Abstract A detailed correlation of the tribological performance of arc-evaporated TiC 1− x N x coatings with testing temperature, atmosphere as well as variation in load and sliding velocity is presented in this paper. The low-friction behavior in combination with its mechanical integrity are the reasons for the extensive industrial application of TiC 1− x N x over the last decades. Still the tribo-mechanisms behind this performance are not yet completely understood. The present study adds further understanding, as the low-friction behavior degrades at elevated temperatures and dry or inert environments, which is related to the different constitution of the tribo-layer formed as investigated by Raman spectroscopy. Surprisingly, the wear rate of the coatings does not correlate with the coefficient of friction indicating the presence of different wear regimes.