Thinking of a Streamlight Polytac X for a gift...

Stress_Test

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The requirements are making it tough to find something. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Polytac X (the 18650 / cr123a version). I've only had an old 1-mode Polytac in the past so I'm not too familiar with Streamlight. I was hoping someone here might be able to weigh in.


If you're wondering how I narrowed it down to this, read on; otherwise you can skip this part.

1. Output: Needs a high enough output to bounce off a wall or ceiling to be able to read something (last outage, he said he couldn't read by flashlight and I thought 'well he needs a brighter light then'). Mega-output not required; he lives in a city neighborhood so no need to light up a football field or anything. Does need to have a "run all night" mode in addition to high power mode. Reasonable mode outputs, in other words, not this current trend of having a really low mode (5 lumen) and a barn-burner 600 lumen mode with nothing in between. The PolytacX seems like a good spread with 35/260/600.

2. Dead simple interface. That right there disqualifies a lot of lights. Needs to be basic as possible otherwise it'll probably just get stuffed in a drawer and not used. Anything involving double-clicks, triple-clicks, clicks and holds, lockout modes, etc, is a no-go. I've never used the SL "ten-tap" interface but if I'm reading it right it can be setup to be a basic low-med-high with a simple click between modes.

3. Power source: No alkaline. No multi-cell format. (I once found his 3D flashlight contained 1 alkaline, 1 carbon-zinc, and 1 Ni-cad cell) So that leaves lithium. He doesn't have a charger and I don't think a stand-alone charging system would be a good idea anyway for him. He does have some kind of tiny little little light (AAA I think) that charges off a USB port which he seems to like, so.... The Streamlight 18650s that fit the PolytacX have built-in USB charging ports, so that would give him a charge method he's already used to (other than having to take the cell out of the light).

Other stuff: I'm thinking the yellow-body version, since he's getting up there in years and the hi-viz color may help prevent losing track of the light. I'm a little leery of gifting a polymer body light since most people equate "plastic" with "cheap", but since this light tics all the other boxes I'm willing to live with that. On the plus side, it ought to hold up well to being kicked around in the garage, driveway, etc. And metal-body lights feel like holding a block of ice in cold winter conditions, so there's that too!
 

aznsx

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The requirements are making it tough to find something. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Polytac X (the 18650 / cr123a version). I've only had an old 1-mode Polytac in the past so I'm not too familiar with Streamlight. I was hoping someone here might be able to weigh in.


If you're wondering how I narrowed it down to this, read on; otherwise you can skip this part.

1. Output: Needs a high enough output to bounce off a wall or ceiling to be able to read something (last outage, he said he couldn't read by flashlight and I thought 'well he needs a brighter light then'). Mega-output not required; he lives in a city neighborhood so no need to light up a football field or anything. Does need to have a "run all night" mode in addition to high power mode. Reasonable mode outputs, in other words, not this current trend of having a really low mode (5 lumen) and a barn-burner 600 lumen mode with nothing in between. The PolytacX seems like a good spread with 35/260/600.

2. Dead simple interface. That right there disqualifies a lot of lights. Needs to be basic as possible otherwise it'll probably just get stuffed in a drawer and not used. Anything involving double-clicks, triple-clicks, clicks and holds, lockout modes, etc, is a no-go. I've never used the SL "ten-tap" interface but if I'm reading it right it can be setup to be a basic low-med-high with a simple click between modes.

3. Power source: No alkaline. No multi-cell format. (I once found his 3D flashlight contained 1 alkaline, 1 carbon-zinc, and 1 Ni-cad cell) So that leaves lithium. He doesn't have a charger and I don't think a stand-alone charging system would be a good idea anyway for him. He does have some kind of tiny little little light (AAA I think) that charges off a USB port which he seems to like, so.... The Streamlight 18650s that fit the PolytacX have built-in USB charging ports, so that would give him a charge method he's already used to (other than having to take the cell out of the light).

Other stuff: I'm thinking the yellow-body version, since he's getting up there in years and the hi-viz color may help prevent losing track of the light. I'm a little leery of gifting a polymer body light since most people equate "plastic" with "cheap", but since this light tics all the other boxes I'm willing to live with that. On the plus side, it ought to hold up well to being kicked around in the garage, driveway, etc. And metal-body lights feel like holding a block of ice in cold winter conditions, so there's that too!
Sounds like you're looking for about what I was when I got my black one, and I've been more than happy with mine. Mine hasn't had a hard life (so far), but with a three (3)-meter FL1 impact rating from SL, I have no worries it will survive most abuse - probably with some margin. And yeah, that TenTap is golden.

One thing you'd notice upon picking it up is that the tailswitch actuator is slightly recessed below the surrounding fence / shroud (as depicted in the good 360 view on the product page), and while less 'proud' than some of my other lights, I have no real complaint, and it's still not bad w/ my KROC nitrile-coated gloves either. I do use the tip of my thumb for making 'maintained-on' easier, (although I use momentary far more anyway in my work). Some have, however wished it protruded a bit more. On the flip side, it does tail-stand very nicely when that's called for.

One thing you'd notice when R&Ring the 18650 is that there's a fairly large but lightweight spring which is not captive and could be dropped or not replaced if one is not aware, so point that out to the recipient.

I don't think I could think of a better choice for a good all-around 1x18650 I'd give to most anyone with confidence that they'd like it.

RE the polymer body: This is probably (likely to be) the toughest body of any light I have, and the one I'd subject to the most abuse of any of them with confidence. The feel? Good luck telling it isn't heavy 6061 T6 when you pick it up. It's also nicely 'grippy'. I was wishing I'd gotten the Coyote Tan version just so the EHS police at my plant could tell it isn't Al, given I'm a sparky tech, and they'd appreciate that w/o the clip, it's built like an insulator:). As it is, they'd likely have to tap on it to tell it isn't heavy Al.

I give it my rating of: 'If I lost it, I'd order another one the next day'.

EDIT: I didn't mention it, but as you see from the Fact Sheet, this model is assembled in U.S.A., if that matters.
 

aznsx

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@Stress_Test
I neglected to mention that the color temp is a very nice, good all-round 'real white', probably in the 5000-5500K range, and is (in my opinion) perfect for an all purpose light. It's also relatively free of any objectionable chromatic nastiness / components. It looks very much like my newest Strion (which is a compliment).
 

Stress_Test

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That's good to know about the color temp as well. My old Polytac has a pretty nice temp and tint also, compared to a lot of the contemporary offerings from Fenix and 4Sevens lights. I wondered if S.L. is maybe a little more stringent in their emitter selection.
 

Stress_Test

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Received it yesterday. Pretty neat light. I'm going to leave some thoughts and photos here for reference in case someone else ends up searching the forum in the future.

The mode switching works differently from anything I've seen before. It doesn't shift to the next mode just by an on-off cycle. You have to soft-press (tap) the number of times corresponding to the mode you want. I found it easiest to start from off. So, mode 1 = one tap (or click to on). Mode 2 takes 2 taps, Mode 3 takes 3 taps.

Shifting mode sets works easily enough. Ten rapid taps, on the tenth, you can fully click. After a second or two, the light will blink then turn off. Then you just click the switch off again, and it's ready to use like normal.

You do have to be pretty fast on the taps for mode shifting.

I'm hoping this won't be too cumbersome for the person I'm giving this light to. I've set the light to the low/med/high mode set. I'll tell him it'll basically be a 35 lumen light normally, but do the double tap to get a brighter mode. I'm going to advise him not to worry about using the triple-tap high mode, since for his purposes I don't think he'll need it and it'll be easier to remember the interface if he just focuses on single or double-tap operation.

As for the rest of the light, it has a nice well-finished look to it, though the texture isn't as rough as I thought it'd be. It might still be a little slippery with wet hands. The neon-yellow body and black head make a good looking color scheme. The tailswitch is pretty recessed, though this does mean the light can tailstand on a hard, flat surface.

I find the switch relatively difficult to use in one-handed operation, especially in the "overhand" grip with the thumb. So, I wouldn't consider this a light for any "tactical" use (any cases where rapid, one-hand activation is critical). On the plus side, this means it's less likely to accidentally activate in a pocket. It's easy enough to activate two-handed.

The beam color temp is cool white. There's just a hint of yellow fringing around the center hot-spot. Overall it's fairly smooth, and oriented slightly more towards throw. The hot-spot size looks somewhat like my P60 modules that have an XP-G emitter.

The overall size isn't as large as I was expecting. It's a bit bigger than some 18650/2xCR123a lights, but not quite as large as my Solarforce lights (L2P shown).

KZ88GQYh.jpg

I had heard cautions about losing this spring from the head. It doesn't just fall off if I shake it around, but I could see it accidentally getting knocked off. It looks like this spring is what's used for electrical contact to the metal sleeve inside the body. I suppose one could use a couple of small dabs of epoxy to secure the spring to the head.

MlSQeQph.jpg

I have no idea what emitter this is. It has a silver base like a Cree XP-G2 or XM-L2, but there's some kind of strange pattern of concentric circles of dots that can be seen through the dome.

bpcx7ajh.jpg

I've been running the light yesterday and today to make sure everything works and to put a few cycles on the included battery. I should be able to deliver the light tomorrow.
 

Stress_Test

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That seemed to go over pretty well. We gave it a test spin in his back yard, which was totally dark, and so was the neighbor's yard beside it.

As I figured, the Polytac had no trouble lighting the yard from one end to the other even on medium mode (about 100ft distance).

It's more floody than I thought but in a good way. Nice even spill beam makes it easy to see everything. Compared to the P60 module XP-G I was carrying, the P60 had a tighter hot spot and more throw, but dimmer spill area. The Polytac just lit everything much more evenly.

I feel better knowing that he has a more "serious" piece of lighting now, that can do both long run times and high power as needed. Power outages seem to be getting more common lately around here...
 

Kayaker530

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We have also given that light to family as gifts. The only complaint that we have received is that pushing the switch is a bit hard for some.
 

Stress_Test

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I did mention to the recipient that the switch was basically a two-handed deal. It does tailstand fairly well on its own though, so for him that's probably more useful than a one-handed switch operation anyway.

If it were mine, I might try grinding down the three nubs at the tail that surround the switch, if I wanted easy one-hand operation.

And my instincts to get a Li-ion light proved to be correct. Remember the Maglite I mentioned? The mix-matched cell discovery was back in February. This week I found the light with that same mish-mash of cells still sitting together (fortunately the cells were not in the light!)

I've got an order in for an additional pair of 18650s to help ensure there will always be at least one cell ready to go.
 
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