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Chadd, October 3, 2010 in MSH Long-Term Reviews
BattleAxe BX10 OPS
P73 curve (similar to Drury)
I’m a rec league hockey player, late 20’s, played as a kid then started back up about five years ago. Mostly play defense and shoot a lot better than I skate. Thanks to Chadd, Battleaxe, and Mod Squad for giving me the opportunity to use and review this stick.
I’ve tried a ridiculous number of sticks, flexes, and curves before narrowing down my preferences, which is about a 70 flex stick with a Drury curve. For the past nine months, I’ve been using a Harrow 300 2-piece setup (in 60 and 75 flex), which I’ve really enjoyed because of its good puck feel and kick. Before that, I used Warrior Dolomites (in 75 flex), which was pretty similar to the Harrow, a bit lighter weight, but with worse puck feel.
I didn’t want to risk getting too stiff a stick so I opted for the 65 flex intermediate over the 80. Kudos to Battle Axe for providing a Drury style curve on their intermediate stick, which is next to impossible to find among other manufacturers.
The Battle Axe website doesn’t have much in the way of technical specs or other details about their sticks, which a tech junkie like me loves to read about. They do mention that the sticks are bladder molded, have a low kickpoint, and tri-chamber blade technology, which are features often found on higher end sticks. I do see they just re-did their website in the past week, and it does look a little nicer, but still a work in progress.
The look of the stick really reminds me of a Warrior product. It has a similar slant font on the shaft and a 12k wrap on the blade that makes it look like a different colorway of last year’s Dolomite Spyne. I do like the colors because my team uses NJ Devils jerseys, so the red, white, and black fits right in. And oddly enough, it looks very similar to my Harrow 300.
Shaft shape is kind of a concave with square edges. I’m used to a more rounded concave shaft but am not picky. It also feels similar to a senior size stick, which is something I prefer. The stick has a texture grip, very similar to the Warrior nipple grip, only in the “shooting” area of the stick (about a foot down from the end to a foot from the heel of the blade). The closest retail shaft shape to me would be a One95 but with a more prominent texture and without a tacky finish.
At full length, the 65 flex rating feels accurate. It feels a bit stiffer than my 60 flex Harrow, but it is brand new and the Harrow is broken in somewhat. The stick comes to 1” below my nose in bare feet, which is 1” short of where I’d like it to be, but I will give it a shot at this length. Also, flexing the stick it feels like it has a progressive amount of resistance to it, unlike my Harrow which will flex rather consistently.
The listed weight is 435 grams, and it definitely feels lighter than my Harrow combo. I’ve never noticed the Harrow to be heavy, but it is noticeably lighter and less blade-heavy than my current stick. I’m looking forward to seeing if this makes a difference on my poke checks and defense.
The build quality of the stick is up to par with other manufacturers. Paint and decals are well applied, texture is even, colors are nice. The only thing I noticed was what appeared to be a bubble in the 12k wrap on the blade, although it looks and feels smooth with the clearcoat and doesn’t seem to affect the structure. To be fair, I have seen similar issues with Easton products in stores.
Brought the BX10 out to stick and puck this morning along with my Harrow 300. On the ice the 1” difference was very noticeable so I’ll have to reserve judgment on some things until I can put a plug in it.
Puck feel is very crisp, but it is not ceramic. It feels very similar to an Easton Synergy which has tremendous puck feedback. Spent a lot of time passing, and while it does not knock pucks dead like the Harrow, it receives hard passes well without the puck bouncing off or over the blade. Two-touch passes were solid with the puck stopping as expected for a quick pass or shot.
Most of the rest of the time was spent with shooting and one-timers. Wrist/snap shots seemed to have a quicker release than the Harrow with similar power, although the accuracy was all over the map (likely because of the shorter length). When I really bent my knees and got low the shots were better, so I’m sure it will improve with a plug in the end. Slappers and one-timers were awful, also probably because of the shorter length, as I kept topping the puck.
Overall, first impressions were positive. It’s a light and lively stick that seems to shoot and pass well, very similar to an Easton Synergy. I’ll be able to judge accuracy and slappers better after putting a plug in it.
I did notice when putting the plug in that the walls of the shaft were a lot thinner than my Harrow, which had very thick walls. The tradeoff is going to be lower durability for the lighter weight, but I rarely break sticks, so I don’t expect any problems. Also, there was some rattling near the blade like there was some loose glue in the shaft, but nothing was coming out the other side. Another thing to keep an eye on.
Had a team practice so I had a chance to try out the BX10 in more “game” situations, kind of. Was heavy on passing and skating so not as much shooting.
In warmups, slappers felt pretty good. I’ve been working on my technique to shoot through the puck rather than digging into the ice like I normally do, and the power was good. Short windup slappers or snappers, whatever you’d like to call them, had a lot of power to them. I do feel like the kickpoint is a bit lower than my Harrow, and my wrist/snap shots were a bit off target. I’ll see if this improves next time out. And my passes had enough velocity that I actually and unfortunately hurt a teammate’s ankle with one. So it’s entirely possible the kickpoint is lower and loading up a bit more to produce more power with these quick shots.
Puck feel on passes was still very crisp, and puck handling was just fine. The lighter weight seemed nice for playing defense and cutting off lanes, but otherwise I really didn’t notice it much, even after switching to the old stick for a while.
Still, my legs and lungs got a lot more of a workout than my hands, and I have a scrimmage this Thursday, where I hope to get some more shooting in.
I have no idea where my camera is so I took bad cell phone photos.
From the side (note the Warrior-esque graphics):
From the top (Drury curve):
Blade view (12k wrap):
Closeup of grip:
Had a late night scrimmage where I didn't use the stick as much because it felt really short that day, even with the plug. I'm guessing it's because we played for nearly two hours with four defensemen and I got tired and stopped bending my knees. I will likely put a 2" plug in it since I'd rather deal with it a little long than short (currently using a 1" plug).
A couple teammates remarked my shots were coming off quicker, and since I changed nothing about my shot recently, I'll attribute it to the stick. I do notice my Harrow feels like it lags on wristers whereas the BX10 just pops. On slappers, the Harrow feels like it loads up and releases hard while the BX10 just powers through the shot. I still think the BX10 is a lower kick stick and the better materials (less fiberglass and more graphite) are the reason for the difference.
Only other thing I noticed was that the light weight of the stick and blade felt strange when fighting for the puck, almost as if the blade would break or if I didn't have enough weight to club the puck away in a scrum in front of my net. Didn't seem to cause any issues though.
Spent most of practice working on skating, and still didn't have a chance to put the plug in. I tried a candy cane grip for the first time ever because I'm used to having more grip on the stick, which did help. The stick continued to shoot well. Release was very quick and was completely freezing the goalie, which was great. Velocity still very good. But accuracy was off, likely due to the length.
I noticed when removing the tape that there was a small chip on the bottom of the blade. This is the first time I've seen a blade chip in nearly two years...although in that time I kind of hopped around from stick to stick before settling on the Harrows which seem almost indestructible. I'm guessing this happened in the scrimmage when I took a swipe at the puck and caught someone flush on the blade.
Finally got the 2" plug in (once again, I used a brand new senior plug and had to add four pieces of tape due to the thin walls of the shaft), and the length now feels great. I decided to take off the candy cane and instead rub some tape inside out on the corners of the shaft, but of course I screwed up and made it too sticky and couldn't use it at pickup because I couldn't move my bottom hand at all. I did use my Harrow for that time and didn't notice the weight difference, puck feel was a tad more solid ("thunk"), and my shot was fantastic with it.
I removed the tape residue with goo gone and will put the candy cane striping back on it, and with the length it should be dialed in and ready for the season. First game of the year is this Sunday, and I'll be able to put the stick in real game situations and see how it holds up.
Used the stick for a light practice, which was mostly skills oriented, although these guys are mostly beginners or slighty above so it was more laid back for me. Overall the stick felt pretty good and comfortable.
Started out with passing from goal line to goal line, and I was very happy that I could mostly hit my target within a few feet from 180 feet away. Catching those very long passes required some cradling as the blade is pretty lively. Lots of passing drills after that, and the stick again caught passes well but required a bit of cradling, definitely not knocking down pucks like wood.
After that, I had a chance to do quite a bit of shooting, although the goalie was screwing around and left early. As usual, shots had a very quick release and strong velocity. My aim is still a bit off as I was missing corners or hitting posts and crossbars. This has been pretty consistent, so I will chalk it up to me needing to cup the puck and follow through better. Backhanders are great with this stick.
I brought a One95 along to mess around with as well and to compare, although it is a 77 flex and a bit longer than the 65 flex BX10 I’m reviewing. Catching passes was definitely easier with the One95 as it deadened the puck better, but as far as shooting goes, the BX10 felt like it kicked harder and had quicker release.
Finally, the winter season has started. I used the stick for warmups as well as the first few shifts before going back to the old stick. Only reason is that my passes were all about waist high and after putting a pretty strong pass at a teammate’s lady parts, I went to my backup which has a closed blade. In hindsight I should have probably just stuck with it but first game was a real close one and you know how it is when you have a few good shifts...
If it counts for anything, I was complimented in warmups by a few people about how my shot release is a lot quicker. I have no idea if that’s the stick, but I do feel like I can get a quick release on it. Either way, I will definitely stick with this for at least two periods next game regardless of how it feels and force myself to adjust.
I’ve used the stick several times now and the flex and blade still seem as stiff as new. It’s holding up very well. The light weight and kick are phenomenal, probably the best I’ve felt yet in a stick. I’d really like to try the tapered shaft of this stick with the Harrow blade as I love the deader puck feel that provides but the shooting of the BX10, but I can’t find anyone who carries these products. Really too bad because this is a pretty good quality stick, so hopefully they start rolling these out at retail soon.
Before using it tonight, I took the plug out and played with it at normal length, which comes about an inch below my nose. Trying to get the passes to lay flatter so hopefully the lie works out better.
First shift at drop-in, picked the puck up ice, moved around two guys, and snapped it high glove and in. Goalie actually said "what the hell?" as he had no time to react. Halfway through, scored again on a similar shot but from almost the blue line...he might have been screened but again didn't react. This thing just has an incredibly quick release.
Stickhandling and passing was a little better with the shorter length, although I did still have a tendency to put the puck up a bit, and most of the guys at my level need the puck pretty flat and slow to catch it. This is just user error. But catching passes was still very good.
Cut it short tonight as I got smoked pretty good and took a hit to the head (by accident) and decided to just play it safe and call it a game. But I didn't even want to switch sticks and everything was feeling good, so I should be able to use it for the next league game.
Side note, this was game three with the skateboard grip tape on the blade and it's still in great shape. Lots of spin on those shots.
Second game of the season tonight, and I used the BX10 pretty much the whole time. At this point, everything is predictable with the stick. Shots have great release and velocity, passes are right where I put them (which isn't necessarily where they should go, but that's my follow through or lack thereof), flex is the same as when new, blade is still stiff, catching passes requires a bit of cradling, and everything's in good shape. The chip at the bottom of the blade has not gotten any worse and there haven't been any others.
I had a couple more teammates comment on how much better my wrist shot is this year. I've always been one of the best shooters on the team, so it's surprising that they are seeing improvement. Part of this is me trying to shoot the puck quicker, but I'm sure the stick isn't hurting at all...and it might be the Drury curve and skateboard tape which seems to get extra zing on shots.
We're getting into the weekly season game, so I'll try and update with remarkable things, such as durability, change in flex, etc.
Two more games down. Decided to use my One95 for a game for comparison after cutting it to length. The One95 blade is definitely softer, has a much more dead wood-like feel and catches passes better. The shot itself seemed to have a noticeably slower release, probably due to the higher kickpoint. And the stick itself was heavier.
Back to the BX10...
Went back to tape and wax (trying to break a slump), and played forward instead of D for the first time this year. Again, I was getting a lot of compliments and "wows" in warmups with my shots, and for the first time I got to use them. Had a solid game, 8+ shots, two goals. Both goals were quick wrist/snap shots (all I ever take), one a 1-on-1 with the goalie shooting scoring short side right under the blocker, and the other on a 2-on-1 high glove, water bottle popper (love it). Could have had a couple more, but the puck rolled off my stick when driving up ice and goalie made some nice saves. Also sent a number of shots right into the stomach, as I'm prone to do.
One thing I noticed is that this stick got a lot of power on shots even when they weren't 100% full loaded "perfect" shots. I had a couple that were too far off the toe, but they still hit the net with some power. A big part has to be the flat blade, but it's nice that I don't have to really lean into shots to avoid fanning on them.
This particular team was doing a lot of chopping and slashing, so I had a few huge gouges into the paint job, but it doesn't look or feel like it was structural damage. The blade is getting JUST A HAIR softer now, although it's still plenty stiff. It reminds me of the old Warrior blades in terms of durability, although the feel is slightly better (still nothing to write home about).
I've got to say I'm absolutely loving the kick and quick release off this stick. Hoping it continues to hold up well, as I'm not one to break sticks.
Two more games, no change in the stick. Still fires as good as ever, blade is still stiff, no new damage to report. Managed to get FIFTEEN shots on goal this past game (weak team) and had a couple goals. Loving this twig.
Also had a couple teammates checking the stick out (they know me well enough to ask if my sticks are new all the time), all commented that it was really light, wanted to know how much they run, etc. I still haven't heard anything about any dealers picking up the stick, which is a shame. I'd pick this stick over most anything on the market at its current price.
Final Update: The stick unexpectedly snapped on a slapper in practice today. I say unexpectedly because the only other time I’ve broken a stick was the second shot with an obviously defective stick. The BX10 held up very well for about 15 games or so and then cracked just below my bottom hand on the forehand side of the stick. No problems with it at all even on the shot just beforehand. I’m guessing it was the very thin walls of the stick that led to it snapping, and that may have also been why it had such a great shot and was so light. Can’t have it all.
So here’s my final review:
Battleaxe BX10 OPS Review
Flex: 65 (intermediate)
Curve: P73 (Drury)
Reviewer: 5’8 175 lbs rec league defenseman/winger
Time Used: 3 months (~15 ice times)
Shaft Shape & Flex:
The BX10 has a slightly concave shape with square edges. The intermediate stick felt as big around as most senior sticks, which I prefer. Flex was very accurate, as it felt nice and whippy but was a little shorter than the average intermediate. It also had a good amount of resistance when leaning into the shot, a lot like an Easton, in that initially it was whippy and would load up, but would gradually feel stiffer as you lean into it, rather than simply whipping out. 9/10 (intermediate stick could be an inch or two longer stock)
Weight & Balance:
Compared to my usual two-piece sticks which are a bit heavy throughout and have more heft at the blade end, the BX10 always felt light and not blade heavy. Balance and weight were as good as I would expect any stick to feel. 10/10
Puck Feel & Passing:
While the puck feel of this stick wasn’t necessarily bad, it wasn’t as good as most high end sticks are today. It felt similar to an old (pre-HD/DD/etc) Warrior Dolomite blade, which was a little pingy or ceramic feeling. Catching passes required a soft touch and some cradling. Still it wasn’t a dead feel, and that may be personal preference. My passes were right where I put them, although the flat blade probably helped. 7/10 (would like a more solid feel for catching passes)
My favorite part of this stick was the shot. That’s really what I hang my hat on, and with this stick I was complimented on my shot by my teammates (and even opposing players/goalies!) much more than with anything else. Snappers, my bread and butter, were hard and accurate and had a quicker release with the same velocity as other sticks I’ve used. Slappers were a bit stronger than normal as well, although I’m not much of a slapper guy. Backhanders were strong, although that was probably the flat curve and not the stick. Still, it loaded up quickly and fired quick, hard, accurate shots. 10/10
I’m a little torn on a rating here...it held up really well until it spontaneously broke. I don’t think it was a defective product; I just think the thinner shaft walls and 100% graphite construction will mean less durability, a lot like a pro stock stick. The blade held up really well after getting chipped early and stayed pretty stiff to the end. Still, this is the first quality stick I've snapped on a shot, and with my size and strength (or lack thereof) I’m a little concerned. 6/10
The stick looks a lot like a Warrior product. In fact, before my practice tonight, I saw a coach using a Warrior that looked so similar that I thought he might have the same stick. The white shaft with black bottom and slanted font is classy and modern while the 12k wrap on the blade makes it look like a high end stick. The font for the flex/curve/etc looked a little cheesy though.
I really enjoyed using this stick. My shot was great with it and I had success using it...6 goals and 8 points in three games playing wing, at least half a dozen goals in a couple pickup games, and lots of oohs and aahs from teammates. The flex, length, curve, and lie were all perfect for my game right out of the box, although it took a few games for me to realize it. My only complaints are that the puck feel wasn’t the best and it snapped much earlier than I thought it would.
Would I buy this particular stick at full price? Maybe, if I could find it...there aren’t many (or any local) dealers for BattleAxe...yet. Hopefully that changes because this is a quality product. Of all the sticks I’ve used to this point, this has been my favorite, and the first one I was really sad to see go. There are others I’d like to try, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I track down another one when they’re a bit more commonplace.
Finally, thanks again to Chadd, ModSquadHockey, and the good folks at BattleAxe for letting me use and review this stick!
Final grade: 8.5/10
If there is not a dealer near you, BattleAxe Hockey equipment is available at www.hockeygear.com.