The Volair Mach 1 is the signature paddle of Julian Arnold, one of the fastest and most aggressive players in pro pickleball. Designed as a lightweight control paddle with plenty of power and spin, the Mach 1 is much more affordable than other elite paddles coming out right now.
After getting my hands on the 14 mm version, I was keen to see if it really is a great value for the money. Read on for my honest opinion after hours of testing.
Our verdict5.0The Volair Mach 1 is definitely an all-court paddle. If you like fast kitchen exchanges, powerful drives, lots of spin, and extra reach, this paddle is for you. Julian Arnold is a power player with tons of control in his game, and you can clearly see his influence in the Mach 1's design. My only concern is its long-term durability. There aren't many high-tech, modern features to speak of here, so I'm not sure how long this paddle will last after intense use on the courts. That said, the raw carbon fiber face does feel sturdy. Overall, I think it's a superb paddle for intermediates up to aspiring pros—and for a really fair price.
Buy or pass?
You want a top control paddle that has some power too.
I scored this 10/10 for control, and it had enough power for aggressive play.
You want an elongated paddle that isn't too heavy.
At 7.5 oz, the 14 mm Mach 1 feels much lighter than most heavy-headed elongated paddles.
You're an advancing intermediate.
This paddle is good for intermediates all the way up to the pros.
You want a heavier paddle.
People who prefer a weighty paddle might find this too light.
You like a poppy paddle face.
This is a soft paddle, so if you want more built-in power, try something like the CRBN-2X.
You're a beginner.
I'd recommend something like the PCKL Launch Series, which costs less and is still high in quality.
7.5 oz (14 mm paddle) or 7.9 oz (16 mm paddle)
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Volair claims this paddle blends control and spin, with the 14 mm version offering more power than the 16 mm. My testing of the 14 mm backed that up.
I consistently had great touch on my drops and resets. There was ample grit on the face to hit bending side spin and big topspin. The 7.5 oz weight proved to be quick in the hands and solid during fast kitchen exchanges.
Boosts your control game, with great accuracy on dinks, blocks, resets, and returns
Complements aggressive gameplay, with good power if you swing hard
Generates plenty of spin off the raw carbon fiber face
You have to swing hard to get good power, which might not suit everybody
Dead zones outside the sweet spot can lead to mishits
Volair was co-founded by a top professional player, Julian Arnold. His idea was to design a paddle that suited his game, where power and spin are just as important as touch and control.
Let's take a look at the technology and features built into this paddle, and see if Volair achieved their goals.
Raw T700 carbon fiber face
The raw carbon fiber face is gritty and has plenty of grab. Some carbon fiber paddles use a lacquer that's sprayed onto the face at the end, which is where they get their grittiness from. However, that type of grit tends to wear down over time.
Since the Mach 1 is made from raw carbon fiber, I'm confident it will stay gritty for a long time. Plus, all that grit means plenty of grip to generate a ton of spin.
Premium grip elongated handle
The grip on the Mach 1 is chunky but still comfortable. I thought the 5 ½" elongated handle was very playable. If you like to hit a two-handed backhand, this paddle is an excellent choice.
Not much is known about how this paddle is constructed. It does have a standard edge guard for protection, but I'm not sure what it's made of or how durable it is. I didn't have any issues with it personally.
Despite being a soft control paddle, I felt the 14 mm had plenty of power for my game. That said, I do like to swing hard, so it suited me personally. If this isn't your style, you might find this paddle a bit soft.
Since it took a little extra effort to get that power, I'm scoring it 8/10. I haven't tried the 16 mm paddle, though, which will have even less pop than the 14 mm.
The Mach 1 was built for control, and I have to give it top marks here. I can see why Julian Arnold designed a paddle that excelled in the control game. He's a power player but he also has plenty of control. His resets are phenomenal, as are his mid-range and transition-zone games.
My resets were nice and cushioned, but still firm. This was a delight to play with in the transition zone.
There's plenty of grit built into the paddle face, which really helped my spin. While I'm not a big topspin player, I do like to hit a lot of under spin and side spin. I was able to bend the ball all over the place.
Despite some dead zones at the edges, I found the sweet spot large enough to be forgiving. I didn't have many mishits and my accuracy in fast kitchen exchanges was excellent.
The softness and cushion led to a lot of give and control. If I didn't hit the ball perfectly, I was still OK. I didn't see the ball popping up too much or flying like it can with some thermoformed paddles.
I loved the weight of the 14 mm paddle. For an elongated paddle, it's super light at 7.5 oz. It meant I could get around really fast, and swing hard on just about any shot—serves included.
If you're a player who likes to engage in hand battles at the net, I'd recommend trying this one out.
Many people mention the grip, and it's one of the first things you notice holding the Mach 1. On the 14 mm version, it did seem a lot thicker than the 4 ⅓" listed in the specs.
Some will find it too big, but if you're someone who usually uses an overgrip, this might work great for you.
Since this isn't a 'unibody' or thermoformed paddle, I don't know if it'll hold up as long as those would. Honeycomb paddles like this do tend to lose efficiency more quickly.
The edge guard on the Mach 1 does seem solid and the grit definitely feels long-lasting. Still, I have no idea just how long this will last.
I managed to play really fast with this paddle. I'm not sure what aerodynamic qualities Volair built into the paddle aside from it being lightweight. Whatever they've done, it works really well.
Many people are surprised by the Volair Mach 1's $159.99 price tag—especially when so many premium paddles are in the $200+ range. So, is it really a steal, or is there a catch?
Value for money
Overall, I think the Volair Mach 1 is well worth the price tag. Keep in mind that this is based on my play style, as it suited me personally. I also only tested the 14 mm paddle, so can't speak for the 16 mm.
I'd have expected to pay $200+ for it. When you consider that many elite paddles now cost upwards of $220, the Volair Mach 1 is a bargain at $159.99.
This is the paddle Julian Arnold is causing all sorts of ruckus with in professional pickleball. So, if you're an intermediate looking to advance your game, this is a great chance to get your hands on a paddle used by one of the top pros.
However, if you want something a bit more cost-effective that still offers great precision for your control game, try the Paddletek Tempest Wave v3. Alternatively, if you'd prefer a power paddle, check out the Selkirk Power Air Invikta.
Who uses the Volair Mach 1?
This is Julian Arnold's signature paddle. He's one of the best players in the world right now, with 14 medals to his name. The Mach 1 is the paddle he played with when he took home MVP at the 2023 Major League Pickleball tournament in Mesa.
Personally, I loved the 14 mm Volair Mach 1, but this really comes down to what you expect from a paddle. It's a great control paddle, and I'm confident it will elevate your touch game. Its elongated shape helped me at the kitchen line, while its light weight allowed me to be fast in exchanges.
It had enough power for me, as I like to swing hard, though some people won't feel that way. Finally, it generates great spin. Not as much as something like the Gearbox CX14E, but right up there with some of the best.
If you're looking for a new control paddle that has all-court qualities, why not check out the Volair Mach 1?
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