Deadlift Bar Comparison Guide – Most Popular Options Explored

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Hey there, glad you’re here! If deadlifts are your jam, or if you’re deep into powerlifting, you know the bar makes a huge difference. This guide’s all about that – finding the right deadlift bar for you. I’ve got you covered on the ins and outs of the most popular deadlift bars, making it easy for you to choose the best match for your lifting style. Let’s get into it.

Top Deadlift Bars Compared

First, I’ll give you a basic look at each bar’s specs compared side by side, then, I’ll have a more comprehensive overview of each.

CerberusISFKabuki StrengthOkieREPRogueStrength ShopStrongArm ConventionalStrongArm SumoTexasValor Fitness
Overall Bar Length94.9″91.73”95.25″91″91.7″90.50”90.55″90.9″90.9″92.5”90.5”
Loadable Sleeve Length17.32″15.75”15.5″16″15.75″15.50”14.57″15.5″15.5″18”14.5”
Bar Weight20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44lbs)20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44lbs)20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44 lbs)20kg (44lbs)20kg (44lbs)20kg (44lbs)
Shaft Diameter27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm27mm
Shaft CoatingBlack ZincBare Steel, Black Oxide, Ceramic Blue, Red, Or PinkBlack Oxide, Zinc RAW FINISH, & Red CerakoteBare SteelBlack CerakoteBlack Zinc, Bare Steel, Black E-Coat; Cerakote Black, Red, & OD Green Electroless NickelBare SteelBare SteelBare Steel, Black Zinc, Chrome, and Nine Different Cerakote Finish OptionsBlack Zinc
Sleeve CoatingBright ZincHard Chrome, Black OxideZinc, Nickel, RAW FINISH, Black OxideBare SteelDuracoatBright Zinc, Bare Steel, Proprietary Matte BlackElectroless NickelChromeChromeChrome, Bare SteelBlack Zinc
KnurlingAggressiveAggressiveExtra AggressiveDeep & AggresiveDeep Mountain/Very AggressiveAggressiveMedium CoarseAggressiveAggressiveAggressiveAggressive
Tensile Strength195k PSI190k PSI190k PSI155k PSI190k PSI190k PSI205k PSI180k PSI180k PSI190k PSI165k PSI
Price$429.99$329-$399.95$449-$559$399$369.99$345-$410$345.00$379.99$379.99$345-$435$274.53
Warranty3-Year Functional1-YearLifetime against defectsLifetime against defectsLimited LifetimeLifetimeLifetimeLimited LifetimeLimited LifetimeLifetimeHome Gym Usage (3-Year), Commercial Gym Usage (1-Year)

Overall Bar Length

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I’ve been checking out deadlift bars lately, especially focusing on how their lengths can make a big difference in our lifts. Turns out, the longer the bar, the more it can whip and flex. This is preferable because it gives us a slightly higher starting position for the deadlift. More flex means the bar doesn’t feel as heavy off the floor, which can really help when we’re trying to pull big numbers.

Looking at what’s out there, Kabuki Strength tops the chart with a bar length of 95.25 inches. Close behind, Cerberus isn’t far off at 94.9 inches. Most bars cluster around the 90 to 92-inch mark, like Texas at 92.5 inches and ISF just a tad shorter at 91.73 inches. Rogue and Valor Fitness are on the more compact side, both at 90.5 inches.

valor fitness bar specs

What’s interesting is the range isn’t huge, but even those few inches of difference can impact how a bar behaves. Bars like Kabuki and Cerberus might offer that slight edge in whip and flex, potentially making them more appealing if you’re looking to leverage that in your deadlifts. But honestly, all these bars are fairly close in length, suggesting they’re all designed with that optimal flex in mind, just to varying degrees.

Loadable Sleeve Length

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It’s clear that the longer the sleeve, the more plates we can stack up. This is key for anyone pushing their limits and looking to load up on heavy sets.

Texas bars lead the pack with an 18-inch sleeve, giving plenty of room for weight. Cerberus isn’t too far behind at 17.32 inches, which still offers a solid amount of space for loading plates. On the shorter end, Valor Fitness gives us 14.5 inches, and Strength Shop is slightly above at 14.57 inches, which might limit just how heavy you can go before running out of room.

man lifting with the bastard deadlift barbell

Texas bars seem like a solid choice as they offer the most real estate for weights. But, even with the shorter sleeves on some bars, there’s a good chance they’ll meet most needs, especially if you’re not constantly hitting those upper weight limits. It’s all about finding that balance between the bar’s flex and how much weight you plan to load up.

Bar Weight

When it comes to deadlift bars and sticking to powerlifting standards, there’s one thing they all have in common: they weigh in at 20kg or roughly 44 lbs. This consistency is crucial because it ensures that no matter which bar you pick up, you’re lifting with a weight that’s recognized and accepted in competitions. It’s a level playing field, allowing us to focus more on our technique and strength, rather than worrying about varying weights of different bars. Whether you’re training for a meet or just looking to follow the standards, knowing your bar is exactly where it needs to be weight-wise is one less thing on your plate.

Shaft Diameter

So, about the shaft diameter—every proper deadlift bar I’ve come across sticks to a 27mm diameter. This isn’t just a random measurement. That 27mm thickness is key for adding more whip to the bar, which we’ve already figured out can be a real advantage when pulling from the floor. Plus, it just feels better in the hands. A thicker bar can be a challenge to grip, especially when you’re trying to focus on form and power through a lift.

Honestly, if you run into a “deadlift bar” that’s straying from that 27mm standard, I’d be skeptical. It’s like, how can you claim to be a deadlift bar if you’re not playing by the rules that help lifters get the most from their deadlift? Titan, I’m giving you the side-eye here. Sticking to that 27mm diameter is a must for any bar claiming to be made for deadlifting.

Shaft Coating

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Talking shaft coatings, more options usually catch my eye, but what really matters is how these coatings hold up and affect performance. Take Texas bars, for instance. They’ve got a ton of Cerakote finishes, but I’ve seen a bunch of reviews saying how easily they can scrape off, revealing the bare steel underneath. No such complaints about their black zinc or chrome finishes, though.

Rogue’s black zinc finish on their deadlift bar? Not my favorite. It messes with the knurling and tends to flake off pretty quickly. Their E-coat is mostly solid, and the Cerakote options seem to do well, so that’s a relief.

rogue bar knurling and knurl mark

ISF’s ceramic cerakote coatings are pretty neat and don’t seem to dull the knurling much as other companies do. However, it does seem like some bars didn’t get full coverage on the entire shaft closer to the sleeves. I’ve only seen one incident of this being reported but it’s worth mentioning. If you plan on using a deadlift jack without any UHMW plastic (which you shouldn’t do anyway), then it’s definitely going to scrape up the cerakote over time. There also aren’t any issues with their black oxide options either so you’re good to go with any of the finishes they offer.

isf deadlift bar coating options

Now, Kabuki Strength’s PR deadlift bar is something else. Haven’t heard a peep about issues with any of their finishes. Their RAW FINISH is particularly cool, offering that grippy feel of bare steel but with their “bar sauce” for better corrosion resistance. Plus, it’s their cheapest option, which is a nice bonus. Even their Cerakote options are top-notch.

REP’s Hades deadlift bar in black Cerakote is a looker and holds up really well. It keeps the knurling sharp, too.

Strength Shop, Cerberus, and Valor Fitness bars with their electroless nickel and black zinc coatings? Solid. No complaints there.

Bare steel bars like Okie and StrongArm, though, they’ll need more TLC to avoid rust. But you’re getting what’s probably the best grip outside of stainless steel since the knurl isn’t filled in by the coating. For those who don’t mind a bit more maintenance, it’s a trade-off that can be worth it.

Sleeve Coating

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The Kabuki Strength PR deadlift bar has no issues with any of its sleeve options as they all do a great job of protecting the underlying steel.

For the Rogue Ohio deadlift bar, the proprietary matte black and bright zinc sleeves seem to hold up for the most part, and haven’t had any real issues with them. The bare steel option will rust though so make sure you follow proper barbell maintenance guidelines.

rogue deadlift bar finish options

The ISF deadlift bar is available in hard chrome and black oxide coatings. I recommend the hard chrome as the maintenance is going to be a lot easier than black oxide which tends to fade over time.

The Texas Deadlift bars are available in chrome and bare steel sleeves. The chrome variation has had some issues with rusting on the sleeves in shipping. Which is surprising considering the bare steel version hasn’t had any reports of rust out of the box.

The StrongArm deadlift bars both have chrome sleeves as their only option and there haven’t been any complaints about them.

strongarm bar knurling, collar, and sleeves

Strength Shops Bastard Deadlift bar has electroless nickel coating sleeves which not only looks incredible but is also one of the best and most durable coatings available.

knurling, collar, and sleeve of cerberus bar

The Cerberus deadlift bars bright zinc sleeves don’t have any issues, same with the Valor Strength black zinc coating, and the Okie Deadlift bars bare steel construction is fine other than the extra maintenance from it being bare steel of course.

The one I’m surprised with is the Rep Hades Deadlift bar, (I love their equipment names and so should you by the way). Usually coated sleeves are a bad option as they will get scraped off over time with the plates being loaded and unloaded. Unlike typical coatings, Duracoat hardens the steel’s surface, boosting wear and corrosion resistance. Early reviews say it’s top-notch, making REP’s gear stand out even more.

Knurling

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  1. Kabuki Strength – Extra Aggressive
  2. REP & Okie – Deep Mountain/Very Aggressive
  3. Cerberus, ISF, Rogue, Texas, Valor Fitness, StrongArm Conventional, StrongArm Sumo – Aggressive
  4. Strength Shop – Medium Coarse

Knurling is by far one of the most important features you need to consider as a better grip matters more for the deadlift than any other movement.

The Kabuki Strength PR Deadlift bar is often compared to both the Okie and Texas deadlift bars which have been around for a lot longer. The knurling is sharper, super aggressive, and has even ripped some lifter’s thumbs up a bit. The bare steel version especially will shred your hands up if you haven’t been lifting heavy weights for a long time and built your callouses up so fair warning! It also has better overall coverage as it is closer together in the center of the bar so those with closer grips will love it. If you want the absolute most aggressive deadlift bar there’s nothing quite like it.

Right after the Kabuki Strength deadlift bar, we have the Crain’s original Okie Deadlift bar. It has a bare steel shaft making the very aggressive knurling completely understandable.

The REP Hades Deadlift bar is marketed as having deep mountain and very aggressive knurling. However, the cerakote coating does dull this down a bit. Some have found it is the perfect amount while others think it’s a little too passive for a deadlift bar.

breathtaking black cerakote knurling

The Cerberus deadlift bar is less aggressive than other bars in this category but will still give you a strong grip.

The ISF bar has been compared to the cerakote Texas deadlift bar as being both sharper and deeper which makes sense when you know what cerakote can do to the knurling. Some have mentioned it’s more aggressive than the Rogue deadlift bar as well.

beautiful knurling

Rogue’s deadlift bar is the second most reviewed after the Texas bar so its knurling has been heavily tested by tons of lifters. It has the perfect amount of bite without ripping your hands up. Even the cerakote option is well liked by the community so you’re good to go with any version.

The Texas deadlift bar has tons of happy users who all agree that the knurling is the right amount of aggressive and won’t allow you to drop it.

texas dl bar knurling, collar, and sleeve

The Valor Fitness deadlift bar is less aggressive than other bars in this category but will still give you a strong grip.

The StrongArm deadlift bars knurling is a little less sharp than the Texas power bar and the sumo version has that extended center knurl with a smooth shaft where most bars are knurled. That version especially is one of a kind at the moment so for sumo lifters that want a break from shredding up their shins this is your best bet.

nice center knurling on this sumo bar

Finally, we have the Strength Shop Bastard deadlift bar which is just the best name am I right? It’s marketed as having medium and coarse knurling. While it might be less aggressive than others such as Rogue, Texas, and Okie deadlift bars, it’s still plenty for most users. So if you want something a little more chill this is a solid option. 

Tensile Strength

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The tensile strength of a barbell is measured in PSI or pounds per squat inch. This is basically how much weight your barbell can handle without being permanently bent. Higher tensile strength means higher weight capacity essentially.

Most deadlift bars are between 180-190k PSI which is usually the sign of a higher quality barbell. Ranges lower than that are still perfectly fine and the Okie deadlift bar has stood the test of time for heavy deadlifting. Valor Fitness especially is considered more of a budget brand so its lower tensile strength makes sense.

The Strength Shop bar is another outlier at 205k which is usually better suited for power bars that you want stiffer. This is definitely a sign that this bar doesn’t have as much whip as the lower tensile strength barbells as it requires more weight for the bar to flex.

Price

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  1. Kabuki Strength – $449-$559
  2. Texas – $345-$435
  3. Cerberus – $429.99
  4. Rogue – $345-$410
  5. ISF – $329-$399.95
  6. Okie – $399
  7. StrongArm Conventional & Sumo – $379.99
  8. REP – $369.99
  9. Strength Shop – $345.00
  10. Valor Fitness – $274.53

Price is always an important factor for any type of gym equipment. The average cost of a deadlift bar is around $384 or so. This is definitely more than typical power and multipurpose bars which makes sense as specialty bars usually cost more.

There isn’t too much variance in the midrange bars but the Kabuki Strength PR deadlift bar is in a league of its own as usual. While the Valor Fitness bar might be much cheaper than the rest, its features and performance are much lower as well. The moderate increase in price to the Strength Shop Bastard bar and REP Hades bar is definitely worth the investment.

Warranty

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The warranty is a great sign that a company believes in its product. A great rule of thumb for any piece of equipment that is load bearing, is a lifetime warranty. So we can cross Valor Fitness, ISF, and Cerberus off the list. Sure, you may never have issues down the road, but 3 and 1 year warranties are unacceptable for a barbell in my opinion.

What is a Specialty Deadlift Bar?

A specialty deadlift bar is a type of barbell specifically designed for deadlifts. Unlike standard Olympic barbells, these bars have unique features that make them ideal for deadlifting. A good deadlift bar can make a significant difference in your performance. It can help you lift more weight, improve your grip, and even reduce the risk of injury.

While a specialty deadlift bar can offer several benefits, it’s not without its trade-offs. For instance, these bars are typically not as versatile as standard barbells. They’re designed for deadlifts, which means they might not be the best choice for other exercises. But if you’re serious about your deadlifts, the benefits can far outweigh the trade-offs.

Comparing Deadlift Bars and Power Bars

When it comes to deadlifts, many people wonder whether they should use a specialty deadlift bar or a standard power bar. The answer depends on your specific needs and goals.

Specialty deadlift bars have several unique features that set them apart from power bars. For instance, they often have a thinner diameter, which can improve your grip. They also tend to have an extra-long shaft, which can help distribute the load more evenly and reduce the initial pull off the floor. Additionally, these bars usually have aggressive knurling for a better grip and a specific finish to enhance grip and prevent rust.

On the other hand, power bars are more versatile and can be used for a variety of exercises. However, they’re typically stiffer and thicker than deadlift bars, which can make them less than ideal for deadlifts. If you’re looking to maximize your deadlift performance, a specialty deadlift bar might be the better choice.

Key Features of a Specialty Deadlift Bar

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the key features of a specialty deadlift bar. Understanding these features can help you make an informed decision when choosing a bar.

  • Extra Long Length – One of the main features of a specialty deadlift bar is its extra-long shaft. This design allows the bar to flex more, spreading the load over time as you lift off the floor. This can give you a smoother pull and help you lift more weight. However, the extra length can also make the bar more susceptible to bending if dropped, so it’s important to handle these bars with care.
  • Thin Diameter Shaft – Another key feature of a deadlift bar is its thin diameter shaft. A thinner bar is easier to grip, which can help you lift more weight. However, the strength of the steel can become an issue with thinner bars, so it’s important to choose a bar with a high tensile strength. This is where my barbell buying guide can come in handy, helping you understand the importance of tensile strength and how to choose a bar that’s both thin and strong.
  • The Importance of Aggressive Knurling – Knurling is the pattern of diagonal lines etched into the bar to improve grip. Deadlift bars typically have aggressive knurling to ensure a secure grip during heavy lifts. If you’ve ever had a bar slip out of your hands during a deadlift, you know just how important a good grip can be. But remember, aggressive knurling can be tough on the hands, so you might want to invest in some quality lifting gloves or chalk.

Conclusion

Picking the right deadlift bar matters a lot for your lifting. This comparison should help you decide, but if you’re unsure or have more questions, feel free to ask me.

Until next time,

-Dante

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