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The Ultimate Kettlebell Comparison Review – 2018 Edition

The Ultimate Kettlebell Comparison Review - Featured Picture

Everything you ever might have wanted to know about kettlebells, and lots of stuff you probably didn’t. Updated for 2018!

Used properly, kettlebells can serve a unique place in your home fitness arsenal as an efficient way to stay mobile, strong, and fit. They’re also great for supplementing movement rehabilitation work on a path toward injury recovery or performance improvement.

I’ve used many major brand of kettlebells, including experimenting with a homemade kettlebell made out of plumbing parts. My goal is to have the most comprehensive kettlebell review available online, so if you’ve been looking for real-world feedback on cast-iron kettlebells in general or a specific brand in particular, read on.

Warning – this is a ridiculously long article, so I’ve structured the content to list the best kettlebells for home use first, followed by the full reviews. If you’d like to read more about the testing criteria, rating scale, test plan, or individual kettlebell reviews, use the table of contents below to navigate the various sections. 

Rating scale

I use a simple five point rating scale to score each kettlebell:

Zero stars – Completely unusable.

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - One Star

One star – Not recommended at all. 

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Two Stars

Two stars – Not recommended but has redeeming qualities. 

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

Three stars – Decent option with room for improvement. 

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Four Stars

Four stars – Very good, with minor caveats.

Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

Five stars – Excellent all around kettlebell. 


The best kettlebells for home use

After testing multiple kettlebell brands I’ve culled the list down to the options that earned three stars and up during testing.

Note: the table can be scrolled  left/right on smaller screens

Brand Features Rating Review Where to Buy

Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat

  • Great balance of durability & usability 
  • Thin handle dimensions
  • Cerakote coating option
  • Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat

     Price Check

    Kettlebells USA Metrixx Elite Precision

  • Thin handle with tall window
  • "E-coat" protects from rust & damage
  • Most durable kettlebell you can buy
  • Metrixx Elite

     Price Check

    Christian's Fitness Factory K2

  • Minimalist and functional
  • Very durable coating
  • Handle will hold a lot of chalk if necessary
  • Christian's Fitness Factory K2

     Price Check

    Rep Fitness Powder Coat

  • Great balance of durability and usability 
  • Coating feels like chalk
  • Thin handle dimensions
  • Rep Fitness Powder Coat

     Price Check

    Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder

  • Unique Hammertone finish 
  • Different handle sizes for men & women
  • Best budget option
  • Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder

     Price Check

    American Barbell Powder Coat

  • Very clean finish 
  • Texture in coating improves grip
  • Large flat base
  • American Barbell Powder Coat

     Price Check

    Kettlebells USA Metrixx Elite Classic

  • Old-school design 
  • "E-coat" protects from rust and damage
  • Thick handles
  • Kettlebells USA Metrixx Classic

     Price Check

    Rogue Fitness Powder Coat

  • Gritty texture for better grip 
  • Budget priced if you live near Ohio
  • Thick handles
  • Rogue Fitness Powder Coat

     Price Check

    Perform Better First Place

  • Lightly textured coating 
  • Frequently on sale
  • Thin handles
  • Perform Better First Place

     Price Check

    Onnit Basic

  • Thick textured coating 
  • Thin handles with tall window
  • Budget option
  • Onnit Basic

     Price Check

    CAP Powder Coat

  • Gritty texture for better grip 
  • Thick handles
  • Free shipping from Amazon
  • CAP Powder Coat

     Price Check

    There were many other kettlebells tested that didn’t earn at least three stars, and one that was so bad it forced me to add a new rating of zero stars 😱

    If you want more details on any particular kettlebell, including lots of pictures, read on for a more in-depth look at each kettlebell and how I reviewed them.


    What’s a kettlebell?

    If you’ve never heard of a kettlebell before, think “cannonball with a handle”. There are two main types of kettlebells – cast-iron kettlebells, which increase in size as the weight increases, and competition style, which are made of steel and are all the same size regardless of weight.

    Competition kettlebells are typically differentiated by color coding. Some cast-iron kettlebells also offer color coding, but not all.

    Kettlebell Reviews - Classic vs Competition kettlebells

    Cast-iron vs Competition Style Kettlebells

    The focus of this review will be on cast-iron kettlebells suitable for home use.

    If you’d like to read reviews on a few competition kettlebells, check out some of the articles in my kettlebells section.

    Why train with kettlebells?

    If you’re like me, you want to stay healthy and strong to consistently meet the challenges of everyday life. You don’t have the time or budget for a gym. Equipment storage space at home is limited. You want a regimen that keeps you motivated, and the latest fad fitness DVD isn’t cutting it.

    If you can relate then consider kettlebell training. Kettlebells are easy to store, relatively inexpensive, and provide an efficient way to work nearly every part of the body in a short period of time.

    Kettlebell criteria

    My evaluation criteria is primarily centered on kettlebells I can use at home and at work with minimal need for chalk. I’ve written a kettlebell buyer’s guide that answers every question I had when I first started. It also goes into detail on the criteria I look for, but the short version is a clean finish, a durable coating, and a properly sized handle.

    A high quality finish is the biggest factor impacting the usability of a kettlebell. Grip on a slick coating can be improved with chalk, but chalk can’t mask casting flaws. Imperfections in the finish like seams or metal burrs can cause injury by catching, cutting, or pinching bits of skin during use.

    As a general rule, if you find yourself having to use a metal file on a kettlebell handle to remove metal imperfections, you have a low quality kettlebell.

    The next biggest factor affecting usability is the coating. A durable coating protects the kettlebell from rust and provides traction to maintain your grip on the handle.

    I don’t have the luxury of using large amounts of chalk at home and at work, so I prefer kettlebells that can be used with minimal need for chalk and my reviews reflect this preference.

    Last but not least is handle size. An oversized handle will make the kettlebell harder to control, which can limit progress.

    Unlike competition kettlebells, there’s no standard for handle dimensions with cast-iron kettlebells and the dimensions vary depending on the weight and brand. Handle dimensions aren’t usually listed when shopping for a cast-iron kettlebell, which makes selection of a properly sized kettlebell difficult.

    I’ve provided measurements made with a digital caliper for the kettlebells I still own and have access to in order to give you an idea of what to expect when shopping for a particular brand.

    Test plan

    I’ve been running a kettlebell club at work for the past year, which meets twice weekly for a 30-40 minute exercise session with kettlebells. The club consists of 24 members, with men and women of different ages and fitness levels. There are 4-10 participants on any given day.

    All of the kettlebells I test get used in the kettlebell club, which allows me to solicit feedback from many different people people at different levels of fitness. As a result, I get a more rounded assessment of each brand of kettlebells.

    If you’re interested in the workouts we do, I’ve documented them separately and I plan to add to the list as time goes on. The goal of the flows I put together is to get a total body workout in 35 minutes or less.


    Reviews

    Do-It-Yourself Kettlebell Review

    My introduction to kettlebells came via Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Body. He describes an experiment performed using a do-it-yourself kettlebell made from parts found in the plumbing section at Home Depot.

    I’m all about DIY when I can, especially if it means I get to build a cool new toy. According to Tim the parts are supposed to cost under $10, not counting the weight plates. However, inflation has taken its toll because I paid closer to $18 after tax. That doesn’t include the price of the plastic clamp I already owned.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - DIY Kettlebell Review Parts

    DIY Kettlebell parts. My setup has athletic tape around the handles for grip, but this isn’t strictly necessary.

    The DIY kettlebell has two big advantages. First, it  takes the guesswork out of deciding what size kettlebell to buy for two hand work. I was able to experiment with different weights to find a starting point I was comfortable with, eventually settling on 20kg (44lbs).

    Second, it allowed me to establish proper swing form with a lower weight before moving up to a real working weight. Proper form is important, because improper swing form can cause back injury.

    If you don’t already have a background lifting weights or being active, or if you are out of shape, consider working with a certified kettlebell trainer to get instructed in proper technique.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - DIY Kettlebell Review Loaded

    DIY Kettlebell with weights

    A DIY kettlebell also has two major disadvantages. First, usefulness is limited to two-hand work.

    Second, there are upper limits to the weight that can be applied to the bar and how long the bar will last. Plumbing parts weren’t designed to sustain a dynamic load swinging in an arc.  This puts stress on the metal that will eventually lead to fatigue and fracture. If you decide to pursue a regular regimen of kettlebell work, invest in real kettlebells or plan on replacing your T-bar parts at least once every four to six months.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

    The DIY approach is a great way to experiment with basic kettlebell work without committing to an expensive purchase, provided you have some weight plates to work with.


    Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat Kettlebells Review

    Kettlebell Kings are a vendor local to Austin that specializes in…wait for it…kettlebells. I bet you saw that coming, didn’t you?

    I currently own several Kettlebell Kings powder coat kettlebells, including 6kg, 10kg, 12kg, 16kg, 20kg, and 24kg sizes.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebell Kings Kettlebell Review Unboxing

    The finish on these kettlebells is extremely smooth with no seams or burrs anywhere on the handles or bodies, with a coating that feels like chalk to the touch.

    The powder coat on the Kettlebell Kings kettlebells provides a smooth yet ‘grippy’ finish that is very easy to use without chalk.

    The smooth finish means no pinching of skin and the low friction powder coat makes it easy to maintain grip during high-rep sets.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebell Kings Kettlebell Review Overview

    Pictured from top to bottom, left to right – 20kg, 12kg, 16kg, 6kg, 12kg

    For a powder coat, the durability of this coating is impressive. The Kettlebell Kings kettlebells have withstood several hard blows without chipping.

    I did manage to chip the coat, but only after dropping another kettlebell directly on top of it.

    Incidentally, I don’t recommend trying this at home!

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebell Kings Kettlebell Review Chip and Bottom

    The one chip in the finish (left) is because I dropped another kettlebell directly on it. Oops!

    The current trend with branding of cast iron kettlebells is to emblazon one side with a huge indented logo, which looks great but can also leave a partial logo impression on your forearm. Kettlebell Kings is moving away from the indented logo to a recessed logo design, which makes the kettlebell just a bit more functional than the competition.

    Kettlebell Kings Review - Powder Coat Kettlebell Review - Recessed Logo vs Indented Logo

    New recessed logo (left) vs old indented logo (right)

    The new recessed logo is cool, but Kettlebell Kings aren’t content with stopping there.

    Starting in November 2017, they will be offering cerakote coating options on all their kettlebells!

    If you’re unfamiliar with cerakote, it’s an extremely durable thin-film ceramic coating developed primarily for use as a protective finish for firearms. Cerakote is extremely resistant to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals, and looks pretty cool at the same time.

    In recent years a few fitness equipment companies have started offering cerakote as a coating option for barbells. Kettlebell Kings is taking the next step by offering cerakote coatings on their kettlebells. The cerakote coating will cost a little extra, but the added durability means that kettlebell will last practically forever.

    Additionally, the cerakote option allows for a nearly infinite amount of customization and personalization.

    Kettlebell Kings Review - Cerakote Cast Iron - Various Options

    Cast iron kettlebells with cerakote coatings from Kettlebell Kings

    Handle dimensions:

    16kg – 33.0mm

    12kg – 33.3mm

    6kg – 29.9mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    The Kettlebell Kings Powder Coat kettlebell is a high quality kettlebell that provides an excellent balance between durability and usability. At the time of this writeup, Kettlebell Kings is the only company offering the option to build your own set, with an increased discount applied for every kettlebell added.

    **PRICE DROP ALERT** – Many of the most common kettlebell sizes are available on Amazon for $10-$20 cheaper than on the Kettlebell Kings website, with free shipping!


    Onnit Labs Kettlebells Review

    Onnit Labs offers a line of basic kettlebells at the lower end of the kettlebell price spectrum. Since they’re local to Austin I visited the Onnit Academy Gym in person to buy a kettlebell to evaluate.

    The kettlebell was packed in a very sturdy shipping box. It looks like it could take a decent amount of abuse from a careless shipper, but the lack of reinforcement straps around the box could be an issue if the kettlebell has to travel a long distance.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Onnit Kettlebells Review Unboxing

    The finish on the Onnit kettlebell is clean, although the textured coating is thick enough to potentially mask small imperfections. I don’t know if that’s by design, but it works.

    Aesthetically, there are spots on the kettlebell where I can see how the coating application ran down the handle and dried, similar to how spray paint drips when applied too thickly.

    However, this doesn’t affect the use of the kettlebell in any way.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Onnit Kettlebells Review Finish and Coat

    As for durability, although the coat is described as chip-resistant, in practice it isn’t very hard to chip. I only had to carry it to my backyard along with another kettlebell to knock the first chip out of it. The two kettlebells accidentally banged together and a piece of the Onnit kettlebell coating came flying off.

    I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I intentionally banged the kettlebells together again with medium force and another chip flaked off. The coating chipped several more times during the testing period through normal use, mainly from getting bumped against other kettlebells.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Onnit Kettlebells Review Chip

    I get that “chip-resistant” doesn’t mean “chip-proof”, but it really doesn’t take much to damage the coat on the Onnit kettlebell. I don’t see this kettlebell holding up over the long term when compared to some of its more hardy kettlebell brethren.

    The Onnit kettlebell handle window is thinner than most of the others and taller as well – the window is roughly one centimeter larger than average, very similar to the Mettrixx Elite Precision kettlebell.

    It’s a small difference, but enough to force an adjustment of technique for exercises like the overhead snatch. The nice part about this taller window is that the body of the kettlebell sits lower on the forearm, which makes holding heavy kettlebells in a rack position a little easier.

    Getting back to the grip – the finish is smooth enough to rotate smoothly in my hand without catching skin during transitions, but the coating generates just a touch too much friction for my preference. A light dusting of chalk takes care of that problem, and I keep a climbing chalk ball handy for just such an occasion.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

    Onnit Labs kettlebells are a good budget option, but not the most durable of the bunch. If you do buy these, take extra good care of them because the finish is prone to chipping.


    Kettlebells USA Metrixx Elite Kettlebells Review

    Kettlebells USA have been around for over a decade, and although they now offer a variety of fitness equipment their core business has always been kettlebells. Their Metrixx line of cast iron kettlebells are offered in two styles – a “Classic” line that is roughly equivalent in size and coating to Dragon Door kettlebells, and a newer “Elite Precision” line that has a different formulation of e-coat and a redesigned handle. This review will focus on the “Elite” version. The “Classic” line is reviewed separately.

    The Metrixx Elite Precision kettlebell is marketed as an improvement on the classic kettlebell design, including modifications to the handle and a reformulated e-coat. I purchased one of the Elite Precision 12kg kettlebells and it was shipped out the next day. The packaging was solid double-walled cardboard and the kettlebell well packed. They even included a sticker!

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebells USA Kettlebells Review Unboxing

    The finish on the kettlebell is very clean, and although the casting seams are slightly visible on the body due to how thin an e-coating is, they are not prevalent on the handle at all. The handle is very smooth and well rounded.

    The Metrixx Elite Precision line of kettlebells have a reformulated e-coat intended to increase grip over a traditional e-coating. It’s also the most durable coating I’ve seen on any kettlebell. I tried damaging the coating by banging it against another kettlebell, and the Metrixx  Elite just laughed. I tried dropping another kettlebell on it from waist-height, and the finish did scratch but did not chip.

    This coating is bomb-proof. It will likely outlast you, your children, and your children’s children.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebells USA Kettlebells Review Comparisons

    Top row – Metrixx Elite vs Dragon Door RKC. Bottom row – Metrixx Elite vs Onnit Kettlebell

    The most unique aspect of Metrixx Precision Elite kettlebell is the redesigned handle. With traditional cast iron kettlebells, the thickness of the handle typically increases as the weight of the kettlebell increases. This can be problematic for people with hands too small to close around the handle, or hands to large to fit both comfortably within the gap.

    The redesigned handle of the Metrixx kettlebell is noticeably thinner than most cast-iron kettlebells and is very easy to hold. This is the most comfortable kettlebell in the review group for two-hand swings.

    The handle window is also taller than most classic kettlebell designs. The increased height means the kettlebell will sit just a bit lower on the forearm rather than resting right on the wrist bones, which is more comfortable for some people.

    The reformulated e-coat is stickier than the e-coats on the Dragon Door and even the Metrixx Classic line. This definitely helps improve grip, but it also creates some friction. The friction is alleviated with light chalk use though, which is a small tradeoff for the durability and comfort the Metrixx Elite Precision kettlebell provides.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebells USA Kettlebells Review Closeup and Bottom

    Handle dimensions:

    12kg – 32.0mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    Kettlebells USA gets kudos for raising the bar by improving the classic kettlebell design. The Metrixx Elite Precision kettlebell is a very comfortable kettlebell to work with, especially if you’re able to use a small amount of chalk. This is also the most durable kettlebell you’re likely to find anywhere. Quite simply, the Metrixx Elite Precision is the best E-coat kettlebell you can buy.


    Kettlebells USA Metrixx Classic Kettlebells Review

    Kettlebells USA have been around for over a decade, and although they now offer a variety of fitness equipment their core business has always been kettlebells. Their Metrixx line of cast iron kettlebells are offered in two styles – a “Classic” line that is roughly equivalent in size and coating to Dragon Door kettlebells, and a newer “Elite Precision” line that has a different style of e-coat and redesigned handle. This review will focus on the “Classic” version. The “Elite” line is reviewed separately.

    The Metrixx Classic E-Coat Kettlebell came packaged in a double-walled box with foam inserts around the handle to keep the kettlebell from moving during shipping. Like the Metrixx Elite, the Classic has a very clean finish. There are no noticeable seams on the handle or body.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebells USA Kettlebells Review Metrixx Classic Review Unboxing

    An e-coat is the most durable coating available on a kettlebell, and this coating does not disappoint. The coat has remained intact even after extensive use and intentional attempts to damage it for the sake of this review. If you intend to store your kettlebells in the garage or subject them to extreme abuse, the Classic line is for you. I get the impression this thing would survive a nuclear apocalypse, although I wouldn’t want to be around to find out.

    The handle on the Metrixx Classic is slightly thicker than other similarly sized kettlebells, and much thicker than the handle on the Metrixx Elite. The thickness of the handle reduces the available space in the handle window, which makes it harder to use these for two-hand swings than some of the other options tests. This is especially true for people with large hands.

    The coating is sticky, which helps with grip but also adds friction. Like the Metrixx Elite, the Classic is best used with a light amount of chalk.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Kettlebells USA Kettlebells Review Metrixx Classic Review - Different Views

    Handle dimensions:

    20kg – 39.1mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Four Stars

    The Metrixx Classic E-Coat Kettlebell is as old school as it gets as far as kettlebells go. It’s a Russian-style cast-iron kettlebell similar to Dragon Door RKC kettlebells, but higher quality and lower cost. This is an excellent e-coat kettlebell with practically bomb-proof durability, surpassed only by its redesigned younger sibling Metrixx® Elite Precision.


    Rogue Fitness Powder Coat Kettlebells Review

    Rogue Fitness has an insane amount of brand recognition through their affiliation with Crossfit, and I’ll bet that anyone with a garage gym probably owns at least one piece of Rogue equipment. I own a set of their Hi-Temp bumper plates, and I get a ton of use out of them.

    Needless to say, I had high expectations for their kettlebells.

    I ordered a kettlebell from Rogue last year, and it arrived damaged due to flimsy packaging. The replacement they sent me arrived damaged as well, for the same reason.

    This year, I’m happy to say they’ve improved the packaging because I had no problem with my order this time around ?

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - Rogue Fitness Powder Coat Kettlebell Review - Unboxing

    The finish on the Rogue kettlebell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.

    The powder coat on the Rogue kettlebells is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The coating seems intentionally designed to hold lots of chalk, but without chalk it can be just a bit uncomfortable to use for high-rep snatch or clean sessions.

    However, texture and grip are a matter of preference, and there are some that will like this style over a smoother handle.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - Rogue Fitness Powder Coat Kettlebell Review - Different Angles

    The handles of the Rogue kettlebells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.

    Frankly, these aren’t my favorite kettlebells to use, but they ain’t bad. The price is good too, especially if you live close to Ohio and can take advantage of a lower shipping cost.

    Handle dimensions:

    16kg – 37.5mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

    Rogue powder coat kettlebells are decent, but not standouts. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing. If you have small or medium hands, look elsewhere. If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettlebells could be the right option for you.


    Christian’s Fitness Factory K2 Powder Coat Kettlebells Review

    Christian’s Fitness Factory was founded in 2005 with a mission to make quality fitness equipment available and affordable to everyone. CFF offers a full line of athletic equipment, including kettlebells.

    The CFF K2 kettlebell is not fancy. It has no color coding bars or an elaborate logo etched into the body. I keep my K2 on a cart with other kettlebells for use in my office kettlebell club, and it doesn’t stand out in any way. However, there’s a lot going on under the humble exterior.  Much thought has clearly gone into making a kettlebell that can be used by nearly anyone, with or without chalk.

    I received a 16kg K2, which was bagged, packed in it’s own form-fitting foam, and double-boxed. This is by far the most well-packed cast-iron kettlebell I’ve seen. The form-fitting foam is an extra level of protection that’s typically only used for shipping more costly competition steel kettlebells.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Christians Fitness Factory Kettlebells Review 16kg Kettlebell Unboxing

    The finish of the CFF K2 is extremely clean. There are no visible seams or burrs, and the bottom is ground completely flat.  The coating has a slightly aggressive texture, which works very well for maintaining grip without needing chalk.

    It’s also one of the most durable powder coatings I’ve seen on a cast-iron kettlebell. I’ve used this kettlebell extensively and even intentionally banged it against other kettlebells to test the durability. I’ve yet to see a chip in the coat.

    The combination of finish and textured coating will hold a lot of chalk if needed.

    Kettlebell Buyers Guide - Christians Fitness Factor K2 Kettlebells - Different Views

    Handle dimensions:

    16kg – 34.5mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    I’m very impressed with the CFF K2 kettlebell. Simple and efficient yet durable and versatile. The overall impression it leaves me with is minimalist but refined. I’ll grant that’s an odd way to describe a kettlebell but that’s how the K2 comes across.  It’s clear to me a lot of thought went into the creation of the K2 and it shows in every aspect of the design and packaging.


    Rep Fitness Powder Coat Kettlebells Review

    Rep Fitness was started in Colorado in 2012 by two brothers with a passion for fitness. Their stated goal is to provide fitness equipment that meets the quality standards they themselves would look for when purchasing fitness gear.

    I included Rep Fitness kettlebells in last year’s review and they garnered four stars during testing. Not content with that, the folks at Rep Fitness have upped their game by improving on the issues I noted in the previous review.

    In addition to the 16kg and 20kg kettlebells I already own, I now have 8kg, 10kg, and 14kg kettlebells to add to the mix.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Rep Fitness Kettlebells Review 16kg Kettlebell Unboxing

    The Rep Fitness kettlebells came well packed, with plenty of foam inserts and even bubble wrap on the 20kg. The outside of the 20kg box was completely wrapped in shipping plastic, which helps strengthen the integrity of the box.

    When the kettlebells were sent to me I was told by Shane (one of the co-founders of Rep Fitness) that it’s standard practice to replace kettlebells that are damaged in any way during shipping.

    Thankfully, I didn’t have to take him up on this but it’s nice to see this kind of focus on customer service.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Rep Fitness Kettlebells Review 40kg Kettlebell Unboxing

    The finish of the Rep Fitness kettlebells is very good. I can’t see or feel any seams or casting defects on the handle or on the body of the kettlebells.

    The powder coating has a very smooth chalk-like texture that provides a decent amount of grip without the need for chalk.

    The coating is also really durable, these kettlebells have withstood several hard blows without chipping. These kettlebells get used extensively in our office kettlebell club and they are well liked.

    The handle dimensions on average are smaller than similarly sized kettlebells from other vendors, making these very friend for people with smaller hands.

    Handle dimensions:

    20kg – 37.5

    16kg – 32.8mm

    14kg – 31.5mm

    10kg – 32.4mm

    8kg – 32.2mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    Rep Fitness Cast Iron Kettlebell are great kettlebells with a very clean finish and one of the nicest powder coat options available. They offer an excellent value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado and you can save on shipping.


    Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Kettlebell Review

    Fringe Sport is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in Austin Texas. Since they’re local, I paid them a visit to pick up a few of their One Fit Wonder Kettlebells to review.

    The One Fit Wonder kettlebells are unique among the test group in that they’re the only ones with a hammertone powder coat finish, and as such they immediately stand out from the rest.

    All the One Fit Wonder kettlebells come packaged in a form-fitting cardboard box and wrapped with reinforcement straps. Since I picked them up locally I can’t evaluate the shipping materials, but I believe these boxed kettlebells are placed within a secondary box for transport by a shipper.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Kettlebell Review

    The finish on the One Fit Wonder kettlebells is completely clean, and the bottoms are completely flat. Granted, a hammertone finish can sometimes hide imperfections, but there doesn’t seem to be anything to hide on these kettlebells.

    The hammertone finish certainly makes these kettlebells stand out, but I was initially concerned that it wouldn’t provide as much grip as a matte black powder coat.

    Thankfully, I was proven wrong after the first use. The grip the hammertone provides is easily on par with some of the best matte black options I’ve tested, providing a smooth yet “grippy” texture.

    In fact, the One Fit Wonder Kettlebells have turned out to be a favorite for a few of the ladies in the office kettlebell club for that very reason.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Kettlebell Review - Coating and Finish

    I own three One Fit Wonder kettlebells, sizes 8kg, 12kg, and 16kg. When I first got them, I was surprised at how much larger the handle diameter was between the 12kg and 16kg.

    An increase in handle size as the weight goes up is a given when using cast-iron kettlebells, but there is a huge difference between the 12kg and 16kg, so much so that I reached out to Fringe Sport to ask about it.

    Here’s what they told me:

    We find that male athletes tend to use 16kg and above, while female athletes tend to use 14kg and smaller, so it was a design choice made a while ago.

    This means the 14kg and below are intentionally sized smaller, while the 16kg and above are intentionally sized larger.

    While I find that the observation made by Fringe Sport to be true in general, it doesn’t account for height differences. I’m not a tall guy (5’8”) and many of the people I work with in my kettlebell club are even shorter than I am, both men and women.

    Shorter height typically means smaller hands, and I find that smaller diameter handle sizes work better for us males who are, umm… vertically challenged. Measuring 38.8mm in diameter, the handle on the 16kg is easily the largest of all the 16kg kettlebells I tested. This unfortunately means that the 16kg One Fit Wonder kettlebell doesn’t get used in the office kettlebell club as much as it deserves, but it’s still a great kettlebell.

    The last point worth mentioning about the One Fit Wonder kettlebells is the price. At the time of this writeup a 16kg One Fit Wonder kettlebell can be purchased from Fringe Sport for $59 with free shipping, which is a fantastic deal. Yes, there are cheaper kettlebells available, but not for this level of quality.

    Handle dimensions:

    16kg – 38.8mm

    14kg – 32.5mm

    8kg – 32.3mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    Fringe Sport One Fit Wonder Kettlebells are an excellent home use option with a hammertone finish that is both unique and functional. These kettlebells are offered at a very competitive price point and are easily one of the best deals available on cast-iron kettlebells.


    American Barbell Kettlebell Review

    American Barbell is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in San Diego California. Their barbells have a solid reputation in the home gym community, and they’ve somewhat recently added kettlebells to their product lineup.

    I’ve got two for review purposes, a 16kg and a 12kg. Both came packaged in double-walled cardboard with protective reinforcement straps.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - American Barbell Kettlebell Review - Unboxing

    American Barbell kettlebells have a very clean finish and a slightly textured coat. The texture adds grip without having to resort to chalk.

    The bottoms are ground flat and wider than most of the other options, making them a very stable base for exercises like renegade rows.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - American Barbell Kettlebell Review - Coating and Finish

    The handle dimensions overall are on the thinner side of the spectrum, making these kettlebells very comfortable for use by people with smaller hands. I’ve used these extensively and the experience has always been positive.

    Price-wise, American Barbell powder coats are super-cheap, but that savings is offset by the cost of pricing. However, if you live on or near the west coast you may be able to get a great kettlebell at a great price.

    Handle dimensions:

    16kg – 32.4mm

    12kg – 31.7mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Five Stars

    American Barbell powder coat kettlebells are a great all around kettlebell with a clean finish and a nice coat that is gritty without being abrasive. A great deal if you live on the west coast, but the cost of shipping makes them less competitive price-wise if you live elsewhere.


    Titan Fitness Kettlebell Review

    Titan Fitness is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in Collierville, Tennessee with a mixed reputation in the home fitness community.

    Known for offering lower-cost versions of equipment made by other companies with more brand recognition, the lower cost also often comes at a lower quality. Not always, but often enough to be a common theme on the reddit homegym forum.

    In this particular case, unfortunately Titan lived up to their infamy. I ordered a 16kg Titan Fitness kettlebell off Amazon, and I was shocked at how bad it was.

    Titan Fitness Kettlebell Review - Unboxing

    We don’t need no stinkin’ padding!

    For starters, the Titan Fitness kettlebell shipped in a single cardboard box with no padding or reinforcement whatsoever. The box and the plastic were worn away, and some damage had been done to the coating of the kettlebell as a result.

    The lack of care in packaging extends to the finish and coating. The Titan kettlebell is the absolute worst I’ve seen so far in terms of how bad the finish was.

    There are visible casting flaws all over, and huge seams on the handle and body.

    Titan Fitness Kettlebell Review - Poor Quality Craftsmanship

    The bottom doesn’t appear to be ground down at all.

    In fact, it’s actually rounded and the kettlebell wobbles like a drunken sailor because of it.

    Titan Fitness Kettlebell Review - Wobbly Bottom

    I really don’t understand how a big-name fitness company could even think about putting their brand on a product like this.

    Frankly, I’m surprised this one ever got past QA testing.

    I didn’t even try using this kettlebell. After contacting Titan customer service about a replacement and being told I wouldn’t be able to get one for two months, I simply sent it back.

    Rating

    The Titan Fitness kettlebell is the absolute worst kettlebell I’ve seen so far, even considering the budget price. It’s so bad it has the dubious honor of forcing me to create a ‘zero stars’ rating, because it’s completely unusable. I can’t speak to the quality of the rest of their gear, but avoid their kettlebells at all costs.


    Yes4All Kettlebell Review

    Yes4All Kettlebells are a popular choice on Amazon, which is why I’m including them. The big draw is the price, I picked up a 35lb cast-iron kettlebell for $40 shipped, which is amazingly cheap.

    Considering my experience with another kettlebell in this price range, I didn’t have very high expectations. However, while it’s not the best kettlebell I’ve ever seen, it’s not as bad as I feared.

    The shipping was nothing special, just a box within a box. No padding. However, the kettlebell arrived undamaged, which is more than I can say for other kettlebells that cost twice as much.

    Yes4All Kettlebell Review - Unboxing

    I’ll just get this out of the way up front – the Yes4All is a cheaply made kettlebell. The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint.

    Having said that, for $40 it’s hard to find a better deal.

    The glossy paint coat is very tacky to the touch, e.g. sticky. I tried using it without any chalk and found that the tackiness made it more difficult for me to do snatches and cleans. However, a light dusting of chalk on the handle fixed that right up.

    Best Kettlebell Brand 2018 - Yes4All - Up Close

    Aside from the bottom not being flat, the finish is good with no casting seams or burrs.

    The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, although I no longer have it available to measure.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Two Stars

    The Yes4all kettlebell is cheaply made, but also budget priced.  If you’re serious about kettlebell work or plan to adopt kettlebells as your primary exercise tools, consider saving up to buy one of the higher quality options listed in the recommendations section. On the other hand, if saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Yes4All is hard to beat.


    CAP Powder Coat Kettlebell Review

    CAP introduced a new powder coat kettlebell into their product lineup sometime within the last couple of years, and I’m including it in the roundup for 2018.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - CAP Powder Coat Kettlebell Review - Unboxing

    The finish on the CAP kettlebell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.

    The powder coat on the CAP kettlebell is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The coating seems intentionally designed to hold lots of chalk, but without chalk it can be just a bit uncomfortable to use for high-rep snatch or clean sessions.

    However, texture and grip are a matter of preference, and there are some that will like this style over a smoother handle.

    Best Kettlebells 2018 - CAP Powder Coat Kettlebell Review - Different Angles

    The handles of the CAP powder coat kettlebells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.

    Frankly, these aren’t my favorite kettlebells to use, but they ain’t bad.

    If you’re getting a sense of deja vu right now, don’t worry, you’re not crazy.

    I wrote the exact same review for the Rogue Fitness kettlebells, because these are exactly the same kettlebells. They are identical in every way, with only the logo stamping to tell them apart.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

    The CAP powder coat kettlebells are a big step up from the enamel coated version, but still just okay. The finish is good but the coating texture is rougher than it needs to be for good grip. I realize grip preference is subjective, so if you prefer a rougher grip the CAP powder coat kettlebell is definitely a contender.


    CAP Enamel Coated Kettlebell Review

    CAP has been in business a long time as a provider of low-cost fitness equipment. When I first became interested in kettlebells, I naively thought all kettlebells were the same. I mean, it’s a cannonball with a handle, how hard can it be to mess that up, right? Wrong!

    My first kettlebells were a couple of CAP kettlebells I found on Craigslist for fifty bucks. One was a 16kg enamel coat bell, and the other was a 9kg cast iron bell with a rust-resistant coating.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - CAP Kettlebells Review

    The 9kg bell had a very rough finish with several burrs on the handle. I was learning how to perform the kettlebell snatch at the time I owned these, and the burrs kept digging into my palms during the transitions. I toughed it out as long as I could but eventually used a metal file to smooth down the handle and make the bell a little more usable.

    I said it before but it’s worth repeating – if you have to file down the handle of your kettlebell to eliminate casting imperfections, you’ve bought a low quality kettlebell. 

    Ironically, the body of the bell with the rust-resistant coating was badly rusted. I painted it with Rustoleum to try and stem further rust damage, which is why the kettlebell is colored brown in pictures.

    The coating on the 16kg bell was chipped in several places but luckily there were no chips on the handle. I used the small kettlebell for one hand work and the larger kettlebell for two-hand swings. The enamel finish on the large bell was extremely smooth and hard to hold once I broke a sweat. It also generated heat on my palms through friction.

    After working with these kettlebells for less than a week I knew I’d be replacing them.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - One Star

    I don’t recommend CAP enamel coated or plain “cast iron” kettlebells for your home gym. In fact, I actively recommend you stay away from them entirely because you will inevitably rue the day you purchased them. The enamel coated kettlebell chips easily and provides a lousy grip, while the finish quality of the cast iron kettlebell is one of the worst I’ve seen.


    Dragon Door RKC Kettlebells Review

    Dragon Door was among the first companies, if not the first company, to reintroduce kettlebells to the US mass market in 2001. As a result, they have a large amount of brand recognition in the kettlebell community. The recognition is reflected in the price because Dragon Door kettlebells are the most expensive option included in this review.

    I was able to score a find of Dragon Door kettlebells on Craigslist, and by now I had done some research and read many reviews singing the praises of Dragon Door kettlebells. I jumped on that offer and managed to score a 12kg, a 16kg, and a 24kg for $100 total. At the time I thought I was getting a great deal.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Dragon Door Kettlebells Review Front and Back

    The previous owner told me they were about three years old when I bought them. The coating on each has worn off in places and given way to rust, especially on the 16kg bell.

    They don’t look great, but the coat on all of them is in okay shape considering they were stored year-round in a garage subject to three years of humid central Texas summers.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Dragon Door Kettlebells Review Finish and Coating

    The RKC kettlebells all have prevalent seams left over from the casting process on the handles. These seams often pinched the skin of my palms, indicating a poor finishing and grinding process.

    Speaking of grinding, none of the bottoms of the Dragon Door kettlebells are ground completely flat – they all wobble when on flat ground.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Dragon Door Kettlebells Review Bottoms

    The Dragon Door kettlebells have one of the lowest quality finishes of all the kettlebells tested, which is notable because the cost difference Dragon Door and every other brand is huge.

    That extra money is clearly not being invested back into quality control at Dragon Door.

    To be fair, I’m evaluating old kettlebells. There’s always a chance Dragon Door has upped their game since these bells were originally made. I reached out to customer service again to tell them about my experience and asked if my RKC kettlebells are representative of the quality of newly made Dragon Door kettlebells. Here is the relevant portion of their response:

    “While we have not made significant changes to molds for our kettlebells, our coating process has only been getting better over the years. Without knowing exactly what your current kettlebells look/feel like, I can tell you that things such as seams could indeed have been a problem exclusive to a batch or perhaps they were kettelbells that made it past inspection.”

    The rep went on to say this:

    “My advice to you would be to give our latest kettlebells a try on your own and if you are dissatisfied you can of course return them. We have a 1 year, 100% money back guarantee.”

    I give props to Dragon Door for offering a 1 year 100% money back guarantee, this is one of the best warranties offered by any of the kettlebell brands included in this review. In fact, several of the companies offer no guarantee whatsoever and will not accept a return at all unless your purchase is defective.

    I’m willing to give Dragon Door the benefit of the doubt and assume their newer kettlebells have a higher quality finish than what I currently own. However, since the guarantee doesn’t cover the cost of shipping to me and back, and shipping heavy hunks of iron is expensive, I don’t plan on taking them up on that offer.

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Two Stars

    The best things Dragon Door RKC kettlebells offer is a 1 year satisfaction guarantee and a durable coating. However, given the quality of the competition these factors aren’t enough to offset their substantially higher cost. There may have been a time when there was no other option and the high cost could be justified for the not-so-great quality, but these days there are much better options available at a much lower cost.


    Perform Better First Place Kettlebells Review

    Back when I got serious about kettlebell training I asked my employer to add kettlebells to our work gym, and they agreed.

    They purchased six “Performance First Place”  kettlebells of different sizes and a storage rack from Perform Better.

    Kettlebell Reviews 2017 - Perform Better Kettlebells Review Overview

    The handles of all six are well rounded with no prevalent seams, although there are a few small metal burrs on the underside of some of the handles.

    Perform Better customer service told me the coating is a powder coat, but up close it looks much more like an e-coat to me. Whatever it is, the coat provides just enough grip with low friction to allow for high rep work without needing chalk.

    These are nice kettlebells to work with overall, despite the small metal burrs on the handles of some of the kettlebells. The burrs only exist on the smaller kettlebells that I don’t use as much, which might be why they haven’t been an issue for me.

    These kettlebells aren’t scratched, just sloppily painted

    One minor nit to pick is with the quality of the paint job on the faces of the kettlebells. It looks sloppy, as if someone was in a hurry to get the job done.

    This is a purely cosmetic issue that doesn’t take away from the usability of the kettlebells at all, but it does detract from the overall perception of quality.

    Handle dimensions:

    20kg – 39.2mm

    14kg – 31.5mm

    Rating

    Kettlebell Reviews Rating - Three Stars

    Perform Better kettlebells are a good option if you catch them on sale. I like working with them, but they aren’t my first choice. Don’t pay full price for Perform Better kettlebells. They go on sale often and there are better options at the same non-sale price point.


    How Kettlebells are Made

    An interesting and amusing video showing how kettlebells are made. The guy narrating the video, Pavel Tstatsouline, was affiliated with Dragon Door when the video was filmed so the process likely shows how Dragon Door kettlebells were made back in the day.

    “When we say kettlebell…we mean strength. When we say strength…we mean…kettlebell.”

    About the Author Mario

    I’m a software engineer with a full-time job, family, and a desire to stay strong, mobile and fit. I separate fact from fiction to find the most effective and affordable home fitness options and pass the knowledge on to you. Want to know more?

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