Product Reviews

Hunter Grill Guard with Brush Guards
Stainless Steel

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Overall Rating:     ☻☻☻+ K K (3.5 out of 5)

Price:            ☻☻☻☻☻
Appearance: ☻☻☻☻ K
Strength:        ☻☻☻ K K
Fitment:         ☻☻ K K K

PRICE:  ☻☻☻☻☻

The Hunter Grill Guard is the lowest priced unit on the market - in both the f.o.b. price ($250), and the price of shipping ($50).  It achieves these cost advantages by means of a bolt-together design that reduces manufacturing costs, and also reduces shipping costs because the unit can be shipped in a much smaller carton than its competitors.


The Hunter grill guard for the Frontier also fits the Pathfinder and X-Terra, which, though similar, are not identical.  Though not a universal grill guard, it is not single-model specific either, which lowers the cost of manufacture. 


Brand Base Price Shipping Total
Onki: SS, 1-piece all welded $1,000 $150 $1,150
Westin: SS, 1-piece all welded $700 $150 $850
Aires: SS, 1-piece all welded $600 $150 $750
Steelcraft: SS, 1-piece all welded $600 $150 $750
Go Industries (Bug Tex): SS,
grill guard all welded SS, 1-piece
$600 $100 $700
Black Hawk: SS,
grill guard all welded + bolt-on brush guards
$350 $100 $450
Hunter: SS, all bolted $250 $50 $300

As it comes out of the box, the Hunter grill guard and brush guards do not precisely follow the contours of the Nissan Frontier -- the brush guards angle in a little too much for a close fit, and thus, without any other action, have to be placed further from the body, which detracts from their appearance.  I knock off one smiley face for this.

Having said that, the Hunter Grill Guard, can be adjusted, shimmed, and upper brackets added so that it fits, functions, and looks as good as any of it's higher-priced competitors.  But most buyers will not like having to do that extra work, which the manufacturer should have got right in the first place. 

Even stainless steel surfaces need to be kept clean and protected with a product designed for metal and chrome.  There are several products on the market for this.  Otherwise the surfaces are likely to develop rust pits if potentially corrosive contaminants are not removed promptly.

The Hunter achieves it's low price by leaving out a manufacturing step or two that competitors include --  welding the central Grill Guard as an integral piece, and (for the top echelon brands) welding on the brush guards to form a complete one-piece unit. 

The downside for the Hunter bolt-together design is significantly less strength compared to the all-welded design of competitors.  On a full frontal impact, the unit's strength is at best 80% of that of an all- welded unit.  And on a side impact, the unit's strength is compromised perhaps by 50% or more.  This is so because a welded fitting is so much stronger and stiffer than a bolted fitting.   

I knocked off two whole smiley faces for this decrease in strength.

☻☻ K K K

It is most important to have well-fitting lower brackets.  The Hunter's lower brackets are a heavy duty and fit my vehicle perfectly.


On most model vehicles, the Hunter unit includes an upper bracket set, the primary purpose of which is increase lateral strength, and to eliminate side-to-side shimmy.  Lateral strength is important because there is seldom, if ever, a direct-only frontal impact.  There is almost all the time some lateral impact component.

The upper bracket is connected to frame extensions in the crush zone of the vehicle, which is designed  to crush and absorb energy in a front-end crash.  So upper brackets can contribute to frontal impact strength, but only to the point of the design crush forces.  Their most important function is to provide lateral stiffness and strength,  

Unfortunately, for the Nissan Frontier, the upper brackets included by Hunter only fit the Nissan X-Terra, which means a Frontier owner has to make his own set of upper brackets, or live with severe lateral weakness and significant side-to-side shimmy. 

Upper brackets are not an optional nicety -- they are essential for structural integrity.  I knocked off two whole smiley faces for Hunter not including upper brackets for the Nissan Frontier.  


The bolt-on Brush Guards do not precisely follow the contours of the Nissan Frontier's headlights.  They angle inward a little too much for my 2012 Frontier.  I knocked off one additional smiley faces for this.  

But they can easily be shimmed to match the vehicle's headlight contours.  They need to be shimmed on the two inner bolts of the brush guard attachment points.  I made a nice flexible shim by sandwiching a flat rubber washer between two thin metal washers.  I bought all the shim parts in WalMart for just a few dollars. 

A shimmed brush guard is nowhere as stiff or strong as a un-shimmed one, nor any where close to the the strength of one welded-on one.



If you have the money, buy an all-welded, 1-piece design -- the top of the line Onki, the Westin, the Aries, Steelcase, or Go-industries (Big Tex).

If that's too much money, then go for the Black Hawk, which at least has a welded central unit with bolt-on brush guards

Only consider the Hunter all-bolted design if money is the driving factor, and you are handy with tools and have at least a home shop to manufacture shims and/or upper brackets. 

Click here for guidance on
Making Your own Upper brackets

Original  post

2012  Simon Revere Mouer III, PhD, PE, all rights reserved