Which Badminton Shuttlecocks Should You Choose? – Ultimate Buying Guide

Which Badminton Shuttlecocks Should You Choose? – Ultimate Buying Guide

There are three different badminton shuttlecocks – feather, plastic and hybrid.

Feather shuttles allow for better control, feel and sound, whilst plastic shuttles are more durable and cost-effective.

In this buying guide we’re going to focus on feather shuttles as that’s where our expertise lies since we’ve used feather shuttles from a lot of different brands over the last 20 years in our training, clubs, coaching and professional tournaments.

We’ll now discuss:

  • The features you need to consider before buying,
  • Share results of our comparison test of over 10 types of shuttles at different prices,
  • And we’ll also share what we use!

4 Main Features To Consider

1. Shuttle Speed

There are 5 different categories of shuttle speeds going from 75, which is the slowest, up to 79 which is the fastest.

which badminton shuttlecocks should you choose ultimate buying guide

💡 Brands like Yonex use their own system where speed 1 is the slowest, and they go up to speed 5 which is the fastest.

Choosing the right shuttle speed can depend on a few things, but most importantly:

  • The altitude you’re playing at
  • The temperature

So, if you’re playing in really hot temperatures or high altitudes, these playing conditions tend to ‘speed up’ the shuttle so you would opt for the slower 76 or 77 speed or 75 in extreme conditions. 

If you don’t do this, then you might be wondering why your smash feels 10x more powerful… Or why all of your shots are flying out the back!

On the other end of the spectrum, you would opt for the 78 or 79 speed if you’re playing in colder or air-conditioned halls, or if you’re below sea level.

But generally, the most common speeds are 77 and 78.

2. Price

There are shuttles that fit all different price points, with one tube of 12 shuttles costing from less than £15 ($18), up to £35 ($45). We’ll cover price points more in the shuttle comparison section later!

3. Durability

How long does each shuttle typically last for? 

Well, this can depend on a few things:

  • The level you play at – as beginners tend to mishit the shuttle more, they tend to break more feathers and therefore use more shuttles.
  • The style of play – if you hit lots of powerful drives and smashes, the shuttles won’t last as long.
  • The storage conditions – for example, if you’re leaving shuttles in a really dry space, then the feathers can dry out and become brittle, which will again reduce how long they last.

4. Feel and control

How does it feel when you play with it? Does the shuttle come smoothly off your strings?

Some new shuttles might feel like they’re coming off your racket weirdly, making it really hard to play good quality and accurate shots.

Feather Shuttle Comparison

We have tested and compared 10 types of shuttles at various price points, ranging from just £5 per tube, all the way up to £35!

which badminton shuttlecocks should you choose ultimate buying guide 1
10 types of shuttles that were tested

For each shuttle, we did 2 tests:

  • A durability test
  • An accuracy test

A couple of quick disclaimers before we get started:

  • We’re not robots so some shuttles would have been hit slightly differently! We did however not mishit many shuttles, which is important to note.
  • We obviously didn’t test ALL of the shuttles you can buy worldwide, but we tried to choose a selection from different well-known brands that we could get at different price points here in the UK, and they’re all speed 78.

So, we started our testing with a £5 ($6) tube from Drafon. But this tube was kind of a joke.

We actually bought them from a supermarket in Kuala Lumpur, as we couldn’t believe a tube of feather shuttles was so cheap. BUT we opened them, and realised they’d already failed both tests – it definitely gave us a good laugh though!

which badminton shuttlecocks should you choose ultimate buying guide 2
New Drafon shuttle (left) vs New Victor Master Ace shuttle (right)

Now lets go onto the rest of the test! These are the shuttles that we will be testing:

Shuttle Name Price Per Tube
Yehlex Tournament £16 ($20)
Lining G800 £17 ($21)
Babolat 2’s £19 ($23)
Yonex AS30 £22 ($27)
Forza VIP £24 ($29)
Yonex AS40 £26 ($32)
Victor Gold Champion £30 ($37)
Yonex AS50 £32 (£39)
Victor Master Ace £35 ($43)

Durability Testing

When we hit each shuttle 500 times with a variety of drills, how long did they last?

Shuttle Name Price Per Tube Condition After 500 Shots
Yehlex Tournament £16 ($20) We only needed to use 1 shuttle for the 500 shots, but by the end it was no longer circular and the feathers were fluffed up.
Lining G800 £17 ($21) It held its shape quite well, but it went so fluffy! We noticed how fluffy it was from just 150 shots into the testing.
Babolat 2’s £19 ($23) It held its shape well and didn’t get too fluffy, but we had a small feather breakage right at the end of the 500 shots. This wasn’t enough breakage to warrant changing the shuttle.
Yonex AS30 £22 ($27) After 150 shots the shuttle was completely squashed – so although a feather wasn’t broken we changed the shuttle. The 2nd AS30 held its shape much better for the remaining 350 shots but that might be because we had finished all of the smashing!
Forza VIP £24 ($29) Around halfway through the testing, it was fluffy and quite squashed which meant it wasn’t flying properly at all, so we changed the shuttle.
Yonex AS40 £26 ($32) After 150 shots we noticed this was definitely the least fluffy shuttle we’ve had so far. At the end of the testing it had held it’s shape and didn’t get too fluffy.
Victor Gold Champion £30 ($37) It held its shape very well, and just had 1 small break to a feather. This wasn’t enough to warrant changing the shuttle as it still flew well.
Yonex AS50 £32 (£39) It kept its shape, didn’t fluff up much and all the feathers are intact.
Victor Master Ace £35 ($43) This didn’t really fluffed up at all and held its shape well.

💡 What do we mean when we say the shuttle has become ‘fluffy’?
Well, the feathers become ruffled, which makes the shuttles less streamlined through the air and hugely reduces their speed. This makes it feel really different to how a brand new one would, which can be difficult to deal with!

Overall, we found that the more expensive ones were half as fluffy at the end and the two most expensive were DEFINITELY in the best condition after 500 shots. 

which badminton shuttlecocks should you choose ultimate buying guide 3

And whilst we didn’t completely break any feathers as we didn’t mishit many shots, we did notice that the cheaper shuttles lost their shape a lot easier when we were testing them!

Accuracy Testing

Do expensive shuttles help you play better and more accurate shots?

To do this test, we hit 20 lifts, 20 net shots, 20 serves and 20 smashes with each shuttle.

Generally we noticed that the shuttles at the cheaper end bobbled more (i.e. had a less ‘smooth’ flight path) and we felt like we had less control, especially with our net shots and serves.

With the more expensive shuttles like the Master Ace and AS50’s, we both felt we could play higher quality and more consistent shots.

We also noticed that even though they were all speed 78’s, the Babolat 2’s were much quicker!

What We Use

For our own training, we use the VICTOR Master Ace! Full disclosure we are sponsored by VICTOR but we’ve personally found that these last over 3 times as long as various cheaper ones, and of course aren’t 3 times the price!

It’s also worth mentioning that if you can, it’s better to practice with shuttles that you compete with to get used to the feel of the shuttle. A lot of international tournaments use the Master Ace so this works well for us!

But if you can choose what shuttles to play your matches with, then we’d recommend trying these tests yourself. Maybe try a more expensive tube and see how much longer it lasts for you… because as we’ve said, the durability depends on your level and playing style! If the shuttle lasts double as long but isn’t double the price, it might be worth the investment!

Learn More

After reading this, hopefully you now know how to choose the best badminton shuttlecock for you! 

If you’re looking for somewhere to buy shuttles, we’d recommend checking out our sponsor Sakura Sport. They offer shipping throughout Europe, and if you use the discount code ‘badmintoninsight’ at checkout you can get 10% off your order (excluding shuttles). 

If you want to watch our video on this topic, including our shuttle comparison test, you can also watch our YouTube video below.

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