Today we’re reviewing Hudef’s standard-shaped Apex Pro paddle. It’s a sibling to the Hudef’s Viva Pro thermoformed paddle and comes in two sizes, 14mm and 16mm.
Hudef has been around the block as a paddle producer for a while. This paddle is marketed as one of the most inexpensive standard-shaped control paddles on the market.
Does it stand up to that claim? How did it hold up in my extensive testing sessions?
Let’s find out.
Paddle Technical Specifications
$89($80 with code DASHPB)
- Shape: Standard
- Core thickness: 14mm & 16mm
- Face: T700 raw carbon fiber
- Average weight: 7.8″ – 8.3″
- Grip length: 4.9″
- Swing Weight: 103 for 14mm, 112 for 16mm
- Grip size: 4.125″ for 14mm, 4.25″ for 16mm
- Core: Polypropylene Honeycomb
- Total length: 16.06″
- Width: 7.9″
- Warranty: Limited Lifetime
The Hudef Apex Pro is an affordable Gen. 1 “all court” pickleball paddle with great control and a standard shape that’s similar to paddles like the CRBN 2 and Bison Summit.
It’s an excellent paddle choice for beginners. It has great spin, great control, and enough pop and power to compete. It features a wide paddle face that creates a forgiving sweet spot while also moving quickly in hand with a low swing weight.
The Apex Pro feels like a lot of other Gen. 1 raw carbon fiber paddles. Its handle feels a bit stubby, due to the length being under 5″.
Overall, the standard grip feels quite comfortable. It does have exposed polymer in the sides of the handle, which makes it lack a premium feel. But this can be expected for a paddle that costs under $80 shipped. The 14mm has a thinner 4.125″ grip, while the 16mm’s grip is thicker at 4.25″. I personally prefer the thinner grip, but both are comfortable.
The length of the handle is short enough that I couldn’t get a good feel for two-handed backhands with it. Typically I can choke up high enough on the neck of shorter-handled paddles to eek out a two-handed backhand, but the 4.9″ length of the Apex Pro didn’t quite cut it.
The Apex Pro’s weight distribution feels good. The paddle is definitely light, and I had an easy time moving it around quickly at the net.
The Apex Pro feels really soft contacting the ball. It certainly has a premium touch for how expensive it is.
You get classic Gen. 1 paddle power out of the Apex Pro. It’s plenty capable, but you do sacrifice significant power compared to the Gen. 2 thermoformed paddles that are flooding the courts these days.
The 14mm Apex Pro has a tiny bit more power than the 16mm, but it’s not too noticeable. I can still drive the ball hard when needed. But the Apex Pro is straight-up soft, which has its own perks (more on that in the control section) but you won’t be effortlessly lasering balls past your opponents like you would with some other paddles. You also won’t be hitting balls out long as often, either.
I like power, so I weighted my 16mm and 14mm Apex Pros up with an overgrip and lead tape on the throat and sides of the paddle.
The 14mm Apex Pro has more pop than the 16mm, but I wouldn’t consider either of these to be poppy paddles. So, again, no laser fast get-up from your drives. But you get a nice soft and buttery contact with them in exchange.
The Apex Pro 16mm is an absolute dream for control and the soft game, and the 14mm isn’t far behind.
This is one of the softest, most controllable carbon fiber paddles in this price range that you can find. Players under 4.0 will really benefit from the stellar control capabilities.
The standard shape of the Apex Pro helps control due to how it increases the sweet spot. The Apex Pro has one of the more massive sweet spots of a budget paddle that I’ve come across. It’s very reliable and helps you become a force offensively and defensively.
All aspects of my soft game, from dinking and dropping to blocking and resetting, feel great with both the 14mm and 16mm Apex Pro paddles.
I love playing with the thermoformed paddles on the market, but the extra control and decreased pop in the Apex Pro really made it easy to not send balls long.
I put a little bit extra weight on the bottom of the throat of my 14mm Apex Pro for added stability, since it’s pretty light and could use some stability support on blocks and counters.
Hudef’s Apex Pro provides excellent spin performance for its price. I’ve seen spin RPM numbers of the Apex Pro around 1880, which is very good, and lead to it being included in my list of the best high-spin paddles.
The Apex Pro uses the same tightly-woven weave patterned T700 carbon fiber surface as the more expensive Viva Pro. The spin on my Apex Pro feels just as good, if not slightly better, than with my Viva Pro models.
The high spin capabilities combined with the Apex Pro’s great control and touch make it a breeze to shape all kinds of defensive and offensive shots that are hard for your opponent to handle.
I’ve been able to force a lot of errors from my opponents with heavy slices that spin like crazy off my Apex Pro’s paddle faces.
The Apex Pro has a low swing weight and moves very fast in hand and at the net. It’s one of the faster paddles that I’ve played with recently. This is due to its paddle face being lighter than the thermoformed paddles I’ve been playing with and the short handle, which increases speed.
I have a lot of fun with the Apex Pro in hand battles at the net. I can rip off volleys super fast with it and block and counter like crazy. While I prefer thermoformed paddles in general, I will certainly miss the Apex Pro’s high mobility at the net.
Hudef makes pretty reliable paddles. I haven’t encountered any issues with my Apex Pros after putting a lot of hard hours on them. I also haven’t heard about any durability issues from other players that use the Apex Pro.
Since the Apex Pro isn’t thermoformed, you’re not likely to run into issues with delamination, disbonding, or core crushing, which is a relief. The paddle isn’t unibody constructed, so it’s possible that it could snap at the neck like some two-piece constructed paddles have, but that’s yet to be determined.
The Apex Pro gives the same, if not better, performance than a number of Gen. 1 carbon fiber paddles that cost twice as much.
There aren’t that many standard-shaped Gen. 1 carbon fiber paddles priced this low. At $80 shipped with discount code DASHPB, it’s a crazy-good value. It comes with a protective case and a limited lifetime warranty. Hudef’s customer service is excellent, as well, and will take care of any issues you face.
Should you buy the Hudef Apex Pro?
The Apex Pro is a sneaky-good paddle that’s gone under the radar. It’s an excellent control paddle with a high-tier spin for $80. It’s really hard to beat at this price point.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive standard-shaped paddle that’s top-5 for control, then the Apex Pro should be in your bag. You’ll get great touch, spin, and enough power to satisfy. You won’t regret getting this paddle, especially at this price. Remember to use this link for the DASHPB discount.
The Apex is definitely better than other popular beginner paddles in its price range, including the Onix Z5 and the SLK EVO line.
If you want slightly more power, check out Hudef’s Viva Pro for $10 more. If you’re looking to spend a bit more for some even better control paddles, check out the Ronbus R1.16 and the Vatic Pro Prism V7, and Vatic Pro Prism Flash. These paddles have longer handles which are preferred for two-handed backhands.
- Best Pickleball Paddles for Beginners
- Best Pickleball Paddles for Intermediate Players
- Best Pickleball Paddles under $100
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- Ronbus R3 Pulsar Paddle Review
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