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NIghtstick TCM Series Pistol Light: Full Review

Nightsticks new TCM-5B and TCM-10 are designed for subcompact and compact handgun rails. Here's a full review.

NIghtstick TCM Series Pistol Light: Full Review
The Nightstick TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 are pistol-­mounted lights designed for subcompact and compact handgun rails, respectively. Constructed of 6160-­T6 aluminum, these lights are powerful, lightweight and compact. Activation switches are intuitive to use, each powered by a CR123 battery. The TCM Series offers 650 lumens of output for 2 hours. The TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 feature the patented Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) technology, which extends battery life and regulates output so performance remains consistent. Available in black and FDE. MSRP $140 (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

Since bad guys tend to avoid the spotlight, there’s a good chance it’ll be dark should you ever need to defend yourself with a firearm. Well-­designed pistol-­mounted lights such as the Nightstick TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 enable you to clearly identify an immediate threat with little modification to your grip. This is the main advantage when employing a firearm-­mounted light versus a handheld flashlight. There are techniques you can learn to effectively use a handheld light with a firearm, but you must also learn how to shoot with a compromised grip on the gun. A pistol-­mounted light offers an additional option when faced with a critical situation, but it must be convenient to carry and intuitive to use.

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Pistol lights present an ergonomic option for illuminating a potential threat, allowing you to keep a firm two-hand grip around the gun. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

As a right-­handed shooter, I just slide my left thumb down a half inch or so from the frame of the pistol to switch on the TCM-­5B or TCM-­10. This allows my trigger finger to remain indexed along the frame of the pistol or on the trigger, as appropriate, while I apply 360-­degrees of inward pressure around the grip for optimal recoil control. Whenever the situation allows, avoid using a firearm-­mounted light as a search tool. It is a last-­step verification check to know a threat is truly a threat, and a tool to enhance shot placement while potentially disorientating a person intent on harming you.

The TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 include a user-­programmable strobe and safe mode. A strobing light can be disorienting to an adversary by disrupting his balance, depth perception and peripheral vision. To set up strobe mode, press down on both switches rapidly five times. After the fifth press, the light will flash on and off twice, signifying the change. Reversing the sequence reverts to disabled mode.

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Switches can be activated with the trigger finger or support thumb, and are programmable for constant or momentary presses. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

Safe mode is an administrative function that can prevent the light from being unintentionally activated. You may decide to switch the light to safe mode to avoid draining the battery during storage, for instance. These lights are delivered with these modes disabled. To enable safe mode, press and hold both switches for 3 seconds. The light will flash once, indicating that safe mode is activated. Reversing the sequence reverts to disabled mode.

The TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 allow one to precisely control the duration of light, as well. Press down on either switch to illuminate the target area. Press the switch for less than half a second and release to activate the constant-­on mode. Press for more than a half-­second for the momentary-­on mode, meaning the light shuts off when pressure on the switch is released. To turn on strobe mode — once it’s programmed — press either switch twice in rapid succession, holding it down on the second press.

Each light uses a TIR lens with an internal reflector, providing a clear, white light. The beam culminates in a hot spot and halo, which I found was ideal for room clearing and close-­quarter pistol shots during training.

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Adapter plates are included with both TCM-5B and TCM-10. These widen the range of handguns each can be mounted on. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

The TCM-­5B ships with two additional adapter plates, while the TCM-­10 includes five extra. These allow the units to fit a variety of handguns and make them frequently compatible with light-­bearing holsters designed for a handgun with a competing Streamlight TLR-­7A/Sub-­style light attached. Clearly, holster compatibility shaped the design of these Nightstick lights.

Output is impressive. Each model produces 650 lumens (4612 candela) with a beam distance of 446 feet (136 meters). While several light manufacturers refer to the ANSI FL1 Standard in their marketing, not all are as accurate as Nightstick’s. Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) is Nightstick’s patented technology that controls the load an LED puts on the battery to meet the product’s lumen output requirements. It also ensures the longest possible runtime. PWM causes the light to pulse on and off thousands of times per second, which is visually imperceivable yet dramatically improves battery life. Unlike many lights where output is most intense during activation — where lumens are measured — light intensity usually dissipates. The output of the Nightstick TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 is modulated to remain consistent throughout the life of the battery. This means the output specified is the actual output.

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The TCM-10 (left) and TCM-5B (right) both mimic the shape of other popular duty lights, which increase the compatability with many light-bearing holsters. (Photo by Alfredo Rico)

The TCM-­5B and TCM-­10 are drop-­rated for 2 meters and IP-­X7 waterproof-­rated. (“IP-­X7” means that these lights will withstand submersion in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes.) Notably, the TCM-­10 was the National Association of Tactical Officers (NTOA) “Member Tested and Recommended” winner in 2023. 




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