Armytek Dobermann Pro

The Product

Armytek sent me a light from their "tactical" lineup, the Dobermann Pro. This light is available in both white and warm configurations with an XHP35 Hi. This is the 3rd revision of this light. Armytek also has a non-pro version that uses an XP-L Hi, or a red or white LED, as well as a different driver. This is their smallest light using a reflector, and the first one I've tried out.

Spoiler

This light is purpose built as a tactical light, and as such, I didn't expect to like it all that much - but I was pleasantly surprised. The light feels great in the hand, and Armytek's build quality always impresses me. this light is no exception - it feels like I could hammer in a nail and the thing wouldn't flicker.
The beam this light makes is floody enough for general purpose tasks, but throwy enough to see as far as  you'll probably need to most days. The UI isn't what I would prefer for general use, but I found it to work well enough for a night hike - set to a mid mode for walking around and watching the ground, I could twist into high any time I needed to see something in the distance, then twist back to the walking mode. If you're someone that needs quick access to one or two modes, and doesn't mind carrying a larger light around, this is a great option. The UI is also very well suited if this is a dedicated throwy light to accompany a second floody light, such as a headlamp - which would explain why the same or similar interfaces are used across the Barracuda and Predator lines.

Physical Dimensions

The light measures 145 mm long, 33.7 mm at the head, and slims to 25.3 mm in the body. It's worth noting that the specs list this light at 5 mm shorter than I measured - it appears they don't include the length of the switch boot. Without a cell, the light weighs 115 g.
Here's a lineup with the Convoy C8+, Nitecore MH25GTS, and Convoy S2+ for comparison. The flared head on this style of light makes it a bit too large for me to EDC, but it does fit into most pockets.

Build

Every time I try a new model from Armytek, the first thing that stands out to me is the consistency. This light has the same chalky anodizing on the aluminum, which gives it great grip despite the lack of knurling. I'm a fan of the coating, but I know some people find the finish unpleasant. Note that it tends to show scuffs and pick up some dirt in normal use - it's not damage to the light, it's just intended to be more functional than pretty.
The head of the light had a stainless steel bezel with a black coating and some crenelation. I always like to see stainless bezels, as the material is much harder than aluminum, and this end of the light is likely to see the most wear. The glass of the light is set 8.2 mm deep behind the bezel, which should help protect it from scratches or other damage. 
Behind the bezel, the head of the light is adorned with the labeling that Armytek has become known for. One side has the model and working voltage of the light, and the other is marked "high intensity". There are some shallow fins at the front of the head, as well as four notches cut out to help stop the light from rolling around. There's another fin at the base of the head.
The body is free of knurling, with two notches near the tail for the grip ring and the clip.
The tailcap has some more labelling, and the forward clicky switch sits proud of the tail to make it easy to access. There's a small hole on one side of the squared-off tail for a lanyard. Obviously the proud switch means that the light can't tailstand.
Inside the tail, a spring serves as the negative cell contact. The threads are square cut, and the double o-rings should help keep water and dust out of the light. The threads are also anodized, so you can lock out the light by loosening the tail.
The light can also be unscrewed from the head. These threads are also square cut and have two o-rings, but aren't anodized. The two ends of the cell tube use the same threads, but the threads at the head are longer, so the tube isn't reversible. There's another spring in the head that serves as the positive contact for the light.

What's Included

The light comes in a green and white box. The light itself is shipped in the holster and in a plastic holder to keep it safe in transit.
Inside the box, you'll find:
  • The light itself, with the rubber grip ring installed
  • A lanyard
  • Belt holster
  • Spare O-rings and switch boot
  • Pocket clip
  • Manual
My light also shipped with a cell inside, but that's not part of the standard kit.
The manual is Armytek's usual, covering what's included, the modes for all the lights in the model line, and operating instructions. English is shown here, but it also includes German, Russian, Polish, and Finnish. The manual mentions an XP-L Hi version of the Dobermann Pro, which doesn't seem to be available at this time.

Ergonomics and retention

As previously mentioned, the grip on this light is good despite the lack of knurling. The switch is easy to find and activate.

If you're worried about grip, the included rubber grip ring should have you covered. It has a firm hold on the light, but it can spin around the body. It can be taken off when the tail is removed if you prefer not to use it.
For carrying, all the options are available here. Firstly, the included holster. It's a nylon holster with elastic sides and a hook and loop closure. On the rear, there's a fixed belt loop, a second loop that closes with a snap and some more hook and loop, as well as a metal D-ring. The light fits with and without the clip and grip attached, and will slide in head down or head up (though I think head down is more practical).
Speaking of the clip, it's a friction fit clip made of blackened steel. It can only attach at the tail for head-down carry. It's not a deep-carry clip, but larger lights like this aren't exactly designed to disappear in a pocket anyways.
Finally, Armytek includes their standard long green lanyard. The lanyard itself is very high quality, but I don't like how it attaches to the light with a lobster clip and a split ring. It just seems like too many pieces, adding potential failure points and bulk. I don't often use lanyards anyways, and I'm sure at least the lobster clip could be removed and the lanyard connected directly to the key ring if I wanted to use a bit less hardware.

Modes and Interface

The light is controlled by the forward clicky tail switch, as well as by tightening and slightly loosening the head. Since this is a forward clicky, you can either half-press the switch for momentary use, or fully press it to lock the light on. There are two separate interfaces, hunting and tactical. Hunting is the default mode the light ships with, and is controlled as follows:
  • With the head tightened, only turbo is accessible
    • Turbo is configurable to 1400 or 800 lumens
  • With the head loosened, the light turns on in the last used mode.
    • Turn off and on quickly to cycle through firefly 1, firefly 2, main 1, main 2, main 3, and strobe
    • Strobe can be disabled, or switched between 2 brightness levels
In tactical mode:
  • With the head tightened, the light turns on in a steady mode
    • This is configurable to either turbo 2 or main 2
  • with the head loosened, strobe mode is accessible
There's a lot of use cases this UI works well for. I used hunting mode, walking around with main 2 and using turbo 1 anytime I had to see anything further away with just a small twist. I like turbo modes that you can jump into and back out of without turning off the light. If this is a dedicated throwy light for you, there are ways to lock it in so it only activates in main 2, turbo 1, or turbo 2 without any risk of switching modes - lots of people like single use lights, and the light doesn't heat up in main 2 at all, so this is a great option as well.
I personally almost never use strobe modes, but if you do, a light that can go quickly from strobe to turbo definitely has it's uses - though the light gets quite warm on turbo, so you wouldn't want to leave it on for too long. For my use case, I'm happy I was able to remove strobe from the mode rotation.
Even though this UI is very configurable, I did find myself wishing it had a few more options. since it cycles modes if you activate it quickly, a mode as dim as firefly doesn't serve much use for me - if it's not the mode you used last, you have to cycle through the very bright main 3 first. I wish there was a third 'daily' mode group that let me set the loosened modes to firefly 2 and main 2, and leave the head tightened mode set to turbo 1 - or at least a way to disable mode memory. 

Light Quality and Beam

This light uses a Cree XHP 35 Hi in a deep, smooth reflector. It's available in both "white" and "warm" CCTs, and it's the warm that I have. If you haven't heard me talk about it before, this is one of my favorite LEDs. It's domeless, which gives it a lot of throw and an even tint across the beam, but it's also capable of some pretty high output. I found the beam is wide enough to look for something you dropped on the ground or find your way on a hike, while still having plenty of reach when you need it.
The spill of the light is actually shaped by the deep bezel, giving is a bit of a hexagonal shape. Compared to a 4500K E21A Jetbeam Jetu, you can see that the CCT is quite a bit warmer. Note that the image shows a bit of a greenish yellow tint that I don't notice in real world use - just the camera playing tricks here. Even with the smooth reflector, there really aren't many artifacts in the beam.

Power and Runtime

Runtime was tested with a protected 3200 mAh Armytek cell. Springs at both end of the light mean that both flat top and button tops should work without any issue. The light will also run off of 2xCR123, 2x16340, or 2x18350 - basically anything that will fit in the tube.
The two turbo modes are aptly named - Turbo 2 especially steps down pretty drastically due to the heat. The two main modes tested show rock solid regulation, staying stable for almost the entire test. In all modes, the test was stopped when the light was still on, but had dimmed to a level that could no longer be picked up by my test setup. All runtimes line up closely with the specifications, with the exception of Turbo 2 which exceeded the spec.
On the two turbo modes, the light puts out a lot of heat. I tested both of these cooled by submerging them in a large container of water. This is far from the 50 m depth that Armytek rates these lights for, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that there was no water in the light after either of the tests.
Testing on Turbo 2 shows even submerging it in water doesn't make the output stable - it's possible the highest mode is direct drive, as output seems to track down with the cell voltage.
Running the light on Turbo 1, the bath is able to keep output pretty steady for most of the test. The drop off is likely from the light not being able to sustain the high output with the lower cell voltage at the tail end. Curiously, the cooled run lasted longer than the room temperature test, even though the output stayed higher throughout.
Testing with the benchtop PSU showed that the light steps down to firefly 1 around 2.8 V, and stayed on in this low mode until 0.4 Volts. I personally find it incredible that the driver managed to keep a 12 V LED powered on with such a minimal input voltage. Given the targeted use for this light, being able to turn on until the cell is completely dead is a reasonable choice. Current on firefly 1 is about 3 mA on a fully charged cell.

Summary

Pros:

  • Stainless steel bezel, double o-rings, and a general solid feel
  • Good form factor with a balanced beam profile
  • Good tint, two CCTs to choose from
  • UI is good for people who want easy access to one or two modes
  • Driver performance is admirable, keeping output very steady on all modes except turbo, and with a good thermally controlled turbo

Cons:

  • Light will get too hot to hold on turbo modes
  • Some people won't like the texture of the anodizing
  • The UI isn't well suited to more general-use or EDC tasks (no shortcuts to lower modes)

Notes and Links

This product was provided free of charge from the manufacturer. I was not paid to write this review, and have tried to be as unbiased as possible.

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