If you’ve ever done an internet search for pool cue tips, you’ve probably been bombarded with more options than you know what to do with. Not only are there many different companies touting the ‘best pool cue tips’ out there, but there are also different types of cue tips.
You can get soft, super soft, medium, hard, and even extra hard tips. Plus, you can choose from different materials like leather and phenolic resin. Our ultimate guide to choosing a pool cue tip will give you the rundown on what kind of tip works best for what kind of shot.
You’ll discover the best-rated tips in each category, the pros and cons of different density tips, and the maintenance requirements associated with various tips. We’ll also give you an idea of how much a good tip should cost in each category. Look no further for answers to all your pool cue tip questions.
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Pool Cue Tip Size & Hardness
It’s important to know what size your ferrule is before you purchase new tips. Since the tip sits on the ferrule, you must buy a tip that is the same size or larger. You can trim down a large tip to fit your ferrule, but you can’t make a small tip bigger.
Most ferrules come standard at 13mm in diameter, but there are also 12.50mm and 11.75mm on some cues. The larger the tip, the more surface area contacts the ball. This means that smaller tips can help put more English (spin) on the cue ball. This also means that you have to be much more accurate with your stroke when shooting with a smaller tip.
The best hardness for a pool cue tip depends on your style of gameplay and what you use the cue for. A cue just for breaking should have a harder tip than a cue for regular gameplay. If you’re looking to put a lot of spin or “English” on the cue ball, a softer tip will work better. Looking for something in between? A medium tip should do you well.
Soft Pool Cue Tips
Soft tips work best for putting accurate English on your shot. When a soft tip comes into contact with the cue ball it absorbs some of the energy. This allows the cue tip to stay in contact with the ball for a fraction of a second longer than medium or hard tips. While this doesn’t make much of a difference in straight shots, it can be great for putting more spin on the cue ball. Hitting the cue ball off-center with a soft tip will yield more spin control when compared to the same shot with a medium or hard tip.
Soft Tip Maintenance
Since soft tips allow more shock absorption, it follows that they will deform and mushroom faster than their harder counterparts. Be prepared to re-shape your soft tip regularly. If you use it for regular gameplay, you’ll probably need to replace it fairly often, depending on how much you play.
Best High-End Soft Tips
Kamui tips are a favorite among pool players the world over. The design of these tips makes installation and maintenance easy, plus allows for maximum chalk adherence. But, since these tips are so expensive, they’re best for those players who have a soft touch or a separate cue they use just for shots that require maximum English. Kamui soft leather tips are available for around $25 apiece.
Best Mid-Range Soft Tips
You can’t go wrong with Cuesoul super soft tips for cue ball spin. Made out of baked pig leather, these tips hold chalk well and are easy to install. They run about $20 for a pack of 5.
Best Low-Cost Soft Tips
Elk Master makes great soft tips that are low-cost but high-performance. These treated leather tips are made in the US and are great for players looking for inexpensive soft pool cue tips. Available at $7 for a pack of 10.
Soft Pool Cue Tips Pros and Cons
- Best For Putting English on Cue Ball
- Good For Shots Requiring Finesse
- Good for Players With A ‘Soft Touch’
- Not Great For Break Shots
- Mushroom and Deform Quickly
- Require Reshaping/Replacement Often
- Not Recommended For Players With a ‘Hard Touch’
Medium Pool Cue Tips
Medium tips are the most popular because they provide a nice balance between hard and soft tips. You can still get a good amount of English playing with a medium tip without sacrificing the power and accuracy needed for straight shots and breaks.
Medium Tip Maintenance
As you can probably guess, medium tips don’t require as much maintenance or replacement as soft tips. It takes medium tips longer to lose shape than soft tips. You can expect extended accuracy from a quality medium tip for many shots. You’ll be able to reshape a medium tip a few times before it requires replacement.
Best High-End Medium Tips
Predator’s 14mm, 8-layer leather tips are great for all-around gameplay. They provide the best of both worlds as the tips are long-lasting and hold their shape even after the most powerful shots. These tips are available for around $25 a piece.
Best Mid-Range Medium Tips
These medium-hard tips by Tiger are made in the USA and feature 10 layers of laminated recycled leather. Tiger has been a big name in the business, making quality products for years. You can get these tips at $16 for a pack of 2.
Best Low-Cost Medium Tips
These economical medium tips work well for players who need a good tip at a great price. They allow some English while still providing power and holding shape through many games. These are available at $7.50 for a pack of 10.
Medium Pool Cue Tip Pros and Cons
- Best Tip For Overall Gameplay
- Good Mix of Power and Accuracy
- Allows For Some English
- Doesn’t Require Constant Reshaping
- Lasts Longer Than Soft Tip
- Allows For Less English Than Soft Tip
- Not As Much Power As Hard Tip
Hard Pool Cue Tips
Hard tips are generally used on break and jump cues. These cues are specially designed to transfer maximum force to the cue ball, and hard cue tips help make this possible. Some players prefer a hard tip for overall gameplay, but this is fairly rare due to the limited English allowed by hard cues and the fact that they dont hold chalk as well. If you have a break cue or a cue you wish to use for shots that require more power than finesse and accuracy, hard tips are worth a shot.
Hard Tip Maintenance
Some hard cue tips are made out of hardened and laminated leather, while others are made out of phenolic resin— the same substance billiard balls are made of. Either way, with hard cues you don’t have to worry about reshaping or replacement for a long time. Depending on how much you play and the quality of cue and tip, you may not have to worry about replacing a hard tip until you need a new cue.
Best High-End Hard Tips
Once again Kamui provides the best choice for high-end hard pool cue tips. The laminated, layered leather provides a consistent shot over the life of the tip. Minimal glue is needed for installation, making the seating solid and eliminating unneeded cushioning. These tips are available for $24 apiece.
Best Mid-Range Hard Tips
These phenolic resin tips are ideal for powerful jump and break shots. The hard resin makes this tip last a long time while retaining its shape for consistent play. These tips are available at around $12 apiece.
Best Low-Cost Hard Tips
Collapsar makes perhaps the best low-cost hard tips out there. Six layers of pigskin come together to make a tip that will keep its shape through tons of shots. These are available in packs of 6 for $20.
Hard Pool Cue Tip Pros And Cons
- Great For Break and Jump Shots
- Requires Little to No Maintenance
- Lasts Longer Than Soft or Medium Tips
- Allows for Very Little English
- Makes Accuracy Difficult
- More Likely to Cause Miscues
- Not Great For Overall Gameplay
On the quest for the perfect tip, you must take many factors into consideration. If you’re not sure what tip is best for your specific playing style, you’ll probably want to experiment with tips of different hardness.
Soft tips are good for putting more English on the cue ball. Hard tips are usually used for breaking, jumping, and powerful shots that don’t require much accuracy. Medium tips are popular because they combine the best traits of both hard and soft tips.
Before you purchase new tips, make sure to determine the diameter of your ferrule and whether or not your tip is glue-on or screw-on. Like other aspects of pool, the more you practice, the better you’ll get. The same goes for the type of tip you use! You can get proficient with all different kinds of tips with enough practice.