Last Updated on March 25, 2023
You’ve got your target in sight, now all you need to do is pull the trigger and get your hands on one of the best bow releases 2023 has to offer. Why? Well, we have a sneaking suspicion you’re one of us, a gear nerd that’s doing their best to fine-tune their archery setup.
If you’ve been around archery for more than a minute, then you’re well aware of how many different factors go into taking a clean and accurate shot. And when you search the internet for advice, there are countless different opinions on which piece of equipment is better than the next. It can get overwhelming.
So, which bow release will help you get the job done?
Our answer is simple: go with a release style you’re comfortable with and has worked for you in the past. And, if you’re new to the sport, grab a few different kinds of releases, spend some time target shooting with them, and the perfect fit will reveal itself in short order.
From wrist, to thumb, to recurve, and more, we’ve recommended several unique types of releases on this list. And, because we want to ensure you’re confident in your purchase, we’ve only included products from the industry’s top brands like Spot Hogg, Scott, Carter, TruFire, and Stanislawski.
You arrived here hoping to sort through the absolute best bow release of 2023, and by golly, we think you’re in the right place. So, sit back, buckle up, and let’s get this show on the road.
Table of Contents: Best Bow Releases of 2023 [Show/Hide]
- What Type of Bow Release Do I Need?
- Wrist & Index Finger Releases
- Thumb & Back Pressure Releases
- Recurve Bow Release
- Youth & Small Hands Bow Releases
- Best Release for Women
- Budget Bow Release Under $50
- Bow Release Technical Advice
- Feedback from Seasoned Archery Hunters
- Final Thoughts: Best Bow Releases of 2023
- More Hunting Gear & Resources
What Type of Bow Release Do I Need?
I’ll do my best to help you solve this riddle, though the answer will be different for everybody.
Because asking “which type of bow release do I need?” is like asking “which pair of pants do I need?” We all wear pants, after all. But some of us prefer Wranglers, while others prefer business slacks. Some of us would rather wear shorts. And, yes, even some of us prefer skinny jeans.
Pants are a personal preference, and bow releases are no different.
Is one style of bow release better than the other? Good question. Bow enthusiasts are switching to the back-pressure or thumb trigger-style in ever-increasing numbers, while many lifelong archers swear by their wrist index trigger release.
Here’s my advice: if you’re comfortable shooting one type over the others, stick with it. Steven Rinella doesn’t shoot a trigger release because he likes it, but rather because it’s what he’s used to.
If you’re a new hunter or shooter just getting into the archery world, grab a couple of different types of releases from this list, test them out, and figure out what you’re most comfortable with.
Here are the main types of releases you’ll find on this list:
I was introduced to wrist index trigger releases the first time I ever shot a bow, and they’re the same type I still use today when bow hunting elk in the Rocky Mountains. I’m a bit superstitious, and usually with what works instead of tempting fate by flip-flopping between gear.
A wrist style or trigger style bow release works by strapping a gadget to your wrist that has a two-pronged “claw” or “hook” that grabs your D-loop. When you’re ready to shoot, you simply pull a trigger to release your arrow and send it towards the target. It’s a lot like shooting a rifle, to be honest.
Wrist/index trigger releases can cause your arrow to stray ever so slightly from its intended course if not used properly. This is attributed to the anticipation of pulling the trigger and the actual trigger pull. This is unlike the thumb-style release, which usually comes as a surprise when the string lets go.
Thumb triggers are handheld devices that come in three and four-finger versions. They’re meant to clip to your D-loop, then pull your bow back. To activate your arrow’s release, simply rotate your hand 180 degrees, and it’ll trigger automatically.
A simple thumb pull while maintaining back pressure will release the arrow to its desired target. These triggers are a favorite among hunters and 3D competition shooters, as well, due to their extreme accuracy.
Often referred to as “back pressure” style releases, “back tension” releases are a newer, non-traditional style. What makes them different is you need to don’t pull a trigger to activate the arrow’s release.
Before pulling the arrow back, a back pressure release should be locked with a safety mechanism. To start, you must let the safety off and continue providing pressure as you pull back away from the target. When the release reaches its preset resistance weight or position, it’ll let go of the string and launch the arrow.
The idea here is to create a much more accurate and stable shot by continuing to provide pressure to the rear instead of releasing the D-loop with your finger, which can cause subtle variations in your shot if your hand isn’t steady enough.
Most professional hunters and target shooters use back pressure releases. The learning curve is higher than other styles, though many archers claim these to be the superior style of let-off. Many variations of this style have both a thumb button release and a hinge release, which we’ll get into towards the bottom of this article.
Hybrid releases are a mix of both handheld and trigger releases. They have the comfort of a handheld back tension release, but instead of using back pressure to initiate a release, you pull a trigger. I know many bow hunters who shoot with this style since a wrist strap can be cumbersome during late-season hunts when they’re wearing gloves.
Look down at your hands. See those long sausage-looking things protruding from them? Those are your fingers, and they’re your release for a recurve bow. Some compound bow shooters also shoot with their fingers, but this is rare.
To that end, we’ve included a well-reviewed fingers strap release for those who shoot traditional recurve archery.
Best Wrist & Index Trigger Releases
Spot Hogg Wise Guy
Spot Hogg listened to feedback from their customers and created an industry-leading trigger that gives hunters and target shooters a significant advantage. They’ve truly outdone themselves with the Wise Guy wrist release.
Extremely comfortable on your wrist, the Wise Guy has a natural feel, almost like a target release but with the accessibility of a wrist strap. It’s also very accurate, as it deploys a hook-style D-ring hold that doesn’t allow for significant drift during the trigger pull.
These features, along with several others like a quick loading jaw and the lightest trigger on the market, make this my top bow release recommendation for 2023.
In short, the Wise Guy will help remove the minor variables in your shot, allowing you to put your entire focus on the target.
- Pros: Adjustable trigger, lightweight design, fast release speed, less creep
- Cons: Lightweight trigger could be hard to adjust to
- Best for: Hunters looking to refine their shot placement
TruFire Hardcore Foldback
The simple no-frills design of the TruFire Hardcore helps make it one of the most reliable index trigger bow releases on the market. Accuracy, speed, and consistency are what you can expect when you add a TruFire Hardcore to your archery system.
A favorite among hunters, TruFire releases help bring down game animals from Colorado to Hungary, year after year. These bad boys are sturdy, consistent, and will perform time after time, with repeatable results.
If you’ve been shooting a bow for a while, you’re well aware that shot repeatability is critical. And, when you have a bow release that’s known for its consistency, you’ll be confident in your shot. There are a million variables when bow hunting and target shooting, so don’t let your release be one of them.
- Pros: Consistent, adjustable J-hook, comfortable strap, durable, no questions asked warranty
- Cons: None to report
- Best for: Hunters and shooters looking for a consistent solution that will stay with them for 10,000 shots
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Precision, accuracy, and speed — this is all we crave when launching that arrow towards its target. It just so happens, the Carter RX1 is expertly crafted by archery professionals who have the same goals in mind. This release sets an industry standard for quality, performance, and speed.
Like other options on this list, the RX1 has a magnetic reset, and the J-hook can reset with a simple flick of the finger.
These features allow for a super-fast loading time and super quiet performance, which is especially helpful when stalking big game at a close distance. Users report getting shots off faster with this release, which can make or break a shot.
- Pros: Quiet magnetic trigger return that allows for ultra-fast loading, silky smooth break
- Cons: It takes a little getting used to
- Best for: The take-no-chances shooter who wants to give themselves a few milliseconds of advantage
Best Thumb and Back Pressure Releases
Okay, I’m getting a little giddy. That’s because I just purchased a Stanislawksi SX3, and I can’t wait for it to arrive in the mail. I was fortunate to shoot one of these at the Red Rock Archery shop in Grand Junction, Colorado, and I fell in love immediately. It’s the Cadillac of bow releases, in my opinion.
I was able to find a great deal on my SX3 at BlackOvis.com, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger. Pun intended. I can’t guarantee you’ll get the same deal I did (~$195), but regardless, this is one of the most accurate and durable back pressure bow releases on the market.
This SX 3 allows you to make superfine adjustments on the travel and tension settings without fussing over replacing tiny springs. And even though it’s a remarkably fine-tuned release, it can withstand any beating you can throw at it. For these reasons, I’ll be bringing this along on my upcoming fall 2023 elk hunt. I’m super hard on my gear, and I know this release won’t let me down.
- Pros: Great ergonomic design that feels good throughout the shot process, easy adjustments
- Cons: Zero, we love this thing
- Best for: Professional shooters, those looking for an upgrade to the upper-tier of bow releases
Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter HEX
The Scott Archery Longhorn Hunter HEX is a hybrid-style trigger than a pure back pressure or thumb trigger. It’s a handheld device with a thumb trigger and a wrist strap for added support. Some might say it’s the best of both worlds.
It features a hinge release, which is utilized by rotating torque from the index finger to the ring finger. Doing so activates a hinge that releases the bowstring.
I’ve never shot one of these, but it’s highly rated and reviewed online by hunters and target shooters. I hadn’t known much about this release style before last year when I ran into a guy in the woods who had just harvested a bear. He swore by his Longhorn Hunter HEX and urged me to try one of these out next time I’m tweaking my gear list.
It’s becoming a favorite among professional archers that prefer a back tension style release, and I must say it has caught my attention.
- Pros: Convenient and stable drawback, adjustable, back tension makes for less travel
- Cons: Users report they have a slight learning curve if switching from an index release
- Best for: Professional hunters and shooters, new shooters that don’t want to use a trigger release
Carter Wise Choice
When Carter implied you’re making a “Wise Choice” when buying this archery release, they weren’t lying. After all, Carter makes some of the best releases globally, and they completely stand behind their products. This Wise Choice could be the only bow release you ever own, and it’s aptly named, so say the least.
Lightning-fast let-go combined with top-notch durability makes this among the best all-around releases on this list. I love the three-finger design, but if you prefer the four-finger model, they make those too.
Like the SX 3 mentioned above, Carter makes tension adjustments far easier by providing a set screw. This keeps you from fussing with small springs and lets you focus on the task at hand: making a powerful and accurate shot, time in and time out.
- Pros: Best in class performance, extremely durable, accurate
- Cons: None to report
- Best for: Professional shooters, those looking to get an edge in their accuracy
Best Release For Recurve Bows
Bicaster Barebow Finger Tabs
Don’t worry. I didn’t forget about all of you recurve shooters out there. Some us archers prefer the traditional, instinctual feel of a longbow, and if you’re among them, the Bicaster Barebow Finger Tabs are for you.
Recurve shooters aim to shoot with more of a reflex, and the use of a “release” would destroy that Pavlovian reaction they get from their fingers. Longbow skills can take years of practice and thousands upon thousands of shots to master.
And, anyone worth their salt knows that you’ll have a miserable time getting through all that practice if you don’t protect your fingers. That’s why I recommend the Bicaster Barebow Finger Tabs to pair with your recurve bow.
We prefer these tabs because they feature a brass plate that sits snugly in your palm, allowing for a more firm grip on your string that’ll stand the test of time.
- Pros: Brass hand plate, adjustable set screws, and durable leather will hold up to years of beatings
- Cons: Some prefer an even more traditional feel and won’t like the brass plate
- Best for Recurve shooters, those who may need to hold their draw for longer (hunters)
Best for Youth & Those With Small Hands
TruFire Spark Extreme Youth
One challenging aspect for kids transitioning from a training bow to their first compound bow is learning how to use a trigger release for the first time. Your adult-sized TruFire Smoke likely won’t fit them and will be too bulky for them to learn a proper shot technique.
For this reason, TruFire offers a junior series trigger release called the TruFire Spark Extreme Youth. It works perfectly as a training release for kids or those with small hands, as it features all the good qualities of its adult counterpart but is smaller and significantly less bulky.
When it comes to time-tested bow releases, TruFire is established as an industry leader. Countless archers worldwide have relied on their quality, consistency, durability, and unwavering customer service. What more can you ask for from a gear company?
- Pros: Dependable, great 1st release
- Cons: Unless your kid has gigantic hands, then none
- Best for: Youth, petite hands
Best Option for Women
Scott Archery Hero X
Okay, ladies, it’s your turn to take a shot and grab a bow release that’s built specifically for your hands. The Scott Archery Hero X certainly fits the bill and features an index trigger style with a snug wrist strap.
While poring through archery forums to find a recommendation for women, I kept running into this affordable option. From what I can gather, it’s a high-quality, quick release that will work well for women or anyone with smaller hands.
As a matter of fact, on Amazon, there are loads of 5-star reviews stating that this release was perfect for their wife or girlfriend. They say that a couple that shoots together stays together, after all.
So, if you’re a lady looking for a steady and repeatable release that’s designed for petite hands, the Hero X was made for you.
- Pros: Designed for small hands, snug and comfortable wristband, affordable
- Cons: Must push the trigger forward when attaching to D-ring
- Best for: Petite hands
Budget Buy Under $50
If you’re just getting into archery but aren’t ready to splurge on one of the more expensive releases on this list, the TruFire Smoke is your best bet. Archery and hunting can get expensive quickly, and a budget-friendly choice like this will help keep costs down.
The TruFire Smoke is an option that is both affordable and expertly crafted. With over 1,100 ratings on Amazon and an average rating of 4.5 stars, you can rest assured you’ll be getting a widely-trusted and high-quality product.
It sports a simple design and responsive trigger, making it perfect for beginners. While it rings in at half the cost of TruFire’s more advanced releases, the Smoke doesn’t skimp on quality. I’d choose it above any cheap imitation you can find on Amazon every time.
- Pros: Inexpensive, adjustable, great warranty
- Cons: No frills, must manually close trigger
- Best for: Beginners and those on a budget
Advice & Information
Archery is complex, and there are a lot of working pieces involved. We’ve been shooting for years and still keep learning every time we hit the field to hunt or visit the range. That’s why we wanted to include a few tips regarding bow releases.
This advice has come from our time spent shooting our compound bows and honing our craft.
Feel free to comment on this post below with any helpful tips and tricks you’ve learned along your archery adventures. We’ll never stop trying to perfect our shot, so any advice is welcome.
Punching the Trigger vs. Surprise
A clean archery shot comes from routine and repetition. You need to practice the same motions repeatedly until you achieve muscle and nerve memory.
This is important to remember when you practice with your release because you don’t want to overthink your shot, punch the trigger, and shoot your arrow prematurely.
To avoid this, don’t activate your trigger the second your pin hits the target, but instead float the pin over your target slowly while you work your way through your routine until, BAM, your string lets go. Your trigger release should always happen instinctually and almost come as a surprise.
Work on strengthening your back muscles. They’re among the most important muscle groups to focus on when working on your release. The stronger your back is, the more back pressure you can provide during your shot and the longer you can hold your bow steady.
Back tension is best performed by trying to squeeze your shoulder blades together ever so slowly until your shot releases. Again, your release should feel like a surprise.
If you want to build these muscles without having to strain your new bow a bunch, then consider buying a training device that simulates a drawback, such as this inexpensive option on Amazon.
Purchase a Release Trainer
Unlike the product I just recommended, some training devices are meant to mimic a real bow as much as possible. These types of devices are great because you can adjust your draw weight from 10 to 70 pounds and attach your cell phone to simulate as if you’re looking through your front sight.
This creates a virtual bow shooting experience from the convenience of your own home — no need to travel to the range every time you want to practice.
Using a training device can help up your game tremendously and allow you to create muscle memory from repeating your shot and release process repeatedly.
Accubow is the industry leader in release trainer products and constantly evolves their products and adds new features to their devices. I particularly like this model, as it has a laser that will help you work on dialing in your ability to float your pin over the target.
Feedback from Seasoned Archery Hunters
Since our recommendations on bow releases are fairly subjective, we reached out to some of our hunting buddies to gather their thoughts. Regardless of our advice and options, stick with the type of bow release you’re most comfortable with, practice religiously, and never stop learning.
Caleb Neison – Lifelong Elk and Deer Hunter
“I like the Spot Hogg Wiseguy. I like that it’s always on my wrist, so I never have to worry about misplacing it on my hunt. I put it on when I leave camp, and it’s there when I need it. I’ve been shooting this style for a long time, and it’s what’s most comfortable to me.”
Case McCallister – Competitive 3D Target Shooter
“I’ve shot many types of releases, and the best advice I can give is to make sure you use what works best for you. I’ve seen so many new guys trying to shoot something they don’t feel comfortable with and develop bad shooting habits because of it. Start with a trigger release and move your way up into the more technical devices as your skills increase.”
Justin Drodgny – Rocky Mountain Elk Hunter
“Man, I shoot an old ass TruFire. I like it because I can wear it all day comfortably without chafing at all. Also, it has never let go of the string prematurely on me… I trust it.”
So there you have it, archery enthusiasts, a buyer’s guide to the best bow releases 2023 has to offer. Now, you can make an informed choice on another vital piece of your archery setup. Success in this sport is all about putting together the right pieces at the right time to make the perfect shot.
Whether you’re a novice who is just starting out or you’re a backcountry elk hunter with a dozen seasons under your belt, we hope you’ve found a release on this list that works for your style.
Hell, maybe you’re an expert competition shooter looking to upgrade their setup and fine-tune your release. In that case, we hope you found a high-end piece of gear or two that caught your eye.
With solid options from the industry’s top brands like Scott, TruFire, Carter, and Stanislawksi, we think we’ve provided a good spread from which to choose. More than anything, remember to pick a release style that you’re comfortable with or that you’re willing to put the time in to learn.
So, which of 2023’s best bow releases will you choose? The hunter’s favorite Wise Guy? The budget-friendly Smoke? The spare-no-expense SX 3? Choices, choices, choices.
And if you’re still unsure about which bow release to pull the trigger on, grab a couple of different styles, take them to the range, and see what works best for you.
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