Scuf Instinct Pro review: the premium custom wireless Xbox controller [video]

When it comes to custom console controllers, Scuf might be one of the best-known names, and their latest is the Instinct and Instinct Pro for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and PC. The level of customization makes them unique, and the addition of pro features like mappable paddles and swappable thumbsticks makes them more useful as well, but it comes at a hefty price. We went hands-on with the new Scuf Instinct Pro wireless performance controller. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details. 

Out of the box

Included in the box with the Scuf Instinct Pro are a manual, USB-C cable for wired play, some additional thumbsticks, and two AA batteries.


One of Scufs’ biggest selling points is the ability to customize the look of your accessories. They even carry this over into the H1 headset. The unit that Scuf sent over has a black and red colorway with red triggers, red bumpers, red thumbsticks, and a red d-pad. This is also the pro unit, which means there are instant triggers and enhanced grips. 

Otherwise, the controller looks and feels very similar to the stock Xbox controller. There are recognizable menu and share buttons, bumper buttons, and also a microphone mute button near the bottom of the controller with an LED light that signifies the current paddle profile. 


For the Instinct controller, Scuf has changed up the paddles from some previous models. Instead of the longer paddles, the Instinct uses more of a rocker setup. For me, the most comfortable way to hold the controller is to place my middle finger between the paddles, and then I can push in either direction to activate the button.

The paddles take a bit of force to actuate as well, making it hard for me to accidentally press a button. P1 and P4, which are the larger paddles built into the grips, rest right under my middle fingers and are easier to actuate. I ended up mapping jump and crouch to these when playing Destiny 2, as they’re the ones I want to be able to press the quickest.

Scuf Instinct Pro: video

Now, I’m still most used to the Xbox Elite controller, and I am quite fond of that paddle setup. The paddles sit right under my fingers when I’m playing FPS games and are very easy to actuate. And if I’m playing a game in which I don’t want the paddles, I can easily remove them. I’ve spent time trying to get used to the Instinct, but I think for my play style, the Elite is a better fit.

That being said, the paddles on the Scuf Instinct are absolutely an improvement over the standard Xbox wireless controller. And for me, they’re easier to reach than those of the Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma that we recently reviewed. Your mileage will vary with rear paddles depending on your hand size and play style, but I find these to be much more usable, thanks to their placement under my middle finger.

Paddle profiles

Up to three paddle profiles can be saved to make swapping between different button maps on different games quickly and easily. It’s also easy to map a button to a paddle. Just navigate to the profile you want to edit with a quick press of the profile button, and then give it a long press until the LED starts blinking. Then, hold both the paddle and the button you want to map to the paddle at the same time. The light will turn white, indicating a successful map. Then press the profile button again to exit the editor. 

Scuf Instinct Pro: swappable thumbsticks

Scuf includes an extra set of thumbsticks in the package that are easy to swap. First, pull off the magnetic face place, and then pull off the thumbsticks and replace them with a different setup. When customizing a controller, Scuf offers both tall and short concave and domed sticks. 

How does it feel? 

Overall, the Scuf Instinct Pro controller feels very familiar. The shape is similar to the stock controller as well as the Elite controller. While I haven’t tried the normal Instinct, the performance grip on the Instinct Pro is comfortable and easy to hold, thanks to the rubberized texture. 

Performance triggers

The other feature that separates the Scuf Instinct Pro is the performance triggers. Rather than just shortening the trigger pull like most pro and performance controllers, flipping the switch on the Instinct Pro turns the trigger into more of a mouse switch click. There is audible and tactile feedback, and the trigger moves a very small amount. 

For FPS games looking for the fastest reaction, this means quick actuation just because the trigger doesn’t have to move as far. Just like the paddles, there is a bit of force required there so I never found myself accidentally firing weapons when playing. I also found myself leaving the left trigger standard for ADS when playing Destiny 2, but enjoyed the shorter trigger pull on the right. 

Scuf Instinct Pro’s downside: cost

Unfortunately, all of these customization and performance upgrades come at a price. The Scuf Instinct starts at $170, with the Instinct Pro starting at $200. The unit that I have here with the cosmetic upgrades and options comes in at just under $270. That’s a lot for a controller. It’s completely custom, and I’d be surprised if there is another controller exactly like this one, but that’s a lot. 

If all you’re interested in is a custom color, you can also check out Colorware. They offer premium custom products like the Xbox Series X|S controller starting at just $100. 

9to5Toys’ Take

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