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Best Smittybilt Winch Review – XRC & X20

Winches are certainly more than simple recovery tools that offer timely support on challenging tracks. They are compact machines that give you the confidence and peace of mind of venturing into trickier terrains and exploring spaces you have always wanted to. It may sound cheesy, but they are tools that will make your unfulfilled dreams of exploration and adventure come true!

Offering power, durability, convenience, and reliability, winches have evolved steadily through various innovations and additions made to their productive features. Furnishing the elite of industry-grade strength in the compact machinery is the new series of the Smittybilt winches. Our best Smittybilt winches review will provide a complete guide on choosing the best winch for your loading purposes.

About Smittybilt 

Smittybilt winches have consistently earned praise for their durability and efficient winching operations, being worked through heavy-loads for hours on end regularly.

Smittybilt manufactures its niche quality of winches, mostly in the mid-range price section, loaded with power-packed features coupled with sleek and aggressive designs, meant to complement the off-roading outlook of the vehicle.

Smittybilt is a well-known name in the off-roading industry, owing to their passion and enthusiasm for off-roading adventures. Having started with a small machine shop, the founders of Smittybilt seek to incorporate and reflect the 4WD lifestyle in all their products geared towards the off-roading aftermarket industry.

Today, backed by the constant support of the management with everything related to the off-road markets and latest market trends, Smittybilt proudly stands at the forefront of product development armed with innovation and quality as the prime weapon of choice.

Apart from the winches, Smittybilt is well-known for its unique Jeep, Truck, and SUV outfits like Armor, Bumpers, Trail equipment, and much more.

The Smittybilt Lineup – Finding the Right Smittybilt Winch

Smittybilt winches are aplenty to consider, given the extent of features available depending on the off-road experience and performance. The winches are categorized in the X20 and XRC series. Both the X20 and XRC series are available in the base models as well as COMP models.

The X20 lineup consists of winches that are feature-rich; the XRC lineup is designed for flexibility in tough conditions and the COMP versions are optimized for aggressive and rugged performances.

How to Choose the Best Smittybilt Winch

Even with several models and features of winches available in the market, one simply cannot choose the perfect winch going by the brand. There are multiple factors to consider when purchasing a winch, the foremost being your budget and specific winching needs.

Choosing the appropriate winch requires considerable effort to browse and compare the various features of varied models as well as sifting through the umpteen reviews of the product online. But the most efficient way to choose your required winch would be to gather the few top rated winches in your list and compare their differences and performances of the features and then decide if you are willing to pay the price for the given facilities.

Features

X20

X20 COMP

XRC

XRC COMP

Amphibious 6.6 HP Motor

✔

✔

✔

✔

3 Stage Planetary Gear Train System

✔

✔

✔

✔

Improved Line Speed

✔

✔

✔

✔

Improved Winching Power

✔

✔

✔

✔

Easy Handling Clutch Lever

✔

✔

✔

✔

Oversized Aluminum Crossbar

✔

✔

✔

✔

Stainless Steel Hardware

✔

✔

✔

✔

Dynamic Braking System

✔

✔

Automatic In-Drum

Automatic In-Drum

Wireless Remote Control

✔

✔

Wired

Wired

Cable Type

Steel Cable

Synthetic Rope

Steel Cable

Synthetic Rope

Fairlead

4-sided Roller

Competition Aluminum

4-sided Roller

Competition Aluminum

Waterproof Rating

IP 68

IP 68

IP 67

IP 67

Solenoid Mounting Options

2

2

3

3

Electrical Warranty

5-year

5-year

3-year

3-year

Mechanical Warranty

Lifetime

Lifetime

Lifetime

Lifetime

Weight Capacity / Model Number

10K lb     #97510
12K lb     #97512
15.5K lb  #97515
17.5K lb  #97517

10K lb     #98510
12K lb     #98512
15.5K lb         NA
17.5K lb          NA

9.5K lb    #97495
12K lb     #97412
15.5K lb  #97415
17.5K lb  #97417

9.5K lb    #98495
12K lb     #98412
15.5K lb        NA
17.5K lb        NA

Other than comparing features, other essential points to keep in mind are as follows:

Winch Capacity or Winch Rating:

The winch capacity indicates the maximum weight it can pull without suffering serious damage. To calculate what scope of winch capacity you will require for your vehicle, simply multiply the gross weight of your vehicle by 1.5.

Although, it is always recommended to opt for a winch that rates a little bit higher than the calculated winch capacity.

Line length:

First-time winch users may not realize the importance of understanding what size of winch cable or rope they may require.

The amount of line you have available will determine your rate of success in pulling yourself out of the situation. A general suggestion would be to have at least 100 feet of line on the drum.

Mounting Compatibility:

Mounting a winch on the vehicle depends on the type of bumper or frame on the vehicle, but this issue can be settled easily with a Winch Mounting Plate, that comes in various sizes according to the vehicle design.

Before you purchase the winch, make sure you have the proper mounting plate for the winch, suited to your vehicle.

Warranty:

When the manufacturer decides to back their products with a reasonable warranty, it speaks a lot about the quality and reliability of the said product.

To help you decide if the particular Smittybilt winch is the one you require, we have carried out a highly-rated Smittybilt winches review of the one by one, comparing their features, pros, and cons along with the customer reviews for your convenience.

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Smittybilt XRC Gen2 – 9500lb – Smittybilt XRC Gen2 – 17,500lb
Smittybilt X20 COMP – 10,000lb – Smittybilt X20 COMP – 12,000lb – Smittybilt X20 COMP – 15,500lb

Smittybilt 9,500 lb 97495 XRC Gen2 Winch – 9,500 pound Load Capacity

Smittybilt 97495 XRC Winch - (9500 lb. Load Capacity)Product Features

  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 9.4 x 22.3 in
  • Model: #97495
  • Description: Smittybilt XRC Gen2 Winch
  • Load Capacity: Single pull 9,500 lb
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
  • Net weight: 78 lb
  • Motor: Amphibious 6.6 HP motor with Sliding Ring Gear Clutch
  • Waterproof Rating: IP 67 rated
  • Gear Train: 3 stage planetary system with a gear ratio of 161.28:1
  • Remote Control: Wired switch with 12’ lead
  • Drum dimensions: 2.5” x 10”
  • Dynamic In-Drum Braking system
  • Cable type: Steel cable with 94’ line
  • Battery leads: x2, 22 mm x 72” with a recommended battery of minimum 650 CCA for winching
  • Warranty: Lifetime Mechanical Warranty and 3-year Electrical Warranty
  • Textured Black Finish

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The main feature of the Smittybilt XRC Gen2 9,500 lb winch that sets it apart from the rest of the competition, lies in the fact that the winch furnishes waterproofing for a winch in its class, at nominal rates. There are many winches that supply basic functions as the XRC Gen2 9,500 lb winch, with the steel cable and pulling power at higher prices, but not many furnish a feature like an IP 67 waterproof rating with the slightly stronger pulling capacity that this winch does.

The winch comes with multiple options for mounting the Solenoid on the winch itself, but some people prefer to mount the Solenoid remotely, where they may have the need to extend the wires accordingly.

The winch does not come with a wireless remote, but there are facilities to install a wireless remote if needed. The Smittybilt XRC Gen2 has decent features all in all and caters to off-roading adventures that do not involve many heavy-loaded winch pulls; simply ensuring that you remain on track with its reliable hauling strength.

Read Our Detailed Review on Smittybilt (97495) XRC Winch

Pros of the Smittybilt (97495) XRC

  • It is easy to install and built to last longer when used appropriately
  • The high standards are reflected in the Lifetime Warranty offered by the manufacturer
  • It offers a convenient IP 67 rated waterproof rating, making it a cut above the rest of the competition
  • The low price of the winch is highly appreciated given the availability of all basic features including a 6.6 HP motor, the prime of the industry-grade torque.

Cons of the Smittybilt (97495) XRC

  • After-sales customer service is lacking
  • The controller snaps after a short period of use

Customer verdict

Even without having used the winch, many Smittybilt XRC Gen2 winch users appreciate the ease of installation and impression of the winch on their vehicle. For a winch of its size, it comes in handy during emergencies, pulling trees and vehicles with effortless strength.

Compared to other winches in its weight category and pulling capacity, not many winches can supply raw power and waterproofing for such affordable rates, making it the main reason for the wide appeal for this product.

A majority of customer complaints are actually with the external casing of the winch coming apart during operations, rather than the functioning of the winch itself. The plug to the remote controller also snaps often, but when informed of the situation, Smittybilt offers replacement parts or complete winch replacement in due time.

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Smittybilt X20 COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch – 10,000 lb Load Capacity

Smittybilt X20 98510 10000 lb winch

Product Features

  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 24 x 11.5 in
  • Model: #98510
  • Description: Smittybilt X20 COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch
  • Load Capacity: Single style x 10,000 lb
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 4.5” x 10.0”
  • Net weight: 67 lb
  • Motor: Amphibious 6.6 HP Series wound motor with Sliding Ring Gear Clutch
  • Waterproof Rating: IP68 rated
  • Gear Train: Revolutionary 3 stage planetary gear system with a gear ratio of 128:1
  • Remote Control: Wired with a 12’ lead
  • Drum dimensions: 2.5” x 10.0”
  • Dynamic Out-of-Drum Braking system
  • Cable type: Synthetic rope of 98.5’ lead
  • Battery leads: x2, 25 mm x 72” with a recommended battery of minimum of 650CCA for winching
  • Warranty: Lifetime Mechanical and 5 years Electrical Warranty
  • Integrated Wireless Remote Control
  • Textured Black Finish

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The Smittybilt 10,000 lb capacity winch carries compact power in its 6.6 HP Amphibious motor supplying what is the highest grade of torque in the winch industry. The amphibious nature of the motor keeps it protected from the excess of wet and dry conditions.

The dynamic braking system with inductive and automatic outer brakes keeps the motor from overheating during heavy-duty operations for lasting performance. The integrated option for wireless control offers convenience at your fingertips for a broader and better visual operation.

The winch comes with a Competition Aluminum Hawse Fairlead complete with a forged hook for a secure grip during the winching. The gear system furnishes powerful pulling operations with consistency and relative quietness.

With a UV resistant matte black finish, the purchase includes, of course, the Smittybilt x20 COMP Synthetic rope winch, a Hawse fairlead with a forged hook, the wireless remote, a rope sleeve and all power cables necessary to wire up the winch to the battery and the solenoid box.

Read Our Detailed Review on Smittybilt (98510) X20 Winch

Pros of the Smittybilt (98510) X20

  • The product comes with the manufacturer’s backing with the Lifetime warranty.
  • The installation and wireless functions are a pleasure to deal with.
  • The build quality is excellent.
  • It provides more than enough power for hauling operations.
  • It is a worthy buy for the affordable price.

Cons of the Smittybilt (98510) X20

  • It requires modifications to fit on certain vehicle bumpers.
  • The weight of the winch may be a bit heavy.
  • The solenoid requires some attention when mounting, having to be placed according to space on the vehicle.

Customer Verdict

The Smittybilt 98510 winch users readily agree the pulling power delivered by the device is always an astonishing visual treat when winching tough loads. The wireless function is much appreciated and allows for a better view of the entire operation, helping in effectively guiding the load. Although some users complain of shorter working ranges than those expected.

The free spooling is a smooth feature. The price of the spare parts is almost half the original price of the winch, but the company usually sends in replacement parts when the inquiry is sent. Customers appreciate the line speed and the increased water-proofing along with the general reliability of the strength of the winch.

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Smittybilt X20 COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch – 12,000 lb Load Capacity

Product Features

  • Dimensions: 22.3 x 5.4 x 9.4 in
  • Model: #98512
  • Description: Smittybilt X20 COMP – Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch
  • Load Capacity: Single style x 12,000 lb
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 4.5” x 10.0”
  • Net weight: 67 lb
  • Motor: Amphibious 6.6 HP Series wound motor with Sliding Ring Gear Clutch
  • Waterproof Rating: IP68 rated
  • Gear Train: Revolutionary 3 stage planetary gear system with a gear ratio of 265:1
  • Remote Control: Wired with a 12’ lead
  • Drum dimensions: 2.5” x 10.0”
  • Dynamic Out-of-Drum Braking system
  • Cable type: Synthetic rope of 98.5’ lead
  • Battery leads: x2, 25 mm x 72” with a recommended battery of minimum of 650CCA for winching
  • Warranty: Lifetime Mechanical and 5 years Electrical Warranty
  • Integrated Wireless Remote Control
  • Textured Black Finish

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The Smittybilt 12,000 lb capacity winch is similar in functioning and features to the Smittybilt 10,000 lb capacity winch, differing only in the maximum winching weight or the winch capacity. The increased weight compatibility is a satisfactory fit for trucks and trailers in situations where they have to carry out multiple pulls in a single winching session.

It is also a preferred option for heavier off-roading vehicles that are equipped with multiple amenities of off-roading adventure like having a trailer attached to the vehicle, comparatively heavier weight of the jeep with an overhead roof-tent, supplies, etc.

The fact that the Smittybilt 12,000 lb winch does not overheat even during continuous winching operations and provides consistent pulling power is the highlight of the durability of the winch. Add to the feature-rich repertoire that it is one of the most affordable winches in its class in the market.

Pros of the Smittybilt (98512) X20

  • It has a powerful delivery of winching at 12,000 lb capacity.
  • The Limited Lifetime Warranty adds to the peace of mind when purchasing the product.
  • The waterproofing feature is an added incentive.
  • The general outlook of the winch with its multiple features is a worthy investment at reasonable costs.

Cons of the Smittybilt (98512) X20

  • The wireless feature has limited coverage in some devices.
  • The two-mounting options for the solenoid with its two-screw design can be improved.

Customer Verdict

The Smittybilt 12,000 lb capacity X20 winch is a preferred choice for many Jeep owners, owing to its usefulness in tight situations and longevity under duress. The IP68 rating, for the waterproofing, allows off-roading enthusiasts to cross water pathways without having to worry about winch damage or its components malfunctioning.

The respectable warranty adds to the peace of mind when investing in the product. The only complaint that users have with the winch, is not with the working of the winch at all. The scale of the wireless remote seems to vary from device to device and does not function as advertised for some. Other than that, the two mounting options for the solenoid is a common area where users perceive that the basic securing design could use a boost.

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Smittybilt X20 – Waterproof Steel Cable Winch – 15,500 lb Load Capacity

Product Features

  • Dimensions: 22.3 x 7.5 x 10.7 in
  • Model: #97515
  • Description: Smittybilt X20 Waterproof Steel Cable Winch
  • Load Capacity: Single style 15,500 lb
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10” x 4.5”
  • Net Weight: 127.2 pounds
  • Motor: Amphibious 6.6 HP motor with Sliding Ring Gear Clutch
  • Waterproof Rating: IP 68 rated
  • Gear Train: 3-stage planetary gear system with a gear ratio of 430:1
  • Remote Control: Wired Switch with a 12’ lead
  • Drum dimensions: 3.45” X 10.0”
  • Dynamic Out-of-Drum Braking System
  • Cable type: Braided Steel Cable with 98.5’ line
  • Battery Leads: X2, 25 mm x 72” for a recommended battery of minimum 650 CCA for winching
  • Warranty: Lifetime Mechanical and 5-year Electrical
  • Integrated Wireless Remote Control
  • Textured Black Finish

With almost ideal features packed within the Smittybilt 15.5K lb winch, the convenience of having such winching power at your disposal is a sheer delight. The handling, installation, and mounting of the winch is by far an easy task. The winch sits almost effortlessly on any Smittybilt front bumper without the need for any complex modification.

With the capacity to haul loads up to 15,500 lb, the winch features a powerful and amphibious 6.6 HP motor that comes with the Ring Gear Clutch that encourages upgraded line speeds and pulls for a smooth rescue. The wireless remote makes things easier and convenient, allowing a better understanding of the rescue situation and aiding a better ability to control the line speed.

The waterproofing is an added pleasure and much-welcomed feature since going through deep or shallow water crossings is an inevitable part of deep off-roading treks. The icing on the cake would, however, be the support of the manufacturer in the limited lifetime warranty concerning the electrical aspects and a lifetime warranty on the mechanical aspects.

Pros of the Smittybilt (97515) X20

  • It provides a massive upgrade in pulling power with the gear ratio of 430:1.
  • The IP 68 waterproof rating is a neat feature.
  • The braided style Steel Cable is capable of undertaking extreme duress even after winching heavy loads for longer periods.

Cons of the Smittybilt (97515) X20

  • The range for the wireless remote does not function well for some devices.

Customer Verdict

Furnishing upgraded pulling power for hauling loads well up to 15, 500 pounds, the Smittybilt X20 15.5K lb winch is much preferred to haul heavy trucks and well-built traveler Jeeps. Off-roading enthusiasts who own such heavy vehicles always find it safe to venture out when equipped with the compactly powerful winch.

The winch does not overheat during multiple winching operations owing to the dynamic braking system that reduces the general load on the winch. This feature, along with the fact that the winch is rated IP 68 for waterproofing, is the most appealing aspect when purchasing the winch.

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Smittybilt 17,500 lb Load Capacity 97417 XRC Gen2 Winch – 17,500 lb

Smittybilt 17,500 lb Load Capacity 97417 XRC Gen2 Winch – 17,500 lbProduct Features

  • Dimensions: 24.4 x 8.4 x 10.7 in
  • Model: # 97417
  • Description: Smittybilt XRC Gen2 17,500 lb Winch
  • Load capacity: Single style 17, 500 lb
  • Mounting Bolt Pattern: 10.0” x 4.5”
  • Net weight: 132.2 pounds
  • Motor: Amphibious 6.6 HP motor with Sliding Ring Gear Clutch
  • Waterproof Rating: IP 67
  • Gear Train: 3-stage Planetary Gear System with a gear ratio of 330:1
  • Remote Control: Wired Switch with a 12 feet lead
  • Drum dimensions: 3.45” x 10”
  • Dynamic In-Drum Braking System
  • Cable type: Heavy-duty Steel Cable with 93.5 feet of line
  • Battery leads: x2, 25 mm x 72” for a recommended battery of minimum 650 CCA for winching
  • Warranty: Lifetime Mechanical and 3-year Electrical
  • Textured Black Finish

The Smittybilt XRC series of winches are an upgraded version of all previous winches, banking on the reliability of its plentiful features. The Smittybilt XRC Gen2 17,500 lb winch is a step further up the power ladder given the immense delivery in winching operations.

This XRC Gen2 winch provides you with that extra pulling force when you are out with a Jeep or truck loaded with cargo, navigating a steep incline. Heavy vehicles bank on the effortless pull of the 17.5K winch when out maneuvering rough trails and rocky terrain.

While there is no wireless remote option, it is still a relief for many to operate their winch in close quarters given the need to supervise the heavy winching. Since the operating force of the winch has been upgraded, it comes as no surprise that the Steel Cable used in tandem is a thicker cable meant for much-needed stability and support during the heavy winching.

The Gear Ratio of 330:1 is what allows for such powerful output by the winch gear system at faster line speeds, consistently keeping the line stable, especially in the long working hours.

Pros of the Smittybilt (97417) XRC Gen2

  • The heavy-duty construction of the winch is backed by a Lifetime Mechanical Warranty by the manufacturer.
  • The pulling power and line speeds are greater owing to the power-driven gear train.
  •  The Braided Steel Cable furnishes extra support in stability through taxing and multiple operations.

Cons of the Smittybilt (97417) XRC Gen2

  • The winch is heavier and built solidly, reducing the chances of proper fitting on different bumper styles.
  • Mounting brackets and hardware are not up to the standard and need regular replacing.

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Customer Verdict

Many customers who revel in the facilities of the Smittybilt XRC Gen2 17.5K lb winch, appreciate the ease of installation and mounting of the winch. The seemingly powerful winch is just as powerful when it comes to output deliverance and many users are impressed by the number of heavy loads the winch can pull consistently without reaching the overheating limit.

Although, the only complaint that customers have about the winch, is not with the general working but with the quality of the mounting hardware that completely snaps within the first few pulls or requires about a yearly replacement. The facility of a wireless remote is also greatly missed, but given the quality of features offered in a single compact winch, customers are satisfied, and then some more, with the performance of the 17.5K lb XRC Gen2 winch.

Our Recommendation

Smittybilt XRC Gen2, 97495 Winch, 9,500 Pound Load Capacity

A load capacity that ranges from 9,500 lb – 17,500 lb, powerful winching, efficient waterproofing, and the affordable price is a few of the key technical features of the Smittybilt XRC Gen2 9,500 lb winch, that have gained our recommendation.

The 9.5K lb winch of the XRC Gen2 series is the best in its class winch, a much-preferred option for customers looking for power and efficiency in an affordable price range.

Being a budget product certainly marks its flaws, but the 9.5K Smittybilt winch offers premium features that most other winches do not guarantee. A powerful motor, wireless control, broad ranges of load capacities, impressive gear ratio for its compact size, and lastly the Lifetime Warranty on all things mechanical; a frank observation indicates that the Smittybilt XRC Gen2 9.5K lb winch has fundamental attributes that speak for their mainstream worth.

Conclusion

Hopefully, after having read through our Smittybilt winch review of the most productive winches, you will find choosing the apt winch for your needs is a little bit easier. It is never easy to decide on one thing, we know.

But make sure you weigh in all important criteria and then focus on the exciting aspect of working with the winch in adventurous situations. Make the most of your off-roading travels in tandem with a reliable winch and conquer all those trails that once were a part of your everyday musings!

[Total: 3   Average: 5/5]
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