The sport of first-dates, Homer Simpson, and weekend afternoon programming on ESPN2; bowling is suitable for everyone because anyone can play. Though maybe you're one of those folks who hears the crash of the pins like a siren's call, and it's about more than just a few beers and those cool-looking shoes. Then it's time to invest in a ball, and when you're picking out that very special one, the first thing to consider is the weight. If you go too heavy or too light, it will have an effect on your game. Go with the heaviest ball you can physically manage to wield. Anything heavier is going to be useless because you'll lack control and comfort every time you swing.
You have a selection of materials to choose from in the composition of your ball; each one best suited based on your style of play, the lanes you use, and your skill level. Beginners will want to go with a plastic ball since they haven't developed their game fully and will tend to roll the ball straight, without much hook. The intermediate player might want to go with urethane, allowing for more hook on each roll; the surface will not only interact better with well-oiled lanes, but also impact the pins at a lower sweet spot. Resin balls take most of these advantages and allow for greater success with each, especially with regard to hook and strike zone. So now that you've got some buying tips to work with, take a look at our list of best picks below, each one chosen based upon the following criteria: core materials, coverstock materials, power, weight availability, and overall performance.
Hammer's Deadly Aim ball is one of the hardest hitters on our list, with some serious torque and greater mass at the core. You're going to excel on heavy oil with this ball and with Hammer's use of carbon fiber the ball will keep pounding down the pins game after game without showing any remorse or loss of performance. The company is so sure you're going to love this thing, they've backed it with a three-year warranty. Read Full Review
The Deadly Aim will give you just that with expert precision and hard-hitting impact. Hammer has created a core system that concentrates greater mass density at the center, increasing your torque for a stronger flow of energy that results in a longer continuation on your roll out and a hard backend snap. The assertive arc of this thing bashes down the pins with a reinforced outer core layer of unyielding and durable carbon fiber, unleashing all that power down with veracity. The ball has excellent grip in heavy oil, using a primer reactive hybrid coverstock and still maintains enough energy for serious impact at the end of the lane. Hammer is so sure they've made one of the strongest and most powerful balls on the market that they're backing it with a three year warranty against manufacturing defects. It comes in a fiery red/orange/yellow color combination and is available in weights 12-16.
If you want a ball that likes to hook, then look no further than the Endless Nightmare from the twisted folks at DV8. One of the most reactive balls on the list, this thing brings major strength and power to the lane even in the heaviest oil. You may want to polish it up a bit first when you take it out of the box so you can get better handling on it. Read Full Review
DV8 has always been known for their aggressive balls that exert a lot of strength and the Endless Nightmare continues that tradition of dominance. They've put their Class 9 hybrid reactive coverstock around their asymmetric, black, skull-shaped Nightmare core; which is designed for harder arc and more area at the break point with faster friction response. The ball is forceful right from the start and slashes through medium to heavy oil with ease while maintaining all of its energy, before turning on a dime and blasting the pins with all of its might. Plus you won't need to perform all kinds of exotic drillings on this ball to make it do what you want. Simplicity works best. It comes in various weights from 12-16 and has a strange exterior aesthetic of purple, silver, and yellow that isn't the most attractive combination. If you're a fan of previous DV8 balls like the Nightmare and the Brutal Nightmare this one won't disappoint; and as is the case with all of their balls, DV8 backs their product with a two year warranty against material and workmanship defects so you can rest assured you're holding a quality piece of equipment in your hands.
Storm's new release (as of March 2014) has been designed to handle friction with smooth confidence down the lane and the result is a ball that is less aggressive than some of its counterparts on our list, but no less powerful. This one just does it all with a more fluid transition at the backend and finishes with a commanding hook that produces forceful impact on the pins. This is another ball that also does well in heavier oil conditions. Read Full Review
Storm has improved upon all the excellent qualities of its previous Virtual Gravity ball with the Zero Gravity, using a modified design on their Super Lock core which has been tweaked for a lower density center mass that produces less flare-out and keeps the control in your hands. What does that mean exactly? The result is a ball that starts out strong at the top with a smooth motion down the mid-lane before transitioning with more fluid ease at the backend; and while it hooks with enough hard-hitting power to lay the smack down, it does so without the snap that some of the previous balls display. This one hooks hard with consistent reaction and a graceful recovery. Storm's improved ERG Solid Reactive coverstock likes to power through medium to heavy oil and works in concert with the low density core to charge down the lane while storing enough energy to knock down everything in its path. Storm's ball comes in weights 12-16 and is one of the best-selling balls on the market at the moment.
Boasting one of the latest and most angular backends of any ball on this list (or likely any other list for that matter), Motiv's Primal Rage responds quickly to friction and carries aggressive backend. It works well on a variety of both long and short patterns and corners hard for a dynamic wallop into the pins. Read Full Review
Motiv's newest bright red ball has the most angular backend of any ball the company has manufactured before it. Providing smooth length and excellent friction response, the Primal Rage lets you put as much speed as you want on it, no matter how steep the angle on the front, and still recover beautifully. This is achieved through Motiv's use of their new Fusion Pearl Reactive coverstock combined with a dual-density V2 core, which takes the ball through the heads with smoothness and ease before picking up speed and power down the mid-lane as it accumulates energy for the big finish. And what a finish it is, the ball waiting until the very last minute to hook and deliver a thrashing finale. Motiv's ball is available in the usual weights and comes at a retail price comparable to the other picks on our list.
Brunswick is phasing out their Nexus line of balls with the new Aura. This ball is all about length and friction response, with its Rough Buff finish and a coverstock technology that stores energy for optimum release in the backend. The angular velocity here is incredible. Read Full Review
The Aura is a pretty impressive ball all around, starting with Brunswick's Optimum Solid-Flip Coverstock technology. It provides a stronger preservation of revolution rate, axis rotation, and speed, so that greater energy is released later in the backend. This makes for a better angle and powerful impact to make sure you take out all the pins. The ball's ultra-low RG core helps it do all of that by extending the ball's rotational energy for one of the best angular velocities of any ball on this list. It's a simple-looking ball, but the purple and black color combination is intimidating nonetheless. With a high-rated hook potential and length, this is a ball that is best suited for medium to heavy oil lanes.