Best Compound Bows: Top 10 for Hunters and Preppers

the best compound bows

One thing that has evolved at a fast pace in recent times is compound bow technology. Honestly, it’s hard to figure out how the top manufacturers make their products perform better and better with every passing year.

I have used a variety of bows for the last decade. But in recent years, the quality and versatility of the top products have left me super impressed. What’s more, you don’t need to spend a fortune to pick a high-performance bow.

If you’re a survivalist, the compound bow is one tool that you need to pack for emergencies. However, choosing from the best models while balancing the multiple factors isn’t an easy task.

In this compound bow review, we will discuss the main features along with the pros and cons of some of the top performers in the market.

We will also tell you- what is the number 1 compound bow?

So let’s.dive deeper and find out more in this best compound bow review.

Our Best Compound Bow Choices for Multi-Purpose Use

Overall Score 95%
Accuracy 95%
Speed 90%
Price 95%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

The Diamond Edge 320 stands out from the competition due to its design and versatility. Whether you’re in the wilderness or on a heading for archery practice, this compound bow will deliver impressive results.

The bow comes with a lightweight design- just 3.6 lbs. – and a speed of 320 fps. That doesn’t make it lightning-fast, but fast enough for making the right shots. The Edge 320 gives you plenty of adjustability as well. 

To start with, you get an adjustable draw length between 15 to 31-inches. So it’s great for tall shooters as well hunters of a medium height. Also, the adjustments can be done easily without a bow press.

Next, the draw weight can be varied between 7 lbs. to 70 lbs. 

Now that makes this bow a good choice for shooters of all ages and experience levels.

Beyond that, the bow is also equipped with a synchronized binary cam system. This gives consistent accuracy and straight-line nock travel.

Another great feature of the bow is an 85% effective let-off which is on the higher side. This makes it great for bowhunters. And considering the price, the Edge 320 offers excellent value.

What Needs Improvement

Honestly, there isn’t much to complain about the Edge 320. Some users may not prefer the high let-off as it can make it harder to make clean shots in some conditions.

Other than that, the bow length is 32 inches, which is on the longer side. So if you’re looking for a more compact compound bow, this may not be your choice.

Bottom Line

The Edge 320 is a great bow that can easily go toe to toe with flagship bows of some other brands. Overall it’s a fantastic product from Diamond that we have no hesitation in recommending as the best compound bow.

Overall Score 90%
Accuracy 90%
Speed 95%
Price 95%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

When you’re looking for the right blend of speed and accuracy, the Divergent is an excellent choice. Designed for the whitetail bowhunter, this compact bow comes with a 28-inch axle-to-axle length. 

With a weight of 3.9 lbs. It’s not the lightest bow in this category. But it’s not too heavy either. The draw length can be adjusted between 25.5 to 30-inches. The draw weight adjustment is between 55 to 70 lbs.

The aluminum riser is designed with Bearcage technology. This reduces riser flex while preserving the strength of the riser. 

Beyond that, the Divergent is equipped with a hybrid cam system and a relatively high shooting speed of 338 fps. Coming to the limbs, Bear has designed them to ensure even weight distribution. Add to that the high-quality limb pockets, and you have a bow that delivers good accuracy as well as solid durability.

What we loved about the Divergent is the Shockwaves limb dampening system. A great feature that reduces string vibration and noise when you shoot.

The Divergent also has a firm back wall. This results in a smooth shooting experience that most hunters will appreciate.

Overall, the Divergent is a smartly designed bow at an affordable price.

What Needs Improvement

Firstly, some hunters might find the 75% let-off a letdown. If you want a higher let-off, look elsewhere. Also, if you’re looking for versatility in terms of draw weight or length, this isn’t the best choice.

Bottom Line

Bear bows are great shooters and the Divergent is no exception. And considering the affordable price tag, it’s easy to recommend for any survivalist.

Overall Score 90%
Accuracy 90%
Speed 80%
Price 95%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

The Infinite 305 is a great choice for hunting or background recreational use. While first-timers will love it, veterans will enjoy using this bow too.

Wondering how?

Let’s start with the huge draw weight adjustability. The range is between 5 lbs. and 70 lbs. making it perfect for hunters of all skill levels. The draw length adjustment ranges between 19 and 31 inches. Ideal for both young and adult hunters. 

Beyond the adjustable platform, the bow is super lightweight at 3.3 lbs. The axle-to-axle length is 32-inches. So it’s not exactly a compact option. The riser is lightweight but delivers a premium feel in the hand. The shootability and accuracy are good between 20 to 50 yards.

With a speed of 305 fps, it’s not the fastest bow. But considering the price tag, we aren’t complaining. That brings us to the price point. I have to say that Diamond has effectively balanced quality and affordability with this model.

Moreover, you also get multiple accessories like a 3-pin sight, a quiver, brush arrow rest, stabilizer, and a string loop at this price.

All in all, a value for money package.

What Needs Improvement

Coming to the downsides, the effective let-off is 77%. This may not appeal to many bowhunters. Also, accuracy levels beyond 50 yards aren’t the best in this category.

Note, the axle-to-axle length is 32-inches. While that doesn’t make it too long, it’s not exactly a compact option.

Bottom Line

The Infinite 305 is a great bow for beginners that balances affordability and performance. However, even elite shooters will find it a reliable performer.

Overall Score 90%
Accuracy 90%
Speed 85%
Price 85%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Admittedly, PSE has designed some great bows over the years. And the Stinger Max has some excellent features that make it a dependable deer hunting bow.

The overall design is stylish and the fit and finish are top-notch. But there are other aspects that we like as well.

For one, there’s plenty of adjustability in the design. The draw length ranges between 21.5 to 30 inches and you get half-inch increments. The draw weight is 55 lbs. and 70 lbs. The distance between the two axles is 30 inches. Which makes it a relatively compact bow. The weight is 3.8 lbs.

Note, the Stinger Max pro is a  single-cam bow. So don’t expect lightning-fast arrow speeds. But 312 fps is good enough to drive a broadhead through a deer.

What else?

Noise and vibration are well controlled through the use of vibration-damping spacers. The let-off of 80% is good enough.

Most users found the accuracy levels to be great up to 60 yards. So whether you are a spot-and-stalk hunter or shooting from a treestand, the Stinger Max Pro is a great option.

What Needs Improvement

If a fancy-looking, high-speed bow is what you want, there are better options. The Stinger Max Pro comes with an affordable price and a no-frills design to get the job done.

Also, this bow isn’t the best choice for shooting at distances above 60 yards. 

Bottom Line

This is a dependable bow for deer hunting that entry-level shooters, as well as bowhunters on a budget, will love.

Overall Score 90%
Accuracy 85%
Speed 80%
Price 85%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Looking for an affordable compound bow for beginners? The Cruzer G2 from Bear Archery is a bow that deserves a closer look.

While it’s great for newbies, the dual-cam system packs enough punch for serious hunters too. The draw length and draw weight varies between 12 to 30 inches and 5 to 70 lbs. respectively. That ensures plenty of adjustments to match your needs.

To top it off, this is the lightest bow in this category with a weight of just 3 lbs. The bow length is 30 inches.

Most users mentioned that the bow delivers an excellent in-hand feel. Despite the lightweight design, there’s an aluminum riser and the limbs are made from EnduraFibe. So, durability is ensured. Additionally, the speed levels are pretty good at 315 fps. In between 15 to 40 yards, the accuracy was good.

As if that’s not enough…

The draw cycle is smooth and there’s hardly any hand shock. Considering the price, we feel Bear has done a great job with the design.

What Needs Improvement

Now, this isn’t the best compound bow that will offer dependable performance beyond 40 yards. The 70% let-off is another aspect that could have been better.

A few users also found the back wall to be on the softer side. Though, that may not be true for all archers.

Bottom Line

Overall, this is a great option for young shooters for developing skills. And with the excellent adjustability, it’s also an effective tool for serious hunters.

Overall Score 90%
Accuracy 85%
Speed 80%
Price 85%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

The second product in this list from PSE Archery is another solid option that comes with excellent adjustability.

To start with the bow has a draw weight ranging between 15 to 70 lbs and a draw length range of 14 to 30 inches.

The adjustability makes it perfect for young archers slowly advancing their skills. It also makes the bow great for occasional shooting to tackle emergencies. At 310 fps, it’s not as fast as some of the competitors. But the bow has enough pace to tackle emergency scenarios.

Another plus is a smooth draw cycle and a whisper-quiet performance.  Quite simply, the Uprising works great in scenarios when you need stealth.

Coming to the weight factor, PSE has kept the weight feather-light at 3.2 lbs. With a bow length of 30 inches, it’s pretty compact and can be maneuvered quickly.

Not to forget, the package includes a 3 pin sight, an arrow rest, a 5-arrow quiver, and a stabilizer.

What Needs Improvement

One drawback is, the let-off is limited at 70%. So you need to select the draw weight carefully. But it may be an issue if you are shooting at a draw weight of 70 lbs.

Some users also found the grip to be minimalistic. So it may not be the best choice for day-long use.

Bottom Line

For what it’s worth, the noiseless performance and forgiveness of this compound bow stand out. That makes it the best compound bow for self-defense when you’re in a tight spot.

Overall Score 85%
Accuracy 80%
Speed 85%
Price 90%

Pros:

Cons:

What We Like

Many survivalists look for a compact and dependable bow at a reasonable price.

Enter the Dragon X8 from Salinda Archery. It’s exactly what you expect from a brand committed to delivering high-quality at a reasonable price.

There’s plenty of adjustability with a wide draw length of 18 to 31 inches and a draw weight of 0 to 70 lbs. With 30 inches between the axles, the bow is compact. The weight stands at 3.8 lbs.

The risers and cams are made from aluminum alloy and feel solid. The overall fit and finish are top-notch. Not to forget, the camo design looks great.

In addition, the draw cycle is smooth and 310 fps of speed is good enough in an entry-level bow. Also, the noise and vibrations are well controlled. We wouldn’t recommend the Dragon for long-distance shots. But when it comes to shooting within 40 yards, the performance is good.

Lastly, even with a low price tag, the Dragon has all the good features that you need in an entry-level bow, and some more.  In short, this is a compound bow that punches above its price tag.

What Needs Improvement

To start with, the back wall isn’t rock solid. But at this price point, it’s acceptable.

Besides, the Dragon isn’t the best choice for long-distance shots or target shooting. Quite simply, it’s not designed for that.

Apart from that, the accessories that come with the bow aren’t of the best quality.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a compact bow for short-distance hunting the Dragon X8 offers excellent value.

Three Other Top Compound Bow Choices

The Paradox comes with a straightforward design that offers good performance but limited adjustability.

The draw length is limited to between 23.5 to 30.5 inches. There are two options for draw weights- 55-70 lbs. and 45-60 lbs. With 32 inches between the axles, it’s fairly compact. But, at 4.3 lbs, the Paradox is on the heavier side.

Beyond that, there’s a high speed of 330 fps and 80% let-off. The shootability is good as well.

Note, the bow comes with a single cam design that offers a smooth draw cycle and feels great. To sum up, this isn’t a high-end hunting bow. Still, if you’re looking for a budget offering or need a backup hunting bow, check this one out.

If a lightning-fast bow is what you want, the Turmoil might be right up your alley.

The best part of the bow is the hybrid RZ cams that can shoot at a high speed of 350 fps.

The design is robust and the bow offers a stable shooting platform from a wide range of positions. Draw length ranges between 26.5 to 30 inches. So the adjustability is limited. The let-off is high at 80% and there are Limbsaver dampeners for canceling vibrations.

Also, with a bow length of 33.187 inches, it’s on the longer side. At 3.8 lbs. it remains relatively lightweight.

While the fast speed and affordable price tag are a big draw, this isn’t the right bow for inexperienced archers.

The Blackout Pursuit comes with a great design and smooth cam action. The speed of 330 fps makes it a fast action bow and the price is subdued too.

It also has an advanced riser design and a dampening system to reduce vibrations and improve accuracy. Blackout also mentions that the materials can withstand a wide range of temperatures and the bow is ready for all-season use.

The axle-to-axle distance is 31 inches and the draw length is limited between 26.5 to 30 inches. The 75% let-off might be on the lower side for some hunters. 

The release is smooth and crisp and the bow also comes with some quality accessories.

All in all, a good quality bow that elite shooters can depend on in the wilderness.

Compound Bow Buying Guide

If you’re a first-time buyer, picking the best compound bow from the countless options can seem like a complex affair. Since compound bows are more complex longbows or recurve bows, there’s a lot to consider.

Understanding The Compound Bow Specs

Before you learn about what to look for in the best compound bow, you need to understand the core terminologies. To be honest, the terminology and acronyms of compound archery can be confusing for newbies.

Bow Length

At the end of each limb of the bow, there’s a steel axle. The distance between the centers of the two axles is the bow length. Keep in mind, this isn’t the overall length of the bow. For most hunting bows, the bow length is kept between 30 to 33 inches. While you may look for models beyond this range, most of the top products hit this sweet spot.

Draw Length

Note, compound bows can be drawn only upto a set length and no more. This is termed the draw length and is fixed based on the design of the bow. As draw length will depend on the user, many compound bows offer a range of draw lengths. For adult males, the draw length can vary between 25 to 30 inches. 

Speed Ratings

The arrow speeds for a bow are mentioned in feet per second or fps. Generally, bows that shoot over a speed of 320 fps are considered fast. Flagship bows with speeds above 340 fps are a real screamer. 

Manufacturers list the speed based on “ATA” (Archery Trade Association) or “IBO” (International Bowhunting Organization) standards. Most manufacturers mention the IBO speed in their specifications. However, in the real world, you’ll hardly notice the practical difference between a 320 fps bow and a 330 fps bow.

Draw Weight

The draw weight is the amount of force required to pull the string back. It is measured in pounds but mentioned with the # (hashtag) sign. The amount of force needed depends on the limbs of the bow. Most bows come with adjustable draw weights. For example, if a bow is marked as “60#”, it should be adjustable between 50# to 60#.

Brace Height

This is the distance between the deepest part of the grip and the bowstring when it’s at rest. This distance is usually set by the manufacturer. In general, bows with faster speeds have a shorter brace height. 

Let-Off

Let off works inline with the draw weight. It’s the percentage of the draw weight that the archer holds when the bow is fully drawn. Basically, the cams of the bow reduce the holding weight at full draw to help you shoot accurately with less effort. For example, consider a bow with a draw weight of 60 pounds and a let-off of 75%. That means you will need a pulling force of 15 pounds at full draw.

choosing a compound bow

How To Choose The Best Compound Bow?

Here are a few points you need to consider before buying the best compound bow.

The Draw Length

A comfortable draw length is a must if you want to use a new bow in a survival situation. Admittedly, choosing the correct draw length is tricky.

If it’s too long, you will have to lean your back. This will lead to poor shooting posture and loss of accuracy. You may even hurt your non-drawing arm if the length is too long. 

Likewise, using a short draw length will affect accuracy and make your shots inconsistent.

There are various methods of determining draw lengths. And there are plenty of debates between experts about the best one. Basically, the draw length that offers you the most comfort and accuracy is the best for you. 

The Right Draw Weight

Think about this. During a hunt, you will need to keep the bow drawn for extended periods while waiting for the right moment to release it.

So, a bow with a high draw weight isn’t the best option in adverse conditions. Actually, you need to match the draw weight with your strength to find the best match. 

Note, there’s no magic formula to determine the right draw weight. It’s best to start with a low-poundage compound bow.

Generally, for medium-framed women with a weight between 130 to 160 lbs, the draw weight should range between 30 to 40 pounds. For men weighing between 150 to 180 lbs. It should be around 55 to 65 pounds.

Bow Forgiveness

While this illusive term isn’t an exact specification, it’s a catchword in the industry. Basically, a forgiving bow is one that can compensate for minor mistakes and shoot accurately. That makes it a good choice for first-time buyers. However, a forgiving bow is not the same as an “easy-to-shoot” bow.

Many experts believe that the term forgiveness is not applicable for mechanical compound bows. Practice and proper technique are more important for hitting the mark consistently.

Bow Length

When you’re in the wilderness, you will need to remain agile. The length of the bow is an important aspect when it comes to stability and maneuverability.

Generally, shorter bows are a better choice for hunting. On the other hand, longer bows are better for target shooting. It’s best to pick a size that you’re most comfortable with.

Most mainstream hunting bows come with the 30 to 33-inch length range. Unless you have a personal preference or using a bow for a special purpose, staying within this range should be fine.

Bow Weight

When it comes to survival, a compact and lightweight bow is the best choice. Most compound bows fall within the weight range of 3 pounds to 4.5 lbs. Bows that are specifically marked as lightweight weighs under 4 lbs. Remember, dragging a heavy bow all through the day can be tiring.

However, heavy bows tend to be more stable and can absorb more noise. That means they are more forgiving. Lightweight bows are less stable which makes hitting the target more challenging. They may vibrate or jump a little after you shoot.

That said, the design and manufacturing of the bow play a big role in the stability. So, you might not find much difference in terms of real-world performance.

The frame or riser of the main component determines the weight. Most manufacturers use aluminum or carbon fiber for designing the riser. For wilderness survival, choose a bow that’s lightweight but not flimsy. 

The Noise Factor

When you shoot an arrow, a small part of the energy stored in the bow is not transferred to the 

arrow. This gets released as vibration and sound. 

A noisy bow isn’t the right choice when it comes to hunting. Thankfully, modern compound bows minimize noise with their innovative design. Make sure to check out the noise factor of a bow before buying. Generally, bows with whisker biscuit rests are quieter.

Bow Speed

On the face of it, choosing a bow with a higher speed seems the best option for outdoor use. Higher speed will deliver more kinetic energy to the arrows and help you to bring down larger animals more effectively.

But that’s not all.

In reality, an IBO speed of 350 fps will not deliver the same speed to your arrow. The actual arrow speed can be 10 to 15% less.

However, the arrow speed depends on other factors as well. These include arrow weight and external factors like wind speed. Choosing a lightweight arrow may not be the best option when you are looking for deep penetration.

For this reason, many hunters lay more stress on accuracy and the weight of the arrow. Instead of going for the best feet per second, pick a moderately-fast bow that can shoot heavy arrows smoothly.

The Budget

The price of the bow is one aspect that definitely affects the choice. Don’t choose a cheap bow that doesn’t deliver performance.

The good news is, there are quite a few brands that are manufacturing cost-effective bows that deliver excellent quality.

If this is your first purchase, it’s best to choose an affordable product. You can always upgrade as your skills improve over time. In fact, more expensive bows with a complex mechanism can be a pain for beginners.

How much does a bow cost?

Experienced archers use compound bows that cost over $1000. But, you can easily find high-quality compound bows at prices less than $500. Also, there are many bows that come in packages and offer more bang for your buck.

Note, picking a cheap compound bow that’s less than $200 isn’t the best option. Let’s face it. You will get what you pay for. 

Finding the Dominant Eye

Last but not the least, you need to determine your dominant eye before shooting.  This will determine whether you will choose a right-hand or a left-hand bow.

If you don’t know this already, your brains receive better input from one eye than the other. So, if your left eye is dominant, it’s best to buy a left-hand bow. In such a case, even if you have a dominant right hand, you will shoot more accurately with a left-hand bow. 

That said, shooting with the wrong hand- the one that’s not on the same side as the dominant eye – is possible. But in the long run, your accuracy will suffer. And in a survival scenario, each arrow counts.

There are various simple ways to determine your dominant eye. Pick a method that suits you best.

Final Thoughts

That brings us to the end of this bow review session of the best compound bows for hunting.

Keep in mind, the final choice will depend on your own preferences. The best bow for someone else may not fit your hunting needs.

Now if you’ll ask me…

The Diamond Edge 320 is the best pick due to its excellent versatility and dependable performance. 

The Bear Divergent Compound Bow is the second-best choice with a great design, and a compact size.

So take the next step.

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