Best Pool Cues 2020 – A Comprehensive Guide

  • Pool
  • 22 November 2019
best pool cue sticks

After writing some buyers guide about Pool Cues for Beginners and for Intermediate, now I’m back with our Best Pool Cue Guide. These are high performance, high-spec cues that can really improve your game tremendously. But first, I would like to ask something…

Does this sound like you?

  • I want to try a low deflection cue without breaking the bank…
  • Looking to take your game to the next level? 
  • I am interested to upgrade from an entry level cue to a mid-range or high-end cue…
  • I’ve already have some cues and I’m looking to add more for my collection…

If you’re looking for a guide then we’ve got you covered – for today’s post, we’ve picked 11 options that we think are the best out there. Expect some in-depth overview of the shortlisted cues, as well as a few handy tips on how to select the very best pool cue for your needs!

This guide will walk you through the overall process of selecting a cue and a list of the best pool cues out there. Please keep in mind that these pool cues are all low deflection sticks and between mid-range to high-end levels. Some of them are expensive but most of them have the best value.

11 Best Pool Cues 2020

1. Lucasi Custom Sneaky Pete Pool Cue

If you are ready to spend the money on a solid pool cue, then the Sneaky Pete cue by Lucasi may be the right option for you.

The key feature of this pool cue is the low-deflection shaft will help you accurately control the cue ball in play. The low ball deflection delivered by the shaft is partly thanks to the so-called Zero Flexpoint ferrule – it’s designed light and tough to minimize ball deflection. The shaft’s solid core is another major contributor to this shaft’s low deflection.

Lucasi also boasts the Tiger Everest tip that combines the control of a soft tip, strikes of a medium tip, and the durability of a hard tip.

Another notable thing about the Sneaky Pete cue is its precise-fitting two-piece design. If you are traveling a lot, then this little feature will come in handy since it’ll save you some luggage space.

The build of the Sneaky Pete pool cue should be mentioned as well – this thing is made from beautiful birds-eye maple that’s pleasant to the eye and to the touch.

Speaking of touch, the Sneaky Pete pool cue doesn’t come with any wraps. Well, if you are an experienced pool player, then you probably have your own wrap of choice, so this may not a problem for you.

Pros:

  • Low-deflection shaft.
  • Durable and controllable tip.

Cons:

  • The design is not for everyone.

2. Predator Sport 2 with 314-3 Shaft

 

The Sport 2 pool cue is one of the higher-end cues offered by Predator. Lucasi’s Sneaky Pete already was an excellent cue, but if you like a beautifully designed cue this one may be even better for your needs.

This cue is for more serious players that are looking for good looks and excellent performance.

The feature that Predator boasts the most in this cue is the 314-3 low-deflection shaft that features the light and stiff V-Tek ferrule, the strong and tactile V-Tek Fiber Tip, and the Vault-Plate that brings the shaft components together, creating a stiff construction that’s durable and features excellent kinetic energy transfer.

The Preadator Sport 2 pool cue also has a four-piece butt construction designed to reduce vibrations and provide increased accuracy.

Another notable feature in the Sport 2 pool cue is the five-zone grip that provides five different traction zones to hold onto. The wrap is very tacky and it helps to fight moisture. Please do note that the wrap is made from rubber.

But perhaps the most remarkable benefit of the Sport 2 pool cue is the Uni-Loc Weight Cartridge System. This system comes with eight weights ranging from 0.1 to 2 ounces, allowing you to alter the feel and performance of the cue on the fly.

The Predator Sport 2 pool cue certainly is a spectacle, but it’s priced spectacularly as well. But if you are a high-level pool player and are ready to spend a few hundred dollars on a high-quality pool cue, then this one may be the right option.

Pros:

  • Accurate low-deflection shaft.
  • Adjustable cue weight.
  • Tacky wrap for better grip.

Cons:

  • If you’re not a fan of rubber wrap then you may look elsewhere.

3. Players Technology Series HXT15

The Series HXT15 by Players is a great choice if you’re looking for a low-priced cue with great performance. It certainly won’t be even near the Predator Sport2  and Lucasi Sneaky Pete cues, but it’s much cheaper and a better option for beginners.

The HXT15 boasts a low-deflection shaft as well. Similar to the two previous cues, the low-deflection character of this pool cue is mostly thanks to the polymer-core ferrule. With that said, it’s safe to say that you won’t be getting as much control from this cue as from pricier options.

The default tip included with the HXT15 pool cue is soft. This tip will deliver increased spin potential but low durability. But if you can make use of the increased spin potential, then the HXT15 cue might do wonders for you.

In terms of grip, this pool cue is nothing too remarkable – its Irish linen wrap will be grippy enough, but after the Sport2’s grip, it offers nothing special. This isn’t bad if you don’t need anything out-of-this-world though!

Pros:

  • Soft tip with high spin potential.
  • Low-deflection shaft.

Cons:

  • Not as durable as the higher-priced cues

4. Lucasi LHC98 Hybrid Pool Cue

 

Lucasi LHC98 hybrid pool cue features top-of-the-line materials and performance that seem to be on par with what the Predator Sport 2 cue offers.

Needless to say, you are getting low ball deflection from this pool cue. The LHC98 features the familiar stiff and light Zero Flexpoint ferrule that is also found on the Sneaky Pete pool cue.

This is where the similarities between the two Lucasi pool cues pretty much end though. The LHC98 pool cue has a few additional features designed to reduce vibrations and increase ball control and accuracy.

One of such features is the four-piece butt construction – similar to the butt of the Sport 2 cue, the Lucasi four-piece butt is there to improve the stability of the cue. Furthermore, you even have shock-absorbing memory foam integrated into the wrap for additional stability and accuracy.

Lucasi also boasts a ten-layer Kamui Pro Soft Tip delivering increased spin potential at the cost of decreased durability.

Unlike the Lucasi Sneaky Pete pool cue, the LHC98 cue comes with a wrap. In fact, the included wrap is a high-quality embossed leather wrap! This wrap seems to be simpler in construction than Sport 2’s five-zone wrap, but who said that you need five grip zones to be on the top?

Pros:

  • Soft tip with great spin potential.
  • Low-deflection shaft.
  • Premium-quality leather wrap.

Cons:

  • Decreased durability in the soft tip.

5. Meucci SB1-S Handcrafted Pool Cue

 

The SB1-S pool cue by Meucci certainly isn’t the best cue on the list when it comes to performance. However, it’s on the top when it comes to cue design and feel.

While cue appearance comes down to personal preference, we highly like the smoke grey stain coloring of this pool cue. It’s nothing fancy, but that’s the power of it – the beauty of this pool cue lies in its restraint.

Meucci also boasts that the SB1-S cue is handcrafted. Well, this and the high price of this cue should give you a decent idea of how this thing will feel.

Meucci also includes a soft tip with a high spin potential. Like any other soft tip, it won’t live too long, but it will deliver better spin and feel of the ball.

The build of the SB1-S pool cue is two-piece as well, so you shouldn’t have any issues with carrying it inside a bag.

Before wrapping up our overview of the SB1-S pool cue, we should mention that it seems that some people have gotten SB1-S cues with unfinished tops. This appears not to have happened with absolutely everyone though, so maybe that was some kind of a manufacturing error.

Pros:

  • Great looking stick.
  • Handcrafted quality.

Cons:

  • It seems that some of the cues bought by people so far had unfinished tops.

6. Predator 8K-2 Pool Cue

 

The Predator 8K-2 pool cue may be retired, but it still is one of the best high-end pool cues one could find out there.

The 8K-2 pool cue features many of the benefits of the Sport 2 pool cue. Namely, it has a second-generation 314 low-deflection shaft. Albeit perhaps not as controllable and stiff as the third-gen 314 shaft in the Sport 2 cue, the shaft in 8K-2 still delivers remarkable stiffness, control, and feel of the ball.

The Uni-Loc Weight System is still here as well, allowing you to finely adjust the weight of the pool cue on the fly.

The design is a classic and kinda old school.

Unfortunately, you aren’t getting the fancy grip that the Sport 2 pool cue had. With that said, the leather wrap should suffice for most people, and it also feels nice.

Pros:

  • Adjustable weight.
  • Great design.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for beginners and intermediate players.

7. Lucasi Mystic Pool Cue

Lucasi’s Mystic pool cue is very similar to the Sneaky Pete cue we’ve reviewed at the very beginning. The core features of the Sneaky Pete cue are all here, but there’s one important difference in the Mystic cue.

The only reason I put this beautiful stick this low because I don’t want to fill the top 5 with Lucasi cues. I don’t want my readers to accuse me as a Lucasi fan boy. :))

Lucasi boasts an extended taper designed by five-time world champion Thorsten Hohmann. This extended taper should make this cue a little less stiff and the deflection lower, which certainly is welcome in a cue of such price.

In terms of ball deflection, the Mystic pool cue is very similar to the Sneaky Pete cue. The Mystic cue has the same Tiger Everest tip with balanced feel & spin, as well as the same stiff and lightweight polymer ferrule.

The Mystic pool cue is excellent in the looks department as well, partly thanks to the real inlays made with a CNC machine.

Unfortunately for some people though, the Mystic cue again doesn’t come with any wraps. If you are used to wraps, then dedicate some money to buying one.

Pros:

  • Extended taper designed by world champion Thorsten Hohmann.
  • Low-deflection shaft.
  • Durable and controllable tip.

Cons:

  • Pricey.
  • Comes with no wraps.

8. Players C-960

Finally, we have this entry-level pool cue by Players. It’s an excellent option if you are just starting out or/and if you have a very limited budget.

For its price, the Players C-960 stick delivers decent controllability – partly thanks to the hard tip that’s more predictable – and doesn’t have any spin potential unwanted for less skilled players.

Players kindly includes a decent Irish linen wrap with this pool cue for a slip-free grip. And besides, you are getting lifetime warranty coverage, which is certainly nice for a pool cue of this price.

Needless to say, the consistency in this guy isn’t even near what the pricier cues have to offer, but when starting out, you probably won’t give too much attention to the little vibrations in your pool cue.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive.
  • Hard and durable tip.
  • Fairly good controllability.

Cons:

  • Durability is so-so.

9. Viking Valhalla VA891 Pool Cue

It’s sure nice to have top performance in a pool cue, but if you don’t need it, there’s no point in spending hundreds of dollars. If you are a newbie, a better pool cue would be something like the Valhalla VA891 cue by Viking.

This pool cue sure isn’t as accurate and controllable as pricier cues, but it has a nice feel to it. It features a firm and fairly durable tip that will deliver predictable shots, and it also has a high-impact resin ferrule that seems to be not too stiff.

In spite of its inexpensiveness, the Valhalla VA891 pool cue is backed by a lifetime warranty, which is a very nice gesture from Viking. And had this pool cue come with a wrap, it would be perfect for the money!

Pros:

  • Firm and quite durable tip.
  • Fairly inexpensive.

Cons:

  • Has a tendency to be inconsistent

10. McDermott G710 Pool Cue

McDermott G710 isn’t quite the most expensive pool cue out there, but it’s closer to the top than most of the cues we’ve overviewed. If you don’t care about price and only care about feel and performance, the G710 cue may be that best pool cue for you.

The key feature of the G710 cue is the triple-layer carbon fiber core that is designed to dramatically increase the accuracy of the cue and compensate for the inconsistencies found in traditional maple shafts.

Not only that, but the carbon fiber core also actually allows for an increased sweet spot in the tip. The patented Tenon Tip Technology transfers the energy from the tip directly into the carbon fiber core, thereby making the tip a bit more forgiving even with off-center shots.

As a consequence, you are getting what McDermott calls “radial consistency” – the ability of the shaft to perform in the same way regardless of its orientation. All in all, the excellent consistency of the shaft allows you to avoid compensating for spin and throw at ever shot.

The design of the G710 pool cue is remarkable as well – this pool cue boasts a plentitude of intricate inlays, and its lizard-embossed leather wrap is quite an eye-catcher as well.

But as mentioned above, all this beauty costs quite the money, so the G710 definitely isn’t the for the average player!

Pros:

  • Highly consistent feel.
  • Increased sweet spot in the tip.

Cons:

  • Beautiful detailed design but comes with a hefty price.

11. Viking A831 Pool Cue

The Viking A831 is priced around the same as the McDermott G710 pool cue, but it’s built a little bit differently.

Viking doesn’t go into as much detail into the construction of its pool cue as McDermott. With that said, the ViKORE American Performance Shaft used in the A831 pool cue is one of the higher-end shafts offered by Viking.

The ViKORE shaft boasts low reflection delivered by the so-called reactive ViKORE center that delivers reduced vibration and increased consistency. Overall, the shaft construction of the A831 pool cue should allow it to perform on par with the McDermott G710 pool cue.

Viking has also equipped the A831 pool cue with a high-performance Tiger Everest tip, a tip that we are already familiar with. As a reminder, this tip features balanced all-round performance, delivering good feel, control, and durability.

In terms of design, we like the McDermott G710 pool cue a little more since it looks somewhat more serious. With that said, the detailed inlays and the embossed leather certainly let you know that the A831 is a higher-end pool cue.

Pros:

  • Pretty and detailed design.
  • Highly-accurate low-deflection shaft.

Cons:

  •  Just like the McDermott cue above, the beautiful design comes with a hefty price tag.

How To Choose The Best Pool Cue

We have these eleven great pool cues, but how do you choose the best one? Well, let’s overview the most important things you should be looking for in a pool cue.

Keep in mind that we will only be covering general stuff – there is so much science behind cues that we’d need a few separate posts to cover it all. As a good source of more in-depth information, check out billiards.colostate.edu, an extensive archive of resources on pool and billiards.

Soft vs hard cue tip

Let’s start from the tip of the cue.

There are two tip types that you will have to choose between – soft and hard tips. We can’t say that one of them is clearly better than the other since each tip type has its uses and benefits.

Soft tips:

  • Are great if you want to put spin into the ball.
  • Want to get a softer feel from your strikes.
  • Don’t mind frequent soft tip maintenance or replacement.

In contrast, hard tips:

  • Are more durable.
  • Are less capable of ball spin.
  • Are less forgiving when you strike a ball off-center.

Professional or more skilled pool players tend to choose hard-tip cues. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a pro should use a hard-tip pool cue – if you are experienced and prefer soft play, then go for a soft tip by all means.

It’s usually recommended that beginners choose soft-tip cues, partly because they are a little more forgiving with off-center shots.

Consistency and deflection

Consistency and deflection (also known as squirt) are among the more complex and important characteristics to consider in pool cues. This is a hugely deeper topic than will be covered below, and for more information, check out the squirt-oriented resources at billiards.colostate.edu.

Deflection essentially is the displacement of the ball from the intended path after a hit. A low-deflection pool cue will displace the ball less and will thus be more predictable and consistent in its shots.

As a general rule, here are the key features of low-deflection pool cues:

  • Their shafts have less end mass than regular shafts. The shafts and tips of such pool cues are intentionally made thinner and lighter.
  • Their shafts are more flexible and create less vibration upon a strike.
  • Their shafts have a more consistent structure.

Notice that we are talking about pool cue shafts. It’s the shaft that has the most contribution to how a pool cue behaves and feels.

Pool cue manufacturers make use of a variety of tricks to make their cues more predictable, forgiving, and produce less deflection.

Cues are typically made from maple, though other wood types can be found as well. Wood is naturally an inconsistent material since it’s density may vary throughout its volume. Due to this, regular maple isn’t the best material in terms of consistency and deflection.

What some manufacturers do to combat the inconsistent nature of wood is to alter its structure. For example:

  • The maple shaft may be hollowed out for mass reduction.
  • Some of the wood may be replaced with artificially-made materials, e.g. carbon fiber (as we’ve seen in the McDermott G710 cue). Since carbon fiber is made artificially, it’s much easier to control how consistent and uniform it is. You can’t do the same with wood since it’s a naturally-occurring material.
  • The entire shaft is made of carbon fiber. This allows to make the shaft much lighter, stronger, and more uniform.

Manufacturers may also use lighter ferrules, tips, and even butts, but they don’t have as much of an impact as shafts since shafts are much bigger and heavier.

Needless to say, the more complex the build of the shaft is, the more expensive the pool cue will be.

The cheaper pool cues priced around $100-$200 will have the worst consistency – they won’t be having those fancy mass-reducing features. If you want to get a more consistent and predictable pool cue, then you will have to look among at least $300 cues.

In the lower-end low-deflection cues, the deflection will be reduced with more minor things like lighter ferrules (like it is done in the cheaper Lucasi pool cues). In more expensive models, you will start seeing fancier features such as consistent and light shaft cores like in the McDermott G710 cue and Viking A831.

Cue length

The next thing to pay attention to is the cue length. All in all, proper pool cue length comes down to your height.

Standard one-piece cues tend to be 57 inches long, while two-piece cues are typically at 58 inches. Children or shorter individuals should probably choose a cue length from 48 to 52 inches. And if you are over 6 feet 5 inches tall, then cues longer than 57-58 inches would most likely work the best for you.

Cue shaft diameter

The shaft is the upper and narrower end of the cue. Usually, when we say shaft diameter, we are referring to the shaft’s tip specifically.

Pool cues usually have a shaft diameter of 11-14mm, which is the legal size for American pool. Depending on your preferences and needs, you could go narrower or wider.

A smaller shaft would provide you with a little more control over the tip’s positioning against the ball, allowing you to perform such hard shots as the English. Besides, smaller shafts are lighter and thus have less deflection.

With that said, smaller-tip cues are harder to control, so inexperienced players may want to avoid them.

Pool cues with larger tips are somewhat more predictable, but they don’t provide you with the same fine-grained control as small-tip cues do. With that in mind, beginners should probably go for a 12-13mm cue because it’s the golden middle of tip diameters.

Cue shaft taper

A cue’s shaft is the narrowest at the tip and gets gradually wider towards the butt. This change in width is known as the taper.

There are two types of tapers in cues – conical and pro. In conical cues, the shaft gets skinnier towards the tip very gradually. In contrast, a pro taper shaft will get narrow more rapidly. The good thing about the pro taper is that when you pull the cue back through the bridge, the feel of the cue is consistent throughout the entire motion.

With some cues, you will also see pro taper measurements, e.g. “12-inch pro taper”. If we have a cue with an 11mm tip and 12-inch pro taper, its shaft diameter of 11 mm is maintained 12 inches down the shaft. After the 12 inches, the cue’s thickness increases.

Generally, a shorter taper (i.e. the cue gets thick earlier) makes a cue deliver a firmer and stiffer feel. Conversely, a long-taper cue will have more flex.

Since a longer pro taper would make a pool cue more flexible, it would also decrease its deflection. With that in mind, a pool cue with an extended pro taper (like the Lucasi Mystic pool cue) is going to be more consistent and predictable.

Cue weight

Pool cues typically weigh between 17 and 21 ounces. Most players out there seem to prefer 19- or 20-ounce cues, so it’s the weight that you should probably start at as well.

With that said, keep in mind that the cue weight will significantly affect your shot. If you pick a cue that’s too heavy for you, then you may unintentionally lower the butt of the cue when making a shot.

Aside from that, keep in mind that lighter cues are more suitable for skill shots where precision is more important. Besides, lighter cues may have less deflection, though the construction of the shaft will probably play a bigger role than the cue’s weight.

Cue wrap

The wrap or grip of a cue is the material that covers the bottom of the cue. The purpose of the wrap is to allow you to hold the cue more securely.

Cheaper cues typically come with no wraps or from wraps made from linen or nylon. These are decently comfortable and grippy, so you probably won’t need anything else at the initial stages. More expensive cues may have leather wraps or fancy-texture grips (like the one in the Predator Sport2 cue), though some pricey cues also don’t come with any wraps.

Cue straightness

Believe it or not, but occasionally, cues – mostly cheaper ones – may come crooked. And this certainly isn’t something you want.

If shopping online, you won’t be able to check the straightness of the cue until it arrives. Well, you should check the straightness of the cue immediately since a crooked cue will only bring frustration at the table.

To check the straightness of the cue, hold the cue’s butt at eye level and look down the cue’s length. Slowly spin the cue and look for abnormalities in its surface.

Alternatively, you could roll the cue along a flat surface – if it rolls smoothly, it’s straight. However, this test is only valid on a surface that is 100% flat.

If you find that the cue isn’t straight, then ship it back and have it replaced or your money returned. And by the way, for cases like these, you should make sure that the cue is covered by a warranty. Cue manufacturers mostly offer lifetime warranties though – even with cheap cues – so you should be safe in this area.

If shopping in a local store, things are much easier – you will be able to check the cue straightness on the spot, and you simply won’t buy a cue that’s not straight.

One- vs two-piece cues

Finally, we have one- vs two-piece cues.

The vast majority of pool cues – especially pricier ones –are going to be two-piece. A two-piece cue has a shaft that can be separated from the butt. This allows for better storage efficiency, as well as provides upgrade opportunities for the shaft. There’s no reason to go for a single-piece cue unless the best cue for your needs turns out to be a single-piece one.

Final Words

Expect to find out much more about pool cues as you play.

The guidelines above have been general, and along the way, you will find out plenty of specific things that will apply to your needs and playstyle. But for the time being, general tips like the ones above should suffice.

Be sure to understand what you need – even the cheapest cues out there cost quite the money. If you want to keep your pocket happy, then know what you want and carefully pick that best pool cue!

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