Pintle Hitch vs Ball Hitch – Which Is Better?

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What is the difference between a pintle hitch vs ball hitch? When it comes to towing, the 2 main hitch types to keep in mind are pintle and ball hitches. Knowing the difference between a pintle hitch and a ball hitch, you can better decide which towing application is right for you.

Pintle Hitch vs Ball Hitch

Pintle Hitches

pintle hitch

This kind of hitches are typically used with larger trailers and have higher weight capacities than ball hitches. This type of tow hitch that uses a tow ring configuration to secure to a hook or a ball combination. Pintle hitches are commonly used on military, construction, industrial and agricultural equipment.

Pintle hitches also allow for more movement at the attachment point than ball couplers do. Whereas ball couplers fit snugly over the hitch balls they attach to and lock into place. Pintle hooks leave additional room where they attach to lunette rings, thus allowing for some degree of movement. This range of motion (both vertical and horizontal) makes the pintle hitch ideal for use on uneven, off-road terrain, where you may encounter more dramatic angles than you would on a paved road or highway.

With all the benefits of the pintle hitch, however, there are some tradeoffs that come with the gain in weight capacity and movement. Firstly, the greater range of motion also translates to a rougher and noisier ride. And since the trailer is able to move around more than it can with a ball coupler. Pintle hitches are also usually not compatible with weight distribution systems.

Ball Hitches

ball hitch

Ball hitches on the other hand, are typically used on vehicles that are towing small boats or trailers. This are most common for light commercial or recreational towing. Ball hitches attach to a trailer coupler and come in a variety of sizes (1-7/8″ or 2″ or 2-5/16″). And all come in varying capacities too.

The trailer coupler is typically a tighter fit with less movement between the ball and coupler. There are definite pros to this because it creates a smoother towing experience, but it also has its drawbacks. For instance, the tighter fitting coupler has less maneuverability both vertically and horizontally when making turns and has a lower towing capacity than the pintle hitch.

The chart below offers a breakdown of the advantages of these two popular hitch types, pintle hitch vs ball hitch:

Pintle HitchesBall Mounts
GTW 10,000 lbs – 60,000 lbsGTW 2,000 lbs – 25,000 lbs
Bolts to pintle mountMounts to trailer hitch receiver
Requires lunette ringRequires ball coupler
Rougher, noisier rideSmoother, quieter ride
Ideal for off-road applicationsLess equipped for off-road applications
Fits 2″, 212“, and 3” hitch receiversFits 114“, 2”, 212“, and 3” hitch receivers
Uses pintle hook or hook/ball combinationUses hitch ball

Conclusion

A pintle hitches is needed if you pull the trailer off road as it gives you extra movement with out snapping the hitch off the trailer or the truck. They are kinda sloppy for street use they hammer and slam quite a bit so get used to alot of jarring if the trailer is fairly heavy. And you got a light truck ie 1/2 ton it can push you around.

The reason why most construction trailers are equiped with pintles is they are easier to hook up and more user friendly when your working around dirt. A ball and coupler set up wears out fast if the parts get ground into the dirt and they also rust so that makes them wear faster. The trailers are taken off pavement so they so see alot of twisting which puts extra stress on a standard hitch and imposible to disconect when the trailer is twisting on the ball.

I use the combination Pintle Ball hitch on my trucks it allows me to tow both without changing hitches. As I don’t have a reciever hitch, I just have a apron on the back with the hitch bolted to it. The combination pintle hitch also works good for a place to hook onto if your stuck or pulling someone else. You put the rope over the ball and the pintle toggle keeps the rope from slipping off and sling shotting through a window.

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