Those of us who enjoy overland trips know all too well how important recovery equipment can be. Having the proper tool can be the difference between a small inconvenience and major downtime. Many off-road enthusiasts will agree that one such tool is a winch. Losing traction and getting stuck is challenging when traveling in remote areas, and a winch is capable of getting things moving again quickly. Many overlanders have a dilemma to choose between Warn M8000 vs VR8000 as it is hard to tell what the difference is.

What follows is a comparison between the M8000 and the VR8000 by Warn, highlighting differences as well as similarities.

Detailed Review And Comparison Of Warn M8000 And VR8000 Winches

Things We Find SIMILAR Between The M8000 And VR8000

Both models are available with synthetic rope

As indicated with both product names, each has a rated line pull of 8000-pounds.

This a great rating for most overland travel situations that require traction recovery or removal from mud, sand, or snow.  

Both units employ a 12-volt motor and come with contactor electrical controls.

The M8000 and VR8000 are supplied with a remote switch on a 12-foot lead, a good choice for controls when the standard electrical controls are harder to reach.

The gear ratio on both Warn models is 216:1, offering ample rotation rates between gears for most jobs. 

The 3-stage planetary gear train saves space with their epicyclic design. Each has a drum diameter of 2.5 inches and a drum length of 9 inches.  

This is a great feature that helps to produce small winch footprints for their rating.


  • 8000-pound pull rating
  • 12-volt motor
  • Remote switch with 12-foot lead
  • 216:1 gear ratio
  • 2.5” drum diameter
  • 9” drum length
  • Minimum 650 CCA rated battery
  • Steel or synthetic rope
  • Same limited lifetime warranty

Warn recommends a battery with a 650 CCA rating at a minimum for both the M8000 and the VR8000 winches. 

CCA is an industry term used to describe the ability of a battery to start an engine in cold temperatures.

The number rating indicates the number of amps the battery can deliver at zero degrees over 30-seconds while maintaining 7.2 volts at a minimum.  

This recommendation is understandable when considering overland travels in certain climates or during colder seasons. Both winches are available with steel or synthetic ropes.

Warn M8000 Self-Recovery 8000lb Winch - 26502
Warn VR8 GEN II 8000lb Winch - 96800

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The Limited Lifetime Warranty offered by Warn is similar for both winches. 

While mechanical components are covered by this completely, it should be noted that electrical components are limited in coverage.  

The motor, contactor, solenoid, handheld controls, and wiring are only covered for seven years. Exterior components such as the synthetic or wire rope are not covered.

Warn M8000 Review – Unique Characteristics

Design:  As part of Warn’s Premium Winch Series, the M8000 weighs 74 pounds.  This is partially due to its argent gray powder coat frame, something that has been tested by off-road adventures for over 20 years.  

The freespooling clutch uses sliding ring gears, allowing for engagement on a gear’s sliding axis. This design may be great for users looking for longer pulls over a sustained time period.

Usability:  The battery leads are two-gauge wire, and the six-foot length should allow users plenty of options for installation points. 

The profile and hand-held controls are great for offering connection points across a larger variety of vehicles.  Greater winch control is offered through an automatic mechanical cone.

What Others Say:  Customer feedback indicates that the winch is easy to mount.  A couple of reviews mentioned that they needed to fabricate connection plates, but this shouldn’t be an issue for a customer matching vehicle to a winch.

Reviews compliment Warn on their easy to use controls.  The M8000 received consistently high scores.

Warn VR8000 Review – Unique Characteristics

Design:  The Warn VR8000 is a newer product targeted towards first-time buyers, and it weighs 71.25 pounds.  This entry level winch has a body that is finished with a powder coat sprayed on top of a primer undercoat. 

The rotating ring gear clutch offers a simpler transfer of speed on this winch, making for a solid design and transfer of power.  

The design of this entry-level winch is good for occasional off-roaders needing short pulls to get moving once again.

Usability:  With battery leads of 6.5 feet, the VR8000 can be mounted in places that the M8000 may not reach

The convertible control pack provides the ability to mount the winch upright instead of horizontal.  An automatic direct drive cone brake provides ample control needed by most operators.

What Others Say:  Reviews highlight the ease of installation with the VR8000.  We noted a couple of complaints about blemished caused by winter de-icing chemicals and salt. 

This is easily preventable with cleaning.  Users found the controls easy to use.

Conclusion – Warn M8000 vs VR8000

Which would we recommend?  The Warn M8000 is slightly more durable, as it is designed for longer pulls and sustained sessions.  The extra cost is worth it for serious off-road travelers, also knowing that they are made in the USA.

It doesn’t mean that Warn is not applying its highest quality control processes for the VR range that’s made in China. So there is a market for the Warn VR8000 as well.  

For those just getting into overland adventures, it offers reliable power for a few coins less.

For more information on what to consider when purchasing a winch, please read our comprehensive Winch Buying Guide – with safety advice and recommendations to choose the best 4×4 winch.

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