Surely there are websites that will have more comprehensive gear and paddle reviews than DinkTank.
It won’t be our goal to review every paddle from every brand, but when we do use a product we like and believe in, we like to let you know.
So today’s our first paddle review and product we stand by. And naturally, it’s the most popular paddle from the most popular player…though said player just left Franklin for the fresh waters of Joola.
My paddle journey went like this: I started with a (gasp) wooden paddle. How much difference could it make, I thought? And it was fine for me in my early play…until I picked up someone else’s paddle that was about one-half the weight.
Not yet being fully committed to playing pickleball weekly (let alone many times per week), I upgraded to a paddle in the $50 range. And it was a nice paddle (that I may still review) that got solid reviews on multiple websites. However, its surface was smooth and the edge guard came loose as I began to play more.
When playing with a friend that’s a really strong player, I hit a few shots with his paddle with some texture to the face, and I realized I’d enjoy a further ability to shape my shots. That led to my own research into paddles and reviews at a little higher price.
I settled on the Ben Johns paddle after hitting a few balls with someone else’s, numerous positive reviews online, and because SO many top pros were using it. Surely, they wouldn’t use an inferior piece of hardware if their livelihoods depended on it. That it was at the low end of the elite paddles made it all the more enticing.
I played with the paddle a lot, and just recently, I switched paddles after wearing out my Ben Johns paddle. As such, I feel semi-qualified to write a review after using it through a full life-cycle.
We’ll stay consistent with how we rate paddles here; perhaps you’ll value the same things we do, and perhaps not. We’d love to hear why you agree or disagree with our assessments, especially for those that have used a wider range of paddles than we have.
Here we go!
-Power: 4/5, above average
Solid face, light weight. The ball came off the paddle plenty hot, and as a player that hits the ball pretty hard, this helped highlight my power.
-Spin: 4/5, above average
Well, there’s some nuance here. I’d have rated this as 5/5 when I first got it, but the MaxGrit wore down rather quickly, and I’d say this was down to a 2 or 3 by the time I retired the paddle. My hunch is the pros that are using this paddle are using a new one when the face gets smooth at all to maximize the spin. As a rec user that isn’t going to upgrade paddles every few weeks…well, you’ll like the spin at first and it’ll get worse the longer you play with it.
-Touch: 3/5, average
There’s nothing glaringly bad I’d have to say about this, but this is also the tradeoff with the hard face- there will be a little less touch. Gradually, I adjusted and this was not an issue, but it was a little hard around the net for me at first.
-Durability: 2/5, below average
This is my only real hang-up with this paddle. I mentioned the MaxGrit wearing off earlier, but I also saw some issues with the edge guard coming loose despite taking good care of the paddle (always stored with a paddle cover and always stored inside my house). It costs less than other premium paddles, and maybe this is why. If you’re a once a week player, it’s probably not a concern.
-Look: 5/5, top of the line
I mean, maybe it’s because it’s in the hands of the world’s best, but this paddle has a great look, and the blue and black (and occasionally pink!) colors added some nice spice and variety. I especially liked the look of it with a white overgrip.
There you have it. I think of the Ben Johns Franklin paddle as the Miller High Life of paddles- an honest paddle at a tasty price. While Ben himself might be moving on from the Franklin family, I’m sure this paddle will be around with a new face for years to come.