David Balcombe took his 50th LV County Championship wicket of the season as Hampshire dismissed Essex for 180.
Hampshire's strike bowler bowled with pace and found no shortage of bounce and carry on another West End green top.
Essex lunched on 86-5, with all departing batsmen caught in the slips.
Balcombe finished the opening session with 3-22, openers Tom Westley (4) and Jaik Mickleburgh (7) nicking to Jimmy Adams at first slip and Liam Dawson at second inside the first ten overs.
James Tomlinson (1-19) had Owais Shah well caught by James Vince at third slip before Ryan ten Doeschate flashed hard at David Griffiths (1-16), a second catch for Adams at first, where he has replaced Neil McKenzie.
Balcombe took his third wicket with the last ball before lunch, Vince taking another catch at third slip as Essex captain James Foster went for ten.
All the bowlers enjoyed no shortage of movement. Griffiths and Sean Ervine took two wickets apieces during the afternoon session, Michael Bates holding on to three catches, as Essex were dismissed for 180 - the lowest completed first-innings score at The Ageas Bowl this season.
Michael Carberry hit 42 and Bilal Shafayat an unbeaten 42 as Hampshire reached 165-4 at stumps.
Hampshire bowling: Tomlinson 13-2-46-1, Balcombe 15-2-57-4, Ervine 11-8-19-2, Griffiths 13.2-2-40-3.