Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops – Gear Review

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Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night Ops, weaponlight

The new-and-improved version of the Blackhawk Xiphos, the NTX, has a maximum light output of 180 lumens, a strobe function and more.

By Guy J. Sagi

Blackhawk
www.blackhawk.com

When GunsAmerica ran a review of the readily available (but discontinued) Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops weaponlight, the company sent an e-mail indicating an all-new version was going to be available soon, and offered to provide one of the first for testing. The earlier model works extremely well, but several retailers carrying it still claim the rail-mounted light is waterproof to 10 meters, despite the fact it quit working after 60 minutes in a glass of water during our testing. The new Xiphos NTX Night-Ops, however, survived the same “water torture” test when it arrived, despite its billing as only water resistant to 10 meters.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX

The most visible difference between the NTX (right) and the NT (left) is seen in the reflectors.

If inclement weather is even a remote possibility for your weaponlight, the new version proved it is a much better choice, but it’s not because Blackhawk added a gasket to the battery cover/tailcap on the Xiphos NTX Night-Ops. Both it and its predecessor lack a watertight seal there, but the new version has a much tighter, moisture-stalling fit. That’s good in regard to longevity, but battery replacement will take a few extra seconds, and with a photon-beam-defying 180-lumen maximum output and 120 minute run time, you’re going to go through a few CR123 batteries.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops

The light-activation paddles are shaped slightly differently, too. The NTX version (right) is more slender toward the outside than the NT (left).

At first glance, the Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops looks nearly identical to its predecessor. In fact, unless you’re holding the two together, the odds are good you’ll never detect the changes.

The first thing you may notice, however, is the NTX has a smooth reflector, instead of the texturing employed in the NT. It’s a change that is far from simply cosmetic, since light management in a weaponlight or tactical flashlight is serious business.

Ribs, stippling or other texture on a light’s reflector effectively scatters some of the light transmission. With the earlier version’s reduced power output, it may not seem like that kind of approach was wise until you consider the primary mission of a weaponlight—illuminating a darkened room where a criminal may be hiding. And “hiding” is the key word. The culprit may be behind a chair to the side, next to the fridge or moving the TV as you enter the room and without that deliberate “scatter” effect, the only time he would be visible is when you’re lucky enough to sweep him with the main beam.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops

The spring that makes contact on the CR123 battery has also been changed. The NTX version (left) looks more like a traditional battery spring, instead of the original NT’s (right) with a metal “pigtail” that made contact with the unit’s internal circuitry.

Why did the Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops abandon texturing in the reflector? Turn it on in your house at night and the answer is obvious. One hundred eighty lumens reflecting off walls and bouncing off the ceiling makes things brighter than a holiday mall. Why not let the drywall do the scattering, yet maximize the ability to momentarily disorient any intruder caught in the beam?

Blackhawk didn’t ignore the necessity for side lighting, either, although it took calipers to detect the slight difference between the two models. The lens on the earlier version has a diameter of .675 inches, versus .693 for the NTX. That means there’s nearly 6 percent more surface area in the new lens, effectively widening the direct lighting beam at its source.

The lens on the NTX is also more flush with the front of its housing than the older version, so the beam begins its side lighting a little faster. Introduce variables like fading power sources and interior design, however, and the odds are good a six percent difference is more of an intellectual discussion than a practical one. However, it’s comforting to know the side lighting is there, whether reflected or an inherent part of the subtle design changes. Regardless, this light works extremely well.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops

The new Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops runs on a single CR123 battery.

Another exterior change that could go unnoticed is a slightly thinner shape to the activation paddle. We didn’t see any advantage during testing and it obviously isn’t a weight-reduction move, since the NT tips the scales (sans battery) at 1.879 ounces and the redesigned NTX is 1.738. One pound of pressure is all that’s required to activate both versions of the weaponlight.

Unlike the NT, the NTX does not require a machinegun-like index finger to toggle between lighting modes. For momentary activation, simply apply constant pressure. For a constant lighting source, tap twice. With the NT it seemed as if you needed to hit it twice, very fast, and missing the beat was altogether too easy. The new weaponlight appears much more forgiving in regard to speed of finger movement. If, in your opinion, 180 lumens won’t stun a perpetrator, tap the switch tree times for a strobe mode.

If battery levels get to the point that only 30 minutes of run time remain, the Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops will blink twice every 15 seconds as a warning. No tools are required to install the single CR123 battery, but the tailcap is another of the changes on the weaponlight. Once removed, it looks like most other tailcaps on flashlights now. Gone is the strange “pigtail” on the old version that was so confusing its explanation occupied an undue amount of space in original owner’s manuals.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops

The tighter tailcap on the NTX kept water out for 60 minutes, unlike its predecessor. It is, however, tougher to remove when it comes time to replace the battery (anticipated run time is 2 hours).

The NT and NTX tailcaps fit on either version, however, will not work when on the wrong model. So don’t be lulled into thinking you can interchange tailcaps.

Blackhawk maintains the use of its ingenious, patent-pending, rail-attachment system on the NTX. It’s simple, easy to use and goes on any rail fast. Simply loosen the paddle, index the weaponlight’s bar with a slot on the handgun’s rail, insert, tighten the lever by turning clockwise and finally push the paddle flush against the light’s body. It’s called the Cam-Clamp, and with it there’s no need to fight the light down an entire rail just to install.

At 3.10 inches, the new weaponlight’s polymer body is .047 inches shorter than its predecessor. You won’t feel the difference, but Blackhawk somehow trimmed the space in the already-crowded battery/circuitry housing.

LEDs run hot and the Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops is no exception. To protect the unit, after two minutes it will power itself back to 80 percent output. At six minutes it will drop to 50 percent and by 10 minutes a triple pulse will signal two times and the unit will power off. It’s a great way to protect your investment, but when taking pictures of the light it got pretty annoying.

Blackhawk Xiphos NTX Night-Ops

Blackhawk’s Cam-Clamp system is still employed on the new NTX, making installation a snap on any gun with rails.

Blackhawk has made some big improvements in its Xiphos NTX Night-Ops weaponlight. Don’t let its looks fool you. Despite all the physical similarities with earlier versions, it is more water resistant, the frustrating battery-cap spring is gone and it produces the kind of illumination ideal for self-defense.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • AZArchangel55 December 2, 2014, 8:22 am

    The advantage of Blackhawk making Serpa holsters that fit their Xiphos light is a great combination. However, the lack of a laser on the Xiphos is why I use the Streamlight. I did find a holster that fits a Glock with a Streamlight, but it’s only a level one. (I REALLY like the Blackhawk Serpa holsters, I own at least one for each of my Glock side arms.)
    IMO Blackhawk would do well to produce the Serpa to fit weapons mounted with a Streamlight, as many quality weapon lights with laser have the same profile as the Streamlight.

  • JJ December 27, 2013, 7:28 pm

    I have a Betetta 92a1, the Xiphos NTX light and it is hard to put the gun in the holster. It’s even harder to pull the gun out of the holster. The holster is a Blackhawk level 3 light bearing holster.

  • John May 8, 2013, 8:42 am

    Will the NTX still fit the old blackhawk xiphos serpa holster.

    • B October 8, 2013, 10:33 pm

      John,

      Just got mine; been waiting since before Christmas. It is very bright and easy to use, and yes, it fits my Serpa Level III Beretta M9A1.

      Big B

  • Nick March 25, 2013, 8:45 am

    I owned the original Xiphos light with the holster for both a Sig P220 and a Kimber Warrior 1911. I loved the light holster combination it was fantastic. There was one problem I had with these two pistols that my counterparts with Glock 22s didnt. On the P220 and the 1911 there was a gap between the tailcap and the trigger guard. Due to the rails the light would not mount any closer to the trigger guard. When I shot the P220 and the 1911 (respectfully) the tailcap would fall off and the light would turn off. This happened every time I shot. Because of this and my profession I was forced to go to another brand I didnt want to go to. If Blackhawk fixed this ‘gap’ issue I would go back to this light holster combination in a heart beat. This also happened with my co-worker and his Sig P229. This does not happen to the Glock guys cause the tailcap rests against the trigger guard.
    I am not bashing Blackhawk nor do I work/represent another company. These are issues that I have expierenced and observed. If their is some fix to this please let me know I would love to go back to the Xiphos/Blackhawk Serpa level III light holster combination.

    • JS April 6, 2013, 10:53 pm

      The issue you are having is pretty common with these lights, and though the fit against the trigger guard may help keep the cap on, this is not the issue. I’ve seen several of these lights and problem is a combination of the thin tab on the back of the body and the little plastic lock on the battery cap. Try pulling out the plastic part of the battery cap out and place a small drop of super glue or epoxy in it and reinsert the lock. If all else fails Blackhawk will probably send you a new battery cap for free and if you still have issues their warranty repair is free of charge other than shipping the light to them.

  • Dan March 17, 2013, 12:09 pm

    Nice review, I’ve been waiting on this light for a while, did they say when it would be available?

    • Guy Sagi March 17, 2013, 2:40 pm

      It should be pretty quick. I wasn’t’ given a definite date, but the test sample was pulled off a production run, so supply lines should be filled soon.

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