They have each gotten better than the last model IMO. Bearing count has often been a marketing gimmick and isn't necessarily a sign of quality or durability. You'll see cheap unbranded (or rebranded) China junk claiming 8+1 bearings but it won't make it through the first time a blacktip picks up your bait.
And an old Penn in at least decent condition will be, or can be made to be as viable today as it was back in the 50's or 60's. It can even be "update improved" if need be. Been there and done that a dozen times at least.
I wrote the original question on Penn bearings. After research, I found that the original Battle had a line roller bearing This was replaced with a plastic bushing on the battle 2. Penn changed bearings to sealed stainless bearings on battle 2. I own both reels and both work awsome as I take care of my equipment, cleaning and rebuild if need be. I'm not talking cheap China reels, loaded with 10+ bearings, Penn is a better rated reel. Both the original, battle 2 and 3 are great and will catch you a lot of fish if you take care of reel.
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