If you’re looking into getting a solid-axle trail machine (and specifically, something in the 2.2-inch tire category), you’ve no doubt noticed that kits and RTRs alike will tap your wallet to the tune of $350–$400, if not more. Gotta pay if you wanna play, right? Right, but maybe you don’t have to pay quite so much. Case in point: the Force RC Hammerjaw, which hits the trail in full 1/10 scale with similar specs to the big-buck trucks but shows up as just $190 on your Visa bill. Force has to cut corners somewhere to get to $190 (and we’ll figure it out), but it’s definitely not in the shocks (oil-filled), axles (metal-gear), suspension (steel 4-link), motor (540-size), or level of RTR completeness (four AAs and a 2000mAh NiMH packs are right in the box). There’s a whole bunch of truck here for just under two bills. Let’s see how the Hammerjaw measures up.
Item no: FCES03000
Weight: 6 lb. 5.7 oz. (2883g)
Chassis: Vertical plate, 3mm aluminum
Shocks: Composite plastic-body, oil-filled, 10mm bore
Suspension links: 6mm steel rod
Axles: Steel bevel gear, locked differential (spool)
Transmission: 3-gear w/ steel motor plate
Slipper clutch: None
Driveshafts: Steel dogbone (front); telescoping plastic with steel/alloy U-joints (center)
Bearings: Metal-shielded ball
Body: Multipiece painted polycarbonate w/ injection-molded cage
Wheels: One-piece plastic, 2.2-inch
Tires: 2.2-inch soft rubber
Inserts: Open-cell foam
Speed control: Combination receiver/speed control, 2.4GHz
Motor: Dynamite 540 20T brushed
Transmitter: Force RC 2-channel 2.4GHz
Servo: Spektrum S605 metal-gear, 125 oz.-in.
Battery: Dynamite Speedpack 6-cell NiMH 2000mAh
Charger: Wall-type, 200mA
Requires: No additional items required
CHUNKY METAL-GEAR AXLES
Force didn’t skimp on the plastic in the axle department. The thickly molded housings appear built for abuse and feature tough-looking trusses to support the tubes. The main housings are identical front and rear, the steering parts (for the front axle) and straight extensions (for the rear) are separate parts. The mounts for the shocks and links are also extra thick, and they are separately attached parts, so you don’t have to toss the axle if you break one. Inside, steel ring and pinion gears send twist to the tires (just make sure they’re greased—mine were dry).
Like most other 2.2 rigs, the Hammerjaw locates its solid axles with triangulated links, four per axle. But instead of one-piece plastic links (which would be fine), you’ll find an attractive set of plated 6mm steel links. Nice. The Hammerjaw’s plastic-body shocks are cost savers, but there are $300–$400 trucks wearing plastic shocks too, so it’s not like they’re a big downgrade. The steering servo is mounted on the axle, so there’s no bump-steer or axle walk, and it simplifies the steering system. Note that there’s no servo saver, and the links are very rigid—6mm steel for the short servo-to-hub link, and a 6mm aluminum rod for the long link that spans the axle. Thankfully, the included servo is a metal-gear unit.
MULTIPIECE BODY & CAGE
Given the Hammerjaw’s low price, a full cage and multipiece body were unexpected features. The main body is two pieces with a separate roof, and the panels can be removed to reveal the cage if you like that look. The interior tray isn’t very detailed, but having it at all is a bonus. The cage and body assembly is hinged for chassis access, but I removed the hinge screws so that I could remove the cage/body entirely.
SPEED CONTROL/RECEIVER COMBO UNIT
Here’s where Force saves a bit of money, but not in any way that’s going to diminish the Hammerjaw’s fun factor. Instead of a separate receiver and speed control, Force combines them in one unit. On the plus side, it’s waterproof, has low-voltage detection for LiPo use, and the 100% drag brake is just what you want for heavy-duty terrain taming. On the downside, the unit will not handle a 3S LiPo; 100% drag brake is the only setting available; and if you want to use a different transmitter and receiver, you’ll also have to get a speed control. To which, 99 percent of Hammerjaw buyers will say, “Who cares? I just want to yank it out of the box and drive it.”
ARTICULATION, WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION & CLIMB TESTING
The last 2.2 rig I had on my articulation ramp was the Gmade GOM, which put up a Ramp Travel Index score of 1316. The Hammerjaw did even better with 1399, which doesn’t necessarily translate to more off-road prowess but does indicate that the axles have more than enough twist. The scales showed 54% of the truck’s weight was over the front axle, which was less of a bias than I expected (especially compared to the Gmade GOM, with 62% up front). Still, the Hammerjaw was able to stay rubber-side down under power on a 58-degree ramp. Steep stuff.
The Hammerjaw’s 6mph top speed is about twice my walking pace, which let me send it out ahead of me as I hiked and made it more fun to mess around with than the superslow rigs in my fleet as I trekked to challenging terrain. The big 2.2-inch tires roll over roots, ruts, and grass easily, and Force got the spring rates right, so there’s enough roll resistance when cornering to prevent flipping over too easily. The steering servo doesn’t swing the tires very fast, but that’s fine—we’re not carpet racing here. A night walk around my neighborhood revealed the LED bumper lights were functional and lit up the sidewalk well, and I covered more than a mile before the battery was too flat to drive. One gripe: I found myself wishing for a “regular brake” option, as I kept doing unintentional stoppies when I let off the gas and the 100% drag brake kicked in.
“Just pin it” is pretty much my trail-trucking mode anyway, so the go-for-it driving style encouraged by the Hammerjaw’s tall gearing, long wheelbase, and fat tires was definitely my jam. Find a few inches of run-up space, gas it, and the Hammerjaw can pop up and over rocks, logs, and ledges that would be a lot harder to crawl over. You can still drive it like a crawler, but you’ll need to get deeper into the throttle for torque than you would with a truck that’s geared way down. Stock gearing is a 14T pinion and 87T spur gear, and it doesn’t look like there’s room to go significantly larger on the spur gear, FYI, if you were hoping for more teeth to play with. Also, the steering servo is short on tire-turning muscle to push the big tires off obstacles at crawling speed (or when stopped).
+ Super value for the price
+ Multipiece body with interior and full cage
+ Ruggedly built with a metal-gear servo, steel links, beefy axles
+ Fully RTR with nothing else to buy (you’ll want a faster charger, though)
– No brake-setting options other than 100% drag
– Combo-unit speed control complicates electronics upgrades down the road
– Super-slow charger
Man, there’s a lot of truck here for $190. How does Force do it? Well, the Hammerjaw does come in a plain box and is sold direct by Horizon Hobby, so that helps. The receiver/speed control combo unit saves a few bucks, there are no licensed logos or designs to push up the price, and there’s nothing particularly deluxe about any of the finishes—it’s pretty much basic black all around. And if all that makes you say, “So what? I’d rather keep an extra $150 or more in my pocket,” well, that’s what Force was going for. I suspect the Force will get scooped up with equal enthusiasm by budget-minded first-timers and experienced off-roaders expanding their fleet on the cheap. It’s plenty fun and capable out of the box, and I bet many Hammerjaw drivers will put that $150+ savings to work tricking out their trucks.
Text & studio photos by Peter Vieira
Outdoor photos courtesy Horizon Hobby
Force RC Promo video: