Turnbuckles are essential pieces of hardware in truck camper ownership. They act as the “middleman,” securing the truck camper to the tie-down system of the truck. While simple chain and turnbuckle systems are cheap and work well enough in securing your camper to your truck, it’s best to go with a spring-loaded turnbuckle system that can accommodate external forces encountered while you’re on the road. Without a doubt, one of the best turnbuckle systems you can buy in the market today is the FastGun by Torklift International. This is a Review of the Torklift FastGun Turnbuckle.
The FastGun turnbuckle is rugged, durable, and extremely well-made. Sold in packs of two, each turnbuckle is precision made from 100 percent stainless steel. Better yet, the FastGun is made in the USA and comes with Torklift’s lifetime guarantee. It can be purchased in high-impact, powder-coated white or gray or polished stainless steel and can be purchased for either bed-mounted tie down systems like those made by Happijac or frame mounted systems like those offered by Torklift. Some assembly for each FastGun is required out of the box, but doesn’t take more than 10 to 15 minutes for each. Four FastGuns, two in the front, and two in the back, are required to fully secure your camper to your truck. A set of four will set you back about $425. Expensive? Yes, but well worth it.
The Torklift FastGun is quick and easy to install. What used to take several minutes to install with the old turnbuckle systems now takes only a few seconds with the FastGun. No tools are needed to assemble the FastGun nor are any tools required to install it. The FastGuns come with a sticker to identify where each was used so you don’t have to manually adjust the length each time they are used. The quick disconnect feature also makes the task of leveling your camper at your campsite a snap by allowing use of your electric jacks to level your camper while the camper is still on the truck. This avoids the hassle of using leveling blocks under your tires. The quick disconnect feature also comes in handy at the gas station in the event that the driver side front turnbuckle is blocking access to your fill door.
An important feature and benefit of the FastGun is the built-in spring-loaded mechanism. The problem with the older turnbuckle systems is that they had no “give” in them. A pothole or bump at high speed could bend or damage a tie-down or yank the eye-bolt from the frame of the camper. I’ve known truck camper owners who have experienced such mishaps, and the damage isn’t pretty, especially when the damage occurs to the truck camper’s frame. In contrast with these older, archaic systems, the FastGun’s spring-loaded mechanism has enough give to respond to most external forces encountered on the road, yet provide enough strength to keep the camper secure even during a rollover accident. It’s a fine balance that Torklift has successfully been able to achieve.
What have I learned after over a dozen trips and nearly two years of FastGun use? First, getting the correct amount of tension can be a bit of a challenge at first. Over tightening and under tightening the FastGuns can both create problems. Too much tension can result in damage to either your Fastguns or your rig while too little can allow your camper to shift around in your truck-bed while you’re on the road. Fortunately, the FastGuns have a patented, built-in feature called the tension indicator to help get things right. This indicator is nothing more than a rubber “O” ring that you cinch up to the bottom of the FastGun’s housing before locking the lever down. A gap of 1/4 inch between the “O” ring and housing after clamping the lever down indicates the correct amount of tension.
The FastGun instructions provide another way to dial in the correct amount of tension. If half of the lock down hole is blocked before locking the lever down then supposedly you have the correct amount of tension. This approach sounds simple enough, but, honestly, I haven’t had much luck with it. The way I see it, the lever can be manipulated to cover half the hole or not. How much tension do you apply to cover half of the lock down hole? None? A little? A lot? The directions don’t really say. Other FastGun owners, however, use this method all of the time to get the right amount of tension, so you should give it a try and see if it works for you.
Another thing I’ve learned is that periodic cleaning and oiling of the FastGuns is required. Otherwise, you’ll get the dreaded and annoying “FastGun Squeak.” If you live in humid areas and/or drive and camp in dusty conditions, then this issue will invariably raise its ugly head. Apparently, the squeak comes from the square nut and spring assembly that the bottom rod screws into. You’ll notice this squeak especially on bumpy or uneven road surfaces as the bottom rod moves up and down inside the housing. Dissassembly of the FastGun, cleaning, and some grease or 3-in-1 oil will take care of this problem. At a minimum, I recommend dissassembly and cleaning each spring. The Torklift website outlines additional things you can do to clean and maintain your FastGuns.
Finally, some caution is warranted when removing the spring loaded FastGuns from your camper. The FastGuns springs are under about 300 pounds of pressure, so make sure your fingers are clear from the lever handle when removing it or you might hurt a finger or your hand as the lever releases. It isn’t a major safety issue, but one of which you need to be aware. We just learned that Torklift is developing a new handle for the FastGun which addresses this issue. The new lever handle, we’re told, is solid stainless steel so there’s no way for a finger to get caught in it as it releases. This is great news and shows how much Torklift is on the ball when it comes to quality and safety.
So are a set of four FastGuns worth the $425 price tag? That’s up to you to decide. For us, it was a no-brainer. You can certainly spend a lot less money for a simple chain and turnbuckle system, but the excessive time it takes to install and the risks it imposes on your $30,000 truck camper aren’t worth it. In our opinion, it doesn’t make sense to go cheap on a turnbuckle system after spending five figures for a modern, well-equipped truck camper. So if you’re looking for the best turnbuckle on the market, go with the FastGun by Torklift. The quality of construction, ease of use, and lifetime warranty of this American-made product make it a great value and well worth the extra cost. What’s our rating? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we give the Torklift FastGun an enthusiastic rating of 5 stars. It’s a great product.