Here at 4WAAM we have tested several winch plates for the JK and JL steel bumpers from companies such as Maximus-3 and WARN. The latest kit we’ve tested is a winch plate and fairlead mounting plate from Rusty’s Off-Road.

Located out of Alabama, Rusty’s Off-Road is a familyowned American business that has been around for over 35 years and manufactures all of its products in the United States.

Here at 4WAAM we are proud to work with American companies and are excited that we have the opportunity to test another great option to add a winch to the front of one of our JLs.  

Rusty’s Winch Mount Construction

Manufactured from laser cut 1/4 plate steel that is CNC formed and finished with a black powder coat, this is a product that not only looks good but has the strength to withstand the stress of winching off-road.

There are 4 grade 8 bolts provided with the kit to help align the winch plate and attach the fairlead mounting plate. For attaching the winch plate it reuses most of the stock bumper bolts.  2 of the stock bolts from your bumper hold the sides of the mounting plate to the inside of the frame and then the front of the plate uses 4 bumper bolts as fasteners.

It has 8 pre-drilled holes that allows several brands of winches to be mounted to it including WARN, Superwinch, Ramsey, Smittybilt, and Quadratec.

Installation and directions.

The directions were well written and included plenty of pictures. We had zero problems removing our steel bumper following the provided directions. We had two issues installing the winch plate, the winch, and reinstalling the bumper. More on this later… hint: it wasn’t the fault of the directions.

It took a few hours for me to install everything, including the time it took to put together and install a new winch. A more practiced mechanic could probably accomplish the installation in about an hour.

As we mentioned above there were two difficulties with the installation. The first was the provided bolts to attach the fairlead were not long enough for the particular hawse fairlead that came with our winch. (Editors Note: We ran into the same issue with the WARN winch plate.)

Really this was a minor issue that was solved with a quick run to the hardware store. We can’t fault Rusty’s for this as it had to do with compatibility with another manufacturers part.

Including an extra set of bolts that are .5 inches longer would certainly make the kit compatible with more fairleads.

The second problem we ran into was how to access the bumper bolts after the winch install. Once again this is no fault of Rusty’s as we feel they have a great design. These are issues that you run into while trying to work with the factory steel bumper. If this was an all Rusty’s build we are sure this would all work better. We did manage to get everything secured after trying a few combinations of universals and extensions.


This is a great option for a JL winch plate. While it may not be as strong as the WARN winch plate we tested that had a few more support brackets, I’m not convinced they were necessary. Some competitors winch plates are made from 3/16ths steel and with Rusty’s being a solid plate of ¼ steel we don’t have any concerns when it comes to strength.

I think my favorite thing about this winch plate is that it keeps the factory bumper in the exact same position as stock. Everything fit back together perfectly and we didn’t have to modify the stock components as we did with the WARN winch plate. The WARN plate required drilling the facotry sway bar disconnect skid plate.

At a price of $209, direct from Rusty’s website, the price is highly competitive with others on the market. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this winch mounting kit to anyone with the factory steel bumper.

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Alec Schreiber

Alec is a freelance writer for 4WAAM. When he isn't saving the world you can usually find him wrenching on a busted TJ.

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  1. Hello,
    I have a 2016 rubicon with factory hard rock steel bumper. I’m installing an apex badlands 12,000 lb winch and I would like to know if this is a good choice for this set up. I really appreciate the feedback. Also, if not, what based on your years of experience, would you recommend? With sincere thanks,


    1. It’s a very good set up. The Badlands winch has proven to be very capable recovery winch. There are tons of YouTube folks using it and really pushing the limits of winching with it. The factory steel bumper doesn’t have a winch mount built into it, you have to buy a winch plate unless you ordered it when you bought it or got it second hand. Make sure the winch plate you buy is rated for more than 12,000 pounds.

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