Hammer: Nail Smoke and Fire

by Bob Johnson 0

45 Hook 16.5 Length 15 Breakpoint Shape

Manufacturer’s Intent: “The Nail Smoke and Fire combines our successful Doom core shape with a very lengthy and angular Shredder Pearl Reactive coverstock,” says Hammer’s brand manager, Jeff Ussery. “Nail Smoke and Fire will be the perfect fit for Hammer bowlers looking for a step down from the Arson without going to a ball as weak as the Vibe series.”

Core Design: This ball uses the Doom symmetrical core, originally found in the Doom pearl. The RG has been raised to 2.55 and the Differential lowered to .042. We saw nearly 4 inches of track flare with the 3- and 4-inch pin distance drillings. The 6-inch layout produced 2 inches of flare with a weight hole on the PAP. Core dynamics remain strong on 12- to 16-lb. weights.

Coverstock: Providing the necessary lane traction is the Shredder pearl reactive cover formula, first used for the Hammer Raw Burn in August of 2009. Coloring is an attractive mix of red, silver and yellow. The factory surface is 4000 high polished. We felt oil traction is limited, yet the response time off friction areas is quick and strong. The Ra level is very low, which lessens overall friction.

Test results: We pitted the new Nail Smoke and Fire against a Grape Vibe (June 2011). We felt the new ball was similar in “look” through the fronts, but displayed a more conservative move off friction. Total hook was 1 to 2 boards weaker than the Grape Vibe’s, contingent on pattern length and back-end oil carrydown amounts. This core allows you to alter motion shapes, as our pin-up layout was more angular than our pin-down layout. We also tried a 3000-scuffed surface and saw a more rounded motion shape downlane, and a better match for those with higher speed and more revs.

When to Use: The Nail Smoke and Fire is sure to attract many users due to its shelf appeal and ease of use on most light to medium oil volume lane conditions. In addition, balls in this lower price range often are benchmarks for those with either slower ball speed or rev dominance. My favorite layout was the 6-inch pin below the middle finger with a small .75-inch weight hole on my PAP (5 1/8 x 1/8). My specs include a 310 rev rate, 12-degree tilt and 16.5-mph ball speed off the hand.

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.