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Last updated: March 05, 2021
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Although many beginners will be familiar with a standard pool cue, more advanced players will know that pool cues can be broken down in different units for break shots and jump shots. Break shots are particularly important in the game of pool. The first shot of the game can literally mean the difference between victory and defeat. Doing these shots effectively requires purchasing a break cue. But what are the best break cues currently available in the market?
This article first provides in-depth reviews of five break cues currently available to purchase online. The reviews also provide an in-detail review including ratings out of 10, features, and its pros and cons, to ensure you can be quickly informed as to the types of break cues that are available. Following the reviews is a buying guide and FAQ section. The buying guide gives you a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about when starting the process of purchasing a break cue. Elements discussed include weight, tips, price and warranty, just to name a few.
It is important to note that purchasing a break cue will not guarantee instant success with break shots. To execute these shots effectively on a consistent basis requires regular practice. As will be discussed, there is a delicate balance required between power and accuracy, and it is only through regular practice and using a variety of different cues, that you will fully grasp your own personal playing preferences.
Constructed with maple wood, the McDermott Stringer NG05 is a combined break and jump cue that will guarantee great results on the pool table.
The NG05 is built with a G-Core’s Triple-Layer Carbon Fiber Core which lies in the bottom 7 inches of cue shaft. This core provides stability in the shaft and enables a greater degree of control for players who seek reliable break cue performance.
The carbon fiber ferrule core also provides great shock absorption which reduces any vibration from contact with the cue ball. These properties conversely maximize the impact properties of a tip to the cue ball and ensure powerful break shots.
The radial consistency, otherwise known as shaft performance, of the NG05, is widely regarded as very strong. No matter what type of shot you need to play, the NG05 will provide a cue-ball path that is straight and undeviating, leaving players with a peace of mind in trusting that the NG05 will place the cue ball in the desired location. For players wishing to improve accuracy, the NG05 has all assets to carry out that improvement.
The NG05 contains black phenolic tips which are 13.25mm. These tips are made from many layers of Japanese pigskin leather which are compiled together using an adhesive agent. This design prevents the tip from oxidizing which improves the molding capability of the tip. Unlike hard tips, the NG05 soft tips allow players to mold the tip based on their own playing style which can be of great benefit when breaking.
The BK3 Predator Break Cue is specifically designed for powerful break shots. Geared towards professional pool players, this premium cue is the culmination of years of product research and development that guarantees effective break shots that will leave you with an advantage in a pool game.
The uni-loc stainless steel exterior is very attractive and unique and will certainly focus eyes on any nearby player. Beneath the exterior, however, lies a hard rock maple wood construction which is near indestructible yet lightweight. The BK3 comes as a 4-piece set which can be easily assembled at the blink of an eye. This also makes it really easy to transport if you are a professional that is regularly on the road.
Central to the strength and power of the BK3, is the carbon fiber core with a MaxLite ferral which protects players from feeling any vibrations after shot making, while also providing great radial consistency to improve player shot accuracy at breaks.
The most unique feature of the BK3 is the Uni-Loc weight cartridge system which allows players to adjust the weight of the cue depending on personal preference and playing style. This ensures that the BK3 is inclusive of all types of playing styles, including those naturally hard hitters who prefer a lighter cue or the softer players who prefer a heavier cue to add power to their shots.
While it is a significant cost, the BK3 has been designed with professionals in mind. If you are new to pool and have a limited budget, the BK3 may seem far too premium for your play.
The Lucasi Custome L-2000JB-1 is a classically styled break cue that is known for its hard rock maple construction and double-pressed Irish linen wraps. The L-2000JB-1 is at the higher end of the product range for break cues and delivers remarkably accurate shot delivery on a consistent basis.
The most appealing feature of the L-2000JB-1 is the Tiger Everest tip which is made from premium leather. This tip although a solid hard tip offers more than regular hard tips. Although shaped like a hard tip, the hit and feels like a medium tip, while the ball control somewhat resembles a soft tip. Essentially three-in-one. Many players prefer the feel of a hard tip but desire the control of softer tips. The L-2000JB-1 allows all these features in one, which provides a very strong break performance capability.
The L-2000JB-1 features two quick-release joints with Uni-loc pins to provide players with outstanding hit feel and break down. This combined with a 4-piece construction, improves durability and ensures that cue can be easily transported and maintained.
Depending on your playing style and personal preference, the L-2000JB-1 is available in half ounce increments between 18 to 21 ounces, giving 7 potential weight options for you to consider.
The L-2000JB-1 also comes with a lifetime warranty which gives you a great degree of flexibility and protection when purchasing. This warranty agreement also protects you against warping, which is a common complaint among break cue owners. This generous warranty agreement is certainly worth looking at and comparing with other break cues.
The Pure X HXTP2 is the perfect break cue for beginner pool players who are looking to improve control with a great feel. One of the most appealing features of the HXTP2 is the slick white stainless-steel exterior with Multi-Zone ergonomic wraps to ensure players have the best possible grip to execute breaks and jump shots to a high standard.
Constructed with hard rock maple and weighing only 18 ounces, this lightweight cue is ideal for those new to using specific cue types for making break shots.
The HXTP2 is broken down into three extensions including the Air Flight, Long Jump and Power Driver. These different parts that are easily taken apart can provide players with huge variety in shot making. The best combination of parts for explosive break shots would be the Air Flight + Long Jump + Power Driver to get the full-length ferociousness of the HXTP2.
Available at the lower end of the break cue market, the HXTP2 is really catered to beginners who in most cases will have a smaller budget to invest in a break cue.
The HXTP2 is fitted with a 14 mm XLG Quad Faced phenolic tip which is perfect for players who want to increase their power in break shot making. The phenolic tip has minimal give and ensures there is an almost uninterrupted transfer of energy from tip to the cue ball. While this requires more maintenance and constant chalking, you will certainly notice a difference in the power you can generate at a break shot.
The Cuetec CT296 break jump cue is a perfect budget choice for a break cue that can still rival the performance of other premium break cues on the market. The shaft of this cue under $200 is constructed with a 29″ SST Shaft Power bonded with Fiberglass 15″ Pro Taper and is, therefore, more affordable than natural maple wood break cues. Despite being a composite, the CT296 also provides decent power through a polycarbonate ferrule which acts as a shock absorption technology.
The solid wood core of the CT296 also protects the cue from any warping and dents which are common issues with cheaper cues in the market. The CT296 will certainly last a decent amount of time if protected and maintained well.
The veltex grip fitted on the butt of the CT296 contains a technology that removes moisture from your hand to ensure you have a really solid feel and control of the cue when making break shots.
The most advanced feature of the CT296 is the adjustable weight bolt system that gives players a great variety of weight changes so that you can customize your perfect cue weight. This is a feature more commonly found on premium cues and is, therefore, a welcome addition to this affordable break cue.
The Tiger Everest tip also gives players the best of both worlds with the feel of a hard tip combined with explosive power and control of a softer tip. This in combination with a polish stainless steel joint, ensures that the CT296 has sufficient strength to deliver strong break shots.
What we liked:
Tiger Everest tip
What could be better:
Composite shaft lacks overall strength
Less classic appearance
Things to Consider
This buying guide and FAQ section will provide all the essential information that you need to know before purchasing the best break cue for your pool playing style.
Break cue – do you really need it?
A break cue is distinctive since it has an additional joint above the wrap line, which makes it much easier for players to pull-off jump shots.
This is done easily because at least 50 percent of the cue weight is eliminated through removing the bottom of the cue.
These cues are primarily used for jump shots but can also be very effective when breaking, since players are able to produce more rapid breaks due to the lightweight cue.
Single cues are also much cheaper, allowing you to make a good break and jump shots for a fraction of the price of other cues. You will have to decide whether you are comfortable using a lighter cue, as it is purely down to personal preference.
For example, the Predator break cue is well-known for its ability to provide players with a smooth break shot. This is because the lightweight construction is highly specialized towards break shots. The effectiveness of the Predator highlights the point that it is worthwhile investing in different cues for different shots in pool. You will struggle to find a single stick that pulls off all shot varieties effectively.
We recommend to use separate break and jump cues—even as a beginner. In this regard, you may want to take a look at our reviews of the best cues for beginners on the market.
Making this decision is certainly one that you will not regret. There is simply not one cue that is perfect for both breaking and jump shots. They are two different shot types requiring different cue construction to be effective. You may need to purchase a larger cue case to fit these different cue varieties.
Tips on breaking
Doing a good break in pool is not just about power and speed—contrary to popular opinion!
The most important aspect that professional players will tell you is accuracy.
Being accurate in a break means hitting the ball that you were aiming for at the specific target spot, which, as a result, leads to at least one or more of your balls being pocketed.
The break is not only about sinking balls but also about the location of the cue ball for your next shot. There is no point celebrating potting balls if your cue ball is left in a useless position for the next shot.
If you are new to breaking, start out by focusing on accuracy. Keep practicing hitting the same spot over and over again. Once you have built up accuracy then you can start to work on speed and power. Never sacrifice accuracy. When you’re comfortable enough, play with speed and power that is complimentary, not predominant.
In addition to practice, a good way to improve your breaking is by investing in a cue that is specifically engineered to perform breaking shots with maximum effect. This may seem a new concept to beginner pool players but do not underestimate the importance of an effective break shot. It could be the difference between winning and losing.
Break cues come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Do some research on spec and price before committing to purchasing one.
Buying specialized break cues is not extremely affordable.
Prices in the online market for good quality break cues range between $200 to $500, which might not be something you’re willing to pay for a fun pastime.
While some really cheap options may exist, the durability on those items will in most cases be very poor. If you are a serious pool player wanting more effective breaks, you will have to be willing to spend a figure in this price range to get the maximum benefit.
Don’t assume though that price guarantees quality. Consult expert advice and online reviews before purchasing.
Features to consider while buying the best break cue
This section below discusses specific aspects you should look out for before purchasing a break cue.
Tips do matter
The tip of a cue is a really important aspect which many do not seriously consider. Recently, phenolic tips have become increasingly popular compared to the hard leather tips which are the more traditional type.
Ideal for players looking to pack a powerful punch, phenolic resin tips transfer maximum energy from tip to cue ball. Because there is no give, the cue ball is able to spring directly from the cue tip, providing a significant degree of power.
This is a huge asset for players wanting to do break or jump shots as the spring power from tip to ball is essential to generate the pop effect which is necessary to execute these shots effectively.
A good tip to know about phenolic tips is that in order to be effective, you have to apply chalk before every shot to ensure accuracy.
Hard leather tips also have positive aspects. They provide better accuracy as the tips as seen with the Lucasi Custom L-2000JB-1. They are scuff-able and therefore more susceptible to receiving chalk.
For some, it is purely a ‘feel’ thing. It is recommended that you try both tip types before deciding which one is for you.
To increase the power of your break shots it is essential that you consider the weight and of the cue.
Heavier cues have more mass and can apply more momentum into the stroke which increases cueing power. Many prefer heavier break cues to ensure the sledgehammer effect that can disperse the balls all over the table. Also, a heavier cue means you do not have to radically change your stroke speed as the added weight of the cue will increase the power for you.
Those on the other side of the argument who prefer lighter cues prioritize stroke speed as the best way of increasing shot speed in an accurate way.
It is once again down to personal preference and playing style. Whatever you choose, accuracy must be the primary focus.
Try a heavier cue using your normal stroke speed and then try a lighter cue with a faster stroke speed and compare the relative accuracies.
The wrap is effectively the material that ‘wraps’ around the bottom of the butt of the cue.
This is what your hands grip onto when making shots. Some products, such as the Pure X HXTP2, focus on creating ergonomic wrap materials to add an extra layer of comfort and usability when operating the cue.
Look out for materials used for wraps and the extent to which they are ergonomic.
The most common wood type for pool cues is maple wood which has characteristics of being lightweight but also strong. Cues constructed with natural wood are generally more expensive but you cannot rival the feeling and sound of a maple wood cue hitting a cue ball.
Modern cue designers now use synthetic composites in the construction of break cues such as the Cuetec CT296.
Often the cues will have a natural wood core that is surrounded by fiberglass designed to increase the durability of the cue. Other composites use carbon fiber for increased stability and shock absorption.
Other cues use graphite which may be on the cheaper end of the product line and may not perform as strongly as wooden cues.
It is worthwhile trying out both natural wood cues and composite cues to get a feel for the nuances between the wood types. Development in product design has seen many composite cues start to work as effectively as natural wood cues, therefore do not rule out composites as a good quality break cue option.
Balance is a key characteristic of a well-performing break cue. Balance is often ensured by shock absorption capabilities within the rod. Check the spec of certain break cues and compare whether there are such capabilities.
The different parts of the cue should fit harmoniously together and form a well-balanced cue with every part pointing in the same straight direction.
When screwed together as one, there should not be any light showing between the shaft and butt, and the cue joint should be concealed to the when fitted.
The cue should be exactly straight.
Methods by which you can test this is by first rolling it along a flat surface to see whether it can roll without any wobble.
Another method is to straight sight the cue by holding it like a rifle and staring straight down it from butt to tip. Doing this approach will ensure you can easily see any warping effect on the cue. The assembled pool cue should roll without any wobble on a flat surface.
Warranties will vary between different products. Ideally, a lifetime warranty or a long-term warranty is the best option for giving you some flexibility as a purchaser, particularly if you are a beginner.
Cues are best stored in a case to guarantee their protection. Cases should be stored in locations with average temperatures to ensure that the wood does not dry out and crack. Also, avoid vast change in temperatures as that will also significantly harm the wood. Wood can be vulnerable to the elements so do take necessary precautions to protect your cue.
Side pressure is any force or pressure applied to a cue from the side. Although cues are designed to cope with the straight-line impact they are vulnerable to side pressure and need to be protected from it.
Classic cases where side pressure is created is from leaning your cue against a wall, dropping it on the ground or moving the balls with your cue. These may all seem quite harmless, but side pressure can really affect the life span of your cue.
Regular break cue sizes vary between 57 to 58 inches for adults of average size. For children or small adults, the ideal length is between 48 to 52 inches and for players over 6-foot tall, break cues of up 61 inches will be most suitable.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, you now understand some of the aspects you should consider before purchasing the best break cue to suit your needs. Our verdict for the top three break cues are:
The McDermott Stinger NG05 is our top choice for delivering consistent break shot performance with moldable tips which can be customized. It is also at the lower end of the premium range.
The Predator Break Cue BK3 is a no-brainer for any professional pool player, the BK3 finishes in second place for its high-quality spec and the weight adjustment feature.
The Lucasi Custom L-2000JB-1 ranks in third place for its classic look at lifetime warranty against warping, give great purchasing protection.
Finding the best break cue for your own needs requires some time and research. Avoid impulse purchasing and read online reviews on certain products to get a sense of how they play to get the best value for money.