Streamlight: It’s All About How You Use It

The intended use of a flashlight can vary from a very narrow scope to quite broad. Pinning down this detail is a critical place to start before you begin searching for solutions, otherwise the huge range of options will be overwhelming and you will more likely purchase based upon price rather than actual need. 

This is also the point to examine how much versatility is required. Think it through carefully.

You might initially think, for example, that a gun-mounted flashlight for use in a combat situation requires little or no versatility. Then consider battery types - what if you’re limited to a single battery type when supplies run low on a lengthy mission? Foresight into multi-fuel options could save lives in this scenario. 

It helps to understand the features and benefits of the options available, so let’s look at four versatility considerations along with performance and cost implications: 


One of the main choices is between disposable and rechargeable batteries. Disposable batteries - also known as primary cells, either alkaline or lithium, have excellent storage life - seven and ten years respectively. They generally offer longer run times for a given LED power, are typically lower in initial purchase price and are more easily accessible. However, their operating costs are often higher than rechargeable lights and they are seldom as bright. 

Benefits of disposable batteries: 

•          Alkaline batteries store for up to 7-10 years

•          Lithium batteries store for up to 10 years

•          Can offer longer run times for a given LED power

•          Lower in initial purchase price

•          Easier to keep spares on hand 

Disadvantages of disposable batteries: 

•          Lifetime operating costs considerably higher than rechargeables 

•          Seldom as bright as rechargeables 

•          Lithium cells have high energy density but are costlier per hour of operation 

In comparison, flashlights using nickel metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion rechargeable batteries can feature extraordinarily low lifetime operating expenses and are well suited for frequent use. These lights also often store conveniently in custom charger holders, depending on the model. 

Many high-performance lights can operate as a rechargeable system using a protected USB rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. An example of this is the Streamlight SL-B26® battery which features an integrated charging port and on-board safety circuit. As an alternate power source, it offers flashlight users multi-fuel options to ensure they always have a beam when needed. 

As with other flashlights which come with rechargeable batteries as standard, the initial purchase price is higher, but there are significant cost savings over the total life of ownership. 

Benefits of rechargeable batteries: 

•          Easy to keep fully charged

•          Rechargeable lights can be stored in a charger/holder when not in use

•          Well suited for frequent use

•          Can support a brighter LED

•          More economical to operate over the long run 

Disadvantages of rechargeable batteries: 

•          Initial purchase price is higher than disposable batteries 


LEDs offer flexibility in a flashlight’s output and beam pattern to meet a multitude of needs. LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are of a solid-state construction, offering a high-intensity light which lasts up to 100,000 hours and are available in various colours, including ultraviolet.

High CRI (Color Rendering Index) LEDs, like the ones in Streamlight’s Color-Rite® lights, have a 90+ CRI and a warmer LED temperature, allowing users to better see the color spectrum as they would in natural light. This may be useful for those who need to see detail and prevent the “color washout” that they might get with a common bright white LED.

Another LED type is a "Chip On Board" (COB) LED, which is made of multiple LED chips that are packaged together as one lighting module. When it’s lit up, it looks more like a lighting panel rather than multiple individual lights, providing a smooth, flood beam for up-close work.

Flashlights offering a combination of LED types provide a multi-function solution and give much greater flexibility for different tasks.


Switch options are also important when choosing a light. Many handheld flashlights have a head switch or a tail switch, and sometimes they have both. In a tactical situation, you may prefer to use a tail switch if you are using the light in conjunction with a weapon in the other hand.

There are also different “FLEX” switches on many Streamlight weapon-mounted lights. These are ambidextrous rear paddle switches which allow users to customise the position of the switch (High or Low) to match their shooting style. This versatile feature saves time and effort, as users can minimise their hand movement when precisely aiming beams of light.


Flexible program settings mean you can modify how your flashlight works - right down to what happens when you first switch it on.

If you like most of the features of a flashlight but not the pre-set programs, then a programmable light might be a good option. The programming functionality allows users to modify the light from the standard default settings in order to better fit their needs and how they’ll be using it.

Streamlight offers TEN-TAP® programming in all of their ProTac® lights, where users can tap the switch 10 times and hold to cycle through various operational settings. For example, the ProTac® 2.0 handheld flashlight comes on in high mode (as the default setting) if you click it once. If you prefer that low mode comes on first, you can use TEN-TAP programming to change it.

There is a versatile flashlight solution out there for every eventuality. Perhaps the most difficult job is identifying the requirement at hand. After that, you’ll be able to choose a light that meets your needs.

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