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Armytek Dobermann Pro (Magnet USB) Review: Tactical Flashlight
Armytek Dobermann Pro Magnet USB specifications
|Brand/model||Armytek Dobermann Pro (Magnet USB)|
|LED||CREE XHP35 HI|
|Beam intensity||32,942 cd / 363m|
|Reflector||OP (orange peel)|
|Waterproof||IP68, 25 meters depth up to 5 hours|
|Review date||September 2021|
“Tactical” has a bit of a stigma in the flashlight world. The word is thrown around by advertisers that market cheap zoomie clones as having 99999500 lumens. That’s not what we have here today though. When we talk about tactical flashlights what we really mean is flashlights that are suitable for use by professionals in the armed forces. That means things like having a tail switch that predictably goes to a high mode, being waterproof, impact-proof (usually meaning a steel bezel), and easy to use with one hand with gloves on. It also normally means a standard 1” diameter to fit a gun mount and being able to withstand recoil when shooting a gun. Many tactical lights are compatible with remote switches too.
Although tactical lights are second nature to Armytek, the Dobermann Pro is the first tactical light we’ve reviewed from them, aside from the Armytek Viking Pro that I’m reviewing at the same time. All the other lights have been their multi-function headlights.
This is the new generation of Viking flashlights from Armytek. Previously they didn’t have magnetic USB charging and Armytek also had a non-Pro version of the Dobermann, with XP-L LED, which isn’t as bright but throws a bit further.
Armytek also has 2 other similar lights, both of which have a bigger head. These are the Predator Pro with the same XHP35 HI LED and the Viking Pro with brighter XHP50.2 that I’m also reviewing.
I’m no armed forces expert but I’m pretty sure a flashlight failing on you when out in the field would be a bad thing. Flashlights need to be very high quality to be used in these conditions. With “Pro” in the name, I’m expecting this to be one of the highest quality lights I’ve seen. Let’s see how it measures up.
Armytek’s flashlights come in a fairly standard cardboard box. This is printed with all the specs, details of the warranty, and handy diagrams of how to use it.
In the package you’ll find:
- Armytek Dobermann Pro
- 18650 cell
- Magnetic USB charger
- 2 spare O-rings
- Steel pocket clip
- Cigar grip ring
- Nylon belt holster
The packaging shows the following items as optional:
- Magnetic mount
- Remote switch
- Red, green, blue and white diffuse filters
Flashlight in use
The Dobermann Pro isn’t huge but it’s pretty big for a flashlight that takes a single 18650 cell. The smaller head makes it more pocketable than the Viking Pro.
Armytek doesn’t use knurling for grip on lots of their lights. Instead, they have a very nice matte anodisation that provides pretty good grip. As the light has a 1” diameter body you shouldn’t have any issues gripping it.
With the cigar grip on, the light is easy to hold with 2 fingers either side of the body tube and a thumb resting on the switch.
The tail switch is a 2 stage e-switch that you can press lightly or press fully for a quiet click. It looks just like a forward-clicky mechanical switch and it acts the same too. The only way you can tell it’s an e-switch is because if you disconnect power when the light’s on then it will stay off when you connect power again. How has Armytek done this? I’m sure someone cleverer than me can explain it but as far as I’m concerned it’s magic.
The fancy tail switch is mainly rubber but includes a metal bump with a ring around it. These are slightly magnetic and allow the magnetic USB charging cable to align right into place. I’m a bit concerned by these 2 exposed bits of metal as they will connect to the positive and negative of the battery. This is great for reviewers, as it means the cell voltage can be measured without removing the cell! You won’t short the 2 bits of metal with something flat like a metal sheet but something like a key could short them. Armytek states there’s full protection against short circuit but with the dangers of lithium cells that’s not something I’m willing to test. This switch design also means the light won’t tail stand – unless it’s standing on the magnetic base. Another thing about the switch: you can activate it with your palm or by pressing the light down on a flat surface.
The clip is short and very strong. It’ll stay attached to a belt very well but it’s not the kind of deep carry clip for EDC. The clip (and the cigar grip) also stops the light from rolling around.
The holster can be attached to a belt without taking it off and includes a D-ring so you could clip it onto a bag. I was a bit concerned about the switch being activated when in the holster but in reality, this isn’t an issue at all.
Build Quality, and Warranty
No knurling, as mentioned, but the thick matte aluminium anodisation makes up for it.
About 6 rotations and the tail removes from the body, revealing not 1 but 2 o-rings. This would be overkill for most lights but Armytek is all about durability and this helps with the IP68 “25m for 5 hours” water resistance. The square cut threads are very well lubed and fairly smooth.
You can also unscrew the head from the body. 2 o-rings again but these threads aren’t anodised. All the springs are fairly thick and take some force to compress.
No complaints at all on the build quality side of things: Armytek has obviously built a very robust light here. The manual implies that the driver is potted and reinforced. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could drop it from a skyscraper, take it scuba diving, then drive over it in a tank and still use it overnight as a weapon light.
Warranty: 10-year warranty for the flashlight. 2 years for batteries, chargers, switches, and connectors.
LED, Lens, Bezel, and Reflector
The Armytek Dobermann Pro used to come with XP-L or XHP35 HI LED. It now the only option seems to be the XHP35 HI. Like most Armytek flashlights, you can buy the Dobermann Pro in “warm” or “white”. I picked warm, which seems to be somewhere between 4000K and 5000K.
CREEs XHP series of lights are known for their tint rainbow. The Dobermann has a smooth reflector for more throw, so I was expecting worse tint shift than the Viking Pro. In fact the Dobermann’s beam looks better, possibly due to the smaller LED size. Although the rainbow is barely noticeable, the tint is noticeably green on white surfaces. Not the biggest problem for tactical use but it would put me off using it a bit.
Above the reflector is a tempered glass lens with anti-reflective coating. The bezel above it is steel with a titanium coating and has light crenelations. The coating is matte black for stealth. It’s not especially sharp but you could probably do some damage with it if you tried.
Armytek describes the Dobermann Pro’s beam as “16 meter spot at 100m”. This means 23.5 cd/lm so very throwy for a tactical light, though with much more useful spill than a pure thrower flashlight.
Dimensions and size comparison
- Length: 15.16cm / 5.96 inches
- Head diameter: 3.34cm / 1.31 inches
- Body diameter: 2.54cm / 1.00 inches
- Without cells: 122g / 4.3 oz
- With cells: 169g / 6.0 oz
Tactical flashlight comparison
From left to right:
- Sofirn SD05
- Sofirn SP31
- Cyansky P20
- Cyansky P25
- Armytek Dobermann Pro
- Armytek Viking Pro
- Cyansky H3
- Armytek Dobermann Pro
- Armytek Viking Pro
Driver & User Interface:
Here’s the UI: Press lightly for momentary on, click to turn on/off. Always turbo.
For a tactical light this is perfect. You can click or hold the e-switch in all sorts of combinations and you’ll never get anything other than turbo. No accidental activation of a moonlight mode or triggering of something like Anduril’s fun lightning mode.
That’s the basics and if you don’t read the manual then you might think the Armytek is a single mode flashlight. But it has a few tricks up its sleeve…
Changing modes (“hunting type”)
As well as the 2-stage e-switch, Armytek has created a way to activate the other 3 brightnesses and strobe modes. Have you figured it out yet?
Loosen the head and body slightly and the light will enter the memorised mode Main1/Main2/Main3 (or low, medium and high). Anything from 10° to 3 whole revolutions works but Armytek recommends 1/8th of a turn. This works due to the head-end of the body tube not being anodised and the cell-size of the driver having a separate negative contact. The driver knows whether 1 or 2 contacts are making a circuit so can use this like a secondary switch. Thanks to the 2 o-rings and only needing a slight twist, I don’t think any water or dirt would get into the light when loosened.
When loosened, you can use the same e-switch in momentary or normal on/off modes. Turning the e-switch off and then back on within 2 seconds will cycle between Main1/Main2/Main3.
Tightening at any time will bring the light back to turbo.
Strobe isn’t in the main mode group by default. To toggle whether strobe is enabled, loosen, then tap the e-switch 20 times. This will make the light cycle Main1/Main2/Main3/Strobe2. This strobe is the same brightness as Turbo.
As well as the default hunting UI, Armytek has a tactical type UI. To switch between the 2 UIs, turn the light on, then loosen and tighten quickly 10 times. The tactical type UI is like nothing I’ve seen before but after using it a bit it makes sense.
The e-switch still turns on and off but you can cycle between Turbo and Main2 (medium) with a quick loosen-tighten action. This brightness is then memorized.
Leaving it loosened (or turning it on when already loosened) will activate the strobe modes. Here, a quick tighten-loosen action will switch between Strobe1 (medium brightness) and Strobe2 (turbo brightness).
Press or click for turbo. In hunting type UI, loosen for lower modes and tap to change brightness. In tactical type UI, loosen for strobe, tighten for constant on and do a quick twist and back to change brightness.
Available modes: Main1, Main2, Main3, Strobe1, Strobe2, Turbo
- Press and Hold: Turbo
- Single click: Turbo
- Single click: Off
- Yes, kind of
Low voltage warning:
- Yes, the light will turn off at 2.86V
- 15Hz at medium or turbo modes
- No electronic lockout but you can twist the tail cap (not the head end) to physically lock out
- None detected
If the explanation wasn’t very clear, hopefully the following video will be.
Armytek Hunting & Tactical UI explanation video
Batteries & Charging
Armytek provides a 3500mAh 18650 flat top cell with the light. Button tops worked fine too but a much longer cell with an integrated charging circuit felt like it was compressing the springs. Most cells should be fine there, as long as they can take 10A or so. The flashlight has built in low voltage protection, so unprotected cells are good.
On to the charging then. Plugging in the USB charger will show a green indicator light. When connecting the indicator will flash green then go solid red. When charging from 2.86V I was only getting 0.1A from the charging. As soon as it hit around 3V it picked up pace to a much more reasonable 1.2A, charging the 3500mAh cell in around 4 hours. Charging via USB stops at a slightly conservative 4.15V.
Lumen measurements (for each mode)
Lux meter: All lux and lumen measurements are from my home made integrating sphere, calibrated with a S2+ measured by Maukka. Measurements are done with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter and Adafruit TSL2591 connected to a Raspberry Pi (using RuTiTe by bmengineer). Expect them to be within +/-10%.
Current: there wasn’t any current going through the tail cap, so I couldn’t measure anything.
Cell: I used Armytek’s provided 3500mAh cell, charged to 4.15V.
|Mode||Specs||@ start||@30 sec||@10min|
|Turbo||1400||1071 lm||1068 lm||488 lm|
My lumen measurements for the Dobermann Pro were constantly about 25% lower than Armytek’s advertised specs. I’m not sure why this was the case, as the Viking Pro were almost spot on. I double checked and tried other cells and got similar results. The light worked perfectly aside from this, so either mine had an issue with the LED or the advertised specs are out.
Turbo starts off just over 1000 lumens, which it holds steady for 45 seconds. It then starts dropping down to around 500 lumens at 1 and a half minutes. It then maintains over 400 lumens for 1 hour 40. It then stepped down to the lower levels and lasted another hour around 30 lumens.
Main3 (high) starts off at 235 lumens and doesn’t falter for just over 4 hours. At the 4h10m it stepped down and lasted another hour.
Main2 (medium) holds steady at 94 lumens for almost 12 hours! It then follows the other modes by stepping down for 1 more hour.
Throw was measured indoors at 5m with a UNI-T UT383S lux meter. Whilst my lumen numbers were lower than specs, throw was within 2% of advertised throw distance.
|Turbo||32,942 cd / 363m||31,606 cd||356||389|
Photos were taken with a Pixel 3a, set to 1/3s shutter speed and ISO 400, F1.8. White balance was locked on cool white.
Distance to the bench is 6m, the tree on the right is 13m, the tree on the centre right is 18m and the building behind it is 69m.
- Armytek Dobermann Pro (XHP35 HI)
- Armytek Viking Pro (XHP50.2)
- Cyansky H3 (XHP35 HI)
- Cyansky P20 (SST-40)
- Cyansky P25 (XHP70.2)
- Sofirn SD05 (XHP50.2)
Disclaimer: This flashlight was sent to me for review at no cost by Armytek. I have not been paid to review, nor have I been holding back on problems or defects.
- Probably the most solidly built light I own
- No-nonsense UI: always on turbo
- Extra modes hidden away
- Doesn’t meet lumen specs
- Green tint
Explanation on star ratings:
1: Avoid: my phone flashlight would be a better choice – 2: Poor: significant defect or issues, much better options available at the same price – 3: Average: some defects or issues – 4: Good: recommended (minor issues) – 5: Great: highly recommended
4 stars: ★★★★
The Dobermann Viking Pro is a very good flashlight. It’s let down a bit by the brightness being about 25% below specs – at least the one I tested was. Don’t let this put you off though, as a 25% difference in lumens is barely noticeable by eye and aside from that it’s a great light.
If it was an EDC light then it’d lose stars for the mode spacing – I always like a high mode that doesn’t need to step down. It’s also a little on the green side but I don’t think that’s an issue for a tactical light like this.
There’s a couple of other niggles, like not tail standing and the charging starting off a bit slow, but aside from these things it’s impossible to fault the Dobermann Pro. The complex bits of the UI take a while to get used to but the simple “turn on for turbo” is always there.
Summary: The Armytek Dobermann Pro might not hit advertised specs but don’t let that put you off as generally it’s a very good tactical flashlight.