Incredibly bright. Extremely durable. Affordable. These are my take-aways from this Streamlight Strion LED HL review.
The HL is a new model in the Strion LED line of flashlights, introduced earlier this year. The rechargeable light is designed to be small enough to be part of your EDC, yet rugged enough to be used as a weapon light or carried daily on a cop’s duty belt.
I’ve owned several different Strion models. My question was would this one be a real improvement over the ones I already own? The answer was unquestionably yes.
Ed. Note: Since this review was published, Streamlight updated the Strion LED HL flashlight with a more efficient, better-performing LED. So, the excellent performance portrayed in this article should carry over to the improved model. In the Specifications section, I compare the two versions of the light.
“HL” stands for High Lumen, which is a very accurate description. The Strion LED HL puts out a whopping 500 lumens, just about double the standard LED model. To say this flashlight is bright is an understatement. My daily carry flashlight is the Streamlight ProTac HL. The ProTac is rated at 600 lumens, but I could tell no difference in brightness between the Strion LED HL and the ProTac HL.
– extremely durable
– impressive light output
– simple, intuitive switch design
– reasonable “street” prices
The Strion LED HL has four modes: high, medium, low and strobe. The high throws 500 lumens. The medium and low modes emit 250 and 125 lumens respectively. The strobe mode operates at the full 500 lumens.
As mentioned earlier in the review, this flashlight uses a lithium-ion rechargeable battery. Run time varies depending on the mode. On high, Streamlight rates the run time at one hour. With the strobe, expect about 2.5 hours. The medium power output will go two hours, while the low power mode will get about 3.5 hours before needing to recharge.
The battery will completely recharge in about three hours and is rated for 1000 recharges. The charger has a cut-off circuit that will prevent over-charging.
One of the great things about Streamlight is that the company doesn’t design new charging systems every time they introduce a new model to the line. The same charger that came with my incandescent Strion years ago will charge the current LED HL light. Recognizing that many people will want to use old chargers, Streamlight sells this flashlight without a charger at a discounted price.
The Strion flashlights use a tailcap switch for activation. A partial depressing of the button acts as a momentary-on switch. Completely pressing the button in (full click) gives you constant on.
I’ve found the durability of the Strion line to be excellent. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this is my third Strion flashlight. The prior two served very well for years on patrol through all sorts of weather, rough handling and hundreds of recharges. Streamlight has a limited lifetime warranty on the Strion lights, but I have never had to take advantage of that policy.
This flashlight seemed to be made to the same quality. For the duration of my evaluation period, I put away the ProTac HL and carried the Strion. Additionally, I attached this to an AR-15 with an Elzetta ZFH1500 flashlight mount. After several weeks of carrying and running a few hundred rounds through the rifle with the Strion attached, the light was still functioning perfectly fine.
Streamlight adheres to the voluntary ANSI/NEMA FL-1 standard (Ed. note: Now the ANSI/PLATO FL1 Standard) for measuring flashlight performance. This includes impact and water resistance. The Strion LED HP is rated to two meters impact resistance and is rated IPX4 water-resistant.
My History with the Strion
I’ve owned a Streamlight Strion light in one form or another for almost 10 years now. My first was an incandescent model I reviewed at BlueSheepdog.com. It worked well, but compared to the LED HL model, it was very underpowered with only 116 lumens of yellowish light. To Streamlight’s credit, it still works as well today as it did when I bought it brand new.
About two years ago, I was issued a Strion LED at my police department. The LED version was a very big step up in lighting, offering a brighter, whiter light (160 lumens) and a longer run time: up to two hours on the brightest mode.
This light, like the prior Strion, was exposed to all of the elements a street cop working in Florida will encounter: rain, humidity, salt air and the somewhat unreasonable abuses associated with a hands-on profession. The light ran great and I was very pleased with it.
Even so, I am always looking for the ability to put more light into dark places. Sort of like ammunition in a gunfight, no one ever asks for less light when illuminating dark areas. When I had a chance to test the new Strion LED HL, I was eager to do so.
Strion LED HL Specifications
Here are the specs on the Strion LED HL when I tested it and the specs on the updated version:
|Original Model||Updated Model|
|Total Light Output||500 lumens||615 lumens|
|Peak Beam Intensity||10,000 candelas||12,000 candelas|
|Beam Distance||200 meters||219 meters|
|Run Time (to 10% output)||1 hour||1.25 hours|
|Weight||5.2 oz||5.2 oz|
One of the key aspects of my flashlight reviews is that I actually test the torches with a series of evaluations to see if they might meet your needs. These tests cover areas such as runtime, impact resistance and water resistance.
In other words, I bounce flashlights off of concrete because you might have to.
Some have said that my testing is too tough. I think it is merely a good start to your research in finding the best light for your needs.
Tactical flashlights – those used by armed citizens, police officers and military personnel – are tools for serious work. Unfortunately, many companies do not see them as such and casually use terms like “tactical” and “military grade” around. Wrestling with some attacker in a parking lot is not the time you want to find out that your light isn’t up to snuff.
Runtime: Output Over Time
If there is one specification that manufacturers like to fudge the most, it is the runtime of a light. I define runtime as the output over time. In other words, how much light is produced and for how long?
The voluntary ANSI/PLATO FL1 Standard describes how a flashlight company should test and report certain flashlight specifications. One of those specs is runtime.
According to the FL1 Standard, a manufacturer reports runtime as the total amount of time that it takes a flashlight to dwindle to a mere 10% of its original light output when run continuously.
Unfortunately, I believe this creates an unrealistic expectation in the mind of many consumers. I suspect that many people read a flashlight package and see “500 lumens” and “4 hours” and make the assumption that the flashlight will produce 500 lumens of light for 4 hours.
In reality, those 500 lumen and 4-hour runtime specifications can also mean that the light will make 500 lumens for one minute then drop to an output of only 60 lumens for the next 3 hours and 59 minutes.
Knowing this, you can likely understand why it is so critical that output be represented as a graph so you can see the actual amount of light output over time.
Since I initially reviewed this flashlight, I have updated how I test products. At the time I have updated this article, I now include detailed output over time measurements in graph form. You can see the output chart above.
I should note that this test was performed with the original battery that was included with the light. That means the battery is more than 5 years old and has had multiple discharges and recharges on it. A new light would probably perform better. However, this light was impressive – even more so because of its age.
In my testing, I found that the Streamlight Strion LED HL had a total runtime of 1 hour 3 minutes. This exceeds the manufacturer’s reported specification of 1 hour.
The key for me, however, is that the light put out at least 50% of its initial light output for the full time. In fact, the light hovered around a 75% light output for about 45 minutes.
Streamlight, unlike almost every other flashlight manufacturer, publishes a output graph for this light. It is reproduced here:
As you can see, the company output graph follow a curve very similar to the one I measured in my own testing. Factoring in the Streamlight graph was measured with fresh batteries and mine was with an old one, the company appears to be very honest in its reporting.
After five years of use, the makes the Strion LED HL one of the best lights I’ve tested when testing the output over time and comparing it to the manufacturer’s reported specification.
Using the FL1 Standard, Streamlight lists the impact resistance of the Strion LED HL as 2 meters. For the FL1 Standard, this means that multiple test lights had to survive 6 drops each onto cured concrete from a height of no less than 2 meters.
Since most tactical-style flashlights only have a impact resistance of one meter, this is a substantial increase in potential durability.
For my testing, I drop the flashlight six times onto a concrete sidewalk from the distance identified by the manufacturer. In this case, the drop distance is 2 meters.
If you think of the flashlight as a cube, I drop it one time onto each “side” of the imaginary cube. This means that the side of the flashlight strikes the ground first in four drops. One drop hits the head directly while another hits the tail directly.
I have had a number of supposed rugged flashlights fail on this test. However, the Streamlight Strion LED HL passed without any issues at all.
As you might imagine, aluminum striking concrete can be tough on the flashlight body. The Streamlight did pick up a few small dings from the testing. At no point, though, did the flashlight stop working or develop any visible cracks in the body or lens. Additionally, the battery appeared to be undamaged.
Streamlight rates this light as IPX4 for dust and water resistance. In a nutshell, this means the flashlight is not tested for particle intrusion (dust and dirt) and that it is resistant to water spray. It is not rated to be a submersible light.
After the impact testing, I took the flashlight into the shower. It received direct spray for 15 minutes but was not immersed in standing water. It did not appear to suffer any ill effects.
My other Strion flashlights have been used in strong thunderstorms, and have been drenched right along with me. They have never shown any issues with rain or water either.
Light Output – Are More Lumens a Good Thing?
So, this light puts out 500 lumens. That is bright, but is it good? Is too much light a liability? Are 500 lumens “enough” when compared to lights that put out 1,000 or more lumens?
In general, I find that 500 lumens of light output are a lot for a handheld flashlight. If it is enough depends on your needs, but the way the light is modified by the lens and other components is likely more important than an absolute number of lumens.
The below images show how bright the light is at a distance of 25′.
Light shaping affects how useable the light is for your specific needs. If you are using a high lumen light that has a very bright peak beam intensity, as measured in candela, then that light will likely have a tight, very bright beam. Â For illuminating an object at distance, this would be a great light.
The Strion LED HL, however, has a high lumen rating with a moderate peak beam intensity compared to the total light output: 10,000 candelas. This suggests the light will throw a reasonably wide beam, illuminating a larger area instead of having a long reach. This kind of light is much better suited for close-in work like room clearing or illuminating the passenger compartment of a car.
Think of the differences as a spotlight vs. a naked residential light bulb. If both put out the exact same light amount (lumens) they will still have drastically different beam shapes and therefore, uses. Those are extreme examples, but they might help you visualize what I am trying to describe.
If you are looking for a Strion with a longer reach, check out the Strion LED HPL. It is rated at 275 lumens and a whopping 40,000 candela. This has a much tighter beam. According to Streamlight, the LED HP has an effective range of 400 meters.
Long Term Durability
I originally received this Streamlight Strion LED HL flashlight in 2015. Since the initial testing, I have continued to use it on a fairly regular basis. At the time I write this in July of 2018, the light has had 3 years of use.
During the years that I have used the light, it has never failed me. It works as well today as it did the first day I took it out of the box. The charger continues to efficiently juice up the battery, and I still get an hour of runtime from it.
The impact resistance testing I did has not affected the light at all. Nor did running it in the shower. I have no concerns about the long term durability of this flashlight.
Bottom line: Streamlight Strion LED HL is a very good flashlight and is reasonably priced for the level of performance it offers. It is a great light for anyone working in law enforcement or security but is small enough to be an EDC light for many people. As I mentioned earlier in this Streamlight Strion LED HL review, I easily slip mine into a cargo pocket of my shorts and carry it all day.
Hopefully, this review has been a help to you. If you own a Strion, leave a comment below and let others know about your experiences – good or bad – with the light. If you have any questions about it, leave a question for me below and I will do my best to answer. Click here to get a Strion LED HL from Amazon. Any purchase you make through the link helps keep this site going through an affiliate commission.
Last Update: August 16, 2021
As with my other reviews, I disclose all information that might influence the article. I do this so you can determine for yourself how much weight you wish to give my opinions.
I have been a Streamlight owner for more than 20 years. I purchased my first Streamlight flashlight for use in my law enforcement career. It served me well, and so have more than a dozen of other Streamlight flashlights I have used since. So, I have a fairly broad range of experience with the company’s lights in real world use.
The Strion LED HL tested in this review was provided by the company. No money or other form of compensation was offered or received to do this review. However, Streamlight sent the light with the intent that I review it. They neither asked me, nor have I ever promised, to provide the flashlight with a positive review.
The original Strion mentioned in the article was purchased by me for duty use. The Strion LED mentioned in the article was issued by my department for duty use.
I do not have any financial interest in any flashlight company. Streamlight is not an advertiser, nor are we in any discussions for them to be one. In fact, I do not accept advertising on this site.
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