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Last updated: February 26, 2021
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Franklin Sports paddles are synonymous to reliability, durability, and high quality. However, the company has produced a number of models over the last years, so how do you pick the right one? Thankfully, this review is here to help you out.
We reviewed the expansive range to compile the best Franklin pickleball paddle models that are affordable, durable, and versatile for multiple uses. The main individual feature we first analyzed is the construction of the face and core for power, speed, and durability. Secondly, we factored in the shape and design of the paddle for playability. The third feature we took into account while reviewing the best Franklin pickleball paddle is the grip length and circumference that will comfortably fit in your hand. Our team also assed the weight and also the overall and playing surface dimensions to confirm that the recommended products provide optimal control, accuracy, and maneuverability for various playing styles. All of the pickleball paddles below are made of the highest quality, sturdiest materials and come in different weight, shape, and sizes to fit your style of play.
Our Editor’s Choice is a bestseller designed by a Pickleball pro, Ben Johns, who was the Triple Crown Champion in 2019. Franklin Sports Ben Johns Pickleball paddle is certified by the United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) for competitive and tournament games.
It has grip length of 4.25 inches and a long handle of 5.6 inches, the longest among the Franklin Sports pickleball paddles we have recommended. However, it also has the narrowest surface width of 7.5 inches, which reduces the sweet spot but also increases reach for competitive games.
The core is made of 13mm polypropylene to absorb shock, while the playing surface consists of layers of fiberglass with MaxGrit coating designed to dampen vibration and texturize the playing surface to maximize grip and spin for well-controlled and precise shots. The grip is perforated for traction to prevent slippage or strain.
Franklin Sports Ben Johns Pickleball weighs 7.5 to 8 ounces. It is moderately priced but to play like a pro, you need the craftsmanship, control, speed, and safety provided by such advanced models. You can purchase this model in different dimensions and weight in designs by other pickleball professional players like Christine McGrath and Aspen Kern. A Ben Johns paddle with a thicker 16mm core is also available.
What we liked: It is designed by esteemed pickleball professional players, certified by USAPA for official games, and optimized for reach, control, and accuracy.
What could be better: It has short surface width, and the MaxGrit textured coating wears off.
Franklin Sports Vibe sports a fiberglass playing surface that is texturized ball to yield controlled shots and additional spin and a core made of 8mm-thick soft polypropylene for greater control. Polypropylene models are the softest in the market. They are also quiet, resilient, and lightweight.
It weighs 7.6 to 8.1 ounces and measures 15.75 x 8.25 inches to provide a large sweet spot and proper balance. The surface features an edge band that serves two purposes; improving balance by reducing head weight and protecting the surface from cracks and chipping.
The non-slip and well-cushioned handle has length of 5 inches while grip length is 4.25 inches to accommodate players with large hands. It is so easy to maneuver the handle that buyers compare it to swinging their own arms.
The paddle shape and size is similar to its predecessor, Franklin Sports X-Caliber, which had a Nomex core and was costlier and heavier.
Novices and intermediates have seen their performance improve with this mid-range Franklin Sports pickleball paddles. The USAPA approved model may also be used by professional players for training.
What we liked: It has a large sweet spot with a thick core that absorbs ball impact, an outer edge guard, and the thick handle fits comfortably in your hand so you can play for hours without fatigue.
What could be better: It costs moderately higher than most models, and some power players find the weight too light.
This model is a recent addition to the Franklin X-series, but it is already popular for its foam core made from the patented Polymethacrylimide (PMI), a robust and lightweight material that is usually used for airlines. The face of Franklin Sports Charge paddle features fiberglass composite, which yields fantastic spins. Players who prefer maneuverable paddles for greater control will like the significant sweet spot, which increases responsiveness to reduce mishits, the long handle of 5 inches with non-slip grip, and the light weight of 7.2 to 7.65 ounces.
It measures 15.75 x 8.25 inches and has grip length of 4.25 inches. The ideal grip size is based on an individual’s height. Grip size of 4.125 to 4.25 inches is most common because it accommodates several players who are 5’3″ to 5’8″ tall. On the other hand, anyone who is at least 5’9″ tall would require grip size of 4.5 inches, while a 4-inch grip would suffice for individuals of maximum height of 5’2″.
What we liked: It is made from durable material with a responsive playing surface and a long handle to balance the head weight and to extend reach. It also enhances spin and the control required for accurate shots, and the comfortable, well-padded grip is a favorite with many buyers.
What could be better: The light weight does not appeal to power-inclined playing styles. A number of buyers feel that the cost is higher than expected.
Franklin Sports utilizes different materials for their core. For instance, Franklin Sports Challenger Aluminum pickleball paddle derives its name from the aluminum core, while Franklin Sports Factor features a core made from Nomex. Nomex is lighter than aluminum and famed for its flexibility, which allows for more control and speed. Their downside is the loud “pop” sound they produce when you hit the ball, but this model incorporates noise reduction technology to counter this.
The face of this USAPA approved paddle is made from responsive carbon fiber to improve speed and accuracy.
The weight ranges from 7.4 to 7.6 ounces, and the length and size are standard at 5 inches and 15.75 x 8.25 inches respectively. However, this paddle has a shorter grip length of 4.2 inches compared to the other models we have reviewed. This may be too small for owners with large hands.
To improve your experience, the paddle includes a substantial sweet spot, rubber edge guards, and padded grip.
There are users who prefer the feel and responsiveness of Nomex and carbon fiber over that of wood and fiberglass. The lightweight material also eases pressure off your shoulders, wrists, and elbows. The design attempts to suppress noise to some extent, but the paddle is still loud when in contact with the ball.
What we liked: It is lightweight, responsive and the sweet spot improves accuracy. The grip is padded, and the edges are protected with a rim guard.
What could be better: It has a small grip size. There are reported cases of loud pinging sound and the surface chipping or the edge breaking off.
Our Budget Pick is Franklin Sports Activator paddle, which comes with USAPA approved balls and paddles; two X-40 outdoor pickleballs, one green paddle, and one red paddle. The polyethylene balls have been fortified by rotational molding and approved for tournaments, while the paddles have been reinforced by plastic edging to increase their lifespan.
The paddle measures 15.75 x 8 inches and features 7-ply wood base, the same material used for the playing surface. Players whose style leans more on power than control prefer paddles made from wood because of its heavy weight. This is the best Franklin pickleball paddle for beginners and recreational players who want an inexpensive model without compromising on the maneuverability and power of their shots. It blends functionality with playability.
The handle and grip have length of 4.75 inches and 4. 25 inches respectively. Buyers also receive realistic shoulder pads for cushioning to avoid straining their shoulders.
The paddles are comfortable and generally sturdy, but there are reports of them breaking at the part where they attach to the playing surface and the plastic edge coming off.
What we liked: The price point is affordable, and the set includes balls approved by USAPA to introduce you to the game and for tournaments. The wooden material lends power to shots, and the protective pads cushion players against exerting their muscles. The balls are included for immediate play.
What could be better: The edge and handle break after a few uses.
Things to Consider
In this guide, we will review Franklin Sports aluminum pickleball paddles as well as other models that use different materials in their core. You will also learn why this is a sought-after brand and the key features that will help you find the right paddle for your skill level, playing style and budget.
What’s so special about Franklin Sports
Quality: As well as Franklin dagger pickleball paddle which has a honeycomb core, the Company also makes paddles with other different materials that optimize speed, control and power while lasting for long. They are robust and durable yet lightweight for easy wielding. Their paddles are also certified by USAPA for competitive and tournament games.
Affordability: Despite their advanced features, majority of Franklin paddles are within reasonable range. You don’t have to compromise performance for pricing.
Variety: You can purchase your favorite paddle in a diverse range of styles, thickness, sizes, and styles. There are entry-level models for beginners and sophisticated ones for professionals.
Longevity: The brand has been making sport equipment for nearly 80 years, earning credibility from pleased buyers.
Features to consider when choosing a Franklin pickleball paddle
The following are the most important features that will affect your performance and the durability of your investment.
The Franklin Sports pickleball paddles in this article range in weight from Franklin Sports Charge, which is 7.2 ounces to the heavier Franklin Sports Activator with weight of 10.5 ounces. The featured products have medium weight that provides a balance of control and power.
Generally, pickleball paddles come in weight range of 6 to 14 ounces to support a wide range of individual playing styles while avoiding aggravating existing health conditions such as tennis elbow, arthritis, and shoulder injuries.
Experienced heavy hitters whose playing style favors power and deflection with less effort should opt for a heavier paddle. On the other hand, amateurs who like precision, speed, and maneuverability would be best served by lightweight and mid-weight models.
Hitting surface (face)
The face, also known as the hitting or playing surface, should be responsive for speed and texturized to provide sufficient traction to add spin to your shots. This grants you greater control and accuracy.
Although there are Franklin Sports aluminum pickleball paddles such as the X-Challenger, the most common material used by the sporting goods brand is fiberglass because its texturized surface adds spin and grips the ball for more controlled shots. Franklin Sports Activator utilizes wood, the material that made the first paddle ever, due to the heavy weight that produces powerful shots while Franklin Sports Factor incorporates lightweight carbon fiber, which increases response time with the smooth surface.
There are also pricier composite products that are a hybrid of various materials like UV-resistant vinyl, fiberglass, an inexpensive polymer often found in starter paddles, and aluminum to maximize the benefits while neutralizing the weaknesses of the individual material.
Grip material and dimensions
The ideal grip size is the one that fits firmly and comfortably in your hand. This involves confirming the grip length, which ranges from 4 to 4.5 inches. Earlier, we noted that grip circumference is based on individual height, and we indicated the sizes and their respective designated heights.
You may also choose your grip size according to your dominant playing style. For example, a long grip extends your reach while a shorter one gives more room for wrist action for enhanced spin and control.
In case you find the grip too small, you can pad it with an overgrip, a fabric-styled tape, to fit snugly and to absorb sweat and vibrations.
Overall paddle dimensions
Recreational players don’t have to worry much about getting a paddle with official dimensions, but professional players would need to train with Franklin Sports pickleball paddles certified by the national governing body which enacts pickleball official rules, sanctions tournaments, decide on sponsors, and ranks players.
Majority of paddles have length of 15 inches and width of 8 inches. According to USAPA, the length of paddles approved for sanctioned tournament play should not exceed 17 inches, and the official regulation size for length and width of pickleball paddles is a maximum of 24 inches. These measurements include butt caps, edge guard, and the playing surface.
The material used to make the core will determine the power in your shots and the weight, strength, feel, and responsiveness of the paddle.
Franklin Dagger pickleball paddle features honeycomb in its core construction for a soft impact-absorbing surface. The honeycomb-shaped Nomex is hardened with polymer resin to make the surface more resistant to impact. It is resilient, lightweight, and provides the best control and speed, but it is noisy. You can eliminate noise with a polymer core like polypropylene, which is quiet, flexible, and soft with a cushioning effect to absorb impact and to generate bounce. With new technology, Polymer blend cores can now yield significant power as well as great control.
Other materials usually used are wood for power-dominant styles and aluminum because it is light, maneuverable, and sturdy although it is likely to be dented.
Shape and design
You need a comfortable paddle that complements your own playing style and feels like an extension of your arm when you yield it.
If you can’t decide on the right length and width for the playing surface, we will help you out by stating the pros and cons of each.
If you are transitioning into the game or you’re a player who fancies dink shots and greater control, consider a broad Franklin Sports pickleball paddle with a large sweet spot and hitting surface to increase precision and reduce mishits. Narrow paddles would be the best for competitive players who want a responsive surface with more extensive reach.
As for handles, a short one grants you more control to generate accurate shots, and a long one increases reach and balances the head weight. It also takes pressure off your shoulders, elbow, and wrist. Look for a handle with a steady non-slip grip to prevent slippage from sweating. Some may be padded or rubberized for extra comfort.
Depending on the design of your paddle, it may have an edge guard that mainly protects the surface against chipping but also increases the sweet spot for precision.
Accessories included: Franklin Sports Activator package includes 2 paddles and 2 balls with different colors for team identification. Depending on the brand, you may receive a bonus bag, a cover, an overgrip or an instructional guide with tips and rules of the game in addition to the paddles and balls.
Options available: This includes other optional colors and styles that may be available for the same model to suit different personal tastes.
Certifications: USAPA approved pickleball paddles meet official regulations, so they are suitable for both amateurs and professional players.
All the Franklin Sports pickleball paddles we have included have been certified by USAPA for competitive games and sanctioned tournaments. This means they meet the maximum regulation size of 24 inches. They include Franklin Sports Ben Johns, which is designed by the 2019 Triple Crown Champion.
Fiberglass playing surfaces are popular because they are texturized to grip the ball properly for precise shots and extra spin. They are also water-resistant, which makes Franklin Sports fiberglass pickleball paddles the best models for both indoor and outdoor play.
The best pickleball paddle for beginners is lightweight for ease of control and maneuverability to prevent fatigue and injury. Novices also benefit from the enhanced spin and improved speed and accuracy.
Wrapping It Up
Our first pick is Franklin Sports Ben Johns, a USAPA approved model designed by a pickleball pro for professional players. Buyers enjoy the impact-absorbent surface, the handle’s long reach, and the model’s availability in different weight and sizes.
Franklin Sports Vibe is quiet with a soft and thick core and a large sweet spot to improve control and accuracy, a rim guard against dents, and a comfortable non-slip grip. However, one of its major attractions is the thick handle, which suits players with large hands.
Franklin Sports Charge excels in sturdiness and light weight of 7.2 to 7.65 ounces. This is achieved by the Polymethacrylimide (PMI) core, while the responsive fiberglass surface generates great spin. Owners also appreciate the cushioned grip for comfort.