Next week is the beginning of SHOT Show 2019, the world’s largest shooting, hunting, and outdoor trade show — check OFFGRIDweb.com tomorrow for a live photo gallery of the guns and gear we see at the show. Many of the products that will be unveiled at SHOT are still strictly under wraps, but we got a special opportunity to evaluate some pre-release samples of two new lights from Streamlight.
Although the ProTac 90 and Siege X USB aren’t on sale yet, we’ve already spent a few weeks using them. Read on as we share our impressions of these new lights.
Streamlight ProTac 90
If you’re familiar with Streamlight at all, you’re bound to know the ProTac series. It’s one of the company’s most popular lines, making use of sturdy aluminum construction and simple yet versatile controls across a range of EDC-friendly models. Personally, I’ve been using a ProTac 2L frequently for more than 5 years, and it’s still going strong.
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The latest addition to the Streamlight ProTac series is the ProTac 90. As anyone who didn’t sleep through geometry class can guess, the “90” is an indicator of its 90-degree right-angle head. We’ve written about angle-head flashlights in the past — while this design still isn’t for everyone, it offers a number of considerable advantages.
Like a traditional flashlight, the ProTac 90 can easily be carried in hand. Streamlight designed the ergonomics of the light to fit this use case, placing the raised push-button switch near the head at a 45-degree angle. This permits the user to hold the light in a handlebar-style grip and operate the switch with a thumb. It’s also substantially more comfortable than the top-mounted switch on the PolyTac 90 we previously reviewed.
If you’ve done any low-light shooting drills with a handgun and pocket flashlight, you may be used to aiming your light with one of a few popular grip styles: neck-index (over-the-shoulder), Harries (crossed wrists), or Rogers (between the fingers). The ProTac 90 allows for some interesting alternatives, and we found it felt surprisingly natural when used alongside a weapon. It’s especially well-suited to the Harries grip or simply being held close to the body at chest height.
As with other ProTac series lights, the switch can be used in either half-press momentary mode or full-press constant-on mode. It also includes Streamlight’s TEN-TAP programming system, so you can select from one of three activation patterns:
- High only
Cycling through these modes requires short half-presses of the switch, then a hold or full-press of the switch once the desired mode is reached.
Like the popular ProTac 1L-1AA, the ProTac 90 is a multi-fuel light. It can use the included CR123A battery or a single AA (either alkaline or lithium). We definitely appreciate this option, since CR123As may not always be available, but you can find AAs in any grocery store, pharmacy, or gas station. The drawback to using a AA is its reduction in output and/or run time. Here are the specs from Streamlight:
|Battery Type||Output – High||Output – Low||Runtime – High||Runtime – Low||Runtime – Strobe|
|CR123A||300 lumens||40 lumens||1.75 hours||14 hours||2.5 hours|
|AA Lithium||125 lumens||40 lumens||5.5 hours||15 hours||8 hours|
|AA Alkaline||125 lumens||40 lumens||2.75 hours||8.25 hours||3.5 hours|
Given the recent proliferation of 1,000-lumen pocket flashlights, 300 lumens might not sound like a lot. But as is often the case with good-quality flashlights, the optic design makes this output appear brighter and more effective than you’d expect. Streamlight calls it a “blended beam,” meaning that it has a smoother gradation between the central spotlight and outer edge. Compared to my old ProTac 2L, the ProTac 90’s spotlight is slightly larger and noticeably softer. The ProTac 90 has a mild yellow-green tint — a warmer shade than the bluish output of my 2L, but less warm than a modern Surefire.
The ProTac 90 is constructed from machined aluminum with an anodized finish and a shatter-resistant borofloat glass lens. It’s IPX7 waterproof (1-meter immersion for 30 minutes) and impact-resistant to 2-meter drops. It also features a removable, bi-directional pocket clip. Unlike other Streamlight clips that are held in place by spring tension alone, this clip has a clasp that prevents it from popping off the light. I’ve noticed that’s a common problem with many other Streamlight models, including my ProTac 2L, so I’m glad to see it’s not an issue in this case.
The clip allows this light to be attached to a pocket, belt, or even the brim of a hat for hands-free illumination. It also works well on backpacks, harnesses, and other MOLLE-compatible gear.
Overall, the ProTac 90 is a welcome addition to the Streamlight tactical line. It’s not a replacement for the traditional ProTac 1L-1AA, but rather a complement to it for those who prefer the right-angle style. It works well in concert with a handgun, as a hands-free utility light, or simply as an everyday flashlight. MSRP is $68, and we expect street prices will be roughly half that as is usually the case with Streamlight products.
- 90-degree layout works great as a hands-free light or weapon light
- Switch placement and tactile feel make it easy to use
- Optic produces a clear, even beam pattern
- Accepts multiple common battery types
- Use of a AA battery dramatically limits output
- 90-degree head takes up additional pocket real estate
- Not effective as an impact weapon due to its length and layout
Streamlight Siege X USB Lantern
The second new release from Streamlight is a compact yet potent multi-function lantern, the Siege X USB. Since it shares a name with the original Siege and Siege AA, you might think this is a slight revision of these pre-existing camping lanterns. However, it’s a substantially different design with a smaller footprint and several new features.
Measuring in at just 2.1 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches in length, the Siege X fits nicely in hand or in a backpack pocket. It’s IPX7 waterproof and impact-resistant to 2 meters. Like the original Siege, it uses an array of LEDs inside a polycarbonate diffuser lens to produce a smooth area of illumination. It also features two hangers for suspending the lantern.
First, a folding handle swings up from around the lens. This can be used as a simple carry handle, but there’s a notch in the middle that hooks onto ridgelines, railings, door frames, tabletops, or other edges.
Next, there’s a spring-loaded D-ring on the opposite end of the lantern. This is ideal for attaching the light to smaller cord loops, such as the loop at the apex of a tent.
Pressing the button on the side of the lantern turns on the light and cycles through output levels; holding this button down switches between three modes: white lantern, red lantern, and flashlight. The flashlight beam is projected from a separate LED inside an optic at the top of the lantern. This beam pattern is actually similar to that of the ProTac 90, albeit slightly more diffuse and pure white in color.
Here’s an overview of the output modes and run times:
|White Lantern||325 lumens / 4.5 hours||170 lumens / 7.75 hours||30 lumens / 25 hours||N/A|
|Red Lantern||1.6 lumens / 22 hours||N/A||N/A||1.6 lumens / 90 hours|
|Flashlight||300 lumens||N/A||40 lumens / 25 hours||N/A|
A single 18650 lithium battery or a pair of CR123A batteries can be used to power the Siege X USB. However, as you might guess from its name, the retail version of this lantern will include a special 18650 battery with a built-in Micro USB charge port directly on the battery. Our sample didn’t include this new battery, so we used a standard blue Streamlight 18650 we already had on hand — it’s still rechargeable as long as you have a charging cradle or another 18650 flashlight with a built-in USB charging port.
The power button contains a battery life indicator that changes from green, to yellow, to red, and finally flashing red as the battery charge depletes.
We’ve used a variety of camping lanterns over the years, and the Siege X USB strikes us as an impressive package at its $75 MSRP. It’s extremely compact, unlike the bulky incandescent lanterns of the past — you could even fit it in a pocket if necessary. The primary lantern output is enough to light a whole room at full blast, and more than enough for a small campsite or tent. Runtime is respectable in either mode, and the battery indicator ensures it won’t go dark unexpectedly. Although we didn’t get to test the new 18650 with built-in USB charging port, the light works great with a standard 18650 or two CR123As.
Here’s a recap of our thoughts about the Siege X USB:
- Surprisingly powerful for its handheld size
- Always-on battery indicator eliminates worries about remaining runtime
- Dual hangers leave no shortage of suspension options
- Flashlight offers a long-distance illumination option
- The flashlight works fine as a backup, but it’s still not as effective as a dedicated flashlight or headlamp.
- Battery cap pops off with a quarter-turn and little effort. We’d prefer slightly more secure retention.
For more information on the new ProTac 90 and Siege X USB, go to Streamlight.com.