I’m here to make your life simpler, Archer. So many different makes and models out there… compared to choosing a crossbow for instance, the task of finding the best recurve bow for the money, preferably one with fiberglass limbs if possible, for you or a loved one, is quite difficult.
You want to do some research before making a purchase, and that’s where I’m going to help you. I’ve compiled an extensive, interactive comparison chart, which will make it extremely easy for you to find the best recurve bow for your particular needs, regardless of whether you are looking to hunt, target shoot, or even to someday become a member of the World Archery Federation. By the time you are done reading this guide, you will know exactly what to buy.
Top recurve bows for the money (2021)
- PSE Archery Pro Max Shooting Set – best for recreational target practice for beginners
- Bear Grizzly – best traditional hunting bow overall
- Deerseeker – best budget bow for hunting
Top recurve bows (2013-2020) – legacy rankings
The list below compares recurve bows that received top rankings between 2013-2020. Many of these bows are no longer on sale or are temporarily out of stock due to COVID-19-related problems, but I decided to leave the table here for the record.
|Samick Sage Recurve Bow||3.4 lbs.||40, 45, 50, 55 lbs.||62"|
|Bear Grizzly Recurve Bow||No||2.1 lbs.||50, 55, 60 lbs.||58"|
|PSE Blackhawk Recurve Bow||No||3.1 lbs.||35, 40, 45, 50 lbs||60"|
|Hoyt Gamemaster II||2.9 lbs.||40, 45, 50, 55 lbs.||62"|
|Martin Hunter Recurve||No||2.2 lbs.||40, 45 50, 55 lbs.||62"|
|Bear Archery Super Kodiak||No||3 lbs.||45, 50, 60 lbs.||60"|
|PSE Razorback Recurve||2.2 lbs.||20 / 25 / 30 lbs.||62"|
Before you continue: I receive a lot of questions from beginner archers who are unsure which bow to buy. While I can’t answer that for you, I strongly recommend going through our reviews and particularly checking out our beginners step by step buying guide; only once you know what your needs are you’ll be able to make a choice. For some people, choosing a recurve (and learning about it) can be too much work. If you find that is the case for you, you may be interested in crossbows instead; they can be just as fun as a recurve, while having a much gentler learning curve – in that case, head over to BCS for a large number of quality crossbow reviews and to HuntingOptics.net for related accessories and optics useful for every hunter; these are much easier to get started with than a recurve, although quite a bit more expensive, on average. You may also check out the crossbow rankings over at ArcheryChoice (see here), though keep in mind their rankings are more appropriate for the budget minded person – they have a very cool comparison grid which will show you at a glance the difference between their top 5 picks, including arrow/nock requirements.
How I Chose These Bows
Here are a few important points that all of the bows listed above have in common:
- Every single one has been researched to death, and I’ve personally used or know people who have used each of them, as well as dozens of other bows. Each of those bows is well capable of performing at 30 yards and more.I did my best to pick 2-3 of the best bows that every respectable company in the archery business has to offer.
- I included the best bows in each price range.
- All of these bows include high quality bowstrings. Many people forget just how important the string is to the integrity of the bow, an the fact is that unless the string fits the rest of the construction well, you’ll experience trouble such as unnecessary vibration, noise, inferior arrow flight, and more. I therefore made sure that each bow listed here had a high quality, suitable string already included with the package.
- They all are safe to use.
Each of us has different preferences when it comes to traditional bows, I’m fully aware of that. However, I have tried to diversify my list above as much as possible to make sure that almost everyone can find the best bow for him or herself.
How To Shoot a Recurve
Here is a great video which demonstrates this:
What Draw Weight Is Right For You?
Your purchase will depend on how advanced you are, how you are going to use your new bow, and a few other factors. For instance, if you are not very strong and/or don’t have too much experience with recurves, then you may want to go with one of the bows that have smaller drawing weight versions available; otherwise, and particularly if you plan to practice a lot at the range, you’ll find your arms and lateral back muscles will get tired very quickly. In that case I would recommend going with a bow that has a draw weight of 40 pounds or less.
On the other hand, if you already have some experience in the field of archery, have good muscle strength/endurance, and /or plan to use your bow only for hunting game, you will want to go with a model that features a draw weight of 45 pounds or more. You can use the following chart as a simple guideline for determining what drawing weight range you should be aiming for. Keep in min that this is general advice, though it will absolutely help you make your purchase. Try to go for the lower end of each draw weight range simply because archery is supposed to be a fun and relaxing activity – if you are cringing every time you pull the string and while holding your stance, then the draw weight is too much. This is particularly true if you are using the pinch draw, also known as the “primary draw’. More on that here.
|Archer's Weight||Suggested Draw Weight|
|Small Children (70-100 lbs.)||10-15 lbs|
|Larger Children (100-130 lbs.)||15-25 lbs|
|Small-Frame Female (100-130 lbs.)||25-35 lbs|
|Medium-Frame Female (130-160 lbs)||25-35 lbs|
|Small-Frame Male (120-150 lbs)||30-45 lbs|
|Medium-Frame Male (150-180 lbs)||40-55 lbs|
|Large-Frame Females (160+ lbs)||30-45 lbs|
|Large Frame Men (180+ lbs)||45-60 lbs|
Choose The Best Recurve Bow
You now have all the information you need to make an educated purchase, and to acquire a recurve that is a perfect match for you. You could basically buy any of the bows I’ve discussed above at random, and you’re more than likely to be very pleased – as long as you make sure the draw weight matches your body build, as shown in the chart above.
NOTE: the bow descriptions below are from 2013. Some of these bows are no longer in production.
As promised, I’m listing the best of the best from my comparison chart. Mind you, everything above is of the absolute highest quality and you won’t go wrong with any of them. However, I’m going to go the extra mile and give special attention to a few bows that me and my colleagues found to be particularly worthy of mention, and which popularity-wise rival even the best compound bow on the market.
The Best Recurve Bow on a Tight Budget
The winner is: Martin Jaguar Takedown Bow – Check Price on Amazon.com
The Jaguar is currently the most popular bow among archers on a budget (and one of the best martin bows in general), who have never shot a traditional bow before but would like to give it a go while spending as little money as possible. See our Martin Jaguar review for details.
This take-down bow is great for both target practice and hunting. It has an exceptionally comfortable grip, and the aluminum riser is very light and durable. It has an elegant yet simple design with no unnecessary parts, so it’s very unlikely that anything will break or require servicing.
Being a 3-part means that it’s very easy to transport as well as store, which again is a plus for rank beginners who haven’t yet had the chance to shoot a bow. It will allow beginners to learn the basic construction of their equipment as they assemble it, and will also make owning the bow less of a commitment (as you can simply remove the limbs from the riser and stash it under your bed or in a closet for as long as you like). For more affordable models, check out our best cheap recurve bows ranking page.
- Very durable – never worry about it breaking down in the field.
- Very stable shooting due to 60″ length
- Very cheap for the quality offered.
- Suitable for both beginner and advanced archers thanks to the wide range of draw weights available.
- Take-down construction – very easy to transport anywhere you want, and easy to upgrade when needed without having to buy a new bow.
The Best Bow If You Have a Little More Money To Spend
The winner is: The Martin Saber – Check Price on Amazon.com
Ask around the archery circles, and you’ll hear nothing but good things about this traditional bow. 64″ length and up to 55 pound draw weight make for an excellent game hunting piece of equipment, as well as one for target practice. Keep in mind though that 64 inches is quite a lot, so it’s much better to use this bow for hunting in open terrain; you’ll probably want to avoid having to shoot it from a tree stand or blind as you might have some maneuverability issues, depending on your setup. See our Martin Saber review for details.
The riser on the Martin Saber is equipped with Vibration Vortex V.E.M., which are two little dampening devices that significantly reduce any vibrations an noise that the bow might generate during use. In addition, the handle has an integrated Protective V grip, which reduces vibrations even further and makes the bow very comfortable to draw and shoot. As far as vibration and noise go, the Saber is comparable to much more expensive models.
There’s also another reason why the Martin Saber is the best bow in this price range – excellent limbs. They don’t splinter, break or bend even with heavy use. Treat them right, and they’ll last you a lifetime.
The Best Mid-Priced Recurve
The winner is: Bear Grizzly Recurve Bow – Check Price on Cabelas.com
Easily the best recurve bow in this price range. I’ve been using the Grizzly myself for a long time, and I like it so much that I consider all of my other recurves to be “backups” only nowadays. With a maximum 60 lbs. draw weight and 58 inches length, I find its versatility amazing – you can use it to do anything you want – indoor and outdoor target practice, open-field and forest hunting, 3D shooting, you name it. See our Bear Grizzly Review for detailed information.
The Bear Grizzly features a look that is worthy of Ferrari designers. The entire bow is coated with satin gloss, making it particularly immune to abrasions and humidity, which is extremely important when hunting. The shelf is cushioned with bear hair providing superb arrow stability.
The riser and the limbs are made from Northern Hardwood and high-strength fiberglass, which I have found over the years to be the most durable of material combinations, and one that works really well with a very wide range of strings. By the way; the Grizzly comes with Dacron Flemish, meaning you probably won’t need to replace the string for a very long time.
I’ll finish this little review by mentioning that the Bear Grizzly has been on the market, almost unchanged, for over 60 years, and has been successfully used to hunt down lions, bears, and everything “below.” If this isn’t enough testimony to its quality, I don’t know what is.
- Phenomenal durability and resistance to weather.
- Timeless, elegant design.
- Sturdy – draw and shoot with complete confidence and without generating any vibrations or noise.
- Comes with one of the best strings money can buy.
- At around the current price I would say it’s a steal.
The Best High-End Recurve Bow
The winner is: Bear Archery Super Kodiak – Check Price on Amazon.com
This is what you buy if you have some money to spare, and if you are looking for something unique. Personally I do not own it yet, but I’ve had the privilege of shooting it a few times with a friend of mine. Make sure to read our Super Kodiak Review for a detailed rundown of this bow’s performance.
60 inches and a maximum of 60 lbs. draw weight. Basically any arrow you shoot just flies like, well, a true arrow. Really can’t say any more than that, you just need to give it a try and you’re likely to get addicted. Bear-hair covered shelf, real leather side plates, FastFlight string (the tips of the limbs were reinforced for maximum compatibility with this type of string), hardwood construction, satin finish.
This definitely isn’t the buy if money is tight at the moment. In all other cases though, just close your eyes and go for it, assuming you can handle the draw weight of course (check the table below to verify whether this is the case).
- Just plain awesome in every single aspect, I find it perfect from start to finish. It’s so well-balanced and stable that it’s easy to forget you are actually holding a bow in your hands. It’s really hard to miss with this one, an every single shot feels so natural the bow could almost be an extension of your arm.
- Good for everything that involves shooting an arrow. All kinds of target practice, all kinds of hunting. You can put down a grizzly bear or cape buffalo with this from a good 40+ yards if you have enough draw weight, and I’m not kidding.
The Best Value Recurve Bow
The winner is: PSE Blackhawk Bow – Check Price on Amazon.com
This one’s a beauty, isn’t she? For some reason, every time I look at it, I think of wood Elves from Tolkien’s stories. However, looks and design aren’t the main reason we voted the PSE Blackhawk the best recurve in the this price range, though. The devil is in the details, so make sure to read our detailed PSE Blackhawk review.
Being a one-piece, you could expect durability to be lacking for a product that costs so little. The Blackhawk proves us wrong though – it’s just as durable as other, twice-as-expensive bows. Laminated hardwood was used to create the riser, which comes with a close-to-the-hand shelf, making it a perfect choice for instinctive shooting practice – which, after all, is one of the main reasons we love our recurves so much.
This bow comes in a variety of draw weights, ranging from 35 to 50 pounds in 5 pound increments. I must say, the 45 pound version is an absolutely amazing piece of equipment for hunters. It’s so strong and durable, and you can actually feel the transfer of energy from the string to the arrow take place. It’s the greatest feeling really, way better than gun recoil.
And if you’re wondering about the penetrative potential of the Blackhawk at full draw, suffice it to say that you can easily pick off a deer and even elk from 30+ yards away, assuming of course your aim is on point (and that your bow has enough draw weight). The design on this one is very simply too, meaning that chances of anything going wrong are limited; this is particularly important for beginner archers, who should strive to keep things as simple and “uncomplicated” as possible to avoid unnecessary servicing and repairs – at least until they get comfortable around their stick and string.
- Exceptional durability and stability for a one-piece in this price range.
- Available with many different draw weights.
- The 45 lbs. and 50 lbs. versions are serious pieces of equipment in the hands of a focused hunter.
- The 35 version is excellent for target practice and honing your instinctive shooting skills
- It just looks right and feels right when you hold it – the calling of the wild?
The Best Recurve For Women And Youth
Since the vast majority of women and youth will need to work with significantly lower draw weight when compared to adult men, I thought it was appropriate for me to mention what I know to be the most appropriate recurve in your particular case:
The PSE Razorback – Check Price on Amazon.com
A wonderful bow, looks almost like a piece of jewelry, doesn’t it? The PSE Razorback is available in 20, 25 and 30 lbs. Draw Weight versions, all of which will be suitable for women and youth – the smaller your frame, the lower the draw weight of your choice should be.
Excellent for target practice both indoors and outdoors. Available for both left- and right-handed Archers. The Take-down construction makes it very easy to transport and store, and the laminated wood limbs more than guarantee durability. Please make sure to read our PSE Razorback review for tons of details.
This bow is a very accurate one and hits really hard despite the low Draw Weight. And what about the handle? Maple, Oak and Walnut. Elegant, beautiful, and timeless. You won’t regret the purchase, I promise. In fact, I know a man who liked it so much that he purchased two of these – one for his wife and one for his daughter.