Car Winch Showdown: Smittybilt vs. X-BULL (Which Is Better?)

Smittybilt vs X-BULL Winch

A winch is a powerful and popular auto accessory which lets you pull your vehicle out of trouble and move objects out of your way.

Winches are heavy-duty gear. You want to consider your options before attaching one to your car.

If you’re shopping for winches, you’ve likely seen both the Smittybilt XR6 Gen2 Winch and the X-Bull Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch. They’re two top-sellers, but is either right for you?

Our Winch Showdown for Smittybilt and X-Bull has an in-depth look at their pros, cons, and everything else you need to know before buying:

Overall Power

Which winch brings the power?

If you’re looking at pure weight capacity, X-Bull wins with ease. It has a 13,000 pound towing capacity with overload protection.

The Smittybilt’s 6.6hp motor has a towing capacity of “just” 9,500 pounds. While that’s certainly powerful, it’s also 3,500 pounds less than the X-Bull.

Both winches are strong enough to pull most standard trucks and SUVs to safety if they become stuck during off-roading. However, Smittybilt is better for pulling objects such as other vehicles, tree stumps, and debris.

X-Bull has the largest weight capacity, making it the preferred option for commercial use and towing.

Best Cable

Of course, towing capacity is meaningless without the right cable. Which winch has cable you can count on?

Smittybilt’s cable is the longest. It’s 94 feet with a diameter of 5/16 of an inch. The total housing for the winch is 20 inches long by six inches wide.

X-Bull’s cable is shorter. It’s 26 meters long, which is 85 feet.

Choose the Smittybilt winch if you want the longest cable. A long cable is especially useful when off-roading. You can’t predict where your vehicle might get stuck. You’ll want a long cable capable of reaching faraway pull points such as rocks or trees.

You typically don’t need a long cable if you’re pulling or towing an object which your vehicle can reach easily.

However, although the cable on the X-Bull winch is smaller, it does have interesting construction. It has Dyneema synthetic construction instead of steel. It’s a strong, but lightweight, braided cable with a breaking strength of 23,809 pounds.

Additionally, the X-Bull cable floats. The Smittybilt steel cable is strong, but sinks when submerged, which adds to the length needed. Although the X-Bull cable is shorter, it has more usable length than the Smittybilt when in water.

If you’re looking for the longest cable, choose the Smittybilt. However, the unique construction of the X-Bull cable is the better option for use around the water. Plus, the synthetic design poses less risk of injury to your hands.

Ease of Operation

The Smittybilt uses a wired remote. It has a 12-foot lead so you can operate the winch while sitting inside your vehicle.

X-Bull uses a clutch lever. It has an ergonomic design which allows for one-handed operation. You can also operate the X-Bull winch from inside the vehicle’s cab.

We call this one a draw. Both winches are easy to use. They don’t have substantial operational differences.

Overall Durability

Both winches are designed to last a long time with minimal maintenance.

They’re both equally waterproof. The X-Bull has a waterproof rating of IP67. That’s a standard rating used for electronic devices. In this case, the X-Bull can withstand total immersion in water up to one meter deep for up to 30 minutes.

The Smittybilt has what’s described as an amphibious engine. While that sounds impressive, it’s a fairly generic term. Instead, we should look at the winch’s waterproof rating, which is also IP67.

However, when looking at overall durability, we give the edge to the X-Bull. It has two features which the Smittybilt doesn’t:

  • Overload Protection
  • Winch Cover

The X-Bull has overload protectors which halt the power supply if the system short circuits or overloads. It helps protect the winch from accidental damage.

Additionally, the X-Bull also has a dust cover. It has sewn-in elastic edges to ensure a snug fit around the winch when not in use. It’s waterproof, mildew-resistant and blocks UV rays. Although seemingly simple, the dust cover helps keep the winch in excellent working conditions for years.

Installation

Even experienced mechanics often have difficulty mounting a winch at home. It’s a fairly extensive, vehicle-specific process which benefits from specialized tools and know-how. You’ll want to consider professional installation. Usually, you can save money by buying the winch yourself and just having a mechanic install it.

The Smittybilt winch includes all the wiring you need for installation. The manufacturer recommends professional installation in most cases.

X-Bull doesn’t mention any included wiring. They also don’t mention installation, which is usually a sign the company thinks hiring a pro is the best move.

The size of the winch also affects installation. You want it to fit squarely in the center of your vehicle.

The Smittybilt weighs 78 pounds. Most vehicles, especially trucks and SUVs, should support that with no problem. Its total size is 5.4 by 94 by 22.3 inches.

The X-Bull weighs less but has a longer shape. It weighs 63.2 pounds; its dimensions are 24 by 13.8 by 10 inches.

Generally, both winches should fit on trucks and SUVs without a problem. If you’re putting the winch on a car, go with the smaller and lighter X-Bull.

Manufacturer

Smittybilt and X-Bull are both trusted names in auto gear.

Smittybilt continues a 60-year tradition of creating quality parts for trucks and off-road vehicles. They offer a five-year or 100,000-mile warranty on all products. After three years, replacement costs prorated at 50% towards the original price.

X-Bull is an Australian automotive company. Although they’ve only existed since 2011, they’ve quickly developed a reputation for creating high-quality automotive gear. However, they don’t mention any warranty for this particular winch.

We don’t have any problems with X-Bull as a company, but we have to favor Smittybilt here. They have a more well-established reputation. Plus, they offer a solid guarantee.

Safety

Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. Neither winch poses any specific safety winch. As long as you take proper precautions, you should have no problems.

However, the X-Bull has some extra features which improve overall safety. The synthetic cord is less likely to harm your hands.

It’s also safer because it floats. When a cord sinks too deep into the water, it can accidentally snag on unseen branches and debris. A floating cord retracts in a smoother, more consistent way.

Additionally, the overload protection is a huge safety feature we like. It helps prevent accidental damage to the winch and your vehicle.

We choose X-Bull as the safest winch – but Smittybilt is also a safe choice.

The Final Verdict

Choosing between the two isn’t a bad problem. Both winches are strong, easy to use, and reliable. However, we prefer the X-Bull Waterproof Synthetic Rope Winch for the following reasons:

  • The Dyneema synthetic cable floats in water
  • The Overload Protection helps prevent electrical problems
  • The custom-fitted dust cover helps prevent environmental damage

Otherwise, the two winches have lots in common. They’re both equally waterproof. Also, they don’t have substantial size differences, so installation is about the same.

The main advantage of the Smittybilt winch is its long cable. However, the difference is just nine feet. It likely won’t matter much when driving off-road.

Overall, we recommend the X-Bull Rope Winch over the Smittybilt. While the Smittybilt has lots to like, the X-Bull’s extra features push it into the top spot. If you’re looking for a reliable, strong and fun winch, choose the X-Bull.

Are you looking for even more info on tow winches? Check out our Guide to the Best Winches for additional recommendations.

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