We must admit, we’ve been a little bit slow to get to the Babolat Pure Strike 16 x 19 (2019). The problem was, the old Pure Strike is just so good, we didn’t want to be disappointed if the new one wasn’t as good.
We needn’t have worried. Babolat has built on a racket that already gave you everything, and through subtle changes has made this stick a little bit more forgiving. We loved the old Pure Strike 16 x 19 for it’s easy playability, control, and spin, and all of those features have carried on with the 3rd generation.
The Pure Strikes are an extremely popular range of rackets, and you can’t find too many people with complaints about them. However, if there’s one thing you did hear from time to time, it’s that they’re a little bit too stiff. The new rackets are a little less stiff than the old ones, and Babolat has worked on making them more forgiving with C2 Pure Feel included in the frame, which does give you an extra bit of pocketing.
For this playtest we took the Pure Strike out with Babolat RPM Blast strung at 50lbs. The Pure Strike is known for its precision but with RPM Blast, you take that to the next level with huge control, and access to tons of spin.
As someone who was converted to the Church of Pure Strike a year or so back, I’m always quick to recommend these rackets (although I use the 18 x 20,) the question is, how much better than the old version are these new Pure Strikes?
Groundstrokes – 9.5/10
The Pure Strike has some tough competition with Wilson bringing out a new Blade 98 this year and Yonex the new VCore rackets. However, this Pure Strike still does more than enough to convince me I’m safe in the knowledge I’m playing with one of the best rackets out there.
On the groundstrokes, it’s that feeling that I can swing as hard as I want and the ball is going to find it’s way into court. You’ve got so much control with this racket considering it weighs just 305g, and when you combine this with such easy maneuverability, the results are some vicious groundstrokes.
I spend my points looking for opportunities to dominate with my forehand, and I really felt like this racket gets the most out of this shot. The only thing I can say on the negatives is I do like a touch more weight, so I would about 10g of tape in the V just to beef it up a bit.
That shouldn’t be a knock on how the racket plays in factory form, it’s just the setup that best suits me. As it is though, you can still do great things with this racket. It might not be the most accessible racket out there for beginners, but for everyone else who likes to swing through and attack the ball, this is a must-try.
A little extra swingweight has made the new racket a little bit more solid and you do get slightly better cushioning, but it still gets the same score as the old racket for groundstrokes – 9.5.
Volleys – 8/10
The Pure Strike is obviously a racket that plays extremely well from the back of the court, but it also does surprisingly well for a 305g racket at the net. You can attack the net with this racket and be confident you’ve got a weapon to help you on those difficult volleys.
Volleys is one area where I have found adding weight to my 18 x 20 Pure Strike has made a big difference, but with the new Pure Strike, there’s a little more swingweight which has made this racket slightly better than the older version.
Add to that some more cushioning and you’ve got yourself a good option for life at the net. Can it offer you the same solidity at the net as a heavy racket like the Wilson Pro Staff? Well, no, but you get a whole lot more in the way of maneuverability that makes this stick so effective from the back of the court.
It’s not a specialist volleying racket, but the Pure Strike is certainly a racket you can feel comfortable at the net with. We gave it an 8 out of 10 at the net.
Serve – 8.5/10
The serve is an area where the Pure Strike’s easy maneuverability comes into its own. It’s so easy to keep your racket head up with this stick, and when you attack the ball you’re rewarded with great control.
A big problem I have, especially with the second serve is that sometimes I can lose some racket head speed and drop the ball into the net. However, with fast rackets like the new Pure Strike, I always feel like I’m encouraged to keep going after the ball. When you do that, you get good spin to drag the ball into court and keep your opponent from stepping in and attacking you too much.
The 16 x 19 string pattern offers a little bit more pop than the 18 x 20 which is always helpful on the fist serve. There’s not too much difference between the new stick and the old one in this area, but essentially that just means they’re both very good.
This racket has few weaknesses, and the serve is certainly not one of them. We gave the Babolat Pure Strike 16 x 19 3rd Gen an 8.5 out of 10 for the serve.
Return – 9/10
We find the return is all about maneuverability and stability and those are two things the Pure Strike combines extremely well. When you’re facing a big serve, this racket has enough stability that it doesn’t get pushed around, so you feel like you can get a nice clean hit on the ball.
At the same time though, it’s not a heavy racket that feels sluggish. Sometimes when you’re playing with a heavier racket, you can feel like you’re always trying to catch up with the ball, but with the Pure Strike, I felt like I had plenty of time, allowing me to contact the ball out in front and guide the ball back into court.
I particularly enjoyed stepping in on the second serve and looking to put my opponent under pressure from the return. I was able to generate good power and control and felt like I was going for ambitious shots without losing too much margin for error.
This stick’s got great qualities for your returns and we gave it a 9 out of 10.
Overall – 9/10
Let’s address the question you’ve probably wanted me to answer all along – is the new Pure Strike better than the old one? The answer is, yes, it felt like it made a small improvement. Would I be rushing out to replace my old Pure Strikes with the new Pure Strikes? No, the improvement isn’t that big that you need to dump your old rackets straight away. I would wait until my rackets need replacing then move to the newer version.
Racket technology tends to move on very gradually, so unless a racket makes a big leap forward there’s not too much point being in a rush to replace what you’ve got.
That being said, this is still a brilliant racket. We loved the old Pure Strikes and we love this one. For anyone looking for control and maneuverability, this stick is one of the best blends out there. It does so much for a 305g racket, allowing you to swing through with great speed but still have tons of control at the end of it.
There are no real weaknesses with the Pure Strike and the added flexibility of the new version makes improvements to the one area where people had complaints with the old Pure Strikes.
The Pure Strikes are right up there with the very best rackets, and the new ones continue that trend. We gave the Babolat Pure Strike 16 x 19 3rd Gen a 9 out of 10.
Review by: Will