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VWERKS Recon – Military Buildup

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Taking Brinkmanship To the Limit

Photos by Henry Z. De Kuyper

“Be Prepared” is the enduring motto of the Boy Scouts, and worthwhile mantra for life, but there are those out there who tend to be a little more prepared than others. For example, some of us might have few gallons of water in the garage and a favorite backcountry camping spot we'll head to if things go bad, while others have a decommissioned missile silo they've renovated as a Doomsday safe house. If you fall in the latter group, then we have just the rig you've been looking for.

Designed and built by VWERKS as a buzz model to showcase their military and civilian accessory and vehicle programs, the Recon started life as an '11 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and ended up as a 1-ton, all-terrain, armored pickup.

The puny, stock 3.8L V-6 was ditched for a hairy-chested 390hp 5.7L Hemi V-8, and a JK-8 pickup conversion kit was then used to turn everything behind the B-pillar into a cargo box. The frame was reinforced and upgraded to 1-ton capacity and stretched 10 inches behind the rear axle, giving the Recon more cargo space, while keeping the stock 116-inch wheelbase intact to ensure maneuverability. Lining the bed is 7?16-inch steel plate, which both protects the rear gunner and provides a solid platform to stand on.

Other areas of the chassis that were upgraded include a Dynatrac ProRock 60 front axle with an ARB Air Locker and a massive Dynatrac ProRock 80 rear axle with a Detroit Locker. Both axles run 5.38 gearing and upgraded axleshafts, bringing the vehicle's undercarriage as close to mechanically bulletproof as possible.

A VWERKS 4-inch suspension system with heavy-duty coil springs increases payload capacity to 2,500 pounds and adds enough room for a set of 39-inch BFGoodrich Krawler T/A KX tires mounted on 17-inch Hutchinson beadlocked wheels. Keeping everything under control are a set of adjustable Fox Racing reservoir shocks and the entire suspension package guarantees that the Recon can take on any obstacle, from a burned-out car blocking the road to a boulder-strewn field far away from civilization.

At the heart of the VWERKS Recon is a bed-mounted, belt-fed M2HB .50 caliber full-automatic machine gun. Using a Crane Technologies 360-degree rotary-mount and 100-round ammo can, the M2HB can engage soft or hard targets, such as vehilces, from any direction. On the passenger side and mounted to a full swing arm setup that is capable of covering 180-degrees, is a fully automatic .308 Winchester-chambered FN Herstal M240B, making the Recon as formidable as it is impressive. With that kind firepower, you can probably stick your wife or kid behind either of the triggers and just drive behind the wall of lead the Recon can put out. Think of it as a Jeep-mounted Phalanx CIWS and you'll get the idea.

While the game of brinkmanship is all about out-escalating your opponent, the tools on the Recon will ensure no one ever calls your bluff. Whether you are escaping through a war-torn neighborhood, a rowdy crowd of riotous thugs, or disaster-scared cityscape, you can rely on the Recon to get you and your family safely to your emergency shelter, and, if need be, you will be more than capable of holding your ground. Knowing that you have that kind of insurance policy for safety is priceless.


The Recon features a JK-8 pickup conversion kit that has been stretched a full 10 inches behind the rear axle to increase cargo room. For those Wrangler Unlimited owners who rather have room for payload than rear doors and a rear seat, this conversion is a worthwhile upgrade.
Model: JK-8 Conversion and Stretch
MSRP: $12,888

The VWERKS 4-inch heavy-duty suspension includes remote-reservoir Fox shocks, taller Super HD coil springs, and ups the payload capacity to 2,500 pounds. This puts the Recon on par with some 1-ton trucks, while maintaining the footprint of a midsize and the coil-sprung ride quality of a Jeep.
Model: 4-inch Heavy-Duty Suspension
MSRP: $8,971

Bad roads require specialized equipment, such as a wheel and tire package designed for unforgiving environments, and the pairing on the Recon is exceptional. Hutchinson Rock Monster wheels are street legal and DOT-compliant beadlocks that will allow the tires to be run at low pressures without coming off the wheel and 39-inch BFG Krawler tires deliver maximum off-road traction and huge ground clearance for running over K-Rails and trails, alike.
Make: Hutchinson/BFGoodrich Tires
Model: Rock Monster/Krawler T/A KX
MSRP: $8,352

Featuring VWERKS Premium Rock Rails, which keep the body of the Jeep off of obstacles, the Recon's body sides are well protected on or off the trail. These rock sliders are also useful for pivoting in tight quarters or as a step for easier ingress and egress for your crew.
Model: Premium Rock Rails
MSRP: $1,125

The Wrangler's stock plastic “flenders” have been replaced by front and rear GenRight Tube Flares. These tube fenders work in conjunction with the rock rails to help protect the body and provide increased clearance for taller tires. Available in steel or lightweight aluminum, the flares are perfect for taking glancing blows from trees or bodies.
Make: GenRight Off Road
Model: JK Tube Flare
MSRP: $1,000

After undergoing extreme modifications, more often than not the stock drivetrain is no longer up to the task of its new mission. In the case of the Recon, which needs power to get out of questionable situations as well as to haul around additional cargo and weapons systems, a 5.7L Hemi V-8 was added. The 390hp Hemi is a major upgrade from the anemic 202hp 3.8L V-6 that formerly resided in the engine compartment. Additionally, the conversion adds a five-speed 5-45RFE automatic transmission and a stout Advance Adapters Atlas II transfer case with a 4.3:1 low range.
Model: Hemi Conversion w/ Atlas II
MSRP: $34,024


The VWERKS front Premium Bumper offers protection for the grille and mounting points for a winch and auxiliary lighting. There are also sturdy attachment points for recovery shackles.
Model: Front Premium Bumper
MSRP: $1,716

The VWERKS JK Premium Hood is made from lightweight ABS plastic and incorporates functional heat extractor vents to help shed heat from the big Hemi V-8. Like the rest of the Recon, the hood has been painted Military Flat Green.
Model: JK Premium Hood
MSRP: $2,446 (painted)

Covering the Recon is a custom soft top made from durable canvas, which protects the passengers from the elements, as well as conceals the contents of the Recon from prying eyes.
Model: Removable Canvas Top
MSRP: $5,990

Half doors give the driver increased visibility in places where technical driving is critical, while still protecting and restraining occupants. Half doors also weigh less than the full steel doors, helping to offset some of the weight gain added in other areas.
Make: Mopar
Model: Front Half Door Kit
MSRP: $1,300 (unpainted)

Attempting to turn 39-inch tires with the stock steering system would cause havoc on the steering system and lead to imminent failure. To help the stock steering box and pump out, VWERKS added a hydraulic assist system from PSC. The PSC system uses a hydraulic ram to assist the stock steering system by taking up most of the increased load.
Make: PSC Motorsports
Model: Jeep JK Trail & Street Cylinder Assist Kit
MSRP: $1,323

The whole point of having a capable escape vehicle is moot if you can't self-recover from getting stuck. To keep your contingency plan in effect, a 9,500-pound-rated Warn thermometric winch has been mounted to the front bumper as added assurance that you'll reach your destination.
Make: Warn
Model: 9.5ti
MSRP: $1,521

Away from the soft glow of urban light pollution, the backcountry can suddenly become a very dark place. VWERKS chose PIAA's 520 ATP (All Terrain Pattern) lights to cut through the night. These lights use PIAA proprietary ATP technology, which cast a beam that is optimized for height, width, and distance and should easily light up the eyes of any looming zombies.
Make: PIAA
Model: 520 ATP
MSRP: $287

Mounted to the front bumper and within easy reach is a deluxe tri-fold shovel and military pick axe. These tools have multiple uses and could come in handy in a variety of situations.
Model: Tri-fold shovel/military pick axe
MSRP: $40/$16


The stock tire carrier is not designed for the weight of 39-inch tires, so it was replaced with a GenRight JK Steel Rear Tire Carrier. Also available in a lightweight aluminum model, the GenRight carrier mounts to the factory tailgate hinges and is designed to work independent of the bumper. The huge 1.75-inch tubing is strong enough for tires as large as 42 inches and the four-point mounting method is rattle-free.
Make: GenRight Off Road
Model: JK Steel Rear Tire Carrier
MSRP: $800 (unpainted)

The VWERKS Premium Rear bumper has the functional aesthetic of something that came straight from the surplus yard. This simple bumper is made strong and has clevis mounts for recovery, as well as a military pintle hook.
Model: Premium Rear Bumper
MSRP: $2,734

Underpinning the Recon are a pair of the best axles you can buy. The front Dynatrac ProRock 60 and rear Dynatrac ProRock 80 are stuffed with 5.38 gears, upgraded axleshafts, and lockers. Both axles feature brakes from a 1-ton Ford truck and can easily handle the bigger tires and added weight of the Recon.
Make: Dynatrac
Model: ProRock 60/ProRock 80
MSRP: $28,917

Lining the bed is a 7?16-inch steel plate, which is strong enough to deflect the energy coming from an IED. It also reinforces the cargo area floor and acts as a platform for the rear gunner.
Model: Armor Package

On-Board Air
On-board air is for more than just activating lockers. Having your own source of air means having the ability to optimize tire pressures for the terrain your are traversing. An on-board compressor, when used in conjunction with a high-volume air tank, also gives you the ability to run pneumatic tools for making repairs in the field. The Recon pairs a high-output ARB twin on-board compressor with a Viair 2.5-gallon tank for maximum flexibility.
Make: ARB/Viair
Model: 12V Twin On-Board Compressor/2.5 Gallon Air Tank
MSRP: $545/$98

Weapons of the VWerks Recon


Ma Deuce
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to shoot your way out, there isn't a better friend than a belt-fed, fully automatic .50 caliber machine gun. Even if you don't pull the trigger, the menacing look of this beast will be enough to keep any miscreants at a safe distance. Mounted on a 360-degree swivel, it is a setup that would make international warlords jealous.
Make: Kelsey Hayes Wheel Company
Model: M2HB Browning Machine Gun
Caliber: .50 BMG


M2HB Mount
The “Fifty” is mounted on a Crane Technologies MK93 Gun Mount with a 100-round ammunition can holder. It sits on a full 360-degree rotary mount, also made by Crane Technologies, that allows the gunner an unobstructed view around the entire vehicle.
Make: Crane Technologies
Model: MK93 Gun Mount
Make: Crane Technologies
Model: Rotary Mount


M240 Bravo
As long as you are helping others get to safety, you might as well put them to work. The passenger-side mounted, .308-chambered, M240 “Bravo” is easily fired from the passenger seat. With 180-degrees of swivel, full-automatic shooting, and a Trijicon TA 648 ACOG (6×48) optic, you won't have to worry about any threats flanking your starboard side.
Make: FN Herstal
Model: M240B
Caliber: 7.62x51mm NATO

Swing Arm
From the passenger side, a swing arm mechanism is augmented with a Crane Technologies M240 adaptor to give the side gunner the capability to cover the entire right side of the vehicle in a 180-degree arc of fire. With the “240” being fed by its mounted 600-round ammunition can it will easily get the VWERKS Recon out of harms way.
Make: Crane Technologies
Model: M240 Adaptor

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