Today, I’ll be reviewing a flashlight that’s a little different from the typical tactical flashlights that I review. It is a 90-degree flashlight that really caught my eye. The Streamlight Protac 90 is a neat little LED flashlight that has an excellent switch design, is extremely small, and is very useful as a work light. So I’m going to be going over the features of the Streamlight Protac 90 tactical flashlight along with my opinions of the flashlight itself. I’m also going to talk about the pros and cons of a 90-degree flashlight. It definitely has its uses, but a 90-degree flashlight isn’t for everybody. I’m excited to talk about the Streamlight Protac 90 today so let’s get started!
90 Degree LED Flashlight
So as you can guess, the “90” in the title of the light refers to the 90-degree angle of the flashlight. You can see the L-shape design and how the beam will be shining directly in front. This type of light is excellent to pin onto your jacket pocket or backpack strap so it will shine directly in front of you.
This little LED flashlight delivers a maximum output of 300 lumens which is nice considering that the flashlight is just under 4 inches. It has a maximum beam throw of 147 meters which I find extremely impressive in a 300 lumen light. So you get some good distance with the Protac 90.
As I mentioned before, this flashlight is less than 4 inches tall so it’s easy to carry with you. It’s lightweight so that you can easily pop it in your pocket or even in its holster. It does come with a little holster and it’s pretty generic so there’s not much to say about it. I do really like the reversible pocket clip it comes with. So you’re able to put the flashlight in your pocket either head down or tail down, whichever you prefer. It also gives you some versatility if you want to attach it to a hat or something else. The pocket clip is removable if you prefer not to have it on the flashlight.
The interesting thing about the Protac 90 is that it’s compatible with both a CR123A lithium battery and an AA battery, both alkaline and lithium. Normally we see 18650 flashlights that are compatible with CR123A batteries or 16340 flashlights that are compatible with CR123A batteries. There is a huge size difference between the CR123A battery and the AA battery. Typically when there’s a size difference like this in compatible battery types for a flashlight, the flashlight will come with a sort of battery holder to accommodate one of the battery sizes. For the Protac 90, you don’t need to worry about battery holder. The spring inside the flashlight helps to accommodate for the size difference. I really like this design and found the light really interesting.
Tactical Flashlight with Multiple Outputs and Settings
The Protac 90 LED flashlight has quite a few features for such a little torch. We’ll talk about the operation of the light, the multiple outputs on the light, and the three settings that you can choose between. It definitely has a lot to offer and I really appreciate the versatility of this flashlight.
Single Switch Operation
One of my favorite aspects of the Protac 90 is the location of the switch on the light. With a lot of 90-degree flashlights, you’ll often find the switches on the side of the body or sometimes even on the bottom. On the Protac 90, the side switch is just behind the head of the light exactly where your thumb naturally rests. When you pull the flashlight out, you can immediately activate it just because of where that switch is located. It is slightly textured so that your finger won’t be slipping which is always a nice touch as well.
With the Protac 90 tactical flashlight, you’ll be seeing three total outputs: high, low, and strobe. You’ll see different maximum outputs and different run times depending on which battery you use. A CR123A battery is going to get you more power so that’s something to think about.
With a CR123A battery you’ll get a high of 300 lumens with a runtime of 1.75 hours, a low of 40 lumens with a runtime of 4 hours, and a strobe that can last 2.5 hours.
With an AA battery, you’ll be seeing a high of 125 lumens, a low of 40 lumens, and a strobe of what I assume is going to be about 125 lumens. With an alkaline battery you’ll see a 2.75 hour runtime in high, 8.25 hour runtime and low, and a 3.5 hour runtime in strobe. With a lithium AA battery you’ll see a 5.5 hour runtime in high, a 15 hour runtime in low, and an 8 hour runtime in strobe.
So you have a lot to think about when it comes to which battery you prefer to use. Alkaline AA batteries are more accessible and even lithium AA batteries may be more accessible than CR123A batteries. However, if that 300 lumen output is more important to you, then definitely go with the CR123A battery. However, you see better runtimes with both an alkaline AA and lithium AA batteries.
The Protac 90 features multiple settings like many Streamlight tactical flashlights. You have the Ten Tap Programming feature which you may know of if you own a Streamlight tactical flashlight. It’s pretty simple to do. Basically, you tap the switch 9 times and hold it on the 10th tap to switch between settings. A little tedious with all the tapping, but not difficult to do and pretty easy to remember.
So let’s get into the settings. The Protac 90 LED flashlight features three different settings you can choose between.
- High only
These settings give you more options on how you’d like to operate the flashlight which I’m a big fan of. The default setting is going to be the first one which I imagine will be the one that most users will keep it in. You press the switch once for high, twice for strobe, and three times for low. I can’t say it’s my favorite user interface, but it’s simple to learn and I do like that you can get to whichever output you want pretty quickly. I know some users don’t always like a user interface where you need to cycle through the outputs. If you’re one of those users then you’ll definitely like the Protac 90.
I personally don’t see a point in the other two settings mainly because you can immediately access each output quickly. Because of this, I don’t see myself using the other two settings. However, I always like when flashlight companies allow you to choose how you want to operate the flashlight. So if you’re the type of user who prefers only having a single output or getting rid of the strobe completely, then you can do that with the Streamlight Protac 90 flashlight.
Pros and Cons of a 90-Degree Flashlight
I want to cover some of the benefits and pitfalls of the 90-degree flashlights. If you’ve never used one before you may be wondering if it’s better than your typical handheld flashlight. In all honesty, it really does depend on the situation you’re using the flashlights in as well as personal preference.
So some of the pros of a 90-degree flashlight are that you can typically clip it on a shirt pocket or a backpack strap and have the flashlight shine right in front of you giving you illumination hands-free. This is why a 90-degree flashlight is really great for outdoor activities as well as for work. If you’re an electrical engineer or a plumber, having that 90-degree flashlight could be really useful.
Another great thing about it is that you can tail stand the Protac 90 on a table or flat surface and shine it directly ahead. So even if you have nothing to clip the flashlight onto, you can set it on a surface to illuminate the area in front of you and still work with both hands.
With the Protac 90 and its reversible pocket clip, you can attach the flashlight to your hat having it illuminate directly below which is great if you are working on something on your workbench. You may also just like the feel of having a 90 degree flashlight more so than your typical handheld flashlight.
It does also have some cons to consider. One thing is that it’s not going to be great for self defense. While the Protac 90 does have a strobe function which is really nice, a lot of tactical flashlights will come with strike bezels and will allow you to physically defend yourself if need be. So if you’re wanting something more tactical, I’d recommend a different flashlight all together like the Klarus XT11X tactical flashlight.
Another negative aspect of this light is that you’re not going to be able to mount it onto any weapon. There are many tactical flashlights that can easily be mounted onto a weapon which is perfect for hunting or law enforcement military.
Finally, while you can set it on the table and have it illuminate in front of you, you can’t really set it down on its tail and use it as a lantern. Several handheld flashlights or EDC lights have this feature where you can set it down so the beam is pointed up, illuminating the area around it.
So it’s really up to you whether the pros outweigh the cons or whether you think this flashlight will work for you better than a handheld flashlight. 90-degree flashlights definitely have their uses and you may find that you like it better than a handheld flashlight.
Pros: I love the location of the switch. I don’t think I can touch on that enough. It is such a good idea to put the switch exactly where your thumb rests so that operating the flashlight will feel very natural. I like that it’s compatible with both CR123A batteries and AA batteries. This definitely gives you some options when it comes to picking which battery you prefer. The reversible pocket clip is great and allows you to use the Protac 90 in a lot more situations. Finally, I love the size and how easy this flashlight is to take with you anywhere, making it a perfect work flashlight.
Cons: I’m kind of surprised it doesn’t have a magnetic tail cap. I would have really liked to see that in this flashlight. I also prefer to cycle through the different outputs rather than having to tap once, tap twice, tap three times to access the different outputs.
Conclusion: To sum up, this is just a great little 90-degree LED flashlight. I love it features a strobe mode so if you still wanted a 90 degree flashlight that could be used in a tactical situation, it gives you that option. If you’re wanting a small EDC 90-degree flashlight, definitely look into the Streamlight Protac 90.