The Racket that Changed Badminton

Written by Geoff Hinder

The Racket that Changed Badminton in 1966 – Carlton 3.9

The Carlton Sports Company who had been making their nylon shuttles since the 1950s in 1966 introduced their 3.9 badminton racket (red version), it would be the first massed produced lightweight steel racket. The racket was manufactured in England at their Saffron  Walden, factory in Essex.

In their advertisements for the rackets Carlton said “It was guaranteed to weigh not more than 39 grammes” they also said “The head of the ‘3-point-9’ is made from a special steel of a type used in rockets and having a strength to weight ratio stronger even than that of the ‘miracle’ metal Titanium.”The reduction in weight has been made in the head which correspondingly reduces the inertia of the racket in play; this not only means faster strokes but also makes strenuous games less tiring.”  Because the racket was made of steel and not wood it could be strung to a higher tension, it was sold with a choice of three grip sizes and required no racket press. Many of Carlton’s competitors were still producing wooden rackets 10 years later.


Many players found that the lightness of the racket, extra string tension and less air resistance immediately improved the standard of their game, players could smash much harder and found that their back hands immediately improved.


One of the first international players to play with the Carlton 3.9 was England’s Roger Mills who won gold and bronze medals using the racket at the 1966 Commonwealth Games in Kingston, Jamaica.


Photos: – Geoff Hinder

Click on images to enlarge

Carlton had the initial problem of the 3.9 red version breaking at the T point, this problem was overcome when they introduced the white version of the racket. Because so many of the red version rackets broke, they have become extremely rare.


Carlton 3.9 White


Carlton 3.7





Later on, in the 1970s Carlton introduced their very popular 3.7 range of rackets. These had stainless steel heads and shafts, they also had nylon grommets in the head to protect the strings.





Click on images to enlarge

A display case at the National Badminton Museum with a selection of Carlton rackets. 

These rackets and many more can be seen at the National Badminton Museum, National Badminton Centre, Bradwell Road, Loughton Lodge, MILTON KEYNES MK8 9LA
Visitors are welcome to look around the Museum unescorted at any time – The National Badminton Centre is normally open 9am to 8pm every day.
Free Admission.


The National Badminton Museum is on the 1st floor with a lift. Disabled toilet facilities are available on the 1st floor. There is no wheelchair accessibility to the Museum office.


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