Brush guards and Bull bars that function properly - Jeep Commander Forums: Jeep Commander Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 07:13 PM Thread Starter
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Brush guards and Bull bars that function properly

I know there are lots of threads here regarding brush guards and bull bars and these two accessories are very different in intention and design.

The one common thing I'm seeing... is that even the expensive Black Horse (about $400 shipped) or an Aries (about $600 shipped)...brush guards don't seem all that much better in design or different then a cheaper no name brands on ebay. They are around $235 with shipping.

In all fairness I haven't seen the good bars next to the cheaper brands so I can't comment on tube thickness, proper welds, metal coating... such as cheap spay paint vs. powder coating or bed liner, so I don't want to just say they are the same.
Assuming you price shop around and get the same bar for the best price...what is the real difference?

I guess the issue is that the overall design really seems to be the same in the less then $500 price range. I considered one for my 2007 thinking it would be nice in the event I clip a deer, which is a real threat to my Commanders front end where I'm living.
Only none of the brush guards I've seen actually have a mounting brace that holds the top firmly in place, around the hood latch or so. I'm reading how brush guards jokingly have the nickname "damage multipliers" because a simple corner contact can just bend it back and wipe out most everything on the front clip. It kinda defeats the idea of a guard. There has to be something more then just aesthetics. Granted, they look pretty but I'd rather have a guard take the impact of a deer then my whole grille and fender.

I remember the brush guards on the US Army Blazers and pick ups back in the 1980's, they were kinda beefy and seemed to stay put if you plowed through thick brush and foliage.

Then when it comes to the bull bars, it seems that they are available starting very cheap at around $120 shipped... up to four, five and six hundred bucks...and all kinda look the same.
They all certainly look beefy for pushing and stuff but wouldn't do squat for a deer jumping into the path of the commander at 35 mph...because they sit physically so low.

At the moment I'm leaning towards the bull bars because they seem like one could be useful if you were to be unfortunate enough to rear end a vehicle..but maybe they do more harm then good since the impact will be directed right to the frame rather then crumbling metal and plastic to ease the impact. Again, I'm only taking stuff like 35mph and bellow.

Then I'm reading about how a company like http://fawkesfab.com/FMD/off-road/products.htm make a bull bar relocation package to relocate your current bull bar to where they are supposed to be...and honestly I dont even see a difference in what their product even does (no offense to the company)..but its just an example.

I want to protect my front end. I don't need a winch bumper or anything crazy... and not able to spend mega bucks to do it... but I want it to be functional and not just cosmetic. Does such an animal exist?

I think the brush guards have great potential but not if its just going to bend into my whole front end when bambi steps in front of me at 35mph.

Last edited by BBCBIRD; 02-18-2015 at 07:26 PM.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-18-2015, 08:16 PM
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Hey BBC,

If your looking for actual protection, I'd stay away from the "bull bar" type guards that consist of just a U shaped tube and skid plate mounted within. I have seen these things just crumple under minimal contact on a few trucks. If I were you, I'd look into the keystone setup at thesteelarmadillo.com (currently cheaper since he is collecting preorders till feb. 28th) or the 4xguard basic setup for around $350 at 4xguard.com. These are very sturdy setups, case in point, my old 4xguard matrix setup was on when I rear ended a small toyota truck a few years ago. This completely crumpled his bumper, but mine looked no different. Upon further inspection, the matrix had warped ever so slightly, but it still seemed to work no problem for the next few years I owned the XK, now its getting a second life with another member. I have heard the keystone setup is beefier but noone is running it as it is really new, you can talk to John at The Steel Armadillo for more info on it. I know the 4xguard matrix is rated to withstand 1000 lbs. of force and you can also add side rails to the matrix setup for increased bumper protection.

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Last edited by Ross; 02-18-2015 at 08:20 PM.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 02-19-2015, 01:00 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply, I just took a look a those sources as functional options. You mentioned that thesteelarmadillo.com is currently cheaper since he is collecting preorders till feb. 28th. Is the cheaper price reflected on his website? Is he a member of this forum? I just became a Commander owner and joined the forum.

I wish the thesteelarmadillo had actual photos of the Keystone brush guard to include what the add on parts look like, instead of just a CAD drawing. They offer a few options, but no photos of anything that I could find on their site. Its hard to consider their product, if you cant see what it looks like.

I'm liking the 4xGuard system the best out of the two at this point..maybe just because you get to see what it looks like. The 4xguard matrix setup seems like my best choice at this point and its nice to hear someone who actually had the unfortunate experience of clobbering something with it (Ross) and had good things to day about it. And I do like that you can add to it as your budget permits.

Last edited by BBCBIRD; 02-20-2015 at 09:55 PM.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 03-07-2015, 03:34 PM Thread Starter
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After thinking more about the Matrix...I went over to the JBA fab shop a few days ago and met with the owner. (I was happy to discover I'm living about 20 minutes from where they are made.)
I was really on the fence when I stopped in, but after having the opportunity to look the 4xGuard Matrix over and actually see it mounted on two Grand Cherokees in the parking lot, I decided that it was the direction I would go. Both had the complete set up.

The Matrix #1 falls within my budget and it is pretty well built. I'm going to get the basic mounting platform and as my budget permits, add a set of brush rails. The rails are pretty solid the way they mount to the platform. I found that I could get just a slight wiggle out of them, (since they only have one point of contact with the platform itself), but overall I think they feel pretty solid and secure. Again, I'm thinking about a deer running out in fromt of me at 30 mph.

I'll eventually add a hoop but I'm not sure if I'll go with the regular #4 hoop or the #5 stinger. Budgetwise its not over priced and the quality looks to be decent.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-04-2015, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Just a little follow up. I ended up getting a Matrix set up from a guy that bought it an never used it, then I ordered the standard hoop bar and brush guards last week. My Commander didn't come with front tow hooks so I also offered the mounting plates right from JBA.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the parts arriving so I can get this thing installed now that its warming up outside.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-11-2015, 09:11 PM Thread Starter
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I installed my full 4xguard matrix last week and am really happy with how it turned out. Since my Jeep didn't come with factory tow hooks, it took me and my dad a little longer to get in all together, but the whole project was wrapped up in under 4 hours.

Now I just need to figure out the correct size tow shackles to buy, to fit the matrix platform.

I see JBA sells Smittybilt D-Ring Shackles and they advertise them be a 7/8" pin, rated to 4.75 tons. But something isn't quite correct about that.

When you put them into the shopping cart, they show up as part #13047B ...which makes them a only 3/4"....not a 7/8" shackle as they advertise. So the 4.75 ton rating (for a 3/4" shackle makes sense).

When I did some research, the Smittybilt 13048B is listed as a 7/8" shackle and it shows that it has a 6.5 ton rating.

JBA seems to be listing their shackles as 7/8" but they are actually just 3/4" shackles. I'm pretty sure they will be very loose in the hole. I recall the hole was almost 15/16" or something like that.

Does anyone know the biggest shackle bolt that you can stick through the matrix holes....without having to drill the holes out, or pound it in with a hammer?
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-12-2015, 05:52 PM
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Let's see pics!

Now Gone: TJ 00 4 liter, 2" RE Lift and shocks, a few extra skidplates, and not much else, 'cause all the money goes to:

Now HIS: XK 07 Limited Hemi, 2" RR lift and shocks, JK Rubicon wheels (255/75 r17 BFG MT), 1.5" Spidertrax spacers, Rocky Road Supersliders, Mopar heavy-duty rails and roof rack. Get Lost 4x4 Rear Tire Carrier. 4xGuard Belly Skid. Oh, and a spiffy dash mat.
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