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Break Tip shootout! Taom, Hammerhead, Zento, and more.
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KMRUNOUT
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Break Tip shootout! Taom, Hammerhead, Zento, and more. - 03-15-2016, 03:48 PM

Hey guys I thought I would share my experience with some different break tips. I'm kinda nuts about the break, and own more break cues than playing cues. My belief is that with good technique, you can break fine with a house cue. But assuming you have good technique, I believe the equipment can make a real difference. Night and day difference? Probably not, but maybe!

So please, refrain from indian/arrow posts here. Also, this is my opinion and my experience. I am trying to report as honestly as possible what my results were with the various tips. So here goes...enjoy!

All tips went on a BK3 break cue. Of course I left the factory carbon fiber pad in place, and installed each tip on that. The tips tried were: the Predator factory phenolic tip that came on the cue, Taom version 2, generic brown phenolic, Zento, and Hammerhead.

Predator factory tip: The BK3 comes with a phenolic tip mounted on a black carbon fiber pad. Predator actually bonds the carbon fiber to the phenolic in bulk, and punches out square blocks a little over 1/2" wide. It is like a little sandwich of carbon fiber and brown phenolic. Kind of interesting if you see one. I will say that compared to other manufacturers, the carbon fiber that Predator uses is excellent quality. It seems extremely durable and I've never experienced issues with it. I have indeed experienced situations in which the carbon fiber pad has sheared in half from other makers. So nice job here Predator. The brown phenolic they use is also very high grade. It seems denser than most of the generic rods or premade tips you might buy. Overall, I think the factory tip is excellent. Very good control, very good power. It holds chalk reasonably well, and essentially requires no maintenance. I personally just scratch the surface with 100 grit sand paper every few weeks or month or so, just to keep the surface a little rough so chalk goes on a bit better. Overall, this is a very good tip. Probably the best tip on any factory break cue I've tried.

Taom gen 2: I tried a very cool looking blue Taom tip. This was the 2nd generation of Taom tips. There were some complaints in the 1st gen that the tips were shattering, in some cases causing serious damage to the cues they were mounted on. I have not heard such complaints about the 2nd generation tips. The Taom seems to be some sort of resin or epoxy based tip. It is almost transparent. I must say the tip looks very cool. It seemed to install ok. I believe I used Loctite ultra gel control. No real install issues. This tip felt *great*. The hit is much softer feeling than phenolic. You don't get that loud clink when you hit the cue ball. I would say the feeling of control is better than the factory tip, slightly. However, I would also say that the feeling of power is a bit less than the factory tip. Also slightly. This is probably a welcome tradeoff for most people. I mean, I'd give up 0.5mph any day to get better cue ball control. This tip also jumped pretty well. My only major issue with the Taom tip is that it seemed to literally rub off on the cloth. When I break, I tend to follow through into the table, and bend my cue a bit, kinda like Thorsten Hohmann. Well, after breaking some racks I end up seeing a bunch of lines on the cloth. It looked like someone had drawn some lines on the table with a piece of sidewalk chalk. Turns out, that was the tip there on the cloth. After a while, the tip had actually filed down, gradually creating a point. Eventually the edges of my ferrule became exposed. At this point I was down in Florida at the US Amateur and ended up having my tip changed to a plain brown phenolic. If you have a break style along the lines of Thorsten, you might consider avoiding this tip. That being said, Thorsten uses, you guessed it, Taom tips haha! So maybe mine was just no good. I don't know. I actually dealt directly with Mika Immonen regarding this issue. I believe at the time Mezz USA was distributing Taom in the US. Well Mika was extremely helpful and took time talking to me about it. He ended up sending me a replacement. He reported that he had not had that problem himself. Other players I spoke to did indeed have the same issue as me. I guess if your break style is more like SVB, in which your tip is pointed up in the air after contact, then this would probably be a great tip for you. I really did like the feel of it. I think it might have the best feel of this bunch.

Generic brown phenolic: So, while at Strokers in Palm Harbor, FL this year, I ended up changing out my break tip. Rolando is the house man there, and does all the cue repair work. I must say, if you are ever in that area, he does *excellent* work. I do my own tips and tip work in my area, and I'm super OCD about it. The care and detail Rolando put into my tip replacement was exemplary. Plus he's a great guy too! Anyway, all he had was a plain brown phenolic tip. I think the typical generic phenolic is not as dense as the Predator factory stuff. The tip he put on was very good. It didn't hit quite as hard as the factory tip. The control was decent, though not quite as sweet as the Taom. Interestingly, it jumped extremely well. Overall, it was similar to the factory tip, though not as hard hitting. I think I would generally prefer the factory tip to a regular brown phenolic. However, I believe that Rolando brought out the very best in that material with an install that was a real work of art!

Zento: I discovered the Zento tip by way of Ralph Souquet. He posted something about them, and I talked to him about it. It sounded pretty good. In the past, Ralph was using an X Breaker break cue at the same time I was...our cues were very similar and I discussed it with him, and it seemed we had similar tastes in break cues. So I arranged to get one of these from him. A buddy of mine who many may know, Cleiton Rocha, was going to pick it up for me at the US Open. Turns out, Cleiton's Taom tip cracked while he was down there, so he got one for himself too. The first thing to jump out at me about this tip is how cool it looks. It is very translucent with sparkles in it. Yeah, you read that right lol. I got a green one. It installed very easily. I happened to use Loctite Black Max gel, which is Loctite 426. That stuff is not cheap! But the tip stayed on fine until I chopped it off. I broke hundreds and hundreds of racks with it. When you really polish up the sides, the tip totally gleams, and looks very cool. Overall I really liked this tip. It seems very similar to the Taom in many ways. I understand that it is also a resin/epoxy type material. As such, I suppose it may be subject to cracking. However, I have not heard about this ever happening. I beat the heck out of mine with no structural issues. The tip holds chalk well. It jumps very well. VERY well. I was in a match the other day that didn't allow jump cues, only full length cues. I jumped a ball and drew back for shape. I accidentally over drew the ball, about 4 feet back. It was a totally nasty shot...I couldn't believe how much control I felt. Overall, this tip hits fairly hard, though similar to the Taom, I believe there is a slight sacrifice in power for some control. This tip also gave me the same sort of filing down issue, however. It was nowhere near as bad as the Taom, but it still happened. After several months, I was again exposing my ferrule. It did not leave any marks on the table, however. I installed another one of these for someone else and had a little bit of an issue getting it to stick on. It seemed the carbon fiber on that other cue (non-Predator), may have been partly to blame, as some of the carbon fiber seemed to come off. I had used the Black Max gel. I tried again using Gorilla Glue CA liquid. This glue seems awesome. Tip has stayed on since. He LOVES the tip. It really is a great tip all around. Basically, I'd say it seems a little bit more durable than the Taom, although the Taom might have a hair better feel, to me of course. I would recommend trying it.

Hammerhead: Chris Renfro from Outsville Billiards makes the Hammerhead tip. I understand that it is some sort of thermoset plastic, whatever that is. I have spoken extensively with Chris about this and other tips he makes. The design principle behind this tip is based on its very high coefficient of restitution. This means that the tip "springs" back to its shape very aggressively after being compressed. As far as I can tell, this tip has only one weakness. It is super difficult to install one and get it to stay on! I had tried in the past, and used the Loctite Ultra gel control. I brought it out with me to the APA Singles last year and made it all the way through the tourney with it, but it popped off right when I got home. Good timing I guess. I then went through all these other tips trying things out. Recently when my Zento started showing ferrule, I sadly chopped it off. Sorry to see you go buddy! Anyway, I put on a Hammerhead using the Black Max gel the night before a tourney. Well, hill hill in my first set, I hit a great break but watched the tip fly across the table lol. I put another one on using the Gorilla Glue CA liquid. I have bashed the heck out of it, and so far so good. I suppose this review might be a good endorsement of that glue! Anyway, I'm gonna have to say that the Hammerhead is probably the best break tip I have ever used. I feel like it gives better control than the factory tip (which I might conclude was the 2nd best), but at no cost in power. If anything, when I stroke the break right, I feel like I might get even more power out of the Hammerhead. The cue ball just leaps off the tip like crazy. It is particularly nice on softer controlled breaks. Like in APA 9 ball, I just want a soft pop on the rack. Man is it awesome for that! So I decided to show some guy the jump shot I made with the big draw with the Zento tip. Good lord I barely jacked up at all, cleared the full ball, and drew back the length of the table with my full BK3!!! SICK!!! This thing might even be a better jump tip than break tip! But I must say it is one HELL of a break tip. Hold chalk great. Shows absolutely NO signs of wear on the sides of the tip. Everyone that has hit with it has pretty much had the reaction of "wow...that feels pretty awesome". I think this might be the tip for me. The feel is very nice. You can literally feel that compression, but that is typically something I associate when breaking with leather tips. It is also something I typically associate with a loss in power. But nope. Not with this tip. So I get really nice feel, great control, and tons of power. Plus it just makes me grin and chuckle when I jump...its silly easy. Of all these tips, this is the one I'd pick. Longevity is a big deal to me too. I mean, I do my own tip work so no big deal if I want to change something. But if you are having someone take your shaft for a day or two, you're gonna want it back with something that lasts. Here is how I would rate the different tips on a few categories: (from best to worst)

Installation security/ease: Predator factory (if you have a Predator break cue...if you don't, good luck getting your hands on one of these), Brown phenolic, Zento, Taom, Hammerhead

Power: Tie factory/Hammerhead, brown phenolic, Zento, Taom

Control: Hammerhead, Taom, factory, Zento, brown phenolic

Feel: Taom, Hammerhead, Zento, factory, brown phenolic

Longevity: tie factory/brown phenolic, Hammerhead, Zento, Taom

Jumping: Hammerhead, Zento, Taom, factory, brown phenolic

Looks, coolness: Zento, Taom, Hammerhead, factory, brown phenolic.


Obviously this is all subjective. These are my opinions. And to be honest, I'm not 100% sure I would rank them all exactly the same way if I tried again. They are all very close. I would say they are all good tips. If you have a breaking style like mine, you might decide like me that the Taom, as nice as it feels, just isn't for you. The Zento would fall into the same category, though not as much. It held up better than the Taom. Really, for someone like me, the Hammerhead was the best, because of its combination of great control and feel, great power, excellent jumping ability, and apparent longevity and durability. I really hope this helps everyone!

KMRUNOUT

Last edited by KMRUNOUT; 03-16-2016 at 10:21 AM.
  
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03-15-2016, 04:37 PM

Great post, thanks... I have been told great things about Hammerhead tips, it's going on my cue soon. Your post convinced me!

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03-15-2016, 04:41 PM

When my Samsara (which I love btw) wears out, I may try a Hammerhead. I've just always preferred leather tips though.


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03-15-2016, 05:14 PM

I have also tried Samsara tips. Love them. Also can be tough to keep on. The Hammerhead really doesn't feel much like a Samsara. Two very different animals. However, if it it the control you like without the very hard tink of a phenolic hit, then the Hammerhead is worth a try. It hits *much* harder than the Samsara though.

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03-15-2016, 05:34 PM

Great review!

I've always wondered if it was worth replacing the factory BK3 tip but was worried I'd just be downgrading. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
  
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03-15-2016, 08:32 PM

I have a Hammerhead on my breaker. I can't see any break tip being better..

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03-15-2016, 11:35 PM

Man I was at the poolhall tonight just *demolishing* the break with that Hammerhead. LOVE love love it. I'll try to get some good video of it.

The Predator factory tip is DAMN good. Really. However I believe the Hammerhead alone of all the ones I've tried constitutes what for me is an "upgrade". Love this thing.

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03-15-2016, 11:37 PM

I should also point out that if I happened to own any break cue other than the BK3 (which of course I do!! haha), I would think that any of the tips I mentioned would be worth the change. My buddy has the Zento on his OB Rift break cue with the speed shaft. Thing hits amazing like that!

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03-16-2016, 05:28 AM

Nice review. Only I got skeptical after i saw Taom worst at jump. I donīt have Taom but I tested some jumps when they came out. Jumping is so easy.. I shot full cue with Taom better jumps than phenolic jump cues(short cue). I donīt believe anything jump better than Taom even I never tried them. I heard there is illegal copies from China around but I donīt really know anything about tip business.


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03-16-2016, 07:49 AM

+1 for the Hammerhead. I've been using one for several months now, and it's easily my favorite break tip that I've used. Taom lost me when the first one shattered into pieces. With the Hammerhead, I don't even have to hit hard, I can use a regular stroke and get a great break. The glue is definitely an important part of install, I got the loctite 380 (available on the outsville website) when I bought the tip. Also, Chris is running a special right now with a promo code. Check Darren Appleton's facebook, he also has a review of this tip.


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03-16-2016, 10:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poolmanis View Post
Nice review. Only I got skeptical after i saw Taom worst at jump. I donīt have Taom but I tested some jumps when they came out. Jumping is so easy.. I shot full cue with Taom better jumps than phenolic jump cues(short cue). I donīt believe anything jump better than Taom even I never tried them. I heard there is illegal copies from China around but I donīt really know anything about tip business.
As I said, I might rank them differently a second time. To be honest, that particular ranking I was also skeptical about. The Taom jumps good for sure. My personal experience is that the Zento jumps a bit better, and the Hammerhead does too. I was shocked how well the brown phenolic jumped that I had on right after the Taom. Perhaps my expectations were lower, so the performance seemed better than it was. I was kinda in a rush and threw that jumping thing in last minute in an edit. I think I am going to edit it again, because I agree, upon further consideration, I think the Taom jumped as well or better than the phenolic options. I do not think it jumped as well as the Zento or the Hammerhead.

Thanks for the motivation to correct this!

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03-16-2016, 10:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poolmanis View Post
Nice review. Only I got skeptical after i saw Taom worst at jump. I donīt have Taom but I tested some jumps when they came out. Jumping is so easy.. I shot full cue with Taom better jumps than phenolic jump cues(short cue). I donīt believe anything jump better than Taom even I never tried them. I heard there is illegal copies from China around but I donīt really know anything about tip business.
Also, keep in mind that ALL of these tips are good tips. There isn't really a "worst" so much as a "least best" lol. The brown phenolic overall was probably the weakest performer overall, but still not bad. All the other 4 were very very good in almost all areas. In many cases I'm splitting hairs.

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03-16-2016, 10:26 AM

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Originally Posted by ShakesSea View Post
Excellent review, thank you. I use the Hammerhead and love it, especially after shaping it to a quarter radius, but I'm always considering experimenting and the Taom and Zento have both caught my eye (as they're designed to do). I'll be sticking with what I have based on your review and save my tip experimentation for my player.
I definitely liked those tips. If you have the opportunity I would definitely try them. If you're feeling less experimental, stick with what you already have, since its AWESOME! Still, I kinda miss the others. If the Taom didn't wear down like I described, I'd probably still be using that. The feel was excellent.

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03-16-2016, 02:01 PM

Have you tried the hard leather Odega tip for breaking and/or jumping?
  
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03-16-2016, 02:05 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BogeyFree View Post
Have you tried the hard leather Odega tip for breaking and/or jumping?
I have not. I've also heard good things about those. Maybe some day. If Predator ever makes the BK3 shaft available to buy separately I would buy a second one and experiment more.


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