The search for an excellent, affordable pool cue can seem like a daunting one at first. There are so many different cue companies out there, and more than a few new ones seem to pop up all the time. So in this article, I aim to answer one simple question: Are Viking pool cues any good?
Viking pool cues are considered by most to be good, all around pool cues. They’re solid, well-built, and (mostly) American made. They have a wide range of cues ideal for players of any skill level, and the affordable Valhalla line of imported cues are great for new players.
In this article we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about Viking pool cues so you can decide if buying one is right for you!
A Quick History of Viking Cues
Gordon Hart founded Viking Cue company in the early 1960s. The business started in the basement of a pool room in Stoughton, Wisconsin. The handcrafted cues quickly gained popularity and outgrew the basement by the late 60s, moving from Staughton to Madison, where the company would stay for nearly 50 years.
The financial collapse of 2008 led Viking to close its doors in 2010 after limping along in a struggling economy where pool cues clearly weren’t on anyone’s shopping list. Viking may have been down, but the company was far from out.
Viking reopened its doors under the auspices of new management less than a year later. Luckily, the new management knew that hiring back the old craftsmen who had lost their jobs when the doors closed was the way to keep the business strong. In 2013, Viking Cue moved to a new facility in Middleton, WI, where they reside today, making and designing a wide range of solid, dependable cues for players around the world.
The Evolution of Viking’s Reputation in the Pool World
In any niche market, brand reputation is the driving force that builds loyalty, trust, and ultimately, sales. Over the years, Viking has managed to cement its reputation in the world of billiards, but it’s interesting to take a step back and understand how it evolved to its current revered status.
The Early Days: Handcrafted Appeal
In the 1960s, the world of billiards was very different. Pool cues were largely considered utilitarian tools, with little attention given to craftsmanship, aesthetics, or the finer details that aficionados today prize. The entry of Viking, with its handcrafted cues made in the basement of a pool room, disrupted the status quo. The painstaking attention to detail, the quality of the materials used, and the bespoke nature of each cue immediately caught the attention of both casual and professional players. At this time, owning a Viking cue was akin to having a custom-tailored suit - it was a status symbol.
Navigating Challenges: The 2008 Economic Downturn
Every brand faces its set of challenges, and for Viking, the economic collapse of 2008 was a turning point. The fact that a company, which had enjoyed decades of dominance, had to shut its doors speaks volumes about the severity of the situation. But it’s not the fall that defines a brand; it’s how they rise again. The revival of Viking under new management, combined with the strategic decision to rehire the original craftsmen, was a masterstroke. It sent a clear message to the market – Viking was still committed to quality and legacy.
Today: A Brand for All
The genius of Viking lies not just in its premium, high-end cues but also in its understanding of market diversification. The introduction of the Valhalla line was a clear nod to the brand’s commitment to cater to players across all skill levels and budget ranges. In essence, Viking ensured that while professional players had their high-end, customizable cues, beginners and intermediate players weren’t left behind.
The Role of Community
A key factor that often goes unnoticed in Viking’s success story is the role of the pool playing community. Word of mouth, peer reviews, and pool hall chatter have been instrumental in shaping perceptions about different cue brands. Here, Viking’s consistent quality and performance have turned players into brand ambassadors. Many players, after experiencing the balance, feel, and precision of a Viking or Valhalla cue, have recommended it to peers, further enhancing the brand’s standing in the community.
While craftsmanship and quality are at the heart of Viking’s success, it’s their adaptability, resilience, and deep understanding of the market that have made them a mainstay in the world of billiards. As the game evolves and new players enter the arena, Viking’s legacy and commitment to excellence ensure they remain at the forefront of the pool cue industry.
Viking Cue Construction
Although today’s Viking cues may not be made by the founder of the company, the fact that they’ve been making cues since the 60s should tell you something. There was some fear that the quality of construction would take a hit when the company reopened its doors under new management after the financial collapse, but the intervening years have put those fears to bed for most players.
Joint and Balance
Each Viking cue comes standard with a quick-release joint, something that other cue companies charge a pretty penny for. For balance, Viking includes a weight bolt system on all their cues, allowing you to find the perfect balance depending on where you put your hand on the butt of the cue.
Pick Your Shaft
For low-deflection, every Viking cue comes with a 12-inch to 14-inch taper. However, you can get a different shaft if you don’t like the pro taper. The finishing process for all American-Made Viking cues includes 27 steps. This includes their craftsmen applying their UV finish that protects the shaft and gives it the glasslike shine Viking fans know so well.
Wraps and Ferrules
You can get leather or 100% Double Pressed Irish linen wraps, both of which are professionally applied and guaranteed to stand up year in, year out. Plus, they include a so-called “indestructible ferrule” on every cue. I’m not sure how accurate this statement is, but as long as you’re using the cue for shooting pool, you don’t have to worry about the ferrule cracking on you. You’re on your own if you’re using the cue for anything else!
Bumpers, Colors, and Exotic Woods
The bumpers are threaded and low-profile so you don’t have to constantly be pushing it back in or worrying about losing it. Plus, they offer cues in pretty much any kind of wood you can think of. They also offer 15 different colors to choose from, so you can get a cue that’s well-made and truly unique.
Where Are Viking Cues Made?
Now that you know a bit about construction and Viking Cues history, let’s answer a burning question that many players ask: Where are Viking cues made?
All of the Viking brand cues are made in the USA in their Middleton, WI, facility. But, they do have another, more budget-friendly line of cues that are designed in America but made in China. These are Valhalla cues.
When looking at the Viking website, or many of the listings on Amazon for Valhalla cues, it can be easy to assume that Valhalla cues are made in the USA, as well. This is probably my biggest issue with Viking. I don’t think they’re intentionally misleading their customers, because they do say on the Valhalla About Page that the cues are imported. They just don’t say where from. I don’t think they want to come out and say, “Yeah, these cues are made in China.”
For the price of a Valhalla cue, it makes sense that they’re made in China. If they weren’t they would be much more expensive. But that’s not to say that they’re poor quality, either. Valhalla cues are great, especially for those who want to own a nice cue but don’t want to spend a ton of money on it. Which brings us to cost.
Viking Cue Costs
The Viking line of cues starts off at around $250. These are American-made and highly customizable, but certain changes will bring the price up on the cue. But the pricing of Viking cues goes all the way up to $1,400 for some cues with exotic wood and inlays, and striking designs. They also have cues that sell for as much as $4,000 and are designed by celebrated cue designer Anthony Two Feather in collaboration with Viking’s expert cue makers.
Valhalla Cue Costs
As I mentioned above, the Valhalla cues are much more budget-friendly because they’re not made in America and generally don’t have all the exotic woods and inlays, although you can customize them to an extent if you want to pay extra.
Valhalla cues run from around $70 to $200. They’re designed and engineered by Viking but are aimed at younger or newer players to the game who may not have the money to spend on a $300 cue. They also have Valhalla Jump/Break cues that sell for around $155 to $190.
Both the Viking and Valhalla lines are covered by the same limited lifetime warranty. This is pretty standard for the industry, especially on American-made cues. However, it’s nice to know that Viking stands behind their imported cues with the very same warranty.
This lifetime warranty covers:
- Material and manufacturing defects
- Warpage and all non-replaceable components of the cue
- Joint changes
Of course, they don’t cover abuse, damage done by third parties, or any non-standard shafts and cues. It’s also a non-transferable warranty, meaning keep your receipt! If you buy a Viking from a buddy or from an individual over the internet, it won’t be covered.
Who Are Viking Cues Good For?
The nice thing about Viking Cues is they have a cue for everyone. They offer so many different styles and, between the Viking and Valhalla lines, a very wide price range. The cues are incredibly customizable, so you can get a cue that’s rare and possibly even completely unique to you.
The Viking line has such a wide range of cues, it’s hard to say who exactly they’re for. But, I’d venture to say that you should be fairly serious about billiards before you decide to buy a Viking cue. You should know what you want as far as length, weight, tip size, and shaft style. And knowing what you really want out of a cue only comes after lots of shooting on different types of cues.
That said, the Valhalla line is great for younger players or those new to the game who want a cue of their own. Valhalla cues are aesthetically pleasing, well-built, and won’t break the bank. So you can invest in one and not feel like you’re out a bunch of money if you decide to get another cue or to start switching out some components for better ones.
Don’t think a Viking or Valhalla Cue is for you? Check out this article for other cue recommendations.
Viking Cue Recommendation
Here are my best recommendations. I have done one for the Viking line and one for the Valhalla line. No matter where you are in your billiards journey, one of these will surely do you well.
Viking Blue Dragon
It comes with a 100% Irish linen wrap and a Northwoods Maple forearm. The pro taper shaft is ideal for control, accuracy, and low deflection. It’s designed for low vibration, enhancing the smooth strokes needed for a flawless game.
The three UV coats will keep the shaft protected and looking fantastic for years to come. It also has a high-impact joint and quick-release, stainless steel pin. And, of course, it includes a lifetime warranty covering warpage and manufacturer and material defects.
Viking Valhalla 100 Series
This pool cue comes in 12 different color styles so you can pick one you like. The low price makes it a great option for those who are getting to know the game and want their own cue.
It comes with a premium leather tip set in a high-impact ferrule. The shaft and forearm are both Hard Rock Maple, and the pin holding them together is stainless steel. The Irish linen wrap allows for a solid grip and the UV finish ensures protection and a smooth, classy look.
It comes with an adjustable butt, and the bumper is made of quality rubber to protect the cue from cracking or chipping. Choose from 18 to 21-ounces on this standard 58-inch cue with a pro taper for control and accuracy.
Introducing the Viking B9401, formerly known as A941. Crafted for the discerning billiards player, this premium cue stands as a testament to Viking’s renowned craftsmanship and dedication to excellence in the industry.
Made entirely in the USA, this high-end cue showcases a blend of elegance and performance. Its meticulous design features 12 white premium pearl and black (IMA) inlays complemented by a smoky stain that enhances the premium Birdseye maple. The beauty of the cue is further accentuated by its white premium pearl sleeve and intricate CNC engraving.
Beyond its aesthetics, the Viking B9401 prioritizes performance. It’s outfitted with a ViKORE Hard Rock Maple shaft that’s been aged for 5 years, ensuring optimal control and accuracy. This shaft is married to a Tiger Everest laminated tip and Viking’s unique SUPER ferrule, both of which contribute to precision strikes and minimal vibration. A pro taper ranging from 12” to 14” supports consistent, smooth strokes. An ostrich embossed leather wrap by Tiger Products offers a comfortable grip and enhances the cue’s luxurious feel.
Key features of the Viking B9401 include:
- Everest® Laminated Tip for precision.
- Viking SUPER Ferrule that’s capped and threaded onto the shaft.
- Ostrich Embossed Leather Wrap for a comfortable and stylish grip.
- ViKORE Hard Rock Maple Shaft, aged for 5 years, promoting extreme control & accuracy.
- Ultra-violet Urethane 3 coat finish, ensuring durability and sheen.
- Quick Release Stainless Steel joint and pin for easy assembly and disassembly.
- White Premium Pearl ButtPlate adorned with the Viking logo.
- A threaded rubber bumper for added protection.
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