Daiwa Ballistic Reel Review (One Year Of On-The-Water Performance)


Want a reel that will easily pull in big redfish, speckled trout, snook, flounder, and countless other saltwater species?

If so, the Daiwa Ballistic may be the reel for you.

I’ve been using this reel for the past year, so I finally have enough experience with it to put together a full review.

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • The specs of the Daiwa Ballistic spinning reel
  • Pros and cons of this reel
  • Features that set the Ballistic apart from the competition
  • And more.

Check out the complete on-the-water review along with our “reel room” talk below!

Daiwa Ballistic Spinning Reel Review [VIDEO]

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Daiwa designed this reel to be their flagship inshore reel.

They wanted it to be the lightest, strongest reel on the market.

Well, they nailed it!

Daiwa Ballistic Pros & Cons


  • Offers more than the competition (see chart below)
  • Zaion material creates an extremely strong frame
  • Drag system: ATD (Automatic Tournament Drag) and Digigear for smoothness and strength
  • Magsealed


  • Price is a little higher (but very fairly priced compared to other reels in its class)
  • The lightweight body may feel underwhelming against big offshore fish

Sometimes when fighting larger fish (think sailfish), you may not feel that extra weight and balance that you’re used to when fishing with large, full metal bodied offshore reels.

But the smooth hooksets and a drag system that applies the right amount of pressure when you need it, more than make up for this.

And of course, the Magseal seals the deal when going up against the competition.

Daiwa Ballistic 2500 D-XH Specs

Daiwa Ballistic (2500D-XH)

  • Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
  • Weight: 6.3oz.
  • Braided Line Capacity: 250Yd/10Lb
  • Max Drag: 22Lb
  • 6+1 Bearings

Daiwa Ballistic vs. Shimano Vanford

daiwa ballistic review


catch big trout on paddletails in late winter or spring

If you’re targeting inshore game fish, we don’t think there’s a better reel out there.

From the drag system to the Magseal, the Daiwa Ballistic spinning reel packs a big punch in a lightweight body.

And you can get this reel from our shop here:

Daiwa Ballistic

If you want 20% off this reel, as well as all of the other gear in our shop, click here to join us in the Insider Club.

Have you tried out this reel yet?

Let me know down in the comments!

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Fred R
3 months ago

I can’t find any information on how the Ballistic compares to the SS Tournament. I have my reel purchase decision boiled down to Daiwa, but need some idea between those two Daiwa’s, any information would be appreciated, thanks.

Robert Glassen
4 months ago

I have 5 Shimano Stradic CI4 reels that I use for inshore fishing. I got a Ballistic a couple of months ago and it has become my favorite. I especially like the bail and the strength of the frame.

I have a friend that is a reel repairman and has seen the inside of thousands of reels that have been exposed to salt water. He’s a very big fan of Magseal.

A possible con: does Magseal have to be replaced by Daiwa?

5 months ago

The ballistic or the MQ? And how do they stack up against a stradic FL?

Justin Ritchey
5 months ago
Reply to  Hunter

In terms of Body Material/Construction—-Both the BG MQ and the Stradic FL are Aluminum bodies, but the Ballistic LT is made out of a proprietary material called Zaion (a high-density carbon composite) that makes it 1/3 lighter than Aluminum but 2/3 stronger under compression.

In terms of Sealing—–Ballistic offers MagSeal Technology, but the BG MQ and the Stradic do not.

In terms of Power/Gearing—-The BG MQ has a significantly thicker Main Gear, by about 20%, than the Shimano Stradic and the Ballistic LT. This thicker Main Gear allows for less resistance when turning the handle under load, meaning it is designed for handling larger fish with a smaller reel.

At the end of the day, I’d rank it like this:

1st Place: Ballistic LT (Sealing, Smoothness & Power are all incorporated here)
2nd Place: BG MQ (Very Smooth, Good Sealing, Incredibly powerful Main Gear)
3rd Place: Stradic FL (Also Very Smooth, Good Gearing, Decent Sealing with hydrophobic coating)

Marshall Kasinger
5 months ago

I have both van ford and Ballistic both are excellent reels but I like the the Vanford feel much better sooooo smoth.

Justin Ritchey
5 months ago

I hear ya Marshall! Both are neck and neck when it comes to overall smoothness. I will say this: Shimano uses their “Hagane” Gearing system (essentially a cold forged aluminum gear that is coated/anodized) combined with a Micromodule System (that’s their Cam Gearing that has small, refined teeth for smoothness). Both of those features are what contribute to Shimano’s overall smoothness. The Ballistic does also incorporate a solid Aluminum Main Gear that drives the overall smoothness, but given the details applied to the Shimano, there might be a slight advantage offered to the Shimano Vanford…..although it might be hard to tell the difference, the two are SO CLOSE to one another in that regard. I will say that the Ballistic would have the Vanford beat when it comes to sealing (MagSealed Vs. X-Protect), no contest.

Fred R
3 months ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

I’ve also been reading a lot of websites and they all say the Ballistic casts further than then the Vanford, if that helps any.

Joseph Pyles
5 months ago

Let’s hope their internal design has improved from the 3000 BG series. I bought 3 of them a long time ago when they first hit the market. Within a year, 2 of them came apart internally. Running 15 lb. braid set at 6 lbs. of drag. ( with an electronic scale) I have tied into a few 38’s & 39’s redfish. I now run the Shimano XG FL 3000’s.

Last edited 5 months ago by Joseph Pyles
Justin Ritchey
5 months ago
Reply to  Joseph Pyles

The current rendition of the Ballistic LT is nothing like the EX models of prior years. I did own 2 EX 2500 Ballistic, and they were rather clunky by comparison. When you have a chance to check out the series of LTs, I think you’ll be really impressed.

Christopher Edgar
5 months ago

Great review, guys! I’ve been using the Ballistic 3000 size reel on the Salt Strong Bull Bay custom rod for a few months now and I really love it – it’s a super light combo and I’m casting better than ever! It’s very smooth and can handle anything inshore you hook up with. I’ve caught some really nice reds and a 35″ snook and had no issues or worries on handling them. I used to use Shimano CI4 reels and I definitely prefer the Ballistic as it’s smoother and just feeIs more solid. I also agree that the Mag Seal is a differentiator that is worth it.

Michael Mets
5 months ago

How do the 2500 and 3000 Ballistic compare in size to the 2500 Penn Battle III?

I bought the Penn from SS a few months ago and like the size. I’ve had some old Shimano 3000’s that I thought were really large compared to the 2500 Penn.

I may be looking to get a Ballistic and would choose between the 2500 and 3000.

Justin Ritchey
5 months ago
Reply to  Michael Mets

The Penn Battle III is 9.7oz, which is a whopping 3.5oz heavier than the Ballistic LT 2500D-XH. That weight difference is substantial (it wouldn’t make much of a difference if it was only 1oz or closer). In terms of line capacity, both reels are about the same (~250yds of 10lb. Braid). But all things considered, the Ballistic LT is in a much different class than the Penn Battle III.

Michael Mets
5 months ago
Reply to  Justin Ritchey

Thanks Justin,

I am wondering about the physical size compared to the Battle III. Is the Ballistic 2500 close in size or is the Ballistic 3000 closer in physical size? I know that they’re completely different reels but just want to know what the Ballistic will be like to hole and use. What I need to do is look at them in the local store.

I know the reel sizes differ between manufacturers.

Since I’d like to get a Ballistic I would like to know what size to get between the 2500 and 3000.

5 months ago

Very interested in this reel! Thanks for reviewing.
I can’t spend that kind of money at least not now. Other comparable models suggested (Diawa or other) ? Have an older stradic that has been “fixed” a few times and has never worked properly. It’s the only reel I’ve experienced that upon casting the bale closes! Very frustrating to have to use other hand to keep it open when casting. I guess the fixes included shimano parts and therefore DIDNT FIX.

Dennis Penton
5 months ago

I bought the 5000 Ballistic about 2 years ago, mainly because it was the same size as the 4000 but with slightly more line capacity. I love it’s smoothness. To me it is very comparable my Stradic ci4, but with a better drag. However, my Ballistic has a noise coming from the rotor area that I cannot seem to identify. I returned it to Daiwa and they “supposedly fixed it,” but the noise remains. It’s a bit frustrating because I really like the reel, and I expect more from a reel in this price range. The noise has me using my Stradic more often. It makes me wonder if the smaller reels have the same issue?

Justin Ritchey
5 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Penton

Hey Dennis! I’m not entirely sure about the noise coming from the rotor…I just checked my Ballistic 6000 to see if I could find a potential entry point but was unsuccessful. My initial thought is either the rotor has “back-play” and might not be fastened down firmly on the body frame, or there is a small amount of sediment/deposit underneath where the rotor & frame meet. I would suggest contacting Daiwa again and letting them know the issue was not truly addressed, they may even swap it out with a new rotor entirely.

Mario Relvini
5 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Penton

Are you sure it’s not the line roller bearing? When this bearing starts failing it makes an irritating noise. The reason I mentioned this is because I had a similar problem and thought for sure it was coming from the rotor but replacing the line bearing fixed it. If not then send it back to Daiwa. Daiwa should fix that.

Jonathan Getz
5 months ago

Looks like a great reel that I’m interested in. One thing that I find unusual is that the Fuego and Ballistic look almost exactly the same in appearance. Have to look closely to distinguish the two.

Also, I assume the Digigear and ATD make the Ballistic worth the extra $100?

Last edited 5 months ago by Jonathan Getz
Justin Ritchey
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Getz

All of Wyatt’s points are valid, but I would also add that the $100 difference between the Fuego and the Ballistic is due to the solid Aluminum Main Gear used on the Ballistic, combined with Daiwa’s “Zaion” Body Material (that High-Strand Denser Carbon Fiber material that is more durable & lighter weight than the Fuego). When you spec it all out, the Fuego and the Ballistic have about the same qualities to one another. Both incorporate Digigear (this is Daiwa’s process of cutting the teeth of their Main Gear), ATD (Automatic Tournament Drag), and MagSeal Technology. But it’s in the finer details that separate these two contenders from one another. I have observed a physical rubber seal above the main shaft on the Ballistic, as well as a handle entry point seal. Both may seem like minor physical deterrents, but when you count ALL of those little seals together, it will help for a longer like-new performance on the reel at the end of the day.

My money is still going on the Ballistic as the champion, all things considered 🙂 If you can muster the $ for one, I say go for it!


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