SureFire UDR Dominator

Review: SureFire UDR Dominator

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After years of anticipation the SureFire UDR Dominator has become a reality.  The largest and most powerful LED equipped flashlight produced by SureFire, the new UDR Dominator is an ultra-powerful portable spotlight designed for demanding activities such as search & rescue, border patrol, military operations, and maritime applications.  Utilizing the Luminus CBT-90 LED assembly, the UDR Dominator is capable of producing a focused 200,000+ candela beam.

Users may select between 9 output levels (14 lumens to the full-throttle 2400 lumens) and a strobe mode by use of a head mounted selector ring.  Three push-button switches then allow direct access to momentary, constant, or maximum output.  Normally powered by an included lithium-ion rechargeable battery, the UDR Dominator is “Dual Fuel” capable and allows the use of 123A lithium primary batteries as an alternative power source. 

The UDR Dominator has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $1370.  A sample was provided by SureFire for the duration of this review.

SureFire UDR Dominator – Overview

The UDR Dominator comes equipped with everything needed to place the light into service.  The accessories include:  AC wall charger with international adapters, 12VDC car charger, lithium-ion rechargeable battery, one dozen 123A lithium primary batteries with battery carrier, lanyard/sling ring, shoulder sling, protective bumpers for the head and tail, and assorted paperwork, including the owner’s manual.

SureFire UDR Dominator

Measuring 11.6″ long, the UDR Dominator is constructed entirely of aluminum with a matte black hard-anodized finish.  The body is machined with four flat surfaces spaced evenly around its circumference and measures 1.75″ at its widest point.  Extensive knurling and grooves provide ample grip.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The base of the head houses the charging port, three push-button controls, and the aluminum mode selection ring.  The ring has 11 positions, one for each of the 9 output levels, strobe, and OFF.  The ring adjusts easily and snaps into place at each position.  A large laser engraved dot on the selector ring indicates which mode is selected.

SureFire UDR Dominator

Laser engraved legends identify the function of each push-button switch.  When the selector ring is any position but OFF, the switches perform the following operations (from left to right):

  • CONST (Constant-On) – activates the light in the mode chosen by the selector ring.  Pressing again will turn the light off.  Output levels may be changed using the selector ring while the light is on.
  • MOMENT (Momentary) – provides momentary output at the selected level until the button is released.  Output levels may be changed using the selector ring while the light is turned on.
  • MAX BLAST (Constant-on) – triggers the maximum output level, regardless of the level chosen with the selector ring.  Pressing again will turn the light off.  Changes to the selector ring position (other than OFF) will have no effect while in this mode.

When the selector ring is in the OFF position, the push-button controls are disabled.  If the light is already turned on, pressing any of the push-button switches will override the previous operating mode.  The buttons were initially very stiff and difficult to operate consistently but improved greatly after repeated use.

While the UDR Dominator is on, the “Fuel Gauge” LED provides battery status information.

  • Green – battery is at 90% or greater and can sustain the current level of output
  • Amber – battery charge is low.  Output should be reduced or battery recharged/replaced
  • Red – battery is nearly depleted and should be recharged or replaced.  If the battery charge becomes critically low, the fuel gauge will begin flashing red.

Selecting a different output level may cause a change in the fuel gauge status.  For example, while the indicator may be amber in the maximum output mode, dropping to a lower level will cause the indicator to turn green if the battery can sustain that level of output.  It is recommended the battery not be recharged until the LED fuel gauge is red.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The head itself measures 3″ in diameter and is covered by deep cooling fins for heat dissipation.  A tempered glass window with anti-reflective coating allows the maximum amount of light through while keeping the outside world away from the huge reflector assembly.  The cooling fins are also home to the forward sling attachment point.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The removable lanyard ring is secured in place by the tailcap and provides the rear sling attachment point.  The tailcap is completely flat and is engraved with a large SureFire logo.

SureFire UDR Dominator

Spring-loaded aluminum clasps are used to attach the adjustable nylon sling to the head and tail, allowing the UDR Dominator to be carried over a shoulder or in a cross-body position. Hard rubber protective bumpers attach securely to the bezel and tailcap to provide additional protection for the window and selector ring. The bumpers increase the diameter to 3.75” at the bezel and 2.25” at the tail.

SureFire UDR Dominator

Unscrewing the tailcap allows access to the battery compartment where spring-loaded contacts at the head mate with corresponding terminals on the lithium-ion battery or 123A battery carrier.  Although the tailcap serves no electrical purpose it has a large flat spring to keep the battery pressed against the contacts.  The included 21 Watt-hour lithium-ion battery pack is encased in an anodized aluminum housing to improve heat transfer and battery efficiency.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The 123A battery carrier has the same dimensions as the lithium-ion battery pack and holds the twelve primary batteries in three parallel groups of four.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The lithium-ion battery is recharged inside the light by connecting either of the included chargers to the exterior charging port.  The fuel gauge will turn red while charging is in progress and solid green as charging nears completion.  Once the battery is fully charged, the fuel gauge will begin to flash green indicating the charger should be disconnected to maintain maximum battery capacity.  Recharging a fully discharged battery required less than 2 hours but actual charging times will vary based upon the amount of remaining charge in the battery.

SureFire UDR Dominator

If the charger is left connected for too long, the fuel gauge will flash yellow and then red, indicating the battery has discharged to a reduced level.  The charging sequence can be restarted by disconnecting and then reconnecting the charger.

SureFire UDR Dominator - Manufacturer's Specifications

 Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery12 x 123A Lithium Primary Batteries
High Output (Runtime)2400 lumens (52 minutes)2400 lumens (2.5 hours)
Medium Output (Runtime)185 lumens (7.5 hours)185 lumens (18 hours)
Low Output (Runtime)14 lumens (30 hours)14 lumens (54 hours)
Length11.6 inches (295 mm)11.6 inches (295 mm)
Head Diameter3.0625 inches (770 mm)3.0625 inches (770 mm)
Weight2.4 pounds (1.09 kg)2.3 pounds (1.04 kg)

 

SureFire UDR Dominator – Performance

The UDR is impressive, partly for its 2400 lumen output, but even more so for the amount of reach it provides with the big Luminus LED and mirror-like reflector. As would be expected from such a combination, the resulting beam profile features an extremely intense center hotspot with a slightly less intense corona.  Moving outward from the center there is a nearly square shaped secondary hotspot.

The center of the beam is easily visible on targets 600+ yards away although my ability to discern detail at that distance was limited.  The larger corona and secondary hotspot are effective to distances beyond 300 yards providing a much wider swath of illumination than the center hotspot alone.  The spill beam has good intensity and is capable of illuminating a large area, reaching beyond 50 yards.  The beam has a cool tint, but not overly so, and appears to be closer to the lower end of the 5700K-6500K range for the CBT-90 emitter.

SureFire UDR Dominator

The following slides illustrate how the output from the UDR Dominator compares to a variety of other flashlights (all considerably less powerful) with regard to intensity, tint, and beam profile.  The images can be compared across their full width using the slider and additional comparisons can be viewed using the navigation buttons at the bottom-right of each image.

The comparison lights include:

  1. SureFire UNR Commander (Review)
  2. SureFire UB3T Invictus
  3. Elzetta Charlie AVS (Review)
  4. SureFire M6LT Guardian (Review)
  5. SureFire P3X Fury (Review)
  6. OVEREADY Mini TurboHead (Review)
  7. Malkoff Hound Dog V3 Cool White (Review)

Beamshots – 40 Yards to Swing – UDR Dominator Output Level 8 (Approx. 1220 lumens)

Beamshots – 40 Yards to Swing – UDR Dominator Output Level 9 (2400 lumens)

 

For the 100 and 200 yard beamshot photos the comparison lights were directed at a 2′ x 2′ archery target on a gravel road.

Beamshots – 100 Yards to Target – UDR Dominator Level 9 (2400 lumens)

Beamshots – 200 Yards to Target – UDR Dominator Level 9 (2400 lumens)

Runtime

Runtime tests were conducted at different output levels to measure how the UDR Dominator performs during continuous operation.  The SureFire rechargeable lithium-ion battery and Battery Station 123A primary batteries were used for all tests.

SureFire UDR Dominator

In its maximum output mode the UDR Dominator automatically reduces output to approximately 50% after 2 minutes of operation with thermal regulation used after that point to keep temperatures at a manageable level.  When powered by the SureFire lithium-ion rechargeable battery overall runtime was 52 minutes until output dropped to 10%, perfectly matching the advertised rating.

The primary 123A batteries provided a slightly higher initial level of output but soon dipped below the level provided by the rechargeable battery.  Regulated runtime was considerably longer, at 2 hours and 40 minutes, and was followed by a gradual decline, resulting in a total runtime of nearly 3 hours until output reached 10%.  Thermal regulation played a much larger role during operation with primary batteries which likely accounted for the runtime exceeding the 2.5 hour rating.

SureFire UDR Dominator

Thanks to the thermal regulation and huge cooling fins, exterior temperatures of the UDR Dominator remained quite reasonable during the tests.  Temperatures at the head never exceeded 129° F and the body warmed to just over 100° F when powered by the lithium-ion rechargeable battery.  The body temperature was slightly higher, reaching 110°F, when powered by 123A primary batteries.

Tests of levels 5 (Medium) through 7 revealed very stable output levels with no need for thermal regulation when powered by the SureFire rechargeable battery.  Total runtime at level 5 (Medium) was 7.5 hours, once again matching the advertised specification perfectly.

SureFire UDR Dominator runtime

 

SureFire UDR Dominator – Conclusions

This sample of the UDR Dominator has been worked harder, by far, than any other light I have reviewed.  I would like to say that this was entirely in the interest of performing an objective review but, quite frankly, this flashlight is a thrill to use.  It has easily handled every test and there were no issues with its function or reliability.  Performance was very consistent over the course of numerous runtime tests and the fairly quick recharge times helped minimize downtime.

Of course the time taken to recharge a battery is directly related to its capacity.  In this regard the relatively conservative 2800mAh capacity of the 7.5V battery enabled short turnarounds at the expense of continuous runtime.  I’ll admit to being disappointed in the rapid drop in output during continuous operation but that was before I learned just how effective the lower output levels can be.  Combining test measurements, manufacturer’s specifications, and some arithmetic yielded some interesting results (values are approximate and are NOT official SureFire specifications):

ModeOutput (lumens)Beam Intensity (candela)Beam Distance (meters)
Level 9 (MAX Blast)2400216,491931
Level 81220110,050663
Level 764057,731481
Level 634030,670350
Level 5 (Medium)18516,688258
Level 4968,660186
Level 3484,330132
Level 2242,16593
Level 1 (Low)141,26371

Beam distances were calculated according to the method defined by ANSI/NEMA FL1-2009 and are shown for reference only.  While actual effective beam distance will be less, the UDR Dominator is still capable of throwing a considerable amount of light downrange in the more efficient lower output levels.  The user merely sets the selector ring to whatever level is needed for the task but retains instant access to full output with a press of the MAX Blast push-button.

When not in use, its large size is the most obvious characteristic of the UDR Dominator.  Nearly a foot long and weighing more than 2 pounds with its rechargeable battery, it absolutely dwarfs all other LED flashlights currently offered by SureFire.

SureFire UDR Product Line

This size and weight is certainly noticeable when carrying the UDR Dominator but it is well balanced when held in its normal operating position, with the hand near the head.  Construction is extremely solid all the way down to the aluminum selector ring and operating controls.  Even the anodized aluminum casing on the rechargeable battery is more substantial than some flashlights.  This same level of construction carries over to the LED which is literally bolted into place!

Aside from that, size and weight are relative measurements and require perspective.  This is very evident when considering that a common “D” cell flashlight is actually longer and weighs just as much as the UDR Dominator.

 

SureFire UDR Dominator

When a light carries a name like the “Dominator” and has been in development for this long it’s hard not to have very high expectations.  While it has impressive performance perhaps its most notable attribute is the ease with which it does its job.  If that job means reaching out more than a quarter of a mile then it can do that, albeit for a limited amount of time.  If it only needs to reach the length of a football field, then it can do that as well, for an entire night.  No matter how it was used it never broke a sweat.

Strengths

  • Bomb-proof construction
  • 11 position selector ring, constant or momentary operation, and instant access to maximum output
  • Relatively quick recharge time but at the expense of runtime (see Concerns)

Concerns

  • It costs a small fortune.  However, those who truly need it can probably afford it.
  • Runtime is limited by the seemingly conservative battery capacity.  A higher capacity alternative and/or the ability to charge spare batteries outside the light would be nice to have.
  • Push-buttons can be difficult to locate when wearing gloves.  Higher ridges on each side of the momentary switch would make location easier.

The UDR Dominator is manufactured in the USA using foreign and domestic parts.  Additional information about this flashlight and their products can be found on the SureFire website.  To learn more about the SureFire manufacturing process, be sure to check out FlashlightGuide’s exclusive Behind the Scenes Look at their Southern California machining and assembly operations.

The lithium 123A batteries used during this review (all 12 of them!) were provided by the fine people at Battery Station.  Without their support this type of testing would not be possible.

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8 Comments

  1. See, this is why I can’t do flashlight reviews. I’d have Surefire chasing me out into the desert to retrieve their review

    samples. Im fast when Im scared, but not Surefire fast, and they would most likely have quite a few more lights to find me.

    ; – )

    Excellent review none the less!

  2. I’m mildly amazed you could put a positive spin on this light. The Dominator is like a bad joke. A 1370 dollar MSRP, and it’s routinely outperformed by flashlights from other manufacturers that cost a fraction of the price, yet aren’t hamstrung with ridiculously low-capacity proprietary batteries. A 2800mAh battery? Are you freakin’ kidding me? Surefire has lost their minds.

    • Hi Ian, thanks for reading.

      There’s no need to be amazed, you can go back and read where I stated I was disappointed in the runtime and felt that the battery capacity was conservative. I don’t know why SureFire made the choice they did (I have asked) but they must have had their reasons.

      As far as other lights outperforming the UDR, I was able to find several with more output (lumens) and a maybe a couple with greater beam intensity (candela) but I don’t recall any production LED flashlights that beat the Dominator on both counts. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist but I did approach a few other manufacturers and offered them the opportunity to participate in a direct head-to-head comparison with the Dominator. None accepted so I could only compare it to lights I own, none of which are in the same league as the UDR.

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