Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops – Gear Test

Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops

The Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops weaponlight that rides on this Springfield XD puts out 90 lumens and hasn’t stuttered once at the range. It met its match in a water bath, however.

By Guy J. Sagi


Blackhawk has apparently discontinued this weaponlight, although there are still plenty available at retailers and on line. The people who work for Blackhawk are some of the finest folks on the planet. Thanks to my attendance at the grand opening of one of this company’s factories in Montana and a visit to its headquarters, I know for a fact they make no apology for being aggressive in producing the finest gear for people who go in harm’s way—whether that’s a law enforcement officer, our men and women in uniform or a homeowner trying to keep his family secure while waiting for authorities to arrive.

The tactical flashlight market is fiercely competitive, and although I haven’t inquired as to why the Xiphos NT Night-Ops is no longer listed on its website, I do know Blackhawk has a policy of producing the very best, or the SKU goes away. I surmise with the huge number of companies now offering chip-driven tactical flashlights, this may have been a strategic withdrawal.

Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops in water, weaponlight

OK, it wasn’t a fancy submersion test, but after an hour in the drink—literally—the Xiphos NT Night-Ops refused to work until it fully dried, 12 hours later.

The Xiphos NT Night-Ops (75204BK) is billed by most retailers as being waterproof to at least 10 meters. I was confident in that claim, even though I wasn’t thrilled with the battery-compartment seal. Unfortunately, in the 60 minutes it took my grandson to take pictures of it in a glass of water, the unit quit working. There was no light at all, even though it was functioning perfectly prior to submersion.

In its defense, after 12 hours of drying at room temperature both the strobe and the flashlight functions were back (I took the CR-123 battery out to facilitate drying). The odds are pretty good most people aren’t going to get their weaponlight that soaked, but it could be a concern for those in law enforcement or the military.

There are three modes; momentary, constant beam and strobe. Toggling between them is as simple as one press, two presses and three, respectively. The unit runs on a single CR123A battery, and light-output claims vary as much as maps to the Lost Dutchman Mine. One website has it as producing 180 lumens from that single battery, another 65. I’m sure as the weaponlight evolved the amount of light it produced increased (so be careful when you buy), but the box on the unit I tried to drown claims 90 lumens. That’s plenty of power for handgun distances, anyway.

Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops

No tools are required to change the CR123A battery on the weaponlight, but it didn’t take much pressure to replace the cap and without a gasket this is probably the vulnerable spot to water.

The manner in which it attaches to a dustcover rail is very convenient. If you’ve had to slide other lights down the rail to the desired position, you know the frustration when things fit tightly. You don’t want it rattle on the gun, but you didn’t sign up for an eight-hour workout. The Blackhawk mechanism lets you slip it right on the slot desired, tighten down the cam screw and toss the lever. I checked on an AR’s Picatinny rail and it went on just as fast as it did on my Springfield XD.

The polymer body is sturdy, wiggle free, flat black and Blackhawk tough. I’ve used this unit extensively in the past and it has never failed on the range, or hiccupped until the water test. It never has wormed loose, either.

Blackhawk Xiphos NT Night-Ops

Mounting the weaponlight is much faster than on some other units, and the paddle (above right) performs the last cinching as it folds flush along the left side.

Although usually billed as being leftie friendly, the lever is slightly larger and easier to index for righties. Don’t get me wrong, it’s workable but not quit as intuitive. It also mounts with a slight, 1/8 inch or so, offset to the right of the bore (if you’re looking at the muzzle). It measures 3.1 inches long, 1.1 inches wide and 1.4 inches in height. With the battery installed it tips the scales at 2.6 ounces.

It may not be listed on the Blackhawk website anymore, but I like this unit enough that it still rides on my XD. So if you happen to run across a good deal on the Xiphos NT Night-Ops, be careful about which unit you’re purchasing you might strike pay dirt—it never hurts to add backup lighting to your defensive strategy.

Editor’s Note: Only a few hours after we posted this story, Blackhawk informed us an improved version of the weaponlight is about to be introduced. It’s called the Night-Ops Xiphos NTX Weapon Mounted Light and here’s how it performed .

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Suppressed416 February 11, 2013, 4:54 pm

    I have always been a fan of BlackHawk gear, but when I read “weaponlight” or “tactical light”, my mind still automatically goes to “SureFire/Streamlight/Insight”.

    I have been using BlackHawk tactical gear for the past decade, everything from tactical vests to their HellFire gloves to their boots, and all of it has been top-notch stuff. The only complaint I would have is that sometimes their material is TOO stiff, such that I went with Eagle Industries for my Mag-Dump pouch (don’t want it all “puffed out” when it’s empty).

    I will definitely be looking into this new version they are releasing… I am big on having a light-source on my weapons. I have 5 SureFire M900/M910/M910V’s (that rotate amongst my HK416’s/Noveske’s/LTRW’s/DD’s/other AR’s with barrels from 9″ to 18″ though mostly 10.5″/12.5″, with a few 16.1-18″ for “DMR’s”, Saiga 12K, Sig SG556/516, H&K UMP.45 and 3 MP5’s, Mk14 Mod0 EBR, and so forth), 6 X400’s + 4 X300’s (Sig P226’s in 9×19 and .357SIG, H&K USP.45 Tactical + USP9 Compact, HK45, H&K Mk23 Mod0 *usually uses an Insight Light-and-Laser unit*, Sig P220 .45ACP, Glock 18C/19/23, and so forth), and about 30 to 40 other SureFire and StreamLight “tactical lights/weapon-lights” such as the SureFire M3 series, G2-series, etc.. A lot have been modified with brighter and more efficient CREE LED’s, but many are still stock. Hell, I have even stuck an M3 Millennium on my AI AWM .338LM bolt-action rifle with an AAC Titan338 suppressor (firing very heavy Lapua Scenar custom loads that were just barely subsonic) prior to getting a Thermal Weapon Sight, and I still use the M3 on occasion on some of my .300BLK/.300AAC rifles (such as a custom-built .300BLK SBR AR using a Barrett Monolithic Upper with 9″ rail, slightly modified HK416-style Gas Piston system, custom-built 2-stage adjustable match trigger with S-S-F trigger sear, 10.2″ Noveske .300BLK Chromed “Bull” Barrel – threaded, TangoDown battle grip, MagPul CTR stock with low-pro cheek riser, AAC flash hider, Troy spring-loaded BUIS, EOTech E-XPS3-0 NVG-compatible holographic sight, EOTech G23 3x Flip-to-Side Magnifier, SureFire 60-Round Enhanced STANAG Magazine [holds 55 .300BLK but I load 50 to keep it from having issues] in the weapon with extras being MagPul EMAG’s w Round-Counter windows, SureFire M910V LED Integrated Vertical Foregrip and Weaponlight with modified Cree LED’s and reflector to output 175/350lumen and the nav LED’s output 25lum each with diffusion bulbs, Troy Flat Black rail covers set up with 2 per rail excluding the top, and of course the AAC/GemTech/Wilson Combat suppressors, which add anywhere from ~7 to just under 4.5 inches to the length of the barrel) for coyotes/wolves that don’t heed any other warnings….

    My go-to firearm for home defense, aside from the shotguns or SBR’s, is the Sig P226R Enhanced Elite that I keep next to my bed. It has a SureFire X400 with modified CREE LED and housing (including a modified strobe mode that strobes using a “random-interval and random-intensity” algorithm resulting in a strobe that ranges from 50-150 lumens and the time between each strobe ranges from 1/60th to 1/3rd of a second… I swear to you, it’s nearly as disorienting as a flash-bang)

  • aria February 11, 2013, 7:38 am

    Good and excellent performance

  • bill thompson February 11, 2013, 3:53 am

    steamlite 2 is the only light i will buy

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