Drop the Gun: The 6 Best Compound Bows

Aug 9, 2015

Category: Gear

The bow was the first true projectile weapon that man invented. They changed the game when it came to both hunting and warfare. To this day the bow is still a formidable killing device that is more elegant than a gun. They can be used for everything from meditation to exercise to surviving in the wilds without needing to find ammo. Some even say their silent nature makes them ideal for taking down prey quickly and quietly. Among the best types of bow to use are compound bows which enhance the speed and killing capacity of the standard bow many times over.

These devices work with a pulley system to help arrows move faster with less human effort. They draw away the kinetic energy being applied to the bow string and compound it with cams on each end which add their own rotation each time an arrow is loosed. They are far and away the most popular of the longbow variety partly because they are the easiest to use. From children all the way up to the bulkiest hulk out there, as well as hunters, amateurs, and target shooters, we’ve found the 6 best compound bows for every use and price range.

Mission Craze

Mission Craze

Pro: Affordable
Con: Small

Entry Level: True, the Craze is pretty basic, but it manages to hit all the right notes for archers of just about any level. The adjustable draw lets you go from 19″ to 30″ in length and 15 to 70 lbs. in weight. It’s only 28″ long measuring from the axles, so larger users might find it a little too quaint and dainty for serious work. It will throw at a maximum of 306 feet-per-second (fps) with an 80% let-off, which is great for the money. The dual cam system tries to minimize vibrations, but you’ll still get a little wriggle on release. The 7.5″ brace height is generous for a beginners bow and gives it a little more flexibility than you’ll find elsewhere in the bargain bows section. [Purchase: $299]

Diamond Infinite Edge

Diamond Infinite Edge

Pro: Very forgiving for new shooters
Con: Loud

Most for the Money: If you can see your way clear to spending a little more than you would buying the Craze, then slip into the Infinite Edge from Diamond. It has a larger draw length that goes from 13″ to 30″ and a draw weight from 5 to 70 lbs. giving it plenty of room for a young archer to grow and a new archer to learn where their sweet spot is. Best of all, it works for lefties as easily as righties, something not always offered in the affordable compound bow industry. You’ll get a 75% let-off and an infinite draw capability that helps those in training as well as bowfishers looking to snag the big one. It can pull of a quick 310 fps and the brace is a medium 7″ high. The sighting can be a little dicey and the bow is noisy at higher settings requiring lots of extra kit to quiet it down. [Purchase: $345]

Bear Archery Motive 6

Bear Archery Motive 6

Pro: Silent but deadly
Con: Limited draw length options

Hunter’s Hombre: Bear Archery has a knack for packing the most into an affordable package and any bow you get from them is top-quality. The Motive 6 sets itself apart because it is a steely-eyed killer that has no time for target practice. It has a declared speed of 350 fps, though it doesn’t often reach that due in part to a lighly mushy back wall. What it lacks in fast action it makes up for by being whisper quiet, an important feature when stalking prey. Bear has updated their cam system with this model offering a smoother draw for fluid kills, even on the move. The brace is 6″ in height and the bow has a 75% let-off. You’ll be dealing with 25.5″ to 30″ of draw length which goes up in half-inch increments. Comes with 50, 60, or 70 lbs of draw weight. [Purchase: $800]

Elite Archery Spirit

Elite Archery Spirit

Pro: Built to suit a woman’s body
Con: Slow

For the Ladies: Elite was one of the manufacturers who wanted to pretend that women couldn’t be bow hunters. They have learned from that mistake and as penance they have released the Spirit. It has a 31″ body that is better suited to a woman’s frame along with a smaller grip which can fit a lady’s paw more aptly than the hefty male models. Despite the adjustments it still has passable 307 fps speed. While that won’t win any contests, the ease of shooting, smooth firing cycle, lack of vibration, and silent operation all make it enjoyable to shoot. It also racks up incredible range and limits fatigue from use. The 7″ brace height, 30 to 60 lbs. draw weight, smaller 24-28″ draw length, and 3.9 pound size all make it ideal for a female. The only problem is the weighty price. [Purchase: $899]

PSE DNA

PSE DNA

Pro: Extremely fast
Con: No valley

Speed Freak: If speed is important to you for bagging small game or birds in flight, then the DNA will make you cream with ecstasy. On the other hand if you hate aggressive compound bows with no valley, then you’ll want to break this over your knee the minute you pick it up. The DNA is deadly accurate, has one of the most comfortable grips out there, and is screaming fast with a 70% let-off. Hard-core target shooters will love it while newbies will find it as unforgiving as a recurve. It logs in with an IBO speed of 350+ fps. The brace is only 6″ in height while draw length is 26″ to 30″ with absolutely no give. Expect to invest in heavy duty arrows since the 50 to 70 lbs. draw weight and fast action with splinter and shatter anything less than the best. For those looking for something a little less vicious, PSE also makes the DNA with an SP (Smooth Pull) model. [Purchase: $900]

Bowtech Carbon OverDrive

Bowtech Carbon OverDrive

Pro: Does everything well
Con: Expensive

Best All-Around: Bowtech seems to have a knack for making bows that are very good in every respect. They don’t top the charts in any single area, but manage to impress at every turn. Both the Experience and the OverDrive are excellent, with the OverDrive taking the top spot only because it is about a pound lighter and can execute about 10 more feet per second, landing it at 342 fps total and 3.3 lbs. The OverDrive does feel more professional – along with a pro’s price – with 50 to 70 lbs. of draw though only 25″ to 30″ worth of draw length, and a full 80% let-off. The release sounds like wind blowing through fletchings. Vibrations are also at a minimum and when the OverDrive is combined with a black ops tactical sight, it has Hawkeye accuracy that goes way beyond what most bows can pull off. The carbon body is also nice in that it won’t freeze your hands as winter falls. [Purchase: $999]

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