Premium Material: We started with the highest quality first run iron ore available, not scrap. Void free surface: We use a proprietary casting process so each bell can reach the highest quality and have the cleanest finish possible.
The RogueKettlebell does not use plastic caps, plugs, or patches like lower quality products, making them some of the best kettle bells in the industry. The grueling new Act is neutral across all genders and age groups, and includes a strength dead lift, standing power throw, hand-release push-ups, sprint/drag/carry, leg tuck, and a 2-mile run.
Its wider handle makes it easier to grip with two hands (for the classic swing move), and its smoother finish is less likely to injure your skin over time. Dragon Door was the first company to popularize kettle bells in America, which is why the most other brands simply copy that shape down to the millimeter.
The Matrix Elite looks the same at first glance, but it features a slightly wider handle that won’t pinch your pinkies in two-handed positions. It’s also designed so that kettle bells of different weights will rest on the same place on your forearm, regardless of their size—this is preferred by advanced users for one-handed work.
Finally, we like that Kettle bells USA often has the Matrix Elite on sale for just a few dollars more than our budget pick. It also has a slightly wider base that makes it more stable to hold in a plank position—something that advanced users will appreciate.
If the goal is to learn kettle bell basics and use two-handed techniques, all of these bells are quite suitable, and being budget conscious (finding sales/free shipping) isn’t a bad route. We (Keira and I) have trained more than 800 clients in kettle bell techniques since 2008, and we’ve taught multiple instructor certifications in the US and abroad.
Kettle bell exercises combine cardiovascular and resistance training in one exercise—which means you’re improving conditioning (and burning fat) while building muscle. While they’ve been around since the early 18th century (the word first appears in a Russian dictionary from 1704), kettle bells have experienced a huge resurgence in the fitness industry in the past 10 years.
(Most recently, as the coronavirus pandemic forced people to work out at home, significant stock shortages have become the norm.) Their unique shape and functionality give them many of the strength-building benefits of dumbbells while also providing users with the opportunity to do kettle bell -specific drills that involve a lot of movement, like the swing.
The closed-loop handle of a kettle bell offers users a secure grip for movements with both hands. Dumbbells are better suited to doing squats, curls, bench press, cleans, and other exercises that have less kinetic motion.
That means you can fulfill all your workout needs with one simple tool that stows easily in a closet. One important caveat to this endorsement of kettle bell training is that proper technique makes all the difference between effective and beneficial use and potential injury.
You can also consult credible online tutorials, and many trainers will set up a Skype arrangement where you can send videos to them for feedback and coaching. My wife, master ROC trainer Keira Newton, has an awesome YouTube page with all kinds of tutorials/workouts for kettle bells.
In terms of credible resources on kettle bell techniques and workout ideas, here are a few great sources available digitally and/or in print: Dragon Door has the most resources in terms of kettle bell books and DVDs (at least in the “hard style” approach that I use) available.
Finally, Steve Cotter is a master practitioner/teacher of competition kettle bell lifting techniques. While many people recommend women starting with an 8-kilogram bell (about 16 pounds), I think that the two-handed lifts like squats and swings aren’t very well-served by that low weight.
If you want to start modestly, my suggestion would be to get the 13-pound version of our budget pick and then order a larger, higher quality bell once you feel comfortable. With these three, all kinds of single and double kettle bell work is easily achievable and scalable.
Both of these linked pieces reiterate my earlier point about seeking credible instruction before beginning an at-home regimen. Then there is the question about which kind of kettle bell you should buy: cast iron, competition, or adjustable.
Cast-iron bells are more comfortable for two-handed grip positions, which beginners should master before moving onto the more challenging one-handed exercises. It’s not worth paying extra unless you actually plan on competing—a slim minority of home kettle bell users.
Photo: Mark BixbyUnlike with dumbbells, adjustable kettle bells aren’t a good buy. A kettle bell should be capable of being thrown, dropped, and even juggled, so I would opt for single-forged metal that can stand up to a beating—and stay together in the process.
Also, a major frustration with adjustable kettle bells is that they don’t offer a wide enough weight range to make them ideal for many. As it turns out, there’s not a huge amount of difference between these things because most of them borrow their design from the Dragon Door ROC.
Dragon Door was the first US company to run kettle bell instructor certifications (taught by famed instructor Pavel Tsatsouline) and have mass distribution in the US (Dragon Door started selling these bells in 2001). Dragon Door bells achieved great acclaim, but their high price point (roughly $120 each after shipping and handling, the highest in our test) invited lots of competition from other companies.
CAP is another popular fitness company that makes a good bell at a lower price point. For example, this Yes4All bell is one of the most popular models on Amazon, but its large, flat face is hard on the wrists in one-handed positions.
Although much more rare, some companies compete by distinguishing their offerings from Dragon Door’s with different designs. Perform Better at one point implemented a screw-on rubber skid plate on the bottom of their bells, but later on scrapped it due to negative customer feedback.
Vinyl-covered bells were created to protect floor spaces in commercial gyms and homes, but more often, the vinyl is there to smooth over the defects of a cheaply cast bell, and they often get criticized for very uneven handles that cause hand pain and tearing. They were extremely uneven in terms of metal handle quality, had limited weight options, and they weren’t significantly cheaper than the budget options we ended up testing—you don’t even save money on shipping.
From left: Matrix Elite, CAP Cast Iron Competition, Rogue, Perform Better First Place, Dragon Door ROC. Photo: Anton BrkicOur testing group, which consisted of myself and five members of the high school varsity baseball team I coach, worked with all five bells at the beginner/intermediate level and did only two-handed moves (dead lifts, squats, presses, high pulls, and swings).
However, if a person is interested in exploring the full range of what kettle bell exercises have to offer (including the kettle bell snatch, which in lab testing has yielded a remarkable rate of burning 20.2 calories a minute over a 20-minute workout—the same rate of caloric burn as a 6-minute mile pace), a premium bell like the Matrix bell is definitely what they should opt for. A poorly produced handle can rip callouses off the hands during snatching, and this test is where the bells differentiated themselves.
In fact, I wouldn’t use the CAP or Rogue bells for high-rep snatching because they have coarse handles and some tackiness from the painted finish. If you order through the company’s website and have a problem, Kettle bells USA will “make it right, period!” by sending a replacement and taking care of return shipping fees.
Photo: Mark Blythe Matrix Elite kettle bell has a slightly different handle dimension and more distance from the ball part of the bell to the handle to create a larger opening for more comfortable two-handed positions. The Matrix bell clearly outclassed the competition for two-handed work, as the smooth, e-coated handle with a wider grip was consistently easy on the hands, even when doing high repetition sets of 20-plus kettle bell swings.
Even when the user advances to the one-handed moves, both two-handed swings and goblet squats should remain essential parts of a kettle bell program. Any flaws in a kettle bell will be exposed when you use just one hand, but the attention to detail in forging a smooth, seamless handle was clearly on display with this bell.
Besides the handle shape, the Matrix Elite (right) looks almost identical to the Dragon Door ROC, which costs anywhere from $30 to $50 more. Photo: Mark BixbyAnother thing that sets the Matrix Elite apart from other kettle bells (including Kettle bells USA's own “classic” line) is the fact that it’s designed to have the same “rack” position (where the round part rests on your forearm) regardless of weight and size.
Most companies use standard molds repeatedly, and inevitably, residue from previous castings creates uneven surface textures like edges or gaps. Finally, Kettle bells USA showed awesome customer service throughout my process of testing.
If you're used to standard Dragon Door ROC kettle bells (or any of its many clones), the Matrix Elite's rack position might feel strange at first, since the ball part sits higher up on the forearm by comparison. If you see the bell offered at full price (with no discounted shipping), wait seven to 10 days, and you should find it available more cheaply.
If the Matrix Elite is unavailable, or if you just want a standard-shaped bell without the wider handle, the Perform Better First Place Kettle bell feels the same in use as the high-end Dragon Door, but costs about 25 percent less. In fact, its dimensions are identical except for the extra half inch of flat base diameter on the bottom of the Perform Better bell.
This means it performs identically, but is easier to hold in a push-up position for the sometimes-precarious renegade row —typically done with two kettle bells of the same size. Like the Dragon Door and Matrix Elite, the First Place has a smooth, seamless handle, few surface defects, and a high-quality finish.
While Perform Better wouldn’t divulge what process it uses, I noticed that it’s somewhere between a matte powder coat and a glossy e-coat. Reading user reviews (see here and here) that slam performs Better for having noticeable seams on the underside of the handle or other defects isn’t helpful considering the construction specs on their bells currently.
The bell I received from them was really well-made, and it showed no signs of being defective in build or user experience. I contacted Perform Better about this discrepancy, and company reps explained that among other small changes, they’d since switched to a gravity casting process, which creates a more uniform surface, as you recall.
It’s also worth noting that Perform Better frequently has sales on its kettle bells, and while it’s usually cheaper to buy Perform Better bells directly from the company, it's worth checking Amazon and Strongest before buying to find the best deal. If budget is your bottom line, then we’d recommend the CAP Cast Iron Competition Bell.
But unless you really need to save a few bucks, it’s worth investing in our top pick, since these things last forever. In fact, none of the five baseball player panelists said they would pay extra for any of the other bells for the basic routines they were testing with.
The powder-coated CAP (left) and Rogue (center) bells are rougher than the e-coated Dragon Door (right). Photo: Mark Blythe CAP bell has a powder-coated matte finish and a slightly gritty (though it’s evenly dispersed grit) handle to provide a good grip (though a bit on the coarser end of those we tested) and a flat bottom so it doesn’t rock when used for push-ups or rowing moves.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Dragon Door ROC Kettle bell should feel pretty good about itself. Unfortunately for Dragon Door, other companies have been able to duplicate its design at a comparable level of quality for a lot cheaper.
Interestingly, the Rogue bell has a 4.9-star rating on its website, with more than 100 reviews at the time of this guide's publication. Chad Settler, John Forward, Carl Foster, and Mark Andes, Kettle bells: Twice the Results in Half the Time?, ACE Fitness Matters
I managed to score two 12 kg Rogue Competition Kettle bells off a seller on my local Craigslist a few months back. The seller bought them new from Rogue and decided she wanted traditional cast iron kettle bells instead, so her loss is my gain
I usually dedicate a short section in my kettle bell reviews to unboxing, since it’s not unusual for me to see Rogue kettle bells arriving with a damaged finish due to being packaged in a flimsy cardboard box with no padding. Second, the Rogue Competition Kettle bells are completely finished in a powder coat, including the handle.
By way of comparison, standard competition kettle bell handles are unfinished bare steel. These panels are designed to make supporting the kettle bell on your forearm more comfortable, since the weight is distributed over a larger area of your arm.
I work out in a spare bedroom at home and I can’t be having the mess that comes with using lots of chalk, at least not if I want to stay married! Thankfully, the Rogue Competition Kettle bells have a textured powder coat finish on the handles, which really helps with grip retention without having to completely rely on chalk.
The handle of the Rogue Competition kettle bell is fairly small, although there is just enough space for two-hand swings if you don’t have giant hands. However, I found the flat panels to be bothersome for high rep snatch sessions until I got used to them.
I don’t think Kettle bell Sport athletes would use these due to increased risk of injury from the edges of the flat panels. The 33 mm handles are also nice, since they are thinner than the majority of cast iron kettle bells and therefore easier to hold on to for longer periods of time.
You’ll like the flat panels on the sides if your workouts involve a lot of pressing movements, since they do make the rack position much more comfortable. If you have any questions I didn’t cover in the review, post them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them!
Hello, Just decided to ask this as a separate thread to keep it specifically to these 2 brands. Price wise... the OK are just under double the cost of Rogues.
2: If money was no object... do OK offer a better quality (even slightly) over rogue for all that extra $? — So thought I would clarify as it may have been an old post and things can change over the years I guess.
What may or may get talked about will be lowed quality bells due to the shortage. I've lived through various types of part shortage in another industries, but one thing is constant: WORSE QUALITY. Current foundries always have a certain percentage of parts that don't conform, and they are usually scrapped.
These suppliers will now be pressured to dip into the nonconforming parts to keep up with demand. Get ready for: * gnarly handles * Higher variability in handle size & geometry within the same model / same company * Higher variability in weight within the same model / same company * rougher & poorer quality finishes
Some of these castings can develop internal porosity/shrinkage that will not be visible externally. You may found out the hard way when you knock a couple bells together and the handle breaks off.
Not trying to be a Debbie-downer, just trying to inform people to be on the look out for these types of issues and hold the companies accountable as consumers. Having had the opportunity to use both brands in the same week, I definitely preferred the OK, largely because of the handles.
I have Rogue, OK and Rep. IMHO the Rep have the nicest hand feel for snatches etc. Having had the opportunity to use both brands in the same week, I definitely preferred the OK, largely because of the handles.
I have Rogue, OK and Rep. IMHO the Rep have the nicest hand feel for snatches etc. I have 3 Rogue bells and it’s more “rough” so tends to tear up my hands on snatches etc
I think Kettle bell Kings includes shipping in the price. Thanks Coyote, the whole reason I asked the other stuff was because Rogue's factory/supplier/dealer whatever you call it, is in my town, so I can drive down and pick everything up without paying for shipping. I watched some YouTube reviews but that is pointless.
Color coded handles, 1 piece cast iron... yeah that makes them awesome, but pretty much all kettle bells I have seen have the same stuff, even no name brands I found here are 1 piece cast iron with color coded handles. They all stated OK is slightly better quality than Rogue, more consistent, the smoother finish, fewer imperfections and lifetime warranty.
Handle dimensions, the space inside the handle... do OK have more/less space inside to grab... 24 kg+ (guess 16 kg does not really matter because eventually I would be strong enough to not need the 16). Are the handles thinner, do the angles inside the OK make it less desirable for 2 hand swings than Rogues... what about the height of the handles... so space between your fingers and the ball... is there more or less space that way between OK/ Rogue ... this would also determine where the weights sit, a 24 kg rogue vs a 24 kg OK... which one sits further down on the forearm (due to the higher handles)...
OK Don't have any figure yet reviewers said if they are not within the stated weight they will send you another one. Level 9 Valued Member Elite Certified Instructor
Handle dimensions, the space inside the handle... do OK have more/less space inside to grab... 24 kg+ (guess 16 kg does not really matter because eventually I would be strong enough to not need the 16). Are the handles thinner, do the angles inside the OK make it less desirable for 2 hand swings than Rogues... what about the height of the handles... so space between your fingers and the ball... is there more or less space that way between OK/ Rogue ... this would also determine where the weights sit, a 24 kg rogue vs a 24 kg OK... which one sits further down on the forearm (due to the higher handles)... This is the information I can't find anywhere.
I have Rogue (8, 12, 20, 24 comps, 32, 40, 48), but I visited wholly Myers and carry Groan for a short training session last November, and used their Kettle bell Kings bells. I could hardly tell the difference -- the handles, weight, height, space... all the same.
I could see that perhaps they are slightly better quality — better finish, more consistent, fewer imperfections... but none of that enough to make a difference IMO. Couple of things...×I'm sure there are containers of kettle bells on the slow boats from China right now.
Some may be at the dock waiting to be driven to Rogue, Diamond Pro, Kettle bell Kings, etc. I'm curious how much of a premium the sellers will be able to charge now that demand has gone throw the roof.
My Rep Fitness was the most expensive and it flakes and chips worse than the others. Every night I take a cloth diaper made of extra long staple Egyptian Lima cotton and polish all my kettle bells with Aruba wax.
*I'm not even sure if they are still made and sold, but my preferred is the finish on the old DD bells. I bought one of the sized, and a year or more later decided I needed a second for double kettle bell lifts, and didn't go with the same brand.
I'm not normally OCD but it's annoying in the rack position that they feel slightly different. Buy a brand that you hope you can find an exact replica later.
Level 9 Valued Member Elite Certified Instructor At the gym I've had access to others and occasionally used 20s and 24s for doubles (front squats, mostly), but rare.
I don’t know your age or sex, but do you need one that light? I don’t know your age or sex, but do you need one that light?
No I don't need 8 but my wife might. I found this: This seems like a really detailed comparison — but the thread is 3+years old. Level 9 Valued Member Elite Certified Instructor
No I don't need 8 but my wife might. I found this: This seems like a really detailed comparison — but the thread is 3+years old. The finish seems the same. I can see what the author in the review above is saying, but honestly that level of detail and perfection doesn't seem that significant to me.
Having said that this review is fairly comprehensive and lines up with my experience at least: Every Major Brand of Kettle bells — Tested, Rated, and Reviewed
I have some Kettle bells USA Matrix E-coat, and also a couple of Rogue powder coat (including a newly added one) and there's not a two-star difference, if even one, IMHO. The handle on my new Rogue seems a little rougher; other than that, about the same. Thanks for posting the review.