When you hear the name Force3, you think of catchers. They have revolutionized the catcher’s mask with their patented Shock Suspension System to cut down on head injuries for the guys behind the plate. While this is where the company began, they are growing and evolving and, with that, we got our hands on one of the first of a new line of products from Force3.
Here’s our video first impression, and read on for the details on this impressive new glove from Force3:
Meet the Force3 Elite series. Coming in at $280, this glove will compete with the likes of Wilson’s A2000 and Rawlings’ Heart of the Hide series. Force3 has offered custom gloves before, but this revamped stock line is new for this year. Both full customs and the pictured stock line are crafted from Japanese steerhide leather from Nara, Japan. This glove isn’t available quite yet, but Force3 sent an early sample of the 11.5″ model pictured above.
While I just got the glove in and can’t speak to its long-term quality yet, first impressions do matter. So I am going to talk about what I like, and what I don’t, in my first days with the Force3 Elite glove.
Force3 has opted for all-black leather for this model. In today’s world of crazy colors and patterns, it is nice to see something a little bit simpler. But simple certainly does not mean boring.
Force3 has paired the beautiful black Japanese steerhide with hits of red and gold that POP. They add just the right amount of flash to this black beauty. The two-tone stitched “FORCE3” on the ring finger fits perfectly. I like that it is shifted over from the common pointer finger placement.
One of this glove’s most unique features is the stamped gold baseball laces on wrist. my only concern is that the gold paint will likely rub off quickly. While that won’t effect the functionality of this glove, it is worth noting. Overall, I love the look of this glove. It is simple and clean but will still stand out.
*Another thing to note, this glove smells like a high end leather shop which is never a bad thing.
While looks are important, a glove can’t just be a smoke show, it has to perform. The leather on this thing is buttery. Plain and simple, it is high quality leather. The laces feel strong in all the right places and it feels like a high-end glove on your hand.
The craftsmanship on this glove is on par with other gloves in the price range. A small issue I do have is visible in the picture above. Fresh out of the box, the leather had some bunching at the base of the web. While this shouldn’t impact play, if we are nitpicking, it does add a bit of unnecessary material to the glove and may not look as good.
When I pulled this glove out of the box, it was impossible to overlook how stiff it was. Force3 considers the break-in an extremely personal event and, as such, do not want to compromise how a glove breaks in by beginning the process. This is absolutely not an option for someone who wants an easy break in or someone who wants a game ready glove in a week or two. This glove is going to take some work to get it the way you want it, and its built to last. Take that as either a pro or con depending on how you like your gloves, but this is the stiffest glove I have ever worn.
The binding is also on the thicker side and will take a little longer to form that finger divot on the index finger pad. The stiffness lends itself to some “hot spots” on my hand where the leather is either pinching or rubbing. We will have to see how these soften up as the leather gets worked in.
The pattern of a glove is as important as anything else about a glove. It can drastically change how a glove plays.
This is a pattern for middle infielders. The dual welting running along the backs of the fingers provides a slightly bowled shape. A relatively flat heel makes this 11.5″ model play wide. I typically like to wear my infield gloves straight up and this fits the mold. This glove does, however, feel natural both straight up and two in the pinky with a fairly neutral pocket. It seems to naturally want to close thumb to middle/ring finger.
The closest widely available comparison, as far as I can tell, is the all-time great Wilson 1786 pattern. The welt pattern on the fingers and the thumb create an overall look and shape reminiscent of Wilson’s popular 11.5″ pattern.
Day One Thoughts on the Force3 Elite
Force3 has created a very high quality glove at a competitive price. There are spots where the stiffness creates some discomfort but this means you can mold this glove to exactly how you want it if you’re willing to put in the work. While there are a few cosmetic improvements that could be ironed out, I think the is a sleek glove with just the right amount of pop. I am overall pretty impressed and consider this a viable option in the glove world. Stay tuned to see how it breaks in and what our thoughts are after things have loosened up a little. Stay tuned at Force3progear.com for availability updates on their new gloves. At time of publishing, they are not yet available.
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