When you hear the words "pit bull," you conjure up a vision of a mean, aggressive dog with a mouth full of teeth and a jaw that grips tightly. That same thing applies when you look at the tread design of a Pit Bull tire. Actually, there are three different tread designs: The very aggressive Rocker, the mud-terrain Maddog, and the one we're testing, the Growler.
Pit Bull calls this not quite an all-terrain. Yeah, sure, that's like calling a Vibram-sole boot a house slipper. This is one aggressive-looking tread, to say the least. But it's just not tread design that makes for a good tire. Add up things like sidewall protectors, rim guards, noise-resistant technology, special cut-resistant rubber, and even tread extending down the sidewall, and you get the makings of a great tire. But is it?
We ordered up a set of the newest offering, a Growler in an LT-rated 31x11.50-15. Note that there is no "R" in the size designation. That's because this tire is a bias-ply design. Yep. When everyone seems to be producing radial tires, they come out with a bias tire. Why? Because they wanted one super-tough tire with four-ply polyester sidewalls that would laugh at the kinds of obstacles that would tear up a radial sidewall.
Why test such a small size when even 33s now seem small to us? Well, there are a lot of folks out there who want a super-tough and aggressive tire for their stock-height rig, and up until now, there hasn't been much offered.
We mounted these tires on one of our favorite wheels, the Mickey Thompson Classics. Why are they our favorite? Oh, just things like excellent construction, fully polished with no clearcoating to chip, yellow steel inserts in the lug holes that don't wallow out in time like those without them do, and a lifetime guarantee on structural failure. Oh yeah, and that timeless "classic look." The only drawback to these wheels is that you have to polish them once in a while.
How did the Growler actually work? Just as good as we figured. Noise level was acceptable-in fact lower than we anticipated-and traction, especially in ice and snow, was outstanding compared to other mud-terrain and all-terrain tires we've tested in the past. Rocks? The tread grips them like they were made of Velcro. In loose dirt, they want to dig a bit, as expected. Yes, the sidewalls are stiff, and the on-road ride isn't radial-smooth, but then again, this tire was designed not for the guy who cruises the drive-ins but for a real working 4x4. We saw no loss in street handling over the radial tires we had been running on our test vehicle. We know from past experience that the M/T wheels run true and have never been a balance issue, but these tires really surprised us at only taking an average of four ounces to balance.
One thing that we're not quite sure about is the bead bundle thickness. That's the part that mounts the tire to the wheel rim. It's quite thick and actually just a bit wider than the distance between the rim flange and the safety bead. We never had it slide off the bead, but then again, we never run as low pressures as some of our fellow journalists do, so this may or may not be an issue.
Tire: Pit Bull Growler
Load range: C
Max load (lb @ psi): 2,335 @ 45
Construction: 4-ply polyester
Approved rim width (in): 7-9 (8)
Tread depth (in): 18/32
Tread width (in): 9.2
Section width (in): 11.6
Overall diameter (in): 30.8
Static loaded radius (in): 15.3
Revolutions per mile: 655
Weight (lb): 45