Penn Battle 3 Review – Solid, strong reel in this transformed model

The Penn Battle 3 is probably one of the most popular reels out there at the moment. It came in at a close second in our head-to-head comparison article to find the best surf reels out there.

Penn have transformed a lot about this reel compared to older models, the Battle 1 and 2.

The main upgrade, which is a significant one, is the gearing system which is now CNC machine cut gearing making the reel smooth as anything and removing slippage or inaccuracies in gearing.

Overall, I highly recommend the Battle 3 reel as a reliable mid-range reel that competes well against the likes of a Daiwa BG (See our comparison of the Daiwa BG against the Penn Battle 3 here). And it comes at a cheaper price too – so you’re getting a lot of value in this reel given the technology and engineering they’ve included in it.

Let’s look deeper into this reel…

Penn Battle 3 Rating Score

4.6 stars

  • Performance: 4.5 stars
  • Durability: 4.6 stars
  • Value for Money: 4.7 stars

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Who should invest in the Penn Battle 3? 

The Penn Battle 3 is a great and popular choice for a range of fishing applications.

Being a good choice for saltwater fishing, the smaller reel sizes of the Battle 3 are perfect for stalking redfish or speckled trout in inshore estuaries and locations, and finesse fishing in those tight areas that requires pwoerful drag to move away from structures and tangles.

The larger sizes of the Penn Battle 3 are perfect for surf fishing, and it’s how I intend to continue using this reel. This is because of the solid CNC cut gears, the full metal body and hefty drag capacity on the 5000+ sizes.

Penn Battle 3 Specs

  • Best for: Saltwater applications, whether tough inshore conditions for lighter fishing, or heavier surf fishing applications where you’re launching bait over the breakers, or skimming lures in the surf to catch stripers.
  • Sizes: 1000 – 10000
  • Drag: 15lb in the 4500, 25lbs in the 5000+.
  • Line capacity: 185yds/30lb braid on the 4000, or 24yds/30lbs braid on the 5000.
  • Weight: 12.2oz on 4000, 18.8oz on 5000 size.
  • Bearings: 6 bearings across all sizes
  • Gear ratio and retrieval: 4000 is 6.2:1 and 37inches
  • Handle side: Right / Left

Check out our Penn Battle 3 High Speed Review here

Penn Battle 3 Pros

CNC-cut Gearing system

The Battle 3 has an incredibly precise gearing system thanks to the CNC cut gears. The gears run and connect very true to each other because they’re cut from solid metal rather than moulded or cast into shape which gives the gears extra strength and stability.

This means this reel is solid and has no trouble fighting big fish easily without give. With CNC cut gears there’ll be little to no internal movement, or stickiness

This is a huge upgrade for the Penn Battle 3. Penn has taken a technology found typically in much higher end reels and put ot into the Battle 3.

This is part of the reason why its become so popular with many different anglers.

This upgrade also means that the gears will last a lot longer in the reel.

A Penn Battle 3 under review by the author (2)

Solid metal body and big Penn power reel knob on 5000+

The Penn Battle 3 is not the lightest reel out there, particularly for inshore lighterweight fishing. The Van Staal VR50 for example is 8.9oz, compared to the Battle 3 2000 size which weighs 9.4oz.

This weight comes from the fact that the Penn Battle is full metal. There is no graphite in the Penn Battle 3 it’s all metal. This full metal body feels great in your hand when you take it out of the box. It feels solid.

The handle is solid aluminum and contributes to the overall solidity of the reel.

On the 5000 size and up you get an awesome chunky power knob with tonnes of gripping surface for the hand to wrap around. On the smaller sizes its a T-shaped knob which feels ok in the hand but I kind of wish the 4000 size had the power knob too.

HT-100 drag system

Penn wanted to keep thier infamous HT-100 drag system in the new Penn Battle 3, and have sought to improve it where possible.

They’ve added protection to the drag in the form of waterproof sealing that goes all the way down the shaft, making it tough for water to get in and spoil the drag.

This means you can confidently use that drag system to tackle large hard fighting fish without worrying about any error on part of the drag and losing your fish from breakage. Its incrredibly reliable.

The drag clicker is heavy duty and sounds cool to me and has that distinct Penn click to it.

In terms of max drag, there is a huge jump between the 4000 and 5000 sizes. On the 4000 size you get max drag of 15lbs vs the 5000 which has 25lbs.

So consider what type of fishing you’ll be doing and how large the species are that you’re targeting – this will help inform your decision as to whether you need the 4000 or a larger size.

15lbs of drag from Penn’s HT-100 system is pretty decent and more than what most anglers would need – but worth checking on this variance of the reel sizes. If you’re offshore fishing you may want more.

Brass or aluminum pinion gears dependent on size

In. the larger size Battle 3 reels Penn has a tough brass pinion gear to connect to the CNC cut main gear, creating responsiveness and rigidity to the gearing and ultiately a smooth retrieval experience, giving you lots of control and sensitivity when hauling in a fish.

I think this is really important, particularly for my surf fishing because tou are pulling fish in through all kinds of choppy conditions and god knows what – you want a reel that stands up to that.

In the smaller sixe reels, Penn has swapped the brass pinion for aluminum pinion gears – this reduces the wieght a little for those smaller inshore applications, where you want more finesse and less bulk. It’s still very durable and solid.

Sealed ball bearings

The Battle 3 contains 6 sealed ball bearings. The sealing on the bearings helps keep saltwater out of the reel and improves longevity, durability and keeps the bearings smooth.

This is why the Penn Battle 3 has its price tag because those sealed bearings start to push you up in price.

Despite being sealed you should still rinse the reel off with fresh water after each fishing session.

Aesthetic streamlined design

I think Penn have knocked it out of the park in terms of their design of this reel. It looks great, I think Penn has added a little more gold colour to the reel which works really well.

THe spool has little chunks cut out of the design too, which looks awesome but also helps to reduce weight in what is a pretty solid, heavy reel.

And the dusty dark grey of the metal complements the gold colouring well too.

There are even nice touches such as spool indicators in the gold colour that tell you how much line you have left, just in case you get spooled and need to know how much line you have left.

The author's Penn Battle 3 under review (1)

Standard vs high-speed ratio

For the Penn Battle 3, Penn decided to release both a standard and a high-speed rato reel. The high-speed alternate can be found on the 4000, 6000 and 8000 sizes, giving anglers the ability to really rocket lures through the water to target those fast-moving species that like to smash lures.

The standard 4000 size has a gear ratio of 6.2:1, whereas the high-speed version goes up to 7.0:1.

Penn Battle 3 Cons

The Battle 3 is not fully sealed.

While the Penn Battle 3 is an excellent reel for saltwater fishing, it’s not fully waterproof-sealed. There are sealed ball bearings which aids durability but it’s not submersible. If you’re looking for a sealed reel then go with the Penn Spinfisher VI, the Van Staal VR range or the Tsunami SaltX as an alternative waterproof reel. (The links go to Bass Pro or Amazon.)

Slight sluggishness to Battle 3 reeling

Some anglers have reported a slight sluggishness to the reeling motion (which is also apparently found in the Spinfisher V), which could be the grease in the reel. Some say it goes away after a few uses.

Battle 3 not as smooth as Daiwa BG

It’s been commented on by other anglers out there that the Penn Battle 3 is less smooth in. its reeling motion and feel than other reels of a similar price range. It’s often compared against the Daiwa BG, and said to be no where near as smooth as the Daiwa BG and can feel a little ‘bumpy’ at the top and bottom of the spool oscillation under pressure.

Some say this may be the seals that the reel has so may be a bit of a design trade-off for additional durability.

Reel seat seems oversized

The reel seat on the Penn Battle 3 seems pretty large. There have been reports of the size of the metal reel seat cracking a rod’s reel seat holder if it’s twisted up and too tight over it. So go easy when affixing your Battle 3 reel to the rod.

Penn Battle 3 being reviewed

Line capcity

Line capacity on the Battle 3 standard models is not as high as say the Daiwa BG, which is an important factor when surf fishing or fishing in channels or rough ground, and one of the reasons it came 2nd to the BG in our comparison article.

On the 4000 you get 185yds of 30lb braid on it – compared to the 280yds we saw on the BG.

Penn Battle 3 Performance

All in all the Penn Battle 3 performs incredibly well for a reel at its price. It comes under the Daiwa BG by about 10-20% in price, but you still get a whack load of features and high-end engineering in the latest Battle 3 models.

The inclusion of the CNC cut gears is the huge leap in performance here, and the hard metal body means this is a tough reel inside and out. It’s a rigid feeling reel and the gearing creates strong staying power and control when you are fighting fish. As mentioned, the solid feeling of this reel is what I first noticed out the box.

It has plenty of drag for fighting sizeable fish and comes in a really broad range of sizes to fish multiple applications, conditions and species.

Yes it’s a little heavier but fair play to Penn for having done what it can to remove weight through certain material choice or cutting parts of the reel body out (which make it look cool anyway!). And what you pay for in weight, you get back in stability and reliability.

Hence why it’s chosen by so many anglers across the US and the world.

Penn Battle 3 sizes

As mentioned the Penn Battle 3 comes in a massive range of sizes to compete with the BG – from 1000 up to the large 10,000 size.

Here’s a size chart for reference.

BearingsMax dragWeightGear ratioLine RetrieveBraid Cap yds/lbsMono Cap yds/lbs
100069LB | 4.0KG7.8 OZ5.2:122″ | 56CM160/6 130/8 110/10275/2 135/4 105/6
2000610LB | 4.5KG9.4 OZ6.2:130″ | 76CM210/8 180/10 165/15240/4 180/6 125/8
2500612LB | 6KG9.7 OZ6.2:133″ | 84CM240/10 220/15 160/20255/6 175/8 140/10
3000615LB | 6.8KG11.6 OZ6.2:135″ | 89CM250/15 180/20 130/30200/8 165/10 120/12
4000615LB | 6.8KG12.2 OZ6.2:137″ | 94CM360/15 260/20 185/30270/8 220/10 165/12
4000HS615LB | 6.8KG12.8 OZ7.0:143″ | 109 CM410/15 295/20 210/30305/8 250/10 185/12
5000625LB | 11.3KG18.8 OZ5.6:136″ | 91CM420/20 300/30 240/40225/12 200/15 135/20
6000625LB | 11.3KG20.8 OZ5.6:141″ | 104CM490/30 390/40 335/50335/15 230/20 210/25
6000HS625LB | 11.3KG20.8 OZ6.2:147″ | 120CM535/30 425/40 365/50365/15 250/20 230/25
8000630LB | 13.6KG27.7 OZ4.7:138″ | 96CM475/50 390/65 345/80340/20 310/25 230/30
8000HS630LB | 13.6KG27.7 OZ5.3:144″ | 112CM515/50 420/65 375/80370/20 335/25 250/30
10000640LB | 18.1KG38.8 OZ4.2:143″ | 109 CM770/50 710/65 490/80395/30 330/40 230/50

Penn Battle 3 Construction Specs

The Penn Battle 3 is a solid combo of construction materials and you can feel this in your hand when you take it out the box and start using it. This is what I need in particular to cut through the surf and battle weighty fighting fish like rays or tuna.

The body is full metal – aluminum for strength and lightweight operation of the reel across the sizes. Because the body is full metal the reel overall is a bit heavier than other similar-ranged reels but the aluminum helps keep the wieght off.

The lower weight means you can use the reel in challenging conditions for much longer, happier sessions where your arms and wrists are not under so much stress, especially when chucking lures, which the high-speed reel versions are great for.

Continuing the aluminum theme, in the reels 4500 and smaller the main gear is solid aluminum CNC cut that connects to solid brass pinion gears. In the larger sizes the main gear is CNC cut brass to retain strength as the reel gets heavier.

The drag system is carbon fibre for strength and smoothness under pressure, and the bearings are stainless steel and sealed for durability and endurance.

Penn Battle 3 FAQs

How much drag does a Penn Battle 3 have?

The Penn Battle 3 has 15lbs of max drag on reels up to the 4500 size, and 25lbs max drag on the 5000 plus sizes.

This is a significant amount of drag for the smaller sizes to tackle large fish like bull reds in inshore estuaries, and plenty of drag on the larger sizes to handle surf and beach casting conditions.

Is the Penn Battle 3 for saltwater?

The Penn Battle 3 can be used for saltwater fishing, and is possibly it’s most popular application vs fresh water fishing.

This is due to its durability from the full metal body, stainless steel ball-bearings, waterproof sealed drag system, and a ton of greasing on the reel out of the box.

The engineering is also suited well to saltwater, solid CNC cut gears for stability and control as well as Penn’s infamous HTD-100 drag system.

Is Penn Battle 3 sealed?

The Penn Battle is only sealed on the reel’s drag system but it is not fully waterproofed sealed. So the Penn Battle 3 is not able to be submerged in saltwater fully. If you want a reel that can do that, you’ll need to increase your budget to a Penn Spinfisher VI, the Van Staal VR range or the Tsunami SaltX reel.

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