3 is relatively straight-forward, even with its several options with regard to programs and output modes.  Mode selection seems reliable after a bit of practice and I had no problems switching from one program to the next.  The preset programs allow a fair number of options although I personally would have preferred the availability of a 150 lumen medium mode instead of the strobe.

Considered as a whole, the Streamlight ProTac HL 3 offers a very nice combination of output, beam reach, and price.

Strengths

  • High Output with far reaching beam
  • User selectable preset programs
  • Streamlight limited lifetime warranty
  • Very good performance to price ratio

Concerns

  • Light is prone to rolling unless it is on a perfectly flat surface
  • Lack of supported rechargeable options
  • Type II anodized finish will show wear more easily than some other lights

Visit the Streamlight website for more information about the ProTac HL 3.

The 123A lithium primary batteries used in this review were provided by Battery Station.


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5 Comments

  1. So what does it really have…a xml2 led or c4 led?.. I am bit confuse here because I’m reading reviews and some are saying c4.

  2. It’s an XML 2 LED, the term C4 LED has been in use forever now, the XML2 should really be called a C5 LED, and XPL2’s etc. C6’s.

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