Pick Your Pool Cue: McDermott vs. Viking Cues
Nowadays, there is a wealth of options when it comes to quality pool cues, so the decision of what to play can be complicated, if not a little bit stressful. If you do your research, you’ll find that there are several brands for each skill level – beginner, intermediate, and advanced.
In this article, we’ll discuss two quality cue options – McDermott and Viking. The beautiful thing about these two cue brands is that they both make cues across all price ranges, making them a great option for players of all types.
Here are a few topics that will be discussed in this article:
- Each brand and it’s background
- Cue construction
- Budget cues under $150 – Valhalla vs. Star/Lucky cues
- Cue models by price range
- Helpful links
When Did McDermott Cues Start?
McDermott cues was launched in 1975 by pool cue repair man, Jim McDermott, and cue builder, Rollie Welch. Jim had a vision of correcting the many flaws he saw in the billiard industry, and as we know today, that vision continues to blossom.
The Wisconsin-based pool cue manufacturer continues to raise the standards for high quality cues everywhere by building with only the finest materials using the most updated technology. McDermott prides itself in performance, quality and service.
When Did Viking Cues Start?
Viking Cues began in 1965 and during its infancy, the “low deflection” terminology we know today, as well as carbon fiber construction, were just starting to be understood. Viking came to life using a single cue lathe in the basement of a Stoughton, Wisconsin pool hall. They continue to evolve and challenge the accepted norms of the billiards world.
The founder, Gordy Hart, was a regular pool player who owned pool halls. He was realizing that everywhere around him, cheap house cues were all that was available. Players wanted more, and he knew how to make that happen. Viking became a pool cue giant, and dominated the scene until the economic downturn of the late 2000s.
From this decline came more focus on engineering and development to ensure that Viking was a force that any other manufacturer in the world had to take seriously. Viking is a force to be reckoned with and continues to create premium cue options for all pool players.
McDermott Pool Cue Construction
What makes a McDermott? That’s quite the loaded question, just like their loaded cues. The largest cue manufacturer in the United States, McDermott is known for their American-made, handcrafted cue building process. McDermott uses the finest North American hard rock maple wood for their cues and can achieve the most intricate and unique inlays for anyone needing a highly customized cue.
McDermott uses lots of technology in their manufacturing process, which we will get into when we discuss their different cue and shaft options.
Viking Pool Cue Construction
Viking prides itself in using the highest quality American-made components and putting lots of care in the products they build. From butt to tip, they guarantee a low deflection pool cue that is extremely durable and effective.
Viking’s indestructible super ferrules are perhaps the biggest claim to fame when it comes to construction. Viking uses a proprietary material that they run through the billiard industry’s toughest contact tests. They claim that with over 250,000 cues in play, they have never heard of a cracked Viking ferrule. Now that’s something to brag about.
Each Viking shaft undergoes a multi-step cutting and curing process to ensure a strong weapon when a Viking cue user steps up to the pool table. Viking’s many experienced craftsmen hand grade their cue shafts a minimum of 3 times throughout the process of shaft turning. Viking also has a temperature and humidity controlled warehouse where they let all their shafts sit and cure for a minimum of two years to allow for peak performance.
Budget Billiards: McDermott & Viking Low Cost Pool Cues
Lucky for most of us, both Viking and McDermott have high quality cue options at a more affordable price. These are great options for players who aren’t sure if they want to invest a high amount of money into a cue, or for players who are just starting out and learning the game.We’ll start with McDermott’s budget cue lines – Lucky Cues and Star Cues, then transition to the Viking budget cue line, Valhalla Cues.
Lucky offers many cue options $140 and under. Even though these are cheaper than your high end pool cue, there are all kinds of fancy designs you can achieve with Lucky cues. The Lucky line features a high quality hard rock maple shaft and several multi-color overlays that will catch the eyes of onlookers at pubs and pool halls everywhere.
Lucky cues are designed, engineered and distributed exclusively by McDermott, and provide a great value for one of the most solid-hitting cues you can buy. You can check out the Lucky Cue offering HERE!
Star cues start at $150 and go up to $270 depending on the cue. This line, also by McDermott, features high-grade maple construction with exotic materials that pair beautifully with many different intricate 4-color overlays.
Star pool cues offer arguably the best hit in their price range and are covered by a limited lifetime warranty. They also offer a few different “Hustler” or “Sneaky Pete” style pool cues, as well as two different jump/break cues. You can check out the Star Cue offering HERE!
The Valhalla line currently runs $230 at the high end down to $75 at the low end. With a much wider price range than either of the McDermott budget cue lines, Valhalla provides a large variety of options to look at within one brand. This imported 2-piece cue line features hard rock maple wood for a superior hit and a premium, durable tip.
What’s great about Valhalla cues is that you can pick your own tip size, cue weight, and even add a custom engraving for an added cost.
You can take a look at the entire Valhalla cue offering HERE!
The Valhalla Series cues are some of the best pool cue options you can find on Amazon. Check them out below!
*above links contain Amazon affiliate products
McDermott Pool Cue Models
Over the years, McDermott has perfected pool cue building and continues to better understand what players want and how to best make a cue at a specific price range. We will discuss the regular wood playing cues, but you can find our previous rundown of McDermott’s carbon fiber Defy shaft right here!
Here is a list of the main McDermott models, listed by lowest price available.
- McDermott G-Series: $400 – $2,575
- McDermott Select Series: $580 – $1,030
- McDermott H-Series: $715 – $1,795
- 4 New G-Series cues for 2023
- Features i-2 or G-Core shaft
- Lower deflection than typical maple
- Made in the USA
- Lifetime warranty and maintenance plan
McDermott Select Series
- 1 New Select Series cue for 2023 (with i-Pro Slim hybrid shaft)
- High quality construction for consistent, efficient contact
- Navigator Alpha Pro Tip
- Made in the USA
- 6 New H-Series cues for 2023
- VBP Weight System (adjustable Variable Balance Point)
- Features a full length carbon fiber shaft core
- Full control of the weight and balance to help perfect your stroke
- Made in the USA
Classic Series Cues
McDermott also sells the Classic Series. These Cues are sort of a shout-out to McDermott’s most recognizable designs of the past, and newer pool players can get a taste of these timeless classics. The Classic line ranges from $600 to $2,000 or more, depending on build and customization. Check them out HERE!
If you really want to go big, you can dip your toe into McDermott’s Limited Edition Gallery Collection. The Gallery line showcases McDermott’s ability to create some of the most intricate and unique pool cues in the world, making these cues great for any high-end pool cue collector. These cues are amazing pieces of art and pair the finest woods with exotic materials from all over the world. The price range for this collection is $1,200 to $15,000.
You’ll have to keep an eye out for any new additions to McDermott’s Gallery Collection, as most of the current builds are either sold out or discontinued due to the rarity.
2023 McDermott Cue of the Year
New for 2023, McDermott’s H5051 Cue of the Year is available HERE!
Limited to a run of 50 cues, this cue features a black urethane forearm, Birdseye maple/urethane handle, 8 sets of intricate abalone, mother of pearl, pewter, cocobolo, maple and white/black urethane inlays. The 2023 cue of the year comes with an i-Pro Slim high performance shaft and the VBP adjustable weight system.
Viking Cue Models
The dedicated craftsmen and artisans at Viking are making some of the nicest pool cues around. While they aren’t crazy expensive compared to custom cue brands, the quality provides an exceptional value to anyone gaming a Viking cue.
Each Viking cue includes a quick release joint, the Viking super ferrule, a threaded butt cap, an interchangeable weight bolt system, and the stylish Viking “Glass” UV finish.
Here is a list of the different options Viking offers, listed by lowest price availability.
- Viking Standard Cues: $265 – $4150
- Viking Performance Cues: $430 – $829
Viking Standard Cues
- Wide price range with a huge variety of color/stain options and wood variations
- Customizations available for tip size, shaft, tip material, weight and custom engraving
- Made in the USA
We could talk for days about this offering, but it’s best to browse Viking’s catalog HERE, so that you can really take stock of everything that’s available.
Viking Performance Cues
- Includes eXactShot Series, and Siege Series cues
- Much more intricate designs than the standard cues
- Made in the USA
The eXactShot pure performance cues feature Viking’s own eX-Core construction which offers a firm, super low deflection shaft with great feel and power. They come with a Kamui black soft tip, the Viking super ferrule and a Lifetime Warranty that covers warpage.
The Siege Series boasts a powerful carbon fiber shaft that reduces vibration from ball contact while offering a smooth feel. Viking claims that their vibration dampening system has helped create a cue that has significantly less vibration than most carbon fiber shafts on the market.
Buy with Confidence
The warranty offering from a cue company tells you a lot about them. A great warranty earns lots of respect in the pool community, and the companies are rewarded for it. Both McDermott and Viking have great customer service and are committed to providing a good buyer experience.
When you spend more money on a pool cue, you will usually receive a better warranty offering. So if you want your cue to always be protected, keep this in mind.
McDermott Cue Warranty
McDermott’s lifetime warranty covers manufacturing defects, as well as cue warpage for the McDermott line. It covers manufacturer defects, but not warpage on the Star Cue line. For the Lucky Cue line, the cue kit, and the youth cues, McDermott has a 3-year limited warranty that will cover defects, but will not cover warpage. They also provide a 3-year limited cue case warranty that covers defects.
Read more details about McDermott’s warranty program HERE.
Viking Cue Warranty
Viking offers a lifetime warranty on both their Viking line of cues and their Valhalla cues. Their warranty protects against warpage and covers all non-replaceable components of the pool cue for the entire life of the product.
Any damaged cue will be repaired or replaced with the same model cue or one of equal value, free of charge. You will need to buy from an authorized Viking dealer to qualify for this warranty.
You can find more details about Viking’s warranty program HERE.