The Onix Z5 paddle is a classic and iconic pickleball paddle that has been a favorite among recreational and competitive players for over a decade. It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most popular and best-selling paddles on the market!
Onix offers the Z5 in both graphite and composite face materials, and they’ve also introduced the Z5 Mod Series as a next-generation update while retaining the iconic styling. In this in-depth Onix Graphite Z5 Pickleball Paddle Review, we’ll compare and contrast the different Z5 models to help you determine which version best fits your playing style and needs.
Overview of Onix
Before diving into the nitty gritty details of Onix Pickleball Paddle, let’s quickly recap Onix as a brand. Based in Florida, Onix Sports has been crafting high performance paddles since 1986. In addition to the Z5, they produce a wide selection of pickleball paddles, balls, accessories and gear.
Onix utilizes top quality materials and cutting edge construction methods in their paddles. They also partner with several pro players to endorse and provide input on their paddle technology. Onix has firmly established itself as a leading manufacturer of pickleball equipment.
The Origins of the Z5
The original Onix Graphite Z5 paddle first hit the courts back in 2010. With its control-oriented widebody design, it quickly became one of Onix’s most popular models. The Z5 appealed to a wide range of players and skill levels.
A few years later, Onix introduced the Z5 Composite as a slightly heavier alternative featuring a textured composite surface. More recently in 2021, the Z5 Mod Series was launched as the next evolution of this legendary paddle line.
Now let’s take a detailed look at how these three Z5 variants compare across some key performance metrics:
|Graphite face and nomex core
|Nomex honeycomb core
|Fiberglass face and nomex core
|Nomex honeycomb core
|Carbon fiber face and nomex core with aluminum honeycomb core insert for added power and control.
|7.6-8.3 oz. (depending on grip size)
|Nomex honeycomb core with aluminum insert for added power and control.
Shape and Design
All three Z5 paddles feature the iconic widebody shape the Z5 line is known for. At 8 inches wide, the generous surface area provides plenty of hitting power while still allowing solid control and stability even on off-center hits.
The width and classic silhouette make the Z5 an extremely forgiving and confidence building option for novice players learning proper form. But even experienced players appreciate the versatility and forgiveness the widebody shape offers.
In terms of length, the Z5 measures 15 3⁄4 inches which is pretty standard for a pickleball paddle. It has a nice elongated handle flared at the end for excellent wrist support and two handed gripping. Visually, all Z5 models have a sleek, minimalist aesthetic.
Tie. All three share the same universally appealing wide body shape and design.
When it comes to weight, there are some notable differences between the three Z5 variants:
- Graphite Z5 – 7.5-8.2 oz – Medium weight class
- Z5 Composite – 8.4-9.2 oz – Medium-Heavy class
- Z5 Mod – 7.3-7.7 oz – Medium-Light class
The Graphite Z5 offers a very versatile weight range suitable for most players and styles. The slightly heavier Composite version adds some extra power and stability for aggressive baseliners and players making a transition from tennis.
The newest Mod Series trims a few ounces off creating an ultra-maneuverable and quick feeling paddle while maintaining control. The reduced weight is ideal for players focused on quick reflexes and wrist action.
The Z5 Graphite takes the edge with its universal medium weight appeal. But the Mod and Composite offer lighter and heavier options expanding the fit for more players.
Materials and Construction
Onix uses high quality materials and construction in all Z5 models. Here’s an overview of the material variations:
- Graphite Z5 – Graphite face, Nomex polymer core
- Z5 Composite – Composite polymer face, Polymer core
- Z5 Mod – FiberFlex Basalt face, Nomex Honeycomb core
- The Graphite Z5 combines a robust graphite face with Onix’s signature Nomex core for an unparalleled smooth and comfortable feel. Nomex also enhances control and touch.
- The Composite utilizes a grittier textured polymer face designed to increase bite and spin generation. Its polymer core adds some rigidity and stability.
- The Mod Series incorporates Basalt fiber in the paddle face to optimize vibration dampening and elasticity. This amplifies speed through the ball while maintaining control. The Nomex honeycomb core maximizes overall paddle feel and touch.
All three are reinforced with a fiberglass edge guard for added structural protection. Their construction quality and materials are top-notch.
The Z5 Mod Series takes the gold with its innovative use of Basalt fiber and Nomex core, enhancing speed, control and comfort. But all models are solidly built.
Now let’s examine how these paddles compare in key playing characteristics:
- Power – The Mod and Graphite Z5 have very similar power levels. The Composite generates slightly more pop due to its extra weight.
- Control – Again, the Mod and Graphite are closely matched with excellent touch and control. The Composite lags just a bit behind.
- Spin – The textured Composite face creates the most spin potential. The other two have decent spin but excel more in control.
- Sweet Spot – All three share an ample sweet spot thanks to the widebody shape. Great forgiveness.
- Speed – The lighter Mod Series delivers the quickest and most responsive feel through the ball.
- Comfort – The Graphite and Mod both provide a smooth and comfortable feel off the face. The Composite is a bit more rigid.
Winner: Overall the Z5 Mod Series takes top marks with its innovative use of Basalt and Nomex enhancing speed, control and comfort. But the Graphite and Composite still deliver balanced playability.
Pros and Cons
To summarize, here are some high level pros and cons for each model:
|Well balanced control and power, Lightweight maneuverability, Classic shape great for beginners, Smooth graphite feel
|Lacks the spin of the Composite, Not as speedy as the Mod
|Heavier weight adds stability and power, Composite face creates spin
|Not as responsive or nimble as lighter models, Stiff feel lacks touch of graphite
|Innovative modern materials, Lightning quick response, Enhanced control and comfort
|Touch players may find it too lightweight, Higher price than other Z5 models
Winner: The Z5 Graphite takes top marks for having the broadest appeal and least drawbacks. But the Mod and Composite variations have unique advantages.
Ideal Player for Each Model
With the unique strengths of each model in mind, here are the playing styles and experience levels best matched for each Z5 version:
- Graphite Z5 – Beginner to advanced all-around players. Provides nice blend of control, power and touch.
- Z5 Composite – Intermediate and advanced players needing extra power and spin for aggressive baseline play and smashes.
- Z5 Mod – Finesse players focused on quickness and reflexes. Ideal for experienced doubles players.
How the Z5 Compares to Other Popular Paddles?
The Z5 line holds up very well when compared to other top selling paddles in terms of quality, performance and value. Here’s a quick glance at how the Z5 models stack up to competitors:
- Selkirk Amped Epic – Very similar to Graphite Z5, with Epic being slightly more spin focused
- Gamma Micron – Lighter like the Mod with emphasis on control and quickness
- Engage Poach Advantage – Poach is most similar to Mod with composite face adding spin
- Prince Response Pro – Comparable to Composite Z5 with composite face and weight
While specialized paddles may beat out the Z5 in specific areas, the Z5’s do provide an extremely well balanced and consistent playing experience paddle to paddle. The Z5 line spans a range of weights and materials allowing players to tailor the paddle to their style.
All three Z5 paddles provide excellent quality and performance for the price:
The Composite Z5 is the most budget friendly option, while still providing the iconic Z5 playing experience. The Graphite Z5 offers the best blend of value, quality and performance for the price. And the Mod still comes in at a lower cost than many comparable graphite paddles.
The Z5 provides a nice balance of control and power that compares well to other top-selling paddles like the Selkirk Amped Epic and Franklin X-40. It has better control than ultra-lightweight paddles but more pop than super heavy composite paddles. The Z5 holds its own against paddles in the same price range.
The Z5 is a great all-around paddle that can work for a wide range of players. It’s forgiving enough for beginners but provides enough power and control for intermediate and advanced players as well. Its classic shape and balance make it a good choice for players of any style.
The Z5 comes standard with a 4 1/4 inch circumference grip. Onix does offer overgrips that can increase the size up to 4 3/4 inches to accommodate larger hands.
It weighs between 7.5 – 8.2 ounces, putting it in the medium weight class. This provides a nice blend of maneuverability and power.
The Onix Graphite Z5 remains a top selling paddle year after year for good reason. It offers an ideal blend of feel, power and forgiveness at a very reasonable price point. While it may not stand out in any one particular area, it performs admirably well across all skills.
The Z5 is a great option for pickleball players of all backgrounds looking for quality construction and versatile on-court performance. It’s a safe choice backed by a proven brand. Overall the Onix Graphite z5 Pickleball Paddle Review delivers great bang for your buck – a smart investment for players wanting to up their paddle game.
I am a professional physiotherapist and the author of the BallSportsPro. I worked with athletes of all levels, from amateur to professional, and i helped them overcome injuries and improve their performance. I am a certified Pickleball instructor and has been playing the sport for over 10 years.