Weapon lights are a dime a dozen these days, and they come in every conceivable power level, size, and shape. The Streamlight ProTac keeps things ruggedly simple and downright reliable. The ProTac series is an excellent example of how varied lights can be. We are looking at the ProTac Rail Mount 1 weapon light, which sits on the small side of long gun lights. The ProTac Rail Mount 1 has an attractive design in which a small light is paired with a full-sized head. This is also the dual-fuel model that can accept either CR123As or AA batteries. How does the little light stack up?
The ProTac Specs and Features
The main draw to this light is how light and small it is. There are lots and lots of big lights out there, but very few small lights, at least for long guns. The ProTac Rail Mount 1 is only 4.25 inches long and weighs only 4.3 punches with mount. It’s exceptionally small and compact. The lightweight is a blessing, especially after getting used to the powerful, but chunky, OWL.
The lumens are what most people want to hear about, and the thing is that the ProTac will vary depending on the battery type you are using. When using AA batteries, you get a pitiful 150 lumens. The CR123As give you 350 lumens, which is still relatively weak for a long gun light. What about candela? Candela is usable light, and lumens are raw intensity. With AA batteries, the light has 4,950 candela, and with CR123As, you get a much more respectable 12,000 candela.
The ProTac Rail Mount 1 is rated for full submersion at 1 meter for half an hour. The operating temperature goes from -40 to 120 degrees. It’s a tough light made from anodized aluminum and provides a durable all-metal long gun light option at an affordable price point.
If you want something with Cloud Defensive range and power, this ain’t it, son. The ProTac is a very compact and lightweight weapon light with a limited effective range. Inside a home or building, it tends to be a sure shooter that provides enough light and candela to illuminate and identify a potential bad guy in your kitchen at 3 AM.
The beam is somewhat warm and presents a well-focused rifle beam. The spill is minimal, and the 12k candela does push those 350 lumens about as far as they could possibly go. The light’s effective range is listed at 219 meters, but that seems remarkably generous. The light may shine that far, but it won’t be beneficial at that range. At 75 yards, I could still make out a man-sized target through my optic, and that seems to be the absolute max distance I could use this light at.
Beyond that range, things got a little blurry. Heck, even at that range, it would be questionable for a PID perspective unless they were packing a long gun or wearing one of those clearly defined bad guy mustaches.
It could serve as an urban light, but the weaker beam may make defeating other photonic barriers difficult. The little light tries, but it has a tough time keeping up with more powerful lights. Even handgun lights like the X300 outperform the ProTac Rail Mount 1.
Battery life wise the CR123A battery will last 1.75 hours, and AAs will last 1.5 hours. There is a low mode to preserve battery, and the low mode makes this more of an admin light. However, it keeps the light running for 14 hours.
Controls and Ergonomics
The design incorporates either a tail cap switch or you can use the included pressure switch depending on how you set it up. I use the tail switch due to how I have my rifle setup. It’s easy for my big gorilla arms to reach and activate it rather than use a pressure switch. The button is nice and clicky and sits inside a protective bezel that prevents accidental activation.
The ProTac is a very simple design, and the incorporated mount makes it very easy to attach to any rail mount. The simple but solid mount design is worth noting. Streamlight didn’t do anything fancy here, but they did do it right.
The ProTac is ultralight, and I do like the fact that the light won’t cause any kind of balancing issues when mounted close to the end of the barrel. The ProTac keeps the weapon light, and if your concern was more about saving weight, then the ProTac would be an excellent option.
ProTac Best Practices
Who is this light for? That can be a tough question in a day and age where Cloud Defensive and Modlite rule. This underpowered little fella has a very small niche among serious users. From simplicity and price, it can be an excellent home defense light. At home defense ranges, you don’t need 1,250 lumens and 50k candela.
The ProTac is also well suited for short and small guns like PCCs, for example. Their inherent lack of long-range ability reduces their need for an ultra-powerful weapon light. Hunters looking for a simple and light backup flashlight option also won’t have many issues tacking the ProTac onto their long gun of choice and hitting the field. In that role, the light is well suited for navigation.
There is also the night vision user who only has a white light as a rudimentary backup. In that case, smaller and lighter may be more desirable. The light can also wear various filters to reduce the light’s signature to push it into specialized roles.
The ProTac’s greatest strength is its small design. The lack of lumens and candela keep it from being a modern contender in the long gun light world. However, the small design allows it to fill rolls those larger, heavier weapon lights are rarely suited for. The ProTac Rail Mount 1 also benefits from being a relatively robust but affordable weapon light that has the ability to give light to the masses.