First Off – A Table of The Best Recurve Bows
Best Beginner's Recurve
Best Recurve for the Money
Best Recurve Overall
Best Recurve Bow Overall
There are many excellent recurve bows on the market, and it can often be hard to tell the difference between the best performing bows. Indeed, anybody buying a bow from one of the top recurve bow brands is likely to be reasonably happy with their purchase, and the most recurve bow reviews on the web are decidedly unhelpful, often offering up a list of 10 or more bows with no in depth explanation of the strengths and weaknesses of each model. After a good deal of work, we did eventually decide on one bow that we thought was the best in the market – The Martin Saber.
The Martin brand is renowned in the archery world, and the company is still owned today by its the family of the original owners. The Martin Saber is a takedown bow that is well known for its durability. It’s longer than most recurves at 64″, but this isn’t too much of an issue as it breaks down into three very portable pieces when not in use. You can find the Saber with draw weights between 30-55lbs in increments of 5lbs, so the model is suitable for beginners as well as more advanced archers. It weighs about 3.4lbs, heavier than most other recurves – we feel this helps a bit with stability whilst shooting without being overly heavy.
The Saber is very comfortable to shoot – it has a consistently smooth draw, and we experienced relatively little vibration. We like the bow for its durability, and also for its versatility – both beginners and experts seem to get good use out of the Saber. We also think it looks pretty great, which is an added bonus. The related accessories that you can buy for the Saber (as well as other Martin recurves) are also top quality, and this provides added flexibility if you want to get more functionality out of it. There are only a few minor issues that we took note of – firstly, the arrow rest and bow stringer that come packaged with the bow aren’t the best quality, but most people will end up buying these parts separately anyways. The second issue is that Martin doesn’t offer the Saber for left handed folks – which is a shame, because it means that left handers can’t pick up what we think is pretty much the best overall recurve bow on the market.
Best Beginner Recurve Bow
For the best beginner recurve bow, we were looking for a bow that was not only forgiving and shot well – we wanted there to be a clear path to progress and were looking for a bow that could grow along with its user. We were also looking for a reasonably long bow length – generally speaking, the longer the bow length, the easier it is for someone inexperienced to make an accurate shot. Essentially, what were were hoping to find was a bow that was very accessible – in terms of shootability, in terms of development, and in terms of price.
The bow that we ended up choosing was the very popular and highly regarded Samick Sage Takedown. The Samick Sage pretty much fulfilled all our hopes for a beginners bow and then some. It’s pretty much universally well regarded, and almost every experienced archer that we’ve come across has told us that the Sage is a great first bow for a beginner. The Sage can come with draw weights of 25-60lbs, and the bow itself weighs about 3.4lbs.
The Sage also performs really nicely – the draw is smooth as silk (well, as smooth as a recurve gets) and the vibrations are small enough that it isn’t an issue. The only potential negative of the Sage is that it does make a little sound – it’s not outright loud, but it definitely makes a little noise. Still, we figure a beginner isn’t going to be hunting with their bow early on, and a string silencer can always be attached at a later point. The Sage is also extremely versatile – you can easily replace the limbs to increase or decrease the draw weight as neccesary – this provides a clear path of progression for a beginner archer who may want to start off with a lower draw weight and work their way up.
Given the many strengths of the Sage, and in particular the accessibility the bow offers beginners, we really think it’s a great choice for anyone looking to buy their first recurve bow. The fact that the Samick Sage also has a very accessible price of under $150 made it obvious to us that the Sage should be our pick for the best beginner recurve bow.
Best Recurve Bow for the Money
This category is exactly what it sounds like – we’re looking for the best deal, the best bang for your buck, the most results for the least cost. This was tough – there are a lot of good value, inexpensive, effective recurves available. in the end, it was between the Samick Sage (reviewed above) and the Martin Jaguar. We went with the Jaguar, but mainly because we had already discussed the Sage at length – in reality we see both of these recurve bows as fantastic value for money.
The Jaguar is a standard 60″ length bow, and is available in draw weights from 30lbs to 65lbs in 5 pound increments. It weights about 2.7lbs and is suitable for both hunting (provided you have high enough draw weight) and target shooting.
We like this bow for its smooth draw and how comfortable it feels in the hand, and we particularly like the grip that it comes with. It’s somewhat lighter than the Sage which potentially makes it a better hunting bow (although the added weight gives the Sage more stability which is good for beginners). The Jaguar is essentially a really solid bow all-around with a very affordable price tag – and for this reason, it earns our designation as the best value for money recurve bow.
Best Recurve Hunting Bow
Hunting with a recurve bow is often a thankless task – it takes much greater skill and patience to be a successful hunter with a recurve bow (or other traditional bow type) than it does with a compound bow. If you’re thinking about hunting with a recurve, you should make sure you are in the right mindset – hunting with a traditional bow is not about the kill – it is about the hunt. You won’t be racking up kills on a regular basis hunting with a recurve, and if what you’re interested in is getting a high volume of kills, you should look into buying a compound (or a hunting rifle) rather than a recurve bow.
That being said, achieving success hunting with a recurve in the wild can be tremendously satisfying – as with many other things life, the pleasure of reaching your goal is much greater if the journey was more difficult. Also, while hunting with a recurve will never net you as good results as hunting with a compound, picking the best hunting recurve bow for your purposes can improve your chances significantly – and in our opinion, the best recurve hunting bow is the Bear Super Kodiak.
The most important thing when choosing any bow for hunting is making sure the draw weight is sufficient for the game you’re hunting. The Super Kodiak definitely fulfills this criteria, it can be purchased with draw weights of 30-60lbs, but we strongly encourage the use of higher weights for hunting; higher draw weights are necessary to help ensure you’re taking down game in a humane fashion. This Bear model is not a takedown bow – it is a one-piece bow, so bear (pun intended) that in mind when purchasing. The bow has a pretty standard 60″ length, weighs about 3lbs.
The Kodiak has been around in one form or another for close to 50 years, and is considered by many experts to be a real classic bow choice. The construction quality is excellent, and the draw feels smooth and natural even on the heavier weights. It has a traditional wooden design, and is just overall a great piece of equipment. It is also notoriously durable – many seasoned archers have been using the older versions of the Kodiak or the somewhat newer ‘Super’ version for decades with few issues. It is also pretty quiet for a recurve, further making it suitable as a hunting bow. The only thing to note is that it may not be that suitable for beginners – both due to the fact that it’s one-piece (meaning you won’t be able to change the draw weights/draw length a you mature as an archer), and the fact that it’s a higher end bow that costs a little more. Overall, the Super Kodiak is a high end bow specifically designed for hunters, and it’s great shootability and excellent quality lead us to name it as our best recurve hunting bow.
Best Takedown Recurve Bow
For those who aren’t familiar with the idea of a takedown recurve bow – it is essentially a bow that can be deconstructed into a few component pieces for easy storage and transport.
Obviously our pick for best overall recurve bow was also a takedown, for this category, we were looking for excellent portability and a quick and easy takedown/reassembly. The Martin Saber may be the best overall bow, but some other options have a quicker or easier takedown process, and thus fared a bit better in this category. After much thought and deliberation, we decided that the Hoyt Buffalo was our choice for the Best Takedown Recurve Bow.
The Hoyt Buffalo is a higher end bow, and comes with 60″ or 62″ length. The buyer can also specify the wood grain that they prefer. Draw weights from 35lbs to 65lbs can be chosen (5lb increments), and the Buffalo can broken down into 3 pieces.
The thing that we like best about the Buffalo is that it breaks down into 3 pieces – without the use of any tools. Many takedown bows require a wrench or similar tool to disassemble, but the Buffalo can be disassembled and reassembled pretty easily without tools and with no fuss. We also like that it shoots real quiet, has relatively low vibration, and is generally just a pleasure to use. In all honesty – in a straight up comparison, the Hoyt Buffalo may have taken the crown for best recurve overall – the main thing holding it back is its hefty price tag. The Buffalo sells for between $700 and $800, which makes it a very expensive recurve – and we’re not entirely sure the added performance and ease of use makes it worth paying more than twice the amount that you can get our best-rated Martin Saber for. However, if you want something that works great and is also super portable and easy to takedown, and you’re willing to pay extra, we think the Hoyt Buffalo is the best takedown recurve bow available.
Still Can’t Decide?
If you’re still not sure what bow you want to buy, here’s a more comprehensive table with a wider range of bows beyond what we think are the top picks:
|Recurve Bow||Image||Draw Weight||Takedown||Bow Weight||Price||Handedness||Bow Length|
|Martin Saber||30-55||Yes||3.4||$$||RH Only||64|
|Bear Super Kodiak||30-65||No||3||$$$$||Both||60, 64|
|Hoyt Buffalo||35-65||Yes||3.2||$$$$||Both||58, 60, 62|
|Martin Jaguar||30-55||Yes||2.7||$||RH Only||60|
|Hoyt Gamemaster II||35-65||Yes||2.9||$$$||Both||62, 64|
|Martin Hunter||40-65||No||2.2||$$$$||Both||60, 62|
|Martin Super Diablo||45-65||No||2||$$$$||Both||60, 62|
|Martin Panther||30-55||Yes||2.7||$$||RH Only||62|
A Brief Explanation of Recurve Bows
For those of you are are less familiar with recurve bows in general, here’s a short introduction. Recurve Bows are a type of traditional bow where the tips of the weapon curve away from the archer. The design of the recurve allows for greater energy storage within the bow structure and is more efficient when compared to more well known western style straight-limb bows like the longbow. Recurve bows have been around for thousands of years, and the design probably originates from somewhere in Asia. Throughout history the recurve design has been used by many different cultures. The greater efficiency of the recurve allows for a shorter and more compact bow design, which made it an excellent design for mounted use – the legendary horseback archers of Genghis Khan were known for using recurve bows to great effect.
Surprisingly, despite the advent of Compound Bows which are engineered to shoot faster and more efficiently than a traditional recurve, the recurve bow remains popular, both with sport archers/target shooters as well as traditionalist hunters. In fact, Olympic archery events only permit the use of recurve bows. Recurve bows are also regaining popularity among the general public, particularly among younger generations – this is in part due to the increasing visibility of traditional archery in movies like the Hunger Games and other pop culture. If you’re looking to get into traditional hunting or target shooting and want to buy a recurve bow, you’re in luck – in this buying guide, we outline the top recurve bows in the market, and we have a number of recurve bow reviews to help you pick out the perfect bow based on your needs and preferences.
Here’s a video on how to shoot a recurve bow
What criteria do we use in our Recurve Bow Reviews?
While Recurve Bows are by definition less complex than Compound Bows, there are still a number of considerations that a buyer must take into account when trying to choose one model from among the best recurve bows. The following are some important things you should consider when picking out a recurve bow:
- Draw Weight: A typical adult male should probably look at something with 40-60lbs draw weight, and this number should scale down for people with smaller frames and less strength.
- Draw length: Should more or less scale directly with a person’s arm span – a good rule of thumb is to measure your arm span and divide by 2.5 to find an approximate draw length. For more experienced archers, you can adjust this figure depending on your specific preference of draw habits. With recurve bows, you should err on the side of a longer draw length given that the bow will still fire normally even if you don’t use up the entire draw length when shooting.
- Bow Materials: Unlike with compound bows, which are mostly manufactured using the same set of materials and same design principles, recurve bows can vary a great deal in terms of the quality and type of materials used. Better quality materials (like fiberglass) in the limbs of your bow will typically result in a superior shooting experience, but obviously these are also more expensive. The material of the string and the arrows used can also have a large impact on the experience of using a bow – we won’t go into too much detail about strings and arrows here, but we will be providing an in depth guide to these items shortly.
- Style/Design: The style and design of your bow isn’t just aesthetic – because a recurve bow is something you hold in your hand, the shape and size of the bow itself, how much the bow weighs, the placement of the rest, and many other small details can all have an effect on your shooting. Also, you may want to consider buying a Takedown Recurve Bow – this is a bow that can be disassembled and put back together. Some people like the idea of a portable and easy to store design, whereas for others it’s not a huge concern.
- Hunting Bow or No: Not all Recurve Bows are designed for hunting – bows with lower draw weights in particular may not carry the force required to hunt humanely and regulations may forbid hunting certain game animals with bows of lower draw weights. If you’re a total beginner and you intend to go bow-hunting, we’d recommend delaying your hunting plans until you’re sure you can handle a higher draw weight bow, or alternately, consider purchasing a compound bow for hunting instead. Learning to use a recurve takes a time and practice, and we definitely don’t recommend going hunting unless you’re already confident in your archery abilities.
- Price: Obviously this is a concern whenever you’re buying something new. The good thing is that most recurve bows are much more affordable than the more high-tech compound bows. You should definitely budget in at least $100 for the bow and other neccesary equipment, and a top of the line bow from one of the best recurve bow brands will typically set you back $200+ with all the additional accessories you’ll need.
We urge you take into account all of the above when reading through our recurve reviews so that you can really narrow your selection down and pick the recurve bow best suited to your individual needs and desires.