Best Recurve Bow for the Money – 2020 Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Recurve Bows illustration

There are several different factors involved in choosing the best recurve bow for you, which can combine to make it a long and confusing task. But don’t worry, we at Archery-Den are here to help you!

Even the best recurve bow in the world won’t be right for everybody. Your choice will depend on your experience, your budget, your arm strength and what you want to do with the bow. Whether you’re a beginner, a hunter or a target-shooter, we want to educate you on the factors to keep in mind when buying the best recurve bow for you at the best price.

We’ve pulled together the information you need to narrow down your options, so that you know what to look for to make the best purchase for your needs and experience. And then you get to concentrate on using the recurve bow that’s exactly right for you.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

1.  How to Choose the Best Recurve Bows

When you’re in the market for a new recurve bow, the first question you should ask yourself is what you want to use it for. An eight-year-old girl who’s just getting into backyard target shooting won’t want the same bow as a 6 foot 2 hunter who likes to hunt elk.

The first and maybe the most important question is budget. Other considerations can be weighed up and maybe even changed depending on the bow (like, for example, the primitive hunter looking for a take-down bow who sees his first horse bow), but price range is usually pretty fixed. This is why I’ve separated the best  recurve bows into low, medium and high budget, so you get a better idea of how they compare across price range.

Another major consideration is take-down. One of the advantages of modern recurve bows over traditional longbows is that bows can be separated into two limbs, riser and string for easy transport. This has the added advantage of allowing a bow to be upgraded by changing out the limbs. Most high rated recurve bows offer a range of standard-fitting limbs to allow the bow to adapt when its user becomes more experienced or moves from target shooting to hunting.

Probably the most important factor in choosing the best recurve bow is the draw weight. In simple terms, the draw weight of a bow is the force an archer’s hand is holding back when a bow is fully pulled. A child or small person can pull and hold less force than a well-built man who’s experienced at shooting a bow. The rule of thumb is that a beginner should begin at a low draw weight, then increase poundage as he or she gains experience or switches to hunting.

A draw weight of 30lbs is fine for hunting rabbits or squirrels, but 40lbs is necessary for bigger quarry, like deer for example. Hunting larger game, like elk or even boar, calls for a draw weight of 50 or 60lbs.

Another factor is draw length. The power with which an arrow is released is a combination of the bow’s draw weight and the archer’s draw length. Standard recurve bows come at an average draw length of 28”, which means that this is the maximum distance the string can be pulled back. It follows that this is also the maximum arrow length that can be shot from the bow. Some manufacturers offer an XL version of their standard bow for those who draw further than 28” – this will often apply to those over 6 feet in height or with a particularly long arm span. Longer draw length means more power in the shot even if the draw weight doesn’t change.

There are other factors to be considered, like the physical weight of the recurve bow or whether it’s noisy in use, especially for those who intend to hunt with it. We’ve included these factors in the Pros and Cons section under each recurve bow so that you can decide for yourself whether they play a part in your choice.

2.  Best Recurve Bows for the Money

Here we take the criteria we decided on and use them to look at a range of the best recurve bows on the market. Remember again, it’s what fits your plans for the recurve bow that makes for a good choice, not check marks on a list. For example, one of these recurve bows is hand-made by a craftsman, and so each  recurve bow will be slightly individual. Others are factory made and so will match exactly, which makes fitting accessories much easier. Neither is better, but I bet you already know which one you’d prefer to shoot!

The pros and cons of each recurve bow will depend on your specific needs and what you intend to use the bow for. For example, some of these bows are intended for children and so only come in low draw weights. This would be a serious mark against the bow if you’re a 200lb man intending to use your selection for deer hunting, but the bow might make a fine choice for a 10-year-old who wants to take up target shooting in the back yard.

3.  Overall Best Recurve Bows on the Market

Like I said earlier, there’s no bow a person can point to and claim that it’s the very best recurve bow for everybody. Having said that, some do stand out head and shoulders above the rest in terms of substance, style and value for money. I’ve chosen one overall winner in the budget category and another from among the high end options.

Over and over in conversations with experienced archers the Samick Sage is claimed as the best starter recurve bow. It’s easy to see why: with its simple and stylish riser and range of easily interchangeable limbs, this recurve bow is forgiving of beginners and easy to upgrade after building some stamina and experience over a few thousand shots. It has a smooth draw and a quiet release, and when you add the reinforced limb tips that allow it to take FastFlight strings, this is a recurve bow that forgives many of the beginner’s mistakes and boosts the more experienced archer’s performance without loss of style or efficiency.

Does that mean that it’s my choice as the best budget recurve bow? Believe it or not, it doesn’t. As fine a bow as the Samick Sage is, there is one that beats even its stellar performance – the Southwest Spyder. This recurve bow was designed by the same team that developed the Samick Sage, but they’ve updated it so that it’s smarter, faster, stronger. The Spyder is lighter than the Sage, has a wider range of draw weights and the finish is better. Add to this the fact that the Spyder will take the full range of Samick Sage limbs and you have a bow to be reckoned with. The Spyder also comes in an XL length for those with a draw length of over 28”, increasing the versatility of this already amazing bow.

The Samick Sage is awesome, yes, but the Spyder shines just a little bit brighter.

At the higher end of the market, top rated recurve bows tend to be one piece rather than take-down models, and again there’s some strong competition for the top spot. Many of the best recurve bows at this end of the market have been produced for decades, with a strong backing from archers who have used the same bow throughout their shooting lives.

Two of the best recurve bows on the market are the Martin Hunter One Piece and the Bear Super Kodiak bow. Both have impeccable pedigrees and either will bring the archer years if not decades of smooth, fast and accurate shooting with a minimum of fuss. So, the difficult question, which bow is better?

For me, the Kodiak edges out the Hunter on a few different criteria. It’s a smooth draw with a minimum of handshock, and it ships with a Flemish string as standard. It’s also slightly shorter, 60” to 62”, which makes a difference in maneuverability when the bow’s a one piece. The finish is satin, and the bow comes with a bear-hair covered shelf and reinforced limb tips. Add a warranty for the life of the buyer and you’ve got a top of the line recurve bow that can’t be beaten.

The one place where the Kodiak loses to the Hunter is in its range of draw weights. Starting at 45lbs and going upwards, this isn’t a bow for the smaller or less experienced archer.

So, what we have here is a forgiving and versatile Southwest Spyder for beginning and learning the craft, then a Bear Super Kodiak for enjoying the best that traditional bowcraft has to offer. Sounds like a pairing made in heaven to me.

4.  Best Recurve Bows for Hunting

We’ve looked at the best recurve bows overall, now to focus on the thing the recurve bow was designed for – hunting. And, you’ve guessed it, before you choose a recurve bow you need to know what you want to do with it.

Some features are universal, however. A hunting recurve bow needs to be quiet, it needs to be accurate and it needs to be easily transported. And, of course, it needs to come at the right draw weight.

For hunting small game like rabbits and squirrels, 30lbs is enough of a draw weight to do the job. For deer 40lbs is about the minimum that should be considered (and is in fact the legal minimum in some states). For elk, boar or even black bear, you’ll need to pull out a heavyweight 50lb bow or more.

The second thing a hunter needs to decide is whether he or she wants a take-down recurve bow. Take-down recurve bows are more convenient to transport and have the facility to fit accessories like sights, quivers, silencers and stabilizers. These will all substantially improve an archer’s accuracy, while at the same time moving it away from the simplicity of the primitive bow. For this reason, I want to recommend a hunting recurve bow that can be taken down and another in the one piece style.

For a take-down recurve bow, in most cases a hunter can’t do better than the Martin Saber. It comes at draw weights of 30-55lbs, which will cover most hunter’s needs, and at an extra-long 64” in length to give every shot a boost in accuracy, it has all the power required to hunt deer, elk or even boar. Add to that the built in vibration damper and the beautifully fluid draw, what you have here is a bow that’s not only a pleasure to shoot but that comes pre-drilled and ready for upgrade with whatever accessories your heart desires. This recurve bow is slightly on the heavy side at 3.4lbs, but the take-down is fast and simple making the Saber easy to transport and set up in minutes.

The only flaw in the Saber is that it comes in a right-handed variant only, so if you’re a lefty like me you can’t do more than look longingly at your fellow hunters as they use it and choose another bow.

For hunters who prefer the primitive bow experience, in my view the Bear Super Kodiak wins again. This time the range of higher draw weights is a plus, and the Kodiak is also a sturdy and versatile recurve bow that’s designed to last. This is a top recurve bow that generations of hunters have used, and it isn’t unusual to see decades old Grizzlies still used as a hunter’s main bow or passed on through families and still serving well.

5.  How to Get the Best from Our Recurve Bow Reviews

Interestingly, the finer take-down recurve bows seem to fall into the low and mid-budget category, while the one-piece bows come in at the higher end of the market. This benefits the beginner, who can hone their craft on a versatile bow that’s forgiving of errors in technique, then upgrade the limbs as their skill and experience grows. It also benefits the experienced bowman, who has had time to learn and make mistakes, so that he understands exactly what he wants when the time comes to make a larger investment.

Our recurve bow reviews will only be of benefit to the person who knows clearly which boxes he wants his purchase to tick. For this reason, let’s recap on the major decisions a person should make before settling down to choose.

First, a reminder that not every recurve bow comes with right and left handed options, so although the right-hander doesn’t need to think about this, the left-hander certainly will. I still mourn the pleasure I’ll never be able to find in the Martin Saber.

Next, should the best recurve bow be take-down or not? This speaks directly to the philosophy of the archer, and many do use both take-downs and one pieces to enjoy different aspects of the craft. Others begin honing their skills on a take-down before moving to a one piece, while still more shoot happily with a take-down for decades. It’s your choice and there’s no right or wrong answer.

Maybe the most important question is draw weight. This is a complicated decision that factors in the archer’s strength and experience, whether the recurve bow is for target shooting, and even what animal the hunter plans to hunt (or bow-fish!), The ten-year-old beginner target shooter will want a very different bow from the twenty-year boar hunter.

Other technical features are also important, like whether the recurve bow can take a FastFlight string, or whether it’s long enough to accommodate the archer’s draw length. A little thought now can save time and trouble later, because you’ll know exactly what you do and don’t want.

Now it’s time to select a few recurve bows that meet your criteria and see which one speaks to you. Once you’re sure a bow meets your needs, the next decision should belong to your gut.

6.  Time to Choose the Best Recurve Bow

Now it’s time to think about the recurve bow you need. Are you a beginner target shooter who wants a forgiving bow to build up your strength and experience, or are you an experienced hunter who wants to replace a favorite? Do you want to get the best possible recurve bow on a tight budget or are you upgrading from your trusted starter bow and want to spend a little more this time?

An old hunting truth is to, “aim twice, shoot once”, and it’s as true when it comes to choosing the best recurve bow as it is shooting one. You’ve had time to think about what it is you want to use your bow for and what features are important to you.

Now it’s time to get yourself to your favorite bow shop, or follow the links in the bow reviews, and take the next step towards that new bow you’ve been promising yourself.