When that big bull fills your sights and you take the shot, your arrow rest will make a small but essential contribution to the results. Maybe that’s why I’m hearing more archers talking about upgrading their drop-away arrow rests. Perhaps there’s one in your future.
If so, let me walk you through our buyer’s guide to the best drop-away arrow rests of 2023. There are so many choices, and it can get confusing. I should know; I’ve been there.
First, I had to learn what makes a good drop-away rest, so we’ll explore the subtle differences between limb-driven vs. cable-driven models, full capture vs. open blades, and micro adjustment vs. stationary options.
I’ll also share my picks for the best drop-aways, including high-end and budget options from industry leaders like Hamskea, QAD, RipCord, and Vapor Trail.
My goal is to give you the info needed to buy a drop-away rest that fits you perfectly and helps you bag that next trophy animal. Let’s get started.
Whisker biscuit rests have been the reliable and de facto standard for decades. While they get the job done, whisker biscuits are fixed and stay in constant contact with your arrow. In contrast, drop-away rests use a mechanical system to drop out of the arrow’s path during the shot, thus taking friction out of the equation.
So why use a fall-away arrow rest? Thanks to their design, as the arrow leaves the bow, it doesn’t contact the rest, which might make it lose speed or deflect slightly.
With the rise in popularity of fall-away rests, there are many different types and styles that have become available in recent years. Which ones should you consider? First, let’s review the options.
Best Overall Drop-Away Arrow Rest of 2023
QAD UltraRest HDX
I’m always trying to find the best balance of quality and cost when it comes to hunting gear, and arrow rests are no different. For drop-away arrow rests, the QAD UltraRest HDX is the clear winner. This cable-driven rest is one of the most popular choices for hunters who want the best blend of accuracy and durability.
Customization is the name of the game here. It comes in brand-specific versions, and you can also choose from many colors and camo patterns.
The UltraRest is a no-compromise design with a cam brake and dampener to reduce vibrations and noise. So for bowhunters who want every bell and whistle out there, the QAD UltraRest HDX is the answer.
- Pros: Multiple customization options, drops quickly, sleek design, very quiet thanks to dampeners
- Cons: Can be a little tough to fine-tune, a tad expensive
- Best for: Those who want the best blend of quality, durability, and customization
Best High-End Option
QAD UltraRest MTX
I’ve used several QAD rests over the years and can confidently say they make some of the highest-quality drop-away rests on the market. So don’t be surprised that next on our list is another QAD, the Ultra MTX.
The MTX is widely considered the best high-end fall-away rest on the market. It’s the upgraded brother of the UltraRest HDX, and as such can handle any bow or speed out there, thanks to its 400 FPS clearance. And it does all that while remaining totally silent.
The QAD Ultra MTX remembers the smaller details as well. It has the best micro adjustments available on a fall-away rest, and all contact points are lined with felt. It’s the quietest drop-away rest that money can buy.
- Pros: Extremely quiet, very adjustable, lighting fast drop
- Cons: Very expensive, has many features most archers might not need
- Best for: Those who want the quietest and fastest arrow rest on the market
Best Micro Adjustment Fall-Away Rest
Hamskea Hybrid Hunter
If having the ability to make fine adjustments and tuning your rest is your top consideration, then give the Hamskea Hybrid Hunter a look. This rest is lightweight but durable enough for any hunting adventure. Some consider it the top choice for hunters.
It’s hard to disagree, especially given its full capture arrow rest and micro tuning features that prove invaluable in the field. Your arrow just won’t slip off of this rest, and you can fine-tune it to deliver maximum accuracy.
You’ll also get things like Hamskea’s zero stop technology for the launcher’s up and down positions. This design feature prevents bounce-back from the launcher after a shot. Its incredibly consistent and accurate launching process practically guarantees your arrow will hit its mark.
- Pros: Very accurate, durable, reliable in tough conditions, consistent shots with zero stop technology
- Cons: Initial setup takes time
- Best for: Hunters who want the ability to tune and adjust their rest in a variety of ways
Our Favorite Limb-Driven Arrow Rest
Vapor Trail Limb Driver Gen 7
Some drop-away rests can be difficult to install, but the Vapor Trail Limb Driver Gen 7 is one of those rare fall-away rests that’s easy to mount and adjust.
Its basic design still includes all the fine adjustments you would expect on a high-end arrow rest, including an adjustable spring tension system to help get the timing of the launcher just right. There’s even a built-in bubble level to help you be consistent while shooting.
This is a limb-driven arrow rest design, and an excellent example of what other drop-aways aspire to be. Few other limb-driven designs are as effective as the Vapor Trail. Plus, its clean lines add to your bow’s visual appeal.
- Pros: Drops very quickly, easy to mount and set up, plenty of adjustments
- Cons: A little pricey for a limb-driven rest
- Best for: Those who want a drop-away rest that they can mount and adjust without a bow press
My first drop-away rest was a Ripcord, and they’ve evolved steadily. The Ripcord Max continues the company’s tradition of great fall-away rests at reasonable prices.
The Max is a full capture drop-away rest, making it a popular option for hunters on the go. Its solid design delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The Max has a ball-bearing drive system that provides a smooth and balanced drop every time.
The vault lock cord drive is a new Ripcord technology that allows you to make quick adjustments on the fly and even change out the drawcord entirely if needed. For the price, it’s hard to beat an arrow rest with all these added features, including the zero bounce-back from the launcher.
- Pros: Great quality and features for the price, easy to use, long-lasting and tough
- Cons: Minimal adjustments
- Best for: Those needing a smooth, affordable, and reliable rest
Tightest Fit & Most Compact
Hamskea Archery Epsilon
If size and weight are important, the Hamskea Archery Epsilon is the clear choice. This cable-driven rest has a low profile fit that keeps your quiver clearance and center mass in check. It’s easily one of the most balanced fall-away rests on this list.
The Epsilon is center shot optimized but still includes micro-click windage and elevation adjustments for fine-tuning. The integrated rebound dampener helps reduce vibration and keeps it fairly quiet.
Plus, the Epsilon has an optional target conversion kit if bowhunting really isn’t your thing. This eliminates the full containment system and provides a precise launcher for a target version of the rest.
- Pros: low profile, lightweight, perfectly balanced, easy to center
- Cons: Can’t lock the launcher in the upright position, no markings on micro adjustments
- Best for: Those who don’t have a lot of arrow clearance with their quiver or want a compact rest
Tried & True Limb-Driven Rest
Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro
I’ve tried many drop-away rests over the years, but the one I’m currently using is the Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro. I love how quiet this rest is. Every piece of Trophy Maker gear I’ve owned has impressed me. And it comes with a lifetime warranty.
My favorite aspect of the Smackdown Pro is that it’s made entirely of metal, making it virtually indestructible. That’s important because I’m rough on gear. My bow has taken more than its fair share of abuse, but this rest is still as perfect as the day I installed it.
The Smackdown Pro is extremely versatile and can be attached anywhere on your bow. It can attach to the lower limb, upper limb, or cable. This arrow rest has helped me to harvest several animals, and I can’t say enough good things about it.
- Pros: Multiple attachment options, extremely strong and sturdy, excellent warranty from the company
- Cons: Can be slower to load arrows than other rests
- Best for: Those who want the most reliable and rugged drop-away arrow rest
Best Budget Option
QAD UltraRest Hunter
Many fall-away rests cost an arm and a leg, but not all of them — QAD has budget options that are ideal for hunting, including their UltraRest Hunter. This solid, no-frills rest is everything you need in a drop-away.
This is an entry-level drop-away rest, but still very high quality. Since it’s a QAD, you can rest assured that it will always get the job done. And it’s available in left and right-hand models, so be sure to specify the right choice when ordering from Amazon.
Hunters will appreciate the full containment system that keeps the launcher arm upright even when you let down the bow. It compares favorably with rests costing five times more, so the UltraRest Hunter is a lot of bang for your buck.
- Pros: Very affordable, dependable, basic but functional design
- Cons: Somewhat loud, no micro adjustments
- Best for: Bowhunters who want a quality drop-away rest without spending a fortune
Dirt Cheap, But High-Quality
Trophy Ridge Sync
Speaking of budget options, one of the lowest-cost fall-aways is the Trophy Ridge Sync. Trophy Ridge makes a wide range of archery equipment, all designed to help bowhunters get started at an affordable price.
The Sync rest gives you plenty of features for its low price, including adjustable launcher arms and a removable full containment system. I’ve set up one of these rests, and was impressed by the reliable draw cycle and the seamless arrow flight.
I was also surprised to see micro-adjust in such an inexpensive drop-away rest. All of this combined makes the Trophy Ridge Sync an easy pick for a cheap but high-quality rest that fits any budget.
- Pros: Extremely inexpensive, micro-adjustments, arrows are easy to load
- Cons: A little big and bulky, draw cycle not as smooth compared to other rests
- Best for: Those on a tight budget or who want to test drive a drop-away rest
Best Drop-Away Rest for Mathews Bows
Mathews QAD IMX
Sometimes you find yourself needing a rest for a specific brand of bow. If you shoot a Mathews bow, your best option is the Mathews QAD IMX. This arrow rest fits the unique design of the Mathews dovetail mounting systems.
Not only does it perfectly fit Mathews bows, but it comes with everything you’d expect from a QAD rest. With 1.9 thousandths of an inch per click for the micro adjustment, you’ll get amazing accuracy out of it.
Mathews and QAD knocked it out of the park with this drop-away rest, thanks to its easy setup and compact design. And, oh, did I also mention it also looks great? While not everyone shoots a Mathews bow, those who do will love the IMX rest.
- Pros: A quiet and compact specialty rest that fits your bow perfectly
- Cons: Very pricey
- Best for: Mathews bow owners that want a custom, high-quality setup
Best Open-Blade Rest for Target Archery
Spot Hogg The Edge
If you’ve been waiting for open blade options on this list, check out The Edge, by Spot Hogg. It’s an excellent open blade design that’s made specifically for target archery.
I’ve shot Spot Hogg bow sights for years and have always been impressed with the quality that people associate with the Spot Hogg name. For example, there is absolutely zero play in the mounting hardware of this rest.
Easy is the name of the game with this rest. With one-screw micro-adjustments and straightforward blade replacement, this arrow rest offers simple adjustments and smooth shooting. But while this rest is extremely accurate, I think it best suits a target archer, not a serious bowhunter.
- Pros: Extremely accurate, fast drop-down speeds, quality construction
- Cons: Open blade design not ideal for bowhunters
- Best for: Those who value accuracy over anything else
Once you buy the right rest, the work isn’t over. Grab the following accessories to ensure your new purchase works quietly and reliably every time you draw back.
Replacement Felt Tape: QAD Felt
When bowhunting, your fall-away rest needs to be quiet. Felt tape can help dampen vibrations, as well as minimizing noise when the arrow touches the rest.
Replacement Cord: QAD Cord
All drop-away arrow rests use a drawcord that connects to the bow. Over time, these can wear down and tear. It’s always smart to carry a replacement cord when hunting, just in case.
We identified the must-haves of buying a quality arrow rest. No one wants to spend a small fortune on a new fall-away rest, only to realize later that it’s not a keeper.
The best arrow rests are made of metal, and the more metal, the better. Aluminum and plastic aren’t as durable and don’t always perform as well.
If you’re anything like me, you’re rough on archery gear and want proven durability. All of the rests on this list will withstand anything you can throw at them.
Ease of Installation
We’re not all expert bow technicians, so an arrow rest should be easy to install. All of these drop-away rests can be installed in just a few easy steps, using standard tools.
You’ll Need to Tune
You’ll only get the full benefits of a drop-away rest if you tune and maintain it properly. In general, the more tuning options a rest offers, the better the accuracy.
Drop-away arrow rests have exploded in popularity in the last decade and there are hundreds of different products to choose from. We hope this guide has given you a better idea of what to look for in 2023.
Expect innovation every year in this industry. Whether you need an open blade rest for target shooting or a full capture rest for bowhunting, companies like Hamskea, RipCord, QAD, and Vapor Trail will up the ante next year. Check back for our updates on the ever-changing state of the art.
What’s next? Fall-away arrow rests can be a significant investment, so going hands-on only makes sense. We encourage you to rent the latest and greatest gear at your local archery range and see if it suits you. Test drive limb-driven and cable-driven models, and evaluate micro adjustment vs. stationary arrow rests.
From hunting and target shooting to bowfishing, only you can decide what’s best for your needs. And if you have hands-on experiences to share, please add ’em to the comments below.
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Last Updated on July 24, 2023