Best Defensive Lacrosse Heads

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Defensemen need stiff and durable heads that can withstand 60 minutes of hard checks, shot deflections, and ground ball scrums. Many defensive players also prefer wider heads that give them more surface area to intercept passes and check opponents' sticks.

While defensemen and long stick middies (LSMs) can technically use any head, there are some specifically designed for these hard-hitting positions that can give players an advantage.

This guide goes over the best defensive lacrosse heads and explains what you should look for when choosing one.

Table of Contents

7 Best Defensive Lacrosse Heads

To find the best defensive lacrosse heads, I started out by considering 16 of the top options on the market. 

After researching their weight, face shape, stiffness, and other factors, as well as reading customer reviews, I was able to narrow by list down to 7. 

Below you will find the best lacrosse heads for defensemen and LSMs including what each is best for.

Best Defense Lacrosse Heads:

  1. STX Hammer 1K | Best Features: Stiffness & Durability
  2. StringKing Mark 2D | Best Features: Scoop & Light Weight
  3. Maverik Havok 2 Best Features: Tight Pinch & Scoop
  4. STX X20 | Best Features: Wide Face Shape & Light Weight
  5. ECD Rebel Defense | Best Features: Tight Pinch & Stiffness
  6. Warrior Evo QX2-D | Best Features: Durability & Stiffness
  7. Maverik Tank 2.0 | Best Features: Wide Face Shape & Stiffness

1) STX Hammer 1K

Best Features: Stiffness & Durability


  • Ideal Pocket: Mid/high to high
  • Stiffness: High
  • # String Holes: Average
  • Year Released: 2023

STX's newest defensive lacrosse head—the Hammer 1K—comes in as the best option on this list due to its unmatched stiffness and durability. 

It improved upon our previously top-ranked defense head in the Hammer 900 with its increased stiffness and shape retention thanks to improved EnduraForm plastic.

It also doesn't seem like it will have any of the same issues with breaking frequently that the older Hammer Omega had.

The STX Hammer 1K has a nice face shape for both defensemen and LSMs. It is pretty pinched towards the throat but gradually widens towards the scoop, giving it good ball control but still being wide for intercepting passes and laying checks.

As far as the offset goes, it is pretty high up on the head, making it great for a mid/high to high pocket, which is typically the preference for defensemen.

The Hammer 1K also has STX amazing Speed Scoop that is specifically designed to perform better on long poles. This makes ground balls a breeze and the InnerLock technology makes stringing easier and keeps your strings tighter.

The biggest downside is that there are only 15 sidewall holes on each side. While I haven't ran into any issues with stringing it, if you prefer more sidewall holes, you may want to look elsewhere.

Overall, the new STX Hammer 1K is a great option for any D player—including close defenders and LSMs. It should hold up well for even the hardest of checkers and perform well in transition. 



Buying Options

*Video is for the older STX Hammer 1K

2) StringKing Mark 2D

Best Features: Scoop & Weight


  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid/high to high
  • Stiffness: Above average
  • # String Holes: Above average
  • Year Released: 2017

The StringKing Mark 2D checks in as a very close second on our list of the best lacrosse heads for defense—and for very good reason.

It is the lightest head to make this list at an impressive 5.2 oz. Even better, unlike many other light heads, it has above-average stiffness and durability.

We've found that the scoop on the Mark 2D is great for ground balls. Its sharp angle, along with the dramatic forward cant shape of the head, allow you to easily scoop balls even when your butt end is still high in the air.

The head shape and numerous stringing holes make it easy to string a high pocket with good hold and smooth release. Like most other StringKing heads, the Mark 2D strings up beautifully and the range of pocket options is limitless.

The Mark 2D also has a locking bolt mechanism in the throat that helps secure your head more than just a traditional screw helping to eliminate head rattle and movement during checks.

Overall, this is a great head for both defensemen and LSMs due to its light weight, stiffness, face shape, and scoop design.



Buying Options

3) Maverik Havok

Best Features: Tight Pinch & Scoop


  • Weight: 5.25 oz
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid to mid/high
  • Stiffness: Above average
  • # String Holes: Above average
  • Year Released: 2022

The original Maverik Havok wasone of the most popular LSM heads on the market and the Havok 2.0 is even better. 

The Havok 2.0 has a tighter face shape than the original that still opens up towards the scoop. 

We found a Havok 2.0 strung up with a nice mid to mid/high pocket with a tight channel gives great hold and a smooth release.

The Havok 2.0 only weighs 5.25 oz, making it one of the lightest D/LSM heads on the market today. It is 3.25 oz lighter than the original. It also has an extra sidewall strut to help increase the stiffness compared to the first version.

The new version of the Havok also has more stringing holes than the original—something that was a big complaint with the 1.0. 

The Havok 2.0 also has the Ground Control scoop that has a sharp angle making it easy to snag ground balls without having to get your butt end close to the ground. The way the top half of the head cants forward also helps with scooping balls.

If you are an LSM, D middie, or defenseman who likes to push transition, the Havok 2.0 is a great option due to its face shape, light weight, and scoop. 

More traditional defensive players who prefer a wider, stiffer head may want to look at other alternatives as the STX X20 or Maverik Tank 2.0.



Buying Options

4) STX X20

Best Features: Wide Face Shape & Light Weight


  • Weight: 5.2 oz
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid/high to high
  • Stiffness: Above-average
  • # String Holes: Average
  • Year Released: 2020

The STX X20 is the newest head in one of the longest-running head lines in the game—the Xcalibur series. 

The X20 features the classic wide face shape that the Xcalibur and X10 had. This makes it great for knocking down passes and having more surface area for checks but makes it a bit harder to string and provides less hold.

If you end up going with the X20, we recommend stringing as tight of a channel as possible to account for the wide face shape.

One of the best benefits of the X20 is that it is very stiff even though it only weighs 5.2 oz—making it one of the lightest defense heads available. 

It also  has STX's amazing speed scoop which makes picking up groundballs a breeze—especially on a long pole.

Overall, if you are a defenseman who doesn't carry the ball much that prefers wide heads, the X20 is one of the best options available.



Buying Options

5) ECD Rebel Defense

Best Features: Tight Pinch & Stiffness


  • Weight: 5.6 oz
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid to mid/high
  • Stiffness: High
  • # String Holes: Above average
  • Year Released: 2018

The defensive version of the ECD Rebel head line comes in next on our list.

Compared to other D heads, the ECD Rebel Defense has a pretty narrow pinch, making it an especially attractive option for LSMs and defensemen who carry the ball in transition a lot.

It also is very stiff while being right in the normal weight range of most D heads. 

As with most ECD heads, the Rebel Offense has more stringing holes than most comparable options, making it easy to string whatever your preferred pocket is. 

With that being said, the high offset makes mid to mid/high pockets ideal for the Rebel D. 

We did find some customers reporting that their Rebel Defenses broke after using them for a while—though this seems to be pretty rare and the head comes with a 6-month warranty.

Overall, if you're a defensemen or LSM that prefers a head with a narrower pinch, the ECD Rebel Defense is a solid choice.



Buying Options

6) Warrior Evo QX2-D

Best Features: Durability & Stiffness


  • Weight: N/A
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid/high to high
  • Stiffness: High
  • # String Holes: Average
  • Year Released: 2022

Warrior just released the newest heads in its popular Evo QX series, including both an offensive (QX2-O) and defensive head (QX2-D). 

Just like the QX2-O is one of our favorite heads for attackmen and middies, the QX2-D is an amazing option for defensemen and LSMs.

The Evo QX2-D has a tighter face shape than the original QX-D, making it a great option for advanced defensemen and LSMs. 

It features the new Therma-LOC+ Resin, making it very stiff and durable even in high temperatures. The updated sidewall strut design also makes it stiffer than the original head—which was already very stiff.

This means when you're out there playing summer ball your head won't turn into a noodle making it hard to lay checks and scoop the ball.

The max offset is very high up on this head, making it great for those D guys that love mid-to-high or high pockets.

Overall, if you prefer Warrior heads and don't mind a narrow face shape, the Evo QX2-D is an awesome choice.



Buying Options

7) Maverik Tank 2.0

Best Features: Wide Face Shape & Stiffness


  • Weight: 5.7 oz
  • Ideal Pocket: Mid/high to high
  • Stiffness: High
  • # String Holes: Average
  • Year Released: 2020

Maverik released the newest edition of their popular defensive lacrosse head—the Tank 2.0—in late 2020 and it is still one of the top choice of elite college defensemen.

As the name suggests, this head is quite literally a tank. It is super stiff, helping it deliver hard checks without being too heavy. The wide face shape makes intercepting passes easy and gives more area for laying checks.

The Tank 2.0 includes an improved scoop, as well, that makes grabbing GBs a breeze after you check the ball out of someone's stick.

On the downside, the wide face shape makes it harder to string a narrow channel. This can make it harder to achieve good hold, making carrying the ball in transition potentially difficult.

Like many other defense heads, the Tank 2.0 is designed primarily for a mid-to-high or high pocket. Using a dropped top string is a good way to achieve a tight channel in a high pocket with the Tank 2.0.

If you prefer a wide defense head that will hold up for multiple seasons, you won't be disappointed with the Maverik Tank 2.0.



Buying Options

Budget Defense Lacrosse Heads

If the heads above are too expensive, there are some great clearance and cheaper lacrosse heads that you could consider. 



This is the updated version of one of STX's most popular defensive heads ever, the XCalibur. Its stiffness, durability, and wide face shape make it an attractive option for traditional long poles.

>> View on SportStop

Brine King II ST

Brine King 2

Another great budget defense head is the Brine King II ST—the stiffer version of the popular King II head. It features a narrow pinch compared to many other D heads, making it a good option for LSMs and D middies.

>> View on Amazon

Adidas Blockade

Adidas Blockade

Last on our list of the best cheap defensive lacrosse heads is the Adidas Blockade. Much like the King II ST, it features a narrow face shape helping improve control while still being stiff enough to lay hard checks.

>> View on Amazon

What to Look for in a Lacrosse Head for Defense or LSM

With so many lacrosse heads designed for defense on the market today, it can be difficult to decide which to pick. To help, I've listed out 7 things you should consider when choosing which to go with.

1) Stiffness & Durability

First and foremost, you need a strong head that is durable enough to last through thousands of checks. As a defenseman, you need to be confident that your head won't break, warp, or flex too much when delivering poke and slap checks over the course of the game.

It's important to consider how heads hold up over the course of an entire season or multiple seasons. Even if a head feels very stiff when it is brand new, it could still become flexible after a lot of use or in hot weather.

Read (or watch) customer reviews to get a sense of the longterm stiffness and durability of the head.

2) Weight

Typically, the heavier a head is, the more durable and stiff it is.

More recently, however, companies have developed advanced plastics that are very light but just as strong (if not stronger) than “traditional” bulky defensive heads.

Assuming the stiffness and durability is equal, most players prefer a lighter head because they can throw faster checks, react faster, and move around the field faster.

Most new defensive heads on the market today weigh around 5.2 oz to 5.6 oz. Any head in this range should feel pretty normal on your d-pole. Once you get into heads over 6 oz, your stick may start to feel top heavy.

3) Face Shape

The next thing to consider when choosing a defensive head is what kind of face shape you want. 

In the past, defensemen almost always preferred very wide heads that gave them more area to intercept/deflect passes and for laying checks. 

Recently, there has been an influx of defensive heads more geared towards advanced players, LSMs, and D middies. These heads typically have a narrower face shape—especially towards the throat of the head—that allows for better control of the ball.

As you'll see in the reviews above, there is no one “best” face shape when it comes to defensive heads for lacrosse. My advice is to try out a wide head as well as a more pinched defensive head to see which you are more comfortable with.

4) Scoop

I think having a good scoop is more important for defensemen than any other position.


Mainly because your head is attached to a long defense shaft that makes it more difficult to achieve a low angle with the ground when scooping. 

Whereas attackmen and middies can bend down a few inches to achieve a low enough angle to scoop a ball, defensemen often have a higher angle due to their shaft length. 

Having a more angled scoop can help you gobble up ground balls easily without having to bend completely over, which would likely slow you down considerably.

5) Pocket Placement

The design of your head—especially the placement of the offset on it—is the main factor in where your pocket should go. 

The part of the stick with the largest offset (or where your head is closest to the ground when holding it horizontally) is where its ideal pocket is. 

Most defensive heads have an offset around the top half of the head, leading to mid-to-high pockets.

While this is often beneficial for defensemen since it leads to more hold and whip—which is ideal when using a full-length defense shaft—if you are used to a low or mid/low pocket, you may want to look for a head with an offset closer to the throat.

6) Stringing Holes

Though not as important as the other factors in this list, you should also make sure that the head you choose has a sufficient amount of stringing holes so you can customize your pocket to fit your game.

This is most likely to be a problem with older heads as most new heads developed nowadays do have numerous stringing holes to work with.

7) Strung vs. Unstrung

Lastly, you will have to decide whether you want to buy a head that is strung or unstrung. 

I personally always buy unstrung heads because I like to string them myself to fit my preferences. 

If you don't know how to string or don't know someone that does, however, going with a strung head could be a good option. This is especially true if the site you buy heads from strings them themselves instead of coming with (notoriously bad) factory string jobs.

High School & College Head Rules

NFHS (high school) rules for lacrosse head dimensions started to match NCAA (college) rules starting in 2018. Previously, high school heads could be narrower towards the throat but had to be wider towards the scoop, and vice-versa for college heads.

Now that both organizations have the same set of rules, any head that meets NCAA rules is legal for NFHS as well. Here are the rules for heads:

  • Minimum width of 6″ at the widest part of the head
  • Minimum width of 3.5″ on front and back of the head at 5″ up from throat of the head
  • Minimum width of 3″ at 3″ up from throat of the head
  • Minimum width of 3″ at 1.25″ up from throat of the head

The following diagram from Stringers Society makes the rules a little easier to visualize:

Lacrosse Head Rules Diagram

If you are buying a head that was released in the past 2 years, you shouldn't have to worry about it meeting these regulations.

If you are buying a head from 2017 or before, you should check to see if it meets NCAA specs. If it does, it should also meet current NFHS rules. If not, then it is likely illegal for both high school and college since the new NFHS rules went into effect in 2018.

A Note About the Gait D Head

The Gait D head—the head with “hooks”—will no longer be legal starting on January 1, 2023. Gait is working with retailers to allow players to trade in illegal heads. Check out the official Gait site for updates.

>> Read More: Lacrosse Head, Pocket, & Shaft Rules

How We Rate Defense Lacrosse Heads

We take our ratings seriously and only recommend products that we would use ourselves.

To come up with our ratings for each product, we test the product ourselves whenever possible, review product specifications (weight, number of stringing holes, etc.), and read customer reviews/talk to lacrosse players we know that use the product.

When testing heads, we bring them to a field and test for passing, catching, shooting, scooping ground balls, and checking—all with a standard pocket to reduce the number of variables. When it's not possible to extensively test a product ourselves, we spend extra time talking to real customers who have used the product for a while themselves.

If you ever have any feedback for any of the products listed on this page or have a recommended addition, please contact us and let us know!

Other Products to Consider Alongside Your New Defense Head

If you opt to go with an unstrung head, you'll need mesh and strings.

Below you can find some of my top choices for both full string kits as well as just mesh. You can also check out our Best Lacrosse Mesh Guide to learn more.

About Author

Picture of Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner

Dave is the founder of Lax Drip. In his 15+ years of playing lacrosse, he always had trouble figuring out which gear to buy without a reliable and trustworthy gear review site—so he created the resource he always wished he had. Dave has played lacrosse at the high school, college, and adult levels and continues to play to this day.

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