Streamlight ProTac HL-X: Twelve Gauge Grudging
The Streamlight ProTac HL-X packs a thousand lumens into a small package: 1,000 lumens in a rail-mounted tactical flashlight that adds almost no weight to the weapon.
That’s a lot of lumens.
It might not seem like a big deal nowadays, but it wasn’t always so.
I remember my first tactical flashlight, a Surefire I purchased from the Camp As Sayliyah PX in the summer of 2004. Using an incandescent bulb it provided a then-impressive 60 lumens of light. It was much brighter than the Maglite flashlights we were issued while being a fraction of the size. Fast forward fifteen years and you can buy cheap LED flashlights from Walmart that are several times brighter than that. High-end tactical weapon lights have also greatly benefitted from advances in technology.
More recently, I went looking for a tactical flashlight to mount on my home defense shotgun. I had only a few requirements: it needed to be durable and able to withstand the recoil of a shotgun. It needed to be reasonably priced. It needed to have a tape switch option because I planned to mount it on the bottom rail. Most importantly, it needed to be bright. The Streamlight ProTac HL-X met all of these requirements easily.
I’ve used Streamlight flashlights without issue for more than a decade. In my experience, their quality is excellent, and they last a long time. This model is pretty cost-effective for a light that is so bright. You can find it at our store for $133.99 at the time of this writing. It also comes with a few accessories that give you different mounting options. The light is made of machined aluminum with a black finish.
Streamlight HL-X Features
The HL-X Rail Mount has, as the name implies, an integral Picatinny rail mount. This can be detached, with the removal of a couple of screws, but the mount points will still protrude from the body of the flashlight. Still, if you want to press it into service as a handheld light you can do so.
This tactical flashlight came with two activation options. The first is a standard button tail cap with a positive click. The other is a remote pressure pad with two separate buttons: a large, rectangular one for momentary activation (hold down to turn light on, release to turn off), and a smaller, square button that clicks the light on and off. It also comes with a double-sided adhesive pad for mounting the tape switch, some rubber clips for affixing the tape switch to the Picatinny rail, and zip ties for cable management. The Streamlight ProTac HL-X takes two CR-123 batteries. You can instead opt to use Streamlight’s rechargeable battery, but it is sold separately.
The activation switch is programmable to allow for different modes of operation of the light. Streamlight calls it the “TEN-TAP Switch”. Programming it is accomplished by clicking the switch in specific sequences, all of which are explained in the user manual. The available modes of operation are:
• HIGH-STROBE (light on brightest setting, double-click the switch to activate the strobe);
• HIGH ONLY (light only turns on to brightest setting);
• LOW-HIGH (gives you the option for a lower brightness setting and maximum brightness).
For my purposes, the “high only” setting was sufficient. I took the light out at night to see what it could do, then mounted it to my shotgun.
Mounting the Streamlight ProTac HL-X
The FN SLP shotgun has a protective sleeve that fits over the magazine tube. This precludes the use of magazine tube/barrel clamps and the standard flashlight mounts for them. Instead, I had to order a factory tri-rail extension, giving me a place to attach the light. It has Picatinny rails at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. I opted to mount it on the bottom.
This necessitated the use of the tape switch. I could have mounted it to the side and used the tail cap, but given the location of the rail, that would have been quite a stretch for me to reach the light. Instead, I used screws to mount the tape switch directly to the shotgun’s plastic fore-end. First, I placed the switch, then marked the location where I needed the holes to be. Using a small bit, I drilled two holes into the handguard. Then I affixed the switch itself, driving the screws into the holes I had drilled. I used my Dremel to cut off the tips of the screws on the inside of the handguard since they were a little longer than they needed to be.
The remote pressure switch end-cap is well-designed. The cap rotates freely around the cord, allowing you to unscrew it to replace the batteries without it twisting the cord. There’s a slot in the end cap for the cord to sit in, allowing you to adjust which direction it protrudes from the light. You can have the cord perpendicular to the flashlight itself without putting a kink in it. This gives you more options for routing the cable.
If you’re going to mount the tape switch this way, remember to double-check your measurements before you drill. I would also recommend applying some thread locker (I used Blue Loc-Tite) to the thumb-wheel on the Picatinny mount; I didn’t at first and it came a little loose under recoil. Other than that, the light has given me no issues so far. LED flashlights are solid-state and long-lasting. As long as the internal electronics are protected there isn’t much to go wrong. At under 7 ounces, the light doesn’t add much weight to your firearm.
The real test of a flashlight is how brightly it shines, though. To test the Streamlight ProTac HL-X, I took it outside at night. As you can see from the photos, the beam is bright and carries a long way. It provides useful illumination up to and beyond what I would consider to be “buckshot range”, so it’s more than adequate on a shotgun.
Indoors, the light is blindingly bright. Here you can see it shining on a paint can in a basement room. It’s bright enough to be disorienting to someone if shined directly into his face. 1,000 lumens is brighter than a 60-watt lightbulb.
Streamlight HL-X Tactical Flashlight Review
In summary, I’m very satisfied with the Streamlight ProTac HL-X tactical flashlight. It’s lightweight, durable, high-quality, reasonably priced, and gives you multiple options for mounting and activation. Streamlight is a proven brand widely used by law enforcement and industry. It’s also really, really bright. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a flashlight to mount on a rifle or shotgun.
Kupari is a wrong-handed Air Force EOD combat veteran of Afghanistan turned novelist. Now a civilian, he has spent a disturbing amount of time rendering safe a number of things that would otherwise blow things up. Much of the time he was doing that in a place where favorite local pastimes include such activities as shooting, blowing up or even eating Westerners.
Buy my books. If you think this article is stupid and that I’m stupid, don’t hold it against my books. My books have nothing to do with anything in my article that might make you mad, so you should still buy them.