by Ernst Schneidereit
Lightning Discs is a longstanding member of the disc golf manufacturing community.
In the late eighties, their discs with a war plane theme were my first upgrade
from a Frisbee. The Texan (now the Rubber
Putter) and the original Lightning driver replaced my all-purpose Ultimate
disc and I used just those two for many years.
While the aircraft designations are now a footnote for Lightning, their line
of discs are worth prominent mention. All of the drivers profiled in this review
feature internal grip lines on the rim of the disc. This adds considerable assistance
to your drive. If you have trouble hanging on to discs when applying lots of
throwing speed (perhaps due to small hands or lower hand strength) you should
consider the Lightning product. In this review we consider two discs from both
the Standard and the Pro line. We also feature two Discraft drivers for this
review: the veteran XL
Elite X (signature model) and the newer Crush
Elite Z. All discs were 170g or slightly higher.
Some noteworthy features are characteristic of all the Lightning discs tested.
All were late fading, holding a straight line for most of the flight distance
#1 Slice the least so of those reviewed). Each line also has special color
options. In the Pro and Standard line, you can request glow-in-the-dark models
from Disc Fly at no extra cost. For the Pro Line, tie-dye colors are also available
for an additional $2 extra).
Pro D1, or #1
Driver Pro Style, is an intermediate to pro level disc, like most of the
Pro line. While the D1
provided the least distance of the Lightning drivers tested when thrown backhand,
it was a great sidearm flyer, notching the best average distance for this throwing
style. For right-handers it flies overstable (right-to-left) with either driving
method, with about half the fade when thrown sidearm. This is a good driver
for beginners moving up to intermediate level.
HX-1 or #1
Helix Pro Style, is slightly more overstable than the D1
and performs in the standard fashion when thrown sidearm, reversing its flight
characteristics. The shape and size of the HX-1
reminds me of the Innova Archangel, and is a great driver for defeating the
wind. Its S-shaped flight pattern gives it the Helix name and is tremendous
fun to watch. While not a distance winner with either throwing style, it was
the most predictable of all the discs thrown.
Flyer comes from the Standard
line and was the average distance winner for backhand throws in this test
and also would have won our last test. Very beginner friendly, Lightning also
claims that this disc is slightly superior to the #1
Driver for use with a tailwind. This disc is a straight flier when sidearmed
and mildly overstable when backhanded.
Slice is very similar in its characteristics to the Wham-O
Bank (featured in our last
driver review). Big and understable, it prefers going left-to-right for
backhanders, but you can also shape its throws if you want without much practice.
It is slightly more difficult to throw than the Bank,
and a little more understable, but gives better distance backhand. Unlike the
Bank, it does not tend to roll when thrown sidearm. This disc is guaranteed
to float at weights below 170g.
XL Elite X is a disc, much like the XL
Elite Z, which both pros and beginners can agree on. Predictable, with good
distance using either throwing style, it flight is similar to the #1
Flyer as a slightly overstable disc. When it becomes worn, I quit using
for sidearm throws, but the Z
plastic holds up very well to tree-dings compared to the X. The Juliana
Bower model tested for this review seemed to perform better than my former
Elite X model, but it may be that the sexy pearlescent color was affecting my
memory. I recommend this disc highly for beginners as it grows along with their
Z Crush is different from most discs due to its wide internal rim (at least
triple that of the average). I found that it tended to leave my hand early whether
thrown with a three- or four-finger grip backhand. The four-finger grip worked
best for this disc. I found it very overstable with both sidearm and backhand
throws. This disc is not for beginners and I would not advise players with small
hands to use this disc. You need to hang on tighter than normal to get it to
perform well and give it lots of spin (much like a Discraft
Elite Z XS). Practice and experience will clue you in on how to toss this
driver. It is extremely tough to dent and would likely be a lifetime disc unless
you play amongst lots of rocks (or water!). If you need a big, curving driver,
will work for you.
If you have limited yourself to the bigger disc companies, Lightning deserves your attention. They likely have a disc that will fit a spot in your bag. All their offerings are durable and I find their product descriptions to feature the least amount of hype and reasonable accuracy. In addition, they feature a number of floater discs for those of you who play around ponds and lakes (a quality I can attest to in the #2 Driver). Our next review will feature more from Discraft and a look at selections from Millennium discs.
This table provides percentage comparisons of the discs reviewed against the
Eagle. Selected ratings are similar to those used at www.discgolfreview.com,
although they did not contribute to these ratings (except for the Eagle ratings,
which are taken from their website and used as a benchmark). Distance and Fade
are on a 1-10 scale, Skill, Predictability and Durability are a 1-5 scale.