Girevoy Sport Kettlebells – Perform Better vs. AKC

Perform Better Competition-Style Kettlebells VS. AKC Competition-Style Kettlebells

One of the key issues with those of us participating in Girevoy Sport has been the initial cost of competition-style kettlebells.  While the American Kettlebell Club has been the main source for this style kettlebell, they have also suffered from quality control and supply issues at various times.

Further, the cost of a competition-style kettlebell is well above that of a basic-style (Without getting into which kettlebell is a traditional style, I’ll call the basic black version the Dragondoor, or DD style) kettlebell.

The design of the competition-style kettlebell is essential for proper execution of the three Girevoy Sport lifts – Jerk, Snatch, and Long Cycle Clean and Jerk.  While a Girevik can certainly train with the DD- style kettlebell, the difference in grip position, particularly in the rack, will certainly confound the Girevik not used to training with a distinctly open “horn” as is found on the competition-style kettlebell.  In a competition, this could mean a significant difference in number of reps completed due to the difference in style of the kettlebell handles.

Until a few weeks ago, Gireviks interested in training for Girevoy Sport faced a limited choice when ordering competition style kettlebells.  Gireviks could order from American Kettlebell Club, USGSF, or through suppliers in Europe or elsewhere (Planet Achyball?).

Now, Perform Better, a Rhode Island-based fitness training and equipment company, has come out with their own version of competition-style kettlebells in four sizes, 12, 16, 20, and 24 kilograms.  The prices are near the American Kettlebell Club kettlebells, but still less after shipping by about $20.00.

I have been interested in a cheaper alternative to the American Kettlebell Club’s Pro Grade kettlebells for some time.  While I have a complete set of American Kettlebell Club kettlebells I received after attending the American Kettlebell Club certification in March 2007, I’ve wanted to buy a couple “in between” kettlebells to my complement my training.  Since receiving my American Kettlebell Club kettlebells, I’ve purchased one of their pink 8 kg Pro Grade kettlebells for my daughter.

The American Kettlebell Club kettlebells are color-coded by weight.  (In the picture, Pink kettlebells are 8 kg, Blue kettlebells are 12 kg, yellow are 16 kg, purple are 20 kg, green are 24 kg, orange are 28 kg and red are 32 kg.)  These are the same colors and weights used for Girevoy Sport competitions.

These first American Kettlebell Club kettlebells had a rough finish to them and the handle size on my 24 kg kettlebells was different.  In addition, one of my 16 kg bells had a loose piece of slag knocking around inside it.  As far as I was concerned however, the finish does not affect the way I lift the kettlebell, and the loose piece of slag never bothered me nor do I think it affects my lifts.

At any rate, American Kettlebell Club bells have improved a bit since then with the introduction of their Pro-Grade competition kettlebells.  The handles are now uniform in size and come pre-sanded.  The lack of paint on the handle provides an adhesive surface for chalking and means less work for the Girevik to prepare the kettlebell.

Perform Better Introduces An Alternative Competition-Style Kettlebell

After reading about Gireviks speculating on the quality of the Perform Better competition style kettlebells versus the American Kettlebell Club kettlebells, I decided to purchase a 20 kg Perform Better competition-style kettlebell and see for myself what the difference was.

On 10/16/08, I placed my order for my Perform Better competition-style kettlebell and received it on 10/23/08, within the 7-10 day shipping advertised.

The kettlebell was packed inside a hard foam mold inside a cardboard box, and appeared to be packed exactly like the last American Kettlebell Club kettlebell I purchased.

Notice that the colors of the Perform Better kettlebells do not correspond to the competition colors of the American Kettlebell Club Pro Grade kettlebells.

The 20 kg kettlebell is painted a uniform silver color, including the handle.  The surface of the kettlebell is very smooth, and unlike the American Kettlebell Club kettlebell’s rough texture, I found no dings, dents, or surface imperfections on the Perform Better kettlebell.

I placed the 20 kg kettlebell next to my 24 kg kettlebells and compared the handles for thickness and shape.  (While my 24 kg kettlebells are not Pro-Grade bells, I do have an 8 kg Pro Grade and the handles are comparable in size).

As the photo shows, the Perform Better handle is roughly the same size and shape as the American Kettlebell Club kettlebells.  In fact, it falls right between the thick and thin handles of my two American Kettlebell Club 24 kg kettlebells.

As I’m going to be chalking the handles, I decided to remove the paint on the Perform Better kettlebell handle and see what was underneath.

I first tried a citrus-type paint stripper, however it had little effect on the paint.  So with a little help from a grinder and sand paper, I had the paint off in about 5 minutes.  The handle underneath was almost as smooth as the painted version, with relatively few pits and gouges.

The real test was going to be if the chalk would hold.  As the photo on the right shows, the chalk went on and stayed on throughout a set of 50 snatches.  I would rate the handle comfort to be equal to American Kettlebell Club’s Pro-Grade competition kettlebells.

The Comparison Results

All-in-all, the Perform Better competition-style Kettlebells are a worthy alternative to the American Kettlebell Club kettlebells.  While purists may be put off by the alternative colors of the Perform Better kettlebells, I believe they may be a cost-effective alternative to use as training kettlebells.

The design difference between the American Kettlebell Club and Perform Better kettlebells is so slight as to be unnoticeable during use, and the quick shipping by Perform Better may make them attractive to gyms or trainers wishing to purchase multiple sets of a particular weight.

The downside to the Perform Better kettlebells is the lack of variety in weight sizes.  The American Kettlebell Club has a full range of kettlebell sizes from 8 kg (17 lbs.) all the way up to 40 kg (88 lbs).

In addition, the colors of the American Kettlebell Club bells are the same colors used on the kettlebells in Girevoy Sport competitions.

Finally, the American Kettlebell Club Pro-Grade kettlebells come with handles pre-sanded, which means that as soon as you pull your bell from the box, you’ll be able to chalk it up and start lifting.  The savings you’ll earn on the Perform Better First Place Elite kettlebells will mean that you’ll have to do a little work removing paint before chalk can be applied.

With the introduction of the Perform Better First Place Elite competition style kettlebells, aspiring Gireviks or kettlebell enthusiasts have a suitable alternative to the other competition-style kettlebells available.

I encourage readers to check out the Perform Better and American Kettlebell Club web sites for further information:

Perform Better:

American Kettlebell Club:

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16 Responses to Girevoy Sport Kettlebells – Perform Better vs. AKC

  1. Thanks for posting this. I just ordered a 24 from PB based on your write up. Do you get a finders fee?

  2. Only if you went to Perform Better through my click through! I only wish people would order AKC bells through me too! But really, I hope you like the bell, other than the different color, I think you’ll be very happy. I did an AKC kettlebell fitness workout today with the PB 20 kg (am I a heretic now?) and am still pleased with it. Still, If I had the money, I’d get an AKC 28 kg. They’re that similar.

  3. Sorry, I didn’t see you had a PB link. If I get a twin or if they offer 32s I’ll make it up to you. I only have DDballs so the black 24 will fit right in!

  4. Jim,

    Great review. You not only did your homework but also put up research funding by ordering a PB bell (there is probably a federal research grant you can apply to in order to get reimbursed). I currently own DD, PB & AKC bells & was curious about the comp grade PB bells when they came out. I almost never touch the DD & PB bells any more. If I know PB they will have the full set of sizes available soon in order to capitalize on the market share. Thanks for the effort and good work.

  5. Thanks Joe,

    If PB expands their line-up with new sizes, I will definitely be a repeat customer!

    Now to get to work on that grant application…

    Jim 😉

  6. Great post. I have DD’s, an AKC and just ordered a PB 20kg. I was hesitant purchasing it as I did not wish to have two different style pro bells to work with. I feel much better about the purchase after having read your review and seeing the photos. Great work – you have made me a much happier camper.

  7. Thanks Graeme.

    I’m really happy with my PB 20 kg. I’m using it for my WKC Kettlebell Fitness workouts and haven’t noticed any difference between the PB and my AKC bells.


  8. Thanks for the post. I was wondering though, I’m interested in doing kettlebell sport on my own, and I’ve been looking for a site that sells them…can you give me a recommendation?

  9. SHEESH… thanks for the article… wish I would have come across it and seen your link earlier. PB is having a massive sale at the moment and I purchased the “3 set” equivalent for males, that Dragondoor is pushing for 285… plus shipping mind you… all for that price minus 60 american … and that’s with shipping included… sale ends september 30th!… Purchase through the author of this great articles link!

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