reactive-bowling-balls

Best Reactive Bowling Balls [2019 Reviewed]

The evolution of the bowling ball has gone hand in hand with changes in bowling lanes and bowling lane technology. Necessity is the mother of invention and the new school of reactive bowling balls has made its mark because of a trend in bowling lanes towards deeper and more tricky oil patterns. The best reactive bowling ball is one which treats oil less as an impediment and more as fuel for sharper hooks and more impressive pin crashes.

With that in mind, we’ve scoured the entire bowling ball market to provide you with our definitive guide of the Top 8 Reactive Bowling Balls heading into the turn of the decade. If you’re a bowlers who really wants to make the most of the game as it stands right now, you’d do well to have one of the following eight reactive bowling ball marvels as your strike ball of choice. 

Top 8 Reactive Bowling Balls 

1) Motiv Trident Abyss

Motiv Trident Abyss Bowling Ball Gray, 15
  • Finished at 2000 Grit Abralon
  • Features the coercion Hv3 reactive Coverstock
  • Recommended for heavy oil lane conditions

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The folks over at Motiv outdid themselves with the Motiv Trident Abyss, crafting their strongest and most fiery reactive bowling ball to date. This ball is a complete hook monster which gets crazy angular at the breakpoint and opens up entry possibilities for creative bowlers to try some really cool new things. If you want a ball which dominates the deepest of oil and creates traction out of nowhere, this is it.

Specs

Color: Two-Tone Grey
Core: Turbulent (Asymmetrical)
Coverstock: Coercion HV3 Reactive (Reactive Solid)
Finish: 2000 Grit LSS
RG: 2.49
Differential: 0.054
Flare potential: Maximum
Recommended Lane Condition: Heavy

Pros

  • When it comes to pure strength and hook sharpness in the deepest and most intricate of oil patterns, the Motiv Trident Abyss has no true rival.
  • The Motiv Trident Abyss offers otherworldly reactivity but it’s still a ball that can be tweaked and slotted for maximum effect. There’s a lot of fury here, but it’s controllable fury.
  • If you want to get your league night started off with a bang, you’ll get peak explosiveness and breakpoint sharpness out of this ball when conditions are at their freshest.

Cons

  • There is no reason to bring this ball out when oil conditions have depleted or are patently dry or medium-dry to start with. You’ll get very little lane length and controlling it will be nearly impossible.
  • Such a crazy amount of reactivity isn’t for everyone. Intermediate bowlers, beginners or straight-line shot aficionados need not apply.

2) Radical Katana Legend

Radical Katana Legend 14lbs
  • COLOR Black/Red/Gold
  • CORE Katana Asymmetric
  • COVERSTOCK Forged + Pearl
  • COVER TYPE Pearl Reactive
  • FINISH 500 and 1, 000 Stair/Crown Factory Compound

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Radical Katana Legend is malleable enough to provide peak down-lane responsiveness and traction capabilities in a wide swath of different oil conditions. While this ball’s true sweet spot lies in medium and medium-heavy oil patterns, you can still open your angles and do amazing damage with this reactive bowling ball delight in slicker stuff or when oil has been sopped up over the course of a few games.

Specs

Color: Black, Red, Gold
Core: Katana Asymmetric
Coverstock: Forged + Pearl Reactive Pearl
Finish: 500 / 1000 SiaAir / Crown Factory Compound
RG: 2.503
Differential: 0.050
Flare potential: Significant
Recommended Lane Condition: Medium

Pros

  • The original Radical Katana trafficked well in down-lane responsiveness and middle-of-the-lane traction and the Legend lives up to its legacy and then some.
  • Versatility is the key to the Radical Katana Legend. It’s built to do everything really well and do it in such a way that very little is sacrificed when oil conditions are less than ideal.
  • There is a very distinct and violent back-end reaction to this ball. It’s hard not to maximize your pin carry with a ball that hits this hard and in this creative of a fashion.

Cons

  • While you can play with the Radical Katana Legend in dry conditions, you’re going to feel hamstrung with reduced breakpoint sharpness and some wavering in the middle of the lane.
  • This ball can get a little unwieldy and hard to control on shorter oil patterns with sharp transitions between wet and dry. 

3) Roto Grip No Rules

Roto Grip No Rules Bowling Ball, 15 lb, Green/Orange/Black
  • Micro DNA Solid Reactive Cover stock
  • Chaotic Core Weight Block
  • 2000 Grit Pad Finish

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Roto Grip No Rules offers the most overall flare potential of the balls on this list, portending a good five inches or so in the slickest and deepest of oil conditions. This is a ball for hook-heavy bowlers who aren’t satisified with conventional approaches and the same pin entry angle over and over again. “No Rules” means no limits to what you can accomplish with this ball. 

Specs

Color: Neon Green, Neon Orange, Black
Core: Chaotic (Asymmetrical)
Coverstock: Micro DNA Reactive Solid
Finish: 2000 Grit Pad
RG: 2.51
Differential: 0.053
Flare potential: Substantial
Recommended Lane Condition: Heavy

Pros

  • The way the Roto Grip No Rules reads the middle of the lane is a complete thing of beauty. It seems to calibrate itself for optimum placement before its breakpoint reaction.
  • There are very few (if any) asymmetrical core bowling balls which store energy this easily and unleash it with such concerted violence at the back end of the lane.
  • You’ll get peak angularity from this ball in the heaviest of oil, but there’s still a really beneficial and useful element to this ball when it finds a bit of dry in a complex pattern.

Cons

  • Lane conditions which offer very little oil for fuel are this ball’s true weakness. It can handle dry as part of a wet/dry pattern, but too much dry makes this ball go flat.
  • The breakpoint motion of this ball can be a little too rounded for those looking for sharp juts, skids and flips. The continuation is there but it’s part of a gradual reaction.

4) Pitbull DV8

DV8 Pitbull Bowling Ball, 15 lb
  • DV8 Composite Bite Cover stock
  • Pitbull Low RG Asymmetric Inner Core
  • 500/1000 Siaair Micro Pad

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Pitbull DV8 lives and dies by the amount of oil it finds on its travels down the lane. The deeper the oil and the more creative the oil pattern, the heavier the hook for this reactive bowling ball bombshell. If you’re a lower-rev bowler who struggles to get the firepower you truly want at pin impact, this ball is built to do that for you in the slickest and wildest oil conditions imaginable. 

Specs

Color: Black, Violet, Green
Core: Pitbull Low RG (Asymmetrical)
Coverstock: Composite Bite Reactive Solid
Finish: 500/1000 SiaAir
RG: 2.486
Differential: 0.055
Flare potential: Moderate to High
Recommended Lane Condition: Heavy

Pros

  • The manufacturers meant it when claiming this ball offers maximum hook potential. This ball maxes out our hook potential scale and completely breaks it in medium-heavy and heavy oil conditions.
  • Some aggressive reactive bowling balls only give as much as the bowler behind them can provide. This ball does a lot of work for those bowlers who throw at lower speeds or generate less revs.
  • This ball clears the freshest of fronts in the most effortless way. It doesn’t just swim through fresh oil – it burns it and absorbs it for some crazy angularity later down the lane.

Cons

  • As we said, this ball lives in oil. Conversely, it dies off considerably when there’s less oil to be had or the initial oil pattern starts to deplete. 
  • The hook potential of this ball is so insane that it’s nearly impossible to throw it remotely straight. You’ve gotta love curves to get the most out of this ball.

5) Storm Hy Road

Storm Hy Road Bowling Ball, 14-Pound
  • Coverstock: R2S Solid Reactive
  • Core: Inverted Fe² Technology
  • Finish: 1500-grit Polished

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Storm Hy Road is the reactive bowling ball of choice for those who are wary about the most extreme impulses within the genre. While there is definitely aggressiveness and angularity to be had with this ball, its real strength is how consistent and easy it is to play with in a variety of different oil conditions. It’s one of the easiest and most effective reactive bowling balls for finesse-first bowlers to play with.

Specs

Color: Black, Ultramarine Blue
Core: Inverted Fe2 Technology (Symmetrical)
Coverstock: R2S Hybrid Reactive
Finish: 1500 Grit Polished
RG: 2.57
Differential: 0.046
Flare potential: Minimal
Recommended Lane Condition: Medium

Pros

  • You know what you’re getting with the Storm Hy Road in oil conditions both slick and depleted. It hits hard and hooks with purpose across a bevy of different patterns and placements.
  • This ball’s at its peak when it finds its footing in the middle of the lane. It’s almost impossible to lose this ball on a traditional house shot with oil at its deepest in the middle.
  • The Storm Hy Road can almost guarantee a bigger back-end reaction than you’re accustomed to  regardless of your approach, throwing speed, or the revs you generate.

Cons

  • This ball is not meant for the driest of conditions or the wettest of conditions. It can do a lot in the multitude of densities and patterns in between, but it flails and falls apart when things get extreme in either direction.
  • This isn’t a maximum hook kind of ball so those looking for innate sharpness and movement to that degree will be disappointed.

6) Storm Code X

Storm Code x Bowling Ball, Black/Blue/Purple, 15 lb
  • Features the rad4 core
  • Has the R2S Solid Reactive coverstock
  • The ball is finished at 3000 Grit Abralon

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The Storm Code X has a lot to live up to bearing the beloved “Code” moniker and it does that and then some. In fact, it’s perhaps the best of the Code reactive bowling balls when it comes to creating traction out of thin air in the middle of the lane and turning it into fiery hook arcs and juts. This may be the most total hook Storm has ever offered in a ball and that’s saying something!

Specs

Color: Black, Blue, Purple
Core: RAD4 (Asymmetrical)
Coverstock: R2S Solid Reactive
Finish: 3000 Abralon
RG: 2.50
Differential: 0.058
Flare potential: Substantial
Recommended Lane Condition: Heavy

Pros

  • Hook potential and flare potential are the true calling cards of the Storm Code X. This ball translates heavy oil into wild arcs and undeniable lateral movement tracking towards the pocket.
  • This ball does a fantastic job of blending wet and dry in complex oil patterns. No matter how long and wild the pattern is, this ball goes the distance and fires up for theatrics at the back end.
  • The Storm Code X is a back-end reaction behemoth. You’ll probably end up taking videos of this ball’s entry into the pins because you won’t believe what you’ve seen right out of the gate.

Cons

  • The Storm Code X has a coverstock which has been finely tuned for oil, oil and more oil. On the flip side, you’ll burn this coverstock to a crisp playing with it in dry conditions.
  • This ball’s tendency to flare and veer can be intimidating for the uninitiated. Unless you’re comfortable reading and reacting to a ball like this, you may want to look elsewhere.

7) Brunswick Vintage Vapor Zone

Brunswick Vintage Vapor Zone Bowling Ball Purple/Blue Pearl, 15
  • Finished at 500 stair pad and crown factory Compound
  • Features the zone Asymmetric core
  • Recommended for medium oil lane conditions to drier lane conditions

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


The original Brunswick Vapor Zone bowling ball made its name by offering an extremely efficacious and crushing back-end reaction to those bowlers whose lack of revs and throwing speed usually work against them. The new Brunswick Vintage Vapor Zone continues that legacy while also boosting the ball’s durability and hitting power to new heights!

Specs

Color: Purple, Blue Pearl
Core: Zone Asymmetric (w/ DynamiCore)
Coverstock: Activator Plus 2.0 Reactive Pearl
Finish: 500 SiaAir / Crown Factory Compound
RG: 2.478
Differential: 0.048
Flare potential: Moderate to Above Average
Recommended Lane Condition: Medium

Pros

  • This is the hardest-hitting Brunswick bowling ball out there. This ball has no quit and offers peak continuation to and through the pins for some crazy pin carry.
  • Very few balls can do this much with this little. Bowlers who want to get peak reactivity and angularity from less overall power and revs will love the Brunswick Vintage Vapor Zone.
  • This ball is extremely forgiving and can make up for off hits with pure force and intuitive tracking on the back end.

Cons

  • As oil conditions deplete, so does the Brunswick Vintage Vapor Zone’s hitting power and pin continuation.
  • This ball can get pretty angular but not with the same sharpness and wildness as some of the other balls on this list. It may be too smooth for some.

8) Hammer Gauntlet

Hammer Gauntlet Bowling Ball- Orange/Black/Silver (13lbs)
  • The Hammer gauntlet bowling ball was designed for heavy oil
  • The ball is finished with 2000 Abralon pad which gives the ball a dull surface to pick up in the oil
  • The new Hammer gauntlet bowling ball will change direction down lane quicker and harder than the scandal

Last update on 2019-12-09 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


If a reactive bowling ball bears the Hammer name, you know that it’s going to hook heavily and hit with pure violence and force. The Hammer Gauntlet does all of that but does it in such a way which separates itself from other balls in the Hammer canon. This ball is all punch and hook in the deepest of oil. If that’s what you need, you won’t find anything better out there. 

Specs

Color: Orange, Black, Silver
Core: Gauntlet (Asymmetrical)
Coverstock: Semtex Hybrid CFI
Finish: 500/2000 Abralon
RG: 2.50
Differential: 0.050
Flare potential: Average
Recommended Lane Condition: Heavy

Pros

  • If you want peak angularity in the slickest oil conditions imaginable, you should have bought the Hammer Gauntlet yesterday. This ball is made for cutting through oil in the sharpest of ways.
  • Everything from the breakpoint on with the Hammer Gauntlet has been calibrated to hit harder than you’re accustomed to. There’s a different sound to this ball when it hits the pocket just right.
  • You can easily polish and resurface the Hammer Gauntlet for shorter oil patterns and medium oil densities. It won’t lose its charms and reactivity if you do so.

Cons

  • Dry lanes eat up the Hammer Gauntlet and spit it out. You won’t be able to stay on the lanes for very long if there isn’t oil to work with.
  • This ball is angular to a fault. Those looking for a smooth and controllable back end are going to struggle with the Hammer Gauntlet.

FAQs

What is a reactive bowling ball?

Reactive bowling balls took the typical polyurethane compositions of the preceding generation of modern bowling ball and turned them on their head. While the coverstock on a reactive bowling ball has a very similar base to that of a urethane bowling ball, the coverstock of a reactive ball is treated with different resin-based additives and other compounds for the sole purpose of reading and reacting to lane oil patterns.

Some resin additives give a ball the ability to skid over oil and flip/turn while others are extremely porous and serve to absorb oil for added traction and firepower. You’ll notice a slight stickiness to most reactive bowling balls. That is a critical design element for adding an extra spot of friction and promoting sharpness/angularity at the back end.

Reactive bowling balls are broken down into three subgenres – reactive solid, reactive pearl, and reactive hybrid. Reactive solid bowling balls are the most porous of the bunch and thus garner the highest friction coefficient of the three. Reactive pearl balls are less porous overall but make up for it in outer traction and overall durability.

Reactive hybrid bowling balls work to give bowlers the best of both worlds and strike a tightrope balance between the strengths of reactive pearl and reactive solid balls.

How do you use a reactive bowling ball? 

Proper bowling form is even more crucial when playing with a reactive bowling ball. Because of their innate reactivity and propensity for doing their own things sometimes, you need to have a steady hand and a clean release to keep a reactive bowling ball slotted into the pin pocket.

One critical mistake bowlers make when first playing with a reactive bowling ball is forgoing adjustments to form and release point when a reactive bowling ball starts to veer left or right of the pocket. Watch how your particular ball is reacting in the middle of the lane and at the breakpoint and make slight adjustments as necessary to ensure you’re lined up correctly.

If you read and react to a reactive bowling ball’s volatility and make informed alterations to your shot, you’ll see big increases in marks, pin carry and overall shot efficacy.

Closing Thoughts

The new generation of reactive bowling balls brings with it a ton of options for upping your game in heavier and more complex lane oil conditions. The above list pares things down to the best of the best, giving you a what’s what of the best reactive bowling balls in the marketplace today.

Add one of these reactive bowling ball gems to your arsenal and you’re well on your way to becoming the star of your league and/or tournament circuit. 

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