What whip should I buy?
What should I buy if I want a whip?
First, you have to decide if you're serious about learning to throw whips. If you are, it's worth investing money for a quality whip and time to slowly break it in. If you're not sure, it may not be worth your money and time investment.
The first question is whether you want the long-term investment in the best, which would be a custom kangaroo hide whip. Or if you prefer to buy a nylon or marine cord whip, usually something like half or three quarters of the price of the kangaroo whip.
If you decide it's worth the investment for a high-end custom whip, until his retirement a short time ago, I would have said that you couldn't do better than to buy whips made by Mike Murphy in Australia. I think he made the best whips available in the world, and had competitive prices. His custom whips were responsive and gorgeous. And his economy line of whips were often better than most U.S. whip makers' best custom whips, at lower prices. Unfortunately, for now he's off pig-hunting (truly), and isn't making whips. So the hunt for used Murphy whips goes on.
I'm currently seeking a high-end whip maker I can unreservedly recommend for your next whip. That space here:
(Just a note -- while the quality of a Murphy whip stays with me as the supreme example to find, Mike is no longer producing whips, to my great sorrow. I'm trying to find another whip maker I can list here as a replacement for ordering a Murphy whip. Currently, there are no American kangaroo hide whip makers I can yet personally recommend, and several I can recommend against, unfortunately, including one in Kansas and one in the U.S. Southwest. Right now, the best mid-length whips I can recommend come from Peter Jack in New Zealand.)
But of course any leather whip you buy takes considerable breaking in. Better whips should have more than one or two layers (bellies and bolsters), and should be tightly plaited. A high quality bullwhip, for instance, should have at least two bellies and two bolsters on top of the core (all of kangaroo hide), and occasionally even three bellies and bolsters. The thicker and tighter a whip, the more time it will take to break in and become an extension of your hand.
If you're looking for the least expensive whip you can find, and very little breaking in time invested, buying a nylon whip made from paracord is your best choice. Marine cord whips from ConZept DeZigns (please see vendor info elsewhere on sfwhips.com) are more expensive than nylon, but are said to have better handling, accuracy, and longevity.
Type and length is harder to suggest. If your only interest is what some term "indoor" play, then a signal whip, of no more than a four foot length, is the most common choice. For performance art, the most common lengths are usually six to eight foot whips, usually either American style bullwhips or Australian stock whips. I'm beginning to think the best first whip for someone serious about learning all styles, might be a four to six foot bullwhip, to cover most bases. But having long conversations with veteran whip users and whip makers, should they be willing to spend the time with you on the phone, will give you a better idea of what fits your personal needs best. In my own case, I have whips running from three feet in length to eight feet, although most of my whip throwing is whips under six feet in length, with the objective of tight accuracy over stylized throws.