After researching over 50 power bars and legitimately testing 11 of them, we've determined that the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is the best power bar for most people. Considering price, tensile strength, warranty, performance, knurling, availability, general consensus, and durability, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar offers the best quality for the price of any powerlifting barbell currently on the market.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar, also known as the Rogue OPB, has been the go-to power bar for most people for some time. Rogue has combined their large manufacturing power, attention to detail, and ability to create industry-leading products at great prices to create, in our opinion, the best power bar for any strength level. Whether you’re a beginner learning the squat, deadlift, and bench or an experienced lifter, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar can handle whatever you throw at it.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar must be felt to experience the quality differences between it and it’s competition. The part of a power bar that should have the most attention applied to it is its knurling, and in our opinion and many we’ve polled, the Ohio Power Bar has some of the best feeling knurling on the market. It’s aggressive, but not sharp thanks to its volcanic design. In addition to the knurling, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar features a 205K PSI Tensile Strength shaft, bronze bushings, and enough shaft coatings to satisfy anyone’s interests. Whether you choose the Bare Steel, Zinc, Cerakote, or our favorite, Stainless Steel version, you’ll be satisfied. Also, if you need a bar for a powerlifting meet, the KG version is IPF-approved.
The Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is one of the most legendary barbells ever made. It’s broken more world records and been used in more gyms than just about any barbell ever made. We like the Texas Power Bar and know many find it the be the best power bar ever made. The knurling on the Texas Power Bar is aggressive and sharp, which has the benefit of staying in your hands during a max pull, however, it also has the disadvantage of ripping your callouses off.
We chose the Texas Power Bar as our runner-up and not our number one pick for a few reasons which we’ll list in more detail further in the article. However, the main reason is that we see it as a bar that is yes, extremely popular and a good performer, but, has been passed by bars with higher tensile strength and that utilize new machinery and offer more options. The Texas Power Bar is also 28.5MM in diameter, which at one time was the standard, but has since been replaced by 29MM barbells. For these reasons and many more, we believe the Texas Power Bar is still an outstanding barbell, however, we believe our top pick, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is a superior value.
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is our upgrade pick due to its insanely high tensile strength, outstanding knurling, and price. The New Generation Power Bar is the most expensive barbell on our list (certainly not the most expensive available), but for those that want something stronger than our other picks (not that we feel it’s needed) and prefer a finer knurling than our top pick, than this may be the bar for you.
After using the New Generation Power Bar since its release, we can confidently recommend it despite its high price tag. This bar is the strongest available with a tested 250K+ PSI Tensile Strength steel shaft and it is stiff. At 29MM, the Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is made to take any amount of weight you can throw at it and keep on performing. The knurl utilizes a similar volcanic pattern to the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, but is much finer. We had trouble saying which one we liked best, but suffice it to say, we equally enjoy using both during training. The New Generation Power Bar also comes in a variety of finishes that should satisfy anyone’s needs, although we would like to see a Stainless Steel version.
The American Barbell Cerakote Mammoth Power Bar is a spec’d out monster. 210K PSI Tensile Strength Stainless Steel Shaft which is then sprayed with Cerakote, composite bushing rotation system, bead welded sleeves, and an extremely precise knurl. The main reason for the Mammoth Bar not making our top pick is due it’s passive knurling. Outside of the precision in knurling, the feel of a knurled bar is extremely subjective. Some like a passive knurl, others aggressive. This said, for powerlifting, an aggressive knurl is far and away prefered in comparison to more passive options.
So, if you prefer a more passive knurl, or would like a secondary bar to your main power bar, then we suggest the American Barbell Mammoth Bar. Despite our recommendation, we would prefer to see a more aggressive version available from American Barbell. Maybe someday.
The Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is our budget pick and was quite the surprise when we first used it. Yes, it’s lacking in areas, such as finish options and refinement, but for the price, it’s hard to beat.
Featuring a 210K PSI Tensile Strength shaft with an aggressive knurl pattern and center knurl, the Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is designed for the squat, deadlift, and bench all at a price that (as of this writing) is under $200. This level of bar would have easily been more than $500 just a few years ago, but thankfully we have the option today. There are definitely some improvements that could be made with the bar, particularly with a more even knurl, but overall, we find the Powerlifting Bar 2.0 to be a great budget option for those wanting a high-quality power bar.
Our ultra-budget pick and the cheapest bar we’d ever suggest people spend money on is the CAP OB-86PBCK Power Bar. Featuring 130K PSI Tensile Strength, steel bushings, black phosphate coating, and a center knurl, the OB-86PBCK isn’t a high-performer, but it gets the job done. Whether you’re wanting a bar to see if you like working out at home, or want a secondary beater bar, this is a great option for the price. This said, for most people, we would definitely suggest spending more to get a better bar.
Table of Contents
- Power Bar Characteristics
- How We Picked and Tested
- Our Top Pick: Rogue Ohio Power Bar
- Runner-Up: Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
- Upgrade Pick: Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar
- Another Option: American Barbell Cerakote Mammoth Power Bar
- Budget Pick: Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0
- Ultra Budget Pick: CAP OB-86PBCK Power Bar
- The Competition
Power Bar Characteristics
There are four physical characteristics of a power bar that are worth considering during comparison shopping. Those are:
- Rotation System
The steel of a power bar is the most important part of the bar; it is the essence of the barbell. There are three ratings to consider when looking at the steel of a power bar. These are tensile strength, yield strength, and the bars F-Scale Rating. In the past, and still some today, companies would throw out specifications like “this bar has a 1,500 lb test strength.” This is merely a number they throw out to make their bars look better than they actually are. Today, pretty much only cheap bars use this type of rating system and it’s to trick inexperienced trainees.
Companies test the tensile and yield strength of the barbell steel through various methods that are both can be both static and dynamic. To give a simplified example, a static test would load an enormous amount of weight (upwards of a ton) on each side of the bar and then remove weight off to see if the bar will return to its original condition: straight. the weight off to see if the bar returns back to being straight. A dynamic test is much more telling and involves tracking how the bar bends when dropped with a certain amount of weight. However, this sort of testing is not standardized and therefore varies from company to company.
Although tensile and yield strength can be telling, the test that is the most reliable in our opinion is the testing done by SEA Limited as hired by Rogue Fitness to determine a barbells F-Scale Rating. To summarize what the F-Rating is, we’ll quote Rogue Fitness, “The F Rating of a barbell is directly correlated to the number of cycles the shaft lasted in the 4 Point Bend Test at a stress level appropriate for the type of sleeve used on the bar. For example, a 28 MM chrome plated bar with a tensile strength of 215,000 PSI tested at the stress level for a men’s sleeve that lasted 35,000 cycles in our test received a rating of F1. A shaft, tested in the same manner that lasted 70,000 cycles in our test received a rating of F2. A shaft that lasted 210,000 cycles in our test received a rating of F6.”
So, what you need to know is that the higher the F-Rating, the more durable it is. This may sound like it’s most useful for people like powerlifters who are lifting the most weight, but it’s actually most useful for people causing the most stress to barbells, trainees like CrossFitters. Suffice it to say, despite lifting large quantities of weight, most power bars will be able to handle anything you can throw at them.
The second most important characteristic of a barbell designed for powerlifting-type training that should be considered is the knurling. Knurling is incredibly subjective. Some say the Texas Power Bar has the best knurling ever made while others think it’s overly sharp and actually dislike it. In our testing and research, we tried to be as unbiased as possible by polling others on what they prefer and instead of focusing on the feel of the knurl, sticking more to the precision of the machinery that is used to cut the knurling into the bar.
The goal of a power bars knurling should be to be aggressive enough that it doesn’t slip during max lifts, but not so sharp that it causes calluses to rip often during training. But, this is the ideal for most people, others like something more passive, or more aggressive, we detail this in the review of each bar.
The rotation system, in all honesty, isn’t that important to consider for most people using a power bar. The reason is because you don’t really want the bar spinning all that much during a slow lift. For instance, benching with a bearing bar is actually not all that enjoyable, but we do think a power bar should not be fixed and have some sort of rotation system, preferably bronze or composite bushings.
Finally, the finish of the bar should suit the environment in which it’s used. A bare steel bar feels great because the knurling is used without any coating in between the hand and bar, but, it also ends up corroding quicker than a bar that has plating or a coating, which many people don’t like. Stainless steel offers both the benefits of a bare steel and coated bar, however, it’s a more expensive steel. Thankfully, many of the bars on our list are available in a wide variety of finishes from zinc to Cerakote.
How We Picked and Tested
To compile our extensive list of barbells, we researched all of the major manufacturers as well as reaching out to industry experts and various groups such as r/homegym on Reddit, Garage Gym Community Facebook Group and various strength athletes. In addition to this, we went into the Garage Gym Reviews HQ comprehensive barbell collection to test what we had on hand (around 50 barbells as of this writing.) After research over 50 barbells (there are a ton of power bars available today) we narrowed it down to our top picks, all of which we brought in house to use and test.
The bars we picked to test could all be considered ideal for powerlifting-type training and at prices that are worth considering. There are other bars that are definitely “good” bars, however, they are out of the price range for this round-up. We are looking for the barbells that offer the best value, not necessarily the best without money being considered (and, let’s be honest, there’s only so much you can do with a 7-foot bar of steel.)
Ultimately, after some deliberation of the Garage Gym Reviews Team (yes, there’s more than Coop now) we narrowed down our specifications to the following list of features ordered in no particular order (these are similar to what is featured in our Best Olympic Barbell round-up article.)
Overall Construction: The overall build of the barbell needs to be high-quality. This means tight tolerances throughout the bar, especially the sleeves, precise knurling that starts and stops evenly, uniform diameter, and more. A power bar should last for a very long time, 50+ years depending on how much care is taken and the attention to detail provided by it’s manufacturer will aid substantially in reliability and durability.
Tensile Strength of Steel/F-Scale Rating: The tensile strength of steel used in a power bar should be at least 150K PSI Tensile Strength and preferably higher. The F-Scale Rating of a bar is also important, however, it’s less important for a power bar that is rarely dropped than a bar dropped often.
Knurling: The knurling should be consistent throughout the bar (although the center knurl can vary, we prefer a more passive center knurl) and for a power bar, is best being somewhat aggressive. Sharpness is not always the best indicator of a good barbell knurl. A power bar should have a center knurl and IPF knurling rings.
Spin: A power bar should have some sort of rotation system that prevents metal on metal contact or a fixed sleeve.
Finish: The more finish options available, the better. Cerakote and Stainless Steel are the most corrosive resistant finishes, although they are the most expensive overall. The goal of a finish is to prevent corrosion for those that want to prevent it.
Price: The price of a barbell, as with any product, is a large consideration. A higher price is fine so long as it comes with better features and specs. Some bars garner a higher price due to their name, however, that does not mean it’s a “better” bar.
Warranty: The industry standard these days is a lifetime warranty. Although this isn’t necessary to be on our list, it definitely helps. However, a warranty is only as good as the company offering it, so be wary of who you’re trusting to provide you warranty service.
During testing, we performed the squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press at various weights and various rep ranges. We blind tested the feel of the knurling, had multiple people of various strength and training experience levels use the bars, dropped the bars from hip height, power cleaned with them, measured the diameter of the shafts and sleeves for accuracy, weighed the bars on a precise scale for weight accuracy, and tested the oxidation of the bars over months while left in an often opened garage in the midwest. Finally, we asked the opinion of others on what power bar they view to be the best for most people and asked ourselves, “if we could only have one power bar, what would it be.”
Our Top Pick: Rogue Ohio Power Bar
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar has all the features most people need to perform the traditional power lifts and is considered to be at the top of its hierarchy.
We’ve been through our share of power bars, but the instant we grabbed onto the Ohio Power Bar, feelings of being able to lift heavier weights ensued. Perhaps this is why this barbell has become somewhat legendary in powerlifting circles in the short time it has been on the scene since its introduction in 2014. This bar will quickly give you an experience of value and a feeling that you will be able to squat more, bench smoother, and train your deadlift stronger.
Reading the characteristics of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, and you will see why it is indeed a valuable barbell. A subtle and pristine 29MM diameter, Rogue hardened steel made to feel powerful in your hands or across your back. Also, since the bar is designed to minimize its flex and whip, this allows all of your internal force to be transferred properly into the barbell itself, etc. Experiencing the characteristics of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, and you yourself will feel valued. We say this because actually experiencing a good power bar will bring out the best in you. The Rogue OPB was designed in such a way that every aspect of this bar is made for you to truly experience the forces you are imposing upon yourself by training with barbells.
The first thing we experienced and noticed with the Ohio Power Bar was our connection to the bar through it’s precisely engineered knurling. Rogue has researched and invested more than likely any other barbell manufacturer into answering the question of what makes the best possible knurling (as well as many other important barbell characteristics). Certain training types require a certain knurling. For powerlifting and the heavy strength sports, an aggressive knurling is most often preferred. The desired knurling should give you the feeling that once you take hold of the barbell, it should feel as if it is an extension of your body. The Rogue OPB utilizes a knurl that truly made us (and most others) feel great confidence in handling the weights we would put ourselves under.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar utilizes what many have referred to as a “volcano” style of knurl. This volcano knurlings main feature is that, instead of the once standard “peaky mountain” type bump, they went ahead and chopped off the mountain peak so that you get four diamond point peaks instead. This is achieved by taking more passes over the bar during the knurling portion of the manufacturing process, which leads to increased manufacturing costs.
If you have yet to experience what a volcano knurl feels like, you’re missing out. The reason a volcano knurl is superior (in our opinion, again, the feel of knurling is subjective) to the traditional “peaky mountain” knurling that dominated the industry for so long is because it gives you more contact surface area with the epidermal layering of your hands or with the various fibers on the back of your favorite squat shirt. Essentially, because there are more peaks to grip your hand (four times as many as would be if the tops of the peaks weren’t chopped off) you don’t need as “sharp” of a knurl. This leads to a greater grip and less ripped calluses and blood on the platform. This is why we feel, for a power bar, this is the best type of knurling.
The shaft of the Ohio Power Bar is 29MM, which has become the standard when it comes to power bars, and for good reason. For the slow lifts (squats, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press), a slightly thicker bar simply feels better and more secure than slightly thinner bars (except for deadlifts, which is why most deadlift bars are 27MM.) Rogue chose to go with a 29MM diameter shaft for a few reasons, but one of the major reasons is that a thicker shaft, creates a stiffer bar. Whip is great for the Olympic lifts, but is less than desirable for squats. A 29MM shaft will cause much less whip than at heavier weights when compared to a 28MM or 28.5MM barbell (it’s why squat bars are 32MM.) Although a 0.5MM larger diameter seems small, it’s not insignificant.
The overall bar length is 86.52” precisely (we measured.) The sleeves of the Ohio Power Bar are 16.5”, which is in step with the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) Standards. Located inside the sleeve collar are Rogue’s go-to bronze bushings, which provide sufficient spin and longevity. Although bushings aren’t necessary for a power bar as they’re intended purpose is to help the wrists turn under the bar during the Olympic Weightlifting Snatch and Clean and Jerk, they are nice to have. Ultimately, they aid in keeping the barbell/lifter system in an optimal and linear path with the line of resistance.
The next matter of importance is where the Rogue Ohio Power Bar lands within the “Tensile Strength Continuum.”As stated earlier, Rogue has done their homework when it comes to what makes a barbell great. In fact, Rogue has spent much of the last decade scientifically testing and developing (as well as spending upwards of $2,000,000) what increases the durability of a bar. For the F Scale, Rogue has worked with SEA Limited to create a new standard for judging the durability of a barbell. The F Rating of a barbell directly correlates to it's durability, and therefore the strength of the steel used (every barbell ever made can be found somewhere within the F Scale continuum.) It has nothing to do with the feel of the knurl, quality of the finish, or any other details. So, although we like the F-Scale, it isn't the sole factor to consider when looking to purchase a barbell.
The Rogue Ohio Power Bar situates itself as one of the most durable bars in the entire F Scale Rating system. With a 205K PSI tensile strength shaft the Ohio Power Bar, although not the strongest steel on our list, as you can see, falls right in the middle of a continuum between too whippy vs too brittle. Even better than that, the barbell is also put through a proprietary, patent pending process called Rogue Work Hardening (RWH™) which strengthens the barbell to further withstand excessive stresses.
Depending on the coating, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is rated at F8-R. This is currently the highest rating on the F-Rating system which means it can withstand nearly anything that’s going to be thrown at it. Facilities that see high usage could greatly benefit from the expected lifespan of the bar and single-use Garage Gyms should, in most cases, never see an issue.
A stiff power bar like the 29MM Rogue Ohio Power Bar is perfect for squats and presses. Even loaded to very heavy weights, this bar remains fixed with minimal give and flex. For deadlifting, this exact stiff bar combo is not ideal for picking up heavier weights, but no matter. If you train the deadlift with a stiff bar such as the Ohio Power Bar for most of your training phase and switching up to a skinnier, whippier (traditional deadlift bar) 7 to 10 weeks out from a competition, you may find yourself being able to generate more force right off the floor. The stiffness of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar forces you to deadlift with a more rigid torso and will optimize your strength for when you can take advantage of a deadlift bar (if competing is something you wish to do).
So much more can be said about every characteristic about the barbell itself, but of final notes we will talk about the pricing, warranty, and plating options.
The Rogue Ohio Power Barbell comes in four different coating options:
- Stainless Steel w/ Chrome Sleeves $395.00
- Cerakote w/ Cerakote Sleeves $325 (we hope they eventually offer chrome sleeves)
- Black Zinc w/ Bright Zinc Sleeves $285.00
- Bare Steel $265.00
Every option of the Rogue Ohio Power Bar comes with a lifetime warranty. The Rogue Barbell lifetime warranty is one of the reasons why we recommend NOT purchasing one of their boneyard bars. As we often point out, a warranty is only as good as the company servicing it, and we have good reason to believe Rogue will be around for quite a long time should any issues arise with your bar.
To state the obvious, the warranty doesn’t extend to misuse and abuse, but Rogue is dependable, and its customer service is bar none (pun intended).
Here is a quick recap of the specs:
|Plating||Stainless Steel (Chrome Sleeves)||Black Zinc (Bright Zinc Sleeves)||Bare Steel|
|Weight||45 LB||45 LB||45 LB|
|Sleeve||16.25” (Bushing)||16.25” (Bushing)||16.25” (Bushing)|
|PSI Tensile Strength||200K||205K||205K|
|F Scale Rating||F2||F8-R||F8-R|
In summary, the Rogue Ohio Power Bar is our top pick for the best power bar for most people of all the bars we’ve tested. We truly feel like this could be the last barbell you will ever buy (plus it’s listed at a very fair and affordable price). Using a quality barbell is an experience and one that is, in our opinion, the most valuable aspect of your home gym that, hopefully, you may one day be able to pass down to your son or daughter. This bar is an icon that is built to last.
Runner-Up: Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar
The Texas Power Bar was one of the first of its kind. Produced by Buddy Capps, the Texas Power Bar quickly became the ruler other companies would use to measure themselves against after years of tried and true service. Up until about the last decade, the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar would have been the best power barbell for most lifters. When it comes to barbells, times have changed, with new manufacturers and leaders building upon and improving the science behind what make a good barbell designed for powerlifting.
As stated in its name, the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is produced in the great state of Texas. They have been around since 1980, and have quite the history associated with them. In all actuality, it could be reasoned that more world records have been registered using the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar than any barbell ever fabricated. That’s crazy to think about, but it’s one of the reasons that the TPB is still considered one of the greatest barbells available, despite its construction and steel being more or less the same as it was when it was first introduced.
As you can imagine, the Texas Power Bar is a favorite among lifters because of this tried and true history. The most significant factor that we can think of when it comes to the likeability of the Texas Power Bar is that it was one of the first barbells that came out with a knurling that surpassed all of the others at its time, especially for powerlifting.
The knurling quality of the Texas Power Bar is detailed and focused; each little “knurl” will remind you of the Matterhorn. The Texas Power Bar utilizes the “peaky mountain” style of knurling that we would describe as being aggressive and assuring. Many lifters prefer this style of knurling due to this feeling of precise sharpness that just seems to work when held across your back or wrapped tightly with your fingers. Although we prefer the “volcano” style used on the Rogue Ohio Power Bar and Kabuki Strength New Generation Bar, we realize that knurling is a preference, and took the preferences of others into great consideration.
Almost as unique as the knurling is comparing the diameter of the Texas Power Bar to almost every other barbell on this best of list. The Texas Power Bar measures in at a slightly smaller 28.5mm diameter, and also slightly shorter over all bar length of 84”. Although the thinner diameter feels better in your hands during a deadlift, we prefer a thicker diameter for the squat and press. It’s one reason squat bars are 32mm. The sleeves on the Texas Power Bar also happen to be shorter than any other power bar found on the list at 15” in length.
Perhaps these features are what led Buddy Capps to going with the steel strength that we find with the Texas Power Bar. The Tensile Strength is rated at 186K PSI, which is at the lower end when compared to other bars on the list. Although most bars these days have an extremely high tensile strength, 186K PSI is going to be enough for just about anyone.
Due to the steel rating, diameter, and depending on which plating you choose, the Texas Power Bar is rated in at F2 in accordance with the F Scale Rating. A barbell rated at F2 can be regarded as being proven for high stress usage. Basically, this means that a garage gym or facility focused on powerlifting shouldn’t worry much about whether or not the barbell will last through the years.
Now to cover warranty, pricing, and plating options.
The Texas Power Bar comes in basically 3 flavors (w/ additional choices on sleeving):
- Bare Steel w/ Bare Steel Sleeves. $264.00
- Bare Steel w/ Chrome Sleeves. $279.00
- Black Zinc w/ Bare Steel Sleeves. $274.00
- Black Zinc w/ Chrome Sleeves. $289.00
- Chrome w/ Bare Steel Sleeves. $299.00
- Chrome w/ Chrome Sleeves. $314.00
The warranty is 10 years, which is a long time, but definitely not as good as the lifetime warranty that Rogue and many others offer on their barbells. However, a warranty is only as good as the company providing it, and we have good reason to believe that Buddy Capps services their warranties and should be around for some time to come.
Here is a quick recap of the specs:
|Plating||Chrome w/ Bare Steel Sleeves (or Chrome Sleeves)||Black Zinc w/ Bare Steel Sleeves (or Chrome Sleeves||Bare Steel w/ Bare Steel Sleeves (or Chrome Sleeves)|
|Price||$299.00 ($274)||$274.00 ($289)||$264.00 (274.00)|
|Weight||45 LB||45 LB||45 LB|
|Sleeve||15” (Bushing)||15” (Bushing)||15” (Bushing)|
|Knurling||Pointy Mountain||Pointy Mountain||Pointy Mountain|
|PSI Tensile Strength||186K||186K||186K|
|F Scale Rating||F1||F2||F2|
|Warranty||10 years||10 years||10 years|
All around, the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar is a good, trusted barbell with a long backed reputation. While it is not our favorite bar, it is reliable and has stood the test of time as a treasure among powerlifters.
Upgrade Pick: Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is certainly one of the best power bars we’ve ever tested. Put simply, it’s one of the highest quality bars on the market at any price point. The knurling. The steel. The feel. If you want one of the best bars that money can buy, this is near the top of the list.
To understand why the Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar was produced, you need to understand more about the man, co-founder of Kabuki Strength, Chris Duffin. Duffin is an accomplished powerlifter, loves the strength world, but what’s really important to note is that he has a distinguished engineering background. This makes many of the products coming out of the Kabuki Strength lab unique in that you can tell they are focusing and researching how to make the best products within the given category. In fact, some of our favorite products are Kabuki Strength manufactured, that being the Kabuki Strength Duffalo Bar (one of our favorite specialty bars) and the Kabuki Strength ShouldeRök.
We were able to talk to Duffin when he first announced that they were launching a specialty power bar. From our conversations, we could tell that Kabuki Strength was pouring in a ton of thought and effort into making the best power bar they possibly could, and spared little expense (although we would have liked to see a stainless steel offering like was initially teased.)]
What we would like to first point out is the attention to detail in specific regards to the knurling. Duffin and team decided to go with the “volcano” style of knurling that we first mentioned with the Rogue Ohio Power Bar. It will be important to note here that while we say that 2 bars have the same style of knurling, this does not mean that they are the same thing. The knurling on the Kabuki Strength Power Bar, although a “volcano” style, is much finer than the Rogue OPB.
In terms of feel, it’s been hard to pick which bar is the “best.” Again, this is very much a preferential argument, and we’ve gone back and forth between the Kabuki NGPB and the Rogue OPB. Suffice it to say, when it comes to knurl, you can’t go wrong with either one.
The Kabuki Strength Next Generation Power Bar measures in with a diameter of 29mm, with an overall length of 86.5”. We are pleased with the 29mm diameter as this seems to be a favorite among lifters when squatting and pressing (overhead or on a bench). The sleeves utilize self-lubricating bronze bushings which provide a reasonable spin that in not excessive and has become the standard for power bars as of late (we generally prefer them to composite bushings for longevity purposes.)
The one feature besides the knurling that makes the Kabuki NGPB stand out among that vast sea of power bar options is the strength of the steel used for the barbells shaft.
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is produced in the USA with American Steel. This is great for those who truly want to support American workers, as many bars that claim they are produced in the USA may still use steel imported from elsewhere. This likely increases the price of the bars as well, however, for some purchasing USA made equipment using domestic materials is important. We’ll let you be the judge of whether that matters or not.
This steel used for the shaft is rated at 250K-258K PSI, with an associated Rockwell Hardness rating of 51 RC. This characteristic is the highest tensile strength found on this best of list (and of any barbell anywhere.)
In accordance with the F Scale, the Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar registers at an F0.6. This is an interesting find, but makes sense. The harder the steel of a bar is, the more brittle it is. Although you should never have an issue with the Kabuki NGPB breaking or bending if used for the squat deadlift and bench, you will likely have issues eventually if used for movements like power cleans.
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar comes in 3 varieties:
- Zinc. $599.99
- Black Oxide. $649.99
- Electroless Nickel. $669.99
Each plating option is well done and eye-catching. As stated previously, it would be great to have a stainless steel option, however, Chris Duffin has responded to this request with the following statement:
“Stainless is not inherently better and only provides corrosion resistant properties. But to accomplish that, it still requires a treatment such as passivation. If it requires treatment, we may as well go with a higher tensile strength steel that is better to work with and keeps costs lower. Then we do the electroless nickel finish which is arguably superior to stainless. In this manner, we improve function, cost, and finish.”
So, stainless steel used for the bars shaft would further increase the price of an already expensive barbell. Of an important note, the reason the price of the bar is much higher than any other barbell on this list in not because of the specific 250K+ steel used, but the process. On an instagram post talking with Bill Henniger of Rogue Fitness, Duffin writes:
“As for manufacturing cost, the material is not the big driver but rather processing is. If you are thinking these are made using the same manufacturing process as other barbells then you are mistaken. The manufacturing process for 250-260K material is significantly different, and our margins are pretty slim with the manufacturing cost being higher than the retail cost of an Ohio Power Bar (an amazing bar btw).”
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar certainly is one of the most detailed, well thought out barbells on the market today. Currently, Kabuki Strength offers a 5 year warranty. When a company offers less than a 5 year warranty, it feels like they aren’t fully confident in their product. At the price, the Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is currently listed at, we would hope that one day they could reason as to offering a lifetime warranty as Kabuki itself continues growing as a company. 5 years for this price of a barbell does seem a bit low.
Here is a quick recap of the specs:
|Plating||Zinc||Black Oxide||Electroless Nickel|
|Weight||45 LB||45 LB||45 LB|
|Sleeve||16.25” (Bushing)||16.25” (Bushing)||16.25” (Bushing)|
|PSI Tensile Strength||250+K||250+K||250+K|
|F Scale Rating||F0.6||F0.6||F0.6|
|Warranty||5 years||5 years||5 years|
The Kabuki Strength New Generation Power Bar is definitely one of the nicest bars we’ve ever handled. While it is pricey, many lifters would justify purchasing one the moment they felt the knurling and overall feel of the bar. This is our upgrade pick for the Best Power Bar.
Another Great Option: American Barbell Cerakote Mammoth Power Bar
The people behind the American Barbell Cerakote Mammoth Power Bar are some of the most experienced in the industry. Some of their members have been in the industry for over 40 years now, and have seen the ins-and-outs of every part of barbell manufacturing. The American Barbell Mammoth Bar is without a doubt the most unique barbell on our list and for those who prefer it's specifications will fall in the love with the bar. It's forged with a strong 210K PSI Tensile Strength Stainless Steel sourced from the USA (so we're told.)
Once straightened and knurled, it's then sprayed with a Cerakote coating traditionally used for firearms. The Cerakote is applied at a consistent .001″, which seems thin, but with an already shallow cut knurl, it’s enough. American Barbell has assured us that the Cerakote applied to their bars is around .0005″ to .001″ and after nearly three years of consistent use, the bar is still showing little wear. This unique combo of Cerakote over stainless steel makes it one of the most corrosion resistant barbells ever created (almost unnecessarily.) AKA, ideal for an environment with constantly fluctuating temperatures and humidity levels…like a garage gym.
The knurling on the American Barbell Mammoth Bar is extremely precise. If a “good” knurl is defined by its precision and consistency (how we define a good knurl), then the knurling on the American Barbell Mammoth Bar is some of the best. It’s obvious that American Barbell has spent lots of time and money developing their machining processes and we’re grateful for it every time we hold the Mammoth Bar. One thing that shows the precision of the manufacturing is how pronounced the start and stops of the knurling are on the bar. If you took a magnifying lens to other bars, you would notice much different results, even from bars that are twice as much as this one.
One feature of the American Barbell Mammoth Bar that sets it apart from every other on our list is how passive the knurling is for a power bar. Although we prefer a more aggressive knurling, there are many who disagree (including one of our testers) which is why we constantly say that the aggressiveness of knurling is a preference. For those that like a passive knurl, the American Barbell Mammoth Bar is the best option available in a power bar. Part of the problem is that Cerakote makes the knurling even less sharp than if it was just raw, but overall, American Barbell is simply cutting the knurl shallower than most of its competitors (again, this is likely on purpose to separate the bar from the competition.)
The reason we prefer a sharper knurling is because it aids in giving you more confidence in the bar conforming to the back of your shirt or your hands. Sometimes a knurling can be too sharp, which is definitely something we don’t want either (there were a few bars we tested that were like this, such as the Okie Power Bar.) Due to the precise machining, it also takes on chalk better than most bars we tested. The passive knurling is a contrast to any other power bar on this list, and in all honesty the lack of sharpness hasn’t been a huge problem in regards to slippage and sweat in your palms or with the barbell across your back.
The American Barbell Mammoth Bar stands strong at 45 LB, 86.5” long, with the now standard 29mm diameter. As for the sleeves, this is another area where American Barbell is unique. American Barbell uses a precise welding feature to attach the collars to each sleeve which is unlike any other sleeve on the market. When they first introduced this feature, they got complaints that the weights didn’t sit flush with the collar, so, to improve their design they now recess the welds so that there aren't any issues when adding plates. The welds are extremely clean and consistent (welded using robotic welders) and although they don’t really add anything to the function of the bar, they do look great. Inside the sleeves are composite bushings that provide a smooth, slow, and consistent spin which are ideal for powerlifting (not just composite bushings but bronze bushings as well.
The stainless steel used for the shaft of the American Barbell Mammoth Bar has a Tensile Strength of 210K PSI. To reiterate, the combo of the Cerakote and steel makes this bar one of the most corrosion resistant bars we have encountered. The combo of the steel/Cerakote/diameter places the American Barbell Mammoth Bar with an F2 rating on the F Scale. An F2 rating can be generalized as:
“F2 Barbells have a proven track record of standing up to high-level use in facilities performing high repetition, low weight Olympic lifts and other lifts that are dropped from overhead.”
The price of the American Barbell Mammoth Bar (as of this writing) is listed at $495.00 with free shipping and comes with a lifetime (limited) warranty. This is awesome, as it shows how confident American Barbell is with their product.
Here is a quick review of the specs:
|Knurling||Pointy Mountain (Passive)|
|PSI Tensile Strength||210K|
|F Scale Rating||F2|
The American Barbell Mammoth Bar is a great bar with a more passive knurl than the competition, an extreme focus on the details, at a decent price.
Budget Pick: Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0
The Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is a great barbell, for the price. In all honesty, it is probably the most surprising bar on our list when considering price and quality. Bells of Steel is a relatively new company, founded in 2010 by Kaevon Khoozani. Bells of Steel has focused most of their energy on the Canadian market, but have recently begun selling to U.S customers as well.
The Bells of Steel Barenaked Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is far and away the best power bar that you can get for under $200 (largely because other bars below this price point would scare us with even 135 LB loaded on the bar.) Being specifically designed to be in accordance with International Powerlifting Federation specs for barbells, it’s built particularly for the squat, deadlift, and press.
The Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0 utilizes an aggressive “pointy mountain” style of knurling pattern in some parts and a volcano style in others. This is due to low tolerances in machining, but it's expected for the price. This combined with the raw steel makes the knurling feel like it should be on a much more expensive bar (in fact, in blind studies we had multiple people mistake this bar for the Rogue Ohio Power Bar.) Upon further inspection, you start to notice why it’s priced as low as it is, however. As far as feel, the BoS Powerlifting Bar 2.0 “feels” great, but overall, the machining of the bar could use some work. For instance, there is a noticeable difference between one side of the bar compared to the other, which is most noticed in the center knurling. This lack of consistency among the knurling as well as feathering at the start and stop points of the knurling is disappointing, but not such a flaw that it’s a deal breaker considering the price.
The diameter of the Bells of Steel Powerlifting Bar 2.0 is the powerlifting standard 29mm, 86”, and weighs 45 LB. The sleeves are on the longer end of the bars we tested measuring in at 17.5”, with a unique thin collar. The Bells of Steel Logo is etched on the inside of the collar, giving it a very clean look. This is something very sharp that we’ve started to see more companies experiment with (Rep Fitness, Vulcan Strength, and FringeSport all do this.) Throughout the sleeve is consistent ridging that is designed to prevent plates from shifting during movement. They’re a bit deeper than we think is needed, but they do their job of helping keep the plates from sliding.
The steel Bells of Steel uses is rated at a PSI Tensile Strength of 210K which is pretty high, however, since the steel is imported, sometimes it’s hard to know for sure if it’s exactly what is labeled.
When all things are considered, this level of barbell for less than $200 is pretty incredible and speaks to the amount of competition and barbells that are currently available. If you want a budget-priced power bar, this is our suggestion.
Here is a quick review of the specs:
|PSI Tensile Strength||210K|
|F Scale Rating||F2|
Ultra Budget Pick: CAP OB-86PBCK Power Bar
If you are just starting out with barbell training or want a “beater bar” and need a decent, but very affordable option, we’d suggest the CAP OB-86PBCK Power Bar. It has by far the worst specs of any bar on this list, but it also has the lowest price and, simply put, gets the job done.
When it comes to having a good training bar that you can really beat up, the Cap OB-86PBCK is the bar for the job. Squats, presses, pendlay rows, landmines, etc. – if its an activity that can be done with a barbell it can be done with the Cap OB-86B. It’s one of our favorite beater bars due to its durability and price and is our worry-free bar to rack pull with (mainly because if it bends, we’re not worried about it.) Yes, the knurling will get fatigued and worn overtime and the sleeves will most likely get scraped, but it will continue to perform when we need it too.
The Cap OB-86PBCK utilizes a “pointy mountain” style of knurl (although it actually just looks like dirt mounds,) not as sharp nor aggressive as a Texas Power Bar but aggressive enough to get the job done for most lifts. It is surprisingly nice for an ultra-cheap bar, even if it feels a little rougher and more abrasive for many lifters.
Its listed weight is 20KG, has an overall bar length of 86.6”, and a 28.5” diameter shaft which is similar to our runner-up, the Buddy Capps Texas Power Bar and not seen as often these days for power bars. The sleeves utilize a black zinc coating and spin on steel bushings, which are inferior to bronze and composite bushings, but expected with the price point. One downside of this bar is that there is considerable back and forth play in the sleeves. This can lead to unnecessary stress on the sleeve and wear down the bar much quicker and also is just kind of annoying while in use. On the plus side, however, the sleeves feature consistent grooves which allow for good plate security (although with a bar this cheap, you’re likely using even cheaper plates that are likely too large for the ribbing to matter.)
The steel bushings mentioned will require frequent application of lubrication as they're not self-lubricating like Bronze Oil-Lite Bushings that are used by many bars today, like the oil-lite bronze bushings used in most bars on our list. This said, in all actuality, the spin of the Cap OB-86PBCK is better than most of the other bars in this price range, especially in comparison to pinned bars.
The Cap OB-86PBCK features a tensile strength of 132K PSI. This is by far the lowest strength steel of any barbell on this list and another reason why we only recommend it to those on an extreme budget, but the pricing reflects this. Due to the low-grade steel and also that the barbell is plated in its only option, black phosphate, the bar doesn’t even actually measure on the F Scale. This means that the bar is more likely to bend than bars with stronger steel, but that should be expected at the price point. However, for personal use, we feel it will get the job done to a satisfactorily level for many lifters.
In our research, we were not able to find any consistent warranty detailing so we can’t be sure what or if there is any worth mentioning (we’d guess something around a one-year construction warranty.) But, at a price of sub-$150, most people might not even expect there being a reliable warranty.
Overall, this isn’t a bad barbell… for the price. Most cheap bars utilize shiny chrome plating, so it's good to see that the Black Phosphate of the Cap OB-86K is a major step up from that league. And, as stated above, if you need a barbell to do special exercises dedicated to rack pulls and such, this would be a great option for you.
Here is a quick review of the specs:
|Sleeve||15” (Steel Bushing)|
|PSI Tensile Strength||150K|
|F Scale Rating||F0|
Vulcan Strength Absolute Power Bar: We went back and forth on whether to replace the American Barbell Mammoth Power Bar with the Absolute Power Bar from Vulcan Strength. Although we really like the Absolute Power Bar, in use, we simply found that we preferred the knurling on the Mammoth Power Bar, although it's more passive. The Absolute Power Bar is a great bar at a good price, we'd honestly suggest it, but had to limit the list.
Eleiko IPF Powerlifting Competition Bar NxG: This is one of the only power bars currently available that we haven't been able to test yet other than a quick feel of the knurl (which is the same as their IWF Weightlifting Competition Bar.) Once we're able to use the bar (hopefully this year) then we will update the review.
Rep Fitness PowerSpeed Bar: Due to the way the knurling is done, this bar is much more of a specialty squat bar than a standard power bar.
Rogue B&R Bar 2.0: The B&R 2.0 Bar from Rogue Fitness came very close to being in our top picks, but due to it's increased price despite not having any additional features, we only recommend it to those planning on doing quite a few power cleans and power snatches. It is a good bar, with a nice, slightly more passive knurl than the Rogue Ohio Power Bar, but it's pretty much the same for more money. Sorry Rip.
Rogue Westside Power Bar 2.0: The Rogue Westside Power Bar is a great bar, but not better than the Ohio Power Bar, yet costs more. If you like the black with green composite bushings, then get this one, but outside of aesthetic preferences, stick to the Ohio Power Bar.
Buddy Capps Starting Strength Texas Power Bar: We've heard awesome things about this bar, however, we have been unable to use it, so the jury is still out on how it compares to our picks.
FringeSport Power Bar: The FringeSport Power Bar is a good, budget-friendly power bar. However, the knurling is not as aggressive as we'd like to see in a power bar.
Rep Fitness Stainless Steel Power Bar V2: This was another bar that almost made our list. In fact, if the Bells of Steel Bar had not come out, this bar would have taken our ‘Budget Pick' spot, but we didn't feel this bar blew it away for the difference in price. We do want to point out that we've heard Rep Fitness is working on a new Power Bar that we've heard should be pretty good, so we'll update when it comes to market.
American Barbell Elite Power Bar: This is a great power bar, however, it's not that much less than the Mammoth Power Bar which is a better all-around barbell.
American Barbell Power Bar: Another good bar from American Barbell, but it's not better than our top pick or the Mammoth Power Bar.
American Barbell Grizzly Bar: This bar from American Barbell is what we'd suggest beyond the Mammoth Power Bar due to its great value. This level of barbell for under $300 is outstanding.
EliteFTS Power Bar: We haven't had the opportunity to use this bar yet, however, we have noticed Dave Tate the owner of EliteFTS, and Jim Wendler, an employee of EliteFTS continuing to recommend the Texas Power Bar in certain situations. This said, we would like to get it in our hands as we're fans of the company that makes them for EliteFTS.
EliteFTS 5 Rings Bar: This is very similar in specs to their Power Bar. It's a cool concept, but it hasn't been chosen in our list for the same reasons as their Power Bar.
Ivanko OBX-20KG Powerlifting Bar: This is an awesome Made-in-USA Power Bar, however, it is a bit unique with a 28MM diameter. We haven't used the latest Ivanko version of this bar, so we'll hold off our opinion until then.
Ivanko OBXS-20KG-29MM Power Bar: Another awesome bar from Ivanko, but incredibly expensive. If you want a made in the US stainless bar, we'd suggest one from Rogue Fitness for the price.
ForceUSA Powerlifting Barbell: This is a pretty unique bar featuring a 200K PSI Tensile Strength shaft and bearings in the sleeves. We haven't used the bar and haven't heard from anyone else who has either. For the price though, it's quite a bit more than even many of the made in the US options on our list (it's imported.)
Zaoba Bull Powerlifting Barbell: This bar is IPF approved which probably accounts for how pricey it is. It is very accurate and has a suggested weight capacity of 500KG. However, for this price, there are likely many bars we'd recommend over it.
Intek Olympic Power Bar: The Intek Power Bar features a 200K PSI tensile strength shaft with bronze bushings. It's quite pricey for what it is, however, which is why we left it off our list.
Titex Competition Bar: This is an extremely strong bar with a great warranty, however, we've heard it has a bit of a passive knurl and a black Magnetite shaft which isn't bad, but for the price, we'd like to see other options.
Crain's Okie Power Bar: The Okie Power Bar has some of the sharpest knurling we've ever used. When you pull it out of the tube, leftover metal shards start falling off the shaft. Honestly, the knurling is almost too sharp to even use. Combine that with a low tensile strength steel and high price, this isn't a bar we'd recommend.
Wright Power Bar: Due to a low tensile strength, large diameter and high price, we do not recommend this bar.
Leoko Powerlifting Bar: The Leoko Powerlifting Bar is an IPF-approved bar that we could not figure out how to purchase. We've also not talked to anyone who has used it. We would guess, however, that it's pretty expensive.
Pallini B256 Powerlifting Bar: This is an IPF-approved bar that similar to the Leoko Powerlifting Bar is expensive to get in the US. Pallini is a French company, and despite it being IPF approved, we again couldn't find anyone who had used one. This said, it is a 25 KG bar which is a bit unique considering it's on the IPF-approved list.
Uesaka Power Bar: We've never seen one of these, but we're told they exist. That is all.