I'd been using Novas (Vic Firth's budget version or "seconds" of these) and needed some more sticks quick so I opted to get some of these next day shipping. I'm a heavy hitter & break sticks regularly - no matter what brand. That being said I did notice that the real deal (over the Nova version) had a little better longevity - I'd say about 25%. The American Classics tended to break "better" chipping out at first before fracturing, thus being playable longer. The Novas tend to just fracture and get tossed. Keep in mind some batches of sticks of the same brand are better/worse than others. I'm guessing this mainly has to do with variance in the supply of wood - every tree is different & trees from different areas (possibly even countries) will differ in grain, density, etc. The AC's were also better matched in pairs. Whereas the Nova's tend to have noticeable weight differences - doesn't really bother me - price considered. Conclusion: American Classics are better but cost about twice as much (Personally I'd rather buy some Vaters at that price) but I think the economical choice if you break a lot sticks is to go with Novas. If your not heavy handed & you're picky about your sticks balancing as a pair and don't mind the price, go with the Classics.