Broadening my horizons into the realm of weaponlights? Yes please! I take the time to dive into the Nextorch WL10 and see if it really lives up to its purpose, or if it’s just “tacti-cool”.
Meat and Potatoes
As simply a flashlight, the Nextorch WL10 is not a lot to write home about in today’s feature-laden market. Its single mode, 230 lumen output doesn’t win a lot of bragging rights. This output level though is seen as more of a purposeful decision when you examine the role that it is intended to fill. The WL10 is not simply a flashlight, but a member of a more elite class of illumination tools, the weaponlight.
Designed to fasten onto any handgun with a standard Picatinny rail, the WL10 provides ample illumination to your immediate area of concern. It does so without any chance of accidentally confusing outputs by way of its single mode design. It is either on or off, you don’t have any specialty moon modes or blinky SOS outputs to unintentionally activate during a crisis. Lets face it. If you are in a situation where you need to use a weaponlight, you don’t want to have to think about it.
Using a single CR123A cell and housing a Cree XP-G in a somewhat shallow reflector, the WL10 produces a moderately floody beam designed for more thorough short range illumination, rather than being capable of lighting a target at any significant distance. When you consider both the average range of a tactical encounter (7 yards, if memory serves) and the effective range of most modern pistols in the hands of an average user, this is a wise choice.
As I mentioned, the WL10 will attach to any Picatinny rail allowing you to mount it on shotguns, assault rifles, or whatever you please, but it is really designed around semi-automatic pistols. The large thumbscrew attachment extends a crossbar into the groove on the rail to quickly and securely attach the light without tools. It can easily be installed or removed in the field as necessary. It’s long, ambidextrous switch levers extend nearly to the trigger guard allowing an index finger on either side to activate the light in either momentary or constant mode.
While I am easily capable of thoroughly testing a basic flashlight in daily use, adequately testing a light of this design takes a little more deliberate effort. Before I could even consider claiming to have reviewed a weaponlight, I would have to get a thorough experience with it on a weapon. Seeing how my personal pistol, a Sig Sauer P226, does not have an integrated rail, I instead tracked down an accomplice sporting a Glock 22 instead of purchasing an aftermarket accessory that would allow me to bolt it onto my own.
During my brief range testing of this light, I noticed quite a few things. The user interface of the unique dual lever switch functions very much like a forward clicky, capable of momentary activation or constant on latching. I’m not 100% sure whether this was a mechanical switch with a very light reaction, or if it was a fully electronic button that accurately mimics mechanical technology.
So far, so good, but range testing did reveal one serious flaw that in my mind circumvents the need for any further examination. Nearly every shot I took cycled the power on the WL10 without me intentionally activating the switch. I don’t know if it was simply this one individual light, or if this is a model-wide shortcoming, but either way it is a little disconcerting and something that needs to be addressed. Even if the chances of finding a defective unit are low, knowing that it is a possibility gives one notable pause before purchasing. I did notice that limp wristing the shot seemed to exacerbate the occurrence rate and so I was able to limit it to some extent by very intentionally fighting against the recoil of the gun. It took concentrated effort though and didn’t guarantee reliability. I was using .40 S&W, so its possible that lower power cartridges would not prove as problematic.
My personal suspicions lie with the springing of the switch levers not being quite strong enough to overcome the inertia of the levers themselves. There are several home remedies that run through my head that I haven’t yet had time to test, such as stronger springs, or trimming off the side of the switch designed for my off-hand. It is frustrating though to be at the juncture where such invasive measures are necessary.
Design-wise I don’t have any problems with the WL10. It fits the role it is intended for well. Unfortunately where it fails in implementation, it fails spectacularly. I have had lights that I do not like before, and lights that are poorly thought out, but this doesn’t fit either of those categories. It seems well thought out and I really like it, it just needs to have one critical shortcoming addressed before it becomes useful in any meaningful way. Hopefully the next revision will see this problem eliminated at which point it will be much more worthy of consideration.
Provided for review by the kind folks at Nextorch.
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