Things That Don’t Suck: Streamlight Macrostream USB 500 Lumen Flashlight

by Tommy Grant

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We’ve know personal defense trainers who will tell you that one of the best self defense tools you can carry is a good flashlight. If you’re in a dark parking lot or garage and someone begins to approach you, they teach that clicking on your light and shining it at the person approaching you can make them change their mind. A bright beam directed in the face will make almost anyone stop and shade their eyes, giving you time to assess the situation and react.

That’s why a lot of people make sure that — along with a gun and a knife — they don’t leave home without some kind of light in their pocket. And there’s virtually nowhere you can’t carry one.

Streamlight rolled out the new Macrostream USB flashlight at January’s SHOT Show and I’ve been carrying the Macrostream USB for years now. It’s a one AA-size everyday carry light with two brightness settings that’s capable of generating enough output to illuminate just about any situation.

You’ve probably seen their uber-popular Microstream, a one AAA light, that’s a favorite of everyday gear carriers. The Macrostream USB is about an inch longer and, of course, thicker. But while the Microstream puts out a mere 45 lumens (a USB version can generate as much as 250 lumens) the Macrostream can generate as much as 500 lumens. And it’s big enough to use as an improvised weapon if you had to.

The Microstream USB beam is rated at 90 meters and throws a wide, even field of light.

As you might have guessed, the USB in Macrostream USB means the light is rechargeable.

The charging port is concealed under an O-ring sealed sliding shroud. The port glows red while charging and goes green when it’s complete.

The Macrostream USB actuates with a rubber end cap switch. One click gives you full 500 lumen output. A quick partial press followed by another gives you 50 lumens of lower power, perfect for most indoor situations when you only need to see where you’re going or light up a dark area without killing your night vision.


While the Macrostream USB is a one AA-size light, it won’t work on AA cells. That’s a shame, because AA batteries are available everywhere. The good news is that the Streamlight’s rechargeable lithium ion battery will give you eight hours of low power use and two hours at full output.

Streamlight says a full charge takes four hours. I’ve never run it all the way down, so can’t testify to that, but whenever I’ve wanted to top off the battery’s charge, it’s never taken more than about 30 minutes at most.

Unlike more “tactical” lights, the Streamlight USB doesn’t have a crenelated bezel, which can be useful in a defensive situation. If you’re someone who wants standard AA battery capability in a more tactical flashlight design, you’ll probably want to look at Streamlight’s PROTAC 1L-1AA. It has a crenelated bezel and a shrouded end cap switch. Then again, it only puts out 350 lumens, has a shorter high end run time, and weighs a little more.

Like almost all of Steamlight’s flashlights, the Macrostream has a two-way clip.

The clip lets you put the light on the bill of your hat and use it as a head lamp.

What makes the Macrostream USB a great choice as an EDC light is that it’s so light weight. A mere 2.2 ounces barely registers in your pocket, so you won’t give it a second thought as you go about your appointed rounds. It’s IPX4 rated for water resistance, so you can get it wet without worry (though it’s not rated for complete submersion).

The Macrostream USB comes with a lanyard, and charging cord for about $54.

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