For longer than a century, even before Bud Hillerich convinced his father that the future of their Louisville-based woodworking shop was in making bats for sluggers, the design of the baseball bat has remained largely unchanged.
Sure, we’ve seen it made with different materials and metals; we’ve even see rotating handles, bigger and longer barrels and other wacky performance-enhancing features. But, by in large, the shape of the bat has not changed.
The AXE Bat does the seemingly impossible by changing the shape of the baseball bat. Specifically, this revolutionary design sculpts the handle and knob of the bat to reflect the look and feel of an axe handle.
According to the AXE Bat’s website, this handle “is designed for the biomechanics of your swing. With a more natural swing and improved range of motion, you’ll achieve better bat speed and control.”
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They make an interesting claim that the knob of a baseball bat was never intended to be round. It was simply the best design that the equipment of the time could produce on a mass scale. Thus, it was never really designed for the natural curvature of the player’s hands. The purpose of this buying guide is to investigate this claim and others and see how the untraditional design of the AXE Bat stacks up to competitors and their top bats. We’ll take a look at the history of AXE and how their reputation has made them a sudden standout competitor in the bat industry. Then, we’ll look at AXE Bat reviews for individual AXE baseball bats and softball bats and see what other features and perks lie in wait under the hood of these sticks.
AXE Bat Reputation
“Baseball people, as a rule, are generally allergic to new ideas,” was a remark made by Branch Rickey, a baseball person himself and the man responsible for putting Jackie Robinson at the forefront of a sports and social revolution. In follow up, Rickey talked about how it took years to convince people to put numbers on the backs of uniforms. Thus, it is easy to see how the baseball world could be resistant to something that changes the shape of one of their most beloved instruments. This avoidance of the new is arguably why it took Steve Leinert, the AXE Bat inventor, so long to find a buyer. People just weren’t ready for something that new. This raises an interesting question about how the AXE Bat’s reputation is faring, as they gain more traction, especially with Major League Baseball and its players.
So far, the two biggest users of the AXE Bat at the Major League level are Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts, teammates on the Boston Red Sox.
This isn’t coincidence and the change is largely caused by Boston’s hitting coach, Chili Davis, who believes that the AXE Bat is going to revolutionize batting. That said, it was only recently that the AXE Bat was even certified for play in the Majors. More players could catch on, especially given the impressive seasons that these players are having. Largely, the reputation of the AXE Bat is a mix of skepticism, curiosity and simple lack of awareness. According to Pedroia, “I’m not sure a lot of guys know about ’em. It’s usually the traditional models.” The players who do know about the AXE Bat are either curious, or skeptical. Players are superstitious about their bats, which makes it hard for them to make a drastic switch. However, they are definitely catching on. They might not be the ‘norm’ yet, but there are an increasing number of Major Leaguers in Japan that are using the axe-handled bats. Outside of the Majors, these bats are gaining momentum as well. There are even a few college teams, like the University of Memphis, that exclusively use AXE Bats. Eventually, that curiosity is going to cause some of the skeptics to convert.
AXE Bat Reviews
As promised, the final portion of this buying guide is dedicated to showcasing some of AXE’s best products and how they match up to competitors. As many of these bats have the same features and technologies, some of the AXE Bat reviews will be shorter than normal. As always, we will include a number of different models and types for different levels of play and hitting preferences.
BBCOR AXE Bats
2019 AXE Avenge BBCOR Bat
The Avenge is the pinnacle of AXE Bat excellence. All of their top-of-the-line features and materials culminate to make one of their most powerful sticks.
It is a two-piece, composite bat made from AXE’s premier BCP carbon fiber. This helps the Avenge land a huge barrel and an impressive sweet spot.
The material is lightweight, which produces a balanced swing weight. Inside the barrel, the ACR insert helps enhance the performance and durability of the one-sided hitting face of the bat. Not only does this insert help ensure the bat lasts longer, but it also creates a shorter period to break in the bat. Also helping the directional hitting surface is the HyperWhip Composite End-Cap. The end of the AXE Bat slopes away from the barrel’s hitting face. Not only does this eliminate some unneeded weight, but it helps transfer power to the hitting surface more efficiently. Thus, you can achieve optimal bat speed.
- BCP Carbon Fiber creates one of the biggest sweet spots in an AXE Bat
- ACR insert improves durability
- End-Cap optimizes bat speed by reducing barrel weight on the non-hitting side
- Most expensive AXE Bat sold
- No end-loaded options
The 2019 AXE Bat Avenge has everything a hitter could ever want from their axe-shaped bat; it is durable, high-performing, comfortable to swing and creates excellent bat speed. Unfortunately for the hitter on a budget, these features are also evident in the bat’s price tag.
AXE HyperWhip Fusion BBCOR Bat
Of all of AXE’s BBCOR options, the HyperWhip fusion comes in right at the median, as far as price is concerned.
It has the same sloping end-cap as the Avenge, which improves balance and swing speed by eliminating unnecessary weight at the bat’s end. And, of course, it features the AXE handle.
What’s most interesting about this bat is its HyperWhip Fusion Barrel. Despite being a one-piece alloy bat, the barrel actually transitions from alloy to carbon fiber towards the end of the bat. This grants the bat an ultra-balanced swing that actually makes it feel like a two-piece composite bat, but with all the great properties (stiff feel, added power) of a one-piece bat. The HyperWhip Fusion bat was popular in 2016 and it’s already a popular addition to the lineup of 2017 bats.
- All the great benefits of the AXE handle
- Best of both worlds: one-piece bat that feels like a two-piece composite bat
- Midrange price
- Some reviewers state that the grip wears quickly
AXE Origin BBCOR Bat
The Origin is the cheapest of the AXE BBCOR bats.
As such, it has a lot fewer performance-enhancing features as the Avenge or even the HyperWhip Fusion.
It has the slanted, HyperWhip cap and the axe-inspired handle that are synonymous with all AXE Bats.
Aside from these features, the bat is a one-piece, alloy bat. The LP1 alloy used is specifically designed to improve the strength and durability of the hitting surface. The bat is end-loaded for a little more explosive potential on hits. Thus, it is good for larger, stronger sluggers.
- Very affordable
- Has the AXE design and all of its benefits
- Durable alloy improves bat’s longevity
- No extra features
- End-loaded weight may be too heavy for some contact hitters
While this bat lacks the performance-enhancing features of other AXE products, it’s an inexpensive, no-frills bat that’s great for testing the axe-inspired design with little risk.
Senior League AXE Bats
Axe Bats 2017 Element Big Barrel L143E
The Senior League version of the AXE Avenge has all of the same features as its BBCOR big brother.
It’s a two-piece bat built to deliver a lightweight, balanced swing. It uses the high-quality BCP carbon fiber to produce a larger sweet spot and barrel.
Other features include the ergonomic, comfortable AXE handle, the slanted end cap and extra-durable, Directional Hitting Face. These archetypical AXE features help produce a more durable bat with impressive bat speed. Also aiding the Axe Bats 2017 Element Big Barrel L143E in its endeavor to improve bat whip is the composite handle, which is carefully engineered to produce maximum flex. This produces more bat whip and control for the hitter. This bat is available in two different drop weights, an -8 and a -8.5, which gives the hitter a little more flexibility.
- Has all of the typical AXE features
- BCP carbon fiber material helps produce a very lightweight, balanced swing
- Incredible amount of bat whip to put more power and speed behind batted balls
- High price
If you can afford it, there is really no better option for a contact hitter than the AXE Avenge Senior League Bat.
2017 AXE Elite Senior League Bat
The two-piece design of this bat effectively combines a light composite handle with an impressive alloy barrel.
The composite handle helps produce a greater amount of bat whip, while the heavier alloy barrel puts plenty of weight behind your one-sided hits. The Mantic alloy is reportedly AXE’s strongest produced.
The AXE Elite is manufactured with two different drop weights, a -5 and -9.
|Senior League (-5)|
|Senior League (-9)|
The -5 is a great weight for players that are about to move up to a high school league, which requires the BBCOR-certified -3 drop. Despite their different drop weights, both bats have a barrel diameter of 2.625 inches. The 2017 AXE Elite is on the higher end of the price spectrum.
- Excellent bat whip and heft behind batted balls for explosive hits
- The -5 drop is a great transition bat into BBCOR leagues
- Extra-strong Mantic alloy
- Price is high, especially for a bat that may be used just to ease transition into higher levels of play
2017 AXE Origin Senior League Bat
With the lighter -10 drop, the AXE Origin is a nice bat for younger players that are looking for a bat they can swing comfortably.
While it does have less heft to it, the AXE Origin has a slight end load in the barrel.
Combine this was the stiff, one-piece LP1 alloy material and you’ve got a bat with excellent pop and resistance to cracking. As always, the AXE Origin implements the angled HyperWhip end cap to enhance the one-sided hitting surface. And, it has the iconic AXE handle grip. Similar to the BBCOR version of the AXE Origin, this stick is the cheapest in the arsenal of Senior League bats. There’s another version of the Senior League AXE Origin that has been designed and inspired by star outfield of the Boston Red Sox, Mookie Betts. The design and colors of the bat look excellent and might be worth the slightly inflated price. It’s uncertain how long AXE will produce this special-edition bat.
- Has an awesome, alternative look that was inspired by Major Leaguer Mookie Betts
- The most affordable Senior League AXE Bats
- End-loaded weight produces superior pop
- Mookie Betts bat is slightly more expensive
- Lacks some of the features of other AXE Bats
The AXE Origin is an affordable, well-rounded bat with a slightly end-loaded barrel to give batted balls some extra carry. However, this weighted barrel might have a little too much heft for some smaller players.
Softball AXE Bats
2019 AXE Danielle Lawrie Softball Bat
Danielle Lawrie is a former olympic softball player and twice all-american.
The AXE Bat inspired by this pro player is a fast-swinging, balanced softball bat for fastpitch leagues.
The feedback from batted balls is nice thanks to the stiff feel of this one-piece bat.
It uses the same LP1 alloy found in the BBCOR and Senior League models of the AXE Origin. This material is engineered to reinforce the structure of the Danielle Lawrie bat’s hitting surface. Thus, you have a bat that is durable enough to last the entire season and more. Just like all of the AXE baseball bats we’ve reviewed so far, this softball stick has the signature handle, which has been proven to reduce injuries to the hands, produce more bat whip and even power.
- Extremely affordable compared to other fastpitch AXE Bats
- Sturdy alloy creates longer lifespan
- Impressive sound and feel from contact
- Lack of performance-enhancing features, aside from the AXE handle and slanted end cap typical of these products
The most compelling part about this bat is it’s price. It gives an affordable alternative to the only other fastpitch softball bat option made by AXE, the Avenge.
2018 AXE Avenge Softball Bat (Fastpitch)
Compared to the Danielle Lawrie model, this AXE Avenge Softball Bat costs almost four times as much, which means it is for more serious and invested fastpitch softball players. The -10 drop makes it fairly light and easy for even smaller players to handle.
Just like the other AXE Avenge varieties, this bat uses is a two-piece, composite bat constructed from BCP carbon fiber.
Even though the batter is only using one side of the bat to hit from, this two-piece bat actually has a large sweet spot. This is helped by the Plus-Plus Hitting Face, one of AXE’s best one-side hitting technologies. The AXE Avenge Softball Bat is certified for play by all major softball league associations, including the NCAA, ASA, USSSA, NSA, ISA and others.
- Useable in all major softball leagues and levels of play
- BCP carbon fiber mixes well with the Plus-Plus Hitting Face
- Very high price, compared to the Danielle Lawrie bat
- Only available with a -10 drop weight
2019 AXE Avenge Softball Bat (Slowpitch)
There isn’t much difference between this bat and the closely related fastpitch Avenge.
Much of the features are the same: BCP carbon fiber, Plus-Plus Hitting Face, signature AXE handle, etc.
This is the only slowpitch softball bat that AXE offers. Not only does this cause the price to spike, but it’s also hard to find because any slowpitch softball player looking for an AXE Bat is choosing this stick. The 2017 AXE Avenge slowpitch bat has certification for both USSSA and ASA leagues. It has a 2.25-inch barrel diameter.
- Great AXE Bat performance-enhancing features
- Certified for all mainstream leagues
- High price, even compared to other slowpitch bats
- Difficult to find in stock
If you can find it online or at a sporting goods store, the slowpitch AXE Avenge promises to be a great bat, even for its price.
Wooden AXE Bats
Maple Composite AXE Bat
AXE uses maple as the wood-type of choice for all of their wooden bats.
Maple is one of the most common types of wood used in the construction of bats because it is dense and durable; some players report that maple bats feel better, especially when you make contact right on the sweet spot.
This bat is unique because it combines maple wood with a carbon fiber connection point and composite foam handle, complete with rubberized coating. Both of these non-wood materials greatly help the durability of the bat and reinforce its construction at the highest stress points. Thus, you get the great feel and strength of a maple bat with even more durability, thanks to this composite build. The chance of this bat breaking is greatly reduced.
- Ultra-durable and resistant to breaking
- Maple wood has a superb feel to it upon contact
- Fairly priced
- A wood BBCOR bat lacks a lot of the performance-enhancing features of metal bats
If you like swinging a wooden bat, this is a great option. It’s extra long lifespan means you’ll be able to use it for practice and in games.
Pro Hard Maple AXE Bat
For hitter’s that prefer solid wood over a composite-wood bat, the Pro Hard Maple AXE Bat is ideal.
It’s made from maple, so it is still a very sturdy bat and will last a decent amount of time before showing signs of splitting or breaking.
It’s available in two different profiles, also called turns. The 243 has a longer, extended barrel, which allows it to have a bigger sweet spot. The 271 turn has a different barrel taper, which helps produce more bat speed; it’s ideal for contact hitters. The Pro Hard Maple AXE Bat has a cupped end for a more balanced swing. It uses the patented AXE handle to achieve better comfort, speed and power.
- Two different bat profiles to choose from
- Made from solid maple for long-lasting performance
- Not as durable as the Maple Composite AXE Bat
History of AXE Bats
The origin of the AXE Bat is in upstate New York. A woodworker, when chopping down a cedar tree, had the realization that the motion of burying his axe into the tree was a lot like swinging a baseball bat. In fact, it felt even better and more natural to him. Almost instantly, the tradesman, Bruce Leinert, went to work in his shop to create the first AXE Bat prototype. When he was finished, he brought it to Baden Sports and they loved the idea enough to buy it. From there, the AXE Bat prototype got a scientific makeover. The engineers at Baden Sports went to work studying the biomechanics of a player’s swing and examined the ergonomics of the axe-shaped handle carefully. They made countless tweaks and adjustments to the curve of the handle until it matched the natural shape of the hitter’s hands perfectly. Once they had the handle crafted and sculpted to their liking, the next was to look into one-sided hitting. Because of the untraditional curve of the bat, the AXE Bat uses the same surface to hit balls each time. In other words, it isn’t symmetrical like a normal bat. It’s construction is designed to make the hitting side of the bat more effective and durable, since it bares the workload of every contact. With the finished design in hand, the AXE Bat hit the market. Now, it is available for all levels of play in both baseball and softball leagues. There are metal, composite and wood AXE Bats, so any player can enjoy the benefits of the axe-inspired handle. Despite being unconventional in design, these bats have quickly solidified their place in the market. There are college programs that are exclusively using the AXE Bat because of its benefits. And, even some Major League Baseball players have converted, like Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox. The bat has even found a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Why Choose (Or Don’t Choose) An AXE Bat
It’s reasonable to have skepticism regarding the AXE Bat. Not only is it the ‘new kid in the neighborhood,’ in terms of bat companies, but it is also a different looking animal than what we are accustomed to. It’s easy to doubt or be wary of something new. At first glance, the AXE Bat’s design may even seem gimmicky, which begs the question, “Should I really choose an AXE Bat?” To answer this, we’ll break down some of the pros and cons of this unique construction.
In a study regarding the biomechanics of the AXE Bat compared to round knobbed-bats, researchers found that the axe-inspired handle really is more comfortable. Since it matches the natural contours and angles of the batter’s hands, it actually produces more surface area to grip and a more even distribution of pressure across the hand. A round bat, on the other hand, produces concentrated areas of pressure on the lower hand, which is not only less comfortable but causes all of the energy to be absorbed in a single spot on the hand. This poorly distributed grip is actually why many players choose to grip their bat at certain angles, to try and compensate for this.
In the microseconds before a batter makes contact with the ball, a lot happens with the player’s grip during their swing. As they are bringing the barrel head around to make contact, the other end of the bat – the knob – is turning inwards. It actually pushes into the palm of the batter’s hands and, as this happens, the force of the swing can actually cause the player’s grip to be wedged open; it creates a gap space between the handle of the bat and the player’s hands. Overall, this produces an unstable grip that results in the player not being able to put all of their power and force into batted balls. The AXE Bat overcomes this because it doesn’t have a rounded knob to produce this uneven point of pivot on the palm. Instead, the bottom part of the handle is flat against the palm, which creates a much larger area of pivoting. Thus, there is no wedging that occurs to force the player’s grip open as they swing.Instead, the grip is supported by the wide area of the palm making contact with the handle at all points of the swing leading up to contact.
Defined as the time it takes from the point the bat hits its peak swing speed and the moment of contact, bat whip is all about speed and angle. As you swing, the bat produces an angular speed, as a result of the fast motion. The idea is to reach the top angular speed at the same time you make contact. A traditional bat with a rounded knob creates a tighter, acute “whip angle” during the swing, whereas the AXE Bat produces a slightly more obtuse angle.
Again, this is largely because of the flat back of the bat’s handle, compared to the rounded edge of the knob. This difference in angle may seem slight; it’s only about a 15-20 degree difference. However, hitting is a precise science and every small increment matters. This change in angle produces a larger window of opportunity to accelerate the bat and produce more bat whip through the strike zone. This allows the hitter to generate more speed in their bat at the moment of contact and a faster swing leads to more power and explosiveness exerted on batted balls.
When we think of injuries in baseball and softball, we mostly think about those caused by running, diving for a ball in the outfield or being hit by a pitch, but even swinging a bat can cause a number of injuries, especially to the hands. One of the most common batting injuries is harm to the ulnar nerve and hamate bone. The ulnar nerve and hamate bone are located at the part of the palm where the knob of traditional bats impinges into the skin. When a batter makes contact with a traditional bat and the knob has wedged their grip open, this opening of space allows the knob to rebound and oscillate at a high velocity which can damage the ulnar nerve or even fracture the hamate bone. The force is greater the farther away from the bat’s “sweet spot” the ball is hit. Missing the ball can also cause damage to the ulnar nerve because the bat’s angle drives the knob even deeper into the tissue of the palm. When batter’s accidentally let go of a bat in their swing, it’s often because this nerve was painfully pinched and caused the hands to loosen their grip entirely. The AXE Bat’s elimination of the rounded knob means it greatly alleviates the pressure on the ulnar nerve and hamate bone. While the player’s hand may still feel the painful “bat sting” of a poorly hit ball, the handle isn’t free from that batter’s grip to bash around violently against the palm. Because there’s more surface area of the palm in contact with the bat, the energy is dispersed and far less damaging to the hands.
One Sided Hitting
Perhaps the biggest drawback to choosing an AXE Bat is getting used to the idea of using only one side of the bat to hit. The bat is designed to give the hitting side extra reinforcement, so it doesn’t break easily from the added workload, but the idea of it may take some time to adapt to. Even the handle itself isn’t going to feel natural at first. Thus, you may not want to switch to AXE Bat mid-season, but it’s something to look into in the off-season, especially with all of these other benefits. By the time opening day arrives, you’ll be comfortable with the change and ready to mash balls.
Despite their growing popularity and rise in usage across all levels of play, from youth leagues to the Majors, AXE has maintained what they call the “30-Day Challenge.” Most bats are covered by a 12-month, manufacturer’s warranty, which covers certain breaks or cracks in metallic bats. Wooden bats are rarely, if ever, covered by any sort of buyer protection plan. The 30-Day Challenge ups the stakes and allows players to try out an AXE Bat for 30 days, with absolutely no risk.
Via the AXE Bat website:
“Take the AXE Bat NO RISK 30-day Challenge! Use your new AXE Bat in the cage, in batting practice, in-game – wherever and however you want. And if you don’t love your bat after 30 days, just return it and we’ll refund your money.”
This trial period is, without a doubt, designed to let the skeptics give the bat a try. It eliminates the worry of potentially spending hundreds on a bat that you can’t adapt to or don’t like enough to switch from your favorite stick. It’s really a genius tactic because, even the players that return the bats are likely going to share their experiences and spark more conversations about AXE and the future of bats. If the company’s reputation continues to build and AXE Bats become more popular, there may be a time when they no longer offer this no-risk, 30-day trial. So, if you’re curious about the AXE Bat, it’s a good idea to jump on the opportunity now, rather than later.
The AXE Bat has many skeptics, as is to be expected. After all, this is baseball. And, as Branch Rickey taught us, baseball people are allergic to new ideas. There’s perhaps no idea newer than changing the shape and look of a baseball bat. But, now that these bats have been around for a few years and even started to find their way into the hands of sluggers like Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts, some of those skeptics are starting to come around. It’s still early to tell if AXE will revolutionize hitting and the way bat handles are made to the capacity that some AXE fans speculate it will. That said, the research that has been conducted into axe-inspired handles is very compelling, especially for the ability to reduce and prevent injuries to the hand. It’s unlikely that AXE Bats will appeal to every hitter. However, even in the short few years that they’ve been around, they quickly transcended from a seemingly gimmicky product to a bonafide, professional-level baseball bat. As mentioned earlier, they do have the 30-day, no-risk challenge to test out an AXE Bat for yourself. This is worth it for any player who is the least bit curious in seeing how the AXE Bat might improve their game. Hopefully, the above AXE Bat reviews have helped you decide which product is best for you to test and enjoy.