Best Flashlight Review – Nitecore TM38


Today we’re looking at the NiteCore TM38. It’s called the TM because it’s the tiny monster. But I think at this point, NiteCore could think about modifying that moniker and maybe making it the medium monster, or just the monster, because this is a pretty big light. It’s nearly 11 inches long and the head is about four inches wide. We’re getting into some pretty big territory as far as a tactical flashlight typically is. This is … We’re at the point where the tactical flashlights are nearly approaching the size of the Mag Lites from back in the day. I mean, we’ve rubber banded now.

It’s a pretty hefty light too. You’ve got nearly three pounds on it. That’s pretty surprisingly big, but the size and everything is all worth it, as we’ll talk about here because the TM 38 has about the most ridiculous range on an LED flashlight that you’ve ever seen. It’s equipped with a CREE XHP35 HID4 LED, ensconced in a smooth reflector. Get ready for this, the distance on this thing is 1400 meters. 1400 meters. That’s something that’s really difficult to actually just close your eyes and imagine, because to some extent, I’m still happy when I get a tactical flashlight and I can walk out my door and it shines all the way down the street. I think that’s pretty cool still.

The Nitecore TM38 is just on a whole another level. It’s several levels above that. 1400 meters, I don’t even know how to explain that. I looked up how many football fields 1400 meters covers. It’s over 15 football fields. How do you even imagine that? At that point, football fields stop being useful for visualizing distance. Who can picture 15 of them end to end?

By the time you’re at 1400 meters, you’re nearly at a mile. A straight up mile of distance. That means just about if you’re on a farm or you have a large piece of property and you want to check something out, I mean, you’re really only limited by the height of your house just about. You can cast a light on just about anything. That’s just a really ludicrous amount of distance. It’s just really impressive. It makes some of the accessories that they give you with it, some stuff that just wouldn’t make sense for most other LED flashlights, but seems like a really nice addition to this light. But that’s something I’m going to save for a little later. I’m tucking that away. We’ll come back to it.

The max output on the TM38 is 1800 lumens. That’s a pretty nice amount of output. It’s not the craziest brightness, but obviously the big selling point of this light is not brightness, it’s distance. 1800 lumens is really good, don’t get me wrong. That’s very bright. It’s actually pretty impressive how far that they’ve managed to take 1800 lumens. I mean, you take 1800 lumens and stretch it to nearly a mile. That’s a pretty cool feat.

The marketing that NiteCore is putting on this light, they’re calling it sniper distance. This does not appear to be the kind of light that necessarily a military sniper would use, but you know, it is sort of that distance, so it’s not completely off there. Now, the other big feature that this light has that’s worth talking about is the display. This light actually comes with a digital display and has a lot of great information actually that it gives you. It gives you your actually lumen output, which is pretty nice. You’ve got how much battery you have left, the voltage on your battery, the calculated run time that you have level at whatever brightness level you’re at, the temperature of the light.

The temperature is pretty cool. It’s a very nice thing to have because this light will start ratcheting down the brightness at about 60 degrees Celsius. It’s unusual and pretty convenient to be able to just check your digital display and see what the temperature is and how much longer before you’re going to have to start worrying about your brightness level. Now, the way that it affects this is it’s got a thermal protection circuit. It’s got something that lets you know what the temperature is and will automatically ratchet down that brightness. That’s just necessary to have in a light that’s going to be this bright.

It also has something to let you know what the recharging status is. Now this another cool thing about this light. This is a rechargeable flashlight. NiteCore has essentially left nothing out in terms of the bells and whistles on this flashlight. It has seemingly just about everything that you need.

The light is fully rechargeable. It’s rechargeable two ways. There is a recharging port on the head of the light. That’s pretty good. Or, you can charge the battery pack directly. Now, this light does not have removable batteries. What you do is you’ve got a battery pack. You unscrew the head and you can plug your power adapter directly into the battery pack that makes up the body or handle of the flashlight. You’ve got those two ways to kind of deal with the recharging issue. Just another way NiteCore’s made this a very convenient flashlight. Rechargeability is more and more important thing in tactical flashlights, in high end LED flashlights today. It’s pretty nice to see them going the extra mile. Giving you those two separate options to deal with recharging. Whether you want to recharge the whole thing, or you want to take that head off and have something that’s easier to stash on a shelf or something while it recharges. It’s good to have those options. NiteCore has definitely provided a pretty wide range of options for this flashlight.

On the battery pack itself is equivalent to 8 3400 milliamp batteries. That gives you a pretty decent run time no matter what brightness level it is you’re carrying it at. You’ve got yourself a maximum time on the hightest brightness of four hours, which for an 1800 lumen light is definitely pretty good. That’s something that’s going to keep your flashlight going for a good long time. Especially because you’re considering going outdoors, using this at night. It’s basically what people generally need for a search light. Need an outdoor flashlight. That’s going to be something pretty nice.

After that, you just start to ratchet down with the brightness and you’ll get longer lasting run times at the lowest possible brightness setting, which is 50 lumens. You have a max of 120 hours. That’s a lot of time to search for whatever it is you’re looking for. If you haven’t found what you’re looking for by then, maybe you’re just not going to find it. Which I should mention that 50 lumens, you’ve still got some pretty good range on that, even just at the 50 lumen mark. That’s definitely something to keep in mind with this light. If you’re searching and you’re needing more time, just about any brightness level, considering the range that you’ll get on this is going to be useful to you.

At the second highest brightness you’ve got your 800 lumens. 800 lumens is still a pretty incredible amount of light from just about any LED flashlight. Even then, that’s plenty of light. Once you’re at that second highest brightness you have your 11 hours, and that alone is plenty of time and plenty of light to get done whatever it is you need to get done. It’s a very long lasting light. It’s important for an outdoor search light that you do have a lot of stamina.

Some other cool things about this light before I dive into the accessories a little bit. There is also a power indicator on the switch. That’s pretty nice. It’s good to be able … You can always go to that digital display. Get yourself a little more exact readout. But there’s also a powering around the switch and that give you something nice.

Now, about the switch, NiteCore has taken a pretty interesting direction here with this series of light. You’ve got your single switch. You only have one button to control this light. Considering that the design, the intended function of the light is not very complicated, I think this was the right way to go, especially because I think that they did it right. They did just a very straightforward, two stage system, because the button itself, you can half press it, or you can full press it. Feels just fine. It’s not difficult to tell which kind of press it is you’re going to be doing. There is an option in doing that, you can just hold it down. Very easily get to your full brightness, your turbo mode, your full 1800 lumens. But if you don’t want to do that, you can start at the lowest brightness and just work your way up. You can also get yourself a memory function. You have a memory function on this light and you can just put it at whatever brightness you want and return to that whenever you need to.

It’s very intuitive. It’s very easy. There’s not a lot of complicated stuff that you have to figure out. You can easily access the other light modes pretty easily. You got your location beacon, your SOS and your strobe. Location beacon especially makes sense with a light like this, with a range like this. It’s actually going to be very useful for signaling to anyone who’s pretty far away. Of course, the light is just tough. It is a tough flashlight. That’s great because as I keep saying, this is not necessarily a flashlight for storing in your house and using when your power goes out or when you hear a bump in the night and you want to check things out. It’s so ridiculously powerful. It’s so ridiculously long ranged.

This is a light that’s meant to be used outside. NiteCore recognized this and they made a light that’s definitely tough enough to deal with being outside, because what you’ve got here is a flashlight that’s IPX8. That’s pretty much your best waterproof rating for any kind of LED flashlight. Means it’s submersible up to two meters. If you’re … Basically if the light doesn’t come up over your waders … If the water doesn’t come up over your waders and your drop your flashlight in, your flashlight is still good to go. Don’t go further than wader deep in water. Don’t drop it in anything deeper than that and you’ll be set.

It’s also impact resistant which is great because this is kind of an investment. You don’t want to just drop it and it’s gone. But, it’s got impact resistance up to one meter. Especially for a light that’s this heavy, that’s really nice. You always wonder with these bigger, denser lights. How much impact resistance can you really get? Impact resistance on these smaller lights is one thing. But these big lights, these denser components, you have to … That’s really something you have to check out and you have to wonder about. But it’s pretty nice with the Nitecore TM38 you get your one meter of impact resistance. If you’re walking along your driveway putting things in your truck and you’re just holding it at your side and you drop it, it’s not gone. It’s rated so that it should survive that kind of hit.

Hopefully though you won’t be dropping it, because we’re finally talking about the accessories. The accessories are designed for just that. Something that they include with this. You don’t see this with most flashlights. This kind of accessory being available to purchase separately. What’s pretty nice is you also got a sling available with this light. That’s normally you wouldn’t necessarily want to put a flashlight, use a strap and strap it over your shoulder, and just kind of keep it at waist level that way. But it absolutely makes sense for this light.

I mean, it’s a three pound light. That’s not exactly the heaviest object in the world. That’s not the kind of weight where you can sit at home and do curls with it, but if you’re going to be out and about at night for a long period of time, holding it over the course of hours, then that’s something that could wear you down a little bit. That’s something that can get tiring or annoying. To have that sling ready to go and to just take a little of that weight off, I thought that was an accessory that showed some foresight. I’m glad that they put that in there.

Another really unusual accessory that NiteCore has for this light is a tripod. You can actually set this up on a tripod and light up an area exactly the way you want to and just leave it that way. That’s really interesting. That’s not something that would have made sense again for a lot of other LED flashlights. But for the TM 38, I thought that it was something that I would not have thought to ask for that, but now that I know that it’s there, I want it. I want to be able to light up an area like that. I actually wonder if this couldn’t have some applications for photography, or for shooting video. It definitely opens up some possibilities. When you know that the light is so durable, you start to wonder what other functions you might be able to put together with these sorts of accessories.

Overall, this is a really cool light. It’s a little pricey but you do get what you pay for. I think that the NiteCore TM38 is just a really quality flashlight. Bigger and bulkier than most of what you see on the market, but it’s to a purpose. It’s got a very long lasting run time. It’s got a good interface. It’s got an actually functional and useful display and just insane, insane range. This is definitely a quality light. My recommendation is that you check it out.

Additional Resources

Nitecore Flashlight Website