Selkirk Finally Releases A Raw Carbon Fiber Paddle

Will Chaing
Will Chaing
April 24, 2024

Is the release of the Selkirk Vanguard Control too little too late? 

Raw Carbon Fiber peel ply paddles with some minor deviations has sort of been the norm the past few years in pickleball. It’s been the go-to surface type for like 90% of paddles out there on the market and for good reason. It’s durable, and it performs well in terms of spin, touch, pop, and power.

The Vanguard Control, it’s Selkirk’s flagship Vanguard 2.0 paddle with a raw carbon fiber surface and all I gotta say is. it’s about dang time!

It’s 2024 and this paddle would have been killer maybe 2 or so years ago. That's not to say that it isn’t good enough now, in our current meta, it’s actually very good and we’ll get into that in a bit.

Also, I make it sound like Selkirk has just been completely ignoring raw carbon fiber as a surface material up until now and that’s just not the case. They did release the SLK Halo and the Project 006 and I’ll compare those paddles to the Vanguard Control in a little bit as well but first let's talk more about what you came here for, the Vanguard Control.


Quick disclaimer I am an employee of Selkirk so don't forget to take what I say with a heavy dash of salt

You can also use code ADV-PICKLEBALLWILL to get an electronic gift card on your next purchase from Selkirk


First thing I want to go over is the spin.

This is absolutely where the Vanguard Control shines and its main defining trait. It’s a vast improvement over its predecessor the Vanguard 2.0. Anything with Raw Carbon Fiber and using a peel ply texture should be a vast improvement over anything else really. What’s interesting about the textured peel ply on the Vanguard Control is that it feels more rough in the vertical direction than the horizontal direction. It’s really gritty. 

You can visibly see the textured lines and striations going up and down the face of the paddle.

I think it’s safe to say this is Selkirk’s most spin friendly paddle. Better than the SLK Halo and better than the Luxx Control Air, probably on par if not better than the Project 006. When compared to other paddles out there on the market it’s in the high or top tier for sure depending on which shape you get. 


Between the Invikta, S2, and Epic shapes, I mostly tested the Invikta shape which is elongated and has the highest swing weight of the 3. This gives me the most length and leverage to help me generate the racket/paddle head speed I need to get the most spin and power out of my drives. The Invikta also sports a 5.5 inch handle allowing for a comfortable grip for those of you that employ a 2 handed backhand.

If you prefer a defensive style of play and prioritize touch and control on the court, then the S2 is an ideal choice. It's designed to offer forgiveness for block volleys and boasts a generous sweet spot. With its shorter but wider shape compared to the other options, and also a compact handle measuring just 4.7 inches in length, the S2 is likely the most maneuverable choice for quick paddle repositioning. Hence why I believe it’s best for blocking shots, drop volleys, and other shots requiring finesse and touch.

Last but not least is the Epic shape. It’s the best all-around paddle shape for most people. The Epic sits right in between the Invikta and S2. Giving you the benefits of the reach and leverage you would find from an elongated paddle without sacrificing too much hand speed you find from the S2’s shorter but wider body.

The Vanguard Control now comes with an octagonal grip design with proper bezels instead of the oval shape you would find in the Vanguard 2.0, thank goodness. Now when it comes to dinking, roll volleys, and more finesse shots in the kitchen I think all the different shapes perform about the same in terms of spin and feel. However, if you like your drives and want to be able to generate some power from the baseline, the Invikta shape is the way to go.


Speaking of power…there isn’t much. I mean the paddle is called the Vanguard “Control”. This paddle is just a regular pressed sandwich construction similar to the tried and tested paddles of yesteryear. It’s not of a unibody construction or some sort of thermoforming technique. There is no foam injected to the edge walls to stiffen the body…so yea, it doesn’t really have the pop or power that you may find in paddles such as the Project 006 or the other plethora of paddles on the market that are thermoformed or have a unibody construction.

I think if you weighed up the paddles with some Tungsten *(tungsten tape link below) tape you can definitely get a bit more power from the baseline. The pop on the VG Control is definitely an improvement over its predecessor and I think better than the Halo series. However, if you have played with other thermoformed paddles out there, this thing is going to feel like a pillow. I would also say that the Vanguard Control is a small step below the Luxx Control Air as well in the pop/power category. 

Not necessarily a bad thing if that is what you are looking for or you have no problem generating your own pace. Don’t let anyone fool you though. This is a control paddle through and through.


And when it comes to the control and touch of this paddle, I would categorize it as having a plush feeling. Not as plush as the Vanguard 2.0, I think the raw carbon fiber surface Selkirk used here helps stiffen up the paddle a bit to give it a tad more pop but in my opinion definitely leaves more to be desired. If you like the response from Gen 1 paddles then you are going to feel right at home with the Vanguard Control. It’s predictable and surprisingly responsive when striking the ball, whether that is a hard drive, overhead smash, drops into the kitchen, or just dinking back and forth. 

If you are prioritizing control and that is your main focus when selecting a paddle, then the Vanguard Control should definitely be a main contender on your list. The good touch combined with easy access to spin means you should be able to put more balls into play while hunting for the right opportunity to strike.


Ok to summarize things, the SLK Halo Series, Vanguard Control, and Project 006. All three feature raw carbon fiber faces and 16mm cores, with shape options available for the Halo and Vanguard Series. The SLK Halo series offers versatility with two core thicknesses and various colors and acts as great entry point. 

In contrast, the Vanguard Control prioritizes spin and durability, thanks to its unique textured face. Crafted in the USA and backed by a lifetime warranty, it suits players seeking reliability. 

Meanwhile, the Project 006 stands out for its solid unibody design, providing unmatched power and stability, though it's heavier and less maneuverable. With these distinctions in mind, you can choose the paddle that best fits your style and preferences.


So is it dope or nope? It gets a nope from me.

The Vanguard Control is using old tech, its too expensive, and Selkirk missed the boat…and I quite honestly, I kind of agree. However, that doesn’t make it a bad paddle by any stretch. This paddle has all the ingredients and right traits for the majority of players out there.

So while some of us think that the Vanguard Control is late to the party…I think it's getting ready to host the after party…and everyone is invited because there is still a huge wave of people that are just getting into pickleball that would benefit a lot from picking up such a player-friendly paddle. 

The only thing that's not as friendly is the price at $200. You can definitely get more affordable options that perform just as good if not better out there. However, when you consider the fact that it has a limited lifetime warranty, the brand name of Selkirk, and that it’s manufactured in the USA, and the customer service that Selkirk provides, it’s a bit easier to swallow the higher price tag.

I personally wouldn’t play with it since I’m much more used to paddles with a bit more power and pop now. With that being said I think the Vanguard Control is a prime example of…If ain’t broke don't fix it…but make some minor improvements, such as the raw carbon fiber and the octagonal handle. All in all the Vanguard Control is a solid paddle from a reputable brand if you are looking for great control and spin.