What is a snatch block?  A snatch block is a pulley block with a side plate that swings open. Because the side plate opens, you don’t have to thread your winch cable through the opening, instead you open the side plate, fit the cable over the pulley, and then close the side plate. It’s a handy piece of equipment that can improve the function of your winch. A snatch block will increase your winch’s pulling power significantly , and will give you more options in self-recovery situations.

When do you use it?  In a recovery situation, ideally you would have an anchor point located directly in front of your vehicle, so that you don’t have to angle your winch cable. When this isn’t possible,  you can use a snatch block to set up an angled, single-line pull. This involves running the winch cable through the snatch block to an  anchor point that is off at an angle. Then you need to  identify a second anchor point that’s angled in the opposite direction as the first anchor point. Attach the snatch block to the second anchor point with a choke chain. Then use the tension from the two off-set anchor points to position the block directly in front of your vehicle.

A winching essential for safety and effectiveness. One of the rules of winching is to make sure your cable spools up on the winch drum evenly. This is easiest when you are winching straight forward. If you pull at an angle, the cable is more likely to bunch up on one side of the winch drum.

snatch block

When dual pull action is needed-When you are recovering a rig that is significantly heavier than yours or if you’re not sure your winch will have the power to recover your vehicle, you can use a snatch block to create a double-line pull.  A double-line pull is created by using the snatch block to redirect the winch cable back to the winch.

If you are moving another vehicle,the stuck vehicle is attached to the snatch block. The winch cable goes through the snatch block and back to an anchor point that’s next to your vehicle. This anchor point takes some of the strain off your vehicle, which is important when you are recovering a heavier rig.  In self-recovery, the cable is run through the snatch block then back to your vehicle.  Connect the snatch block to an anchor point directly in front of the vehicle.  Remember that when you use the double-pull set up it will not only double the pulling power of your winch but, it will cut the pull speed in half.

Author: Expert Advice- Warn

Safety notes when winching:
Wear leather gloves
Do not straddle the cable when in use
In case of line breakage or kick back, put a coat or blanket over the line
Don’t us a hook on the end of a cable, use an anchor shackle

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Tom Severin is an International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers Association© certified professional 4WD Trainer and a Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He is an instructor for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and the California Association of 4WD Clubs. Tom is the owner of Badlands Off-Road Adventures 4WD Training School in Southern CA that offers guided off-road adventures as well as 4WD training courses ranging from basic off roading to advanced rock crawling techniques.


  1. Some good points, but a snatch block is not David Copperfield. Pulling capacity of your winch is never doubled. The load is halved, and even then not 100%.

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