Smittybilt X20 12k Gen2 Comp series winch review (1 Viewer)

Aug 5, 2019
I needed a 12k winch to shove into my 2500HD. I usually buy tigersharks but the price has gone up lately so I decided to give the smittybilt winch a shot. This is for my diesel truck, and I don't expect to have to break out the winch too often. My LC on the other hand is getting a rebuilt modded 8274, while my last several trucks have gotten TS9000SRs.

Out of the box, the smittybilt is pretty, but has several shortcomings IMO.

1) The solenoid pack mount is junk. It's designed to clamp into the cross bars. In my case, I don't even want it on there since I'm using a hidden winch mount.
2) The cross bar design is not impressive. It's cast aluminum to look pretty. If not protected, people have cracked them.
3) Clocking the clutch - I needed to clock my clutch handle, it's only adjustable in 90 degree increments. I wanted a 45 degree shift, but no luck.
4) The wiring from the solenoid to the winch is ok, but poorly sized. It sticks up everywhere. I ended up taking the pack apart and custom mounting the solenoid to a bracket in my truck. In general, the cabling is decent, the crimped connectors inside the pack are pretty soft and bent easily when I was taking them apart.
5) Waterproofing: I found they are metal to metal on the clutch side when I clocked the clutch. No actual seal is involved between the clutch body and the winch itself.. The only truly waterproofed component I found was the solenoid. The clutch handle appears to have a greased seal on it.
6) Wireless - The wired and wireless remote are the same huge handle for whatever reason. Ergonomics are poor but it works.
Since I took it apart, I noted the wireless receiver side (which was mounted via doublestick tape inside the solenoid box, by the way.) If note, it appears to use the same receiver module as this remote:
The only addition is a power switch for the wireless receiver.
The range of the wireless is... ok. I was able to use it (with a few cutouts) at the full rope length.
7) Wired remote plug - this made me laugh. It uses a DMX cable connector. This is a 5 pin connector made for use in theater/show venues. They'll handle lots of plugging and unplugging but they are not really waterproof or very rugged - lots of people end up with bent pens in those cables over time.
8) Speed: Well, it's pretty slow. OK, I wasn't expecting super speed, but good god this winch is the slowest I've owned.
9) Winch cable mounting - this is terrible. They use an aluminum end on the synthetic rope. It's not very smooth and it gets attached via a screw to the end of the drum - where the rope will rub against it every time it winds that way. I ended up removing that, and using the superwinch method - tape the rope down with some gorilla tape across the drum, then wind the rope around the drum and rope lead. The aluminum piece is now covered in tape and now the rope won't get destroyed.
10) No breakers - SW includes an annoying but working breaker pack. Smittybilt does not.
11) Solenoid: The solenoid pack is the typical 'albright' style, I couldn't read the label on it very well. (It's not an albright) It is sealed and looks about the same as the superwinch units.
12) The rope seems decent. I'll know more when I use it more. The color did come off on my hands a bit so I'd say it's along the same lines as the china sourced ropes all over amazon. The hook attachment is lame - they ran rope through the hook bottom with the standard splice - you'll have to either dissasemble the rope or cut it to pull the hook off. Being used to superwinch hooks, I didn't install the fairlead before the rope and had to unspool and reinstall the rope again.

This winch will meet my needs - barely. I was very tempted to return it, but decided to give it a shot. I would not suggest these units for heavy use. It is a $500 12k winch after all, but the compromises to hit that price mark become clear very quickly. I'm going to keep this one on my truck but I don't think I'll be buying another smittybilt winch in the future.

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