Best known for its single-piece steel hammers, Estwing is about to introduce the AL-Pro, a multi-piece hammer with a steel claw and striking face attached to a single-piece aluminum head and handle. The head is hollow and contains shot to dampen vibration and provide a dead blow. The hammer has a magnetic nail starter and like most other Estwings, a thick nylon-rubber grip to eliminate shock.
In the past, framers used 22- to 28-ounce hammers and paid the price with arm and shoulder problems. The current thinking is that lighter is better and what light hammers lack in driving force can be made up for by using a faster swing—which is why AL-Pro framing hammers weigh only 14 ounces. Stiletto popularized this idea with its titanium hammers. Estwing went with aluminum because it’s lighter and easier to work with, and it's not subject to the patents Stiletto holds on titanium.
The AL-Pro is intended to compete with premium hammers such as those from Stiletto. Available with a smooth or milled face, it will sell for about $130 and is expected to hit store shelves in early 2017.
An interesting side note: the AL-Pro is produced at the Estwing factory in Rockford, Illinois, using aluminum castings supplied by an American company that makes receivers for AR 15s. Demand for those rifles has been high so Estwing had a tough time getting the necessary castings.