In a previous post, I described the virtues and values of a handheld tactical light, and urged the readers to consider always having one on their person.
I have for a number of years, favored various models of Streamlight handheld tactical lights. I normally carry the LED models which hold two CR123 Lithium batteries. They are compact and lightweight enough for me to carry comfortably all day long. But that's just me. 35 years of law enforcement have made me used to carrying a lot of gear around on my waist, so a tactical light in a pants pocket (along with spare ammo and a cutting tool of some sort) is not a problem. Fortunately, Streamlight has just introduced a new "mini" tactical light that eliminates any reason for not having a quality tactical light on your person at all times by those not used to gear hauling.
Before I discuss the PROTAC 1AAA in detail, I have to say that advances in flashlight technology since 2009, when my book "Own the Night" was published have been nothing short of amazing. At that time, LED lamps were becoming almost as effective as top end incandescent bulbs. However, incandescent bulbs were still in the lead in terms of lumen output. For example, the three cell Surefire M3 Combat light had a 225 lumen output, which was considered blinding in those days. The top end of LED output was 125 lumens, and one of my favorite LED tactical handheld lights had an output of 65 lumens. In those days, 65 lumens were considered more than enough to do the job both for handheld tactical lights and weapon lights.
Fast-forward six years to the present day. Tactical handheld lights put out anywhere from 600 to 1000+ lumens as a matter of course. While that much light gives the person wielding it an advantage over their opponent in low level light combat by destroying night adapted vision, it is not always needed for the tasks that handheld tactical lights are often used for. That is why nearly all high output lights have lower power settings. Too many lumens deployed for close mundane tasks such as reading make what is attempting to be read, well, unreadable.
Up until just recently it has not been possible to produce what could be considered a tactical LED handheld light the size of the PROTAC 1AAA and have it be powered by a single AAA alkaline cell, or AAA lithium cell for extended life, but Streamlight has done just that.
What makes the tiny PROTAC 1AAA a tactical handheld light? To put it simply, it's a reduced size/power version of the PROTAC 1L lithium powered light.
The construction of the 1AAA is the same as any of its PROTAC siblings-solid aircraft aluminum is used throughout, not some cheap imitation material. A glass lens and "O" ring seals make the 1AAA IPX7 waterproof to a depth of 1 meter.
As I mentioned early, a 70 lumen output was considered more than adequate in terms of light output a few years ago. I took the PROTAC 1AAA outdoors at night and satisfactorily illuminated large portions of my front yard. For basic tasks of illumination and identification, the 1AAA is more than powerful enough for routine tasks such as walking the dog, or emergency situations such as a power outage or vehicle breakdown, or even confronting a threat after dark.
Another tactical feature of the 1AAA is its tail cap switch, which features "momentary" and "push to continuous on" switching in its basic format. But there is more. Like its bigger brothers, the 1AAA features Streamlight's new "Ten Tap" programming system, which allows the user to select one of three operating mode that works best for them. The modes are "High-Strobe-Low" (factory default setting), "High Only" and "Low-High". Tapping the switch rapidly nine times then holding down the switch until the light turns off moves it to the next sequence. Since the maximum lumen output is 70, I switched the mode to the "High Only" mode since I didn't feel I would get much use out of the 5 lumen low power setting or the strobe setting. The strobe mode in a light this small is a bit difficult to operate, and the output isn't quite high enough to make strobing as effective as it is in higher output lights.
The PROTAC 1AAA comes packaged with a single AAA alkaline battery, which gives 30 minutes of continuous full power run-time. Substitute a lithium AAA cell, and that bumps the run time up to 2hrs and 15 minutes. One of the best features is that batteries for it can be found anywhere. Re-supply isn't always possible when carrying a CR123 lithium powered system while driving through "East Podunk" and checking at the local carryout for a resupply on a dark night.
The PROTAC 1AAA comes with a removable pocket (or purse) clip and a nylon carry sheath for belt attachment. As with any Streamlight product, it should provide a lifetime of service-and rough service at that. Pricing around $30 makes it great buy, as well as a great backup for a more powerful combat light. Don't buy throw-away junk lights when quality like this exists. Your life and safety may depend on it.