FDCam Reviews: The Streamlight Survivor LED

Hanging on a coat on the engine

PROS:

  • Best-in-class beam
  • 4AA/LED configuration is lightweight while still retaining good runtime
  • Solid Ergos
  • Switching modes is simple and intuitive

CONS:

  • Not as water-proof as some of it’s competition
  • Cool tint to LED’s washes out color
  • Focused beam doesn’t provide much working light
  • Rechargeable version is pretty spendy

STATS:

  • 140 Max Lumens
  • 2.5-3.5 hr runtime on High
  • 13.1 oz (17.9 oz  for rechargeable)
  • $60-$70 ($120+ for rechargeable)

COMPETITION:

Overview:  90° or “right-angle” flashlights are a fire service staple, and for good reason:  They are perfect for providing hands-free forward illumination when clipped to your turnout coat.  And in the world of right-angle lights, the Streamlight Survivor is king (at least for now).  It’s a practical, well thought out light that just plain works.

Clip and spilt ring.

The texturing on the third gen Survivor LED is much more refined than past versions.

Body:  The Survivor is built with a tough but lightweight nylon case that protects the internals.  Its polymer surface is nicely textured for a solid grip, even when wet.  Our test unit is the “safety orange” model, but it is also available in black and “high-visibility” yellow.  Overall feel is one of quality and durability.

The Survivor is fairly bulky for just a 4AA light, but I find that its wide-body shape makes it easy to keep facing forward when strapped to my turnouts.  I’ve always found slimmer 4AA lights, namely the Pelican Little Ed (a great fire service light in its own right) harder to keep pointing where I want them when attached to my coat.

The Survivor’s clip seems a fairly robust piece and has a strong spring.  It would easily stay clipped to an SCBA strap or radio belt under most use.; however, I would prefer a steel clip like the one found on Pelican’s 90° lights.  Personally, I don’t use the clip anyways, opting instead to use the included split ring to hang the light from the attachment point at the top of the clip.

The battery door closes very securely, as it should in a flashlight rated for hazardous atmospheres.  And the battery pack has a smart little notch to prevent you from inserting it the wrong way.

The Survivor is also water-resistant.  It has an Ingress Protection (IP) rating of IPX4.  The 4 denoting it is impervious to splashes of water from any direction and the X indicating that it has not yet been rated for dust/particle ingress.

Streamlight Survivor on the bumper of the engine

Streamlight claims a 140 Lumen output. While many manufacturers exaggerate their output, this seems about right to me, maybe even a bit conservative.

Controls:  The textured rubber actuator  button (on/off switch) is large enough for easy use, even with heavy gloves on.  However, I find its placement at the top of the light to be more awkward to use than a side-mounted button.

The flashlight has 4 different modes: High, Low, Flash/Signal, and Moonlight.  The moonlight mode seems to be about 5  lumens and is great for finding your bunk late at night without waking all the ladder guys.  It is supposed to be good for up to 20 days of continuous use.

I find switching between modes to be simple and intuitive, although I’ve never used anything but high in a working fire.  There’s just too much going on for me to be able to think about what mode I want my flashlight to be in.

Batteries:  The Survivor comes in both rechargeable and 4AA versions.  Both put out the same 140 lumens, but the higher capacity sub-c rechargeable gives you an extra 30-45 minutes of runtime on the High setting, and even more on low.   That higher runtime does come at a cost, however.  The rechargeable weighs an additional 4.8oz.  Now, a quarter pound in weight difference may or may not be significant.  It really depends on how much other crap you have in your turnouts.  My rule of thumb when putting tools in my turnouts is: the lighter the better.  And those ounces start to add up.

If you can’t decide between the rechargable or 4AA versions, Streamlight has built the Survivor to be able to switch between those two configurations by merely switching battery packs.  That way if you buy the 4AA, and later decide you want to upgrade to rechargeable, you need only buy a battery pack and charger.

Survivor emitter close-up

The C4 LED. Looks to me like your basic Cree XR-E.

Light Source:  I am still trying to figure out what C4 LED technology is.  Streamlight touts it very highly, but never tells you what it is or what it does.  As far as I can tell, it’s just marketing hype.  If anyone has any information to the contrary, I’d love to hear it.

Opening up the head of the light reveals the LED itself.  It appears to be a Cree XP-E, which is a top shelf emitter.  Why they wouldn’t tout that is beyond me, but if that is C4 technology…I’ll take it.

Beam:  In my opinion, the Survivor’s best feature.  The spot it throws has an intense and almost perfectly round central hot-spot with a faint halo around it to provide peripheral illumination without producing excessive glare in smoke.

It is such a good beam, that the Survivor can easily be pressed into service as a back-up to your primary searchlight on the rig.

The Streamlight Survivor LED has a very smooth beam.

The beam on the Survivor is very tight, but there is a small amount of usable spill.

The Cree emitter used in the Survivor is very small, but with a high surface brightness.  These properties, combined with a large, deep reflector make for a very tight beam indeed.  A small optical lens at the bottom of the reflector further refines the spot.  The subtle orange peel surface at the back portion of the reflectorkeeps the spill beam around the central hot-spot very smooth, with minimal rings (think Mag-Lite) or other artifacts.

The cool tint of the LED, which is common to nearly all mass-produced torches, is my only gripe about the Survivor’s beam.  The blueish light tends to wash out scenes, making it harder to identify what it is you are seeing.  I would venture to guess it is the primary reason that incandescent lights like the Big Ed still manage to keep a large following.

Conclusion: The Survivor is an excellent light for it’s intended purpose.  It might give up a little in ruggedness and waterproofing to some of the other “right-angle” lights out there, but it has a beam that just flat blows the competition out of the water.

Streamlight also makes use of an optic to help focus the light.

Next month, we will be doing a shoot-out between it and the new kid on the block, the FoxFury Breakthrough.  Both of which will be available at FDCam.com.  Stay tuned.

One thought on “FDCam Reviews: The Streamlight Survivor LED

  1. I use this light all the time at my department and I have to agree with the review. Being able to throw a beam across an airfield during a night time IFE is awesome and for SAR this light is my primary.

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