Just like the complicated crossbow market, there are so many great compound bow manufacturers in the market today producing amazing products.
For any avid bow hunter, trying to choose the right compound bow from among them is like trying to choose the sweetest piece of candy in an entire candy store!
However, if you are not an avid bow hunter, then trying to choose the single best model for you from among the seemingly endless number of choices can be a somewhat daunting task to say the least.
Fortunately, with a little knowledge at hand, narrowing the field is not quite so monumental a task as it might first appear to be. Therefore, because archery is our passion, we have gladly done the work for you and thus, in the following article, you will find a list of what we feel are the top compound hunting bows of 2018.
Our Top Three Picks
Diamond Infinite Edge Pro
Raptor Compound Bow
In the table above, you will find our favorite Compound Bows in the following categories:
1. Best Overall: Our favorite bow that blends quality with budget.
2.Runner Up: Not quite as good as our favorite, but close – and usually more budget friendly.
3.Budget Pick: Our favorite bow for people on a budget.
Still unsure of which one to pick after looking at our comparison guide? No problem! Take a look at our quick jump menu below and hop to any of the models that may interest you the most. Each model is broken down into more detail to provide you with the information you need to make an educated buying decision.
- Compound Bow Buyer’s Guide
- Top Compound Hunting Bows:
- Wrap Up & Conclusion
Compound Bow Buyer’s Guide
When choosing a compound hunting bow, there are certain criteria that every hunter considers to be important. The bow must be fast so that it has the flattest possible trajectory, it must be compact so that it is easy to maneuver in a tree stand or a ground blind, and it must be relatively light weight so that it is not a burden to carry into and out of the woods.
Your bow needs to be consistently accurate so that the arrow strikes where it’s aimed each and every time in order to humanely harvest your chosen game animal.
Most hunters also want a bow that is smooth to draw, smooth to shoot, and quiet as a whisper so that it does not spook the game. Furthermore, most hunters want a bow with a high degree of let-off so that they can hold the least amount of draw weight possible when the bow is fully drawn.
Beyond that, it is imperative that you choose both the correct draw weight and the correct draw length because heavier draw weights will produce faster arrow speeds but, one that is too heavy will be difficult to draw and, a draw length that is either too short or too long will make the bow difficult to shoot.
Fortunately, most modern compound bows have a considerable range of adjustment that can be made to both the draw weight and the draw length so it is only necessary to choose the correct range and then you can customize the bow to suite you.
Let’s look at the most important aspects of a compound bow for comparison.
1. Choosing a Draw Weight Range
When choosing a compound bow for hunting, choosing a draw weight range is a major concern because, the heavier a compound bow’s draw weight is, the faster it will launch an arrow and the more inertia it impart to the projectile.
As a result, most compound bow hunters prefer to shoot a bow that has as much draw weight as they are capable of drawing and holding because the faster an arrow of a given weight leaves the bow’s riser, the flatter its trajectory will be.
Not only do compound bows with heavier draw weights impart more inertia to the arrow, the flatter an arrow’s trajectory is, the better it will compensate for minor misjudgments in the distance to the target which results in better accuracy over unknown distances.
Most states have a minimum draw weight restriction which is commonly 45 pounds for compound bows. It’s important to take this into account when choosing a compound bow for hunting, because you will need to choose one that meets the minimum draw weight restriction for your state.Draw weights of 45 lbs. to 50 lbs. are good choices for youth and female hunters whereas, most male hunters tend to prefer draw weights of 60 lbs. to 70 lbs.
2. Choosing a Cam Design
Compound bows incorporate wheels on the tips of their limbs, making the bow easier to draw by leveraging the mechanical advantage of pulleys. Pulleys provide a significant mechanical advantage but they do not lessen the draw weight of a bow when the string is drawn to its maximum draw length.
Bow designers instead incorporate eccentric cams which are pulleys that are ovoid in shape and which are mounted off-center in order to cause the bow’s force-draw curve (a graph of a compound bow’s draw weight compared to its draw length) to rise rapidly to the bow’s peak draw weight at some point in the draw length prior to reaching full draw.
Then they are designed to fall rapidly as the maximum draw length is reached, resulting in a certain amount of draw weight reduction at full draw which is known as “let-off”.
Compound bows are commonly available with one of three different types of cam designs consisting of soft cams, medium cams and, hard cams which is a reference to the speed at which the draw weight rises to its peak before the cam “turns over.” This is the point the draw weight starts to decrease to its minimum.
While soft cams provide the smoothest draw cycle and are the easiest to draw at any given draw weight, they also provide the least arrow velocity. Hard cams are the most difficult to draw at any given draw weight but also impart the greatest velocity to an arrow while. Medium cams provide the archer with a compromise between soft and hard cams.
3. Dual, Solo, Hybrid & Binary Cams
Compound bow manufacturers also incorporate different cam systems consisting of Dual Cams, Solo Cams, Hybrid Cams and, Binary Cams.
Dual Cams: A compound bow with Dual Cams is one which has a cam located on each limb.
This provides both advantages and disadvantages. For instance, compound bows with Dual Cams are generally significantly faster than their cousins because the dual cam design imparts the maximum amount of stored energy from each of the bow’s limbs to the arrow.
But, in order to work properly, both of the cams absolutely must be in perfect synchronization (called “timing”) with each other so that when the cams turn over, they do so at precisely the same moment. Otherwise, they will cause the arrow’s nock to travel forward in a erratic pattern which can adversely affect the arrow’s accuracy.
Minor differences in a bow’s tiller (the distance from the base of each limb to the string when the bow in not drawn) and minor differences in the length of the bow’s control cables as they stretch can cause the cams to lose their synchronization. This means that timing of Dual Cam bows must be checked periodically and corrected if needed by adjusting the tiller or the length of the control cables.
But, even so, many archers prefer compound bows with Dual Cam systems because they generally produce the highest arrow speeds.
Solo Cams: With this design, only one of the bow’s limbs incorporates a cam while the other limb incorporates a round wheel.
When the bow is drawn, the single cam acts to control the timing of the limbs to keep the limb tips in perfect synchronization with each other. Because this type of cam design is not adversely affected by string stretch or tiller adjustments, the arrow’s nock always travels in a straight line; thus preserving its accuracy. It should be noted that while the Solo Cam system is often the most consistently accurate cam system available, it is also commonly the slowest of the four types of cam systems.
Hybrid Cams: A Hybrid Cam system consists of two, asymmetrically elliptical cams in which the top cam serves as the control cam and the bottom cam serves as the power cam.
The purpose of a Hybrid Cam system is to provide the archer with the benefits of a straight and level nock travel just like a Solo Cam bow but, without the timing and synchronization issues often associated with Dual Cams. Even so, Hybrid Cam systems still need to be initially timed correctly for best overall efficiency and performance. Once they are correctly timed, Hybrid Cam systems are generally significantly faster than Solo Cam bows but are generally not quite as fast a Dual Cam system.
Binary Cams: Binary Cams are a modified version of a three-groove Dual Cam system that slaves the top and bottom cams to each other rather than to the bow’s limbs.
Unlike Single and Hybrid cam systems, Binary Cam systems dispense with the original split-harness control cables and instead employ two cam-to-cam cables. Rather than having each cam pull the opposing limb, they instead pull only on the opposing cam which creates a “free-floating” system that enables the cams to automatically equalize any differences in timing caused by tiller adjustments or string and control cable stretch.
This means the Binary Cam system is meant to be a self-correcting cam system. Therefore, this type of cam system as fast as a Dual Cam system but, is virtually maintenance free like a Solo Cam system.
4. Parallel vs. Pre-Loaded Limb Design
Both limb designs operate on the same principal that in order to create a compound bow that is free of recoil, the energy stored in the limbs when the bow is drawn must be released at a opposite angles in order to cause the two opposing forces to cancel each other.
If the energy stored in the limbs is not released at opposite angles, then it will generate forward momentum which, in turn, translates to felt recoil in the riser. Even though both pre-loaded and parallel limb designs agree in principal they vary widely in design.
Parallel Limbs: Parallel limbs are oriented horizontally rather than vertically, when the bow’s string is drawn, the limbs flex in the shape of an arc which causes bow’s limb tips to move virtually straight up and down.
When the bow’s string is released, the energy stored in the bow’s upper and lower limbs is also released in direct opposition which causes the two forces to cancel each other and thus, parallel limbs drastically reduce felt recoil in the riser.
Pre-Loaded Limbs: This type of limb design differs from parallel limb design in that the limbs are oriented in a much more vertical position and the limbs are radically bent into a distinct arc rather than a mere curve when placed under tension by the bow’s cables and string.
Because pre-loaded limbs are oriented far more vertically than parallel limbs, they require more vertically oriented limb pockets on the riser which, in turn, allows for the employment of a less radically reflexed riser design to accommodate them. When the bow’s string is released, the energy stored in the bow’s upper and lower limbs is also released in direct opposition which again causes the two forces to cancel each other and thus, pre-loaded limbs also drastically reduce recoil felt in the riser.
The main difference between parallel and pre-loaded limb designs is that parallel limb designs require a radically reflexed riser design whereas, pre-loaded limb designs do not.
The primary thing to remember here is the more highly reflexed a bow’s riser is, the less forgiving it is to shoot (you’ll feel it more).
5. Axle-to-Axle Length
Last, when choosing a compound bow for hunting, it is important to consider the bow’s axle-to-axle length. As the name implies, a compound bow’s axle-to-axle length is the distance between the cam axles on either limb measured in inches.
An extremely short compound bow would have an axle-to-axle length that measures 30 inches whereas an extremely long compound bow would have an axle-to-axle length that measures 38 inches.
The reason that this aspect of a compound bow is important is that shorter compound bows are lighter and are significantly easier to maneuver in tight quarters such as when hunting in thick cover or in an enclosed ground blind. They are also more convenient when hunting from a tree stand.
But, at the same time, shorter compound bows are less forgiving to shoot than longer compound bows, making them more difficult to shoot with pin point accuracy. Long compound bows are heavier and more difficult to maneuver when hunting in tight quarters but, at the same time, they are more forgiving, making them easier to shoot accurately.
As a result, most avid bow hunters tend to prefer compound bows with a medium axle-to-axle length.
Top Compound Hunting Bows:
Below, you will find a list of what we feel are the top five compound hunting bows of 2018 based upon the features and technology that they incorporate. It’s always important to make sure that you pair your bow, with a properly equipped arrow set and this includes finding the right broadheads for the type of game you are hunting.
We’ve done our best to break down the most important aspects of each bow, and have included the bow specifications of each so you understand exactly what you get when you are looking to make a purchase.
1. Diamond Infinite Edge Black Ops:
- Extended draw length for longer draw archers
- Solid back wall
- Package includes: Infinite Edge Pro Bow, 3-Pin...
- Infinite draw setting
- Multi shooter bow
The Diamond Infinite Edge Black Ops is an excellent choice for those hunters on a budget because it features a reflexed, machined, aluminum riser with a comfortable grip.
It also has solid limbs and adjustment ability that allows for a wide range of draw lengths and draw weights in order to create a bow that can adapt right along with an archer’s growing skills.
In addition, with an IBO speed of 310 fps., the Provider is plenty fast for hunting and with an axle-to-axle length of just 31 inches, it is a very compact bow that is easily maneuvered in a tree stand or ground blind.
Furthermore, the incredible range of draw lengths and draw weights makes it one of the most adjustable bows on the market and thus, it is the perfect bow for beginners because it enables them to experiment with different draw lengths and draw weights as their skills improve.
|Axle to Axle Length:||31 in.|
|Mass Weight:||3.3 lbs.|
|Brace Height:||7.5 in.|
|Draw Weight:||20-70 lbs.|
|Draw Length:||25.5-31 in.|
2. SAS Rage Compound Bow:
- Outstanding Autumn Camouflage Color
- Compressed ABS Limbs for long life
- Draw Length: 26" - 30"
- Draw Weight: 55 - 70 lbs.
- Max Speed: 270 FPS
The SAS Rage has become a favorite of many over the last couple year, specifically for the cost to bow ratio. It’s a budget bow that gets the job done.
It features a lightweight riser that features cutouts, along with a comfortable grip and compressed ABS limbs for a longer lifespan.
The SAS Rage is both quiet and accurate and while some would think this is an entry level bow based on the price, it is anything but that. With an axle-to-axle length of 35 inches, it sits right in the middle of the pack on length.
If you are okay to deal without the bells and whistles of the the Infinite Edge Black Ops at a fraction of the cost, this is a solid pickup.
|Axle to Axle Length:||35 in.|
|Net Weight:||4.4 lbs.|
|Draw Weight:||55-70 lbs.|
|Draw Length:||26-30 in.|
3. Diamond by Bowtech Core:
- The Core ships R.A.K. Equipped, which means it is...
- Included is a 3 Pin Apex Sight
- Octane Capture Arrow Rest
- Octane DeadLock Lite Quiver
- BCY String Loop, and a 5 inch Ultra Lite Octane...
The Diamond by Bowtech Core features a lightweight, reflexed, machined aluminum, riser along with Bowtech’s Hardcore limbs and their Center Pivot Extreme technology.
This technology uses the extended riser combined with a minimal limb pocket to place the pivot point of the limb near its center while allowing it to flex on either side of the pivot to produce the most precise limb alignment and the fastest response time in the industry for superior accuracy and efficiency.
It’s built with some of the leading compound bow technology on the market today and is an excellent choice for anyone with a slightly higher budget.
Consequently, the Bowtech Core is both quiet and accurate but, with a weight of 4.5 lbs. and a axle-to-axle length of 31 inches, it is rather compact.
|Speed:||336 fps. (w/75% Let Off)|
|Axle to Axle Length:||31 in.|
|Mass Weight:||3.2 lbs.|
|Brace Height:||7.25 in.|
|Draw Weight:||50, 60, & 70 lbs.|
|Draw Length:||32-30 in.|
4. Raptor Compound Hunting Bow Kit:
- LIMITED TIME SALE: Draw length adjustable 24.5-31"...
- Cams are fully machined aluminum with ZERO plastic...
- This bow has a axle to axle length of 30" and...
- Good Quality accessories make this bow a easy...
- Compound design allows for 75% of the weight to be...
Predator Archery hit the market with a solid compound bow that comes equipped with fully machined cams, which is an achievement in the mid-tier bows. Many manufacturers these days are using plastic.
Also, it features a reflexed, forged, aluminum riser with pre-loaded quad limbs and dual cams that deliver a blazing 315 fps with 75% let-off.
Plus, it also features an adjustable string dampener in addition to other vibration dampeners located at strategic points on the bow for less post shot vibration and increased accuracy.
With an axle-to-axle length of 30 inches, it is quite maneuverable and with a mass weight of just 3.6 lbs., it’s a nice addition in the mid-tier price range for any archer. It also comes equipped with a pre-installed peep sight.
|Axle to Axle Length:||34.25 in.|
|Mass Weight:||4.1 lbs.|
|Brace Height:||6 in.|
|Draw Weight:||50- 60, & 60-70 lbs.|
|Draw Length:||34.5-30.5 in.|
5. Apollo Tactical from Expedition Research LLC:
- 2016/17 SHADOW BLACK CAMO: We've had some...
- Installed Accessories - Stabilizer with Dampening,...
- Draw Length 19" - 30", Draw Weight 25 Lbs - 70 Lbs...
- Included Accessories - Ruggedized Flight Case,...
- Spare Parts: Strings/Cables sets, Limbs and Cams...
At 320 fps., the Apollo Tactical Compound bow is one of the faster compound bows on our list and with it’s fully assembled package, it comes easy to use right out of the box.
It features a CNC proprietary milled aluminum alloy riser with a built in weighted dampening system. It includes a total of 4 dampening units for the limbs (2 large, 2 small).
The Apollo’s warranty is one of the best in the business with a full lifetime warranty on the main riser and replaced consumable parts at cost right from their factory.
A great feature about the Apollo is the adjustable draw weight from 25-70 pound without t need to employ a bow press to make the changes
As a result, the Apollo Tactical is an excellent choice for both hunters and 3D competition shooters.
|Speed:||320 fps. (w/75% Let Off)|
|Axle to Axle Length:||Unknown|
|Mass Weight:||4 lbs.|
|Brace Height:||7 in.|
|Draw Weight:||25 - 70 lbs.|
|Draw Length:||19-30 in.|
Wrap Up & Conclusion
So, when choosing a compound hunting bow, you should first look for a model that is within your price range and then choose one that is fast, compact, and lightweight.
Also, you should choose a model that is both smooth to draw and smooth to shoot as well as one that is highly accurate.
Then, you will need to determine the maximum draw weight that you can comfortably draw as well as your preferred draw length and then choose your bow accordingly.
But, most important of all, it is imperative that you shoot all of the bows you are considering because there is often a significant difference between the feel of one bow and another regardless of its price or technology.