6 Reasons Flight Numbers Don’t Matter

December 8, 2015

Here at the Disc Golf Answer Man, some of the most common questions we get are about disc flight numbers. We have received literally hundreds of flight number related questions. We thought it would be helpful to answer them all right here in one article for you. In fact, we can do it with three simple words…

They Don’t Matter.

1. There is no standard. There is no disc throwing machine set up at sea level where everyone sends their discs for testing. There is no uniform manner in which everyone’s discs are measured. Every disc manufacturer has a different idea about what each of the 4 numbers means. If you were to give the same disc to each of these companies, there is a good chance that every one would come up with a different rating.

2. The major disc manufacturers are all located in different climates and altitudes. Those two things can cause the flight characteristics of any disc to vary greatly. How a disc flies in the city it was made and tested is probably not how it will fly where you are located.

3. To recreate the numbers printed on the disc, you would have to exactly mimic the company’s tests. You’d have to throw each disc with exactly the same power, hyzer angle, nose angle, launch angle, amount of spin, and snap that they did. This is virtually impossible.

4. Flight characteristics of discs don’t solely depend on all the above. They also change based on the run number, type of plastic, type of hot stamp, and many other variables.

5. Just because a disc doesn’t fly like its numbers indicate doesn’t mean the disc has no value to you. If you throw a particular disc well, does it really matter if its flight matches the numbers printed on it?​

6. We all throw in different ways. There are an infinite combination of angles and speeds that make up our throws. That variance alone will negate most ratings printed on a disc. Some players can make an overstable disc flip over like a puppy looking for a belly rub. Other players can make meathooks out of supposedly understable plastic.

Disc Golf Flight NumbersWhy are there numbers in the first place? The simple answer is it’s the best of what we have for now. And if you must use them, they do have one somewhat valid application. They can give you a relative measurement when comparing discs made by the same company.​

However much a glide 5 disc has for you, odds are good that a glide 4 disc will have a little less. If you aren’t getting enough fade out of a disc with a fade rating of 2, going to one with a 3 should give you more. As long as you are comparing discs by the same maker, this should hold true. How much difference you’ll see between two discs with different numbers can’t be predicted. What can be said is that there should at least be a difference.

What To Do?

In the end, the only way to really tell for sure is to throw them. Here at Dynamic Discs, we try and make it easier for you. Our brick and mortar stores have an exchange policy. If you don’t like a disc, bring it back and we’ll exchange it for one of equal or lesser value at no cost to you. Many of our dealers offer the same program. If you go to one of our Two Disc Challenge events, we have testers of almost every mold for you to try before you buy. You can even ask other people at the course to try their plastic. Most disc golfers will be happy and eager for you to try out their favorite discs. If all that fails, Dynamic Discs, Latitude 64, and Westside Discs all make discs in less expensive base plastic. We also offer a great assortment of misprint discs offered at a lower price. Those are great, inexpensive ways to try out new molds and see how they throw for you.

If you want to see all this in action, check out our series on YouTube “Is This Disc Right For You?”. There you will see pros and ams throw a disc side by side, giving you an idea of how the disc flies in real life. Numbers could never tell you that.

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23 comments on “6 Reasons Flight Numbers Don’t Matter

  1. “Flight characteristics of discs don’t solely depend on all the above. They also change based on the run number, type of plastic, type of hot stamp, and many other variables.”

    According to this, the players then should ignore the flight ratings and instead pay attention to the run number, type of plastic, etc. The difficulty with this is that vendors can supply plastic at varying quality levels (even if the same blend of beads are ordered), and there also is variability found in any manufacturing process. The goal for disc manufactures should be to reliably produce discs that have similar flight characteristics from run to run. The players ideally want quality – in that if they lose their favorite disc in the lake, they ought to be able to buy a replacement and experience the same kind of performance from the disc they had before.

  2. Joshua Choate Dec 9, 2015

    I agree and disagree with “flight numbers don’t matter”. Flight numbers give a great place for the person throwing of where to start. If a Saint for example flies extremely stable for the user than based on the numbers that the Saint presents the thrower can look to the River and know that the River will fly more understable than the Saint and then even go and look at the numbers of an Underworld and know that the Underworld will fly even more understable than the River.

  3. Solid points. I’ve had more luck learning from what manufacturer’s describe on their websites and video reviews than anything. And there are some cases where even different hand feels will cause the disc to release differently between yourself and a friend.

  4. Gabriel Lopez Dec 9, 2015

    Fell in love with the game less than 6 months ago so now me and my wife play every sunday. The problem is that we are in a tight budget fixed income so we have been playing with the same discs we bought for 5 bucks in a thrift shop. We really can’t afford these 20 dollar discs and everyone is not to approachable here in Bakersfield CA. To ask for maybe a donated disc. So we play with the same discs. In love with the game though. Wish we could afford or find a good deal on some used ones.

    • Hi, Gabriel
      My name is Rick i also live in Bakersfield, Ca. Our local club considered dg family by most, KCDGC or BasketHawks, would love to get u two involved in our dg community. We have various events throughout the week. We also have a facebook page,https://m.facebook.com/groups/180752165908. Would love ta add u an your wife and any buddies u may have to our family orianted club. If nothing else u will find a few more ppl to ur sunday get together.

    • Joshua Beckey Dec 9, 2015

      Hey Gabriel,
      I am also from Bakersfield CA. I have some used discs I would make you a great deal on. I may even have a couple I could donate… Are you on the KCDC Facebook page? There is also a page called Bakersfield disc exchange where you can sometimes find some good deals. Hmu and we can get together.

    • K-fed Dec 9, 2015

      Not too approachable? Not sure where your playing at but you must be at the wrong park, come out on a Sunday to truxtun around 1:30 and we’ll be there every week, and I’m sure I even have a couple discs I’d gladly give to you and your wife.

    • Aaron Dec 13, 2015

      If you have ponds or creeks on any of the holes where people are playing there’s a good possibility you can find some discs by swimming for them in the pond or creeks

  5. Wow, I would love to win this disc in lucid plastic at 170g!

  6. Caleb Dec 9, 2015

    I personally feel like flight numbers do matter. They weren’t designed to be perfect but they give a purchasing guideline to follow. By understanding the meaning behind them it allows us to create a visual for the flight path it will most likely follow. Each disc is designed to fly in a particular pattern and they are all useful in some way. Without a guideline such as the number system how would we know what we were buying? Aside from everything else is disc integrity, all discs regardless what they are made from lose their stability over time and use. So what was once a -1 turn 3 fade may now fly like it is a -2 turn with a 1 fade. The system isn’t perfect but it gives us a purchasing point and that is good enough for me.

  7. I would have to say that the numbers a great for an explanation of wat is suppose to happen so there for u have some what of a buying system for the customers. In my most recent expirence i bought a brand new star vulcan but flys like a beautifully stable destroyer. Is there flaws in the system, ofcourse. But name a system that doesnt have some. So with all being said id have to say the flight numbers are a great way to base your disc purchases off of but dont let one disc determine if that disc is for you or not.

  8. rob breisch Dec 9, 2015

    If you have some extra time on the course, spend some time exploring thick wooded areas around a throws distance away from the tee, and also thick areas around the baskets. People who have extras dont take the time to look. I literally added 4 quality discs to my bag in an hour and half one afternoon rummaging through thick spots!

  9. Phillip Shipp Dec 20, 2015

    Love your videos… I was wondering how to get those free used disc in the video. Thank you

    • admin Dec 23, 2015

      We use the comment section of postings on YouTube and Facebook. You can go to YouTube.com/DynamicDiscs to see them.

  10. Tim King Dec 20, 2015

    Looks like a decent disc.I would give it a throw!

  11. Brian Feb 19, 2016

    It seems to me that the main reason for flight numbers in today’s market is so the player can compare disc vs. disc, especially for similar discs from differing manufacturers. Moreover, as the player gains experience, s/he learns what the flight numbers mean regarding a specific mold they already throw and then can ‘pre-test’ a newer model under consideration. A good example might be a player experienced with Cyclones, looking to replace this mold with a Mantis, River or T-bird. Considering all the upward pressure on prices, this knowledge can prevent a costly and disappointing purchase gaffe.

  12. robert nerli May 10, 2016

    I like my dynamic discs

  13. Michael Palmer Jan 24, 2018

    This is why I started a database of Felt Flight Numbers and can run an average of what people have SAID a disc flies like vs. the published numbers… I was able to scrape data from a notable disc golf retail site that has a lot of that kind of data in their reviews, for all the manufacturers they sell. So, flight numbers might not be accurate, but I can now query based on the disc, the plastic, the level of user, and see across the board what people are saying about how they FEEL the disc actually flies for them. Still, not a perfect science, but an interesting study.

  14. Bill Grueninger Jan 31, 2018

    While out bike riding a couple of days ago I discovered a disc golf course nearby. I stopped by a sporting goods store for equipment and I am trying to determine what disc to get by the numbers. Any recommendations ?

  15. Looks like i have a set w/ 2 mid-range discs but no fairway one. Can i use the mid range innova 4402 shark for long throws? thx