Okay, I said when I finally got these tires, I would post a quick review in case anyone is looking for an AT tire and doesn't want to pay $500 a tire for BFGs. This will be basically a comparison between Wrangler MT/Rs, BFG ATs, and maybe a little bit of Dayton Timberline ATs although I haven't had them in awhile. I have also driven a LOT of different vehicles/tires over the years for my job, as well as my fathers position as a manager of Dealerships. I have been test driving at least two different vehicles with off-road type tires every other day for a few months to find the one I wanted. Perks of the job I guess.
Shipping: No tire stores carried these around here.. in fact no tire stores carried anything but street oriented tires, so anything I ordered had to be shipped from the manufacturer. I ordered them the Friday before black Friday, so I expected a delay. Tire store still swore 3-5 days. First three tires came in after about 6 days, no big deal. General messed up and only sent 3. Fourth tire was sent out Monday of the following week (7 days after ordered) and was lost by Fed-Ex. General didn't realize it was lost until the end of the week, and sent out another tire the following Monday. The fourth tire was received on Tuesday, and it was the wrong tire. General sent one of their off brand MT tires called a Eureka. The correct fourth tire was finally received and installed Thursday, 1 day before three weeks after order. I don't think this is a typical General problem, and it was around the holidays, but it is worth mentioning in case someone else has had a similar experience.
Mounting/Tire info: These were purchased in the stock rubicon size of 245/75/R16. This size, as with most Grabber AT2 sizes, is a severe snow rated tire. It obviously also has the Mud+Snow stamp that most LT tires carry now a days. Tread depth was 16/32s new. Decently deep, I would have preferred a 17/18 new, but 16 is better than most now a days. Other sizes do come with 17/32s new, so this is just for this particular size. We had a bit of trouble getting the bead seated, ended up using a tire machine as well as a bead cheetah for two of the tires. Re-seating a bead on the trail would be...difficult.. but most off-road oriented tires are about the same anyway. I read a lot about the super-thin sidewall on these tires. They are only 2 ply rated. This particular size is an E load range, and the sidewall felt just about as sturdy as the MT/Rs, and actually felt a little better than the BFG ATs, so I am not too worried about trail problems, but I am not a rock crawler either. These tires are for a DD with mountain trail use, not California rock crawling.
Now to the good stuff
On Road Manners: This is about on-par with a street oriented tire. A little better than the BFG ATs, and a night and day difference from the MT/Rs (your going to see this a lot..). Traction is plentiful on dry asphalt, I couldn't get the tires to break lose by trying, with the exception of a little bit of rear wheel hop when dropping the clutch at high rpms. The tires are quiet, about the same as BFG ATs, and a little bit smoother than the BFGs. BFGs are real smooth on the highway, but tend to feel a tad bit chunky at slow speeds. Not MT chunky, but noticeable if you are being picky. These Grabber ATs don't have any funkiness at all. They are great in corners, brake extremely well, more traction than you'll need from a stop, and feel almost as smooth and quiet as a street tire. This is about as good as it gets from an aggressive AT, from what I have experienced. Not much else needs to be said, these tires are definitely comfortable on the road.
Wet Roads: This was another area that made me smile. The old MT/Rs aren't sipped, and as such are just as bad in the rain as any non-sipped MT type tire. When they get wet, they lock up if a fly lands on the peddle, and fishtail in corners with any more throttle than idle. When MT/Rs are new or it is hot outside, they aren't as horrible, but when it gets cold or they are worn (the MT/Rs I took off at 11/32s on the front and 8/32s on the back) they are like drag slicks in the rain on a V8 sports car. These grabbers act like a BFG in the rain. They are sipped extensively, and provide more traction in the rain than I am used to. I can actually panic brake and they don't lock, I can floor the Jeep in the rain and they don't spin, I can take a turn a little too fast and dump the gas peddle in the apex and they don't fish tail. They aren't any better than BFG ATs in the rain, about the same, but there is certainly no negatives in this category. These tires REALLY perform in the rain, and I was extremely happy. When I finally got these tires put on, it was about 7pm, 45 degrees, and had been raining all day. It was still pouring, and when it finished we were reported to have had 2 inches of rain fall. These tires did incredible. Hydroplaning resistance was about the same as a BFG AT, and much better than an MT/R. They do still float over large puddles, but not nearly as bad as the MT/Rs, and you actually still have a little bit of control of the steering, instead of the vehicle being completely unresponsive.
Gravel: No surprises here, any AT/MT or off road type tire does well in gravel. They do pick up pebbles more than the MT/R, about the same as the BFG, but they don't advertise their rock cleaning abilities either. No big deal, just pick up some speed on the asphalt and they eventually clear.
Dirt road: Again, nothing big here either. Any decent AT/MT will do good on a dirt road, and these are no exception. About the same as a BFG AT.
Mud: This was where I was worried. The only off-road I do is steep hill climbs in muddy WV. Going to a less aggressive AT had me pretty anxious, but the MT/Rs were really bad in the mud for how aggressive they were. When I tested these Grabbers, I did not air them down (32psi), and I tested them after 2 days of rain (about 3 inches of rain total). They did better than I expected, but they were not impressive either. They will get the job done, but you will need to be careful. They are a little better than the BFG ATs, and about the same at the MT/Rs when I aired them down to 22psi. I assume the grabbers would do better aired down, but I didn't have time to give it a shot. They cleaned a little better than the BFGs, and the shoulders did a little better job of moving the Jeep forward than the BFGs. They do still pack up pretty quick without wheel speed though. There was also a fair amount of crab walking while doing a steep (front bumper rubbing the hill on ascent) climb. They were slick, and packed up quickly without a lot of wheel speed, but they did not stop moving either. I rode around for a good amount of time and didn't have any fears of getting stuck in 2wd. 4wd it rode around quiet well. I wouldn't have ran the Jeep through a 2 foot mud hole, but riding around in the grass and on trails after 3 inches of rain proved to be no problem. Aired down I am sure they will do even better. They did a good job of throwing mud all over the place too. All-in-all I was happy, they will serve their purpose well, but don't expect a super swampier either. They won't stop moving riding around on a muddy trail, but they aren't going to dig and ride around at idle with no drama either. The Grabbers have a more "go with the flow" straight tread pattern, compared to the BFG ATs almost sideways tread blocks. I am sure this helped them clean a little better. They also have more angular and "sharper" shoulders that help them bite a little better in the mud. They also did a little better than my old Timberline ATs, but not a night-and-day difference. About the same as an aggressive AT, but will hold a tad bit more speed without as much spinning.
Snow/Ice: The little snow/ice storm we had last week had melted but the time I got these tires, so I can't say anything about that yet. They have PLENTY of sipping like a BFG AT, and are severe snow rated, so I expect them to do quiet well. They are also drilled for studs if that interests you.
Tread wear: Again, I only have a few hundred miles on these tires, so I cannot comment with first hand experience. They do have a 60,000mi warranty though, and sears offers lifetime balance/rotation whenever you want, so I am sure they will be great.
MPG: Haven't ran through a tank off gas, but they appear to be 1-2mpg better than the MT/Rs!! I used to only get 205-210 miles out of a tank. Very consistent, always the same. I currently have 160 miles on this tank, and am showing about 1/3 tank left, with the first 80 miles being with the old MT/Rs. I will post a little later this weekend with a full tank MPG number, but they appear to be a little better. The store manager mentioned he thought they would be 2-3mpg better, I am thinking more like 1-2. Either way, they appear to be better. I also did a test at how fast the vehicle slowed on its own with both tires. The MT/Rs went from 55mph to 39 mph using two signs as a reference point. Yesterday the Grabber AT2s went from 55mph (both times I set cruise, and both times I tossed the Jeep into neutral at the same point, and followed the same path on the road) to 43/44mph at the same distance. So, they seem to have less resistance and should prove to be a little better.
All in all I am extremely happy. The tire is actually a little bit better than the BFG AT, although mostly in road manners and mud, at a cheaper price with a better warranty. Definitely a good choice if your looking for a good aggressive AT tire and don't have the money for BFG ATs.