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The Duffalo Bar from Kabuki Strength is, without question, one of our favorite specialty bars. We recommend it often and use it even more, however, for many the price is pretty far out of their budget. Enter the FringeSport Longhorn Buffalo Bar. Featuring a similar shaft arch, knurling placement, and shaft diameter, during use you'll have a hard time telling the difference between the two. The Duffalo Bar is certainly a better overall bar, however, for the price, the Longhorn Buffalo Bar is the best value buffalo bar currently available. Whether you plan to use the bar for squatting or pressing, the Longhorn will be able to stand up to however much abuse you plan on inflicting upon it and you'll enjoy it while doing so. If you're on a budget and looking for a buffalo bar, this is the one we recommend.
The FringeSport Longhorn Buffalo Bar is just that, a buffalo bar. Now, you're likely asking, "well, what's a buffalo bar?" Unless you're deep in the world of strength training, most specialty bars (barbells made for a "special" purpose) are likely very much foreign to you. Until just a few years ago, the buffalo bar wasn't even on the radar of most powerlifters as it didn't offer a big difference from the straight bars they were already using...that was until powerlifter Chris Duffin and his team at Kabuki Strength created the Duffalo Bar.
The buffalo bar is essentially an Olympic Barbell that has been bent to allow the user more shoulder comfort. The buffalo bar that's been around for some time had a slight arc, the now popular re-invention of the buffalo bar, the Duffalo Bar (get it, Duffalo=Duffin+Buffalo) has a much more exaggerated arch that feels even better and performs different than a straight bar. In addition to the design, the materials and attention to detail have all been up a level.
The FringeSport Longhorn Buffalo Bar, from my vantage point, has taken what Kabuki Strength has done with the Duffalo Bar and made a budget-friendly version. In reality, the Longhorn, on it's own, is a great bar that vastly exceeds previous buffalo bars, only when it stands in comparison to the Duffalo Bar does it fall slightly.
The FringeSport Longhorn Buffalo Bar is an excellent specialty bar. It's made in the USA, something that FringeSport seems to be employing more of in their products, and features many of the things sought after in a higher-end specialty bar. The knurling is surprisingly good (thankfully companies are focusing on this more often) and the arch is comparable to the top-dog in the category, the Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar.
We plan to discuss the Duffalo Bar many times throughout this review and for good reason, we feel the FringeSport Longhorn Buffalo Bar is a direct challenge to the Duffalo Bar at a lower price point and with a few minor changes for cost reason.
Starting with the shaft, FringeSport has gone with a 165,000 PSI Tensile Strength Steel. In comparison to the steel that many bars utilize today, that's rather low. Even some bars under $200 (the Wonder Bar V2 from FringeSport is a perfect example of this) has a tensile strength of over 200,000 PSI. However, and this is an important distinction, most Olympic bars range from 28MM up to 29MM in diameter. The Longhorn Buffalo Bar is 32MM, making it similar to squat bars that are used by some of the world's strongest powerlifters during max back squats.
The 32MM diameter of the Longhorn Bar has a few advantages. One, it increases the stiffness of the bar. Two, due to the thickness of the shaft, it requires a lot less tensile strength of the steel used to create a bar that won't deform during normal use. Three, a thicker bar feels better on the back during squats. If you've never tried squatting with a bar other than something around 28-29MM, you'll be in for quite a treat when you put something like this Longhorn Bar on your back. 32MM, although only a few millimeters thicker than a standard Olympic bar make a world of difference in terms of feel; combine that with the arch of the bar, and there isn't a better feeling bar to squat with.
The arch of the bar appears to be pretty much the exact same as the Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar, which is good. One of the biggest changes from the older-style buffalo bar that has been around for decades is an increased arch that feels better on the back and changes where the weight is in relation to your back due to a lower camber. I'd love to see the machine that's used to bend a piece of steel in this manner so that it's consistent (see Titan Bison Bar for an inconsistent, unsafe bend) as a 32MM shaft cannot be easy to bend, especially so that it appears steady.
In addition to the bend of the bar, we were impressed by the knurling. Too often companies will overlook the knurling on specialty bars, but for bars like trap bars, buffalo bars, and others that feature knurling, it matters as much as Olympic bars. The knurling on the Longhorn Buffalo Bar is aggressive, but not sharp like you'd find on say... a deadlift bar. In fact, it feels and appears to be very similar to our most recommended power bar, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar which has a volcano-type knurl. Meaning the peaks of the knurl are chopped off to provide more surface area of the knurl to grip the hand/shirt. The spacing of the knurl and knurl marks, including a center knurl mark are similar to the Duffalo Bar (yet another reason we feel the goal of the bar was to be a clone.)
The part of the bar that is not a clone are the sleeves. The Duffalo Bar utilizes extra long sleeves for those like the inventor of the bar squat 900+ LB. Since a specialty bar isn't required to meet the specifications required by meet organizations like the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation), I think it's a great idea. However, it does add to the steel used and therefore the cost to the consumer and will largely be unused by a majority of the population. With this all in consideration, FringeSport decided to go with a standard sleeve length and design of 16.5" (the Duffalo Bar is 17.25" of loadable area.)
In addition to the length, the Duffalo Bar has an "Accessory Attachment Point" where a hook can be screwed in for bands (we haven't used it) and sits on bronze bushings while the Longhorn Buffalo Bar sits on inferior roll pins (not that it's incredibly important as it's not going to be used for the Olympic lifts.)
Overall, we were impressed by the Longhorn Buffalo Bar. It's not as good as the Duffalo Bar, but it's much cheaper and an overall better value for most. If you're looking for a high-quality buffalo bar with similar specs as the best, aka the Duffalo Bar, but a lower price, nearly $300 with shipping, then we highly recommend the Longhorn Buffalo Bar from FringeSport.
To be honest, for the price, there isn't much we dislike about the Longhorn Buffalo Bar. We typically have a long list of things, but not a ton for this bar. Despite being cheaper than the Duffalo Bar, it's still pretty pricey at $400. The only thing that we'd like to see is the roll pins replaced with bronze bushings, but that's being pretty nit-picky and definitely not necessary for a bar of this sort.
We've compared the Duffalo Bar and Longhorn Buffalo Bar quite a bit already, but we'll summarize how they compare here.
The arch of the two bar's shafts are quite similar, almost exact. The sleeves of the Duffalo Bar are longer, utilize bronze bushings, and have an "Accessory Attachment Point.) The Duffalo Bar comes in a variety of finishes while the Longhorn Buffalo Bar comes only in bright zinc, a good choice for a budget friendly bar. The knurling is nice on both and we actually prefer the knurling on the Longhorn Buffalo Bar. Both are made in the USA.
Overall, they're very similar and both a huge step up from the previous iterations.
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