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Gamma Obsidian 16 Pickleball Paddle Review: My In-Depth Thoughts

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Gamma Paddle
(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)
Verdict
If you are the player who focuses on finesse, enjoying the soft game and setting up the point one dink at a time, the Gamma Obsidian 16 could be a good fit for you. While lacking the pop I’ve grown accustomed to with my primary paddle, the Obsidian 16 had just about everything else one would want in a paddle. Drops, dinks, and resets felt seamless. Serves and drives from the baseline had plenty of power and spin. Personally, the Obsidian 16 is a bit too soft for my playing style. This review is primarily focused on the 16mm version of the Obsidian, however, Gamma did release a 13mm version for those more power and pop focused individuals like myself. I would classify the Gamma Obsidian 16 as an all-court paddle emphasizing control and consistency.

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SpecsDescription
Paddle Weight7.8 oz
Paddle Face MaterialRaw Carbon Fiber
Paddle Core MaterialSensa Core Honeycomb
Paddle ShapeElongated w/ Tapered Edge
Paddle Length16-3/8 in.
Paddle Width7-3/8 in.
Grip Size4-1/8 in.
Handle Length5-3/4 in.

First Look

This is Gamma’s first line of Raw Carbon paddles. Opening the Gamma Obsidian 16 paddle felt like unwrapping a pickleball treasure. Simply put, it’s a good looking paddle. Everything from the white edge guard, to the unique grip, to that sleek tapered profile immediately grabbed my attention. By tapered profile, I mean that the paddle is wider at the top and a bit more narrow as you approach the base. From past experiences with this shape, I notice a larger sweet spot and increased swing speed. One thing I noticed immediately was how light the paddle is. Mine came in at 7.51 oz. This is not a big deal to me because you can always add to the stock weight, but can’t take weight off. A lighter paddle allows for more customization with lead or tungsten tape. The stock grip that Gamma used on the Obsidian is one of the best I’ve seen to date. It has a hexagonal shape, similar to a tennis racket. It just feels very comfortable in your hand. Not to mention, the handle length is a whopping 5-3/4” which is great for two-handed backhands. Overall my first impression of the paddle was very positive.

(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)
(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)

Performance Review & My Experience

Consistency & Accuracy

The Gamma Obsidian 16 is one of the more consistent paddles I’ve tested. While I did confirm with Gamma that the Obsidian line of paddles are thermoformed, the Obsidian 16 is one of the softest thermoformed paddles I have used to date. It is basically a recipe for control and consistency. It almost feels like an extension of your hand as in, you swing hard, you get a hard ball, you swing soft, you get a soft ball. This is rarely the case with thermoformed paddles, which tend to add a bit more “pop”. Now just because the Obsidian 16 lacks pop, does not necessarily mean it lacks power. Let me explain…

Power vs Pop

A bit of “nerd talk” but this is very important when picking the right paddle for your game so pay attention! Power is defined as the speed that the ball is able to maintain as it travels through the air for a prolonged duration. For example, when hitting a serve or ground stroke. Pop is defined as the velocity at which the ball leaves the paddle surface with minimal to no additional force. Think volleys, counters, and/or blocks, where you don’t have time to take a back swing.

Now that we have that cleared up, I can confidently state that the Gamma Obsidian 16 has plenty of power from the baseline. I felt very comfortable executing powerful serves and ground strokes. Where the Obsidian 16 falls short is pop, especially at the Non-Volley Zone (aka kitchen line) during volleys, counters, and blocks. This is where I believe its 13mm counterpart will have the advantage. Just remember, increased pop tends to equate to decreased control.

Spin

I was averaging spin rates anywhere from 1800-1900 RPM which would classify the Obsidian 16 as having high spin potential. Some reviewers argued that the grit on the paddle was not as rough or “gritty” as other paddles they’ve used, which caused a decrease in spin. A common misconception is that surface texture needs to be rough in order to get the most spin. Yes, the Gamma Obsidian 16 has a smoother surface in comparison to some paddles but that is most likely caused by utilizing a tighter weave in their raw carbon. It did not significantly affect the spin I was able to generate.

Defense to Offense

Transitioning from defense at the baseline to the more offensive kitchen line felt very simple. Because of the Obsidian 16’s softer core, drops, resets, and dinks felt effortless. I found this to be a real advantage since half the battle in pickleball is simply getting to the kitchen line. Once at the kitchen, the Obsidian 16 gave me the confidence to execute a variety of aggressive dinks, setting myself up to win the point.

Feedback & Feel

Gamma states that, “Sensa Core paddles have amazing feedback which allows you to control how much energy you want to unleash during play.” I would not argue against this statement. Like I stated earlier, you get what you give with this paddle. You swing hard, you get a hard ball, you swing soft, you get a soft ball. This makes shot execution very predictable, unlike those harder more poppy paddles where the slightest mishit or increase in grip pressure can cause a pop up.

Sweet Spot

What you’ll notice with these tapered paddle profiles is, while the sweet spot does expand a bit, it is also raised on the paddle face. For some individuals, this may take some getting used to. In the picture below, you’ll notice the yellow circle represents a very comfortable hitting area, while the red circle indicates the true sweet spot of the paddle. Both are great areas to make ball contact. You begin to lose that crisp feel as the ball contacts the face of the paddle outside that yellow circle.

(Image Credit: Dennis Rodriguez)

Looks & Design

Gamma really did make a good looking paddle in the Obsidian. Less is more. As far as the design goes, I believe we are going to see more paddles with this tapered profile. Head recently released their Radical Tour Raw line of paddles which boasts a surprisingly similar tapered look. While not for everyone, there are many benefits to this design as were discussed earlier and I am sure we will see more companies replicating it.

Additional Thoughts

I would classify the Gamma Obsidian 16 as an all-court paddle with a focus on control. I would recommend the Obsidian 16 to those beginner to intermediate players seeking a more consistent and controlled game. Most advanced players would find this paddle to be a bit too soft. Having taken the time to perfect their finesse game, many advanced level players would prefer the added pop and power of the Gamma Obsidian 13. Overall I think Gamma has made a quality paddle at a very competitive price point.

Photo of author

Hey guys, my name’s Dennis. I’m a full-time Firefighter and “part-time” Pickleball Instructor who honestly loves coaching, teaching, and competing in sports. I played baseball & tennis throughout highschool and college and fell in love with pickleball. My goal with Pickleball Portal is to give you the most honest and reliable info on everything related to pickleball gear and equipment! I want to arm you with the knowledge to feel confident in your paddle choice by giving thorough reviews and comparisons through my hands on testing. Also hoping to share some tips and tricks with you to help your game and continue the growth of this awesome sport! dennis@pickleballportal.com

24 thoughts on “Gamma Obsidian 16 Pickleball Paddle Review: My In-Depth Thoughts”

  1. Such a sweet looking paddle. Love the black with the white contrast. It looks like a great option. I have always played with a power paddle and have been considering trying a softer paddle to see how I like it. @dr.jcardozadpt

    Reply
    • Hey Jordan, this is Dan from pickleball portal. I’m with you, power paddles are more fun, but I have to admit that I am more comfortable in the kitchen and while on defense if I’m using a softer paddle. There are trade offs, but if you do try out a softer paddle, make sure it’s not too soft, otherwise you will be on defense the entire time haha.

      Reply
    • We figure it’s better to be thorough and give you all the details to help you find your perfect paddle. I hope it helped!

      Reply
  2. Love raw carbon paddles! Love that this is 16mm thick as well. Great to know this is a good transition paddle from defense to offense. Thank you! Insta handle is lala_stroh.

    Reply
  3. I love the in depth review of this paddle. The spin rate and touch sounds like it makes this paddle great for control and placement. I hope I can get my hands on one. @Thirdshotpodcast_unclegreg

    Reply
  4. Off the bat this seems like my kind of paddle! Sounds like finesse and control come to play with this one which I love. The design looks sick, and I like the “consistent” description attached to this paddle. @gabriel_odisho

    Reply
  5. Interesting that paddles are getting more hybrid shaped. I love the way the paddle looks, nice and clean. The only gripe I have with the review would be to go more in depth on swing weight. This is one of my personal factors in picking a paddle. @oreotime

    Reply
  6. Learned something new today, power vs pop. I’ve never seen a shape like this one. Especially with the sweet spot so close to the edge. Would be an interesting paddle to play with. I’ve been working hard at using the center but this would allow me to fallback to my original set spot. Nice review. See you on the courts! @spectergadget

    Reply
    • Hi Mike! Glad you found the review helpful and insightful. Yes, this paddle might be a perfect fit if you like that higher sweet spot.

      Reply

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