Having the best recurve bow makes all the difference in the world, no matter what kind of shooting you do. It’s the difference between being able to hit your mark and having a rewarding shoot, and spending your day frustrated, missing your target and wasting time searching for your arrows in a pile of brush.
However, with such a large selection on the market, how can you be sure you are buying the best one for your needs? It’s hard to tell the difference between many models, because product descriptions are so technical and buyer reviews are so subjective and vague.
We’re here to help you out. We’re your archery experts, and our goal is to get you to your ideal bow quickly, so you can spend less time shopping and more time shooting.
On our site, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know about buying a recurve bow. We’ll show you all the big categories, brands, and factors to consider when you’re comparing models.Here on our main page, we’ll review three of our favorites, and give you a quick tutorial in shopping for your ideal bow. We’ll also give you some quick links to find the best options for beginners, hunting, and archers on a budget.
Before we get started, check out our three favorites on the market today:
Current most popular recommendations:
Editor’s Choices: Best Recurve Bow for the Money
We put lots of time and energy, as well as our own knowledge and expertise into finding the best models to recommend for our guides. Whether it’s the best model for beginners, or the top option on a budget, we’re confident that through comparing features, specs, and prices, as well as consulting all the reviews we could find from professional and amateur archers alike, that we’ve found the absolute best bows on the market today.
You’ll find some specific recommendations in our guides by category, like Beginners, Hunting, Cheap, and more. Here on our homepage, we wanted to give a shout-out to three of our all-time favorite, all-around sharp shooters.
Samick has been designing high-quality archery products for almost 40 years. The Sage is often considered the best beginner recurve on the market, and has been a favorite of experienced archers because of its versatility and cost-effectiveness. We love the easy takedown design, as well as the simple wood aesthetic. It looks and shoots like a much more expensive bow, and the takedown design allows it to grow with you.
It’s easy to shoot, without feeling like a toy. At 62” long, this takedown is designed perfectly for those new to the sport, who are working to build their stance and develop their shooting ability. It pulls cleanly, it’s easy to set up, and it fires very smoothly. We also love how sturdy this one is. It can handle the knocks and jolts of the learning curve.
You can change out the limbs. That makes the Sage a perfect choice for beginning archers, or younger hunters who need a bow that will grow with them. The factory limbs are made from maple and fiberglass, and come in a range of options between 25-60 pound limbs. It’s easy to find a weight to suit any archer, no matter size of strength. That’s why when you’re browsing through archery forums, you will find that easily 3 out of 5 experts cite the Samick Sage as the ideal choice for new archers.
The swappable limbs also make this a versatile choice for experienced hunters, who want to hunt different sorts of game or shoot at various distances.
This model also comes with pre-installed brass bushings, which make it easy to add upgrades like a stabilizer, sight, and quiver.
The price makes this one very accessible. At under $150, this is an easy purchase for most archers, and a great value for money choice.Previous buyers raved about the value for money, and said they thought this ought to be a much more expensive bow.
It’s very well-liked by previous buyers. The Sage has been a favorite for more than 25 years, and it has a very loyal following.
It’s only recommended out to a 29” draw. If you’re looking for something longer, Samick suggests their Journey model.
Quality control on this model is less than spectacular. Some previous buyers reported issues with poorly-glued pieces, or limbs that didn’t fit quite right.
The Jaguar is another all-time best-seller. It’s a bit more reliable, and a bit stronger in build than the Sage. We love the aluminum hybrid riser, as well as the compact design. This one is available in either 40 or 50-pound draw weights. It’s a versatile performer, and can handle all sorts of lengths and weights of arrows. They all shoot fast, true, and smooth. If you’re looking for great performance without breaking the bank, this one is for you!
The take-down design makes it easy to store, carry, and change limbs. Being able to switch limbs makes the Jaguar just as versatile as the Sage. In fact, due to better quality control, more previous buyers said the Jaguar’s limbs fit perfectly.
It’s light. The Jaguar weighs just 2.7 pounds all told. That’s down to a clever aluminum and magnesium riser, which gives you plenty of stability without adding much weight. Previous buyers loved it. One wrote that it was the most solid piece of metal he’d ever felt on a weapon. Overall, it feels a bit like you’re holding a gun, only the handle is attached to a bow.
The riser also has a solid, reliable alignment system for docking limbs properly. It’ll also accommodate rests, quivers, and other accessories. We like the expandability, especially since all the accessories are latched onto a solid base
The thermal grip keeps you hands warm, which steadies your shot.
The 60” length makes this one a more maneuverable choice than the Sage. However, the short length doesn’t mean the Jaguar is short on power! Previous buyers were very impressed with how fast this one shot, and compared its performance to much more expensive bows. Many found that it actually improved over time, as the limbs got worn in and the bow began to “settle.”
It’s painted in an all-over came finish to help you blend in in the woods.
It’s a bit more reliable than the Samick Sage. Previous buyers who opted for the Jaguar didn’t report any breakage issues, and the said the fit and finish was better overall. Martin also have a great reputation for standing behind their bows, so you can rest easy knowing that your purchase is well-insured.
The arrow rest is pretty cheap, and a few previous buyers recommended replacing it. That’ll only cost you $5 or so.Check the current price on Amazon!
Our all-time favorite recurve bow is the Grizzly, from Bear. It’s a classic workingman’s bow, with a sturdy effective design that’s stayed the same since 1964! We love the beautiful wood, as well as the Flemish string. Previous buyers loved the smooth firing, especially the shock-free grip. It’s powerful, comes fully equipped, and feels fantastic. This is a solid shooter with a classic look that you can pass down for generations.
It looks fantastic. This one is made with a solid-block riser out of red maple, and the limbs are front-to-back maple and fiberglass for a great combination of manmade and natural materials. The riser is polished to show the grain of the wood, and each bow is unique from the factory. The wood tones lend this one a natural elegance, as well as a rugged sensibility. It’s simple, but looks like an heirloom piece you’d keep above the mantle.
It’s very durable. Bear use a special baking process to treat their wood. It fills all the pores and pressurizes the wood block, which makes it incredibly hard without sacrificing the natural flex. You’ll find plenty of reviews from previous buyers who have owned Grizzlies for 20+ years, and are still going strong. Unlike our other two recommendations, we couldn’t find any reports of broken limbs or quality control issues.
There are plenty of options for draw weight. This one comes between 30 and 60 pounds.
The crowned, cut-on arrow shelf is padded with actual bear hair. It helps you shoot straight and level, without any nicks.
The 58” length is manageable for most archers, without sacrificing power.
It shoots fantastically. The Grizzly is powerful and precise, and previous buyers were especially impressed with how quiet it is.
There’s an overwhelming consensus among longtime archers that this is one of the absolute best models on the market. You won’t find many reviews for this one giving it under 5 stars.
It’s twice the price of the other two models. The Grizzly will cost over $350, and doesn’t come with any accessories to sweeten the deal.Check the current price on Amazon!
So, which of these top recurve bows should you buy?
The Samick Sage is the best choice for beginners and younger archers, since you can adjust the weight down to a 25-pound draw. It’s adaptable, and versatile enough to grow with your strength and your abilities. However, it does have some of the quality control issues that you’ll see with any budget bow.
The Martin Jaguar is a better performer, at only a slightly higher price. We like it because it’s small and light, and shoots surprisingly fast. While it doesn’t come in as many weight options as the Sage, it still features take-down limbs, so you can adjust things later. Overall, the Jaguar is our favorite midrange option. It’s simple, effective, and very easy to handle.
If you’re looking for the absolute best performance and quality, look no further than the Grizzly. This model comes in a range of draw weights almost as wide as the Samick Sage, but manages to perform better than either the Sage or the Jaguar. It shoots very smoothly, with little to no vibrations. The solid wood riser is exceptionally durable, and adds some serious visual perks. It’s more durable, more reliable, and more beautiful than the competition. The only downside is the set limbs, which you won’t be able to adapt like the Jaguar or Sage. Aside from that, the Grizzly is a winner all the way. With over 40 years at the top of the ranks, it’s hard to argue with history. Our take: if you can afford the Grizzly, get it!
Top Value Recurve Bows on the Market
|Recurve Bow||Best For...||Draw||Length||Takedown||Price||Customer Ratings|
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|Beginners -Intermediate||30-55 lbs.||62"||Yes||$||4.8 (65)|
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|Beginners - Intermediate||30-55 lbs.||60"||Yes||$$||4.3 (50)|
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|Intermedaite - Advanced||30-55 lbs.||64"||Yes||$$||4.4 (7)|
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|Advanced||50-60 lbs.||58"||No||$$$$||4.8 (42)|
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|Beginners||20-35 lbs.||62"||Yes||$||4.2 (31)|
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|Intermediate||35-50 lbs.||60"||No||$$$||5 (4)|
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|Intermediate - Advanced||35-55 lbs.||62"||Yes||$$$||4.1 (16)|
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|Advanced||40-55 lbs.||62"||Yes||$$$$$||5 (3)|
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|Advanced||40 - 55 lbs||60"||Yes||$$$||4.8 (14)|
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|Intermediate - Advanced||40 - 55 lbs.||60"||Yes||$$$||4.6 (13)|
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|Intermediate - Advanced||45-50 lbs.||60"||Yes||$||3.7 (15)|
Get Reviews for Your Needs
Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Ideal Recurve Bow (and Avoiding the Lemons)
Now that we’ve looked at a few of our all-time favorites, let’s get you started in your decision-making process. As you’ll hear from any expert archer, there are several things to consider prior to making your final decision. The most important choices to make at the get-go include the type (takedown or traditional), as well as the draw length, and draw weight. After you’ve nailed down those basics, consider the cost, comfort level of the grip, quality of the riser, and limb materials. Let’s explore these features more closely to see how they’ll impact your decision. Here are the steps you’ll want to take before you start making decisions.
Establish Your Draw Weight
Draw weight is the maximum amount of force you will need to muster in order to fully pull your bow (string). Experts agree that this is the first thing you should consider when making a purchase. After all, you’re going to have to be able to pull the thing back. Think about the maximum you can pull, then round down slightly. You need to be able to pull it back while also maintaining complete control of it-no wobbles, no strain. This is why most novices start with a lower draw weight than they perhaps might, and increase the number as they become more comfortable and experienced with it.
Draw weight recommendations vary widely depending on who you ask. For example, according to the retailer Hunter’s Friend, large-frame men (180 lbs or more) should be looking for a one with a draw weight of 65-75 lbs. However, the coach who writes at learn-archery.com will tell you that most people vastly overestimate the right starting draw weight, and adult men should start with a draw weight around 22-28 lbs. Again, it’s more important to get your form right than to prop up your ego with a big draw weight.
We’ve put together this draw weight chart based on the average recommendations from some archery instructors we consulted. We think it provides a pretty good estimate for an average beginner or intermediate archer. If you know an experienced archer, do ask for their own advice.
|Small Youth (55-100 lbs.)||10-15 lbs.|
|Larger Youth (100-130 lbs.)||10-20 lbs.|
|Small Frame Women (100-130 lbs.)||15-30 lbs.|
|Medium Frame Women (130-160 lbs.)||20-35 lbs.|
|Athletic Teens (130-150 lbs.)||25-45 lbs.|
|Small Frame Men (120-150 lbs.)||20-40 lbs.|
|Large Frame Women (160+ lbs.)||30-50 lbs.|
|Medium Frame Men (150-180 lbs.)||30-50 lbs.|
|Large Frame Men (180+ lbs.)||35-55 lbs.|
You can add or remove a few pounds of draw weight depending on how strong you are, and whether you have any experience shooting. If you’ve never shot a recurve before, we’d recommend you lean toward the lower weights to build your skill and strength before moving on to the heavier hunting weights.
While you don’t want to be underweighted or overweighted, we think it’s better to be a little underweighted rather than overweighted as beginner. Like learning any skill, practicing the proper technique in shooting is much more important than building strength, and being overweighted makes it very, very hard to learn proper technique.
One advantage of a takedown recurve like the popular Samick Sage is that you can eventually upgrade the limbs so as to make it heavier as you get stronger. “Takedown” simply means you can take a bow apart. “Traditional” means that the limbs are set, and can’t be changed.
Ask Yourself: Is Your Bow for Hunting or Target Practice?
Any of these weapons are appropriate for target practice, but they cannot all be used for hunting. Hunting capability is largely determined by their draw weight. The higher the weight, the better they’ll be for taking down game. Generally speaking, you’ll want at least 40# for a small whitetail deer, and higher weights for bigger prey.
Keep in mind that not everyone can safely handle the draw weight needed for hunting. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably need to work up to higher draw weights. Also, be aware that models with higher draw weights are a bit louder, so more is not always best. It’s not worth it to have a hard-shooting weapon if the deer has already heard it and run!
Determine Your Draw Length
Draw length is the distance an archer is able to draw the bow, and is dependent upon your arm length. You must get the appropriate length in order to attain and use the proper shooting form. Draw length is also what is used to determine which arrows to purchase.
Keeping this in mind, it is essential that you understand how to measure your draw length correctly. As a basic guide, draw length is measured as the length of your arms divided by 2.5. And as with everything else, feel free to consult an expert!
What Prices to Expect for a Recurve Bow
Recurve bows come in a wide range of prices, from as low as $150 to $750 or more. Under $250, you’re looking at budget and beginner models. Between $250 and $500, you’re looking at very good bows with great performance and durability, from major brands. Above $500, you’ll find mostly artisan bowmakers and custom kits.
However, some of the best recurve bows aren’t the top dollar options. Many models under $500 and even lower can provide everything you need, particularly if you are a novice. In fact, many archers agree that there are no significant differences based on cost after the budget line. Once you’re up around the $350-$400 range, you’re looking at models that can compete with the top-dollar options in everything but name.
Bow Grips: Right or Left-handed?
While many elite archers opt to customize their bow grip, it is not strictly necessary. When choosing yours, it is important to know where the grip is and the proper way to grip a bow. Pay careful attention to whether you need a right- or left-handed version. You choose the orientation of it based on the hand that draws the bow back. Comfort is usually determined by the size of the user’s hand. Most bows purchased via the Internet include a standard recurve bow grip that is contoured to promote a straighter wrist and consistent hand placement. Make sure you select the right hand when you buy, so you don’t have to return things!
Choose an Appropriate Riser
A riser is the term used to describe the shape of the bow, specifically the middle section between the limbs.
There are three styles available: deflex, reflex, and straight. Reflex risers are best suited for hunters and outdoor archers because they have the lowest brace height (distance from the grip to the string) and the fastest speeds. Deflex risers produce longer brace heights and speeds. They are ideal for indoor target archers. Straight risers are a combination of the two and are the most common bow design. Typically, this is the riser preferred by new archers.
Risers can be made of aluminum, wood, or aluminum/magnesium alloy. Aluminum bows are usually cheaper and can be used by individuals with any level of skill. Wood bows are more expensive, but they perform better and tend to be preferred by expert archers.
Find Good Limb Quality
The limb is the hardest working part of the bow, so durability is imperative. While they have been made from a variety of materials in the past, mostly wood, matched fiberglass and carbon limbs are considered to be the best choice. This is because they do not conduct moisture, which is a common problem with wooden limbs. Additionally, fiberglass and carbon limbs are rarely affected by any weather conditions, and then are typically more consistent and predictable than limbs made of other materials. You’ll find that most limbs are double-faced, and use a combination of wood and manmade materials for the best of both worlds.
Want to compare the rest of the top recurve bows on the market? Check out the best sellers on Amazon!