I have been working with both the new ProTac Rail Mount lights from Streamlight for a couple of weeks now. I have spent more time with the Rail Mount 1 in particular. This post should not be considered a full review given the short time they have been in my hands. Consider it something like my initial impressions and perhaps an answer to some common inquiries that I receive here often at JTT – AA battery powered weapon light availability and a more general question about affordable lighting set ups .
These lights were sent to me by Impact Weapons Components (IWC) for the express purpose of testing them with a variety of IWC mounts of which I own several. That article will come later and will have plenty of pictures of the lights on various IWC mounts and impressions of the combinations.
Initially, I have had the Protac Rail Mount 1 mounted in an IWC SMC Light Mount on an Arsenal SGL-21 with Magpul MOE AK Hand Guards and also on an AR-15 with Magpul MOE SL Hand Guards. This setup has proven to be very useful in both cases.
AA Battery Compatibility
I commonly receive questions regarding the availability of AA weapon lights. While alkaline AA batteries are generally less suitable for weapon lights than lithium CR123A batteries, I do understand that gun guys also tend to have a prepper streak. The perceived long term availability of AA batteries makes a weapon light powered by them attractive. I am happy to report that the ProTac Rail Mount 1 can be powered by a single AA battery without modification (the documentation specifically mentions alkaline and lithium chemistries).
The output is reduced to 150 lumens on high for the lower voltage AA batteries but, according to Streamlight, the light will provide regulated output for 1.5 hours on an alkaline AA and an impressive 4.5 hours on a lithium AA. Compare those numbers to 350 lumens for 1.75 hours with a CR123A. That 150 lumen performance for 4.5 hours with a lithium AA may actually be very appealing to those who prefer a light in the 120-150 lumen range (though lumens don’t tell the whole story of what makes a light bright enough or too bright).
Remember that it wasn’t that long ago that 120 lumen LED weapon lights were the bleeding edge. 150 lumens from a single AA battery is impressive especially considering this is one of the very few dedicated weapon lights that can be powered from a AA battery.
Questions about affordable versions of this or affordable versions of that are some of the most common questions received here at JTT with weapon lights being a frequent topic. I like to point out that you must also consider the price of not only the light but the mount and hand guard in that discussion. Additionally, your weapon light must be useful regardless of how affordable it is or isn’t. If you find a cheap hand guard but it requires a jerry-rigged mounting solution to work with a light, that isn’t a good value. If you have a high end hand guard but you are limited by your light’s integral mount (or lack their of), the usefulness of the total package can suffer.
This is where I believe these lights can really stand out due to their use of the Scout Light mounting system. The lights themselves are affordable and are compatible with a variety of affordable, high-quality mounts that can be mounted to affordable, high quality hand guards.
You could add Magpul MOE Hand Guards to you rifle (AR or AK), use an SMC Light Mount, and a ProTac Rail Mount light. Add a vertical grip or IWC hand stop if you are so inclined. All of these items are quite affordable but this isn’t just an affordable light mounting option. It’s a very good option. The light falls right where it should for easy operation. It is relatively lightweight. The hand guard is cleared for establishing a good grip. This is just a solid front end set up for your AK or AR that is all made possible by the compatibly of the ProTac Rail Mounts with existing light mounts.
In general, I have been impressed with these lights over my short time with them. There is certainly no replacement for time and repetitions over a large sample size when it comes to establishing the reliability of something like a flashlight so these impressions are very preliminary. On the other hand, the Streamlight ProTac handheld lights are fairly well vetted at this point.
The Rail Mount Lights use a large collimating lens in order to shape the lumens that are pushed out the front. The lens itself is quite large compared the reflectors found on the ProTac handheld lights (about the size of the lens found in the Streamlight TRL-1 HL). The beam shape is very good with a nice hotspot for good throw and a wide corona for taking in a wide view of your surroundings.
I am impressed with the value that these represent much like the Streamlight TLR-1. These lights come with an integral mount, a tape switch, a tail cap, and various other items for mounting and routing the tape switch. The Rail Mount 1 comes with both a CR123A and AA battery. The quality is on par with what I have come to expect from the ProTac line (I own several of the hand held lights). Part of the value is also Streamlight’s customer service which in my experience has always been excellent with quick responses and satisfying outcomes.
I will continue testing and trying different mounts. In the mean time, you can check out the ProTac Rail Mount lights and various IWC light mounts at Impact Weapons Components. They will be offering combo deals on these lights with their mounts soon so stay tuned. Remember to use code TRIGGERJERK at checkout to save 5%.