10/17/2014

We’re going to dive in and examine the PowerBilt Air Force One DFX Black Driver with N7 patented Nitrogen technology.

First, let’s get this out of the way…give me two pairs, I need two pairs….get me stompin’ in my Air Force Ones! YouTube Link: Nelly, Air Force One. Nelly, check.

Now forget everything you thought you knew about PowerBilt golf.

History

Okay, maybe don’t forget everything. If you knew PowerBilt is a sister company of Louisville Slugger under the umbrella of Hillerich & Bradsby, you are correct. If you knew them as one of the oldest sporting good companies in the nation, building equipment for well-over 100 years, you again are correct. But they are not a secondary golf club manufacturer anymore.

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PowerBilt hasn’t been a player in the top line golf industry since the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Over the years, players donning the PowerBilt sponsorship have captured 120 professional victories (8 total majors) including a U.S. Open championship and a green jacket via their staff’s brand stalwart Fuzzy Zoeller.

The past 20 years hasn’t seen PowerBilt’s emergence as one of the industry leaders.

But they are coming back.

Clubs

In 2011, the PowerBilt Air Force One irons were on the Golf Digest’s Hot List. PowerBilt is also, often considered the top company in golf regarding junior golfers and their equipment. The new Air Force One driver–the focus of today’s review–is on My Golf Spy’s 2014 Top 5 Most Wanted Drivers List.

Like I said about the PowerBilt comeback!

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Now, the Air Force One DFX N7 Nitrogen-Charged Driver

Air Force One DFX Tour Black Driver

Nitrogen Charged

First, let me explain the necessity for the nitrogen in the head of the golf club.

When I initially read the bottom of the club and saw the promotion of the nitrogen, I thought it was a sales gimmick. I looked at it the way I look at adjustability (more below) and speed slots. There was no way. But I was wrong.

The world of NASCAR has been using Nitrogen for years now. According to officials within NASCAR, nitrogen offers more consistency than any other gas. It will rarely compromise. NASCAR officials find that nitrogen will unequivocally win races over compressed air. So why not build it into the head of a driver?

PowerBilt did. And they patented the technology.

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Nitrogen helps with the rebound effect of the club face. Not only will this produce more distance with increased speeds, but it will also give golfers far more consistency in the rebound of the face. With this nitrogen in the cavity, PowerBilt was able to create a thinner face. This helps create a club with no structural compromise and no “hot or dead” spots. Also, it will give the driver a bit of a softer sound.

And don’t worry, a nitrogen-pumped driver conforms completely with USGA regulations.

The Grades

When grading the PowerBilt Air Force One DFX driver out, it records excellent grades in every major category needed from a golf club–especially a driver.

The ball speeds are some of the fastest on the market. The smash factors are consistent with all of the major brands, with the occasional outlier higher than its competitors! It launched (for me) with a bit of a lower launch angle, but lower-spin totals to go with it (controlled along with shaft specifications as well). The head was designed for the mid-launch, mid-spin numbers, but my combination of low-launch and low-spin gave the club a great pairing of distance and controllability.

The distance off the tee was comparable to the driver I’ve had in my bag for the last 3 years, a club in which I love (I will not disclose the club, so as to not create controversy). The forgiveness was good, but I wouldn’t consider it the club’s differentiating factor. But when this club was hit on the center of the face, it was fantastic!

The Look

This driver is finished with a mat black top and looks excellent when set next to a beautifully teed golf ball. When describing the shape of the head, the best comparison I can use is a mix between the TaylorMade RocketBallz driver and the Adams Speedline driver. It features a taller, plumper face. I wouldn’t describe it as a natural pear-shape look.

The hosel features no adjustability. For the new wave of drivers, this seems like a negative against the club, but I don’t feel that way. I’ve never been one to mess with settings and think that proper shaft fittings are 100% more effective than hosel adjustments. This lack of adjustability gives the club a very clean look.

Overall, the mat black appearance and sleek aesthetics gives this driver a phenomenal look. The only hinderance to the club’s look is the symbol used for alignment. No big deal whatsoever, but I felt the company’s logo is a touch thick. But remember, its nothing even close to some of the worst club crowns in the business.

The Feel

The club has an interesting feeling, almost like a baseball bat (makes sense with the Louisville Slugger connection). Where Ping has the reputation for the sharp ping sound and years of hitting new Titleist has given me a liking for duller, softer feels, the feel of the Air Force One grew on me after 20-25 hits. Do you remember the older Cobra drivers from 5-7 years back? The ones that looked like an airplane wing that sounded like a crash test? Yeah, this club sounds nothing like that.

It was sharp and smooth. It felt like the club was coming off almost dead with its subtly in the strike, but when I looked up from impact, the ball was humming down the fairway. I really started to like it a lot. When the club is hit square, the sound is very appealing.

The Price

When put up against its competitors, this driver may have the best value on the market. The lack of adjustability may seem like a deterrent, but I believe it helps drive the price point down of the Air Force One.

At $299.99, there isn’t a club with a better performance-to-price ratio.

Verdict

If you know me, I will have this driver with me– so ask me and I will let you hit it! I suggest you give it a consideration when making an end of the season driver purchase. I found it to perform and feel great!

Do more research into this club and some of the features they are promoting. PowerBilt will never market on the level of some of the technology it is competing with, but I think the patent with the nitrogen-charged technology may give them an edge in future years as they continue to gain a footing in the golf industry once again.

Overall, a positive experience hitting this club. If you’re interest is peaked, I recommend you at least give this club a swing.

Experience that nitrogen.