A bow release is an important accessory that may help improve the way you shoot a compound bow, because it makes the arrows fly with minimal torque and better stability.
Picking the right bow release could be tricky because there are just so many to choose from. Whether you prefer the wrist strap or the handheld version, check out my top picks for the best bow releases to help you make a decision.
Table of Best Bow Release
**Below, you find more detailed reviews but you can also click links above to see current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.
Wrist Strap Versus Handheld Releases
There are two common types of bow releases available on the market: the wrist strap or trigger release and the handheld or finger release. Handheld releases are further broken down into two categories: the thumb release and the back tension release.
Here are some of the major differences between the two release types:
Wrist strap releases, as named, comes with a strap that you can wrap around your wrist. I’ve noticed that many beginner hunters like this because they won’t have to worry about losing their release accidentally because it’s constantly attached to their arm.
A handheld release, on the other hand, looks like the letter T, with the trigger mechanism usually located at the front. Most handheld releases have finger grooves where you can place your fingers for a firmer and more comfortable grip.
2. Trigger Finger
A wrist strap release is triggered by your index finger, much like how you would use a gun. To set it up, you have to attach your hook to your d-loop, draw your bow, and pull back the trigger to release the string.
Handheld releases are triggered by your thumb. Or, to put it more accurately, your trigger is pushed against your thumb, which will then cause the release. How?
When you use a handheld release, you actually need to keep your thumb steady while you adjust your hand to the right angle. When your hand reaches the right position, the trigger presses against your thumb, which sets off the release and shoots off your arrow.
Here’s a quick and easy explanation of how a wrist strap release and a handheld release work:
3. Ease of Use
Wrist strap releases tend to be popular among beginner bow hunters because they find them easier to use. You are basically in control of when you set the trigger because you have to activate it using your index finger.
However, handheld releases have seen a rise in popularity recently, and more and more bowhunters are finding the advantages of using it. For one thing, a handheld release is lighter and may be easier to carry around. You can also just clip it to your d-loop because it is so light.
You may need to practice a lot before you get the hang of using a handheld release, especially the back tension version. Still, it may be worth the effort because this type of release is known to help minimize trigger or target panic.
Wrist strap releases are known to be very quiet. This is important if you’re in the field and you’re trying to aim for that whitetail or elk. Good wrist strap releases will make little to no noise, so you won’t have to worry about alarming your game.
A handheld release may produce a bit more noise, so I recommend testing a model first before making a purchase.
Wrist strap releases are generally cheaper than handheld releases. If you’re a beginner hunter who does not want to spend too much on accessories while you’re still mastering your shooting style, you may want to check out wrist strap releases and find a suitable model for you.
Once you’ve become more confident in your shooting form, then maybe it will be a good time to invest on a slightly expensive but durable handheld bow release.
How to Choose the Right Bow Release For You
Choosing a bow release is really a matter of personal preferences. However, here are some things that may help you decide which type is the right one for you:
- Whether you’re getting a wrist strap or a handheld release, pick a model with a 360-degree rotating head. This release follows your natural form and minimizes the torque of the bowstring, increasing the accuracy and consistency of your shots.
- A wrist strap release with a foldback feature allows you to tuck away your accessory when it is not in use. This keeps it out of the way and prevents it from snagging onto your clothes or random things sticking out in the field.
- Get a bow release the produces as little noise as possible. Test out different brands and models and see if they make a distinct click every time you adjust or trigger them. If they do, opt out and just look for a more silent one.
- If you’re prone to trigger panic, you may want to use a handheld release. If you want to be more in control of your shots, then a wrist strap release may be the way to go.
Best Bow Release For Hunting
A comfortable bow release may help improve your aim and the Tru-Fire Hardcore MAX Buckle Foldback Bow Release does exactly that. Because of its wide strap and extra paddings, it will feel soft and comfortable against your wrist.
This bow release uses a buckle instead of Velcro tape for adjustments, so you won’t have to worry about creating unnecessary noise during your hunt. The trigger is also very sensitive and would produce little to no noise when you make a shot.
I also love Tru-Fire’s foldback release option because it allows me to wear its release anytime and anywhere, without worrying that it will get caught onto something or just get in the way.
Before you use this release, you may want to check if the hook opens far enough because it may cause your string to snag if it’s not. This may either make you miss your shot or worse, get you into an accident.
- Foldback release option
- Soft and comfortable grip
- Quiet and easy adjustments
- Excellent trigger sensitivity
- Adjustable trigger pressure from 3 to 16 ounces
- Comes with an anti-torque pivoting head
- Strap length can be adjusted up to 5/8 of an inch
- A bit bulky compared to other releases
- Hook may snag on release
- Plush black evolution II buckle has 2.5x more padding and is slightly wider with rolled edges...
- Adjust trigger pressure (separate from trigger travel) from 3 ounces to well over 16 ounces by...
- Over 5/8 inch length adjustment, swept back trigger
Last update on 2020-10-22 PST - Details
Scott Archery Shark Double Caliber Release boasts of a dual caliper release head that improves the distribution of friction in the bow. This, in turn, enhances the bow tune and allows your arrows to fly easier and smoother.
I also like how the trigger is positioned because it helps maximize my draw length. The trigger is also knurled, which adds additional friction against my finger, minimizing the chances of an accidental release.
One concern I have with this model is that it may be too small for some bow hunters, especially those with bigger wrists. Make sure you try it on first to see if it fits snugly before you make a purchase.
Scott Archery’s customer service is very helpful and professional. I’ve had several experiences where I had to inquire something about their products and their representatives were more than happy to assist me.
- Adjustable trigger pressure
- Double caliper release head for enhanced bow-tune ability
- Classic dual-jaw design
- Forward-positioned knurled trigger
- Great trigger sensitivity
- Easy to store
- Good and reliable customer service
- A bit cheaper than other brands
- A bit small, especially for bow hunters with big wrists
- Hook may snag against the loop on release
If you have big wrists and you often have problems with release straps, then you may want to check out the Spot Hogg Wiseguy Release Buckle. I’ve found that its wrist strap is ideal for bow hunters with wider wrists. And because the strap is breathable, you will stay comfortable during your hunt.
Its open-jaw design also allows you to easily hook up the release to your string, and its trigger sensitivity allows you to make minimum effort when shooting. The trigger may actually be too light in some cases so there’s a slight chance that you might shoot prematurely if you’re not used to the release.
This Spot Hogg product is a bit more expensive than other trigger releases, but it is lightweight and produces minimal noise. If you’re not against spending more for these benefits, you may want to consider this bow release for your next purchase.
- Self-reloading hook
- Good trigger sensitivity
- No-spring trigger adjustability
- Open-jaw design for easier loop hook-up
- Adjustable and breathable magnetic wrist strap
- Strap is ideal for bow hunters with big wrists
- Slightly more expensive than other brands
- Release is too rigidly connected to the wrist strap
- Trigger may be too light so it’s possible to shoot prematurely
The Tru Ball Archery Honey Badger Brass 3 Finger Claw Release is one of my favorites in terms of heft and design. It is made of solid honey-colored brass which is durable and built to last a very long time. It also weighs right in my hand so it’s pretty comfortable to use.
I also like how the groove tracks on the second and third grooves are a bit deeper, so your middle, ring, and pinky fingers will better grip the release. Because it only has three grooves, however, you might take a bit of time adjusting to it if you’re used to a four-groove design.
Maybe because it is made of solid brass, but this bow release is more expensive than other handheld release models. However, I still think that the design alone is enough to justify its price, but having it durable and easy to adjust helps as well.
- Made of solid and durable brass
- Features micro adjustable speed dial
- Deeper groove tracks on the last two grooves for better grip and control
- Adjustable thumb peg
- Option to shoot with click or no click
- Beautiful design
- Three-finger release groove design only
- More expensive than other bow release brands
- Solid brass hinge release
- Machined grip pattern on tapered handle
- Micro-adjustable speed control
Last update on 2020-10-22 PST - Details
If you’re not too particular about the design but want to save money on your back tension release, you may want to check out the Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter Release. True, it’s not the prettiest release to look at but you’ll save a few dollars on the purchase.
Money savings is not the only reason to check out this model, however. I think the Longhorn Hunter model is a good starter for hunters who are transitioning between wrist strap releases to back tension ones. Not only does it include a detachable wrist strap, it also has a rope connector to help you adjust its length to your liking.
My biggest issue with this model is that it isn’t as stealthy as I want it to be. I could definitely hear a distinct noise whenever I make a careless movement during the hunt, so you may want to keep that in mind before deciding whether to buy it or not.
- Rope connector for more length adjustment options
- Good starter for bow hunters wanting to shift to back tension releases
- Comes with interchangeable thumb pegs
- Makes more noise compared to other release models
- Takes a bit time getting used to
- Three-finger release groove design only
- Design is a bit tacky
TOP 5 THUMB RELEASES FOR HUNTING
If you’re interested in thumb releases...
If you are a beginner hunter who wants something that is easy to use, I recommend testing out the Tru-Fire Hardcore MAX Buckle Foldback Bow Release. I find that it is very comfortable around your wrist and your hand, and it is much more silent compared to the Scott Archery and Spot Hogg brands.
For back tension releases, I like the Tru Ball Archery Honey Badger Brass 3 Finger Claw the best. Aside from its slick design, I find that its brass material will make the release durable and last for a long time. It's more expensive than the Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter, but I think that its additional features, like deeper groove tracks and click or no click option, are worth investing on.