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Kettlebell Review and Shopping Guide – How to Choose Kettlebells

Kettlebell shopping guide and reviews

Have you decided to incorporate kettlebells into your workouts? Thanks in large part to Crossfit, kettlebells are very popular these days. Of course it’s not just Crossfit that made kettlebells popular. The kettlebell has been a great tool for improving full body strength (with an emphasis on the legs, lower back, shoulders, and core) for some time; so it was just a matter of time until the kettlebell joined the strength training equipment ranks alongside the dumbbell and barbell.

There isn’t a whole lot you need to know about the kettlebell itself. It’s basically a cannonball with a handle. And while you should seek out guidance on how to safely use them, the process of selecting bells that you will both be happy with and get years of use out of is fairly simple. Having said that, don’t just rush out to the nearest Academy or Wal-Mart and buy a kettlebell. I said there isn’t much to know, but there is still some stuff to know.

First I’ll cover what to look for in a kettlebell, then I’ll offer some recommendations based on that.

Kettlebell Handle Grip

Dragon Door Russian RKC Kettlebells

Handle Seam (Flashing)

The process of casting a kettlebell leaves a seam (or flashing) across the middle of the underside of the handle. This seam needs to be filed down before the kettlebell is coated or finished so that there is a nice, even surface to hold on to. Cheaper kettlebell manufacturers will make no real effort to remove this sharp seam, and your hands will suffer for it (and potentially bleed from it).

Make sure before you buy any kettlebell that this flashing has been removed. Run your hands around the entire handle, especially underneath. This shouldn’t be a huge issue for kettlebells from reputable companies like Dragon Door, Rogue, Vulcan, etc; but if you’re looking for kettles in sporting good stores or box stores like Target or something, take a really good look. Honestly, I don’t suggest buying fitness equipment from these stores, but if you must, at least you know what to look for.

Handle Diameter

Kettlebell handle diameter

Depending on the size of your hands, you may want to pay special attention to the diameter of the handles. Not all companies publish this number on their websites or packaging, but some do. Expect decent kettlebells to have handle diameters starting at about 30-31 mm and go up to around 38 mm for the heaviest bells. Cheap kettles can have super narrow handles that are nearly impossible to hold on to during kettle swings and are total junk for snatches; so you don’t want that.

Most standard kettlebell handles will get thicker as the weight goes up. Competition kettlebells will generally have a uniform handle diameter regardless of the weight (33 mm). These are more expensive, but if you want consistency, these are an option.

The real point here is to avoid kettles that have really skinny, cheap handles. Like with the seam issue, this won’t be a problem if you avoid the super cheap box store brands like Gold’s and CAP.

Handle Width

Kettlebell swings with two hands

For some movements, you need both hands to be able to fit within the handle without it being too tight or uncomfortable. While the handle tends to get wider as the weight of the kettle goes up, some manufacturers like Rogue and Ader make kettlebells that have handles that extend out past the diameter of the ball in a V shape for their smaller weights (see image directly below). If you have large hands, you might need to consider one of these brands.

Rogue Kettlebells have a large V shaped opening to fit two hands

Going back to the competition kettlebells, they also have a consistent handle size among all weights. So if you’re willing to spend the extra money on competition kettlebells, you can be sure the handle opening is large enough for two hands regardless of weight.

Handle Finish

Various kettlebell coatings / finishes

There are a few different finishes available for kettlebells. The main options you’ll run into is enamel, vinyl, powder coating, and bare steel. Powder coating is what nicer standard kettlebells like the Rogue Kettlebells will have; this is great for holding chalk during long sets. Bare steel is what the competition kettlebell handles will have, and it’s what I personally prefer. Enamel is fine, but vinyl coating is not really recommended and is most commonly found on the lesser quality brands. The kettlebell on the left in the above picture is a CAP. It’s very pretty, but it’s junk.

Kettlebell Construction

There are two methods typically used to make a kettlebell: one piece casting or two piece assembly. The latter method involves attaching the handle to the ball, and is not as strong or secure as the one piece casting. You don’t want the weighted ball to come flying off the handle during a swing. I’m pretty sure that flying cannonball is going to destroy whatever it hits no matter what weight it is.

Kettlebell Base

If you intend to do any movements that use the kettle as a ground fixture like renegade rows, handstands, or mounted pistol squats, you will want a kettlebell with a completely flat bottom. Again, shouldn’t be an issue with a reputable kettle, but some of the cheaper brands do not sit flush on the ground; rather they wobble around. If you buy from a brick and mortar store, check it yourself. If you’re not sure of an item you see online, read the reviews.

Stated Weight

A huge problem with cheap fitness companies that make kettlebells, dumbbells and Olympic plates is a huge variance in the weights of their gear. I’ve heard of CAP dumbbells that were off by pounds. Not grams, not even ounces. Pounds! So if you bought an 18 pound kettlebell that was 2 pounds heavy and a 24 pound kettlebell that was 3 pounds light, what you now have are two kettlebells of practically the same weight. That’s no bueno. So stick with reputable companies.

Some Suggested Brands

Vulcan Training Kettlebells

Vulcan’s Training Kettlebells are unique for a couple reasons. For starters, they are steel rather than classic cast iron, which means they are of a higher quality and more evenly balanced. Secondly, like competition kettlebells, they are all uniform in size regardless of weight. This uniformity allows for quick and easy progression between weights, and it also means you can get both hands in even the lightest of kettlebells.

Vulcan's almost-competition Training Kettlebells

When it comes down to it, these kettlebells are closer to competition kettlebells than training kettlebells. You get just about all the advantages of comp bells, only no color and a more reasonable price. They are powder-coated, have a height of almost 11″, have a diameter of 8.2″, and the handles are 35 mm in diameter. They are available in 4 kg increments from 8 kg to 32 kg. Winner winner.

KettleBell Kings Powder-Coated Kettlebells

Powder Coat Training Kettlebells by Kettlebell Kings

You could say that Kettlebell Kings knows a thing or two about kettlebells, as kettlebells are just about all they sell. Their Powder Coated Kettlebells are basically their version of training kettlebells – very similar to the Rogue kettlebells discussed below. Like the Rogue’s, they are black powder coated with identifying colored bands around the base of the handles, they are available in all the same weights (9-203 pounds; or 4-92 kilograms if you prefer), and they are made of a single gravity cast rather than assembled.

The Kettlebell Kings version isn’t completely the same though. The powder coat finish is smoother to the touch with less surface imperfections while still being grippy enough to use securely with or without chalk. Kettlebell Kings also guarantees accuracy to within 0.3 kilograms or will replace the kettlebell at no cost. Of course there is also the advantage of buying a kettlebell from a company whose sole goal is to design, improve upon, and sell kettlebells.

Prices for KB Kings’ kettlebells already include shipping, so keep that in mind when price shopping and comparing against units that do not yet include the cost of shipping. Here is some further reading for those having a hard time deciding on where to buy a kettlebell.

Rogue Kettlebells & Monster Kettlebells

Rogue Kettles and Monster Kettles

The Rogue Kettlebells are very nice kettlebells. They are completely finished in a black powder coat save for the colored stripe around the base of the handles for quick and easy weight identification. They are offered in 17 different sizes/weights ranging from 9 pounds to a massive 203 pounds (approx 4-92 kg).

Rogue uses high quality ore rather than scraps, and their finishing process leaves a seamless, smooth surface free of defects. They are one-piece castings with a wide, flat base and the powder coat holds chalk very well. These are both functional and classy kettlebells, and they sell for very reasonable prices (starting at $22.)

American Barbell Pro Kettlebells

American Barbell Cast Iron Pro Kettlebells

American Barbell kettlebells are colored-coded around the base of the handles just like the Rogue kettlebells. They are cast iron with a textured, chip-resistant surface that works well with chalk, and a large, flat base for extra stability and ground clearance during swings. They also sport the fancy American Barbell logo; easily the coolest logo in the industry.

These are sold in kilograms (2-48 kilograms), but the weight in both kilograms and pounds is etched into the backside of each kettlebell so you kind of get the best of both worlds. Prices start at $22, and they are pretty consistent with Rogue pricing. It’s kind of a wash between Rogue and American Barbell.

Vulcan Absolute Kettlebells

Vulcan Absolute Competition Kettlebells

Vulcan is serious about their kettlebells, and the Vulcan Absolute Kettlebells are proof of that. Rather than pumping out just another basic kettlebell and then having a price war with everyone else, Vulcan puts some serious time and effort into the R&D of their Absolute kettles. The Absolutes are made entirely with high quality steel, are guaranteed to not crack or dent for life, don’t chip easily like painted bells, and there are no toxic chemicals used as either fillers or in the powder coat finish. I have a couple of these Absolutes and they are the bomb.

Vulcan makes a lot of technical information about these kettlebells available on their website; much more than I can fit here. If you’re serious about the quality of your comp kettlebells, this is definitely a unit you should look into and read more about.

Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebells

Kettlebell Kings Sport Competition Kettlebells

These are very similar to the Vulcan Competition Kettlebells that I just discussed. Kettlebell Kings Sport Competition Kettlebells are gravity-cast, one-piece, high-quality steel kettlebells with no fillers, no rattling, and no welding. They are accurate to within 0.3 kg, guaranteed for life, and color-coded to GSU, IKFF, & IUKL Standards. Sizing is of course consistent among all weights being that they are competition bells, and the handle diameter is as it should be at 35 mm.

When it comes to choosing between the Vulcan Competition Kettlebells and the Kettlebell Kings Competition Kettlebells, the biggest difference is the size of the handle opening. KB Kings boasts a narrower opening, claiming easier insertion with better comfort overhead and in the rack position during lifts. The opening on the Vulcan is simply more standard in size and shape making it probably a better choice for those who favor two-handed movements, or those who just have larger than usual hands. Either way you go, I think you’ve got a kettlebell for life.

Rogue Competition Kettlebells

Rogue Competition Kettlebells

The upgrade to Rogue’s standard kettlebells, Rogue Comp Kettlebells are available from 8kg to 48kg, and all weights share the same base diameter (5½”), height (11.1″), and handle diameter (33mm). This allows for smooth transitions when moving up with weight.

Each comp kettlebell also includes a smooth, blemish-free surface with a matte black powdercoat finish and four specially contoured flats—reducing friction and discomfort during overhead presses, cleans, and snatches. Rogue also included the color-coded band around the handle.

Prices range from about $48 (8 kg) up to about $300 (48 kg), so they are much more of an investment than non-competition kettlebells. Like the American Barbell kettlebells, Rogue included the weight in both pounds and kilograms on the backside of the bell. Pretty fancy!

Ader Pro Grade Kettlebells

Ader Pro Competition Kettlebells at Rogue Fitness

These are competition kettlebells. What that means is that regardless of the weight, they are all the same size; both the casting and the handles. They are color coded and have  bare steel handles 33 mm in diameter. These are nice, more expensive, and shouldn’t really be necessary for most people. However, if you like the colors and have the money, go for it. They are also available in a set that ships for free (single units do not ship free).

Thompson Fatbells

Thompson Fatbells by Rogue Fitness & Donnie Thompson

Brand new and already a huge hit, these weighted fist bells are the brain-child of powerlifter Donnie Thompson, and man are they badass. They’re called Fatbells, and as you can see, the handle is basically just moved into the bell itself as a way to balance out the whole bell. The result, as Donnie Thompson explains it himself, is a “perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance,” as your hand and the bell essentially act as one. The center mass design allows athletes to improve the efficiency and balance of every swing/press while also reducing common kettlebell safety risks.

Fatbells are available in 15 different weights and sizes ranging from 9-pounds to 150-pounds (good luck with that). Prices range from $24 to $195 plus shipping. Check out the product page for individual sizes, measurements, and various applications.

I’m tellin’ ya, this is a new product, yet the product page is already piling up reviews, and half of them are constantly out of stock. You’ll probably have to sign up for e-mail notifications to get your hands on these (or in these, that is). Pretty damn cool!

Honorable Mentions:

RKC Dragon Door Russian Kettlebells – Very popular kettlebells. The RKC Dragons are slightly more expensive than the Rogue’s, but some people swear by them. They’re one of the few quality kettlebells available for sale on Amazon, which means often times there are deals on shipping for Prime members.

Ader Kettlebells – These are the non-competition Ader’s. Another popular option for basic kettlebells. They are solid, reliable, and no frills kettles. These can be found from many retailers and are available in sets with free shipping from Rogue.

For those not looking to spend a fortune on performance kettlebells, or those who just need a couple light kettlebells for pre/rehab, I would suggest taking a look at the other lines of kettlebells from Kettlebell Kings. Obviously their powder coated and competition kettlebells are their flagship models, but they sell half a dozen other more affordable styles as well – great for those who simply need the weight, not the bells and whistles.

Final Thoughts

There are tons of kettlebells on the market. Many more than I can review here. However, I am confident that I’ve given you enough information to make an informed decision when shopping for kettlebells.

There are also “fun” kettlebells. Those where the ball isn’t ball, but rather is cast to be a zombie, demon, clown or whatever. They are neat, but check for all the same things that you would with a standard kettle. Also, some of those custom kettles have very sharp features, so be careful with them.

If you made it this far down the post, you liked something about it, right? If so, please consider giving me a +1 at the top of the right sidebar, or sharing this on your preferred social media site. Thanks!

{ 57 comments… add one }
  • Mark July 10, 2014, 2:55 pm

    Awesome write up! Exactly what I was looking for!!!! Thanks!

  • Sherri August 15, 2014, 8:33 am

    Great information for the beginning kettlebell user as my gym has a has a bunch of different brands.

  • Brian September 16, 2014, 8:29 am

    Great info, exactly what I was looking for, thanks so much! Can you tell me more about the Ader Pro Grade Kettlebells vs. Vulcan Competition Kettlebells? I hear the Ader handles are a little rough. Many thanks!

    • jburgeson September 16, 2014, 10:26 am

      Yeah Brian, I’ve heard that as well about Ader comps, but I don’t really think there will be a huge difference in overall feel between the two. Both are popular and both are made well. Vulcan is pretty serious about kettlebell training though, and it looks like they may have slightly better quality control after casting, so that’s definitely worth something. The issue with Vulcan is finding stuff in stock!

      • Brian September 16, 2014, 10:41 pm

        jburgeson, the new Vulcan line should be in stock in February 2015. I sincerely hope it’s worth the wait! Thanks again for the info.

        • jburgeson September 17, 2014, 12:46 am

          That’s quite the wait!

  • Joe October 22, 2014, 7:20 am

    Great article. I am a 43 year old male with slightly above average strength. I used to do Crossfit. I really liked it but would rather pursue my own programming in my basement. I am looking for 3 kettlebells to satisfy my needs. What 3 sizes do you recommend to get me started?

    • jburgeson October 22, 2014, 8:47 am

      You’d probably get a different answer to this no matter who you asked. I’ve always been told that a man should start with at least one 24 kg kettlebell. If you’re starting with three, the other two should be whatever you know you can handle based on your past experience with CrossFit. You can either buy two other different weights, or a pair if you have any movements that require a pair in mind.

      My kettlebell training is pretty limited, and my personal collection is quite the hodge podge. Maybe someone else will chime in on this.

      • Joe October 22, 2014, 11:27 am

        Thanks. This is a helpful start.

  • Tony February 20, 2015, 4:31 pm

    Hello. Thanks for the great write up. Any thoughts about the kettlebellsusa.com Matrixx elite line? I’m deciding between these and the Roque brand and the shipping is a little less for me from Kettlebells USA but not sure of the quality. Thanks.

    • jburgeson February 20, 2015, 5:12 pm

      I don’t know anything about those guys, but they look fine to me. You may just want to ask and make sure there isn’t any flashing on the handle. Kettlebells aren’t really a high-precision piece of equipment, but when they’re cheap, you have to file down that flashing yourself which of course pulls off the finish.

  • Graachus March 24, 2015, 6:38 pm

    I disagree with your assessment of Cap brand kettlebells. I’ve used them for years and I have no complaints, in fact they are the same as the original dragondoor brand. I’ve never had one break on me, the handles are smooth, the finish is durable and the weights are accurate. Most importantly they are very reasonably priced ($62 dollars and free shipping from Walmart for a 50 pound KB).

    • jburgeson March 24, 2015, 7:58 pm

      Fair enough =p

      CAP has made small improvements to some of their product line in the last year, at least for their top tier stuff. Generally that stuff isn’t the Wal-Mart/sporting goods store stuff though, but hey, maybe they’re coming around. I personally have never owned a CAP product that was within 5% of the claimed weight, and I personally wouldn’t buy CAP over a more reputable brand, but obviously someone is buying it because they are still in business. To each his/her own.

    • Cher Clark March 18, 2016, 9:18 am

      My CAP bell (which I like to use outdoors in the sun) has a finish or enamel that is melting and in my search for the phone number for the company (that I cannot find) there are many articles and posts stating that the materials used on these bells is indeed toxic. Sometimes its worth paying premium prices for premium products! :-/

  • Franny May 2, 2015, 4:16 pm

    Did you previously review and recommend the onefitwonder kettle bells? If so, has your assessment of those changed?

    • jburgeson May 2, 2015, 7:28 pm

      I did, the links were broken for a while so I removed them temporarily. I try not to 404 people, it’s annoying. There were so many that it was easier to cut complete sections in a hurry, but I saved them all and should have everything back to normal Monday. Sorry about that. OFW kettles are good kettles btw =P

      • Franny May 2, 2015, 7:58 pm

        Thanks! I keep waffling about which set to buy – OFW/Ader/Rogue. OFW is the cheaper set, so I think I will go with those.

  • Chris June 7, 2015, 8:05 pm

    excellent write up. thanks for the info. going with Vulcan

    • Steven June 20, 2015, 1:41 pm

      Best buying guide for Kettlebells by far. I just went online and purchased a 20KG Vulcan to start off my training.

      Thanks again!

      • jburgeson June 20, 2015, 3:12 pm

        Thanks! Good luck =)

  • Chris June 21, 2015, 12:48 pm

    great write up, gave me plenty of info to make my first purchase.
    I bought 2 13 pound rogue KB’s to get started. they are light but work for getting into the routines.

    based on your review here I also bought 1 Vulcan 12Kg KB. sadly it arrived damaged from shipment. when I emailed them they were basically like it happens and use a sharpie to fix the damage. I didnt like that but dealt with it. then when I went to purchase a second 12Kg I noticed that the picture on the website is different than the product I received. I was not happy about this and emailed back and got a RMA and will be sending it back. I didnt like feeling like a bait and switch. so if you liked the logo on their KB be warned that this is not how your KB will arrive.

    ok so with that I now have a question.

    being a non athletic 51 year old who always had trouble with dumbbells I love the way I can work with KB’s
    I am having trouble with my next decision.

    I found a sweet deal on a pro grade competition 12Kg KB from Kettlebells USA that would actually cost less than 2 12KG rogues and would like to go that way

    the question is is it reasonable to assume that I do all the same exercises with the competition KB including renegade rows as I could with Rogues 12Kg “fitness KB?

    I like the shape, look, material and the fact that the size of the KB never changes when it gets heavier of the comp type over the fitness type.

    Thanks for your reviews of the products it is very helpful and thank you in advance for any help you may provide to my questions

    whats you

    • jburgeson June 22, 2015, 10:46 am

      Yeah you can do all the same movements. Comp kettles are nice, but unlike barbells, there is really only so much to do with a kettlebell to make it better so not everyone wants to pay more for them. They’re fine though, and I’ve not heard anything bad about Kettle USA.

      Also, it does suck to receive something that got damaged in transit. If it’s just cosmetic damage, it’s annoying, but not the end of the world because if you use the thing, it’ll get dinged up anyway. However, not receiving the same product in the picture is pretty bad. I can’t imagine what the reasoning behind that is. I may have to ask them about that; hopefully it’s an oversight due to the recent site updates.

      • Chris June 30, 2015, 10:04 pm

        I went back to Vulcan and they have no pictures currently of their KB’s. I guess they are updating their site.

        • jburgeson June 30, 2015, 10:20 pm

          Yeah they’ve been working on it. Plus I think the new kettlebells are coming soon so maybe that has something to do with it as well

  • Chris July 2, 2015, 5:52 pm

    I ended up with the Comp Classic from Kettlebell USA. its nice but very big. I knew going in that it would be bigger and understand that the size of comps will never change no matter the weight.
    While its a great Kettlebell I feel I should work up to the comp style.

    Sadly KB USA doesnt have a return/Exchange policy unless there is a manufacturing defect or damage in shipping its yours.

    I feel a beginner should start with a regular style KB after getting my mitts on the comp.
    I am using my comp KB now as it is all I have but an definitely going to get a regular one

    I have narrowed it down to 2 choices one is a 30 pound from KB USA and the other is the 35 pound from Rouge

    would recommend

    http://www.kettlebellsusa.com/14kg-31lb-metrixx-elite-precision-ecoat-cast-iron-kettlebell.html
    per the owner of the company the difference between their classic line and Elite

    “Classic have thicker handles. Elite have slightly thinner handles and a smoother e-coat.”

    Rogue….

    http://cdn.roguefitness.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/r/o/rogue-kettlebell-7.jpg

    http://www.roguefitness.com/rogue-kettlebells

    Price wise the Rogue 35 pounder (16Kg) makes more sense

    the KB USA KB at 14Kg is plus 35 bucks shipping…just under a C note

    the Rogue would be $65 bucks shipped

    its tough when you cant put your hands on something before you buy

    I think the KB USA is smoother which might mean its easier on the hands for prolonged snatches but also slippery. I know the rogue is sort of rough but not uncomfortable. it actually feels nice not too rough not too smooth.

    what do you think?

    thanks

    • jburgeson July 2, 2015, 6:16 pm

      Slippery is bad. That’s a lot of money to not be sure you’ll like it. Rogue does have their finish down. I also wish that Vulcan would get their new ones in stock; they look really nice. Also, I know the Vulcan guy is just as serious about kettlebells as he is bars. I believe the previous models were certified by whoever certifies such things lol, not sure on the new ones. I dunno, if you hated the Rogue’s they’d probably take it back so you’d be out nothing but the shipping. Seems better to try that first. Did you look at Eleiko? They lowered the cost of theirs significantly on their own site to be competitive. Haven’t seen one yet though.

  • Chris July 2, 2015, 7:10 pm

    I should amend my initial statement….I bought the 13 pound KB’s not to get into kettlebells but to improve my bowling swing. I have not bowled in 30 years and recently got back into it but was having difficulties with the back and forward swings. It dramatically helped and I then began began looking into the implementation of them as an exercise tool. even the 13 pounds help a lot as in a KB routine but obviously 2 light.

    secondly Slippery was the wrong word….the Vulcan was really really smooth, not slippery but really smooth and it was “ok” but the Rogue just has the best of both worlds roughly smooth…lol

    I may have glanced at the Eleiko but I’ll take a better look.
    what is it about them you like?

    Rogue is probably the way to go either way.

    thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it.

  • Chris July 2, 2015, 7:30 pm

    Damn Dude..ya just threw a wrench in the works

    The Eleiko is nice.
    Not too much info on the page though…double molded for texture but is it a once piece design?

    they look nice and I like the reputation of the company. this is no fly by night dealer….

    73 for a 16 Kg delivered and 66 for the 14KG

    both fairly cheap without the shipping 43 (16Kg) 39 (14Kg)

    have you had your hands on them?

    Where are they made?

    • jburgeson July 2, 2015, 7:40 pm

      Yeah I don’t know much more than you do. They tried to send me some to sample a while back; I guess I shoulda took them lol. I wouldn’t expect them to be much different than anyone else’s; it’s not really their specialty. Having said that, I don’t think you have to worry about them sucking either. I doubt very much that they are made in Sweden though; price is too low I think.

  • Chris July 2, 2015, 7:41 pm

    the Eleiko’s look like the ears are a lot more separated and further down on the ball than all others…how does that affect balance and swing?

  • Chris July 10, 2015, 11:26 am

    jburgeson

    I went with a 14KG Black Iron KB from Eleiko.
    I just got it this morning and I am happy I went this way. Customer service is top notch. I had a few communications with Jessica from customer service via email and she was very helpful and quick to respond.

    as for the KB…its feel is somewhere between the Rogue and Vulcan. not too rough and not silky smooth.its got a nice medieval vibe to it.
    its not 100% flat on the bottom as compared to the 8Kg Rogue and the 12 Kg Comp from Kettlebell USA and I have emailed them about it just to make sure. its got a slight rock to it back and forth( brand name front) but not side to side.
    when using this for renegade rows I’d use the comp KB for stability and pump the Eleiko so I really dont think its a bog deal but I am curious for what they will say.

    I work with heavy metal and have various to0ls and sanders that I feel confident I can smooth it out if I have to

    anyway, again thanks for the info and your reply’s it has been most helpful

  • Tony October 13, 2015, 10:32 pm

    Another great article jb. Thanks again.

    My buddy who got me into lifting back in the day heard I was building a home gym and sent me something in the mail. It was in a heavy compact box and I didn’t know what to expect. Turns out it was a kettle bell! He swears that this is the way to go for a home gym with limited space (which is what I am currently working with). I still don’t know too many movements but have been enjoying kb swings and deadlifts and am working up to using it for Turkish getups.

    It’s one of the Onnit kettle bells from the Primal series, meaning it is shaped like a monkey face. It’s pretty badass looking and despite the detailed sculpture there are no pointy edges to worry about and the kettle bell itself feels really balanced and quality. The surface sounds like the “rough smooth” that Chris was describing earlier and the handle is fatter than normal which I happen to like. Anyways, I don’t have experience with other kettle bells but it seems like it is very high quality.

    Do you have any experience with Onnit in general? They seem to have a lot of interesting fitness gear, although their selection is definitely a bit eccentric/unique. My guess is you didn’t include them here because the price per lb is higher than you would see on a non-sculptured kettle bell, but I am wondering how their products are received generally in the fitness world given my positive experience.

    • jburgeson October 14, 2015, 3:37 pm

      Yeah I don’t know the first thing about them. I briefly mentioned the existence of the demon and clown style kettlebells, but I never seriously considered listing any of them here. I never even looked at the pricing compared to standard-style kettlebells. Just seemed like more of a fun, gimmicky kind of thing… like battle hammers.

  • Iwan February 21, 2016, 4:53 pm

    I’m really enjoying this site. I’ve recently started putting together a home home gym(from scratch, building the actual building).
    Have you looked at onnit products? particularly their primal bells.
    Admittedly these are just aesthetic but they can make a gym look pretty cool.

    • jburgeson February 21, 2016, 6:40 pm

      I’ve looked at their whole product line actually; I’m in the same city as they’re located. I’ve got a note to take another look and see if any sticks out as particularly interesting or useful.

      I opted not to get overly specific with the animal/demon shaped kettlebells in this article though as they ultimately are a novelty. I’m thinking that having a kettlebell that you wouldn’t use for all movements isn’t the best kettlebell to buy. But yes, you’re right, they are cool looking and they could make the gym pop a little.

      Having a dedicated free-standing building for a gym is a pretty cool situation btw. Congratulations on that.

  • Tony June 19, 2016, 5:49 pm

    I think as long as you grab the kb so that the “face” is facing forward at the starting position they perform no differently than regular kettlebells since the other side is round and smooth and is what comes in contact with your arm in the rack position. Maybe there’s some movements I’m not thinking of though, so please correct me if I’m overlooking something.

    Have you ever looked at any of the adjustable kb options? Most of them seem too light to really matter and the ones that get heavy seem to get awkward due to unconventional shape/size. The iron master one intrigues me since it would use the same plates/locks as their adjustable dumbells, which are on my wish list. Here’s a pretty solid review that goes into detail about how they stack up to normal kb.

    http://forum.bodybuilding.com/showthread.php?t=137559523

    The gist of it is he was really pleased at first, but eventually wound up preferring regular kettlebells as time progressed. If cost were a factor though, would you go with their adjustable kb?

    • jburgeson June 19, 2016, 7:08 pm

      You could be right about that, I’m not exactly sure.

      You know I’ve never actually seen that IM kettlebell up close, so I’m not sure if I’d go that route. I may have to check one of those out at some point and see how well it stays together at heavy weights. I say heavy because unless you need multiple heavy weights there really is no point in even considering it. Light kbs just don’t cost that much. I’d be more inclined to consider it if I already owned their dumbbell system, which I do like.

  • Nick July 6, 2016, 3:35 am

    I have been looking hard at kettlebells… I personally don’t like the finish on the OFW kettlebells. I like the American Barbell kettlebells, but they cost a small fortune to ship really putting them out of the running.

    My favorite two right now without touching a kettlebell are the VF Precision by World Kettlebell and the Rogue competition Kettlebells. I am not sure if I want to spend that much money on kettlebells, I would need to get a fairly decent range to cover my wife and myself. One or two, I’d probably be on those VF’s for sure…

    The Kettlebell kings powdercoat or Ecoat bells look attractive at their price and ship for free… HUGE plus since some of the shipping quotes I have gotten have been just as much as the set of weights… Anybody have a view on kettlebell kings? Should I just man up for the premiums as a long term investment? Any bells on sale! I WANT to add a GHD and some sort of cardio device so we can sub running when we need to (not a treadmill) Probably a bike and/or rower. Dumbells are last on my list, I might not ever get a set, last set I had when I had a home gym collected dust and we rarely used them at the box I went to.

  • Tony July 21, 2016, 8:34 pm

    Kinda in the same boat as Nick but looking at the OFW and Rogue due to prohibitive shipping for AB and higher price of vulcan and those VFs he mentioned. Also, Vulcan and Vf appear to have the more “comp” style shape and I’ve read some complaints about two-handed swings feeling cramped due to the narrower handle shape.

    Between OFW and Rogue, do you have a preference or are they pretty much a wash?

    Taking a break from SS and trying S&S (so many S’s), so going to need a few heavier bells soon.

    • jburgeson July 21, 2016, 9:12 pm

      VF’s have a much smaller gap than the Vulcan’s… I don’t think put those two in the same category. The Training Vulcan’s are more like comp kettles though, you’re right about that – almost the same size exactly, maybe 1/5 of an inch shorter.

      I get it that Vulcan charges more for kettlebells, but for what it’s worth, I would read into their product descriptions before you defer to Rogue or OFW. Vulcan holds some patents on kettlebells because they actually design their own, and the owner is an avid supporter of the sport. If the price is still unjustifiable to you, I’d say Rogue puts out a nicer, more refined product. Truth be told, I’m kind of losing my interest in Fringe products – I think they’re moving backwards rather than forward.

      • Tony July 21, 2016, 10:12 pm

        Definitely something to think about. I’ll take another look at Vulcan for sure, definitely a brand I’d like to support. My general feeling though was a kettle bell is a kettle bell as long as there is no seam, weight is accurate and balanced, and the finish isn’t terrible. A $30 price difference adds up quite a bit over time, especially if you end up getting 3 or more kettle bells.

        Thanks as always for the excellent content and advice.

        • Tony July 21, 2016, 10:50 pm

          Didn’t realize Vulcan will ship for free to my location. Definitely closes the margins a bit (closer to $20). Just an FYI for those considering similar options.

  • Nick July 21, 2016, 9:20 pm

    I got a full set of GET RXD Premium kettle bells shipped free with my Xebex rower, I got a great deal shipping to my business and not getting the “Free” stuff packaged with it.
    I will get VF’s in some sizes in the future.

    • jburgeson July 21, 2016, 9:31 pm

      Nick have you used a Concept2 with any frequency? I’d be curious what your thoughts on the Xebex monitor is compared to the Concept PM monitor.

      • Nick July 21, 2016, 9:38 pm

        I like the xebex rower better, the concept 2 monitor has more functions, but the Xebex rower does everything I need it to do. The Xebex monitor is bigger and easier to read but if you like all the stuff the PM5 does…
        I’d put the Xebex Rower up there with the C2 E’s.

        I didn’t pay anywhere near the price listed on the website for the Xebex Rower, plus I got a womens Oly Bar and kettlebells shipped for free with it.

        • jburgeson July 21, 2016, 10:07 pm

          They must make a pretty penny off those Xebex products – they are pushing the hell out of them. Lots’s of freebie stuff too. Glad it’s working out though. Thanks

          • Nick July 22, 2016, 12:23 am

            I am not sure what they make on it, but they cut me a great deal IMO on the rower. It is NICE and well made. I don’t have any gripes. Customer service is TOP NOTCH also. I cut a deal because I didn’t need or want their free stuff and they just took that off my total… maybe a little more, plus gave me a % off all Ret RXD products and free shipping. I will probably pick up the bike sooner or later, but I want a GHD first.

  • Tony October 22, 2016, 12:49 pm

    Looking for my next kb – want to try rogue or kb kings (their powder coat bells). At my location, the kb king bells are about $20 more than the rogues. Do you think they are $20 better? Or should I save a few bucks and go rogue.

    • jburgeson October 24, 2016, 10:06 am

      Nah, the differences in kettlebells for the average person are subtle when talking about any of the higher-end models. $20 per kettlebell is a lot to pay for minor differences, unless you’re just super hardcore about kettlebell training.

  • Mike November 7, 2016, 11:59 am

    AB has a pretty hefty discount on their Rubber Coated KB’s. Have you had any experience with those? I’ve never used a rubber coated KB. The pic looks like the handle is not coated, but… not too sure. That seems to be a very good price.

    • jburgeson November 7, 2016, 3:36 pm

      I actually have not, no. You wouldn’t want rubber on the handles for sure though, it would be extremely slippery. I doubt that these are anything special, but if the price is good enough and they’ll get the job done, then by all means.

  • Kev December 7, 2016, 8:56 am

    It’s almost 2017… still good information!

  • Mike December 17, 2016, 11:19 pm

    From a price point perspective REP Fitness seems to have a slight advantage on KB. What are your thoughts re: quality of REP Fitness product line, as I am in adding to my garage gym. Thanks in advance… your reviews are always helpful!

    Michael

    • jburgeson December 18, 2016, 11:09 am

      Rep’s kettlebells are fine. They’re basically the same as Rogue’s. They may not be as nice as the Vulcan’s or KK’s, but they are certainly a nicer unit than a CAP, FS, or other box-store kettlebell. Be sure and compare prices after adding in shipping prices btw, as REP doesn’t build shipping into the price like many of the other vendors do.

  • Raj December 23, 2016, 9:54 am

    Hi. Wht are your thoughts on the titan kettlebells. Way cheaper than fringe or rogue. I have their t3 rack which is prettygood. How are their kbs?

    • jburgeson December 23, 2016, 10:43 am

      Titan is always a ‘buy at your own risk’ brand as far as I’m concerned. They make pretty cheap stuff, and QC is notoriously meh considering that it’s all lowest-bidder imports. If you just need a semi-accurate piece of cast iron to toss around, then by all means grab Titan kettlebells. Don’t go this route if you’re even remotely serious about training with kettlebells though. You can’t build a mixed set with Titan KB’s because they don’t even follow the normal weight structure.

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