Armytek Doberman Pro

  1. Introduction
  2. Manufacturer Specifications
  3. Package Details
  4. Build
  5. User Interface
  6. Circuit Measures
  7. Emitter Measures
  8. Beamshots
  9. Testing Results
  10. Runtimes
  11. Pros and Cons
  12. Overall Rating
  13. Preliminary Conclusions
  14. Acknowledgement

Introduction

Following on my Armytek Wizard C2 Pro Max and C2 Pro Nichia headlamp reviews, I thought I’d test out one of their current tactical lights, the Doberman Pro.

Based on a 1×18650 battery and a warm Cree XHP35 HI emitter, this light features Armytek’s typically solid build enhanced with a variety of recoil-proof adaptions. With an innovative protruding two-stage electronic tailcap switch – and innovative magnetic charging dock – I thought this would be an interesting light to look at.

The light is also distinctive for its beam pattern – thanks to a super deep reflector, the light has excellent throw and a much narrower spillbeam than typical. Let’s see how it performs in my testing.

Manufacturer Specifications

Note: as always, these are simply what the manufacturer provides – scroll down to see my actual testing results.

FeatureSpecs
MakerArmytek
ModelDoberman Pro
EmitterXHP35 HI
TintWarm
Max Output (Lumens)1,400
Min Output (Lumens)37
Max Runtime32 hours
Max Beam Intensity (cd)33,000 cd
Max Beam Distance (m)363 m
Constant Levels4
FlashingStrobe1/2
Battery1x18650
Weight (w/o battery)114 g
Weight (with battery)164 g
Length150 mm
Head Diameter25.4 mm
Body Diameter33.5 mm
WaterproofIP68 25m for 5 hrs

Package Details




The light ships in a cardboard display box with an a lot of labels and descriptions. Inside, you will find the following.

Inside the box, I found:

  • Armytek Doberman Pro flashlight
  • Armytek 18650 battery (3500mAh)
  • Stainless steel pocket clip
  • Tactical cigar grip ring
  • Magnetic USB charging dock
  • 2 spare O-rings
  • Wrist lanyard
  • Nylon belt holster
  • Manual

It’s a good package, and I particularly like seeing all the carry options included (including holster and cigar grip-ring).

As before, the multi-lingual manual is really more of a quick-start guide, and there is a slightly more detailed full manual that you can download from the Armytek website (direct PDF link here). I recommend you download the longer manual in order to take full advantage of all the features and better understand the user interface.

Note that Armytek sells a variety of optional accessories, including a magnetic mount, remote switch, and various colour filters/diffuser cover.

Build


From left to right: Armytek 18650 (3500mAh), Sofirn 21700 (5000mAh), Acebeam 21700 USB-C (5100mAh), Acebeam E70, Acebeam P17, Armytek Doberman Pro, Convoy M21F, Lumintop D3, Nitecore MH12SE, Nitecore P20iX,  Sofirn C8L.








This physical build is reminiscent of the old Viking/Predator lights that I remember from long ago. Handfeel is excellent, and the light feels very solid and robust.

The anodizing looks exactly like the thick matte finish that Armytek has always been known for. Their annodizing has a unique feel, very grippy – almost rubberized in a way. As always, it appears thick and durable. While it resists deep scratches, I find it can mark up fairly easily (i.e., shows handling marks on the surface). As always, it’s clear Armytek sees their lights as work-horses, not show-horses.

The light lacks traditional knurling, but the ridge details cut-outs and grippy finish help produce good hand grip in my view. The pocket clip attaches very firmly (though may mark upon removal) and helps further with grip, just like the cigar ring.

The switch is unique in my experience. It protrudes like a physical clicky switch, but has instead a dual-stage electronic design that simulates a tactical clicky. Switch feel is good, with a light press activating the first stage, and a firmer press producing a virtual click (silent, but with a tactile “click-like” feel). Honestly, I thought this was indeed a physical switch when I first handled it.

The light uses a standard flat-top 18650 cell (Armytek-branded 3500mAh in this case), so can easily be swapped out and charged in a stand-alone charger. Interestingly, the magnetic charging dock connects directly to the switch – and holds on very securely (scroll down to my circuit section for more details on how it works). Note that this charging format means that there are large exposed contact points on the tailcap that connect directly to the battery, which is concerning. Armytek says there is a short-circuit protection feature with the battery, but I don’t like relying on that. Hopefully the contacts are separated sufficiently that it should not be an issue for most people.

Tailstanding is not possible, due to the protruding tailcap. There is a cut-out on the side of the tailcap to securely attach the wrist lanyard.

There are springs in both head and the tailcap, which should hold the cell securely. Armytek says the light is hardened against recoil effects (including potting the electronics in the head), making it suitable as a weapon mount.

Tailcap threads are square-cut, and anodized, allowing you to lock out the light by a twist of the tailcap. Threads are well lubed – as are the two o-rings for waterproofness. I must say this always seems like overkill, but I guess it again shows Armytek’s commitment to robust design.

As per usual, I haven’t tried destructive testing. But this light seems pretty well bomb-proof, and is at least as robust as any other tactical light I’ve ever handled.




The Doberman Pro features a warm temperature XHP35 HI emitter, at the base of a very deep smooth reflector. Thanks to the low profile and small size of this emitter – coupled with such a deep reflector – this means you will get excellent throw with a very narrow spillbeam. See above, and the emitter measures and beamshots sections below for more details.

The black stainless steel bezel has relatively mild crenelations, allowing the light to headstand while still showing you if it is activated.

User Interface

The Doberman Pro can be configured for a pretty straightforward user interface, in keeping with its tactical nature. But there are few extra options, organized into two modes – referred to as Hunting Type (default) and Tactical Type. I will describe both in detail below, but let’s start with how you switch between them:

Mode Switching (between Hunting Type and Tactical Type)

  • Ensure the head is fully tight against the body tube, as well as the tailcap fully tightened.
  • Turn the flashlight On with a full click of the tailcap.
  • Loosen/tighten the head 10 times, completing each twist cycle in under 1 sec.
  • Flashlight blinks once to confirm mode type change.

And now, here is what you get with each of the two mode sets:

Hunting Type Mode (default, available levels: Main1, Main2, Main3, Turbo, Strobe2)

Hunting Type Mode, from OFF:

  • Fully tighten the head for Turbo, loosen by 1/8 of a turn for the additional modes.
  • Partial depress of the switch: In Turbo, Momentary On (i.e., turns Off when released). In Additional modes, turns On in last memorized mode, and repeatedly pressing (or clicking) the switch within 2 secs advances you through Additional modes in the repeating sequence Main1 > Main2 > Main3 > Strobe2.
  • Single-click switch: In Turbo, turns On in Turbo. In Additional modes, turns on in last memorized mode, and repeatedly pressing (or clicking) the switch within 2 secs advances you through Additional modes in the repeating sequence Main1 > Main2 > Main3 > Strobe2.
  • Note that you can remove Strobe2 from the sequence as follows:
    • Partially depress switch at least 20 times, with the last press being a full click.
    • Don’t take longer than 1 sec to cycle through the individual switch presses.
    • The flashlight blinks once, confirming the change.

Hunting Type Mode, from ON:

  • Partial depress of the switch: Nothing.
  • Single-click switch: Turns Off.
  • In Additional modes, repeated clicking the switch within 2 secs advances you through Additional modes in the repeating sequence Main1 > Main2 > Main3 > Strobe2.

Tactical Type Mode (available levels: Main2, Turbo, Strobe1, Strobe2)

Tactical Type Mode, from OFF:

  • Start with head fully tightened for Turbo, or head loosened for Strobe2.
  • Partial depress of the switch: Momentary On in Turbo or Strobe2, depending on head state.
  • Single-click switch: Turns On in Turbo or Strobe2 depending on head state.

Tactical Type Mode, from ON:

  • Partial depress switch: Nothing.
  • Single-click switch: Turns Off.
  • When in head tight (Turbo):
    • Loosen the head by 1/8 of a turn for Strobe2
    • Loosen/tighten the head for Main2
  • When in head loose (Strobe2)
    • Tighten the head for Turbo
    • Loosen/tighten the head when to switch to Strobe1

Short-cuts:

None.

Mode memory:

Yes, depending on the selected Type. For the Hunting Type, there is mode memory in the Additional modes – the light remembers which level you left it in last, and returns to it upon re-activation. Similarly, for Tactical Type, it remembers if you have switched to the alternate constant or strobe mode. It recalls this state even if you loosen the tailcap to cut the current.

Strobe/Blinking modes:

Yes, there is a high-frequency Strobe at full power or mid-level.

Low voltage warning:

Not that I noticed.

Lock-out mode:

Yes, but only by physically locking out the light at the tailcap.

Reviewer Comments:

This user interface has a few trade-offs – it is a bit more complicated than some tactical lights, but it can be configured to largely tactical use. Indeed, this is one case where I might consider leaving the light in Tactical Type mode, since the two constant levels through the head-twist is reasonably simple and straightforward (as long as you never leave it loose, and strobe yourself). And I find the Main2 level is a reasonably good battery-saving level. Alternatively, you can leave it in Hunting Type, and remove strobe from the sequence if you wish.

The two-stage electronic switch really does simulate a physical tactical clicky well.

Note that I can tell from older reviews online that earlier versions of this light had a second lower Turbo mode as well as Firefly modes. I’ve looked for them, and these are not present on my sample. They are not listed in current manual either – they appear to have been removed.

Circuit Measures

Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM):

Main1:
Lo

Main3:
Hi

Turbo:
Turbo

There is no sign of PWM on any level – the circuit appears to be fully current-controlled. There is some high-frequency noise only at the Turbo level, around 15 KHz, but it is variable and not very intense. It is also completely invisible to the eye, and so not a concern.

Strobes:

Strobe1:

Strobe2:

Strobes are a consistent high-frequency of 15 Hz, Strobe1 is at the lower Main2 level, and Strobe2 is full Turbo power.

Charging:

The Doberman Pro comes with a magnetic charging dock that connects to the exposed terminals on the tail switch. Charger status is given as follows:

  • Solid Green — dock is either plugged in and not connected to the light, or charging is finished if the light is connected.
  • Flashing Green — evaluating battery voltage.
  • Flashing Red — contact error, clean the external and internal contacts of the tailcap and charger.
  • Flashing Orange — USB power source voltage too low, or poor contact made, preventing full current charging. Clean the tailcap and the threads of the flashlight, or use a different power source.
  • Solid Red — charging at full charging current is progressing
  • Solid Orange — USB power source voltage is too low, so charging current is
    reduced.

The Armytek charging dock charges at a constant current of ~1.0A at the start of the cycle, regardless of the resting voltage of the cell. This differs from many lights that use dual charging rates (i.e., starting with a lower current when the cell is heavily depleted). This charge level is reasonable for 18650 cell.

Standby / Parasitic Drain:

I measured the standby current as 0.29 mA. This is a reasonably low standby drain, and it would take over 1 year and 4 months to fully drain the cell. Regardless, I always recommend you lockout the light when not in use, by twisting the tailcap.

Emitter Measures

In this section, I directly measure key emitter characteristics of my sample in terms of colour temperature, tint, and colour rendition. Please see my Emitter Measures page to learn more about what these terms mean, and how I am measuring them. As tint in particular can shift across levels, I typically stick with the highest stably regulated level for all my reported measures.

As explained on that page, since I am using an inexpensive uncalibrated device, you can only make relative comparisons across my reviews (i.e., don’t take these numbers as absolutely accurate values, but as relatively consistent across lights in my testing).

Doberman Pro on Main3:

The key measures above are the colour temperature of ~3890K, and a noticeable positive tint shift (+0.0071 Duv) to yellowy-orange at this temperature. For CRI (Ra), I measured a combined score of 63.

These values are very consistent with the rated specs for the warm white XHP35 HI emitter on my sample, and match my visual experience of this light. The light appears very warm in use.

Beamshots

All outdoor beamshots are taken on my Canon PowerShot S5 IS at f/2.7, 0.5 secs exposure, ISO 400, daylight white balance. The bend in the road is approximately 40 meters (~45 yards) from the camera. Learn more about my outdoor beamshots here (scroll down for the floody light position used in this review).

Click on any thumbnail image below to open a full size image in a new window. You can then easily compare beams by switching between tabs.



As you can see above, the Doberman Pro has a relatively throwy beam, with an unusually narrow spillbeam width (due to the unusually deep smooth reflector). Thanks the warm XHP35 HI emitter, beam is quite warm with no obvious chromatic variations.

Testing Results

My summary tables are generally reported in a manner consistent with the ANSI FL-1 standard for flashlight testing. In addition to the links above, please see my output measures page for more background.

All my output numbers are based on my home-made lightbox setup. As explained on that methodology page, I have devised a method for converting my lightbox relative output values to estimated lumens. My Peak Intensity/Beam Distance are directly measured with a NIST-certified Extech EA31 lightmeter.

Doberman Pro Testing Results

ModeSpec LumensEstimated Lumens @0secEstimated Lumens @30 secsBeam Intensity @0secBeam Intensity @30secsBeam Distance @30secsPWM/Strobe FreqNoise FreqCharging Current <3VCharging Current >3VParasitic DrainWeight w/o BatteryWeight with BatteryCCT (K)DuvCRI
Main1404545---NoNo1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g---
Main2120130130---NoNo1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g---
Main3300330330---NoNo1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g3,8900.007163
Turbo1,5001,6001,55036,800 cd36,000 cd379 mYes15 KHz1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g---
Strobe1120-----15 HzNo1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g---
Strobe21,500-----15 HzNo1.0 A1.0 A0.29 mA114 g163 g---

As usual for Armytek, I find very good concordance between published specs and what my lightbox reports for my sample. Indeed, both my lightbox and NIST-calibrated luxmeter consistently report slightly higher output and beam distance measures than the specs.

To view and download full testing results for all modern lights in my testing, check out my Database page.

Runtimes

As always, my runtimes are done under a small cooling fan, for safety and consistency. To learn more about how to interpret runtime graphs, see my runtimes methodology page.

Max

Hi

Med

The runtime results are about what I would expect for a good-quality, current-controlled circuit running a XHP35 HI emitter on 18650. Overall output/runtime efficiency is excellent for the class, comparable to the various modern Nichia offerings shown above. I’m also pleased to see equally good regulation, with this light also showing flat outputs with defined step-downs due to heat or low voltage.

Another example of a good circuit from Armytek!

Pros and Cons

ProsCons
Light has excellent output/runtime efficiency for this emitter, at all levels.Turbo steps down fairly quickly, due to heat.
Circuit shows very good regulation, with thermally-mediated or low-voltage step-downs.Number of output levels is limited, and mode spacing may not suit everyone.
Uses an innovative two-stage electronic switch that accurately replicates a forward physical clicky without its limitations.Max output is lower than newer lights featuring higher output emitters.
Very good robust build quality and hand feel, with recoil-protective adaptations (e.g., potted electronics).Magnetic charging dock allows you to charge the battery inside the light, but raises the risk of accidental shorting given the protruding tailcap.
Comes with a lot of extras, and additional "tactical" ones are available for purchase.

Overall Rating

Preliminary Conclusions

This is another solid offering from Armytek. Indeed, solid is perhaps a bit of an understatement for the Doberman Pro – this light is designed to be a bomb-proof tactical light, suitable for a weapon mount given its ability to handle recoil without incident.

I am not a tactical guy, so have no real ability to assess its bona fides beyond what I can see from handling it as a flashlight. The extremely deep and smooth reflector – coupled with a HI emitter – does produce excellent throw, with a particularly narrow spillbeam. The warm temperature emitter also produces as a warm a beam pattern as I’ve ever seen on a commercial light.

Fit and finish are excellent, with Armytek’s classic “grippy” thick anodizing. There are plenty of extras included with the light (more than usual in fact), and plenty of extra “tactical” options to choose from as well.

One thing that I find particularly innovative is the two-stage electronic switch. This so accurately replicates a forward clicky switch that I genuinely couldn’t feel the difference – it feels and functions exactly as you’d expect a physical switch would.

I have to give Armytek credit for incorporating a magnetic charging dock on the base, given the protruding switch. But this also increases my concern about accidentally shorting the cell inside – while manageable in practice, I’m not convinced that risk is something you want in a “tactical” light.

The interface also has some quirks to it as well. I appreciate how they have tried to integrate as many options as possible (e.g., Hunting Type mode) while also staying true to a more typically classic tactical interface (i.e., Tactical Type mode with just Turbo and Strobe). But there are still a few too many options (and memory) that could lead you to not always activate in the mode you want.

The beam pattern is distinctive, and I could see this serving well for someone who wanted a throwy light with unusually narrow spill. I’m not qualified to to assess how relevant that is for a firearm carry, but I do find it somewhat limiting for general use.

I’m comfortable giving this light 4 stars, for its overall excellent build and quality, but somewhat limiting interface and emitter/optic choice. As for its suitability for any given task, I’ll leave that to the reader to assess based on the performance results presented above.

Acknowledgement

The Doberman Pro was supplied by Armytek for review. As always, all opinions are my own and the light received the same rigourous and objective testing as all other lights that I have reviewed. At the time of review, this light retails for ~$95 USD (~$125 CDN).

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