MIND THE GAP: A first look at the Franklin X-40 pickleball

Posted on by Abbie David

With the growing number of players and companies involved in pickleball, it is no surprise that new pickleballs are entering the market. There is a design gap between two of the most widely used outdoor pickleballs, the Dura Fast 40 and the Onix Pure 2. A number of pickleball companies are looking to fill this gap. Franklin Sports is one of them. The first design difference between the Fast and the Pure is the height of their bounce; the second is the way they feel in the hand and when they hit the paddle. Building on their experience making wiffle-type balls for baseball, Franklin Sports has created a pickleball named the X-40. Following is a comparison between the Dura, Onix & Franklin pickleballs.

 First, it should be noted that the USAPA has changed the rule concerning the bounce height of a pickleball. This new rule limits a pickleball bounce to 34 inches. Good on the USAPA for this call. For the average player, a high bounce height above the net allows more balls to be smashed, at the expense of developing the soft game, a critical component of pickleball. 

 Dura Fast 40

  1. Longtime pickleball of choice; has a pop coming off the paddle.
  2. Unofficial bounce test measures approximately 32 inches.
  3. Made of hard plastic. Stings if hit in the face, hands or arms in cold weather.
  4. Shortest lifespan. The ball will crack with hard play.  

 Onix Pure 2

  1. Has a rubber feel instead of hard plastic and has more give when hit by the paddle.
  2. Unofficial bounce test measures approximately 36 inches.
  3. Claims to be the quiet ball; however, I could find no published dB tests.
  4. The ball seems to last forever but does wear down and dies a very slow, bouncing lower death.

 Franklin X-40 

  1.  Unofficial bounce test measures the same as the Dura; approximately 32”.
  2. The X ball has a softer feel like the Onix and less of the hard plastic feel of the Dura; yet hits off the paddle with just slightly less pop than the Dura.
  3. The ball will crack with hard play but in limited tests, it has lasted longer than the Dura before doing so. More testing and reports from the courts are needed.
  4. The X-40 keeps its shape and it’s bright yellow color shows up well during play.

 Franklin pickleballs were handed out to players to have a go and their thoughts about the ball were collected after play. The most common description of the Franklin X ball is: “It plays like a Dura (bounce) and feels more like the Onix.” It looks like Franklin has filled a gap in the pickleball universe.