Compound bows may look excessively complicated, especially when they are fully equipped with all the accessories needed to make a great shot. However, compound bows are actually simple machines at their core. It is the subtleties and unique specifications of each compound bow that can make bow shopping quite the undertaking. The overwhelming amount of features and buzzwords can be a bit much, especially if you’re new to the sport or are returning after a long hiatus. Even a seasoned archer may be daunted by the sheer amount of choice they have when it comes to purchasing their next compound bow. We’ll make the burden a little lighter by presenting the information you need to know and highlight the best compound bows available.
9 Best Compound Bows Of 2017 Comparison
Top 5 Compound Bows For 2017
The top compound bows listed here come with a variety of configurations. Some are barebones with just the bow itself, while others provide a full package of attachments. These packages are usually referred to as Ready, Aim, Kill (RAK) or Ready to Hunt (RTH). The packages make for some of the best hunting bows on a budget and are ready to go. Keep in mind, however, that with any new bow it is important to get it tuned up and adjusted at a professional shop. Even the best bows can be off directly from the manufacturer and will result in awful accuracy or uncomfortable shooting if not properly setup for the archer.
1) Bear Archery Cruzer
The Bear Archery Cruzer is literally everything a beginner will need to get started with compound bows and just enough for a veteran to get by until they’re ready to upgrade components. This RTH package comes loaded with all of the basic gear a hunter requires and the bow itself is absolutely solid.
What You Need To Know About The Cruzer
Weighing 3.6lbs and measuring 32” axle to axle it is fairly light and easy enough for children to wield, but just as suitable for adults. The versatility of the dual MV cam system is what enables the Cruzer to grow with its user and why it is the best youth compound bow. The draw weight can be adjusted from a manageable 5lbs to a full 70lbs. While the draw length is adjustable from 12” to 30”. This makes it ideal for anyone of any age, skill level, or strength. As the archer grows older, or taller, or simply more experienced, the bow will grow with them. At 70lbs draw weight the FPS, or speed, is 310. This makes it just 10 FPS below the standard expected from “fast” bows and plenty lethal for hunting. With a 75% let-off the user will only have to maintain 17.5lbs of weight at full draw of 70lbs.
Bear Cruzer Conclusion
The Cruzer is hands-down the best bow for the money. At an affordable price it comes with the following Trophy Ridge attachments: Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, four pin sight, stabilizer and sling, and a five arrow quiver. In addition, it has a peep sight and nock loop. All that is missing are arrows and the user’s preferred style of release. The bow itself is sturdy aluminum with a specially designed grip that helps eliminate torque and it comes with a built in string suppressor. Less torque means better accuracy, especially for the newcomers that haven’t established their form.
Durable, adjustable, and ready to hunt with - this is a long lasting bow and everything needed to begin as an archer.
2) Diamond By Bowtech Core 40-70
Bowtech’s Diamond Core RAK package is a fantastic single cam compound bow with ready to go accessories factory installed. With a draw weight range of 40lbs to 70lbs and draw length from 25” to 30” it is great for most adults and easily adjustable for various situations. However, it may not be a good fit for young children or some beginners who are not used to pulling the draw weight of a compound bow. That being said, this is a light 3.2lb bow and measures 31” axle to axle and perfect for anyone who can handle the 40lb minimum draw weight. With an FPS of 313 it will compete with fast bows and suit the needs of hunters without being too difficult to draw.
Important Details of The Diamond Core
Even more impressive is the ample 80% let-off, which means archers will be able to maintain the bow at full draw for longer. This allows more time for setting the pin and waiting for just the right moment to release the arrow. These are absolutely critical factors when hunting, as a buck may take its time getting into optimal position for the kill shot. A lower let-off can potentially increase the archer’s fatigue and result in poor accuracy.
What Package Goes With The Diamond Core?
The aluminum riser and e-glass limbs are tough and hold together against daily shooting and the elements. It shoots nearly silently, very smooth, and accurately. Even a beginner will find themselves soon hitting their mark with practice. The accessories make this one of the best hunting bow packages and includes: TRUGLO three pin Apex sight, Octane Hostage XL arrow rest, Octane Dead-Lock Lite quiver, a wrist sling, alloy peep, 5” Octane stabilizer, string silencers, and a string loop. With experience may come the desire to upgrade the basic components, but they will get the job done for anyone needing a complete kit to get started. Undeniably, the Diamond Core has earned its place as the second best compound bow for the money.
3) Martin Archery 60 Blade X4
The Blade X4 by Martin Archery is a high performance compound bow with a beautiful design and durable build. At a great value it provides speed, adjustability, and a smooth shooting experience. Great for adults and hunters this bow has an adjustable draw weight from 45lbs to 70lbs and adjustable draw length from 26” to 32”. Note the extra maximum draw length - this makes it very comfortable for taller and longer limbed individuals. Not many budget bows offer that extra inch or two. It weighs 3.75lbs and axle to axle is 31.5”. Reaching up to speeds to 320 FPS the Blade X4 is fast and powerful, but maintains a manageable 80% let-off.
Made with a CNC machined aluminum riser, continuous glass twin limbs, and an XT cam system this is a beast of a bow. The cam system has pegs that help reduce draw weight, the brace and grip angle are adjustable, and the bow is equipped with dual string suppressors, a quiet arrow shelf, and a comfortable grip custom designed by Martin Archery.
Martin X4 Final Thoughts
Even though the Blade X4 isn’t a RAK package, it is still the best hunting bow choice for many archers. The benefit of not being a package is that the user is paying only for the quality of the bow and not for mid-grade accessories they may end up replacing sooner rather than later. For users that already have preferred gear and brands, buying just the bow is a great option to have. And this bow delivers with quality construction, speed, accuracy, quiet shots, and adjustability.
4) Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro Bow Package
The Diamond Archery Infinite Edge Pro is another stellar package deal for beginners and seasoned archers of any age. It’s definitely one of the best youth bows and incredibly adjustable to all ranges of skill and capability. It is easy enough to adjust that multiple shooters can comfortably share it, which makes this a bargain for families and friends looking to get into the sport at an affordable cost. Infinite Edge Pro boasts an “infinite draw setting,” adjustable 5lb to 70lb draw weight, and 13” to 31” draw length. The 310 FPS is comparable to reputable fast bows and will be more than enough to go hunting with. The advantage it has over the #1 ranking bow is its 80% let-off, making the weight at full draw a bit easier to maintain.
Infinite Edge Bow Package
The dual cam system is said by Diamond Archery to be “flawlessly smooth.” With a solid back wall and added stabilizer it is heavy-duty and steady. The package offerings include: 3 pin Tundra sight, Hostage XL arrow rest, DeadLock Lite Octane quiver, a tube peep sight, BCY string loop, and 5” ultra-lite Octane stabilizer.
Infinite Edge Conclusion
The 3.2lb weight and 31” axle to axle measurement make this a very compact and light compound bow, yet simultaneously sturdy. It has a smooth draw and overall is simple to adjust. It’s perfect for children, adults, hunters, and recreational archers. This is the kind of bow that will grow with the user from being a very beginner to becoming an advanced marksman.
5) Quest Radical
The Quest Radical in particular is the best compound bow for children who will grow up with their bow. It is incredibly lightweight at 3.25lbs and 29.25” axle to axle and the shortest of the bows among the top five. Thus, it is easy for a child to wield. The draw length ranges from 17.5” to 30” and the draw weight is easily adjustable between 15lbs and 70lbs. The let off is a modest 75%. Compared to similar compound bows, the speed is rather slow at a maximum 295 FPS. That is 35 FPS less than what is considered to be a fast bow. Archers who are all about speed might find this a turn off. Regardless, the Quest Radical is no less capable of performing a kill shot during the hunt. Also keep in mind that children and youth are unlikely to achieve the 70lb draw weight required to reach 295 FPS.
All The Gear That Comes With The Quest Radical
The cam system is dual cam with split limbs and the riser is made from 6061 aluminum. At maximum draw the wall is strong. With a good tune up the bow is highly accurate, quiet, and performs well. It comes with the following G5 brand accessories: 6 arrow head-lock quiver, stabilizer, wrist sling, ¼” peep, and four pin sight. It also comes with a Halo arrow rest and a string suppressor. Some may prefer to upgrade these components as soon as possible, but they are perfectly adequate and many have found them to be just what they need to get out during the hunting season.
Quest Radical Final Thoughts
This short and light compound bow is a fully equipped and excellent choice for beginners and young adults who want to get into the field immediately. It’s also a reasonable option for hunters looking for something with a small form factor.
Other Great Compound Bows
• SAS Rage
Best Compound Bow Brands
These are the best compound bow brands dominating the market. They understand the sport, the technology, and what the customers want.
With 80 years in the industry, Bear Archery is a master of their craft. The company is named after Fred Bear, a passionate man who took to bow making in his twenties. He was inspired by and learned from the legend that is Art Young. His devotion to archery eventually lead to the founding of his company in the late 1930s. He stayed involved with his work until 1988, right up until he passed away. But his ethics and passion lived on and Bear Archery has become a widely known and reputable company that stands behind their products just as Fred Bear would have. Their mission and promise is that “Each Bear bow, no matter how large or small, will be utterly reliable. Intensely lethal. And above all else, capable of following an ethical shot with the nobility of a quick, moral kill.”
Not only do they provide the best compound bows, but Bear Archery also fills the need for traditional bows, crossbows, and through Trophy Ridge they provide quality archery gear. Check out Bear Archery Products on Amazon.
Bowtech is a major player in the archery business and the parent company of numerous successful bow brands, including Diamond Archery. The company is so large that over 300 employees take part in the manufacturing of their quality bows.
Their mission is “To provide the most advanced archery products and customer service, developed on customer driven innovation.” And Bowtech takes their customers very seriously. Their customer care is self-proclaimed as second to none and the best in any industry. In some cases, Bowtech has serviced customers who did not have a warranty covering their bow - valuing their customer’s experience first and foremost. This outstanding level of service and attention to product quality sets Bowtech apart. More than that, the company is founded on values of integrity, respect, customer service, teamwork, and communication. These values and their innovative “refusal to follow” mindset lend to Bowtech’s success. Check Out Bowtech Products On Amazon.
In 2014 Martin Archery experienced a resurgence. After 60 years of dedicated service they knew they had to change and advance to keep up with the industry and continue operating. With the efforts of devoted employees and fans of the company, Martin rebranded themselves and undertook a huge project to deliver the best product to the hands of their loyal consumers. In 2015 it became all about the customer and the needs of the customer. Conducting a large scale independent study they determined what was most important to their consumers and have designed their latest line of products around those needs. The extent to which Martin Archery has gone to connect with their customers is unparalleled and never before seen in the archery industry. Check Out Martin Archery Products on Amazon.
Quest Bowhunting is a brand that emerged from three generations of family business in engineering and archery. The brand was introduced in 2009 with the goal of providing to consumers high quality bows for a reasonable price. They focus heavily on innovative designs and innovative manufacturing. The entire process, from conception to production, undergoes vigorous quality checks. Every bow that they build is shot before it is shipped. While Quest’s parent company is diverse, the Quest Bowhunting brand is focused specifically on bows made for hunting. This commitment and attention to top-notch products is how they develop some of the best bows for hunting. Check Out Quest Archery Products On Amazon.
Factors for Selecting a Great Compound Bow
When shopping for the best bow there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, remember that the bow has to physically fit the body and limitations of the archer. If the bow is too large, too awkward, or has too heavy of a draw weight then it won’t be fun to shoot and certainly won’t be accurate. It won’t matter if it is the most expensive and best compound bow that money can buy. There are numerous other specifications to consider, including whether or not it comes loaded with all of the gadgets needed to be a successful hunter.
• Cam System
For the most part, choosing a cam system comes down to a matter of taste and how much maintenance the user is willing to put into their bow. Each style of cam system is a valid option. There is no wrong choice here. However, it is important to know how the cam system affects the bow. Generally, dual cams are common for youth bows, but certainly not exclusively.
• Draw Weight.
Utterly critical, especially for young and beginner archers, is the draw weight. Children, some small framed men, and many women will require a bow that can accommodate a lower draw weight. The stronger a person is and the bigger their physique the more weight they can draw. Small children and most women will need a bow capable of 10lbs to 40lbs draw weight. Whereas most grown men will typically shoot anywhere between 50lbs and 70 lbs, sometimes higher for speedier performance bows.
• Draw Length
Going hand in hand with draw weight is the draw length. In general, the weight and length correlate to each other and increase together. Taller individuals with longer limbs will find that a 28” to 32” draw length may be necessary to comfortably shoot.
• Size and Weight
Depending on the intended use of the bow and who it is for, the size and weight of it can be a very important factor. If it is for a child, it needs to be light enough and short enough for them to comfortably shoot without being fatigued or overwhelmed. If it is for a strong adult, the size and weight may not be as critical unless they are doing a lot of trekking and hunting from blinds or tree stands where a compact bow will be easier to maneuver and carry long distances.
Many hunters and competitive archers are all about the speed. As a beginner, don’t get too caught up in FPS. A compound bow with 320 FPS is fast enough, and while below that may be considered “slow” comparatively, it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be. Also be aware that the freakishly fast heavier bows are very difficult to draw and are used by archers who have trained for heavy bows. Their practical application is limited and it is more enjoyable to shoot with a bow that matches your skill and strength, even if it means a lower draw weight and FPS.
When it comes to let-off, the higher the better. 70% to 80% is a good let-off range for beginners and archers still building up their strength. 60% is certainly manageable, though. Let-off is the percentage of weight that the bow supports at full draw. The higher the let-off, the more weight that is supported.
Another matter of personal taste are the bow limbs. Do you want a solid or split limb style? While there is no empirical evidence that one is better than other, you may still want to be aware of which kind you are getting when you make the purchase. More importantly, what materials are the limbs made out of? The limbs need to be durable and solid, but have enough flex. That’s why most limbs are made out of fiberglass. There are also parallel limbs and willow limbs, which get even more into the technical aspects of limb performance.
Bow packages can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, the bow comes ready to use with nearly everything someone would need to get started. It takes out the guesswork and effort of having to sift through the numerous products available and makes picking a first or second or tenth bow less of a hassle. While, on the other hand, the customer is paying for accessories they may not want or plan to replace anyway. Instead of paying for a superb bow, you’re also paying for components you didn’t plan on using. Take a look at exactly what comes with the bow and if the items are actually what you intend to use.
Different Types of Compound Bows
Compound bows can have many differing features that distinguish them. However, they are primarily classified by their style of cam system. There are four notable cam styles. Each type has its own merits and some drawbacks. Understanding the simple science behind the cam system will help in making an informed decision about which style is most appropriate for you.
The cam system is one or more pulley wheels, paired with a buss cable and the bowstring, to make holding the drawn bow easier for the archer. The limbs of a compound bow are very stiff and do not have much give, making it difficult to be at full draw without the mechanical assistance of a pulley. The one or more buss cables are attached to each of the limbs, specifically to the cams or idler wheel, and its purpose is to make sure that both cams are in sync when they turn during the draw. Pulling back the bowstring will spin the cams and the buss cable syncs them.
Ultimately, the goal of the cam system is to reduce the amount of weight the archer has to hold at full draw. If you have a compound bow with a draw weight of 70lbs and a let-off of 60%, then you’ll be accountable for holding 28lbs at full draw. This is because the cams, at full draw, are supporting 60% of that 70lb draw weight.
As the name suggests, the single cam system has only one cam. It is located on the lower limb and an idler-wheel accompanies it on the upper limb. The bowstring runs through the idler-wheel and the cam does the work. In general, single cams have an easy and smooth draw with minimal noise. This makes them a great option for beginners who are just learning to shoot or trying out compounds for the first time. Bare in mind that they won’t garner the fastest FPS and some single cam systems can suffer from imbalance in their knock travel. By no means does this make them a poor choice. Single cams are highly reliable and fairly straightforward to maintain without too much hassle.
Single cam may also be referred to as solocam or one cam. Check Out Single Cam Bows On Amazon.
The dual cam system has two cams that are symmetrical. They are located on either end of the bow and are synchronized by the buss cable running between them. The benefit of having a dual cam setup is the increased potential FPS, more consistent accuracy, and more stable nock travel. Granted, that maximum FPS can only be achieved if the archer is capable of handling the required draw weight to shoot that fast.
Dual cam may also be called twin cam or two cam. Check Out Dual Cam Bows On Amazon.
The binary cam system is a bit of a unique approach. It is a dual cam system, but instead of having split cables it has two control cables. The two cams are “slaved” to each other instead of to the limbs. The advantage to this design is that it automatically corrects imbalances between the limbs and reduces syncing issues significantly. Modern improvements to the binary system result in a more dual cam esque appearance and also go back to utilizing buss cables, rather than the two control cable system. An increasingly popular choice, this cam system is quick and makes maintenance easy despite being a more complex setup. Check out Binary Cam Bows On Amazon
The hybrid cam system technically has two cams, much like a dual cam, but the hybrid will have a control cam on the upper limb and a power cam on the lower limb. These cams are asymmetrical and do not need to be synched the same way that a dual cam system does. This helps eliminate timing issues that are found in some dual cam bows and might mean less effort to maintain. Check Out Hybrid Cam Compound Bows on Amazon
Ultimately, the best compound bow is the bow that feels best in your hands. It is the bow that you can confidently handle the weight of, hold the full draw for an extended duration, and accurately release with minimal torque. Invest in a compound bow that has the appropriate draw weight and length with enough let-off to support the archer. The accessories, whether they come packaged or after the fact, are only as good as the bow itself. To that end, whichever bow you decide on, make sure to have it professionally adjusted to fit the intended archer. This can significantly change the shooting experience and ensure the archer has a good time with it. Don’t sweat the FPS too much and avoid getting caught in the buzzword craze. Compound bow technology is constantly moving forward and bringing better performing gear to consumers all the time. But don’t forget, at the end of the day, it’s a simple pulley system with unique specs.