This is a subject that comes up regularly around the camp fire and it seems to me that there are 2 schools of thought.
First, “it’s safe and I have done many recoveries over the years without hassles.”
The second I hear is, “it’s safe but the pin can bend and therefore getting the snatch strap out becomes very difficult, probably requiring a grinder to cut the pin off.”
I personally have a “Pintle Hook” for my rear recovery point which mounts directly to the chassis rail with 4 x 10mm high tensile bolts. The most common rear recovery point is a hitch receiver that takes a rated Bow shackle. It is my opinion that a hitch receiver is the safest, most cost effective, simple solution for the vast majority of 4wders.
I recently got a comment on the MadMatt YouTube channel about hitch pins as a recovery point and this is what prompted me to outline my thoughts on this subject.
This is the comment from, “eastcoastcam”
You should NEVER use a hitch pin as a connection for your strap. The pin is not designed for that kind of force and can be deadly. Friends of mine did that and it broke, luckily only taking out a headlight and it wasn’t even a hard tug, no worse than yours in the video.
I thank ‘Eastcoastcam’ for taking the time to give his input which I have no doubt is based on a true story, I would love to see some pictures as I believe there would be some other contributing factors for this to happen, but I don’t have all the facts nor do I know everything and can always learn from others. So if you have stories WITH PICTURES showing pins that have bent or broken with the strap still in the hitch receiver I would love to see them so I can help educate all of us. (Not stories of your lost cousins mate who knew some guy who wanted to buy a 4wd one day who saw a bent pin while on the drink one night)
So, my thoughts on this subject: As I talk about in my video (see below) the main issue I see as a danger is that of the strap getting cut if it comes against the edge of the receiver, so keep the strap coming straight out of the receiver by having the vehicles in line with each other so that the recovery is in a straight line. If this can’t be done then use other recovery techniques and/or equipment.
For a long time I thought using the hitch pin was a concern, so I would avoid using it. After watching numerous safe recoveries and talking to some industry experts, I felt that it was a safe technique, although not the safest.
My thoughts on why a hitch pin is safe to use for recoveries:
- The pin diameter is similar to that of a shackle so there is no chance of the pin cutting the strap.
- The pin is in a shear load which is by far the strongest.
- “IF” the pin bends the worst that happens is the strap is difficult to remove.
- “IF” the pin shears the broken pin needs to pull through into the center of the receiver which I can’t see happening because the snatch strap will not have sufficient friction on the pin to exert the force required to pull the pin into the hitch. I believe the strap would come away from the hitch without the broken bit’s of the pin. Keep in mind the pin has a bend in one end and a “R” clip in the other, both these need to pull through into the center of the receiver for them to become a projectile.
- Pins are made of a steel that, although very strong, will bend rather than fracture if a pin was made of brittle steel.
- If you do use a hitch pin make sure it’s a quality pin and always fit the “R” clip to the pin once the snatch strap if fitted.
When you’re doing your recoveries, please keep all the bystanders well out of the way and only have the drivers in the vehicles.
I do add some cautions to all I’m saying here and that is, that the hitch receiver and tow pack, is not a rated recovery system but it is well proven in the field as an acceptable recovery system when used within some guidelines. NEVER EVER do a recovery using a tow ball as this is well proven as a VERY dangerous recovery.
In a snatch recovery if anything must fail it should be the snatch strap because, although it is still dangerous, it would be very unlikely to seriously hurt a person if they got hit. I have seen many straps break over the years and the worst damage I’ve seen from a strap is a good dent in the leading edge of the roof above the windscreen of a Defender. So as long as the metal items are far stronger than the snatch strap a snatch recovery using a hitch pin should be seen a safe procedure.
In answer to my question “Is a hitch pin acceptable as a snatch recovery point?” my answer is, yes it is safe but it is not the safest the Hitch receiver or Pintle hook is safer again. If you need to find out the best system for your 4wd please go to your local 4wd accessory specialist for their advice. I would love pictures and the stories behind them, so either post in the comments here or send your stories in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m MadMatt, stay safe on the trails.