Hammer Blue Hammer

by Bob Johnson 0

46 Hook 15 Length 14 Breakpoint Shape

Core Design: The 2011 edition of the venerable Blue Hammer houses a different symmetric core compared to the 1980-90 version. This time, the core shape is found in the popular Vibe series, but Hammer’s design team tweaked the numbers. They raised the RG from 2.51 to 2.57 and lowered the Diff from .043 to .032. These changes create a later breakpoint, keeping total flare under control.

Coverstock: The veneer surrounding the new core design is called Performance Urethane. The formula differs from the older version, as we found out when applying a high gloss polish. Hammer decided to keep the same robin’s egg blue color, but the surface now is sanded with 4000 Abralon compared to the 600 grit of old. Oil traction is moderate, as is response time off friction.

Manufacturer’s Intent: “The Blue Hammer is our iconic throwback to the performance of Hammer’s foundation,” says Jeff Ussery, Hammer Brand Manager. “This ball uses a modified Vibe core and a Performance Urethane coverstock to create that old-school look on drier lane conditions.”

Test Results: Picture the roll we once saw with the old Blue Hammer, but this time with a bit more length and a skosh more backend. We saw benchmark roll throughout the 60 feet, but with more hitting power than many would see from a urethane cover. Our best looks came from our medium and higher rev rate testers, who could play nearer the track friction areas and control the move downlane. Heavier and longer patterns will cause late responses at the end of the pattern for less than ideal pin carry. But once we burned a hole in the pattern, everyone wanted to use this ball, especially the higher rev guys. The more friction we saw, the better look we had.

When to Use: As stated, this ball craves friction. On wet/dry patterns, we easily straddled the drier areas by 2-4 boards farther right than many of our other test balls this month. Down-and-in players, and those having difficulty carrying corner pins when moving inside, should consider this remake. Higher rev rates will love the ease of length and slower response off friction.

Bob Johnson

Bob Johnson has received more national writing awards than any other bowling writer — close to 70 over the course of his 40-year career. He began at age 16 as a staff writer and then assistant editor for the weekly Pacific Bowler newspaper in his native California, and within three years was writing feature stories for Bowlers Journal. He has written for the magazine ever since, except for a five-year span when he was hired as the founding editor of another magazine. He moved to Chicago in 2000 and spent 13 years in the Windy City, including five as Bowlers Journal’s Editor. In 1975, Johnson received the Robert E. Kennedy Award as California’s top undergraduate high school journalist. Five years earlier, on the lanes, he had shared the Bantam Division Doubles championship in the Orange County Junior Bowling Association Championships. Today, he continues to work full-time for Bowlers Journal as its Senior Editor, to write his popular “Strikes Me” column, and to edit Luby Publishing Inc.’s weekly business-to-business Cyber Report.