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Review: DHS Hurricane 301

25 February 2019  | Posted in: Table Tennis Reviews

About the Reviewer

Patrick HrdlickaPatrick Hrdlicka is a table tennis enthusiast, who was introduced to the sport by his parents at the age of six. Patrick progressed to play in the highest national cadet and junior team leagues in his native Denmark and was among the top 40 players in his age group, which fostered several long-standing members of the Danish National Team. With college looming, Patrick quit the sport for almost twenty years. During this hiatus, he obtained a Ph.D.-degree in chemistry and accepted a position as professor of chemistry at the University of Idaho.

At the beginning of 2014, the mid-life crisis and yearning for table tennis grew too strong for Patrick and he decided to pick up the sport again. Bitten again by the table tennis bug, he plays 4-6 times per week. 

Since his comeback to table tennis, he has enjoyed combining his analytical and experimental skills with his love for table tennis, testing and reviewing a wide range of table tennis equipment.

The DHS Hurricane 301 is one of the highest rated blades on revspin.net and is described as the little brother to the DHS Hurricane Long 5, which I have previously reviewed on this blog. DHS describes the 301 as an offensive blade that provides high power on large strokes but soft touch in the short game. Just like the Hurricane Long 5, the 301 is a 5+2 composite blade with arylate carbon layers located next to the ayous core. Unlike the Hurricane Long 5, which has limba outer plies on top of the penultimate ayous plies, the 301 has hard koto outer plies.

The 301 comes in a sturdy silver box with a magnetic closing mechanism. Except for the blade name on the front of the box, there is little additional explanatory text. Inside, the shrink-wrapped blade rests on a cardboard padding. The blade is kept in a metallic grey color that matches the box. The purplish-blue handle has an inverted “Y”-shaped yellow stripe. The playing surface is devoid of text. The handle has a black plastic lens on the FH side and a black circular plastic label on the bottom. The 301 has the following dimensions: playing surface (158x149 mm), thickness (~5.9 mm), and weight (~86 g). The flared handle has the following dimensions: length ~101 mm, width ~26.2-34.5 mm, and height ~21.3-25.2 mm. The handle is thin, especially near the neck, which some players might dislike. I really liked the grip despite being used to the bulky ST grip of the Tibhar Samsonov Force Pro Black Edition, and I also enjoyed the balance of the slightly longer but narrower playing surface. The 301’s wings and edges are quite sharp, and some players will be inclined to sand them. The playing surface feels smooth and the overall quality of the blade appears to be very good. Bouncing a ball on the naked blade produced a pitch (1335 Hz) that is lower than most of the other composite blades I have tested (e.g., compare with ~1539 Hz, ~1399 Hz, ~1367 Hz and ~1350 Hz recorded for Donic Ovtcharov True Carbon, DHS Hurricane Long 5, Victas Koki Niwa, and Nittaku Violin Carbon, respectively).


Testing procedure: I tested the brand-new blade straight from the box without any additional varnishing/lacquering. I attached well-used sheets of DHS Hurricane 3 (2.15 mm, black, provincial version, 40-degrees orange sponge) and Spinlord Waran II (2.0 mm, red) short pips on the FH and BH side, respectively, using one layer of Revolution 3 normal viscosity glue. I tested the setups over several practice sessions playing a mix of simple drills, robot drills, practice matches, and league matches using DHS 3-star D40+ plastic balls.

Playing impressions: The Hurricane 301 is a solid OFF, if not low OFF+ rated blade with an above average stiffness and large sweet spot. The test setup felt light despite being 7-8 grams heavier than my usual paddle. The narrow neck and comfortable FL handle allow for rapid grip changes between FH and BH. The combination of the 301 and Hurricane 3 offers a very crisp feeling on FH drives, which is normally hard to achieve with Hurricane 3. Similarly, BH drives with the Waran 2 short pips were very crisp, fast and low, and yet quite controllable considering the high speed. I really enjoyed the feeling, which I would characterize as “woody with a kick”. The 301 is the type of blade that provides very useful feedback to the player. FH loops against backspin also produce a crisp feeling and result in fast and deep shots. However, I was not able to impart as much spin as usual, presumably due to the shorter dwell time. Moreover, the high speed and medium-low throw angle of the H3/301 combination, initially made me overshoot the table, especially when looping down-the-line. Following an adjustment (in which I used a little less swing power), my consistency improved. Loops against blocks felt very powerful but once again my error rate was a little higher than usual due to the flatter trajectory and greater speed, which reduces the margin for error. The 301 shines in loop-to-loop rallies as the blade has huge power reserves, even when using the relatively slow Hurricane 3.

FH blocking is superb and feels crisp, producing flat and controlled shots. BH blocking with the Waran 2 pips required some technique adjustment. My usual passive blocking style proved to be too timing-dependent to be reliable due to the short dwell time and high speed of the blade. A little too late and the block overshot the table. Interestingly, more active blocks where the ball is hit aggressively right after the bounce using a more wristy motion, were more successful, producing insanely fast, flat, and vicious shots. Given the above, it is unsurprising that the 301 is a beast on flat hits and smashes, even with the relatively slow Hurricane 3. Initially, I struggled a lot with long pushes against backspin serves – especially with the Waran 2 BH short pips, as they had a tendency to either go into the net or being too long due to the low trajectory. However, following some adjustments (softer hands), the pushes increasingly found their target, and were fast, flat, and spinny, putting my opponents under maximal pressure. Interestingly, I had far fewer difficulties with short pushes and drop shots because the carbon layer does not “activate” on these low impact shots. Aggressive serve returns (FH flicks or BH chiquitas/strawberries) benefit from the relatively stiff nature of the blade, but one must carefully calibrate the level of input power to avoid overshooting the table. The combination of H3 and the 301 worked really well on slow backspin serves, as I was able to produce high spin levels. Topspin serves, on the other hand, felt a little less spinny than usual.

Conclusion: The DHS Hurricane 301 blade is a great blade for highly aggressive advanced players. The blade offers good control on soft shots, yet allows the carbon and koto plies to really kick in at faster swing speeds, to produce very fast and flat balls. Due to the lower margin of error, good technique and footwork are needed to tame this beast, but those who can will have an extremely powerful weapon on their hands, especially if combined with fast rubbers (although I am not sure I would be able to adequately control any rubber faster than H3). I am particularly impressed with the crisp feeling that the blade offers on loops, blocks and smashes. It feels and sounds more like a 7-ply all-wooden blade with an enlarged sweet spot, than a prototypical composite blade. Finally, the price-performance ratio of the 301 is simply outstanding. At ~$70, this blade is a steal.

 

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