Crossbow Reviews

Tenpoint Venom

The Tenpoint Venom is in our opinion the best of the best – it was our favorite crossbow among all the models we looked at. The Venom is a compound model that is very versatile and practically flawless. Tenpoint is a brand that consistently puts out top quality crossbows, and the Venom lives up to the reputation of the company in every way. We recommend the Tenpoint to experienced crossbow shooters/hunters who are looking for a real high quality, high performance weapon. The only reason that we don’t recommend the Venom to all of our readers is its price – the Venom doesn’t come cheap, and for this reason it may not be a suitable purchase for those who are new to crossbows. To read more about why we like the Tenpoint Venom so much, check out our full review of it here.

Barnett Jackal

The Barnett Jackal is a good compound crossbow, but when you take into account how affordable it is, it becomes an excellent buy. In terms of performance, the Jackal rivals crossbows that are significantly more expensive, and in its price range we reckon it’s the very best model available. While not perfect, Barnett has done a lot of things right with the Jackal, and we highly recommend it to those of you who’re looking for a really good value crossbow. To learn more about exactly why we think the Barnett Jackal is such great value, read our detailed review of it here.

Stryker Solution

The Stryker Solution is a compound crossbow model that we liked a lot – in fact, were it not for the unsurpassed excellence of the Tenpoint Venom, it may well have been our favorite overall. As it is, we decided that the Solution was our favorite hunting crossbow as many aspects of the model make it especially suitable for hunting. The Solution actually comes in two models, the standard and the LS – the LS model has higher draw weight and higher FPS and is a great choice for those of you out there who prioritize speed. We prefer the standard model – it already shoots very fast, and in our opinion the lower draw weight improves the ease of use significantly. Regardless of whichever Stryker Solution model you like better, we think both options are excellent choices for a crossbow. To read more about why we liked the Stryker Solution so much, check out our comprehensive review of it here.

Excalibur Axiom SMF

The Axiom SMF is a recurve crossbow, and for a variety of reasons it was our favorite recurve crossbow overall. While recurves necessarily shoot slower than their compound counterparts, the Axiom SMF performs strongly in pretty much every other way, and in addition it also has all the benefits that come with being a recurve – namely lower maintenance and lighter weight. To find out more about the Excalibur Axiom SMF, read our in depth review of it here.

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury II

Despite the complicated name, the Fury II is actually one of the simpler crossbow models available. It’s a recurve crossbow, so the mechanisms that drive it are relatively straight forward, and it’s also pretty compact and very lightweight. We liked the Inferno Fury II as a good, affordable option for a beginner/inexperienced shooter – it shoots relatively slow, so it may not satisfy experienced crossbow users, and in particular those of you who hunt with your crossbows should probably opt for a different model as the Fury II does not shoot fast enough to hunt medium-large game. Still, we liked the Fury II for what it was – an affordable, beginner friendly recurve crossbow option. To learn more about the Fury II, you can read our full review of it here.

We also highly recommend you check out our comprehensive Guide to the Best Crossbows.

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury II Review

If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

The Arrow Precision Inferno Fury II is a excellent value for money, beginner appropriate recurve crossbow that is solid all-around with only a couple of minor flaws. It’s not a perfect crossbow by any means, but we feel its good enough, particularly for people who are relatively inexperienced or completely new to shooting crossbows. The thing we like most about the Fury II is it’s pricing – it comes at a very affordable price point that is perfect for anyone who wants to try out crossbow shooting as a hobby but doesn’t want to invest a large amount into buying an expensive crossbow from the get go.

Bow Details

Speed: 235 FPS

Crossbow Length: 34.5

Draw Weight: 175lbs

Width: 26.5 (Recurve Crossbows are wider than compound crossbows)

Power Stroke: 10.5

Crossbow Weight: 5.85lbs

Type: Recurve Crossbow

Cocking Mechanism: Rope Cocker

Our Impressions

First things first – the Inferno Fury II is not really suitable for hunting, and in particular is not appropriate (and in many states is not legal) to use for hunting large game. It is very much an entry level crossbow, and it shoots at pretty slow speeds – and because of this, it lacks the power that’s needed to maximize the chances of a humane kill. The Fury II is not designed as a hunting crossbow, and we strongly urge you not to hunt large game with it.

If we put aside the slow shot speed, the Inferno Fury II is actually a solid bow in most other respects, particularly if you take into account how affordable it is. One thing that we especially appreciate about the Fury II is how lightweight it is – one of the advantages of a recurve crossbow is that it will typically be lighter than a compound model because it’s just a less complicated machine with less parts – but the Fury II is light even for a recurve crossbow. Size-wise, it’s also smaller than the other recurve crossbow that we like a lot, the Excalibur Axiom SMF. Because of it’s size and weight, the Inferno Fury II may be particularly suitable for beginners, females, and young adults.

The ergonomics of the Fury II are pretty good as well – the grip is comfortable to handle and the bow shoulders and aims nicely and doesn’t feel unwieldy in any way. The Fury II also shoots pretty accurate – we got reasonably good groupings at the standard distances. The accuracy level is better than what we would typically expect from such an affordable crossbow. The Fury II feels pretty durable, and while the materials obviously aren’t the most high end available, they are still decent quality and feel pretty sturdy. The Fury II has the standard anti dry-fire mechanism.

The sight is decent – nothing to write home about but definitely usable and serviceable for a budget crossbow model. One thing we weren’t crazy about was the trigger – it didn’t feel firm enough to us, and while it’s not at the point where it would be easy to misfire, we’d prefer a somewhat firmer trigger mechanism. The Fury II has 175lbs draw weight, and comes with a rope cocking device which works as expected. One thing to note is that the power stroke is only 10.5″ on the Fury II – this explains the lack of speed on the shot, but on the other hand makes the draw much more palatable for those who might struggle with a lengthier power stroke.

Pros

  • Recurve crossbows need less looking after
  • Pretty accurate
  • Compact size and lightweight
  • Decent Ergonomics
  • Reasonable durability and construction quality
  • Great value for money
  • Excellent budget crossbow option

Cons

  • Only shoots 235 FPS
  • Not really suitable for hunting
  • Trigger lacks firmness

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a crossbow that you can hunt with, you should probably take a look at some of our other crossbow reviews – there are plenty of excellent crossbows available that are suitable for hunting, and the Fury II is just not one of them. On the other hand, if you’re a beginner or an inexperienced shooter looking for a budget crossbow that will still perform admirably, the Fury II may be the right choice for you. It’s really affordable, and beginners who try out shooting and decide they don’t like it won’t have made a huge investment into a failed hobby. We also recommend the Fury to people who primarily like to target shoot as well as people who are on a really tight budget but want a pretty good crossbow. Other than the lack of power, the Fury II is pretty much solid all-around, and we think it’s a great choice for beginners, for inexperienced shooters, and for those of you on a strict budget.

 

Excalibur Axiom SMF Review

If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

The Excalibur Axiom SMF is a recurve crossbow, and is in our opinion the very best one on the market owing to its perfect blend of price and performance. While recurve crossbows aren’t all that popular – most crossbow shooters are on board with the idea of mechanized help, since crossbows are somewhat mechanical anyways – Excalibur has made a name for itself in the recurve crossbow niche, and the Axiom SMF is another example of this. The Axiom SMF is just a great crossbow all around – lightweight, durable, and highly accurate.

Bow Details

Speed: 305 FPS

Crossbow Length: 37.5″

Draw Weight: 175lbs

Width: 35.44 (Recurve Crossbows are wider than compound crossbows)

Power Stroke: 14.375″

Crossbow Weight: 5.8

Type: Recurve Crossbow

Cocking Mechanism: Rope Cocker

Our Impressions

The Axiom SMF is in our opinion the best choice for those of you looking exclusively for a recurve crossbow. Buying a recurve has some distinct advantages and disadvantages when compared to a compound – recurves are easier to maintain, are more ‘traditional’, and tend to be lighter (because there’s no specialized mechanisms on the bow). On the other hand, recurve crossbows will tend to be wider, will typically have higher draw weights, and most importantly, will almost always shoot significantly slower than compound crossbows.

If you compare the Axiom SMF to some of the compound models that we’ve reviewed, it will seem slow – 305 FPS for a compound crossbow would definitely be considered sluggish. For a recurve however, it’s reasonably fast. In exchange for the slower speeds that come with being a recurve, the Axiom is really lightweight – only 5.8lbs – making it very portable.

Also, because the Axiom is a recurve, it requires much less maintenance and upkeep than a compound. That’s time saved that you can spend target shooting or hunting rather than sitting somewhere adjusting strings or doing the other things that come with owning a compound. A decent amount of people prefer recurve models for this reason.

One thing that really stands out to us about the Axiom is that it is exceptionally accurate – we’re not entirely sure whether this was due to the fact that its a recurve or something else, but we found we could shoot really tight groups when using the Axiom. This might make the Axiom SMF a good choice for beginners who don’t need the high speeds but would benefit from help in the accuracy department. It also doesn’t hurt that the scope that is included with the Axiom SMF is fantastic – we were thrilled to find that such a good quality scope came included with this model. On top of all that, we feel that the Axiom SMF is really excellent value for money given its specs.

Ergonomics of the Axiom SMF are decent – the grip isn’t as natural as some of the other grips we’ve come across, but it isn’t uncomfortable. On the other hand it’s very comfortable to hold and aim due to its light weight. The draw weight of the Axiom SMF may be an issue for some – at 175lbs, most people will need more than the rope cocker (which reduces the draw weight by 50%), and if you decide you want to buy the Axiom you may want to look into purchasing a compatible crank cocker.

The only issues we ahd with the Axiom had more to do with the fact that its a recuve rather than the Axiom itself. As we’ve already mentioned, recurve bows and crossbows tend to be longer/wider respectively than their compound counterparts – this holds true with the Axiom, which has a width of 35.44″ (comparable to the axle-to-axle length in compound models). In this sense, the Axiom is a tad large even though it weighs so little. Also, the Excalibur lacks some of the safety mechanisms that we’ve become accustomed to – for example, there’s no anti dry-fire feature. The other issue with the Axiom is that it’s not that fast – but this is a weakness inherent to all recurve crossbows. All in all, we weren’t too concerned with either of these factors – we know what we’re getting into when we use a recurve crossbow – but buyers, and particularly first time buyers, should take note of these facts.

Pros

  • Recurve crossbows are low maintenance
  • Extremely accurate
  • Very lightweight
  • Includes a really good quality scope
  • Excellent value for money

Cons

  • Doesn’t shoot that fast
  • No anti dry-fire
  • Wider than most other crossbows due to it being a recurve

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a great recurve crossbow, we highly recommend the Axiom SMF. We also think it would be an excellent choice for those who don’t prioritize speed, because if you take speed out of the equation, the Axiom is outright probably one of the best crossbows we’ve looked at, and it’s easy to maintain and great value for money. Obviously, the Axiom SMF isn’t ideal for those who put an emphasis on speedy crossbows, but for everyone else, the Excalibur Axiom SMF is a superb crossbow that excels in most other aspects and is great value for money.

 

Stryker Solution Review

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If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

The Stryker Solution was one of our favorite crossbows overall, and if it weren’t for the spectacular performance of the Tenpoint Venom, the Solution would have been in the running as our top rated crossbow. The Solution is also particularly suitable for hunting – we found it to have all the necessary qualities of a great crossbow for hunting, which is why it got the nod as the best hunting crossbow in our crossbow guide. The Solution is also significantly less expensive than the Tenpoint Venom – this makes it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a top notch crossbow but the Venom is outside your budget. There is also the Stryker Solution LS, which has similar specs to the Regular Solution, but comes with higher draw weight and even faster FPS.

Bow Details

Speed: 350 FPS (LS 390 FPS)

Crossbow Length: 35″

Draw Weight: 125lbs (LS 155lbs)

Axle-to-Axle: 29.19

Power Stroke: 15.5″

Crossbow Weight: 6.9lbs

Type: Compound Crossbow

Cocking Mechanism: Rope Cocker

Our Impressions

The Stryker Solution is a crossbow that we like a great deal – in particular we’re shocked by the speed that the Solution can fire at given the 125lbs draw weight which is lower than some other crossbows. The Solution LS comes with a higher draw weight – 155 lbs – and shoots at a blazing 390 FPS, which frankly we feel is unnecessarily speedy. In any case, the standard Solution model is plenty fast at 350FPS, and with just 125 lbs draw weight, the Solution makes for a great hunting crossbow as its easier to cock than many crossbows out there, but fires fast enough to hunt with. In fact, it’s faster than many of the models on the market.

We got pretty good accuracy out of the Stryker Solution – we didn’t find it difficult to get pretty decent groupings on the target and overall we were pleased with the results we got.

The Solution is also reasonably compact and is lighter than average for a crossbow – these are both excellent qualities for a hunting crossbow than you may have to carry around with you for extended periods. The ergonomics on the Solution are great – the bow shoulders comfortably and is well balanced and easy to aim.

One thing we particularly like about the Solution (and one of the things it does better than the Venom) is that the Solution fires really quietly. In fact, of the many crossbows we’ve come across that are hunting appropriate, the Solution probably shot the quietest of all of them. Hunters will know that this is an added advantage – a quiet weapon means less chance of startling the surrounding animals, which means more potential target later on.

The solution comes with a serviceable rope cocker and a reasonable scope. Neither of these are great, but they get the job done. We would have preferred a scope that has the option of illumniating (red dot style), but it’s definitely not a deal breaker. Serious hunters may want to replace the sight that comes with the Solution somewhere down the line. Naturally, the Solution, like most other crossbows nowadays, has a dry fire prevention mechanism. If you get the regular solution with 125lbs draw weight, depending on how burly you are, you may not need a cocking aid at all. Still, we recommend you use a rope cocker, and the majority of people will need one of they get the Solution LS. The trigger is less firm than we prefer, although this is purely personal preference.

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Check the Best Price for the Stryker Solution on Amazon

Final Thoughts

The Solution is a really good crossbow all around, and it’s not as expensive as some of the top models available. The combination of quiet shooting, excellent power, lower draw weight, and below average size makes it an ideal hunting crossbow. We highly recommend the Solution, particularly if you’re looking for a top quality crossbow but the Tenpoint Venom is outside of your budget. For those of you who value speed very highly, the Solution LS model shoots a blazing 390FPS with 155 draw weight – while we haven’t tested it, we imagine it functions similarly to the Solution as it has identical specs outside of FPS and draw weight. Either way, we’re pretty sure that if you end up with one of the models of Stryker Solution, you’ll be happy with your purchase – especially if you’re a hunter. It’s just an excellent crossbow all around.

Barnett Jackal Review

If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

If you’re looking for a bow that has excellent performance for a very reasonable price, the Barnett Jackal is the crossbow for you. This bow is really excellent value for money – in fact, we don’t think there is a better value crossbow out there – which is why we chose the Jackal as our best value crossbow. It shoots reasonably fast and is quite accurate, has very few noticeable flaws, and is really affordable. There’s not a single crossbow that performs better than the Jackal does in its price range, and the Jackal is probably even comparable with some models that are significantly more expensive.

Bow Details

Speed: 315 FPS

Crossbow Length: 35.5″

Draw Weight: 150lbs

Axle-to-Axle: 26.25″

Power Stroke: 12″

Crossbow Weight: 7.7lbs

Type: Compound Crossbow

Cocking Mechanism: Sold Separately

Our Impressions

The main selling point of the Barnett Jackal is the price – we don’t believe that there is a better value crossbow to be had. It doesn’t perform exceptionally in any particular criteria – however, it is solid all-around, doesn’t have any gaping flaws, and has a very accessible price point. It’s also very versatile – suitable for target shooting as well as for hunting any kind of game.

The Jackal isn’t the fastest crossbow out there, but it does pack quite a punch – 315 fps is nothing to scoff at. It’s definitely fast enough for any kind of hunting that you might want to use it for. It’s also reasonably accurate – we didn’t have any issues shooting nice groups at the typical distances. The sight that comes with the Jackal is pretty good too – it’s a red dot sight with a number of useful settings that allow for more versatility.

The Jackal is spot on in terms of ergonomics – it’s both comfortable to hold and shoot, and the way it feels when you grip it is very similar to the way a similarly sized firearm would feel. The Jackal is about average weight and size for a compound crossbow – it’s definitely not big, but it’s also not particularly portable compared to the other models on the market – its just pretty typical portability as far as crossbows go. Barnett didn’t skimp on materials for the Jackal despite its affordability – the Jackal feels very durable and is clearly made of good quality materials.

The Barnett Jackal also has the typical anti dry-fire mechanism which we’re always big fans of, as dry-firing is very damaging to crossbows and can also be dangerous for the user. We like the trigger of this crossbow a lot – it strikes the perfect balance between being firm and easy to press. We’re told that the trigger mechanism of the Jackal requires about 3.5lbs to pull – this is probably the sweet spot for triggers and we’ll be on the lookout for bows with similar trigger weight.

The one flaw that we noticed in the Jackal is that it’s loud. There’s no getting away from it – when you fire it, there is a very audible sound, which may be an issue for really serious hunters. Also, the Jackal doesn’t come with any kind of cocker – so unless you’re someone who’s comfortable lifitng 150lbs pretty regularly, you’ll probably want to buy either a rope cocker or a compatible crank. This isn’t a huge deal – a reasonable rope cocker only costs about $20, but it is a minor inconvenience and we’d prefer if the Jackal was $20 more expensive and included the rope cocker. Other than that, we feel like the Jackal is solid all around without any major weaknesses.

Pros

  • Stellar Value for Money
  • Fast and Accurate for the price
  • Accompanying sight is surprisingly good
  • Reasonably good ergonomics
  • Trigger mechanism is perfectly balanced

Cons

  • Quite Loud on the shot
  • Doesn’t come with any cocking device

Final Thoughts

The Barnett Jackal is just unbeatable value for money – at this price point, you definitely won’t find a better bow, and even at higher price points the Jackal measures up really well against the competition. In particular, we like to recommend the Jackal to beginners – it’s easy to shoot, accurate and accessible, and as a beginner, if you develop your shooting abilities, it’s also perfectly appropriate as a hunting bow, so the crossbow leaves room for development. On the other hand, if it turns out you don’t like shooting a crossbow, you haven’t invested a huge amount. Overall, we think the Jackal is just solid all-around, fantastic value, and a good buy for anyone on a budget looking for a good, versatile crossbow.

 

Tenpoint Venom Review

If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

If we were to describe the Tenpoint Venom using a sports analogy, we’d say it was a home run, a half court shot at the buzzer, a game winning touchdown. It’s that good. We liked it so very much that it was our choice for best overall crossbow, and managed to win that designation pretty handily. The combination of portability, speed, and accuracy makes the Venom just an outstanding crossbow that we feel is unmatched right now.

Bow Details

Speed: 372 FPS

Crossbow Length: 34.6″

Draw Weight: 185lbs

Axle-to-Axle: 17.6″

Power Stroke: 13.5″

Crossbow Weight: 6.5lbs

Type: Compound Crossbow

Cocking Mechanism: AcuDraw 50 (Rope) or AcuDraw (Crank)

Our Impressions

The first thing that stands out to us about the Venom is it’s incredibly lightweight and compact. We can’t think of another crossbow model out there that is this portability while also being fast and accurate enough to please experienced crossbow hunters/shooters. The lightness and compactness of the Venom makes it a real breeze to go hunting with – it’s light enough that it doesn’t feel like a burden at all.

We also found that the Venom shoots really accurate – we had no issues putting bolts into pretty tight groups at reasonable distances. In fact, we’ve heard some people who bought the Venom managed pretty tight groups without even adjusting the sight – it came out of the box zeroed in properly. Obviously, not ever buyer will have this experience, but it does show a level of dedication to pleasing the customer that we’re used to seeing from Tenpoint. The sight that comes with the Venom is just fantastic – it’s a top of the line scope in its own right, and comes with a lot of flexibility in terms of distances, and you can even choose to use it as a red (or green) dotted sight or just use the non electronic mode.

Obviously the Venom also shoots at pretty blazing speeds – because crossbows lack an official speed measurement methodology (there’s no equivalent of the IBO speeds that you find with compound bows that applies to crowssbows), companies that produce crossbows often promote their crossbows with unrealistic speeds. We find it unlikely that you’ll consistently be shooting at 372 FPS, but 350+ speeds are definitely doable on a pretty consistent basis, and that’s plenty of speed for any kind of shooting or hunting.

The Venom was a pleasure to hold and shoot – ergonomically, it’s excellent. Because of how light it is, it’s not difficult at all to carry and aim, and the weight is evenly distributed along the crossbow rather than heavy at the front or back. Shouldering the Venom also feels easy and natural. The Venom also has an anti dry-fire mechanism which is a nice feature considering how dangerous dry firing can be. The 185lbs draw weight may seem heavy, but the Venom comes with either the AcuDraw 50 (Rope cocker) or AcuDraw (crank mechanism). A fully grown, reasonably fit man should be able to handle the AcuDraw 50, but for most people we’d recommend the crank style mechanism because pretty much anybody can load the Venom with the AcuDraw.

There are only two real issues that a buyer might have with the Venom. The first is the trigger – it’s not bad per se, but in general we’ve found that the Tenpoint triggers are just average, and the Venom trigger is similarly just average – on another crossbow, we may not even have noticed, but because the Venom does pretty much everything else near perfectly, we singled out the trigger as not being up to the same quality as the rest of the crossbow. The other ‘issue’ is the price – the Venom is in our opinion basically the best crossbow out there, and to get the best you have to be willing to pay for it. The Venom sells for about $1700 with the AcuDraw, and is $100 cheaper if you choose the model with the AcuDraw 50.

Pros

  • Really Compact
  • Very Lightweight
  • Highly accurate
  • Shoots with tremendous speed
  • Ergonomics are great
  • Really High Quality Sight

Cons

  • Relatively pricey
  • Trigger is just average

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for the best possible crossbow for hunting or target shooting and you have the budget to be able to afford it, go out and get the Tenpoint Venom and don’t look back. It’s an incredibly good bow, and we were actually pretty surprised that something as compact and lightweight as the Venom could be produced with no compromises on speed or accuracy. It’s a real delight to shoot, and we think it would prove an excellent purchase for someone who’s experienced with a crossbow and is looking for the very best. We’d say that beginners should stay away from the Venom purely because it’s definitely on the high-end in terms of pricing – but for someone who has the budget for it and is looking for a top notch crossbow model, the Tenpoint Venom is exactly what you’re looking for.

 

Recurve Bow Reviews

Martin Saber

The Martin Saber was our favorite recurve bow overall, thanks to its excellent all-around performance and affordable price point. It doesn’t really have any weaknesses of note – except perhaps for the fact that it’s only available for right handers. The Saber is a takedown recurve, that comes in various draw weights, and it’s really just a stellar recurve bow any way you look at it – that’s why we were such big fans of it, and why it was our favorite recurve among all the models we looked at. To read more about why we like the Martin Saber Takedown Recurve so much, read the full review here.

Bear Super Kodiak

The Super Kodiak is the successor of the classic, very popular Bear Kodiak. It is specifically designed with the bowhunter in mind and its clear this is the case, both from an aesthetic and functional stand point. The Super Kodiak attempts to adhere to tradition, forgoing the more modern takedown approach in favor of being a one-piece bow. Even though we have stated our preference for takedown recurves, despite the fact that it’s a one-piece bow we still liked the Super Kodiak enough to call it our top recurve for hunting. To find out what we liked and didn’t like about the Super Kodiak, click here to read our in depth review.

Hoyt Buffalo

The Hoyt Buffalo was our favorite takedown recurve bow, and came pretty close to being our favorite overall – if it weren’t for the fact that the Buffalo is quite high-end price wise compared to the Saber (which is much more affordable), it may well have taken the top honor. While the Buffalo isn’t flawless, it performs very well at the main functions that a bow should have – it shoots tremendously well, accurately and powerfully, so the small flaws it does have were easy to overlook. To read more about what we thought of the Hoyt Buffalo, you can read our detailed individual review of it here.

Samick Sage

The Samick Sage is in our opinion, the very best recurve bow for beginners. Appropriate for both target shooting and hunting, the Sage is flexible enough that it could be used by a beginner on day 1, but still be used by the same person even after he/she has had 10 years of experiencing shooting a recurve. Samick made sure to not only make a takedown, but make it easy to assemble, extremely affordable, and easy to find replacement/upgraded parts for – all things that should be highly valued in a beginners bow. To read more of what we thought about the Samick Sage, feel free to check out our full review of it here.

Martin Jaguar

The Martin Jaguar is a good, solid bow, and when you take into account the price, it becomes a tremendous product because it’s such great value for money. With all-around strong performance, the Jaguar was our pick for best recurve bow for the money, and was really only challenged by the equally affordable and equally great Samick Sage. While it’s not outright the best bow (and doesn’t really try to be), the Jaguar is the bow to buy if you’re looking for a bargain. To read more about what makes the Martin Jaguar Takedown such a good deal, read our comprehensive full review of it here.

We also highly recommend you check out our comprehensive Guide to the Best Recurve Bows.

Martin Jaguar Review

If you want to learn more about crossbows in general, check out our Best Crossbows Guide.

The Martin Jaguar is tremendous value for money – in fact, it even managed to equal the Samick Sage (which is a bow we’re crazy about) in terms of being good value, at least in our minds. The Jaguar is a takedown recurve is just a really solid bow that is available at a really fantastic price – there’s not much else to it. In terms of absolute performance, it’s not the best, but for the price, other than the aforementioned Sage, it’s more or less unrivaled.

Bow Details

Bow Length: 60″

Draw Weight: 30-5lbs

Handedness: Right Handed Only

Bow Weight: 2.7lbs

Takedown: Yes

Our Impressions

The Jaguar is a really good bow. It’s unreasonable that a bow this good is this affordable. And yet it is. The Jaguar doesn’t shine in any one category, but it’s performs well in general, and while the Sage would be better for beginners, if you’re an experienced shooter on a budget, and you’re looking for a splendid recurve, you should go with the Jaguar.

Martin is well known for consistently putting out really quality bows, and the Jaguar is no exception. It shoots accurately, and while it’s not the most powerful recurve we’ve ever seen, it definitely still packs quite a punch. In terms of accuracy, we found the Jaguar performed nearly as well as many models that are twice (or more) as expensive, which is really something.

We felt only a bit of hand shock on the shot, and it was decently quiet. The Jaguar is also real comfortable – it’s a similar grip to that of our favorite (Martin Saber), and it feels very comfortable both in the hand and when making a shot. The materials also feel reasonable durable. Another thing that we really liked about the Jaguar was how lightweight it is – at only 2.7lb, it’s lighter than the average recurve on top of already being a takedown – which means it’s super portable and easy to carry in the field

The one thing we’d note about the Jaguar is the arrow rest – the rest is plastic, and we generally find that plastic anything on a bow tends to wear out reasonably quickly. Good thing is that it’s pretty easy to replace – if you do get the Jaguar, we’d probably recommend you be prepared to buy a new arrow rest as the one that comes with the Jaguar may not last you that long.

Pros

  • Probably the best value for money option
  • Excellent accuracy for the price
  • Lightweight and takedown function makes it super portable
  • Comfortable ergonomics and excellent grip
  • Decent both in terms of noise and vibration levels for the price range

Cons

  • Plastic arrow rest is easily worn out and will need replacement relatively quickly
  • Only available to right handers

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a really good value for money bow, or you’re on a tight budget, we highly recommend the Jaguar. There is only one other bow that is as good in terms of value – the Samick Sage – and we’d basically recommend those of you who are of above average height and hand size go with the larger Sage, and those of you average or below go with the Jaguar. Experienced folks should lean Jaguar, and beginners should lean Sage. In general, the Jaguar is so affordable and performs so well overall that we find it unlikely you’ll be unhappy with it regardless of what your specific needs are – it’s just that good a bargain.

Samick Sage Review

If you want to learn more about recurve bows in general, check out our Best Recurve Bows Guide.

We’re thoroughly convinced that the Samick Sage is by far the best beginners recurve model on the market, and it’s not even that close. For those of you who are looking for your first bow – look no further. It’s clear that the Sage was designed specifically to be tailored towards the beginner, and it shows – there are just so many design aspects to the Sage that make sense for a inexperienced archer. It’s also very affordable, which is also a huge strength for a first bow – you don’t need to invest that much upfront to get a very functional, solid bow, and the great thing about the Sage is that it is relatively easy to upgrade if you decide to further pursue traditional archery as a hobby.

Bow Details

Bow Length: 62″

Draw Weight: 25-60lbs

Handedness: Both

Bow Weight: 3.4lbs

Takedown: Yes

Our Impressions

The Sage is just a fantastic piece of equipment. It’s a takedown recurve that is relatively simple to put together, and it just performs at a level that we wouldn’t really expect from a budget recurve bow. The grip feels great, and we liked the ergonomics a lot – although we think that the grip will probably be more comfortable for those with average hand size (or lower) as it’s not that large. The grip lacks any kind of padding, but we still thought that it was reasonably easy to grip and we didn’t feel any discomfort or pain doing so.

The bow shoots remarkably well for such an affordable option. Frankly, we were expecting much worse – it’s not often that we are impressed with how a sub $200 bow shoots. Obviously, it’s not the best performer in absolute terms – the Buffalo for example, shoots better than the Sage in our opinion – however, if we’re comparing on a value for money basis, the Sage is near unbeatable – you just don’t normally get this kind of shooting experience for such a good price. The bow is quiet, with only a little hand shock, and pretty decent power and accuracy.

Another thing that makes the Sage great for beginners is it accepts sights and other accessories – many higher end bows skew more traditional and don’t allow for these aids. We feel like having a sight and a stabilizer can help a first timer or inexperienced shooter focus on the actual technique of his/her draw, which is helpful and can aid the speed of progress in terms of shooting accurately with the required force.

Also, the fact that the Sage is a takedown is tremondously useful for inexperienced archers, because as they develop they have the freedom to upgrade their bows without shelling out for an entirely new model. For example, if you want to slowly develop your ability to handle higher and higher draw weights, that’s very possible with the sage, and not as easy to do with some other recurves – and it’s basically impossible with a one-piece bow.

One thing to note about the Sage is that it is heavier than the average recurve – 3.4lbs is by no means heavy, but if you’re carrying your now around for extended periods of time, every little bit of weight has an effect. Not a huge deal, but just something to keep in mind. Also, the 62″ is a tad longer than average, so those who are of below average height or arm length may want to find a 60″ or smaller bow instead.

Pros

  • Near unbeatable value for money
  • Powerful and accurate for the price
  • Takedown function allows for upgrades and part replacements
  • Option to attach various aids helps beginners focus on fundamental of technique
  • Quiet with little vibration, especially for the price
  • Pretty solid ergonomics for such an affordable option

Cons

  • Bigger than average – smaller users may want to opt for 60″ or less
  • A little above average in terms of weight
  • Grip doesn’t come with padding

Final Thoughts

If you’re a first timer or you just went to a range for the first time and you want to get into archery as a hobby, then this is absolutely the bow for you. It doesn’t cost that much, and for the price, the performance is pretty much unmatched – we reckon on a purely value-for-money scale, the Sage is very near the top. More experienced (and people with more expendable income) may prefer something a bit higher end to potentially get better absolute performance. Also, the Sage might be a little large for those of smaller stature. Still, if you’re just getting into archery and you want a recurve bow, the Sage is probably your best bet by some margin.

Hoyt Buffalo Review

If you want to learn more about recurve bows in general, check out our Best Recurve Bows Guide.

The Hoyt Buffalo was our favorite takedown recurve (second if you include the Martin Saber in that discussion). The Buffalo has one or two minor flaws, but it’s strong performance in most areas plus the fact that it’s a breeze to take apart and reassemble made it one of our favorite recurves. The Buffalo is all-around solid, and the ease of the takedown process makes it especially portable – if you’re someone who wants to keep your gear to a minimum, the Buffalo may prove to be a good choice for you.

Bow Details

Bow Length: 58″, 60″, 62″

Draw Weight: 35-65lbs

Handedness: Both

Bow Weight: 3.2lbs

Takedown: Yes

Our Impressions

The Hoyt Buffalo has an extremely straightforward takedown process that doesn’t require the use of a screwdriver, wrench, or any other tools – this makes it quite ideal for experienced hunters who want strong portability and don’t necessarily want to always have to have a set of tools or similar on hand to put their bow back together. If you’re not sure how to put the bow together, you should watch the instructional DVD that comes on the bow – it’s also likely that you can find instructions online in video form.

The Buffalo is definitely designed more as a hunting bow rather than for target shooting – although it performs pretty well for both functions. The durability of the Buffalo is outstanding, and you can really feel the high quality of the materials its made of. The nature of the materials also makes it resistant to almost all environments – your Buffalo should perform consistently regardless of whether it’s been through snow, rain, or other challenging weather.

The bow shoots magnificently – the draw is very comfortable and smooth, and the bow shoots very accurately and packs a real punch. Not much bad to say about the Buffalo is this department – in terms of shooting performance, it’s pretty much as good as you can get with a recurve. Because of the power you can get with this bow, it’s really a ideal hunting bow – at the higher draw weights, you can be quite sure that you’ll bring down large game if your shot is on point. The ergonomics are also on point – this bow handles like a dream and feels secure and comfortable when held.

There are a couple minor issues we have with the Buffalo. First and foremost is that it’s relatively expensive – in fact, if it weren’t for the issue of price, the Buffalo might have been our favorite overall recurve. Also, you cannot attach a sight or other accessories (other than quiver) to the Buffalo – so this bow is probably more suitable for experienced archers and those who lean towards instinctive shooting rather than aim-and-shoot types. Another thing that we noticed was that the Buffalo makes a bit of sound – we wouldn’t say it’s loud, but it’s also definitely not quiet.

Pros

  • Ergonomics are excellent
  • Really top of the line in terms of power and accuracy
  • Bow materials are very durable
  • Takedown process is very straightforward, allows for greater portability
  • Combination of portability and power makes it an excellent hunting bow

Cons

  • Can’t attach sight or other accessories
  • Makes a little noise compared to some other recurves
  • Top quality comes with a bit of a hefty price tag

Final Thoughts

The Buffalo is a really good bow overall – in fact, if we take price out of the equation entirely, it may well have been our favorite choice among all the bows – at the end of the day, the thing you care about with a bow is how it shoots, and the Buffalo shoots like a dream. As with all things, the best performance comes with a high price – this is the main reason it wasn’t our favorite overall. Still, we highly recommend the Buffalo to those looking for a superb takedown bow, particularly those of you who are hunters. Beginners may want to avoid the Buffalo due to its higher price point and the fact many of the things that are useful in aiding beginners can’t be attached to it. For experienced shooters looking for a portable, powerful weapon, the Buffalo will prove an excellent choice.