Streamlight Polytac X USB Multi-Fuel Flashlight Review

   01.16.19

Streamlight Polytac X USB Multi-Fuel Flashlight Review

I’ve been enjoying some Streamlight flashlights for a while now, and the time has come to review my favorite one: The Polytac X USB “multi-fuel” flashlight. This is a good, bright, rugged light that has been my companion and everyday light for about 9 months, and it’s been a good one.

Let’s start with some specs:

  • IPX7 waterproof
  • 3 meter impact resistance
  • Light source: C4 LED
  • High Lumens: 600
  • Run Time on High: 3.5 hours
  • Run Time on Low: 36 hours
  • Beam Distance: 205 meters
  • Max Candela: 11,485
  • Battery Type: 18650 Lithium Ion Battery (1) or CR123A Lithium (2)
  • Length: 5.46 inches
  • Body Diameter: 1.00 inch
  • Head Diameter: 1.25 inch
  • Major Diameter: 1.35 inch
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces (includes 18650 USB battery) or 4.4 ounces with two CR123A batteries
  • Colors: Coyote, Yellow, Black
  • Switch function: Programmable — high/strobe/low (factory default), high only, or low/medium/high
  • Includes removable two-way pocket clip
  • Serialized for positive identification
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Assembled in USA
  • MSRP: $55.99 (yellow) $57.99 (black or coyote)

First Impressions

I put the Polytac X to work right away. Although a little larger than previous EDC (everyday carry) lights I’d used, its ruggedness, brightness, and long battery life kept it on my side most of the time. As you can see, I’ve used my Polytac X shamelessly, and the lens is even stippled from hot welding sparks (oops!). Through it all, it keeps working just fine.

Polytac X USB is still bright in spite of the abused lens.
Polytac X USB is still bright in spite of the abused lens.
(Photo © Russ Chastain)

The Polytac X USB comes with a Streamlight 18650 lithium-ion battery rated at 2600 mAh, 3.7 volts, 9.62 Wh. This battery has a Micro-USB port in its side, for charging. Mine had some juice right out of the package.

I quickly decided that the factory-default function setting for the tail-mounted pushbutton switch wasn’t for me. Out of the package, it’s set for high/strobe/low and I never use a strobe. Other options are high only or low/medium/high, and I decided to go with the latter. Changing the program was not difficult to do by following the included instructions.

Once set to low/medium/high, one push on the button switches it to low, two pushes to medium, and three pushes sets it on high. The nice thing is, you don’t have to make a full click for any of the settings, so I can quickly make this light fully bright by making three rapid momentary presses of the switch — and at no point do I need to push the switch all the way in until it clicks, unless I want to. This makes it handy for quickly checking out movement in the woods while I’m walking the dog at night, finding my way to a deer stand in the pre-dawn murk, or finding a tool in a dark corner of my shop.

The Good Stuff

At 4.9 ounces with the USB battery, the Polytac X is light enough for everyday carry. I routinely clip it to my left front pocket with the lens facing up. This makes it easy to get my hands on whenever I need some light.

The clip, which is two-way, became loose after some months, so this light has been dropped numerous times, often on tile or concrete, and it shows no ill effects from the impacts.

On low, the Polytac Xs light gives me enough light to “see how to see” in a dark spot in shed, shop, closet, etc, or to dig around in my hunting pack without being too bright. On high — especially when fully charged — it is quite bright (600 lumens rating) and delivers impressive projection as well.

Polytac X USB flashlight with 18650 USB battery and head removed.
Polytac X USB flashlight with 18650 USB battery and head removed.
(Photo © Russ Chastain)

I also like that, if the 18650 USB battery becomes worn-out or loses power somewhere I’m unable to charge it, I can slip a pair of CR123A cells into the Polytac X and keep on shining.

The Polytac X is waterproof, impact-resistant, reliable, rechargeable, and bright.

Not so Good

On the down side, my main gripe about the Polytac X is its weak clip. After bending slightly outward from use, it will not stay clipped to the outside of my pocket reliably. To combact this, I usually slip the light inside my front left pants pocket with the clip over the edge of my pocket. This works, but can be confining if my pocket is otherwise full.

I did remove the clip (just unscrew the head and remove a small o-ring) and re-bend it to give it some more “grab.” This works for a while.

Polytac X USB flashlight inside the body (L), tail switch (C), lens before cleaning (R).
Polytac X USB flashlight inside the body (L), tail switch (C), lens before cleaning (R).
(Photo © Russ Chastain)

The only other strike I have against this light is that the battery must be removed to charge it. This is a small price to pay for the tough waterproofness and the ability to also use CR123A batteries, though.

Conclusion

As I said early on, this has become my favorite all-around flashlight… which is something of a problem, because it prevents me from carrying other lights I’m testing. I wish it had a perfect clip, but I can live with it on an otherwise tough, durable, bright compact light.

The Polytac X USB can be had for $55.99 in yellow, or $57.46 in black or coyote tan.

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