Bowling Pins

Bowling Pins

Bowling pins are an essential piece of equipment used in bowling. While they may look simple on the outside, there is a lot that goes into the design and manufacturing of a bowling pin. They come in a few different sizes and shapes and change based on the variation of bowling.

What are bowling pins used for?

Bowling pins are targets that are used as a scoring system in bowling. Within every variation of bowling, the goal of the game is to knock down as many pins as possible. They are long, usually white pieces of hard materials that sit at the opposite end of the bowling lane.

For each frame, there are generally 10 bowling pins set up for the player to knock down. They are assembled in a pyramid-shape before each frame. Even though they tend to look similar from variation to variation, bowling pins can come in different shapes and sizes.

Things To Consider

When looking for bowling pins, you'll want to consider the following:

  • What format of bowling will you be playing?
  • How many pins do you need?
  • Where will you be using the bowling pins?
  • How much money do you have to spend on bowling pins?


Bowling pins can either come as tenpins, duckpins, or candlepins.


Bowling Tenpins

Tenpins are the most common type of bowling pins. They are 15” tall and about 5” wide. They are wider at the base and skinnier towards the top and weigh about 3.6 lbs. Most commonly, they feature two red stripes on the “neck”.


Bowling Duckpins

Duckpins closely resemble tenpins in the sense that they are wider at the bottom and thinner at the top. However, they are much shorter than tenpins, standing at around 9.5”. They weigh about the same as tenpins, making them harder to knock over. Unlike tenpins, they have 1 red stripe around the neck, making it easy to differentiate.


Bowling Candlepins

The most unique looking out of the three are candlepins. They are slightly taller than tenpins and are narrow the whole way down. The ends taper off a little bit, and their thin nature makes them easiest to knock over if they are hit. Unlike the other two pins, candlepins have a single stripe in the center.


The main materials bowling pins are made out of is rock maple wood, nylon, and plastic.

  • Rock Maple Wood: Rock maple wood is what almost all bowling pins are made out of. Bowling pins use a solid block of hard maple to construct the core of the pin.
  • Nylon: Nylon is the main material used to coat the bowling pins. Nylon is forgiving and cheap, making it a good option.
  • Plastic: Plastic is another option that is used to coat bowling pins. While it is cheap, it is less common than nylon.
  • Surlyn: Surlyn is a material that is made exclusively by DuPont. Surlyn is the other material that is commonly used to coat bowling pins and is more durable than nylon.


The most popular brands that make bowling pins are Brunswick, AMF, and Champion.

  • Brunswick: Brunswick is one of the most popular bowling equipment brands. They make tenpins and duckpins, most of which are coated in Surlyn.
  • AMF: AMF makes all types of equipment for bowling alleys. Their pins are not traditionally sold to the general public. They use a mix of Surlyn and nylon in their coating.
  • Champion: Champion is a sports brand that makes equipment for a variety of different sports. They mainly produce plastic bowling sets, ones that can be used away from a bowling alley.


When deciding which bowling pins to use, you should always consider the durability, cost, and size.


If used on a regular basis, a bowling pin will last for approximately one year. Pins that have a protective coating of nylon or Surlyn will last longer than ones made of simply maple wood. If pins are not used everyday or are rotated out, they can last much longer than a year.


Bowling pins can be quite expensive. Typically, they will range from $100 to $200 for a set of 10 coated bowling pins. Nylon and plastic coated pins may be cheaper than Surlyn but less durable. Bigger name brands like Brunswick and AMF will also likely be more expensive as they produce high quality bowling pins.

Size and Weight

The sizes of each type of bowling pin will likely be very similar from brand to brand. Tenpins will be about 15” tall and 5” wide and weigh just over 3.5 lbs. Duckpins weigh the same as tenpins but are much shorter and a little bit more narrow. Candlepins are the tallest and most narrow and also weigh the least.


Why do bowling pins have red stripes?

The main function of the red stripes on bowling pins is to help differentiate the different pins. Having a bold color that stands out from the white pins may help with depth perception and seeing at a far distance.

How are bowling pins made?

The core of bowling pins are made from multiple pieces of finely crafted maple wood. These pieces of wood are molded together and glued in order to make the bowling pin shape. Once the core is complete, the coating, made out of various materials, is then added to cover the wood core.

How many bowling pins do you need for bowling?

For most variations of bowling, 10 pins are needed. While the pins themselves vary in shape and size, they are set up with similar spacing in the shape of a triangle. If being used at a bowling alley, two or three sets of 10 pins may be required to rotate between frames.