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Rokmen Mercenary Front Bumper Install

Author: ehirner

2004 Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumperOne of the first modifications every Jeeper completes is to swap the stock bumpers for something that handles more abuse and adds a bit of style to their Wrangler. Nothing changes the attitude of your Wrangler more than replacing the thin sheet metal Daimler-Chrysler gives you from the factory.

When I wanted to upgrade the front bumper on my 2004 Wrangler Unlimited, I had a few requirements. First, it must have an integrated winch mount. In an effort to keep my vehicle as slim as possible, a bumper with a separate winch mount adds weight that I did not need to carry around all the time. Second, it must have a winch guard. I wanted one for the extra protection but also for the appearance. A winch is an expensive piece of equipment and providing it with a little bit of protection is a good thing. Third, shackle mounts that are not welded to the face of the bumper. Something welded on the front and back helps spread out the load. Lastly, it must provide better clearance. Clearance is the key to our hobby. Anytime you can gain clearance, you’re improving the off road ability of your vehicle.

With all these requirements in mind, I turned to Rokmen for their Mercenary front bumper.

I have run Rokmen rock sliders on my former Wrangler and now my 2004 Unlimited also sports a set of Rokmen rock sliders. After seeing the quality in the other Rokmen products I have purchased, I knew Rokmen would have exactly what I wanted. Dave and Jeff, the guys behind Rokmen, have a combined 20+ years of offroad experience dating back to the Jeep CJ days. In talking with Dave, Mercenary is more than a bumper, but the entire concept they have implemented in their product line to improve off road ability and survivability to tackle the toughest trails and still get you to work on Monday morning. Rokmen recognizes their customers daily drive their vehicle and they need to stay that way. While we all dream of a rock buggy, most of us cannot afford one and the requisite tow rig. In their Mercenary product line, Rokmen is not about cutting and chopping, but rather coming up with quality designs and great products with extreme attention to detail.

The Rokmen Mercenary front bumper starts out life as ¼” steel plate that is laser cut and CNC formed for a precision build. The bumper is 46” in width with a ramped face and swept back ends.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper
Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper

One of the first things I noticed upon receipt of the bumper is there are no tool marks on the bumper. In the past I’ve bought lower quality items that had artifacts left from bending the plate. The entire surface of the bumper is smooth. The winch hoop is constructed using .120” thick 1 ¾” diameter DOM tube. Every thing is TIG welded, a process that requires considerable skill and much more time than MIG welding. There is no weld spatter left over like with traditional MIG welding and it creates beautiful, quality welds. This is not your average 2”x4” rectangular tube bumper that everyone and their brother with a welder can build. The attention to detail is evident from the beginning of this bumper’s build and it doesn’t stop there.

The shackle mounts are laser cut from ¾” steel and TIG welded on the front and back of the bumper.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper shackle mounts

Prior to installation, the freshly cut mounts are machined smooth to rid them of any cut marks from the laser cutter. They are then sandblasted to ensure clean metal for the strongest welds. The details don’t stop there. Unique to the Mercenary bumper is the Shackle Lock™ design incorporated by Rokmen. The shackle is physically locked from pulling through the bumper by its design. Rather then welding it to only the front face, the shackle mount is inserted through the backside and welded on the three interior sides of the bumper as well as the front. This makes for an extremely strong shackle mount and even if the welds should fail the shackle mount would have to be pulled through the face of the bumper.

The integrated winch mount is an extension of the top of the bumper. Formed from a single piece of plate steel, the winch mount is ¼” and runs from frame rail to frame rail.

Jeep Wrnagler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper winch mount

It is setup for the standard 10”x4.5” bolt pattern found on most of today’s winches. (Two notable exceptions are Warn’s M8274-50 and 9.0 RC). As a single unit, the winch mount is reinforced by the design of the bumper and a full-length reinforcement rib along the back edge that spans the entire width of the winch mount. The reinforcement rib will eliminate any flexing of the mount plate. Rokmen’s integrated winch mount positions the winch lower, too. This provides a lower center of gravity and a lower profile for better airflow through the grill. The winch mount is finished off with a custom, fully TIG welded fairlead mount.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper winch mount

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumperSome other nice features include pre-drilled and tapped holes to mount a license plate and multiple light mounts. A lot of states require front and rear license plates and many manufacturers do not include this feature, leaving the customer to figure out a mounting method. I would suggest removing the plate prior to any offroad adventures or the license plate would be at risk of getting damaged and bent. There are two pairs of light mounts on the ends of the bumper. You’ll only be able to use one pair at a time, but the holes allow the customer the choice of where to mount lights. In addition, if you don’t have a winch right now, there is an additional pair of light mounts under where the winch would be located for your use. You can fill in that space with a nice pair of offroad lights until you add a winch at a later time.

The bumper comes bare steel direct from Rokmen. You will need to apply the finish of your choice prior to installation. I choose Rustoleum Hammered Black spray paint. I’ve used it before of various projects and like its appearance, durability, and ease of touch-up when it does get scratched or scraped. I first etched the metal using an acid based product, then applied two coats of Rustoleum clean metal primer followed by three coats of the hammered black top coat.

Installation can be done using basic hand tools. You will need to remove the stock front bumper and the plastic frame cover. First, remove any accessories bolted to the front bumper, such as auxiliary lighting. Then, remove the frame cover mounting bolts. There are two bolts on each side. The frame cover will pull up after the bolts are removed. Next, remove the stock bumper. Use a T-55 Torx bit on the four bolts on the top of the bumper and another two on the bottom. A long breaker bar for leverage will make undoing this bolts a simpler task. The stock bumper will slide off the frame rails once the 6 mounting bolts are removed. If you are also installing a winch, you will need to mount the winch to the bumper prior to installing the bumper on the vehicle. Follow your winch manufacturers instructions for mounting the winch to the mount. With a helper (the single unit is heavy and bulky), lift the bumper and winch into position on the frame rails. Reinstall the bumper mounting bolts that you removed earlier. The frame cover is not reused. I reinstalled the bolts in the frame rail should I need them at a later date.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumperI chose to replace my bumper mounting bolts with Grade 8 bolts from the hardware store. I don’t like Torx head bolts and try to replace them when I can. I’ve broken too many Torx bits over the years trying to tighten them appropriately. If you’d like to do the same, you’ll need six 1 ½” long ½”-13 Grade 8 bolts. If you wish to install factory or aftermarket tow hooks, you’ll need two 1 ½” long ½”-13 and four 2 ½” long ½”-13. You’ll also need six ½” washers for either setup. Regardless of which bolts you use, apply some anti-seize to the threads. These bolts have a tendency to rust tight if you live in an area where you see lots of rain, snow, and other moisture. You will prevent future headaches with a little prevention now. One thing to note is that due to the light mount options, if you want to remount the stock driving lights, you will not be able to use the standard 10,000lb aftermarket tow hooks as the hooks and the lights make contact. It is unclear if the stock 7,000lb Wrangler tow hooks are compatible.

Earlier in this article, I mentioned my requirements for a front bumper. The Mercenary front bumper from Rokmen met these requirements and went above and well beyond my expectations. The bumper is extremely strong and I have complete confidence that it will perform flawlessly when abused off road. The ramped face increases approach angles and is great for sliding up an obstacle while the swept back and tapered ends coupled with the 46” width works well for increased tire clearance for the moments when you need to get the tire directly on an obstacle. On a recent off road trip, these design features were very nice. Making a tight off camber turn on some rocks, the open access to the front tires made maneuvering easy.

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rokmen Mercenary front bumper and Currie AntirockUsing the Shackle Lock™ design, Rokmen have produced the strongest shackle mount on the market. The winch hoop provides that aggressive look while protecting the grill and winch from damage. In addition, the Mercenary bumper works with a stock swaybar and also Currie’s Antirock without any modification. When installing the Antirock, put the bolts up through the arms with the nylock nuts on top. The bolt head has a lower profile and tucks nicely inside the Merc bumper. It's nice when one modification does not preclude you from other modifications.

I am very impressed with the craftsmanship and quality put into the Mercenary bumper. I would strongly recommend a Mercenary bumper if you’re looking for something that is strong, well-designed, and compliments the appearance and lines of your TJ. Dave and Jeff meticulously craft the Mercenary bumpers and their dedication is clearly evident. To borrow a line from the guys at Rokmen, the difference is in the details. Mercenary bumpers are a production item but each one is hand crafted by Rokmen when you place your order.

For more information or to order yours, please contact Rokmen at 303-907-6303 or visit their website at www.rokmen.com. Rokmen Mercenary bumpers start at $299.


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