Wood Bat Buyer's Guide

Know Thy Bat

A buyer's guide for baseball pros and novices alike.

Welcome to the Buyer's Guide

Here, you can learn anything and everything you need to know to make sure you're getting the wood bat that's best for you.

Special Deals

Viper Blemished Wood Bats

Our bats already come at a lower cost than most other bat companies, simply because we’re a small business with very little overhead. Still, if you need something really cheap, we have some options.

  • XX “Blemished” Series: These are bats taken off the production line because they were found to have some imperfection or another. These come with ridiculously low price tags, and if you’re looking for blems in bulk, the price does go down if you buy more than 6.
  • X “Blemished” Series: These are “slightly blemished” bats. Not quite up to the quality of our full models, but head and shoulders above the XX Blems. Unlike the XX blems, these have been given a nice, black coat and protective finish.
  • Bat Packs: With these, each bat costs less. The total is higher, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be the case for you. We’ve had some guys go in on a 3-pack with a couple friends so it ends up being cheaper for everyone. If you can organize it, we also have a 12 pack in there. Speaking of which…
  • Team Pricing: If you’ve got a large order—like if you’re buying for a team, or just buying in bulk—you can visit or team pricing form, and talk to us about cutting you a special deal.

In-Stock & Ready-to-Ship

For the most part, we make bats when they’re ordered, not before. It's part of our goal to make bats for individuals, not demographics. But we get the occasional person who needs a bat in a rush, and we live to serve, so we keep a number of bats in stock.

Bats For Training Self Or Others

For Coaches: If you need to train your players, but don’t want to wear your arms out, our fungos are made with this very thing in mind.

Please Note: because of their ultralight weights and profiles, these are not intended to be used in games. Just serve the ball up and let ‘er fly.

For Players: If you need to improve your swing, and get an edge in your warm-up swings, we’ve got a number of options for you. You can see all of them in our Training Bats section, but two we really love:

  • The Big Dog: This beast is built to be used on deck to acclimate your muscles to a much heavier weight, so when you pick up a normal-sized bat, it’ll feel light as a feather. It’s the same idea behind how after running on a treadmill, you briefly get the sensation where walking feels more like gliding.
  • Sweet Spot Trainer: If you’re going to be using wood bats—or even if you’re just serious about playing ball— this one will help immensely with getting the most out of your at-bats. Hitting the ball at just the right spot, the “sweet spot,” is key to maximizing the power you transfer from the bat to the ball.
  • Shop All Trainers: Take a look at everything we've got to offer.

Baseball Bats As Trophies/Gifts

Buyers Guide on Wood Trophy Bats

These go by several names. Trophy Bats, Gift Bats, Display Bats, Souvenir Bats... (Note: these are intended purely for display purposes.) Each is fully customizable with up to three lines of text and make for great gifts.

Customize a Trophy Bat

Extremely Durable Bats & Bats With Warranties

It can't be overstated that the length of your wood bat's life is heavily dependent on your hitting technique-- a hitting coach can be an invaluable resource-- but there are a number of techniques we've developed ourselves that can help make things easier on you.

  • HD Series: The HD (High Density) Series was specifically designed to outlast pretty much any other models. Using a combination of wood science, physics and lots of trial and error, we've produce a line of bats so tough you feel it just by holding them.
  • Composite Bats: These bats are special in that they are a combination of a solid maple wood billet and a fiberglass handle. These are so durable that each and every one comes with a 30 or 60 Day Warranty. (Please note that for our bamboo offerings, the fiberglass handle and accompanying warranty are optional.)
  • Elite Series: Then, of course, we have our Elite Series. These bats are made for pros, intended for the best of the best, built from the finest, straightest-grain wood available. Needless to say, we back each with a 30 Day Warranty. They also come with free engravings, just to sweeten the deal.

Youth

The Benefits of Wood

Truth of the matter these days is that most kids won't start using wood until around high school, or even college. Of course, we can't claim to be unbiased about this, but for those that show interest, there are definite benefits to wood:

  • Wood Strengthens: Wood is heavier. We've worked out ways to lighten the load, but only so much. But that means kids getting used to lugging around our clubs are getting that much stronger.
  • Wood Teaches: The demanding nature of wood translates to superior swings, regardless of what you use in the future. Once you've learned how to hit the sweet spot with consistency, you will be a better player, no question.
    Think of it like training to climb a mountain, then following it up with a hike up a hill.
  • Get A Head Start: Wood is the only material allowed in professional play. Learning to use it early could prove highly advantageous.

Differences Between Adult & Youth

Models: To accommodate younger players, bats are generally made to be lighter and models see minor modifications in profiles both to ease swinging and ensure sufficient bat density.

League Standards: Before anything else, you'll want to know what, if any sort of restrictions your league has on bat sizes. We divide our youth bats into two categories.

  • L2.25" Small Barrel Bats: Specifically made to be compliant with leagues that require a 2.25" barrel diameter, such as Little League.
  • Big Barrel Bats: For leagues with no barrel size restrictions, you have the option of going with big barrels for extra hitting surface.

Material: If you're not sure where to start, we recommend trying out birch as it tends to be more flexible and forgiving. (Generally, we recommend avoiding ash until high school, unless you're very sure of what you're doing.)

Bat Weight

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest obstacles to wood bats is weight.

Finding a bat light enough to ensure proper mechanics is vital to confidence and success as a hitter.

To deal with this quandary, we developed what we call Ultralight Series.

Ultralights benefit from increased swing speed and control. The tradeoff is density and thus durability. We highly recommend having a coach provide direction on proper hitting technique and "sweet spot training." (To be fair, directions we recommend for everyone, but especially with these bats.)

Cupping: One question we get quite a lot of is whether cupping will help make a wood bat lighter. The answer we tend to give is, "technically, yes." Thing is, because the bat is so much smaller, the overall change in weight isn't going to be very significant. So, if you're in a situation where "every little bit helps," feel free, but don't expect a lot.

High School

High School is a special time for a number of reasons. In the baseball arena, it's because they're stepping into the adult bat sizes. Most of the factors that apply to adults apply to these soon-to-be-adults. Still, a few special factors to consider:

Age Transition

Model: This is where a player can really start to find that special model to call their own. If you're not sure already, be sure to explore the extremes and figure out where your preferences lie.

Weight: Teenagers can find themselves in an in-between state, where they're too strong for youth models, but perhaps not quite ready for the full weight of an adult model. If you find yourself in this boat, we made these paddles just for you:

  • ProLight Series: Generally aimed at kids transitioning from youth leagues to high school, but the benefits to swing speed are undeniable.

Metal-to-Wood Transition

Preparing for a professional career? Or just looking to improve your game? It can be a rough transition, made harder the longer you wait. It can also come at a price. To help ease these burdens, we have a couple of special, extra durable recommendations:

  • APEX Series: The APEX Series are one-piece maple wood bats made from our prime grade hand-split billets and inlaid with fiber-glass handles to significantly reinforce the weakest part of the bat. This has proven a great option for teams sharing bats and players looking to keep it to one bat per season.

  • HD Series: The HD Series are bats made from specifically-selected high density woods, and cut to profiles and dimensions proven to last longer and deliver a nice extra bit of pop. The tradeoff here is a smaller hitting surface, so while we've developed them to be adaptable to any style, contact and gap hitters will find themselves a little more at home.

Adult

Infinite Possibilities: When you open up into the vast world of adult baseball, the sheer variety of bat models can be overwhelming. Hopefully, our guide has provided you with everything you need.

If not, you are most welcome to get in touch with us (Contact Us by form or phone) and we can help clear up any confusion. You can also send us suggestions for this guide if you think it will help future shoppers.

Barrel

The point of contact. The question you want to ask here is what your primary goal at the plate is. That will help you decide what size barrel you want:

  • Small: Small means a smaller hitting surface, but also less weight. This grants greater speed and control. Smaller barrels are also more structurally dense, meaning they will last longer.
  • Medium: Strikes a balance between speed, control and power. If you’re unsure of your style, this is never a bad choice.
  • Large: Hit hard, hit far, but hit slow. You’ll need plenty of muscle to make this work for you, but the payoff can be huge.

Knob

Your choice of knob is primarily about feel—what feels best in your hands— so there is no right or wrong here. It can play a role in balancing your bat, though.

  • Standard: If you’ve been playing a while, you’ve definitely seen this before. It is simply the rounded base of the handle intended to keep your hands from slipping and sending the bat flying.
  • Flared: You’ll see variations of this, such as “Slight Flare” and “Large Flare.” This can be more comfortable and roll more gently against your hands. Larger flares, however, can also serve to counter-balance the weight of a bat’s barrel. This can make for a more even swing through the strike zone.
  • Cone: If swinging the bat leaves your hands raw, this might be for you. This was specifically developed to give players’ hands a break, particularly when dealing with bruising.

Handle

Where your hands rest on the bat. There’s an element of personal preference here- comfort is king- but your style can guide your choice. Generally speaking, relative to the rest of the bat:

  • Thicker Handles: Will be more durable and maximize your control.
  • Thinner Handles: Create a “whip effect.” Anchoring the weight of the bat on the barrel causes it to drag the strike zone with increased velocity. You'll get more power out of your swings, but they'll be more susceptible to breakage.

Weight

There's plenty of room for variation in weight, ranging from very heavy (-0, or "Drop 0") to very light (-10, or "Drop 10"). Youths usually hang around -6 to -8, while the majority of adult players go for a weight of -3. There are a number of considerations when making this decision.

  • Swing Speed: The heavier the bat, the harder it is to swing. If you've got a lot of muscle, it gets easier, but then, that means you'll be able to swing a light bat that much quicker.
  • Pop: With that slow swing comes a lot of power. Heavier will hit farther.
  • Durability: A bat with a lot of bulk is going to be able to take (and give) more of a pounding.
  • Control: A lighter bat is going to be easier to maneuver. A split-second recoil could be the difference between a hit and a foul-ball.

Recommendations

You can take this knowledge and apply it in hunting down your own perfect bat, but if you'd like a jump-start, or just don’t want to bother, we’ll throw out some tried-and-true recommendations:

Power Hitters:

Gap Hitter (Balanced Between Power & Contact):

Contact (Lead-Off) Hitter:

Material

We offer four types of woods. There is no "right" choice, but each has its strengths and some are certainly more popular. If you'd like a more in-depth read, visit our Wood Comparison page.

maple woodMaple: By far, the most popular wood among professional players these days. It is noted for its impressive density and hardness.
birch woodBirch: A wood that has proven itself a strong competitor with maple, boasting almost as much hardness and more flexibility.
ash woodAsh: Ash has become a sort of "oldschool" wood. An experienced batter can perform some impressive feats with it, but its demanding nature may frustrate those still learning.

Size

Generally speaking, if you're an adult of average height, chances are you won't need to be too specific about the size of your bat. Just know that the bigger it is, the greater the reach, in addition to being more unwieldy/difficult to control.

For youths and shorter individuals, or if you're just curious, we advise taking a look at this chart.

Weight

How Do I Decide My Right Weight?

If you're not sure what weight is right for you, take into consideration these factors. And don't be afraid to experiment. To this day, it remains one of the best ways to learn.

  • Swing Speed: The heavier the bat, the harder it is to swing. If you've got a lot of muscle, it gets easier, but then, that means you'll be able to swing a light bat that much quicker.
  • Pop: With that slow swing comes a lot of power. Heavier will hit farther.
  • Durability: A bat with a lot of bulk is going to be able to take (and give) more of a pounding.
  • Control: A lighter bat is going to be easier to maneuver. A split-second recoil could be the difference between a hit and a foul-ball.

Where Do I Find My Weight Bat?

Weights are generally determined by the bat series you select. Below, you will find a list that should help you narrow down where to look.

About Measurements: Baseball bats are measured in terms of "drop," ranging from -0 ("drop zero," very heavy) to -10 ("drop ten," very light).

About Range: Every billet is unique. Two billets of the exact same weight may have very different core densities, making one lighter, the other heavier. To compensate for this, weights are given in ranges.

  • Ultralights: Generally, only intended for youths at -8 to -10. The exception is our Softball Ultralight, weighing in at -7 to -8.
  • Softball: Intended for softball, obviously. These tend to come in around -4 to -6.
  • Prolights: Our lightest adult baseball bats, coming in at only -4 to -5.
  • Standard: For almost* every other adult series, you can expect a standard -3. (The lack of range is thanks to less of the billet being removed.)
  • *Elite Series: Our Elite Series is the one exception, since you can choose your weight, from a standard -3 to monstrous -0.

Cupping

example of cupped viper baseball bat barrel

Balance: Cupping is when the barrel of the bat is hollowed out, making for a less end-loaded bat or, put another way, more balanced bat. The massive majority of baseball bats we make do get cupped, while the majority of softball bats do not. Whether you should or shouldn't depends on your end goal.

Consider The Big Bat: If you’re looking to create a powerhouse with a heavy barrel, cupping will take away some of that end load you're looking for. But on the other hand, if you want the power of a heavy barrel, but want to make its swing a little more manageable, cupping will give you a nudge in that direction.

Coloring

This is one area where we can't help you. Just know that our bats come out with a beautiful shine, and our finishes have a nice binding factor that adds just a little bit of extra durability.

Professional Players Note: if you are in a professional league, pay attention to the “Available Colors” charts we provide, as we have placed asterisks * next to the colors approved for pro play.

Personalization

If we told what to put here, would it really be personalized?

We will say this, though: “Viper Bats Rocks!” looks good in any color.