Penn’s Upgraded Battle III Reviewed: How Does It Stack Up Against the Competition

penn battle iii review
Reviewed by: Pete Danylewycz
Last Updated:

Penn Battle III Spinning Reel Review

penn battle iii review
USAngler Rating: 

The Penn Battle III is a cost-effective, high-performing saltwater reel with a range of sizes that cover all your bases. It's an incredible reel at a fair price point, offering fight-ready performance for all your saltwater fishing adventures.

The Battle III has been around for a few years now, and as an experienced reviewer and avid angler, I wanted to see if the new I upgrades made a difference I could feel.

The Battle III retains the aluminum body of its predecessors, offering extreme stiffness. And you can feel the difference the new CNC-machined gears make in terms of smoothness and power, especially in the larger sizes where both the pinion and main gear are manufactured from brass. The HT-100 drag system is legendary, and it offers the best performance of any system at this price point. And, of course, Penn’s large spools hold plenty of line, ensuring you won’t get spooled in the fight of your life.

Head-to-head against the plastic-bodied Shimano Sedona FL, the Battle III is faster in most sizes, with a few exceptions like the 2500, where the Shimano is blazingly quick. The HT-100 outperforms the drag on the Shimano in terms of maximum settings and durability, and the Penn’s spools just outsize the Shimano’s across the board, providing greater capacity, size for size.

The Daiwa BG fairs better as a rival. Most sizes of the all-metal BG are faster than the comparable Penn and hold more line, but the HT-100 drag edges out the Daiwa’s ATD in terms of slick, reliable performance. The BG also weighs a few ounces more, size for size. And finally, while I like the DigiGear system Daiwa uses, it’s an all-aluminum design that doesn’t have the feel I want in larger reels.

Overall, Penn’s Battle III is a real winner in its class, rivaled only by the Daiwa BG.

Pros

  • Rigid all-metal body
  • Unmatched drag performance from the HT-100
  • New CNC-machined gears
  • Very fast retrieval rates
  • Excellent line capacity

Cons

  • Heavy for size
  • Not as smooth cranking as the Shimano

Analysis & Results

Specifications

Penn Battle Specifications

Body

penn battle iii body

Not all reel bodies are built for hard fights, and if there’s one thing that you can trust about the Battle III, it’s that it lives up to its name.

Manufactured with an all-metal body, the Battle III is stiff, tough, and durable.

While aluminum weighs more than carbon fiber or plastic, it delivers unbeatable stiffness, minimizing flex during a bruising battle. Think about it: all the force that a fish creates on your line, and all the power you put into winning inches from a real monster are transferred directly to your reel.

Those forces try to twist your reel and rip the spool and gears loose.

And keep in mind that the precision-machined teeth in the guts of your reel need to be perfectly aligned to function; if they’re torqued out of place as your reel’s body flexes, you’ll get slipping, shearing, and even gear breakage.

The engineers at Penn designed the Battle III for uncompromising rigidity, allowing them to punch above their weight when necessary.

And since aluminum is innately corrosion resistant, the Battle III can take everything Mother Nature dishes out in the salt.

By contrast, the Shimano Sedona FI sports a body made from XT-7, a strong, lightweight proprietary plastic resin. Head-to-head, it’s simply not as rigid as the aluminum body of the Battle III, and you’d need to step up to the Sustain FJ to find an all-metal body from Shimano.

Daiwa fairs better here, and the comparable BG has been designed with an all-metal, aluminum alloy body like the Battle III.

Drag

penn battle iii drag

The Battle III comes with a fight-ready drag that’s among the very best in the business.

Penn uses the legendary HT-100 drag system in the Battle III, so named because after running 100 miles of line through the drag under tension, there were no signs of wear

Right off the bat, it’s clear that the HT-100 is durable; it’s also reliable, smooth, and easy to start.

The HT-100 employs carbon fiber discs to create pressure on the spool, and whether you choose to lube them or leave them alone, they deliver outstanding performance. Adding a bit of grease will ease start-up, and I prefer to grease my Battle III.

In hard fights in which species like tarpon or sailfish are making a run, the heat produced by this friction will - by design - reduce the drag slightly, helping to ensure your line survives this ordeal.

Anglers love the HT-100, and it’s hard to fault. Widely recognized as one of the best systems in the industry, it won’t let you down.

You’ll notice that Penn has matched the drag maximum to the sizes of Battle III, delivering enough tension to allow you to run very heavy braid, should you choose to do so.

The Battle III outfights the Shimano Sedona FL on the drag front, offering usably-higher maximums per size, which means you can run heavier braid when necessary or thicker mono around piers, pilings, and other hazards.

Daiwa’s BG offers drag maximums that are just a tad higher - typically a pound or two - than the equivalent Penn. That said, the performance of a lubed HT-100 is nearly impossible to beat, and for my money, I’d go with the Penn.

Gearing

The Battle III’s guts are now CNC-machined for precision, and you can really feel the quality each dollar buys.

To save weight - and money - Penn’s engineers used a brass pinion gear and an aluminum main gear on the smaller reel sizes. But for the 6000 and larger reels, expect brass pinion and main gears, a difference that really sets these big guys apart from the last iteration of the Battle III.

The rigid body holds these gears fast, allowing them to mate perfectly when the pressure’s on.

Each reel size has been paired with an appropriate gear ratio that delivers remarkable speed.

For instance, the 2500 spins a ratio of 6.2:1, picking up 33 inches of line per crank. The 4000 HS, equipped with a lighting-fast gear ratio of 7.0:1, gobbles 43 inches of line per turn. And the massive 8000 HS, running a 5.3:1 gear ratio grabs 44 inches per crank, allowing you to gain ground faster and keep your lines tight more easily.

Shimano’s Sedona FL is certainly no slouch in the gearing department, and its legendary Hagane forger aluminum alloy gears are very smooth - smoother, in fact, than the Penn Battle III. 

It’s also very fast: the 2500 runs a gear ratio of 6.2:1 and grabs 36 inches of line per crank, easily surpassing the Battle III. The 4000 manages 39 inches with the same gear ratio, and no high-speed option is available to match Penn. And the 8000 falls even further behind, retrieving just 37 inches per turn of the crank.

Daiwa’s BG fares better, exceeding the Battle III in speed on several models.

Its 2500 runs a gear ratio of 5.6:1 picking up a lightning fast 33.2 inches per turn. The BG 4000’s 5.7:1 gear ratio eats 39.9 inches of line, falling behind the Penn, but the massive BG 8000’s 5.3:1 gear ratio burns through an incredible 53.3 inches of line per turn, blazing past the Battle III.

Capacity

penn battle iii capacity

The Battle III holds plenty of line, and Penn’s spools are braid ready.

The 2500, for instance, holds 240 yards of 10-pound braid or as much as 160 yards of 20-pound Sufix 832 or Power Pro. And if you’re fishing around rocks, oyster shells, reefs, or pilings, that same reel holds 140 yards of 10-pound Big Game.

The 4000HS, by contrast, can pack on 410 yards of 15-pound braid, but it’s more likely you’ll be loading 30-pound test, a full 210 yards of it.

And, of course, the massive 10000 provides 490 yards of 80-pound braid, making sure you don’t get spooled during the fight of your life.

Apples-to-apples comparisons of the Battle III to the Shimano Sedona FL find the Shimano wanting. For instance, the 2500-size Sedona holds just 140 yards of 8-pound mono, compared to the 175 yards you fish on the Battle III. The Battle III 4000HS holds an additional 40 yards of 30-pound braid, and the 8000 simply blows the same sized Shimano away, packing on 205 extra yards of 65-pound braid!

Daiwa’s BG, however, tends to beat the Battle III in terms of capacity.

The BG 2500 can hold 170 yards of 20-pound braid, while the Battle III manages 10 yards less. Stepping up to the 4000, the BG accommodates 280 yards of 30-pound braid to the Penn’s 210 yards of the same line, and Daiwa’s 8000 holds almost as much 80-pound braid as Penn’s 10000!

Sealing

At this price point - and no doubt to save weight - Penn doesn’t seal the Battle III. 

Yes, the bearings are sealed - to a degree - but I wouldn’t dunk my Battle III in the salt just for fun, and a careful rinse with freshwater when you get home is never a bad idea.

Shimano has made the same choice on the Sedona FL, and Daiwa has sealed the drag system but nothing else on the BG.

Weight

An ultra-rigid aluminum body provides top-flight performance but at the cost of weight. And the Penn Battle III is certainly not light for size.

         Battle III | Sedona FL | BG

2500 - 9.7 oz.          8.6 oz.      9.3 oz.

4000 - 12.8 oz.     10.4 oz.      14.3 oz.

8000 - 27.7 oz.     21.7 oz.      30 oz.

As you can see, the Shimano Sedona’s plastic resin body contributes to substantial weight savings, easily coming in lighter at each size than the comparable Battle III or BG, both of which sport all-metal bodies.

When I tie into a big fish, especially if I’m asking my reel to overperform for its size, I want the rigidity of aluminum, and I really don’t care about a few ounces of extra weight.

Final Verdict

The Battle III is a cost-effective, high-performing saltwater reel with a range of sizes that cover all your bases.

The aluminum body provides outstanding rigidity that simply can’t be matched by other materials, though it does add to the overall weight of your reel.

The precision CNC-machined gearing in the guts of the Battle III is strong, smooth, and fight-ready, backed by the legendary HT-100 drag system. A bit of lube on those carbon fiber discs makes this perhaps the best on the market, with the possible exception of the Dura-Drag found on larger, more expensive Penn reels.

And the spools offer plenty of capacity for big fish and hard fights.

Overall, Penn’s Battle III is an excellent saltwater spinning reel that has rightly earned the cult following it enjoys.

In comparison to the Shimano Sedona FL, I think the Battle III is the better reel, hands down. 

Daiwa’s BG is a real competitor, however, offering greater capacity. I still think the Battle III is the winner here, as the HT-100 is just impossible to beat at this price point.

In the final analysis, Penn’s Battle III is an incredible reel at a fair price point, offering fight-ready performance for all your saltwater fishing adventures.

About The Author
Pete Danylewycz
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Pete grew up fishing on the Great Lakes. Whether he's casting a line in a quiet freshwater stream or battling a monster bass, fishing is his true passion.
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