When putting together your lacrosse stick, is it better to go for a composite or alloy shaft?
I’m young enough that composite and carbon fiber handles have always been around the game for me. The earliest I can remember is an STX line of composite handles that boasted to be stronger and improve shot speed. That marketing sure did work on 14-year-old me.
On the other hand, alloy and sci-ti or scandium blend handles have ruled the game for a long time. The major selling factor here has been how lightweight they can be. We all remember how light the Gait Ice was – it totally cut down the weight of our sticks all together and made the game feel all the more weightless.
Composite and alloy shafts both have upsides and downsides. Let me break down the major differences and where we sit today in the handle game.
Composite or Alloy Shafts: Which Is Better For Me?
Composite handles have developed immensely over the past few years, from the early handles via brands like EPOCH and Warrior to the now vast array of brands in the composite handle game now.
Composite shafts bring several main advantages to lacrosse. In my experience, the biggest is strength. Because of how composite handles are made, they are designed structurally to be stronger by layering the material to make the shafts. In the early days, this made composite handles heavier, but that worry has since gone away with many more lightweight composite shafts hitting the market.
The second and likely most notable feature of composite shafts is that they offer more flex than a traditionally alloy of scandium shaft. Many brands use a flex technology rating on the side of the shaft to indicate how much flex the handle will have. True Temper Lacrosse does this in a very straightforward way by giving the flex of a handle an assigned number. Much like the flex in a golf shaft, the more flex in a lacrosse handle will normally result in more power. I’m not here to say whether that power is consistent or not, but the truth is that composite handles just simply have more flex.
All in all, I see composite shafts being a regular feature in the lacrosse future. The amount of technology going into these handles will also develop over time, likely resulting in more and more well-designed lacrosse handles: smart handles, you could say.
Alloy and scandium blend shafts have been a part of the lacrosse world for years and years, far before I was ever born, and were the norm for a long time before carbon fiber and composite handles were introduced. The starting level begins with alloy 7000 handles, which every brand offers, and the elite level are often sci-ti handles, also known as scandium titanium blend handles.
The development and innovation that went into these classic metal based handles cannot be overlooked. From lightweight handles like the previously-mentioned Gait Ice to the higher tech versions like the Dolomite Diamond, all these handles had their years. I personally still love using a well-built sci-ti handle. They are consistent and often inexpensive enough that if they break, they can be easily replaced.
Unlike the composite handles, metal-based handles have far less flex and are designed to have less, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t help with shot speed. Many alloy handles today are light enough to make you forget you’re even holding a lacrosse stick, but the downside is you sacrifice much of the strength.
Have we seen the end of metal-based handles? I surely think not. Lacrosse is a sport that is ever evolving, and so is the gear. For all we know, everyone may be using majority metal-based handles again 10 years down the road. Every type of equipment has its audience and loyal fans. Those fans are what push trends throughout the lacrosse community.
So What’s Better, Composite or Alloy Shafts?
Lacrosse is a game of creativity and preferences. The stick someone feels most comfortable using is the true best option for them. While I do prefer composite handles for my game, I still enjoy picking up a sci-ti handle every now and then.
The one thing I can say is that composite handles are generally stronger. Therefore, if you’re an aggressive player who likes to lay some hard check or even a box player, a composite shaft with durability may be the best option.
Try out different handles and discover what’s best for your unique game, and always remember that lacrosse is still evolving. We will continue to see many more handle technologies pop up in the coming years.