Best Archery Recurve Bows
There’s a lot to think about when you’re buying a bow. Style, draw length and draw weight, material, upgradability, portability – and of course quality – are all factors to consider. Making the right choice plays a major role in how much you’ll enjoy your archery and to what extent you’ll be able to progress in the sport.
If you’re thinking of buying a bow – especially if it’s your first one – one of the biggest considerations is getting the right size and draw weight for you. You can read guides or go into a store to get some help. As a very rough guide, average grown women usually look at something like 25-40 pounds, and average men 30-55 pounds, but it depends a lot on your height and strength – and pretty much everyone recommends that you start with a lower draw weight at the start so that you learn the proper form and habits.
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In this article, we’re going to be looking at some of the best options if you’re looking at a recurve bow. The recurve is a really popular style of bow that sits somewhere between the traditional longbow and the modern compound in terms of power and accuracy. It retains that classic look and simplicity that people love and is also the only type of bow used at the Olympics.
We aren’t going to be looking at four-figure custom bows or anything like that. Instead, we’ll be looking at great options whether you’re either starting out in archery or are already at an experienced intermediate level. Also, because every bow we recommend is a takedown bow, you can easily grow into them as we’ll explain.
What is a recurve bow?
So, what is a recurve bow? It’s a traditional style of bow that differs from a longbow by having the tips of the limbs bent forward, away from the archer. The style is ancient: the earliest written record is from around the 8th century BC. Over thousands of years, the recurve bow has evolved, but the basic idea remains the same.
That shape gained currency because it can store more energy than a traditional longbow (with its simple ‘crescent-moon’ shape), and therefore can shoot an arrow faster and further for the same draw weight. Equally, a bow can fire with the same power but be a smaller size – ideal for use in tight environments like forests or on horseback.
While the longbow continued to dominate in wetter environments during the Middle Ages (think of the English longbow), the recurve dominated in many drier places until firearms became widely available for warfare.
Generally, recurve bows are slightly less forgiving in use because they are thinner in depth than a longbow, which makes it easier to twist the limbs if you have poor form. That’s why beginners are still sometimes advised to take their first steps into archery using a longbow. That said, if you’re committed to learning properly, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
What are the benefits of a recurve bow?
The defining feature of the recurve bow is its ability to deliver more power to the arrow than a longbow using the same draw weight – or the same power using a smaller bow.
A recurve bow can also be more portable because many of them are ‘takedown’ styles – which means that the two limbs detach from the riser. That can be a big deal depending on how much space you have to store your bow and how you travel to the places you shoot. If you use public transport, say, then a takedown bow is vital.
They’re also quite a lot simpler than a compound bow, with fewer things to go wrong and less maintenance required. In most ways, then, they’re a nice middle ground between longbows and compound bows.
If you have major ambitions for your archery (combined with natural talent and a lot of time to practice), then the fact that recurves are the only type used at the Olympics might also be considered a benefit!
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KESHES Takedown Recurve Bow Review
[amazon box=”B06X9CRCRR” title=”KESHES Takedown Recurve Bow” description=”So, let’s start with our first bow: the KESHES Takedown Recurve Bow. The one we’ve picked out here is a set that comes with arrow rest, stringer tool and sight. “/]
It has a wooden riser and two black limbs which are wood with fibreglass over the top. A 62” bow, it comes in left- and right-handed versions and draw weights from 15 to 35 pounds in 5-pound increments.
What’s nice is the no-tools assembly – there are thumb screws for securing the limbs to the riser, so you’ll be up and running quickly. It also comes with detailed instructions. You’d think that would be standard but not all bows come with them!
As it’s a takedown bow, you’ll be able to take it apart for storage or transport if you need to. It also means that in the future you could replace the limb should you want to change the draw weight – either if you’ve gotten stronger or want to lend it to someone else, which is a nice future-proofing feature.
Build quality is excellent and set up is a breeze. Shooting is consistent, and a wide range of archers – from 13-year old novices to experienced shooters find the bow suits their needs. The craftsmanship is generally very good (there’s a couple of examples of poor quality control out there, but consumer service also appears good) and it is impressive especially for the price.
We like the brass bushing that means it can accommodate upgrades you might want later, including a new sight, stabiliser, quiver or even fishing reel. Something the set is missing is anything to nock your string with. To improve your consistency, you’ll want to add that – either get it done professionally or follow a guide to do it yourself.
One thing you might end up doing is replacing the arrow rest – a lot of users find it wasn’t great. It’s a stick-on variety that will get you up and running but may well be your first upgrade.
All in all, this is a great ‘real’ bow that a lot of people step up to once they’ve caught the archery bug. But it’s also a very good option for a total beginner and is complete enough in its feature set and upgradeability to make sure you can grow into it. Given its price, it’s especially easy to see why this makes a good choice for a first bow.
It’s nice that it comes with the extra bits too – like the stringer and sight – so that you can get started quickly without buying a lot of extra kit. Downsides are the missing string nock (although honestly that could be said about most bows) and the poor-quality arrow rest.
The KESHES Takedown Recurve is a quality, well-featured bow that is equally at home in the hands of a beginner or intermediate archer.
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Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow Review
[amazon box=”B01NBBYSJW” title=”Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow” description=”Next up, we’re looking at the Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow. As with the KESHES bow, the Samick can be taken apart for storage and transport.”/]
It is a 62” bow and it comes in left- and right-handed options and draw weights all the way from 25 to 60 pounds, in increments of 5. It’s recommended to be used by archers with a maximum draw length of 29”.
It’s a well-known and well-regarded bow, and here we’ve picked out a kit version, although you can also buy just the bow without the accessories if you prefer. The box includes the string, arrow rest and a stringer tool. The bow has a wooden riser with limbs made of maple and finished with fiberglass.
Having the option to go up to 60 pounds means this is a bow that will accommodate archers of almost all strengths, and starting at 25 means novices can start with a good weight for learning good form – and add limbs to their kit later on if they want to.
The craftsmanship is of high quality, and the bow feels and looks great. The finish pleases even long-time archers. It is easy to put together, too – although the pack links you to a video to watch rather than including paper instructions.
With future-proofing in mind, the Samick has brass bushings so you can add a wide range of compatible accessories like a sight, quiver, plunger or items from the hunting kit. You can also buy limbs separately, so it’s easy to get hold of compatible parts to increase or decrease the draw weight as needed.
The stringer tool has a lifetime warranty, which is a nice touch. That said, it might come in handy because more people than you might expect report it breaking, in some cases on first use.
The arrow rest is another stick-on variety. It’ll work well enough to get you going, but you might find better consistency by upgrading a little way down the road. Again, it doesn’t include a string nock, so factor that in when you buy and either add one to your order or fashion one yourself – unless you find you can easily gauge the correct arrow height by eye.
The Samick Sage is a very good bow that will suit new to intermediate archers. Its wide draw weight range means it’s suitable for people of almost all sizes and strengths and the availability of new limbs means it can grow with you.
The kit means you can get started very quickly and the craftsmanship is excellent. It is upgradeable, transportable and looks and feels good. It is highly-rated by both new and experienced archers.
All in all, one of the best bang-for-the-buck bows you can find, and a great starting point for archers up to intermediate level.
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Southwest Archery Spyder Takedown Recurve Bow Review
[amazon box=”B01CLXZWRO” title=”Southwest Archery Spyder Takedown Recurve Bow” description=”Available here in left- or right-handed versions, you can also choose whether you want it to come with a stringer tool – likely whether or not you already own a bow.”/]
Next up, another wooden-riser takedown recurve bow: the Spyder Takedown Recurve Bow from Southwest Archery. It’s a 62” bow (64” is available separately) with a very wide range of draw weights, spanning 20 pounds all the way up to 60 pounds in 5-pound steps.
The version here comes with the string, arrow rest and printed instructions (with videos online too). The riser has quite a distinctive look, assembled as it is from wooden layers with pleasingly contrasting colours lining the riser. It’s a great appearance that is very popular with pretty much everyone who buys one.
The riser’s appearance is complemented by black limbs with tips that are reinforced to allow the use of fast flight and flemish string types, should you be branching out. As a takedown, those limbs also come off for simple transport, and a great bonus is that with one exception, all Southwest Archery limbs and risers are interchangeable, which means you can build a compatible collection. Be aware that they aren’t thumb screws though – you’ll need to keep a hex key with you to take it apart.
In terms of flexibility, the riser also has a ton of attachment points for adding sights, quivers, stabilisers, fishing reels, string silencers or even lasers. The counter-point is that this bow doesn’t come as a kit, so if you want those extra bits you’ll need to buy them separately, and that’s on top of the already higher price than the other bows in this roundup.
The construction of the bow is great, and quality control seems solid from an assessment of user reviews. It is very comfortable to hold and attention to detail, with the possible exception of the arrow rest, is high throughout.
A little pricier than the other bows in the roundup, the Spyder recurve bow here doesn’t come with a kit of accessories either, making it even steeper for a beginner who still might need those extra bits to get started. In the scheme of things, though, this is a lot of bow for the money.
It has a beautiful design, very good ergonomics, a great feature-set and is among the best bows in this price bracket. It shoots quietly and is future-proof being easily upgradeable and compatible with pretty much all Southwest limbs.
A great option for intermediate archers and beginners with a little extra to spend.
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SAS Explorer Takedown Recurve Bow Review
[amazon box=”B014X4NEOM” title=”SAS Explorer Takedown Recurve Bow” description=”Our next bow is the SAS Explorer. Another takedown recurve bow, this one features a metal riser as opposed to the wooden ones we see elsewhere.”/]
In this case, it’s aluminium with a polished finish. It’s only available right-handed and comes in a range of low draw weights: 22, 26, 30 and 34-pound options. It’s also a long bow, at 66”, so keep that in mind.
Above and below the riser are fibreglass and maple limbs. Southland Archery Supply recommends a maximum archer height of 6’ for this bow. The anodised riser is available in five colours including red, black and camo. Quite a few people have noted that it’s a little louder than others they shoot, but there are a few options to dampen the sound if that turns out to be an issue.
The Explorer is a light bow that could well be ideal for a new archer, especially one that is younger. One reviewer described it like this: his son is at an in-between stage where he’s too big for a ‘toy’ bow but not quite ready for something more ‘serious’.
On the other hand, though, it might also suit quite a tall archer. Despite 6 feet being the recommended maximum height, the extra reach allows for a longer draw which might suit people with longer than average arms – although it’s important to measure that to make sure you get a bow that suits your anatomy.
It is well-made, and quality of construction seems to be very good, without signs of quality control issues from looking through a wide range of reviews.
It doesn’t come as a kit, and there’s no stringer tool in the box, so make sure you have one or buy one to assemble the bow safely. There’s also no arrow rest, sight or other bits, either – so you’ll need to factor those into the overall cost of the package if you’re a brand-new archer.
A potentially great starter bow, the SAS Explorer Takedown Recurve Bow uses lightweight aluminium and eye-catching anodised finishes in a range of colours. That could appeal to a younger audience, but it’s very subjective, of course.
It’s a bit barebones – this version doesn’t come with much more than a string, so be sure to factor that into your assessment of its overall value. It does come in a range of useful light draw weights which makes this an accessible bow for those without a ton of upper body strength.
So in summary, this is a good starter bow, but not the outright winner on value-for-money.
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Mandarin Duck Phantom Takedown Recurve Bow Review
[amazon box=”B06XCD1MHB” title=”Mandarin Duck Phantom Takedown Recurve Bow” description=”It’s the shortest bow we’ve looked at, standing at 56” tall. It has a draw length of 29”, so be sure to factor that in before buying.”/]
Let’s have a look at our last bow in this article: the Mandarin Duck Phantom. Like all of our suggestions, it’s a takedown recurve, and like the SAS Explorer, it is centered around a metal riser.
It comes in a sleek matt black finish which is elegant, modern and discreet and is available in a good range of draw weights from 30 pounds to 50 pounds in 5-pound increments, although it’s only available for right-handers. As with all takedowns, the Phantom is portable and easy to store.
It has an aluminium alloy riser with a rubber-coated handle, and wood and fibreglass limbs. The box includes a spanner for assembly, and there’s also an arrow rest and string. The riser is nicely upgradeable with fittings for sights, quivers, reels or stabilisers depending on what you’re after.
The build quality is great, and attention-to-detail and quality control seem, by assessing many buyer experiences, very good. There are also positive reviews on the customer service, should anything crop up.
As usual, it seems – the arrow rest that comes with the bow isn’t up to much! So you might want to consider an upgrade for that, or at least be aware that could be part of the overall cost.
Regarding the downsides, the Mandarin is a little on the loud side. Target shooters generally say that doesn’t bother them too much, but as with the SAS Explorer, there’s plenty of tutorials online talking you through dampening the sound as you release the string if you want to.
The Mandarin Duck Phantom is a well-made metal-based bow. It looks great, and the shorter frame might suit you. Because it is a takedown bow, you can upgrade the limbs as you get stronger and your form develops. It also has a really useful range of draw weights.
It’s not a full kit, but the inclusion of the arrow rest – albeit not a great one – means if this is your first bow you’re one step closer to being able to shoot right from the box. It is upgradeable, simple to put together and has very good construction.
It’s a bit loud, and the kit could be more generous, but this is a well-built, good-looking bow that archers can grow into.