After a few recent close calls with deer and elk, I decided it was time to do something about it. If your truck is like mine, your front grill is made of plastic, not much protection for the radiator if you happen to hit something. The last thing I want happening on an outing is to be disabled in the middle of nowhere, especially since my outings often take me to places where there’s no cell phone service. So I decided to buy a heavy duty bumper to protect the front end of my Ram 3500 pickup truck from damage and to house another item that’s been on my wish list for quite some time—a winch.
After much research and deliberation, I decided to purchase a winch bumper from the good folks at Buckstop Truckware. Why Buckstop and not one from Fab Fours, Ranch Hand, or Ruenel? Because of their superior strength, features, and styling. Based out of Sherwood, Oregon, Buckstop Truckware is a true American company. All of their bumpers are made here in the USA. The company makes heavy duty front and rear bumpers for large and small trucks of various makes, including Ford, Chevy, Dodge, GMC, Nissan, and Toyota. As the name implies, Buckstop bumpers are meant to stop a buck from damaging the front end of your truck. Their winch bumpers come with an impressive array of standard features including a heavy duty brush guard, a fully enclosed winch area, a winch access cover door, two Frenched light buckets, a 2-inch trailer receiver, and a flip-up license plate bracket.
But what really sold me on Buckstop is their quality construction. Their winch bumpers are made with 1/4-inch steel in the primary impact zone and winch center and 3/16-inch steel under the headlights. The 190 pound bumper is stout enough to house a winch with a rated line pull of 16,500 pounds with the standard 4-1/2-inch by 10-inch bolt pattern. This pattern will accommodate most winches available in the market today. The brush guard is made of 2-1/2-inch circumference tubular steel to protect the front end from high impact strikes. Better yet, the grill/brush guard is removable, perfect for those times when you need to service the grill/brush guard, radiator, or grill. A key feature of the Buckstop winch bumper, and a big selling point for me, is the winch access door. This protects the winch from the weather and elements and permits easy access to the winch for winching operations and maintenance. The company currently offers six different front bumper models, the Classic I, the Classic II, the Baja, the Boss, the Outback, and the brand new Modified Classic II/Classic III.
The Buckstop Baja heavy duty winch bumper.
The Buckstop Classic II heavy duty winch bumper.
The Buckstop Outback heavy duty winch bumper.
With six impressive looking winch bumpers from which to choose, I really had a hard time deciding on one. Initially, I liked the Baja the best because of the angular styling, but I had to remind myself why I was buying a winch bumper in the first place–for protection. Unfortunately, the Baja has a large opening in front of the radiator where a small deer could easily penetrate. Then I vacillated between the Classic II and the Outback. They both had the strength, looks, and functionality I was looking for, but I couldn’t decide on one. Fortunately, during a call into Buckstop’s customer service department, I found out that they’re now offering a new winch bumper for heavy duty trucks, a model they’re unofficially calling the Classic III or Modified Classic II. It’s essentially a Classic II bumper with the brush guard mounting points pulled in at a slight angle. After viewing photos of this new offering, I quickly pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, I have to wait six weeks until I receive my bumper, but this will give me enough time to find a winch. The Warn 16.5ti is currently in the lead with the Superwinch 18.0 in a close second.
View of the so-called Classic III (or Modified Classic II)
Another view of the Classic III heavy duty winch bumper.
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.
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