Review: Packing a punch with the Streamlight Protac 2L-X
See high, see low, and see far with the Streamlight Protac 2L-X.
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In the world of tactical lights, there are a few companies that reign supreme. Streamlight, Surefire, Elzetta, Modlite, and Cloud Defensive tend to be the companies that the pros stick with. I have a bit of a love for Streamlight’s offerings: I used the same Streamlight Sidewinder for over a decade and two deployments, and it works without issue. To this day, I own over a dozen different Streamlights, and my newest is the subject of today’s article, the Streamlight Protac 2L-X.
The Protac series of flashlights is intended to provide an affordable option for tactical and everyday carry applications, and at just shy of $50 on Amazon, the inexpensive 2L-X fits solidly into the realm of EDC. To be completely honest, it fits right between your typical EDC light and a duty light: It aims to provide more power than most EDC lights while not being absolutely massive and impossible to pocket-carry.
The Protac 2L-X promises to give users a high-quality light option at a relatively affordable price point, but does it hold up? Let’s dive in and find out.
Streamlight utilizes simple packaging that avoids the frustration of the notorious clamshell plastic we all know and hate. Inside, we get the light, two CR123A batteries, and a nylon holster that I lost as soon as I opened the package. This light is all about pocket-carry, and the nylon sheath is not super useful.
The Protac 2L-X is bigger than a penlight but fairly smaller than most duty lights, measuring 5.14 inches long and weighing 3.9 ounces. Its head diameter is 1.06 inches, and the body diameter is .940 inches. Streamlight uses a 6000 series aircraft-grade aluminium to construct the entirety of the light. Outside of the glass lens, there isn’t a hint of plastic in the body design. I can also appreciate the metal construction for drops, falls, and the fact that it’s sealed against water. The last thing you want in a bad situation is a gear failure.
On the outside, we have a pocket clip that’s removable and rotatable. This makes it easy to swap pockets, carry in the back pocket, or wherever else you choose to carry it. Streamlight heavily textured the outside of the light for an easy, slip free grip. I can certainly appreciate a good grip in those less-than-stellar situations. If I blow a tire in the rain, have to climb under a house, or any other foul adventure the last thing I want is to lose my grip.
The Protac 2L-X packs 500 lumens that’s backed by 6,800 candela. As you can see, and I mean that literally, it is quite a bit more powerful than the average penlight as well. A rear ‘clicky’ switch flips the light on and provides a number of modes and settings. A light press is your momentary mode, and a hard ‘click’ is the constant mode. The light switch provides a Ten Tap programmable option to move through various modes. The first mode is the high mode and requires a single tap, two quick taps result in a strobe mode, and three quick taps give you your low mode.
Streamlight includes two CR123A batteries with the light, but it is a dual fuel light. This means it can use multiple batteries to power the light. Users can swap in a single 18650 rechargeable battery if they prefer. Battery life for the high 500-lumen mode is 3.25 hours, and the battery life for the low mode is 30 hours.
How we tested the Streamlight Protac 2L-X
The Streamlight Protac 2L-X ticks the EDC checkmark, so I did just that. I made it my everyday carry light which, funny enough, replaced the Streamlight Wedge. The 2L-X became my go-to carry light, so it accompanied me on my day-to-day adventures, including working in the yard, nighttime exploration of fun country noises in the night, to the range, and our end-of-summer kayak trip. I toted it about to get a good feel for how the light sits tight in a pocket.
Obviously, in a testing environment, I took it a few steps further to find more opportunities than necessary to test the little light outdoors, indoors, and everywhere else. On these little excursions, I’d find some excuse to test the little light. In the kayak trip, it took a quick trip overboard, and I checked my oil about 500 miles before it was necessary as an excuse to use the light. The kids and I even used the light to follow a rabbit as it hopped around our backyard. It’s since become the designated bunny light and has survived the hands of a 10, 6, and 3-year-old as they check the yard nightly for Mr. Bunny.
The 500-lumen beam casts a wide white beam that’s on the cooler scale of the light spectrum. That big white beam makes finding the shiny bunny eyes and his white tail quite easy. It doesn’t seem cool enough to be blue and therefore mess with the color of the natural world. Mr. Bunny’s brown fur and white detail are vivid and easy to see. Cooler means it’s whiter in color and looks a little more blue than yellow. The beam prioritizes spill over a highly focused beam. The hot spot, which is the brightest, center portion of the beam, is rather large and wide. A wide beam helps fill an area with light and prioritizes close range, peripheral vision filling light over a bright, long-range beam.
Placed in an indoor situation, and the Protac 2L-X shines brightly and fills rooms with light. Living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, and the like are completely filled with light when you utilize the high mode of the flashlight. Outdoors, the beam makes navigation around a 100-yard area simple and easy. It’s certainly powerful enough for most navigating tasks your average Joe would encounter.
The low mode makes it easy to complete simple admin tasks or to use in close quarters. I don’t need 500 lumens of light to read a book or a map or to search for something under my car’s seat. The 40-lumen, low-powered light can be quite handy for these little tasks.
Streamlight also claims that the light is drop-resistant up to two meters and waterproof rated for up to a meter underwater for 90 minutes. I tested both of these claims while reviewing the light. I’m a tall dude, so I can hold the light above my head and drop it from a little over two meters onto a hard surface. I dropped it on both its sides and the front and rear of the light over and over again. I then took the test a little further and climbed a ladder, and dropped the light from 12 feet or so. I repeated the test over and over and dropped the light at various angles.
Next, I submerged the light in a bucket of water and left it behind to watch Batman (1989). Ninety minutes later, my phone alarm went off, and I gave the light a peak. I’d left it in low mode, and the light remained on and without issue.
What we like about the Streamlight Protac 2L-X
First, the light is comfy to carry and easy to use. It does come with a strike bezel, but it’s not overly aggressive and won’t poke, prod, or rip your pants. I doubt I’d use the light for self-defense, but having a glass breaker in my pocket can be quite handy in an emergency.
The light might be a bit bigger than most EDC lights, but it’s perfectly capable of being easily carried, and I don’t have any complaints. Sure, it fills the pocket a bit, but it’s not a big deal unless you plan to carry tons of stuff in your pockets.
The dual-fuel design is also nice. I typically have a few 18650 batteries lying around and always have CR123s. I can’t hate being able to swap batteries, albeit the different batteries provide different levels of light. The CR123s are brighter overall, but when the batteries are low, they get a bit dimmer. The 18650 batteries aren’t as bright, but it provides more consistent performance until the battery dies.
Being able to swap between multiple modes is quite nice. The Ten Tap programming modes allow people to easily swap between three different programs. Users can pick the high/strobe/low mode, or a high-only mode, and finally, a low/high setting.
In all of my drop testing and water submersion, I couldn’t get the Streamlight Protac 2L-X to break. For the low price point, it’s surprisingly durable. At around 50 bucks or less, it can be tough to find a light this durable.
For most tasks, the lumens and candela are enough. It’s well-suited for EDC use and would be a great choice for the Marine or soldier looking for a not-so-big, not-so-hefty light. I like the performance, but I don’t love it.
Finally, there are lots of small things that I like. I love the texturing that provides a good grip on the light. I like the anti-roll head that prevents it from rolling away when sat down. The tail cap is also well-protected, and this will reduce the chance of a negligent light discharge. It’s little features like this that often go unnoticed but are well-appreciated.
What we don’t like about the Streamlight Protac 2L-X
First, I want to be a little nit-picky. While it’s cool to have multiple modes and being able to use the Ten Tap programmable, I can’t get the exact mode I want. I want a mode that goes from high to low. I want to ditch the strobe but still want the high mode to be the first choice for emergency or defensive use. I don’t want to try and fight my way to high mode with adrenaline-filled hands.
My second complaint is a little more valid: I think the 6,800 candela is a little lacking. Candela adds range to a light and allows the beam to move further out. So you might ask how much range do you need for an EDC light? Well, candela does more than that and helps a light overcome photonic barriers. Photonic barriers can be created by light sources, and by fog and rain. A higher candela can help overcome these barriers and grants you higher visibility in lower visibility situations. Surefire makes a light that’s roughly the same size and grants you over 2,000 more candela, and a Surefire light even smaller than the Protac 2L-X grants 1,000 more candela than the Protac light. Those Surefire lights also sell for significantly more money.
The Streamlight Protac 2L-X provides a very durable and well-made light complete with tons of features at a very low price point. The Protac 2L-X provides moderately sized light with more power than you’d first imagine. The big bright light is a well-made tool, and it’s considerably more capable than it should be for its price. The price point takes an above-average light and makes it excellent.
FAQs about the Streamlight Protac 2L-X
More questions? Here’s Task & Purpose’s additional brief.
Q: How much does the Streamlight Protac 2L-X cost?
A: MSRP is just under $50 on Amazon.
Q: How much does a rechargeable 18650 battery cost?
A: A quality battery from Streamlight costs less than $20, and chargers are around $20, too.
Q: How long will the LED last?
A: 50,000 hours total.
Q: Is this weapon mountable?
A: Not from the factory, but duct tape makes anything mountable.
Got questions? Comment below & talk with T&P’s editors
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Travis Pike is a former Marine machine gunner who served with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines for five years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He plays in the great outdoors of Northwest Florida and enjoys good beer, sharp knives, and long walks in the woods.