Graphite pickleball paddles are some of the best selling paddles on the market. Known for their durable construction, graphite paddles are very strong while still being lightweight. These paddles can provide huge advantages for both power and control players and many consider them to to be the best pickleball paddles available.
There are so many factors to consider and so many paddles on the market that it's tough to come up with a top winner but here are my top picks depending on your playing style:
Since I spend so much time researching and testing pickleball equipment, my friends and readers often ask me to name "the best graphite pickleball paddle". This is a really hard question to answer!
There are so many factors to consider and so many paddles on the market and really much of it comes down to personal preference. Companies are launching new pickleball paddles all the time- it seems like every month there are new paddles being launched which makes it even more confusing for buyers.
It's a round number but seemed about right (talking to readers and friends on the court, a "C-note" was about the limit most intermediate players are willing to spend on a pickleball paddle). At the time of publishing, all the paddles were under $100 -but you can check the current price in the comparison table below.
Because of that, the list does not include "Pro" paddles which mostly retail for $100+ (I'm working on a separate list for those). There are several pro paddles that have come out recently that have taken paddle tech to the next level including new offerings from Selkirk and Paddletek. These new paddles would easily beat some of the ones on this list on a side-by-side comparison, but they come at a steep price...so maybe a better name for the list would be be something like "Best Graphite Pickleball Paddle Under $100 in 2018".
Because graphite is lightweight most of these paddles fall in the light to mid-weight categories. Players looking for touch and control style of play will gravitate towards these paddles but there are some on the heavier end of the range that pack plenty of power.
These paddles are named for their thin layer of graphite on both faces of the paddle while the core is normally filled with some variant of honeycomb core (aluminum, Nomex or polymer) similar to composite paddles. So the primary feature that sets this category apart is the graphite face and the reason why many players consider these paddles to be the superior option.
You may hear some players interchange the words carbon fiber and graphite. While the two materials have a similar look and feel, and you'll even see them sometimes grouped together with graphite paddles, carbon fiber is more durable. There are only a handful of carbon fiber paddles on the market, from a players perspective they play similar to graphite.
As with any sports gear, with quality materials comes a higher price tag and the same is true for pickleball. We’ve reviewed the best selling graphite paddles on the market. Below you’ll find our top rated paddles, there really aren’t any inexpensive graphite paddles (compared to more affordable beginner paddles made out of composite or wood).
Most graphite paddles start around $60 while high-end paddles for more competitive players are often $100+ but we have include some options on the low end of that price range to try to give options for all budgets.
Newcomers to pickleball may think that graphite paddles are automatically the best due to their higher price tag and light weight. Although it’s true that many players do prefer graphite, players looking to add power to their pickleball game may actually prefer the few extra ounces of heft of a composite paddle.
Price is of course an important factor when shopping for any new sports equipment. Everyone has their own personal spending budget so cost is understandably one of the top criteria for most people when choosing a paddle.
However, there are good quality paddles in the different price ranges so you don't necessarily have to spend more money thinking that that alone will be the best paddle for you. Usually there is some truth that when paying more you get better quality (high-end materials do cost more) but don't get caught into thinking that the more expensive of two options will be the better choice for you personally.
Spending budget aside, I think the most important factor to consider in a graphite paddle your own playing style to find the right match for you.
All of the different materials and fancy trademarked names for high tech paddle core material can get confusing, I've used a lot of paddles and read tons about paddles but still find that the details (Nomex vs. Polymer vs. Aluminum) can get to be a bit much to handle. So when picking your next graphite paddle I recommend asking yourself one basic question:
The Attack 2.0 Graphite Pickleball Paddle from Pickleball Inc. delivers a lot of power. This is advantage to beginner players as it helps boost their deep shots over the net and deep into the opponents back court. But the Attack is also used by many advanced players who favor a power style of play.
The 8” paddle face gives plenty of hitting surface. The shorter handle (4½”) leaves more of the overall length dedicated to the paddle face. The longer and wider design makes for one of the largest sweet spots available on the market.
The UV vinyl covered graphite makes for a very durable paddle face able to sustain long-term use and exposure to sunlight. The aluminum honeycomb core is the same construction that was used in the original Attack Paddle. The Gamma Ultra Cushion grip is a comfortable medium grip should appeal to almost all players. Gamma is a well-known sports equipment maker and their grips for both tennis and pickleball are known for quality and comfort.
Averaging just over 8.1 ounces, it’s mid-weight paddle with a good amount of power without sacrificing too much control at the net. The paddle is designed to reduce noise which is an added plus, especially when playing in communities with noise restriction rules as it is on the list of approved quiet pickleball paddles.
The Attack 2 is available in the following colors: gray, green red and blue.
The Graphite Zen from Onix Sports is a high quality paddle and one of the current favorites we see on the courts. It features a concentrated sweet spot for increased control. If you play a control game with carefully placed shots, this is definitely one of the top options for you.
The Zen paddle has an oversized rectangular shape that extends a full 7⅝” from top to bottom.
The 4 ¼” medium grip circumference will fit comfortably into most people's hands. The longer 5 1/4" handle is designed to mimic the handle shape of a table tennis racket which will appeal to lots of players. Those coming from other racket sports, especially former tennis players will appreciate this tennis style handle.
While the paddle excels at control (we selected this as the best paddle for control on this list), the aluminum honeycomb core provides enough weight to boost the power of this paddle that it won't leave you at a disadvantage against power hitters.
This is a top pick among those looking for a “Green Zone” approved paddle for quiet communities that have regulations against noise. Made in the USA (new 2017 model now made in Mexico) by Onix Sports, one the top selling pickleball equipment makers currently on the market, the Zen is a mid-price paddle within the Onix line of paddles.
The paddle face is easily recognizable on the court due to it’s large Chinese “Power” symbol. Available in the following colors: red, blue, green, pink, purple, orange and yellow.
Onix has updated the paddle and recently released the 2017 Onix Graphite Zen Pickleball Paddle v2 (version two). The key features are the same with a new and updated look.
The React Graphite Pickleball Paddle from Onix is loaded with innovative features, pushing the standards for existing pickleball paddles with new paddle tech.
The most impressive feature is the Onix Fusion Core technology that combines two of the most popular pickleball paddle materials: a polypropylene base with carefully placed Nomex insert in the center of the paddle for extra control and 'pop' off the graphite face.
The Nomex core insert creates what Onix calls their “Boosted Sweet Spot” for extra action and power. This also evenly balances the weight of the paddle and increases control.
The carbon fiber graphite face add a strong surface while providing substantial pop for extra quickness during volleys. The paddle weighs in at an average of 8.3-8.7 oz paddle making it a perfect option for heavy hitters looking to smash the ball across the net while still maintaining control for those carefully placed game-winning dink shots at the net.
The PVC edge guard provides long term protection and welcomed addition to this paddle vs. the edgeless models sold by Onix. The paddle is made with high end materials and has a price tag to reflect that.
The tennis style handle and wide body paddle shape make it a great transition paddle for tennis players. The React Graphite Paddle clearly displays the Onix brand name vertically down the face and is sold the following colors: Black and Green.
With it’s extended, wider playing area and long tennis-style handle the 300A by Selkirk will appeal to tennis players looking for carefully placed lob shots and controlled aim as well as full swings from the backcourt and powerful cross-court drives.
The low-profile edge guard is a great option for players who don’t want to go totally ‘edgeless”, and still want a guard to protect the paddle edge while minimizing interference in their game play.
One of the great options that sets this paddle apart from it’s competitors is it comes in a choice of two sizes.
Standard L Size
Extended XL Size
Graphite 300A paddle features the Selkirk “Control Core” made with an aluminum honeycomb core and vinyl graphics surface with UV Protection that increases the lifespan of this paddle and helps prevent the paddle face from delaminating.
This paddle is an overall winner on this list and any players looking to add an extra boost of power to their pickleball shot should appreciate the increased paddle surface and extra weight that the XL version delivers.
Selkirk Sports manufactures all their paddles in Idaho, USA. The Graphite 300A paddle is Tested and Approved for USAPA Tournament Play.
As the game of pickleball increases in popularity, the paddle industry continues to push the limits of design and materials. The Gamma Voltage is no exception, the company’s description reads more like a high tech gadget than a pickleball paddle but this is the tendency overall as manufacturers incorporate more innovative features and construction.
The Gamma Voltage paddle is filled with a Nomex core is surrounded by Gamma’s Live Periphery™ Frame system to reduce dead spots.
The Unibody™ molds the handle to the paddle body aiming to increase connection between the paddle and give a more solid feel when it’s in your hand.
The Flush-Fit™ Bumper is Gamma’s answer to the an edge guard with reduced profile that is flatter to the paddle face than some more traditional edge guards which reduces the frequency of mis-hits and deflections.
The Gamma Contour Grip measures at 4⅛ inches in circumference and features a perforated stitched rib to increase moisture absorption and provide a comfortable cushioned gripping surface for increased control and paddle feedback.
Larger hands may require a larger grip size. The paddle handle comes wrapped with the standard PB Contour Grip but Gamma conveniently offers a wide range of pickleball paddle overgrips varying in tackiness and thickness for those looking to customize their paddle to their personal grip size.
The Gamma Voltage Pickleball Paddle is a good option for players looking for a mid-weight graphite paddle. The Voltage will most likely appeal to high end players looking for the quality features and those with the budget able to afford the corresponding retail price.
The Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle is a very popular model in the pickleball community. The unique Z on the paddle face can be seen on courts across the country and is one of Onix's top selling paddles.
The Z5 has a have a solid feel that appeals to pickleball players of all levels from beginner to advanced, you'll even see this paddle being used by some of the top players in serious competitions going against players with higher end "Pro" series paddles.
The Z5 paddle features a wide body shape (8.125 inches) that provides a sweet spot that is hard for even beginners to miss. The paddle weighs in between 7.8 – 8.2 ounces making it a perfect range for players seeking a quality medium weight paddle. At right around 8 ounces it packs plenty of punch for a solid power paddle.
But, even at 8 ounces, the Z5 Graphite paddle is still a well-balanced and offers great control. The core is made of Nomex Honeycomb. Compared to the Onix Sub Zero (reviewed above) it lacks the high end Ribtec Core, 1-Piece Construction but it also comes in at a lower price point than the Sub Zero.
For players drawn to the Onix line but looking to save some money on a graphite paddle this would be a good option. The Z5 is currently the most popular pickleball paddle in the Onix line.
The Z5 paddle is made in the USA and is available in the following colors: blue, purple, red, yellow, pink, orange, white and green.
The Rally Graphite Power 2.0 Pickleball Paddle is made in the USA by PickleballCentral. It is among the current top selling paddles on the market.
The updated 2.0 version features a thicker . 50” Polymer PowerCore and extra weight compared to the previous version of the paddle, delivering extra power on your forehand and backhand shots.
The wide face and total paddle length of 15 ¾ inches provides a large forgiving hitting surface. The increased extra large paddle size offers a great sweet spot that will add precision to your game, especially for those all important dink shots and game winning shots.
Rally’s unique Corner Shield Edge flares out slightly at the top edges of the paddle, adding extra edge protection without interfering with your game and adding lifespan to the paddle.
The 4 ¼ medium grip will appeal to most players and the combination of it’s one piece grip guard, interlocking neck and flared end of the handle all come together to deliver a solid feeling paddle. The small grip will fit almost any hand size but could always be built up with additional overgrip.
The paddle's 8.1 ounce weight allows players to both control a dink shot just over the net but still delivers enough power to hit deep line drives from the baseline. The Rally combines a great balance of power and control.
The paddle is available in the following colors: blue, red, green and yellow with a diagonal “RALLY GRAPHITE” printed on the face.
If you are shopping for the Rally graphite paddle, you have have noticed that there is another paddle by Pickleball Central called the Rally NX Graphite paddle - that looks almost identical at first glance (except for the printed on the graphite face that differentiates it as a NX vs. Power). Although they look very similar, there are a few fundamental differences between the two paddles.
1) Weight: The Rally NX weighs in at about half an ounce lighter than the Rally Power. The NX averages 7.4 ounces vs the the 8 ounce average weight of the Rally Power.
2) The Grip: on the NX is smaller than the power (4 1/8” vs. 4 1/4") making the NX better suited for smaller hands. At 4 and a quarter the Power is a medium grip that will adapt to most players grip with average hands.
3) Grip Length (handle) the NX offers and extra half inch to the handle (five inches vs. 4 1/2) so while the grip is a smaller circumference that the Power, it is slightly longer.
4) Core material: The Power 2.0 is constructed on a . 50” Polymer PowerCore which gives the paddle it's signature power boost. The NX on the other hand is built on a Nomex honeycomb core which provides a nice balance between power and control.
Other than those differences, the paddles do have a few similarities. They are both USAPA/IFP approved for tournament play and are made in the USA. Both paddles come with a 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty. The paddle shape (length and width) are identical on the two Rally paddles: Paddle Length: 15 and 3/4” and Paddle Width: 8 and 1/8" and both have a 1/8 edge guard.
As we described above, the paddles have the same shape but the key differences are weight, grip size and grip handle length. I would say as a buyer your main decision comes down to the style of player you are (and your grip size).
If you are looking to add power to your game, the obvious choice is the Power 2.0 by Rally. If you prefer the lighter feel and all around balance of the Nomex and lighter weight for control and finesse net shots, I would go with the Rally NX. When making your decision, also keep in mind your grip size. When in doubt, go up a size rather than play with a paddle that is too small for your hand. Your other option is to replace the stock grip with a new replacement pickleball paddle grip - which you can check out here.
The Onix Sub-Zero Pickleball Paddle is marketed as top of the line paddle created for pickleball players longing for a precise paddle for their controlled style of play.
This modern design features Onix Ribtec™ Core, a grid patterned, ribbed structure which is surrounded by a foam core. This unique design delivers a paddle with lowered noise without limiting control.
The one piece single molded construction creates a very consistent paddle surface that eliminates dead spots and provides even power across the paddle face.
The Onix Sub-Zero Pickleball Paddle averages a weight of between 7.4 to 7.8 ounces, falling in the light to mid-weight paddle category which is a great range for control and maneuverability.
Onix uses it’s own ribbed cushion “Ergo” grip that contours to your hand and provides a great feel. The small 4 inch grip is designed to align to your hand so you can easily position the handle in the same spot every time you grip the paddle to add consistency and accuracy to your game especially during quick action play.
The one major potential flaw of the Sub-Zero is the questionable durability of edgeless paddles over time. It is one of two “Edgeless” paddles offered by Onix. The main selling point to these is that some players do not like the edge guard found on most pickleball paddles because it can cause mishits and deflections if the ball hits part of the raised edge. The edgeless models remove this protective piece from the paddle thereby creating an obstruction-free paddle surface.
However the edge guard does serve an obvious purpose. Apart from protecting the paddle edge from knicks and scratches, it does appear to add to the overall durability of the paddle as it also helps absorbs shock and maintain the structural integrity of the whole paddle. Some edgeless pickleball paddles may suffer from delamination over time.
So, while the verdict is out on edged vs. edgeless paddles, I personally feel that unless you have a very strong desire to go edgeless I wouldn’t recommend this paddle at the current price with all the other graphite options available on the market.
The paddle faces are both covered in lightweight graphite. The Sub-Zero is sold in grey, blue and black graphics.
Hopefully this comparison and the detailed paddle reviews above have helped you narrow down your choices for a good graphite pickleball paddle. If you are still unsure which is best for you, you may want to review our Complete Paddle Buyers Guide that explains the differences between different kinds of pickleball paddles and what to look for when buying a new paddle.