Review: PowerBilt Air Force One DFX Driver
Playing with the Big Boys
It is no easy task to create a driver that can compete with the "big boy" OEMs. Their large R&D budgets as well as their larger marketing departments make it tough for the little guy. Powerbilt's Air Force One DFX has something that others don't have, nitrogen. The pressurized head is designed to create an even hotter face for longer drives. The new lower forward weighting also creates low spin for more roll. I'm impressed by this driver and how well it does against the "Big Boy OEMs" of golf.
"Off-the-rack" is a loose term with the Powerbilt Air Force One driver. They offer 3 loft options and a plethora of stock shafts. I had mine built with the "no-upcharge" Fujikura Pro 63 stiff shaft. This is a smooth feeling, mid-launcing, tight shaft paired with the 9.5* head in a sleek looking matte black. The face is very deep and sets up nice and square.
On the course after hitting it a couple times I noticed the slightly higher pitched sound of this head. The nitrogen charged head is a little "tinny" sounding but it offers real "pop" off the face. The DFX (Deep Face) is a design that I'm a big fan of. It allows for a little up and down miss. Yet it still offers pretty good side to side forgiveness too. The ball comes off the deep face with a fairly high launch angle and then flattens out down range. It descends with a low angle so that it rolls out nicely. I was impressed by the results on the course with high long ball flight that chased out after it hit.
My only issue with the driver is the alignment aid on the crown. It isn't visually in the center. Initially it caused me to hit a few drives to the left. Then I moved the ball to the toe side of he alignment aid and found the middle of the face and hit the ball much straighter. It doesn't seem like a big deal, but it did take adjustment.
My Fligthscope testing shows that is can certainly hang with the big boys. It hit some really good numbers with this driver. It is very low spin, and high launching. The tinny sound still creates a no feeling face. There is real "pop" off the face.
Flightscope X2 Launch Monitor
PowerBilt Air Force One DRiver
Spin: 2150 rpms
Launch Angle: 15.5*
Dispersion: 9.8 yds
Club Head Speed: 103.4 mph
Ball Speed: 155.0 mph
Total Distance: 277.3 yds
Carry Distance: 266.2 yds
If you are looking for a driver with legit tech and excellent performance the Powerbilt Air Force One DFX is the real deal. The alignment aid on the crown might not work for some, but just adjust your set-up to find the center of the face. It competes with the top drivers out there and actually beats a number of them with its low spin distance. Check out this nitrogen charged cannon if you like a glued driver with great stock shaft options for loud, long drives.
Club Review: The PowerBilt Air Force One DFX Tour Black Driver
You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see the impact technology is having on golf, but you might need to be one to understand how all the new, high-tech gadgets work.
From smart-phone GPS devices and computer swing simulators, the golf industry is overloaded with the latest technological trends to help your game, or at least to make you think they are helping. Some of the latest tools and toys may offer the placebo effect for desperate golfers looking to gain an edge anyway and anywhere they can find it.
But there are a few new advances that have helped struggling golfers make strides, and one is the Powerbilt Air Force One DFX Tour Black Driver. The “Nitrogen-Charged” clubhead is designed to give golfers with more length and accuracy off the tee thanks to the gas-filled chamber inside that creates a trampoline effect, or at least that's how the driver is billed.
Patented and designed by PowerBilt, the same folks who produce such classics as the Louisville Slugger baseball bat, the Air Force One DFX line was first introduced to wide spread skepticism in the golf community. How does a small dose of nitrogen inside the club head create a longer and straighter drive? And like all the “heavy hitter” drivers on the market, won't it simply make your bad shots go farther in the wrong direction?
Those were the obstacles PowerBilt had to overcome in convincing golfers to buy into the Air Force One DFX, and years of tweaking of the product has finally paid off to the point that many golfers swear by it. Not only does the nitrogen-infused head help increase distance and reduce spin by mimicking an optimal 110 mph swing speed, but the enlarged “sweet spot” allows golfers to prevent hooks and slices. PowerBilt compiled lots of data, both scientific and opinion, to upgrade the 2015 edition and take it to the next level.
“Through player input, along with the MyGolfSpy player testing, we were able to analyze all the data and input and develop a top performing Tour head,” PowerBilt president Ross Kvinge said. “With the CG moved forward, and the benefit of the Nitrogen Charged technology, the Air Force One Tour will deliver the most accuracy of any tour head on the market.”
The latest version of the Air Force One DFX, which stands for Deep Face Extreme, has undergone some major changes. The clubface is 5 mm deeper than the earlier version, which catches the ball at impact slightly longer. Combined with the nitrogen inside the clubhead, golfers experience reduced spin and more distance. PowerBilt's patented N7 “Nitrogen-Charged” technology reinforces the clubface without adding extra weight so golfers don't have to feel like they are swinging a tree trunk.
The Air Force One DFX features a titanium body and cup face with an aerodynamically shaped clubhead. It's available in lofts ranging from 8.5 degrees to 12.5 degrees. The standard shaft length is 45.5 inches but it is adjustable to use any shaft you prefer.
“We reduced the nitrogen pressure to 80 pounds, for better impact feel,” Kvinge said. “This new amount of nitrogen generates a tremendous trampoline effect for increased ball speed. In fact, now the trampoline effect is up to the USGA maximum limit. Shot dispersion tightest ever in our drivers. And by adding 6 grams low and forward in the clubhead, we moved the CG lower and more forward than in any other Air Force One driver. We did this to appease our clubfitters who requested a better smash factor. I can confidently say that this is the most solid driver we have ever produced.”
Some golf experts agree. According to one test review on MyGolfSpy tested it, “You won't find many companies who offer a better selection of stock shafts, and you won't find many heads that perform better either. Joke all you want about the Nitrogen, this one is legit.”
Nowadays it can be an exhausting challenge to stay in the know from the major OEM golf equipment releases from year to year. Now try to add in the lesser known golf companies out there trying to make a splash in the game and that feat becomes non-existent. Well fortunately for me, I was introduced to one of those lesser known companies with my review of the Air Force One Game Improvement Irons from AFO.
One thing that will become apparent is the same when looking to purchase a vehicle, "A Caddy looks better than a KIA, but is there really that big of a difference with performance?" Well stay tuned and find out.
As many of you may know, and then again maybe you don't, AFO split off from Powerbilt Golf early this year, in what most felt was for AFO to pursue growth from a golf equipment perspective.
"I feel this is a strong move for the Air Force One brand and the Nitrogen Charged Technology. In the past we had a broad range of products from recreational to premium. This confused the consumer as to who we are and what our goals were. We have seen this in the past with the likes of MacGregor, Spalding/Top Flite and even today with Wilson and TaylorMade with the Adams Brand," - Ross Kvinge, Air Force One President
So what is Nitrogen Charged Technology? From AFO website, "Nitrogen Charging is a newly patented method to reinforce the face of the club without adding any weight." Basically the compressed nitrogen allows for a thinner face, increased ball speed and superior strength resulting in increased distances. In previously releases the Nitrogen Charged technology was only implemented in the Driver and woods, however has now been expanded into the irons as well. When I found out I would be providing a review of these clubs, I was intrigued as this was the first I had heard of "NCT".
So now let's get on to the review of the AFO Game Improvement Irons. In for review was the complete line starting with the Nitrogen Charged 3H & 4H, Nitrogen Charged 5 - 7 Irons, and finally the Nitrogen Charged 8-9-PW Cavity Back Irons. So basically within the line you had a multitude of shape and design all promoting the same benefits for the target area of iron.
3-4 NITROGEN CHARGED HYBRID:
-17-4 Stainless Steel
-FFT Face Flex Technology
-Nitrogen Pressurized Club Head
5-7 NITROGEN CHARGED IRONS
-431 Stainless Steel
-Hollow Iron Design
NITROGEN CHARGED 8-9-PW CAVITY BACK IRONS:
-431 Stainless Steel
-Deep Undercut Cavity
My first impression I noticed was that these irons weren't flashy or going to turn any heads on the range, but something that I expected from a Game Improvement set of irons. Thick top lines with a wide sole, which obviously have a benefit of cutting through thick rough. A stainless steel composite with varying design between the mid and scoring irons. Just your average design, which I feel could have been improved a tad bit.
Overall the looks of this line were average, and like I mentioned before, nothing that would turn heads. Then again is that what we are focusing on...???
Performance & Feel
A majority of my time spent with the AFO Game Improvement clubs were on the range. I wanted to pair these up to my current gamers for some base line comparisons in relation to distance and forgiveness. My first swings with these clubs and I had to take a step back and check the battery of my range finder. The ball just seemed to jump off the face across the line, which was a huge plus for someone who has lost distance over the years. I was seeing about half a club to a club longer compared to my baseline set. One thing I did notice was that when you mishit these on the face you felt it in your hands, another plus. However the distance lost or variance from the target line wasn't huge. The Nitrogen Charged Hybrids had my playing partners trying to walk off with them. The distance and launch observed from these clubs were exceptionally positive. I have had issues with my hybrids in the past and out of the 5 rounds I played with these clubs, not one swing felt off or produced that "What the heck!!!" comment. They almost reminded me of a 3W or 4W, hence the reference earlier to the Heavenwood. The forgiveness across the face of these irons had me smiling on those poor swings.
Recall what I previously mentioned about that "KIA", well here you start to see some performance worth the price.
I was surprised that after about 10 range sessions and 5 or 6 rounds of golf these clubs held up fairly well to the wear and tear of range balls. For those mishits off of the grooves a few ball marks were present, and I think that is due to the nature of the stainless steel composite used. The only other noticeable defect was that the white paint on the backside of the club seemed to be wearing off. With that being said I think as with any set of irons wear and tear will be present as you game them on the course, so nothing to be overly concerned with.
So in an era where equipment release cycles have seemed to speed up to multiples during a year, the lesser known golf equipment brands seemed to fly under the radar. Based on my review of the Air Force One Game Improvement Irons by AFO, it is apparent that it could behoove each and every one of us to stop and at least take a look. Personally I would recommend these irons to those looking for an increase in distance and forgiveness out of a set of clubs for a reasonable price ($499.00 MSRP). The design and looks may not be flashy, but the performance is definitely there. I think AFO has released an iron set that can be gamed by your high to mid handicaps out there, bring lower scores and happier times on the course.
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