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Streamlight Recommends...

Written by Don Munson

Streamlight had been around for nearly 35 years. Started in 1973, Streamlight developed the first million candlepower hand light for NASA in the 1970s. For the past 30 years, Streamlight has been giving professionals quality flashlights to make their jobs safer and easier. In 1975, the company designed the first high-intensity halogen rechargeable flashlight. So with all that in mind, we asked Streamlight reps if they could recommend one weapon-mounted light for tactical operations, what would it be? Their response was the Super Tac Flashlight with the C4 LED.

The Super Tac is a compact personal flashlight that is able to be weapon mounted for tactical operations. The body of the Super Tac is made of 6000 series machined aircraft aluminum with a black anodized finish. At 6.6 inches long, it weighs only 7.1 ounces, even with the large, 2.2-inch-diameter head. The lens is made of a tough “unbreakable” polycarbonate.

The light source for the Super Tac is Streamlight’s new C4 LED. C4 Photonic Crystal technology almost triples the brightness over standard LEDs. C4 is comparable in range and brightness of a xenon bulb. The deep-dished parabolic reflector produces a long range-targeting beam while still offering sufficient peripheral / side light for navigation. The C4 LED is shockproof with a 50,000-hour lifespan. Powered by two CR123A lithium batteries, the constant-on runtime is an advertised 3.5 hours. Again, that is if the light is constantly on. LED solid-state circuitry provides regulated light output through the life of the battery.

The Super Tac has a tail-cap switch with a momentary or constant-on ability. The tail cap rotates for a “safe” position for no accidental illuminations. All openings of the Super Tac are sealed with O-rings to resist moisture. The Super Tac has optional remote switches available, as well as different weapon-mounting brackets and an available holster.

We tested our Super Tac on a Colt M4 that had an existing rail forearm system installed. It was mounted with the optional “rail mount” part #69100 and a “remote switch with 8-inch cord” part #88185. In this configuration, the light was mounted on the rail system on the right-hand side of the rifle, and the switch was mounted on the left-hand side.

The length of light was pushing the lens of the flashlight well past the front site frame and the design of the mount, bringing the light away from the forearm. That annoying dark shadow caused on the opposite side of the light by the barrel was greatly reduced compared to other weapon-mounted light setups. With the remote switch placed to be thumb operated on the left side of the forearm, I found the lack of a constant-on switch was a definite drawback for any kind of long lighted search. The switch design was adequate, but there was a noticeable difference in pressure required if your thumb was not centered on the switch.

We also tested the Super Tac with the optional “vertical grip with rail” part #69114. We replaced the pressure switch with the original tail-cap switch and then mounted the vertical grip toward the front of the forearm rail system. We then mounted the rail mount to the rail of vertical grip, which was about 1 inch lower, and 2 inches forward of its previous mounting configuration. The shadow on the left side of the weapon was pulled from 9 o’clock to between 10 and 11 o’clock, which was a noticeable improvement.

With the vertical grip installed, there was no comparison when it came to functionality. The tail-cap switch made all the difference in the world. Having the option of constant or momentary light was invaluable when there was a need for left-hand free operation. As soon as your hand hit the vertical grip, your thumb wrapped around right on the end of the tail-cap switch.

The light of the Super Tac gave off a large circle of peripheral / side light. It allowed the operator plenty of light to navigate any potential hazards while still maintaining a strong center beam, which had plenty of reach and brightness to help identify potential targets or threats at an extended distance. We tested the Super Tac in a school search with large classrooms and long hallways. Even in these challenging areas, the Super Tac put off more than enough light to clear the building with ease. It also made plenty of light in the operator’s immediate area to traverse those crowded classrooms.

The long open areas the strong center beam created by the Super Tac really showed its reach. With some of the halls being in the thousand-foot range, there was no shortage of illumination. In open areas such as cafeterias, gymnasiums and auditoriums, the combination of the immediate ambient light coupled with the strength of that center beam of light was a perfect combination. We tested the Super Tac for a three-hour period with few breaks with the light off. There was barely a noticeable difference in light output to the naked eye.

Now for the surprising part. The MSRP for the Super Tac is $119.95. This puts it well within or under the price range of some of the other weapon-mounted lights. However, that is just for the light. The rail mount and vertical grip will set you back around $160 MSRP for both. Obviously, you will be able to find them for considerably less than the MSRP. But paying more for the accessories than for the light seemed odd. Granted if you already have a vertical grip on your rifle, then you’ll save a little. I searched the Web briefly and found the Super Tac, rail mount and vertical grip all under $200. From a budget point of view, $200 for a light of this caliber is reasonable.

With its high light output, extended runtime and light weight, the Super Tac is a great weapon-mounted light choice. I would save the money for the pressure switch and buy a vertical grip instead because in that configuration is where the Super Tac is at its best. The only other improvement that Streamlight could give the Super Tac would be a rechargeable capability. There is an idea that any operator would appreciate with the cost of CR123A being a constant reminder of the cost of leaving your lights on.

Don Munson is a deputy sheriff with the Benton County, IN Sheriff’s Department, and he is point man with his multi-agency response team. He can be reached at donmunson@sbcglobal.net.

Published in Tactical Response, Nov/Dec 2008

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