One Boat, Two Outdrive Options: Bravo One or Bravo Three?

Mercury Bravo 1

The single-propeller Mercury Bravo One drive.

OK, say you’ve narrowed your search to two boats. Both are the same model from the same manufacturer. Both are the same price and have the same engine. The only difference is the drive. One has a Bravo One, the other, a Bravo Three, both made by Mercury. Which one do you buy?

The answer is easy: It depends. If you’re looking for a boat that will break 60 mph, either as is or after you make some planned modifications, a Bravo One is the way to go. The single propeller lends itself to performance applications better than the dual propellers of the Bravo Three.

It’s kind of odd, but 58 mph seems to be the typical maximum speed with the Bravo Three drive. I have heard of cases where performance upgrades did not result in a higher top speed because of the limitations of the drive package.

Also, if you plan to use your boat extensively in salt water, opt for the Bravo One. Bravo Three drives have experienced greater than normal corrosion when used extensively in salt water. There are ways to keep it at bay, but with a Bravo One, those are steps you don’t have to take.

Mercury Bravo 3

The Bravo Three drive has a slightly different set of talents.

Conversely, the Bravo Three has a few advantages of its own. For example, in stock applications, midrange efficiency and control is better. A Bravo Three also can mean reduced planing and cruising speeds. What’s more, if you use your boat for towing skiers, riders, or tubers, a Bravo Three drive is better for that, too. It has more bite, so the hole shot is better.

Another characteristic of the Bravo Three is higher idle speeds than a Bravo One, which can be handy for getting through no-wake zones more quickly without having to open the throttle.

Like nearly everything in life, there are pros and cons with each drive choice. Ultimately, the choice depends on how you plan to use your boat.

Brett Becker


  1. Gary L. Meisenburg says:

    It”s mostly all in the prop design but X dimensions and hull bottom also has an impact on performance. The Bravo three puts different loadings on the last eight feet of the bottom of most boats. The newbies in Mercury’s propeller design group haven’t figured out how to design the best combination of front to rear blade ratio’s and blade design. In the mid 90’s I had a set of Bravo three propellers that ran top speed as good as bravo 1 props plus better mid range performance.
    O well I guess that set got scraped with the rest of the Blackhawk stuff I was working on.
    The twin props whether surfacing or not still have more advantages over the single prop.
    Better excelleration, mid range economy , reverse thrust at the dock and same speed once they figure it out.
    How many Blackhawk drives still out there.

  2. Scott russell says:

    I have a 96 bravo 3 that has the trim stop blocks. I want to take them off. Something broke the front of the upper outdrive. Has anyone done this. Can I do it

    • Lenny Rudow says:

      Hey Scott – we’ll see if any readers chime in here, but we don’t know of anyone who’s done this and it doesn’t sound like a great idea. Those stops are there for a reason, and if the drive unit is broken, the correct move is to take it to a professional and get it fixed.

  3. RJ Tahhan says:

    I would love to find a video or instructions on stern docking my single engine with a bravo 3 outdrive.
    I have been trying to do it for 2 years and I’m still having problems. BTW my boat is a Sea Ray 270 LOA with swim platform is 29 ft. ??????????

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