Surefire 10X Dominator

4½ Stars
Very Good/Excellent

Light Type: 2 Stage Incandescent
Light Class: Tactical / Specialty

UPDATE: Surefire has affirmed that all current Surefire lights should be waterproof to about 33 feet/10 meters. Some reviews were posted before Surefire made the affirmation that their lights were watertight to 1 atmosphere depth. Any new Surefire lights you purchase now should be considered waterproof to 33 feet/10 meters.

Short Description:

The 10X Dominator is a heavy duty tactical flashlight made by Surefire.

The 10X Dominator is very interesting in its construction. The body consists of two main parts - the bezel with the lighting elements, etc. and the body which is actually a handle/rechargeable battery/switch combination pack which is completely replaced when the rechargeable battery finally loses its ability to hold a charge.

Most of the body is high impact polymer with metal around the Pyrex lens and rubber grips on the side of the battery/handle. Ribs are found on the sides of the bezel for grip, as well as two holes for the attachment of a lanyard. Inside the bezel is a 60 lumen bulb and a 500 lumen bulb. The reflector for the bulb is actually two reflectors machined from one piece of metal. Both bulbs sit in their own partial reflector area.

Switching the light on and off is achieved by either twisting the bezel relative to the body, using the tailcap switch, or a combination of the two. The light can be locked out to prevent accidental operation.

The light is rechargeable and includes the charging stand, an AC adapter and a DC adapter. One battery stick/handle is included with the bezel section.

Size Reference

Size vs. common aluminum 2-AA light

Bezel picture
Beam Profile - Low Beam
Beam Profile - High Beam

Detailed Information:

The Surefire 10X Dominator rechargeable lighting system is designed primarily for tactical use. The lower output bulb is capable of disrupting the dark adapted vision of an opponent and the high output bulb makes the unit impossible to look at directly from the front.

10X Dominator Standard Kit - Light/Battery, Charging Stand, AC Adapter, DC Adapter

The body of the 10X is made from a high impact polymer. Most of the "body" of the light is the B20 battery stick which is completely replaced when it reaches the end of its service life.

In the bezel you will find a twin reflector machined from aluminum, textured to provide a smooth beam and highly polished. Each of the two bulbs (60/500 lumen) rests in its own partial concave area of the reflector. The reflector sits behind an oblong Pyrex lens which is highly resistant to thermal cycling. The bulbs can be changed out by removing the bezel from the battery unit and then using an allen wrench (included) to remove a screw from the back of the bezel which loosens the reflector. The reflector/lens assembly then pulls out of the front exposing the two bulbs which can be replaced. Reassemble in reverse order.

The 60 lumen bulb (MN30) will run about 3 hours on a full charge. The 60 lumen bulb can be optionally replaced with a 110 lumen bulb (MN32) for 1½ hours of operation. The 60 lumen bulb / 500 lumen bulb (MN31) combination will run about 20 minutes when the light is activated in full power mode.

Output is stunning. The lower output "working bulb" is very bright all by itself. When the high power bulb is additionally activated the 10X projects a wall of pure white light. Details in an otherwise bland landscape suddenly stand out. It's like having a little piece of the Sun in your hand.

Operation of the light is fairly simple and straightforward. There are two switching possibilities for the 10X and using either one the lower output bulb (MN30) is activated first, then the high output bulb (MN31) is additionally activated so that both are illuminating the subject. Twisting the bezel relative to the body activates the lower output light. Continued twisting will activate the high output bulb as well. Pressing the tailcap lightly will activate the lower output bulb in "momentary mode" and harder pressure activates both low and high output bulbs. Releasing the switch turns the light off. Optionally you can twist the bezel to activate the lower output bulb and use the tailcap switch to momentarily activate the high output bulb as well when an extra dose of light is needed. To deactivate the switching system for charging or storage/transport, rotate the bezel backwards relative to the handle 2 turns.

The entire unit is sealed for water resistance with O-rings, but it is not intended for submersion.

The battery unit includes the handle, switch, and rechargeable Ni-Cad battery all in one. This entire unit is unscrewed from the bezel area for replacement or for quick changeouts. To charge the battery, the bezel is twisted backwards to lock out the switching system and the 10X is placed on the plugged-in charging base. The base can be used with either the included 110V AC charging adapter or the 12V DC plug. The charging base has circuitry designed to protect both the charger and the battery from voltage spikes that may occur in marine and automotive electrical systems. A battery unit can be charged in the charger without a bezel being attached. This allows you to charge one battery unit while the other is in use.

10X Dominator sitting on the AC charger

To charge, twist the bezel backwards 2 turns to lock out the switching system, drop the 10X on the charger so that the silver dot on the battery stick is pointing up and give it a 1/4 twist to the right to lock it in. The red LED on the charging base will turn on indicating that the battery is charging. When the charging cycle is complete the green LED will turn on. Remove the light from the base, give the bezel 2 turns to activate the switching mechanism again (remove the lock-out) and you're ready to go. The charging cycle on a completely dead battery takes about 2 hours or less and the charger automatically switches to trickle charge when the main charge cycle is complete.

How about some more beam shots?!?!?! Target is 2 trees 100 feet (30 meters) away.

Low beam
High beam
Low beam close-up
High beam close-up

What I Liked: Water resistant, Tough/impact resistant, Rechargeable, Good battery life, Exceptionally bright, Two lighting levels easily selectable with tail switch, and did I mention exceptionally bright?

What I Didn't Like: I found two negative issues with with this light. First is that it must be "locked out" (rendered inoperable) when placed on the charger. This prevents the user from grabbing it off the charger and immediately using it. Once taken off the charger the user needs to twist the bezel at least 2 full turns to reactivate the light and if you turn it the wrong way 2 turns the bezel falls off. So... forget about rapid use right off the charger. Second is the fact that if the light is ready for use (not locked out) and you shake it up and down while it is turned off (as might happen when you are running with the light in your hand) the light flickers on an off as the rechargeable battery bounces up and down, completing the contact with the bulbs. This easily gives away your position when running with a light that you think is turned off.

Other Things I Noticed: Nothing significant.

Conclusions: The 10X provides unbelievable light output. The only way to come close to the sheer volume of light is by using a hand held spotlight which would undoubtedly weigh much more and be significantly larger. If you need a lot of light, and I mean A LOT of light, the 10X will happily oblige. For more mundane tasks the lower output "working bulb" with its two hour runtime provides more than enough output and very good relative runtime.

UPDATE!!!: Encountered problems with charging the Dominator 10x...

I recently went to charge up the Surefire Dominator 10x after using it to illuminate some of the "wildlife" in the neighborhood while out walking. When I returned home I placed the light on the charger as indicated in the instructions and oddly enough the red LED that indicates charging flickered a bit. I returned later to find no LEDs lit on the charger (either the red or green should be lit when charging) and a strange crackling hum coming from the charging base.

I unlocked the 10x from the charger, settled it on the charger again and the red LED lit. About 2 seconds later it dimmed and went out and that nasty hum came back. At this point my brain flipped into troubleshooting mode. The first thing I tried was the rattle test. Shake the transformer and see if it rattles - nope. Shake the base - no rattle. Remove the light assembly and shake the battery assembly. From the assembly I could hear, "Tinka-tinka-tinka-tinka-tink." Uh-oh... Listening carefully I was able to find the source of the problem. Looking in the open end of the battery assembly/handle you can see two hex screws that are attached internally to the exposed charging contacts on the outside of the battery handle assembly. Looking carefully you can also see wires with eyelet contacts attached to the screws. One of the screws had become quite loose, resulting in an intermittent contact. A hex wrench was carefully applied and both screws were tightened until snug. Voila! No more rattle and once placed on the charger the battery handle assembly charged as intended.

So if you have unusual charging problems with your 10x, as part of your troubleshooting check those two tiny hex screws and try tightening them (don't OVER tighten - just snug them down) to see if that fixes the problem.

Quick Facts Table:

Review Date ............................. January 2004
Case Material ........................... High impact polymer
Case Features .......................... Holes for lanyard
Case Access Type .................... Tools needed for bulb change, battery stick unscrews
Switch Type ............................. Twist bezel for constant use, Tail switch for momentary - Two stage
Reflector Type ......................... Twin mated reflector shape - Textured and polished aluminum
Lens Type ................................

Clear Pyrex

Bulb Type ................................. 60 lumen and 500 lumen high pressure xenon
Beam Type ............................... Spot
Beam Characteristics ............... Very smooth beams
Throw (Lux) at 1m (click for description) Low ~ 3048 at beam center. (55.21 Comparison Chart equivalent)
High ~ 21206 at beam center. (145.62 Comparison Chart equivalent)
Overall Output (click for description) Low ~ 5250 (52.50 Comparison Chart equivalent)
High ~ 52500* at beam center. (525.00 Comparison Chart equivalent)
*The meter is only rated to 50000 but this was the reading it provided.
Battery / Power Type................ B20 Ni-Cad rechargeable battery stick
Battery Life (advertised) ........... 3 hours on low, 20 minutes on high
Environmental Protection ......... O-ring seals
Special Items of Note ............... Includes AC and DC charging systems
Warranty .................................. Limited Lifetime
Retail Cost ................................ 500.00 US$


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