7 Best Pool Cues For the Money [Reviews & Buyer's Guide]

Best Pool Cues (Reviews)

Best High End

Players Pure X Technology HXT15 Pool Cue

Players PureX HXT15

Best Overall

Players C-960 Classic Crimson Birds-Eye Maple Cue Review

Players C-960 Birds-Eye

Best Inexpensive

CUESOUL 57 inch Pool Cue Stick Kit Rockin Series

CUESOUL 57 inch Pool Cue Stick

Last Updated: 28th Oct, 2019

Is your current pool cue letting you down? Are you looking to upgrade to a more serious cue that can help you perform to the best of your abilities or even more? Or maybe you're eyeing for a brand new cue.

Whatever be the case, I can help. You see, I have been playing pool for over a decade and have competed in a couple of APC leagues as well. Over time I've tried and played with all sorts of cues from $10 ones to $5000 custom cues. Some of them were exceptionally good, but most of them did not justify the price and were poorly made.

I would be honest - Choosing a pool cue is an extremely personal decision. A cue which feels right in your hand and compliments your playing style can do wonders for you.

But the question is, how do you find a cue like that? If you're a beginner or an intermediate level player, I strongly suggest choosing a middle-of-the-road option which offers a fine balance between performance and control. As you develop as a player, you can fine-tune the cue as per your liking.

Without further ado, here are the best pool cues out there. Check them out.

After trying and playing with over two dozen cues, I feel the Players C-960 is the best cue for most players. The cue offers excellent all-round playability letting you play controlled and accurate the shots while still being reasonably priced. This cue is a no-brainer for any starter or intermediate level player.

Best Pool Cues Reviewed

Best Pool Cues For Beginners & Intermediates

  1. Players C-960 Birds-Eye Maple Pool Cue Editor's Pick (Best For Most)
  2. Players Pure X HXT15 Pool CuePro Pick (High Performance)
  3. CUESOUL 57-inch Pool Cue Stick Kit-Rockin Series - Budget Pick
  4. AB Earth 2-Piece 58 Inches Pool Cue - Best Design
  5. Viper Diamond 58" 2-Piece Billiard/Pool Cue Strictly for Beginners (Good for practice)
  6. McDermott 42 inch Training CueBest for Young Learners
  7. Pool Cues New 58" - Best Set of 4

1. Players C-960 Birds-Eye Maple Pool Cue

Editor's Pick (Best For Most)


Players C-960 Classic Crimson Birds-Eye Maple Cue Review

Rating: 4.90/5

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: Sweat-resistant Irish linen
  • Tip: 13mm le-pro leather (Medium-hard)
  • Taper: 12'' pro taper
  • Joint: 5/16-18 joint screw
  • Weight: 18 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Red, Brown, Blue
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Reasonably priced with hundreds of stellar reviews, the Players C-960 is hands down the best pool cue for the money currently available. The cue functions and performs similar to some of the pro-quality cues, which cost double or even triple its price.

The cue is available in 18 to 21 ounce weight variants with three color options. However, for the first time buyers, I suggest choosing a cue between 19 to 20 ounce as it suits most players. It is professionally built to suit serious gameplay requirements, while at the same time, it's ideal for casual players to train and play.

The two-piece cue measures 58'' in length - 29'' shaft and 29'' butt. The shaft and cues are joint together by a sturdy stainless steel 5/16-18 joint screw with a triple silver ring set resulting in a rock-solid cue.

Boasting true hardwood maple construction with Irish linen wrap for slip-free grip, the cue is perfectly balanced and plays consistently. The maple-eye design looks stunning and is sure to attract some eyeballs. Overall, the construction quality is top-notch, and the ferrule, wrap, and joints are perfectly flushed.

The cue comes fitted with a 13mm medium-hard le-pro leather tip, which holds its shape quite well and provides good control on the ball. On the downside, you would need to do a bit of scuffing initially to get the tip to hold chalk properly. Moreover, the cue comes with a lifetime guarantee against any warpage or manufacturing defects. You can rest assured this cue is going to last for a long time!

To summarize: Above-par performance, superior build quality, reasonable pricing, and a lifetime warranty - When you add all that up, the Players C-960 Birds-Eye Maple Pool Cue becomes a no-brainer choice for anyone looking for a quality cue.

What We Liked
+ High-performance cue at a reasonable price
+ Stellar customer reviews
+ Rock-solid construction
+ Multiple weight and color options
+ Pre-shaped tip
+ Lifetime warranty

Watch out for
- The tip may require a bit of scuffing initially

2. Players Pure X Technology HXT15 Pool Cue

Pro Pick (High Performance)


Players Pure X Technology HXT15 Pool Cue

Rating: 4.80/5

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: Black Irish Linen
  • Tip: 12.75mm Kamui Black Soft
  • Taper: 11'' pro taper
  • Joint: 5/16 x 18
  • Weight: 18 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Red
  • Warranty: Lifetime

If you're a serious or a wannabe pool shark, you shouldn't settle for anything average. For such players, we present the Players Pure X HXT15 pool cue. The cue, with its uncompromising performance, spectacular looks, and surprisingly affordable pricing, makes it an ideal choice for any serious player.

It's a modern cue with a lot of latest technologies built into it while still sporting a traditional design and feel. The cue features a proprietary HXT low deflection 1'' ferrule, which is quite forgiving while improving the overall power and accuracy. Additionally, it comes fitted with a premium Kamui black soft cue tip, which costs $22 alone if bought separately. If you don't know, Kamui tips are well-known for their performance, durability, and control.

The 12.75'' shaft is made of 100-percent North American hard rock maple and is treated with nelsonite and epoxy coating, protecting the cue from any atmospheric changes and humidity. The Double-Pressed Irish Linen wrap makes it super comfortable to grip the cue while absorbing the excess sweat from the player's hand.

The cue is covered under a lifetime warranty even against warpage, so you can be sure your investment will last for years to come and more.

To Summarize: The Players Pure X HXT15 pool cue is a competitive quality cue from a well-known brand, offering superior performance while still being modestly priced.

What We Liked
+ High performance cue - almost the same as the more expensive counterparts ($300++)
+ Low-deflection shaft
+ Value for money
+ Elegant design

Watch out for
- Comes fitted with a soft tip which might not be to everyone's liking

3. CUESOUL 57-inch Pool Cue Stick Kit-Rockin Series

Budget Pick


CUESOUL 57 inch Pool Cue Stick Kit Rockin Series

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: North Canadian Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: Irish Linen
  • Tip: 13mm leather tip
  • Joint:  M/18
  • Weight: 19 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Multiple

If you're looking for a budget cue without compromising much on the performance, the CUESOUL 57-inch cue is your best bet. Priced just under $50, this cue packs performs decently and is an excellent choice for casual and beginner players.

The cue is available in three weight variants 19/20/21 oz and comes in 16 attractive designs to choose from. The construction quality is way better than the house cues or cues that come along with the pool table. The shaft and butt are made out of maple wood and join together via a stainless steel M/18 joint. Unlike the costlier counterparts, it does not come with a quick-release pin, and you need to screw/unscrew the two-pieces (takes less than 10 secs though). The cue comes with a 13mm medium-hard leather tip which requires a bit of shaping and grooming from time to time.

To top it all the manufacturer includes Joint Protectors, one-piece billiard towel, and a blue carrying cue bag along with the cue.

Overall, Cuesol 57'' is an excellent choice for budget-conscious buyers who're looking for a decent pool cue to get started with.

What We Liked
+ Bang for the buck pricing
+ Durably built, and performs well
+ Available in multiple sizes and color options
+ 180-days warranty

Watch Out for
- You may encounter quality control issues

4. AB Earth 2-Piece 58 Inches Pool Cue Stick

Best Design


AB Earth 2-Piece 58 Inches Pool Cue Stick

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: No wrap, hand-painted and polished
  • Tip: 13mm leather tip
  • Joint: 5/16 x 18
  • Weight: 18 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Multiple

The AB Earth 2-Piece 58-Inches Pool cue not only plays great but also makes a bold style statement. It offers a perfect combination of style and performance while not breaking your bank!

This super sleek looking billiard stick features an ergonomic handle design for superior grip that has been custom painted to mimic nebula in space. The cue comes in a range of attractive designs to choose from and three weight options (18/19/20 oz). Aside from having a great selection of colors and designs, it also comes a 180-day quality guarantee.

The unique feature of the cue is that the butt is actually painted and hand-polished rather wrapped. Additionally, the ergonomic butt features a skid-proof wave shape design for increased comfort and a stable grip. The shaft is made from hard maple wood and is fitted with  a13mm medium-hard leather tip for better control.

That said, the cue is ideal for all players (except experts), who're looking for an exquisitely designed cue that also plays decent.

What We Liked
+ Attractive design with wave shape butt
+ Multiple color options
+ Sturdy and durable construction
+ Hand painted and polished giving a good feel of the cue
+ 180-days warranty

Watch Out for
- The wave shaped butt may not be to everyone's liking

5. Viper Diamond 58" 2-Piece Billiard/Pool Cue

Strictly for beginners/Good for practice


Viper Diamond 58-inch-2-Piece Billiard Pool Cue Review

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: Silicon infused felt
  • Tip: 13mm Le Pro tip
  • Taper: 11'' pro taper
  • Joint: ABS
  • Weight: 18 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Multiple
  • Warranty: Lifetime

The Viper Diamond 58" cue is an excellent choice for entry-level players who're new to the game. Featuring all-maple wood construction with implex joints, the cue offers excellent feel and feedback, which is very important for budding players.

It's available in four weight options from 18 to 21 ounce but comes in just one color. The cue is durably built from high-quality Canadian Maple wood and sports a minimalistic design. It plays quite good as well, thanks to the 1'' fiber ferrule and a 13mm le-pro leather tip. Plus, the cue does not come with any wraps, so can you actually feel the hit and develop a sense of timing.

Between the solid construction and above-average performance, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better beginner cue than this.

What We Liked
+ Excellent starter cue for beginners and casual players
+ Multiple weight and color options
+ Reasonably priced

Watch out for
- Faux leather wrap does not absorb sweat well

6. McDermott 42-inch Training Cue

Best for Young Learners


McDermott 42 inch Training Cue Review

Specifications:

  • Size: 42''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: None (Natural wood)
  • Tip: None
  • Joint: None

Is your young one developing an interest in billiards? Are you looking to teach and train your kids on how to play pool?

The McDermott 42 inch Training Cue is specifically designed for children. It is shorter and lighter than traditional cues making it easy for the kids to handle and play. The cue comes pre-fitted with a standard weight cue ball at the tip.

Your little shooter, can learn how to hold the cue properly and what happens when the object ball is stuck at different angles at different speeds. Moreover, you don't need to worry about the miscues or scratching the pool table felt either.

The cue is 42'' long and is ideal for kids between 5 to 10 years. Not only kids, even adult beginners, can greatly benefit from this cue and learn the ropes of the game.

What We Liked
+ Almost similar to a standard cue in terms of performance and build quality
+ Excellent cue to introduce the kids to the game of pool
+ Affordably priced

Watch Out for
- None

7. Set of Pool Cues New 58"

Best Set of 4


Set of 4 Pool Cues New 58''

Specifications:

  • Size: 58''
  • Material: Hardwood maple
  • Wrap: Linen
  • Tip: 13mm leather tip
  • Joint: 5/16 x 18
  • Weight: Random between 18 to 21 ounce
  • Color: Multiple

For less than $50, you get four cues that play OK and are decently built. Don't expect top-level performance from these. But if you're a casual player who plays occasionally with friends and family, these cues would fit the bill perfectly. Having said that, the quality of these cues is better than what you find at a local bar.

There is no weight specification on these cues, but my guess is it's between 19 to 20 ounce. The cue comes in a standard size (58") with two pieces of 29" each. The butt and shaft join using a 5/16x18 metal joint.

However, be aware that with low price tags come a drop in quality at times. Some customers have noted that the cue warped after initial use, though this doesn't seem to be consistent across the board. Also, some people have gotten wrong orders, and the wrong size shipped to them, and the customer service seems to be a bit lacking, but then again, you're talking about a $20 pool cue.

What We Liked
+ Decent build quality
+ Dirt cheap price for a set of 4 cues
+ Good option for casual and recreational players

Watch Out for
- Quality control issues. Some cues might come warped or bent. However, the manufacturer replaces the damaged cues under warranty

Buyer's Guide to Pool Cue

I have been playing billiards for well over 10 years. When I started, warped cues, joints busting open or cracked cues were a common sight. But over the years, the quality of the cues has vastly improved to a point where it's hard to choose a bad one these days.

Nowadays, it's all about choosing a cue which compliments your playing style. But how do you know that? There are millions of cues across every price point, making it difficult to make the right selection. This is where I come in.

To help you out with the selection process, I have laid down this buyer's guide highlighting exactly what elements you need to consider.

​Types of Cues


Broadly all the cues can be grouped into three categories:

1) Professional cues - Used by professional players; such cues can cost anywhere from $500 to $2000+.

2) Intermediate cues (max value) - Great starter cues to learn the ropes of the game. Ideal cue for beginners and serious players. Offers maximum value and can cost anywhere from $80 to $500.

3) House cues - These are the cues you find at the bars and clubs. They are cheap (less than $30) and are usually one-piece with no fancy inlays.

There is a huge difference in the performance across the three categories. Professional cues are more accurate and precise and let you put an extreme amount of spin on the ball. They also come with fancy inlays and a better grip. Most cues in the category come with low deflection shafts (more on this below).

Intermediate cues are ideal for most players. They do a pretty decent job in every aspect. However, you might struggle with putting a precise spin on the ball.

House cues are good enough for casual games with family and friends. But if you’re any serious about pool, avoid them at all cost.

How much Should you Spend on a Cue?


As you would already know, pool cues come in all sorts of price ranges from twenty dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. As far as cues are concerned, a higher price means better quality holds true till a certain point only. Beyond that, you're paying just for the aesthetics parts, not for added performance.

Having said that buying a cue is more of a solid investment which is going to last for many years to come. The cue isn't something that degrades over time; on the contrary, it gets better. So, it's a good idea to get a better-quality cue rather settling for something average.

If it's your first cue, a sub $100 cue is an excellent option. More serious players can opt for a high-performance cue under $200.

The difference in the pricing of the cues primarily comes from the material used. The quality of the shaft, tip, joints, wrap and finishing all accounts to the pricing.

Functionality


In pool broadly there are three types of strokes: Jump, break and your typical playing shots.

As jumping and breaking are specialized shots, you need a specific type of cue. It's not recommended to Jumping or break with your playing cue. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the performance isn't the same as the specialized cues, and secondly, you might end up damaging the playing cue.

I've covered how to choose a jump and break cue in a separate guide. You can find the link below:

  1. Choosing a Jump cue
  2. Choosing a Break cue

Simple or Ornate


This is more of a personal choice and does not impact performance. Some players like cues with exotic designs with fancy inlays while others like to keep it simple. It boils down to personal preference.

Some players feel more confident playing with a fancier cue, but it's more of a psychological thing. Then there are few who use it as a scare tactic.

Low Deflection – Do You Really Need One?


Low deflection simply means the deviation of the cue ball from the stick line whenever you use sidespin. This happens only for off-centre shots whenever you use left or right sidespin. For centre hits, you would not see any deflection no matter what type of cue you use. The reason this happens is that for all off-centre shots, some part of the force is still applied at a side angle resulting in deflection. To curb this effect, manufacturers have come with low deflection shafts which are very stiff and produce low vibration.

Professional cues produce the least deflection, intermediate cues produce slightly more, and house cues produce the most.

You might wonder how does it impact the play? Well, with high deflection cues, you would find it difficult to hit accurately and struggle at getting the cue ball at your preferred position after the shot. Within all the options, always choose the one which produces the least deflection.

Also, there is nothing like zero deflection cues, and all cues would produce at least some amount of deflection.

Factors To Look For


Pool Cue Structure

Next, let's look at individual items that make the cue and how they impact the performance. 

Broadly a cue consists of a cue tip, ferrule, shaft, shaft taper, joint, butt, wrap and a rubber bumper. Each of these elements interact with one another and ultimately decides how the cue performs and feels. Out of all, the cue tip and shaft are the most important. You also need to consider the overall weight, balance point and length of the cue, but that's more of a preference.

In the next section, we'll be discussing in details about each of them.

1) Cue Tip

Pool cue tip

A cue tip is the only part of the cue that actually makes contact with the ball, so obviously, this plays a very crucial role. Your control on the ball, accuracy, or how much spin you can put on the ball, more or less depends on the tip. A well scuffed and shaped cue results in maximum contact with the cue ball, helping you achieve the desired stroke.

Cue tips come in varying degree of hardness from hard to soft. The most commonly used material is leather, but lately, phenolic tips are also catching up. A softer tip gives you a better feel and allows you to put more English on the ball. However, softer tips mushroom out easily and need regular maintenance. On the other hand, a harder tip gives you more power in your shots, but you have to compromise on the control part.

Generally, professional players prefer harder tips. For beginners and intermediate level players, it's best to stick with a medium-hard cue tip as it lets you experience both control and power.

11 to 14 mm diameter is the legal range of cue tips, but most players tend to use 12 to 13mm tip.

Note: Cue tips are easily replaceable, so even if the cue does not come with the tip of your liking, you can always replace it. 

Summary: Softer tip gives you more control while a harder tip gives you more power. For most players, a medium-hard tip would work out perfectly.

2) Shaft

Shaft Image

The shaft is the section below tip and ferrule. It's generally made out high-grade North American maple. The diameter of the shaft plays a vital role in deciding how comfortable you're with the cue. Most cues come with 12 to 13 mm diameter shaft. I personally recommend using a 12.75mm diameter shaft. 

Thinner shafts allow to put more English on the ball but are difficult to control. Bigger shafts are easier to control but struggle to put English on the ball.

If you have smaller hands, choose a thinner shaft as it would be easier and more convenient to create a bridge. 

Summary: Look for 12 to 13mm shaft.

3) Shaft Taper

Pro taper vs normal taper

Source: PoolDawg.com

Taper simply refers to the special shape of the shaft. Traditional cue shafts are conical, but a tapered shaft is straight till a point before bulging out.

Shaft with 10 to 15-inch taper is referred to as Pro-table. However, not all cues come with a pro-taper but still mention it in their product description. Pro-taper is especially helpful when playing with a closed bridge. 

So, a 12-inch pro taper on a 12.75mm shaft means from the tip to 12-inch below, the shaft remains straight at 12.75mm. After which the shaft bulges out towards the joints. Long taper results in more flex while shorter taper is stiffer and firmer.

Summary: Look for at least 12mm taper.

4) Joint Structure

Cue Joint Structure

The shaft and butt are connected together by the joint. It's also the most fragile parts of the cue and is always under stress. So, you would need to look for a cue with high-quality joints, preferably made of steel.

Broadly there are two types of joints: wood to wood and metal collar joints. Wood joints have a softer feel, and it gives good feedback while metal joints are stiff and direct. Durability wise metal joints are far better than the wood joints.

Metal joints come in varying pin size. 5/16 and uni-loc are the most common and popular. Given an option always choose uni-loc as it's a universal joint and you can easily upgrade your shaft or butt later on.

5) Joint Collar

Joint Collar

The joint collar is the circular ring just below the joint. Its primary role is to absorb the shocks and prevent the joint from bursting open. The collars are generally made of stainless steel or implex.

Stainless steel is better and is commonly used in costlier cues while you'll find implex collars on intermediate quality cues.

6) Butt

Pool Cue butt

A butt is a lot like a handle of the knife. No matter how good your knife is, if the handle isn't right, it wouldn't feel right. Similarly, how the cue feels in your hand depends on the butt. The thickness of the butt and the wrap decides how comfortable your grip is.

Smaller hands would not be comfortable holding larger butt and vice versa. The butt also affects the balance point of the cue.

A rubber bumper is attached to the bottom section of the cue. It safeguards the cue from any damage during accidental fall. Also, adjustable weights to increase/decrease the weight of the cue are put right below the bumper.

7) Wrap

Wrap options

Besides the aesthetic factor, the material of the wrap decides how comfortable you're holding the cue.

Broadly there are three types of wrapping material: Irish linen, nylon and leather. If you sweat excessively its best to buy a cue with Irish linen wrap. On the other hand, leather gives a smoother and natural feel. And if you're old school like me, you can always opt for no wrap. The feel of the natural wood is nothing like the artificial wraps.

8) Cue length

Cue come in varying length from 38" to as long as 66". But most common cues are in the range of 57" to 60".

One-piece cues which you generally find at bars measure 57" while two-piece cues are mostly 58" long (29" shaft and butt). Taller players usually play with 60" + cues while 38" to 42" cue is ideal for junior players.

9) Weight

There is no correct weight of the cue. Some like their cue to be heavy while some like it to be lighter. That said, most cues are 17 to 22 ounce in weight. Heavier cues allow for more power strokes but might be difficult to control and are easy to miscue. Lighter cues are easier to control but require you to use your arm strength to generate the required power.

19 to 19.50 ounce is an ideal weight for beginners as it gives a fine balance between control and power.

10) Balance Point

The cues can be top-heavy, bottom-heavy or completely balanced. To check the balance point of the cue, place the cue on your two fingers around the collar joint. If the cue bends forward, its tip heavy. If it bends backwards its butt heavy, otherwise it's balanced.

This is more of a personal preference, but most players prefer tip-heavy cues.

Summing Up the Guide

A pool cue stick is just like an extension of your arm. A perfect cue will amplify your skills and help you progress and develop as a player rather quickly. For beginners to intermediate players, it's best not to overly experiment with the cue configuration. A cue with medium-hard tip, 19 to 20 oz weight with Irish linen wrap would more or less cover your needs.

I hope you found this pool cue buyer's guide helpful. If you've any questions or queries, you can reach out to me at [email protected].

Kevin James
 

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