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Paddle Reviews

GAMMA Airbender: A Game Changing Paddle

by Alina Leontarakis on

GAMMA has been shaking things up with their 2024 product lineup, and after our fun time testing the CHUCK ball, we've moved on to something that packs a tech punch – the Airbender paddle.

Trust me, this isn't just another paddle; it's like having a Swiss Army knife for the pickleball court. So, let's peel back the layers and see what makes this paddle tick.

GAMMA RCF Airbender, Pickleball paddles, Pickleball paddle reviews

GAMMA RCF Airbender Specs

Paddle Size 16.5" X 7.4"
Core Thickness 16mm
Paddle Weight ≈ 8.5 oz
Grip Length 5.375"
Paddle Face Toray T700 Raw Carbon Fiber
Paddle Core Polymer Honeycomb

The first thing you'll notice from looking at this paddle is the two throat holes. They aren't just for show. One throat hole is perfectly sized for popping in a dampener, which is great for folks looking to cut down on that annoying vibration and get the feel of their paddle just right.

The other hole has a totally different job – it cuts down air resistance, making your swings smoother. Thanks to this clever bit of design, when you're swinging for the fences, you'll notice less drag, giving your shots a bit more zip.

Now, let's talk build. The Airbender's got this cool, ribbed edge guard that does more than just protect the paddle's sides. It adds a unique touch to the paddle's edgeless look and feel. This guard is tough and ready to take on whatever comes its way, all while keeping the paddle looking sharp.

And even though it might seem like this paddle is all one piece, it's actually a bit of a mix-and-match. Unlike those unibody designs, the Airbender cleverly combines its carbon fiber face and over-molded foam handle construction that feels solid in your hands.

With a 16mm core that's thermoformed, the paddle has a great feel and performance to match. So, even though the carbon doesn't run through the entire paddle, it doesn't hold back the Airbender from performing like a champ on the court.

Adjustable Weight Systems

Now, onto the coolest part of the Airbender that really makes it truly the most customizable paddle: its adjustable weight technology. All these awesome customizable bits, like the shockbusters and weighted end caps, are sold separately. So, you can pick and choose exactly what you need to make your paddle perfect for you.

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Shockbusters

First up, we've got the shockbusters. These little guys are essentially rubber inserts that slot into the throat of the paddle, and they're a total game-changer for adjusting how the paddle feels during play.

I really liked how it came with the info card breaking down the purpose for each shockbuster. The heavier you go, the more it'll reduce the vibration, providing a more solid feel and improving your shot accuracy.

They're all about giving you control over the paddle's vibration and overall feel. Without any shockbuster, the Airbender is already a solid performer - it's got a good mix of power and control, and it feels sturdy on impact.

But once you start playing around with these shockbusters, the fun begins. Pop one in, and you'll notice the paddle feels softer, and less jarring on those hard shots, which is a plus during those fast hand battles. They come in different weights, so you can fine-tune the paddle's heft to your liking, which I found incredibly helpful for getting that perfect feel.

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Weighted End Caps

Then there's the weighted end caps, which are all about balancing the paddle to your play style. By swapping out the end caps, you can shift the weight distribution towards the handle, making the paddle feel less top-heavy.

This was a revelation for me. It's like customizing your paddle on the fly, depending on what the game demands. Need more control and quicker response at the net? Go for a lighter cap. Want to add a bit more juice to your serves or power shots? Swap in a heavier one.

Here's how you install the weighted end caps:

  1. Take the included mini screwdriver out of the case and push it in an upward motion into the end cap's hole, releasing the weight.
  2. Swap in the new one by pressing it into the compartment until it clicks right into place.
  3. Firmly push it in to make sure it's locked in.

When I first saw the shockbusters and end caps, I thought they were going to be a pain to push in and out of the throat hole of the paddle. I was proven otherwise. They really are easy to install and it's super convenient that they come with a case that you can throw in your bag.

The beauty of the Airbender's adjustable weight technology isn't just in the customization; it's in how it lets you adapt to the day's play. Some days you're feeling like you want more control, and other days, maybe you're all about that power game.

With the shockbusters and weighted end caps, switching up your play style doesn't mean switching paddles - just a few tweaks, and you're good to go. This level of adaptability made me feel like I had more control over my game than ever before. It's not just about adjusting to the paddle; it's about making the paddle adjust to you, and that's a powerful feeling on the court.

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How Does It Play?

I was very curious to see how the paddle would play, and the Airbender didn't disappoint. You can't help but appreciate the tech that's packed into this paddle. It’s not just about the adjustable features, though they’re pretty awesome.

  • The shock absorber tech is where it's at, giving the paddle a super plush feel that's hard not to love. Even without the shock absorber, the paddle holds up well – it’s sturdy and reliable, but you'll notice a bit more vibration because of its edgeless design.

This isn’t a dealbreaker by any means. In fact, it gives the paddle a bit of an edge, allowing you to feel every hit. Despite its slightly "hotter" feel, control isn’t compromised, which speaks volumes about the paddle's well-thought-out design.

  • The edgeless aspect of the Airbender is intriguing. While some might worry about a smaller sweet spot, in practice, it’s hardly an issue. Shots near the edge still pop off nicely, which is a testament to the paddle's forgiving nature.

This feature proves especially useful when you're pushing for depth in your shots, maintaining control even when you’re not hitting right in the sweet spot. It's this consistency, even on those not-so-perfect hits, that really impressed me. It transforms what could easily be a mistake with another paddle into a recoverable, even strategic, play.

  • When it comes to the gameplay, the Airbender strikes a nice balance between providing enough spin and focusing on control. It’s not going to make you the spin king overnight, but it offers enough to keep your opponents guessing, which is often all you need.

My third-shot drops felt particularly dialed in with the Airbender. I was consistently making my drop shots into the kitchen. This control really extended into dink battles. The soft feel and responsiveness allowed me to place my shots where I wanted to on the court, keeping my opponents on their toes.

  • The ability to tweak the paddle’s weight and balance to your liking is a feature that can't be understated. Whether it’s adjusting for more control at the net or seeking a bit more power from the baseline, the shockbusters and weighted end caps give you the freedom to play your game, your way.
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Final Thoughts

I've got to say, the GAMMA Airbender has genuinely impressed me. From its adjustable weight technology to the overall quality, GAMMA's knocked it out of the park with this one.

This customizability of the Airbender doesn’t just make the paddle feel more personal; it enhances your confidence on the court, knowing you’ve got a paddle that’s tuned just for you.

Whether you're in a tight dink rally or need that bit of extra power, the Airbender adapts seamlessly. This paddle really performs in the control game.

At $199, the Airbender might seem like a bit of an investment, but it's totally worth it, especially with our DINK10 code giving you an extra 10% off.

Take the Airbender for a spin and feel the difference a truly customizable paddle can make in your game. Trust me, it's a game-changer.

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