Pickleball Gear

Volair Mach 1 FORZA - pickleball paddle review

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Brandon Mackie

Updated on: Nov 15, 2023

The Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle on a blue background

The Volair Mach 1 FORZA was designed to give even more power than the Mach 1, and I was already a big fan of the original—an excellent control paddle that I scored 5 stars. So, I was excited to test the FORZA and see if it's an equally impressive power paddle.

Straight out of the box, this paddle reminded me of the CRBN-2X Power Series, but it's $50 cheaper. Read on to see how it compares.

My verdict4.5star iconThe Volair Mach 1 FORZA does have a touch more power than the original Volair Mach 1, but I found it more challenging overall. A small sweet spot and poppy feel kept me from playing my best game, and I think many intermediates will find this paddle missing the instant satisfaction you get from more forgiving paddles like the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power and the CRBN-1X Power Series. For that reason, and its stiff, thermoformed feel, I think this paddle is best suited to advanced players.

Buy or pass?

Buy if:

  • You're an advanced player:

    beginners and intermediates will struggle with the lack of forgiveness, but advanced power players will like this paddle.

  • You want a thermoformed power paddle:

    the Volair Mach 1 FORZA has that advanced 2nd-generation feel.

  • You don't want to spend over $200:

    compared to paddles from CRBN, JOOLA, and Selkirk, this is a bargain at $180.

Pass if:

  • You're a beginner:

    this stiff paddle is way too advanced for beginners. Try something like the Paddletek Bantam TS-5 instead.

  • You're an intermediate:

    even most intermediate players will struggle to adjust to this. Check out my list of the best intermediate paddles of 2023.

  • You want a control paddle:

    you might prefer this paddle's control-oriented cousin, the Volair Mach 1.

Paddle weight

8 oz (14 mm paddle) or 8.2 oz (16 mm paddle)

Paddle length

16 ½"

Paddle width

7 ½"

Handle length

5 ½"

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Review summary

My first impressions of the Volair Mach 1 FORZA were great. I felt like I was unboxing a MacBook Pro, not a pickleball paddle. The packaging and accessories will surprise people as it comes with a free paddle cover, paddle eraser, extra grip, extra grip band, and Volair sticker.

It feels really well built, like other solid, modern, 2nd-gen raw carbon fiber paddles. It generally plays like one too. You can hit with plenty of power and spin, just like the CRBN-3X Power Series or the Legacy Pro.

Watch my first thoughts on the Mach 1 FORZA:

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This paddle mostly plays as it's meant to—a control paddle but with more pop and power. The only issue is it's not as good as its competitors. While all unibody, thermoformed paddles feel a bit stiff, this one is much stiffer than the CRBN-1X, which has a very similar construction.

The paddle shape and build reminded me straight away of the JOOLA Hyperion. However, while the Hyperion had a larger sweet spot than I expected, the FORZA didn't. With lots of dead areas around the edges, it's hard to control where your shots go if you hit outside the sweet spot.

I also found the FORZA poppier than I expected. I was popping up third shot drops and even drives more than I wanted. I lost a few games I shouldn't have because of this.

One thing I really like is the spin, though that's what you'd expect from a raw carbon fiber paddle. My topspin and backspin played exactly as I like them to, which helped me play an advanced, aggressive game.

Brandon Mackie showing off the Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle packaging
Brandon Mackie showing off the Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle packaging

While the FORZA offers more power than the original Mach 1, it isn't a top power paddle like the Bread & Butter Filth, ProKennex Black Ace, or Ronbus R1 PULSAR.

I consider the FORZA a solid, all-court paddle for advanced players. While it doesn't necessarily shine in power, spin, or control, it has enough to let you play a rounded, attacking game—but only if you can handle the lack of forgiveness. Pro player Julian Arnold plays with it, so in the right hands, it can be a really effective paddle.

Pros:

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  • A decent blend of power, spin, and control

  • Pretty aerodynamic—cuts through the air nicely

  • Made from long-lasting materials

Cons:

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  • Feels much stiffer than similarly built paddles like the CRBN-1X

  • Smaller sweet spot with dead zones around the edges

  • Poppier than I expected

Features

The Volair Mach 1 FORZA is a classic elongated paddle at 16 ½" length x 7 ½" wide. Like CRBN did with their 2nd generation series, Volair have tried to add more power to a high-performing control paddle. That means this is heavier than the original Mach 1.

Julian Arnold is a fast power player who likes a lot of control in his paddle, so players should expect this to have plenty of spin and power but also control.

Let's look at the build of this paddle and see if Volair and Julian achieved this.

Thermoformed unibody construction

With the FORZA paddle, you get a solid unibody build that's common now in raw carbon fiber paddles. This makes it a durable paddle that won't snap like the JOOLA Hyperion.

The raw T700 carbon fiber surface should mean this paddle performs at an advanced level. This is especially true for spin, which my play testing confirmed is excellent.

One surprise for me here is just how stiff this paddle feels. I always expect some stiffness from a thermoformed paddle, but I found it overwhelming with the FORZA. It has an almost wooden feel.

Foam-injected walls

The foam injections are designed to add stability and reduce vibrations. It firms up the face and is supposed to make the sweet spot larger too. However, I was surprised and disappointed to find this wasn't the case, as it had a noticeably smaller sweet spot than the original Mach 1.

Elongated handle

Thanks to the 5 ½" grip length, you can hit two-handed backhands like Julian Arnold. As someone who doesn't use this type of shot, though, I felt the extra handle length took away from the sweet spot.

Brandon Mackie demonstrates a two-handed grip on the Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle
Brandon Mackie demonstrates a two-handed grip on the Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle

Performance

8/10

Power

7/10

Control

9/10

Spin

6/10

Forgiveness

7/10

Weighting

8/10

Grip

8/10

Durability

8/10

Aerodynamics

Power: 8/10

Comparing this to the original Mach 1, Volair achieved what they set out to do. The FORZA packs more power, though not a ton more. I feel like they just added extra weight, which helps to generate good power.

Beyond that, there aren't any extra specs to give it 9 or 10 power rating. I could hit hard drives and deep serves, but I had to be careful—it was easier to sail balls long compared to my go-to CRBN-1X paddle.

Control: 7/10

I found that the extra power came at the expense of control, which will challenge intermediate players. The 16 mm build I played with helped to take pace off the ball, so I could play a controlled game. However, I definitely expected a lot more in this department.

The FORZA has nowhere near the precise control of the Gearbox CX14E Ultimate Power, which I tested in the same week.

Spin: 9/10

Spin performs much as I expected. It gives me more than enough to play an advanced game. I was able to routinely hit hard topspin and bring in backspin when I needed to.

Forgiveness: 6/10

The small sweet spot really hampered this paddle's forgiveness. If you don't hit the ball in the dead center of the paddle face, it doesn't do what you need it to. I had similar problems with the JOOLA Perseus.

Weighting: 7/10

I think Volair did a good job here. It's got a little extra weight to bring power into your game, but feels light and maneuverable for fast play at the kitchen.

Grip: 8/10

The grip feels premium, and I love the light blue color they chose here, which helps to set it apart. Otherwise, it might look too much like a JOOLA Hyperion copycat.

Durability: 8/10

The materials definitely feel high-end. It's got a strong edge guard and is made from carbon fiber, so this paddle should hold up really well.

Aerodynamics: 8/10

The rounded edge gives the FORZA a nice aerodynamic boost, and I felt that it cuts through the air pretty nicely. I didn't experience any lag or head heaviness, which is great to see on a heavier paddle.

Is this paddle right for you?

Before buying a paddle, it's important to make sure it fits your game. That's why I created a 30-second quiz that recommends the best paddles for your play style and budget.

Give it a try and see if the Volair Mach 1 FORZA makes the list:

Find the perfect paddle

Find the perfect paddle

I've personally tested over 80 paddles. Take the quiz to see which ones fit your game best.

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Pricing

Volair upped the price of this paddle from the original, going from $159.99 to $179.99. I have to say—I don't like that they did that.

The Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle resting against a net post
The Volair Mach 1 FORZA pickleball paddle resting against a net post

Value for money

While the FORZA packs a bit more power than the original, it does come at the expense of control. With so many competing raw carbon fiber paddles on the market, a price jump is not warranted.

The Bread & Butter Filth ($165), the Legacy Pro ($150), and the Vatic Pro Flash ($140) are all cheaper. The FORZA costs the same as the Six Zero DBD Control, which is a much higher-performing paddle. In fact, it's the top pick in my list of the best pickleball paddles in 2023.

Volair did a great job with the packaging and accessories to try to justify the price. However, at the end of the day, performance is what matters and I think you can find better value elsewhere.

Professional use

Who uses the Volair Mach 1 FORZA?

This is the signature paddle of Julian Arnold, one of the top pros in pickleball. A high-energy and charismatic performer, he is known for his trademark shout, "ANDIAMO!"

Arnold was MVP in the February 2023 Major League Pickleball event and has won 14 medals so far in his career.

Bottom line

The Volair Mach 1 FORZA gives you a solid performance with good weighting. It's got a satisfying heaviness without any lag, so you can generate good power.

It's got great spin too, but the small sweet spot and poppy, stiff feel will challenge most intermediates. Since Julian Arnold loves it, I think it'll satisfy some advanced players—those who can handle its challenges and want an all-court paddle with a good blend of power, spin, and control.

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About the author
Brandon Mackie
Brandon is an avid writer and co-founder of Pickleheads™. Once a competitive tennis player, Brandon can now be found these days honing his dinks on pickleball courts near Phoenix, Arizona.
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