Our Experience: We spent 2 hours in the cage with the new 2016 Mizuno NightHawk baseball bat (Amazon Price Check) and another 1 hour reading online reviews and message forums. We found, on the whole, most are quite a bit excited about this two piece hybrid from Mizuno and, from the few that have hit with it (including us), we believe it fills a great niche in the lighter swinging hybrid bats market. Personally, we found the bat to have a great two piece feel without the added end load that many hybrids deal with. The good sized barrel and connective piece made mishits and hand stings rare.
Recommendations: Hitters who prefer the smooth feel of a two piece bat, prefer an aluminum barrel for sound and durability and require or desire a lighter swing weight should have the Nighthawk on their short list. Although this bat is new for Mizuno in baseball, they did make a 2015 Nighthawk for fastpitch softball. That gives a little more confidence since the bat has some pedigree.
Construction: As mentioned above, the 2016 MIzuno Nighthawk Hybrid has a composite handle and aluminum barrel. Most notably, the barrel has variable wall thickness in the aluminum. This allows the bat’s barrel to be both durable and lighter without forcing the barrel to be smaller to get a low swing weight. There are a few companies which have picked up on this variable wall thickness idea so the idea isn’t just marketing but legit. On the whole, for a hybrid bat, the swing weight is noticeably light.
Mizuno also often touts the bats connective or welding process. They speak of a “2-Piece Link” construction which, they claim, further dampens swing without losing any stiffness in the bat. This claim would be nearly impossible to tell without dissecting the bat in a lab. Regardless, our experience in the cage found the bat to feel stiff like a one piece bu little to no sting—unless it was a pure end cap jack. We’d give it high marks in this regard.
Sizing and Models: The 2016 Mizuno Nighthawk will come in three baseball versions: BBCOR, Senior League 2 3/4 barrel and a Youth Barrel 2 1/4. The BBCOR is a drop 3 (obviously), the Senior League big barrel is a drop 10 and the Youth version is a drop 13. Lengths are the same for both the Senior League and the Youth Barrel: 28, 29, 30, 31 and 32 inch. The BBCOR will come in a 31, 32, 33 and 34 inch lengths.
Other Bats: The Nighhawk is fairly unique considering its light swinging hybrid design with variable wall thickness. The only baseball bat we can think which comes in a two piece hybrid with variable wall thickness is the 2015 or 2016 Rawlings TRIO. However, the TRIO has an extended composite end cap which gives it a longer barrel (at least in the BBCOR) by about 1 1/2 inches. As well, the TRIO’s swing weight, by our calculation, ends up ever so slightly heavier than the 2016 Mizuno Nighthawk. Other similar bats in terms of lighter swinging true hybrids would be the DeMarini NVS Vexxum and the Easton Mako Hybrid.
We’d recommend the 2016 Mizuno Nighthawk to hitters who prefer two piece bats yet need or want a lighter swing. Also, those who need or want a bat that still feels stiff but doesn’t come with the associated hand sting are looking at the right bat in the 2016 Mizuno Nighthawk.
Best pricing we could find, at the time of this writing, was Amazon with this search: $199 to $299 depending on the model.