A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
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Last updated: January 28, 2021
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A smooth shot is crucial to hitting the target, and a bow release can help you to enjoy this consistently with every shot. A proper bow release can not only assist you with the arrow release but also make it less tiring during longer shooting sessions, improve finger safety and reduce the risk of dry firing.
Our research team has reviewed over thirty bow releases to assess how they operate and the benefits they can offer beginners and more experienced archers. We’ve created a list of picks and our editor’s choice the Tru Fire Hardcore offers exceptional performance with superb adjustability, fold-back head and comfortable strap that is vital in shooting sessions. We’ve also ranked other bow release models at different price points to provide a top pick for everyone.
Our team has deliberated for hours, researching the best bow release options. Whether you’re a beginner or more experienced archer, we’ve assessed the comfort and performance of different types of releases to provide accurate insight. First and foremost was the adjustability, so that you can tailor the release to your specific requirements and preferences. Still, we also assessed the different features, build qualities and manufacturer support. We’ve presented our information as a simple overview table with a list of our detailed reviews and a buying guide that should help you make your purchase decision.
Other features: Tru Center Technology, fully adjustable trigger travel, lockable length adjustment, extra padding on the comfort-enhanced buckle, evolution II black, fold-back buckle leather strap, swept-back trigger, 20-degree head pivot, length adjustment over 5/8″, trigger pressure 3-16 oz.
The Tru Fire Hardcore MAX is not only available at a reasonable price point, but it has lots of adjustability and great padding, making it a popular choice for beginners or experienced bow users. The buckle strap is considered to be one of the comfiest straps on the market.
This wrist release model features a practically noiseless buckle design that is perfect for anyone needing to keep quiet during hunting. There is an automatic self-closing hook and a 20-degree pivot head, which helps to reduce the torque on your shots for smoother release under pressure.
The Hardcore MAX is a superb model for adjustability as the trigger pressure can be altered from three to sixteen ounces, creating lots of backpressure when needed. You can fold back the head when it is not required, avoiding any inconvenience when you don’t need the release.
The Hardcore Max has plenty of features with Tru Center technology, making it one of the best bow releases for hunting and an excellent choice for most in need of a stable bow release.
Other features: solid brass, fires 5 different ways, includes 2 thumb barrels and 2 adjustment springs, thumb activation method, ring finger trigger method, anti-fire design, increased tapered ergonomic handle
The Tru Ball Honey Badger X is one of the most technologically advanced releases on the market. There is an ergonomic handle with a solid brass release aid. The index finger groove feels smooth, allowing the Honey Badger X to easily rotate into position, while the second and third grooves feel textured to promote grip. The curved design is tapered towards your pinky finger so that the entire release feels snug in your hand.
The Honey Badger X can be activated in different ways to suit your preferences. You can steadily increase pressure, use thumb activation or use the tension only method. It is also possible to micro-adjust the release with the visual speed dial to make it hotter and faster or back it off for a slower release.
The release also features an anti-fire design, which means that the it cannot actually fire when the head is set in the closed position. This also decreases the likelihood of freezing as it fires when the pressure is increased.
The Tru Fire Hardcore makes an excellent upgrade for any archer who feels unsatisfied with entry-level release aids. This makes it one of the best resistance bow releases ideal for those who have already mastered the art of shooting.
The Tru Fire Hardcore is one of the most customizable models you can find. The design allows adjusting the settings to suit your preferences perfectly. For example, you can adjust trigger sensitivity to light or heavy, while the strap has a few holes for optimum tightness in the fit.
Apart from a solid performance, the Tru Fire Hardcore is also very comfortable. There is ample padding on the leather wrist strap to maintain comfort even during a long session. The head folds back, so it can be worn at all times.
Other features: thumb release, swept-back trigger, 1/2″ ergonomic head, head swivels 360 degrees, easy to open and close jaws, completely silent, finger bed grooves for added grip, adjustable sensitivity screw, V-Lock compatible
The Tru Ball Max Hunter 3 is one of the best compound bow releases providing peace of mind when you’re out on an outdoor adventure. It has a unique design with a special trigger and a three-finger handle design for a solid grip.
The Max Hunter 3 offer exceptional functionality with a small head and small jaws for greater draw length and higher bow speeds. It is quick to load, as you activate the trigger by opening the jaws and release it to close them. This creates a virtually noiseless load and release.
This release is made and assembled in the USA and features an adjustable sensitivity screw. The head swivels through a full 360-degree rotation, yet it offers superb silence when hunting.
What we liked:
Made in the USA
360-degree head swivel
What could be better:
May not offer a good fit for those with small hands
If you want to improve your groups, the Tru Fire Hardcore 4 is a great choice. Like the other Tru Fire models on this list, you can expect quality and elegance with minimal movement and a smooth release.
The Hardcore 4 is compact and lightweight to fit perfectly in your hand. The design has been created for four finger placement to provide a solid grip and optimum stability. Most archers appreciate that four fingers on a release aid also encourage quick, easy drawback.
The Hardcore 4 also offers a wide range of adjustment to suit any preferences. There is a five-position thumb adjustment, trigger pressure adjustment, and trigger travel adjustment to find the ideal settings to suit you. You can also choose to remove or use the lanyard.
All of these features create a remarkable package that is suited to both left and right-handed users.
The Spot Hogg Wiseguy offers fantastic versatility within a lightweight package. This release features a self-reloading hook and other features that advanced archers may appreciate. It offers excellent armband support with adjustable length. The micro-adjustable trigger is easy to use and benefits from state of the art build quality, despite the budget-friendly price point.
Weighing just 4.8 ounces, the Wiseguy can be used by lefties or righties and is available with three colors of strap to make this one of the best mechanical bow releases on the market. The arrow release is hooked up using an adjustable, remarkably light trigger. Some users report that you can practically release it just by breathing on it, but this hair trigger provides optimal accuracy for tightening your groups. Another great feature of the trigger is that it is slightly curved to complement your finger positioning. There is also an adjustment screw beside the trigger to allow tightening or loosening to suit your preferences. This allows for practice with a heavier trigger pull until you can advance to a lighter touch.
Scott Archery is renowned for making high-quality release aids. The Longhorn Hunter exemplifies the brand and offers some outstanding features. The release has been specifically designed for hunters who want to shoot using the back muscles. The release offers an open full radius handle with a buckle wrist strap for additional support.
The Longhorn Hunter provides unsurpassed reliability and accuracy with a three-finger design and open radius handle for comfort when you’re aiming for longer periods of time. There is also an auto reset, draw optimizing hook and bracket stop for quick, easy loading. The Longhorn Hunter has a micro-adjustable bracket system and it comes as standard with the Scott Archery’s patented micro-adjustable RCS system. The release can be set up without or with a click and it is also available in a Realtree Xtra camo finish.
What we liked:
Well padded wrist strap
Interchangeable thumb pegs
What could be better:
Does take a little time to become accustomed to it
Another Scott Archery entry on this list as the best bow release is the Caliper Grip. This release is a great intro model to make it easy for those who want to transition from a wrist release to a hand release.
While a hand release offers greater versatility, the Caliper Grip acts as a hybrid with both index finger trigger and thumb placement, making it easier to transition between styles, while benefiting from the variability offered with a hand release.
The Caliper Grip features dual caliper jaws and an adjustable head that can be rotated 360 degrees using a swivel connector. There is a molded rubber grip and loop for easier connection to D-loops. The molded grip has an adjustable knurled trigger that delivers smooth action and instant release for better groupings. The design also promotes greater accuracy to enable effortless control to make the release virtually feel like part of your hand with no jerky sensation at the point of release.
The Caliper Grip offers exceptional versatility and grip with the precision release that can be used by both left and right-handed archers.
Other features: back tension, ergonomic three-finger handle with .9” index finger hole, triggerless design with thumb safety, shots with increased tension and power, easy to load latch for use with string d-loop
The Carter Evolution 3 Finger is the latest revolutionary idea from the Carter brand. The Evolution is a fully adjustable triggerless back release that operates by pulling through poundage greater than your full draw holding weight. You just need to attach the Evolution to your loop, hold in the safety and draw to your anchor. Once you let off the safety and pull past your holding weight, you will experience the cleanest release.
The Evolution is fully adjustable to the holding weight of your individual bow and requires no rotation. Additionally, the Carter revolutionary safety system eliminates the chances of misfires when drawing completely. What makes this one of the best resistance bow releases is that it provides the perfect release to teach the execution of the proper shot. The release fires as you increase resistance, which is ideal for struggling archers.
Another stand out feature of the Evolution is that it is made from cold-rolled steel with hardened cases that is hand-assembled and tested before it can leave the factory.
What we liked:
Carter safety system to eliminate misfires
What could be better:
Beginners may have a little difficulty getting used to the resistance release
Like the other Scott Archery models in this list of the best bow release, the Little Goose is a solid competitor that has been popular over the years. The Little Goose features the patent-pending single caliper in line design that has a one-piece trigger to maximize draw length for optimum stability and comfort.
The Little Goose has a strap made from authentic leather in an attractive camo finish that offers excellent comfort. Although it may not be as adjustable as some of the other Scott Archery models, the Little Goose does have a solid swiveling head to reduce torque. Additionally, the trigger weight and trigger pressure can be adjusted to provide just enough back pressure when you’re drawing a shot.
As one of the least expensive models on this list, the Little Goose offers impressive variability that will keep most archers happy.
What we liked:
Adjustable trigger sensitivity
What could be better:
Some users report rust issues with the adjustment screws
Things to Consider
If you want to enjoy the best draw, then a bow release is an essential piece of kit. However, with so many different models, making a purchase decision can often feel a little confusing. So, here we’ve provided a buying guide with all the things that you need to consider and features to look for, in addition to answers to some common questions that should aid you in making your final purchase decision.
Why buy a bow release?
If you’ve ever wondered why you would need a bow release, it is simply because it can offer you a good, clean release. A clean release is the goal of every archer, and when you achieve it, hitting a bullseye is a breeze. Whether you shoot a longbow, compound or recurve, a release aid can provide a go between the bowstring and your hand to help you deliver the perfect shot.
A proper bow release cannot only help to provide a consistent release, but it can make archery less tiring and decrease your chances of dry firing. Additionally, it can be safer for your fingers. It is simply a must for modern compound bows but can be very beneficial for other types of bow.
Features to consider when choosing a bow release
With so many bow release products, it can be a little tricky to pick the best one for your specific requirements. So, here we’ll explore the features to consider to narrow down your choices and help you to find the best one for your needs.
Before you start shopping for the best bow release, you must understand the different types available on the market.
The most popular types are index finger release or wrist release and handheld releases that take the form of hinge, thumb or back tension releases.
Index finger or wrist releases like Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback MAX or Spot Hogg Wiseguy Release are the most common type that use a trigger mechanism similar to hunting rifles. This category of release aids are activated by pulling the trigger. The main advantage of this type of release is that you can hit the target in windy conditions or when you’re in motion. With velcro straps or buckles, you can have your release poised for action whenever you need it. It is also easier to draw your bow using this type of release, as you rely on your wrist and muscles to draw the string, making it possible to smoothly execute a quick shot.
Thumb releases like Tru-Fire Hardcore 4 are activated by your thumb and offer precision and consistency. These are also a great release for those who struggle with target panic. Like a wrist release, the thumb trigger is offered with few opportunities for adjustment. Many archers prefer a handheld release as they are lightweight and sleek. When using a thumb release, you’re likely to see your accuracy levels improving as you enjoy a firm, consistent anchor.
Hinge releases are a special form of handheld release that don’t require a trigger. They resemble a thumb release, but they rely on back tension to fire. Hinge release releases are a good choice for those who cannot control target panic.
There is no possible way to shoot your bow and accurately hit a target if your release aid is uncomfortable. The key to comfort is the amount of padding on the wrist strap, so if a strap lacks padding, it is not likely to be comfortable, particularly in long shooting sessions.
In the case of handheld releases, you also need to check the handle is well constructed and sturdy, so you can be sure that it will feel stable and comfortable even after a great deal of use.
Another crucial factor is the release mechanism. As we’ve touched on above, the release may use your index finger, thumb or back tension to fire, but you also need to check the hooking mechanism. This is down to a matter of personal preference. You will also need to choose between a fang style hook or a caliper system.
Another important factor to consider is the release mechanism of the bow release.
Most bow releases are quite expensive, but a proper release will serve you for many years. There is no point in buying a release that cannot handle more than a year or two of shooting.
Check the materials used are high quality. If you’re looking for a wrist release, leather straps are a solid choice. You also need to check that the head is made using a durable material as it will be in for some harsh treatment.
Quietness is another crucial aspect when you’re shopping for a bow release. If you’re hunting game, you’ll appreciate the importance of owning a quiet release. You should avoid bow releases that make a clicking sound when you draw or shoot.
While it is easy to overlook, it is also a good idea to avoid velcro wrist straps, as if you make any adjustments, it will make a loud noise.
Buckle systems tend to be far better as you can make easy adjustments for the right fit while being quiet.
Adjustability is another critical factor. Limited adjustment settings can make it difficult to tailor the release to your ideal comfort. So it is a good idea to look for a release like Tru Ball Max Hunter or Scott Archery Little Goose that allows you to adjust the trigger sensitivity, angle and size to customize and meet your specific needs.
Finally, you will need to consider string style. There are three string setups: metal nock, metal type fastener or D-loop string, so you need to choose a release that will match the style of your specific set up.
How to set up your bow release?
Step One: Make sure you choose a bow release that offers plenty of adjustment opportunities.
Step Two: Know the right fit for each part of the release. For a wrist release, you will need to buckle it around your wrist so your wider palm acts as resistance and helps you easily draw your bow. Keep it in position and allow you index finger to pull at the anchor point at a 90-degree angle.
When drawing the bow, don’t keep your index finger straight, or it will compromise your targeting. The same applies to handheld and thumb releases, so if you do need to make adjustments, make sure that you won’t need lots of movement to make your shot.
The hook-up speed for both types is quite similar. It is worth testing both types to discover which one you can handle better, so you can make a decision that is based on your direct experience.
The TruFire Hardcore Buckle Foldback HDBF is a solid choice for those who want to upgrade from basic bow releases that don’t offer consistent performance, while the Tru Ball Archery Honey Badger X has an impressive solid brass construction that can be activated in one of several different ways for greater flexibility. However, the stand out as the best bow release has to be the Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback MAX. This impressive release is not only offered at a reasonable price point, is a great option for beginners or more advanced archers. It features one of the most comfortable straps. It offers superb adjustability, so you can tailor it to your specific requirements, with TКГ Center technology for the reassurance of a solid performance for many years to come.