So you’ve fallen in love with disc golf and you’re ready to buy a bunch of new discs! Or maybe this is your first disc purchase, but you want to make sure you get the right ones. Either way, it’s important to understand the differences between the many disc plastics.
In this guide we’ll take a look at why disc golf disc plastic selection is so important. Specifically, we’ll discuss how plastic can not only affect the feel of the disc, but also the stability, and durability. Finally, we’ll compare the plastic offerings across some of the largest disc manufacturers to make your disc selection process easier!
Does Disc Plastic Actually Make a Difference?
In short, yes. First, each plastic has a different feel in your hand. Next, the plastic can change the flight pattern of the disc, specifically the stability. Finally, the durability of a disc is determined by the plastic.
Disc Plastic Feel
Some plastics are firm and hard, others are flexible and soft. Some get easily scratched and beat up, others can take a beating without losing their shape. Some plastics are smooth, while other’s are grainy. These are all factors to consider when choosing your plastic.
For example, I recently played an 18 hole round using a star Aviar [Infinite Discs] as my putter. It was morning time, and the dew was making my discs wet. I was getting frustrated through the front 9 holes because I kept missing easy putts. Instead of blaming my lack of skill, I blamed the smoothness of the star plastic which was becoming slick with the wet dew. I switched over to a JK Pro Aviar which has a more grippy feel to it and doesn’t get affected by the moisture as much as the star plastic. All of a sudden, I was knocking down 20 foot putts with ease. I like to think this was due to the change in plastic, but I must admit it was most likely due to a weak mental game on my part.
The Stability Differences Between Disc Plastic
Besides the physical feel of a disc, plastic can also affect the flight of the disc. This is due to the way that discs are manufactured and the characteristics of plastic. To make a disc, melted plastic is poured into a mold. As the plastic cools it shrinks. Different plastics have different shrink characteristics so as the disc shrinks, its edges get pulled in and thus the angle of the rim changes. The rim angle is what affects stability (or the tendency of a disc to turnover or fade). So the same disc mold made with different plastics will have slightly different stabilities due to the plastics’ shrink characteristics.
The Durability Differences Between Disc Plastic
Continuing with the rim angle affecting the flight of the disc, as a disc gets beat in, its rim angle changes and thus the disc becomes more understable. Different plastics have different durability. Some plastics don’t hold up when whammed into a tree, while others will escape relatively unscathed. Thus, some discs will have a noticeable change in stability and flight over their lifetimes while others will retain their original flight characteristics. For the ultimate players out there, this is why we prefer to play with new ultrastars over old beat in ultrastars!
Generally, the less expensive beginner plastics are the least durable. Right when you start to figure out how your disc flies, the flight changes, and you feel like you’re doing something wrong. If you play so much that your beginner discs get beat in, we recommend you invest in some more premium plastic!
If you need visuals, look no further than this video from Innova explaining plastic. You can also check out Innova’s guide to disc plastic if you’d like more information.
Plastics By Manufacturer
The most annoying part of all of this plastic stuff, is that the different manufacturers have different names for their plastics. Unlike flight numbers which are basically standard across all manufacturers, plastics take a little bit of time to research. Below we offer a comparison table of the major plastics from five different disc providers. For a more detailed comparison visit https://daegalus.github.io/discgolf/plastics.html
Each of the plastics from the categories in the table above have different characteristics. Those characteristics are compared in the plot below.
It’s important to note that everyone has their own preferences when it comes to plastic. Some people like discs with more flexible plastic, other people like discs with firm plastic. Some people like it when their discs get beat in quickly, other people like very durable discs. Some people like more overstable discs, others like more understable discs. The chart above is only meant to compare the different plastics, it by no means is meant to tell you which plastic is best, because that really depends on you and your preferences.
If you’re struggling to decide which plastic to purchase, we recommend you start with some discs made with less expensive starter plastic like our Innova DX Four Disc Starter Pack. Once you get a feel for the baseline plastic, you’ll have a better idea of what to buy next! Make sure to check out our disc recommendations when you’re ready to make your next disc purchase!
If you have any questions, as always feel free to leave a comment below or contact us!