Louisville Slugger Omaha 517 Review

 

Bat Tested: 33” BBCOR

Omaha. The one word synonymous with college baseball’s holy grail. It’s written underneath hat bills, posted in locker rooms and frankly what thousands of dreams are made of. While the name obviously carries a lot of clout in the baseball world, the Omaha bat series is almost as well known. The name has been carried forward by Louisville Slugger for quite a long time. This is notable since most manufacturers usually get a few years out of a bat before refreshing it with a new title. While it has taken shape a few different ways, it is most well known for being a 1 piece aluminum bat that carries a balanced swing weight and good performance. We’ll see if the Omaha 517 lives up to its predecessors.

Graphics/Cosmetics
The Omaha shares a similar look to both the Prime 917 (Review) and the Solo 617 (Review). It uses a red knob that transitions right into the red on its custom Lizard Skins Grip. The red moves into black as you pass the bottom hand location. The top part of the grip goes right into black matte handle similar to the Solo. This is where you will find “Omaha” and “517” printed on opposite sides of each other. The matte handle finish goes right into a gloss on the transition and larger part of the barrel concluding with the “torch”. The black, red and volt colors stay consistent throughout the line and make for a nice family look. Red and black dominate the Omaha and make for a pretty good looking bat.

Handle/Knob/Grip
The Omaha shares a similar knob size and handle taper as its counterparts, the Solo and Prime. Above the knob, the taper feels really nice in your bottom hand when you hold it. I may be partial, but I’m big on having some type of taper rather than a straight handle directly into the knob. The custom Lizard Skins grip is also included on the Omaha 517 along with the Prime and Solo. This is a really nice feature of the overall bat as it allows you to hit with something that won’t need to be ripped off after 50 swings. In my experience, the Lizard Skins have held up pretty well for the most part.

Sound
If ping is your thing, the Omaha is for you. It carries forward the traditional ping that many of us older guys are used to hearing. If you have only hit composites during your baseball career, you my friend are missing out. It’s loud (not Velo loud), it’s crisp, it pings, what more could you want?

Swing Weight
One of the Omaha’s strengths has always been its low MOI / balanced swing weight. It has fallen right in that sweet spot of being light enough for gap guys, but also heavy enough for power hitters and college hitters.
Side note: Not always, but sometimes manufacturers produce special end loaded versions of bats to suit the needs and strength of college hitters that never make it to retail. Most of the time there is no way to tell unless you are holding the bat in person or it is signified by a very small marking. While many college guys swing the regular Omaha, it’s worth noting that they could be swinging a higher MOI version as well.
The versatile swing weight allows for smooth bat path all the way through the zone without much effort.

Feel
As a single piece aluminum, it’s a given you will get more vibration and feedback in your hands on contact vs a multi-piece composite. While none of the vibration was ever too much with the Omaha, you definitely know when you mishit a ball towards the handle or the end cap. Many players may look at that being a negative, but I believe that is a huge advantage for stronger, more advanced hitters who want to know exactly where every impact happens on the barrel. The Omaha is constructed out of Slugger’s new 7U1+ alloy, which is supposed to create a large sweet spot and stiffer feel on contact. I assume the + signifies a slight material or design change vs the original 7U1 that was used in the 2016 Omaha 516.

Performance
In our testing, the Omaha produced very good performance in my opinion. In fact, between the Prime, Solo and Omaha, I had my best round of BP with the Omaha. I will admit that bat testing can be subjective as it factors in so many different elements that have an effect on the outcome. The guy throwing BP, the balls, the weather, what part of testing was each bat hit and the list goes on to craft the eventual testing outcome. With that being said, having hit so many bats through numerous testing sessions, I’ve gotten good at recognizing what information is useful and not useful in determining testing outcomes. Back to the Omaha. It produced sharp line drives and gap shots that had good carry into the outfield. Most of the balls struck on the barrel were comparable to other more expensive bats. My point is this, though the BBCOR Omaha retails for $199.95 (which is basically the bottom of the performance bat price category) it still produced great performance on par with more expensive bats.

Don’t let the price of the Omaha fool you as it has plenty of performance for some of the most advanced hitters in the country. There are always trade offs when comparing bats of different price points. It ultimately comes down to what you are comfortable swinging, 1 vs multi-piece, aluminum vs composite, balanced vs end-loaded swing weight…ect. Like anything else, sometimes you have to pay for the extra features if that’s what you want. The Omaha would be a great choice for any player looking for a stiffer feel, balanced swing weight and good performance for a great price. If you’re ready to give it a try, check out the deals that our friends over at Closeoutbats.com have!

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