7 Best Compound Bow Releases in 2020

Last updated on August 5 by Shawn Lentz

Premium Pick
Spott Hogg Wise Guy

Spott Hogg Wise Guy

Best Choice
Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Bow Release

Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Bow Release

Best Value
Tru-Fire Patriot Compound Bow Release

Tru-Fire Patriot Compound Bow Release

One of the most important parts of the modern archery set-up is having the best compound bow release. Replacing the traditional three-finger style of shooting, the bow release or release aid, is an extension of your draw arm that provides one point of contact on the bow string instead of two or three.

When the bow string is released to fire the arrow, it is done with either a trigger mechanism on the bow release or with the subtle manipulation of your hand depending on the archery release style. While most longbow and recurve archers still shoot with fingers (a small segment of compound archers too), the vast majority of compound bow shooters use a release aid. 

The best compound bow release simply gets you shooting clean and accurately quicker. You will likely pick up shooting with a bow release faster than shooting traditionally, not to mention saving your fingers from turning to hamburger in those first few weeks. 

Compound Bow Releases Comparison

PRODUCT OUR RATING PRICE BUY ONLINE
Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Bow Release $$ check on cabela's
Spott Hogg Wise Guy $$$ check on amazon
Tru-Fire Patriot Compound Bow Release $ check on amazon
Tru-Fire Synapse Hammer Throw $$$ check on amazon
Carter Honey 2, 3-Finger Release $$ check on amazon
T.R.U. Ball Fang 3 Mini Bow Release $$ check on cabela's
Tru-Fire Smoke Release $ check on amazon
Best Overall
Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Bow Release

1. Best Overall Compound Bow Release: Tru-Fire Hardcore Buckle Foldback Bow Release

Our top pick for compound archers is the Tru-Fire Hardcore Foldback release. The Hardcore Foldback is one of Tru-Fire’s most popular wrist releases and has received rave reviews. With a durable leather, no-stretch, fold-back strap, you can be sure that you will attain the same position on your wrist for repeatable shots.

The Hardcore Foldback features a “self-centering knuckle hinge” that helps create torque-free shots with every release. What is a self-centering knuckle hinge? Glad you asked! The trigger-head swivels freely to allow for natural variations in different shooter’s anchor points. However canted someone’s hand may be when they come to full draw, the knuckle hinge will rotate to the appropriate alignment. That means no tweaking the D-Loop, which can throw your shot off to one side or the other.

Featuring a swept-back trigger, 1” of adjustable length, and fully adjustable trigger travel you can go even further in improving accuracy. By adjusting length and trigger travel, you can create a trigger pull that is the perfect sensitivity for your application. The swept-back trigger design allows for a better index finger-wrap around the trigger. Depending on adjustability, forward triggers can be more difficult to get the right contact.

Another great aspect of this release is the “fold-back” feature, especially for a hunting release. Being hands-free to hike to your next site, climb up in your tree-stand, or rattle in that big buck, is just a simple push up on the trigger-head to get it  out of your way.

Something to be aware of is that some users have reported trigger creep that they can’t adjust out of this release. This hasn’t been our experience but as with all things mechanical there are exceptions.

The Tru-Fire Hardcore Foldback is a great all-around bow release that combines the ultra-accuracy of a hand held release aid with the functionality of a wrist strap release.

Benefits
  • Torque-free release every shot
  • Won’t slip off D-Loop
  • Greatly improves accuracy
Value Pick
Tru-Fire Patriot Compound Bow Release

2. Best Value Compound Bow Release – Tru-Fire Patriot Compound Bow Release

This incredibly priced archery release is, hands down, the best bang for your buck. The Tru-Fire Patriot has the features and comfort of a higher-end release, but also not overly complicated. The dual caliper jaw style is high-strength and Teflon coated for dependable use and smooth string release.

The Patriot has a smooth trigger pull that will probably surprise you given how inexpensive this release is. The trigger travel is fully adjustable, giving the customization you may need if the factory setting isn’t working for you.

While the Tru-Fire Patriot won’t have the same level of accuracy as a buckled strap, the Velcro attachment is nice for quickly getting the release on. This is the unfortunate trade-off. There is no guarantee that a Velcro wrist strap will wind up in the same exact position as a strap featuring a buckle. Typically it should be pretty close, but there will always be that unknown factor.

Because of their rigorous methods and wide safety margin while testing to failure, all their releases are designed to handle excessive weight – much more than what would ever be pulled on a compound bow. This ensures safety as well as use for years to come.

We are very happy with this budget release aid and it is a fine option, especially for someone just getting into the sport.

Benefits

  • The most economical release available
  • Consistently smooth release
  • Trigger sensitivity is adjustable
Premium Pick
Spott Hogg Wise Guy

3. Best Premium Compound Bow Release: Spott Hogg Wise Guy

The Spott Hogg Wiseguy is a premium archery release designed specifically for hunters who wanted high-end target release characteristics in a wrist strap style release aid. Spott Hogg achieved a great balance of the two with this one.

The Wiseguy features “the lightest trigger of any hunting release ever created” with zero trigger travel and adjustable length. It is super sensitive, which can take some getting used to. But the clean, crisp break you get will translate into greater accuracy. If you find it is too sensitive you can always adjust the tension.

The 360° rotation on the trigger head allows for right or left handed use. It also folds up and out of the way so you can be hands-free when needed. Unlike the Tru-Fire Harcore, which can give off a squeak when folding back, the fold-back trigger head on the Wiseguy is completely silent. Also, the open hook jaw style allows for quick D-Loop hook up ensuring a quick shot when the moment comes.

The Spot Hogg Wiseguy comes in a few different style and color variations. The Wiseguy – Nylon features a leather wrist strap with an adjustable nylon piece connecting the strap and trigger-head. You adjust the buckle on it to adjust length. The Wiseguy – Rigid has a leather wrist strap with a rigid alloy yoke that is adjustable for length. For the third offering, The Wiseguy – Rigid Velcro features a velcro wrist strap version with the rigid adjustable yoke. 

You can also get the wrist strap in camo and Muddy Girl camo versions.

Benefits

  • Quick and effortless trigger releases
  • Ultra-quick attachment to D-Loop
  • Gives superior accuracy
Tru-Fire Synapse Hammer Throw

4. Best Thumb-Trigger Compound Bow Release: Tru-Fire Synapse Hammer Throw

For the average archer this is a top of the line thumb-trigger release that rivals the high-end hand releases used by world-class competitors. Not only do they shoot with dead-on accuracy, but they are visually pleasing as well. There are 5 different eye-catching colors of the Synapse Hammer Throw to choose from.

Everything about the Synapse Hammer Throw is micro adjustable – from the trigger tension and travel (clearly marked on the release) to the fourth finger extension. The thumb barrel position can also be adjusted for a more precise fit or modified for left-handed shooters.

The Tru-Fire Synapse is an easy loading, smooth shooting release with an exceptionally crisp break. Typically used by archery competitors and target shooters, thumb releases are becoming increasingly popular with bowhunters in search of superior accuracy. It is still possible to “punch the trigger” blowing any opportunity for the “surprise release” that is ideal in getting the most accurate shots. However, this is a technique issue. Where a hinge release may be too sensitive to back-out of a shot sequence once it has begun, there is the opportunity to let-down with a thumb release since you are not relying solely on back tension.

A thumb release like the Tru-Fire Synapse Hammer Throw takes some time to get used to. But the extra practice might be well worth it.

Key Specs

  • Performs like very high-end releases
  • Adjusts to any shooting style
  • Three or four finger shootability
Carter Honey 2 3-Finger Release

5. Best Back-Tension Compound Bow Release: Carter Honey 2, 3-Finger Release

Welcome to the creme de le creme of back tension releases. Carter is known throughout the archery competition world as one of the top high-end brands. With the Honey 2, they don’t disappoint.

One of the coolest features of the Honey 2 hinge release is the ability to switch between auto or manual safety. When drawing, you engage the safety and hold, hook on your D-Loop, draw to your anchor point, then you release the safety and continue executing the shot as you would with a normal hinge release aid.

The Carter Honey 2 also has the finger grooves removed so that virtually any hand will fit. This is an ideal feature to keep a shooter’s fingers from being put into unnatural positions, adding to overall comfort.

The adjustable sear engagement gives you a range of release speeds, allowing you to really customize your shot execution. The Honey 2 is an excellent release in its own right, but also a good re-training tool if you suffer from target panic. Since there is no trigger, a good hinge release can greatly assist by adding the element of surprise to your shot.

Key Specs

  • Auto or manual safety
  • Will fit any sized hand
  • Wide range of release speeds
T.R.U. Ball Fang 3 Mini Bow Release

6. Best Youth Thumb-Trigger Compound Bow Release : T.R.U. Ball Fang 3 Mini Bow Release

If you are looking for a 3-finger thumb trigger release for the young’un or someone with small hands, you have found it! The T.R.U. Ball Fang 3 Mini delivers everything you expect in a quality hand-held, just in a smaller package than its big brother.

Featuring a hook-style jaw and full containment system, a push of the slide locks the Fang 3 Mini onto your D-Loop to go hands-free. The thumb barrel can be adjusted for different positionings and switched over for left handed shooters.

For even more adjustability, the Fang comes with a medium and heavy spring so you can increase trigger tension. No sensitivity spring is required for its lightest setting, which is where most will want to have it set. Trigger travel can also be adjusted giving the archer the ability to set longer trigger pulls.

The only common complaint we’ve seen with this one is that the hook tends to wear out D-Loops pretty quick. Making sure to not torque the D-Loop when you are drawing or anchored may help with this issue.

All in all this is a great release for youth, women, or anyone with smaller hands. Because of its close relation to a back-tension release, it will be an asset in forming proper technique with kids who are just starting out.

Benefits

  • Best fit for small hands
  • Allows for hands-free hunting
  • Helps youth archers with technique
Tru-Fire Smoke Release

7. Best Dual Caliper Compound Bow Release: Tru-Fire Smoke Extreme Release

Tru-Fire crushes it with this extremely durable wrist release offering. The Tru-Fire Smoke is a great dual caliper, ambidextrous release in a world that is seeing a huge increase in back tension and thumb trigger releases.

The Smoke Extreme gives you the ability to tweak the trigger travel to the shooter’s need and features a ⅝” length adjustment on the yoke for pull length. You simply twist the yoke clockwise or counterclockwise to desired length and then tighten the set screw.

With a dime-sized trigger-head, the jaws automatically close when you let off of the trigger. No more pushing the trigger forward to reset. Pop-off a shot and you are ready to immediately re-attach to the bow string for your follow-up shot.

Tru-Fire was thinking of comfort when they designed this wrist strap. Made from no-stretch fabric, it has a soft interior lining that will make you forget you are even wearing a release during your all-day hunt. It also features a buckle, rather than Velcro, so you can keep the same position on your wrist. Knowing your release position is set will give you peace of mind that your accuracy won’t be affected by the wrist strap. One more note on the strap: that remaining tail won’t flop around in your way thanks to the “trap tab” that True-Fire puts on most of their wrist strap style releases.

There have been concerns about the jaws chewing up the D-Loops, but we suspect this is from poor drawing technique.

Benefits

  • No manual closing of calipers
  • Become hands-free when needed
  • Comfortable and durable wrist strap
Compound Bow Release

Things to Consider

Knowing what to look for in a bow release is half the battle. Get to know the different styles and match that up with your intended use. Adjustability is also important. It should fit your hand properly in order to anchor and fire correctly. Quality of the release should also not be overlooked. Let’s go over these attributes in more detail.

Know the Various Release Styles

Index finger release, thumb-trigger release, back tension release (hinge), resistance activation, or some hybrid of all the above. Not every release style is going to be optimal for your particular use. Hunting and archery competitions, for instance, obviously have very different objectives. Those objectives are nuanced in their own ways and are going to determine which release style you should use.

While most hunters are absolutely concerned about accuracy in order to put a clean, ethical shot on an animal, a certain lack of precision is also expected. Due to the uncontrolled nature of the terrain, environment, and often miniscule windows of time to execute a shot, certain compound bow releases like a wrist style or thumb trigger release make the most sense. A hinge release may not be the best style for a hunter who is still-hunting, or spot and stalking for example. Since the hinge lacks a trigger, the potential for the shot to break early is high when the adrenaline is pumping.

Professional archery competitors on the other hand, are concerned with extreme accuracy in every aspect of their bow set-up down to the release. With nothing but time to set-up their shot, methodically move through the execution of it, and end with a surprise release – a hinge style release makes the most sense. As such, it is the most widely used release aid style in this type of archery due to its high accuracy.

Is it Fully Adjustable?

For index finger or thumb trigger compound bow releases, the most important adjustments you want to look for are trigger travel, tension, and length of pull (yoke adjustment). If it is a thumb release, also add thumb barrel adjustment.

Your release should be set up to be as accurate as it can, but it should also be comfortable. Having to contort your hand or stretch your fingers unnaturally to wrap it around the trigger is just going to make you hate the release. It will also cause form issues, which will ultimately sacrifice accuracy. Making sure these various points can be modified to fit your hand perfectly will make a big difference in your shooting.

High Quality Construction

Everything from the strap to the alloy that makes up the trigger head and jaws should be high quality and durable. A release is the connection point between your hand and bow string, which is holding considerable draw weight. The last thing it better do is fail!

Wrist straps need to be made from material that won’t stretch, which will throw off your anchor point if the strap is elongated. Release mechanisms and internal components should be made of the same metals with the same hardness to prevent premature wear and failure.

All parts that come into contact with the string or D-Loop should be smooth and free of any jagged edges where the string can get caught up. Releases with questionable quality on the trigger mechanism can wear out the D-Loop quickly.

Trying out a release at your local archery shop or outdoor gear store will give you the ability to get it in hand and inspect it before buying. It’s also helpful to look at the product specs for the things that are hard to distinguish with the naked eye.

Bow Release

Compound Bows Releases FAQs

Can you use a bow release on a recurve?

For the recreational shooter or hunter, absolutely! Most recurve bow competitions don’t allow them. However, competing recurve archers are allowed to use a finger tab or gloves. Keep in mind some bow releases require the use of a D-Loop. Item specs will usually state when this is the case.

Why use a bow release?

It all boils down to optimal accuracy. When compound bows first came out, archers were shooting them finger-style because there were no release aids. With the invention of bow releases, accuracy was greatly improved by providing one point of contact (the trigger jaw) on the string versus two or three points (fingers).

What is the best bow release for hunting?

The one you ain’t gonna lose! Many bowhunters are using thumb and back tension releases these days. I reckon many of these are blind and treestand hunters since you can account for gear better. The majority are wrist release users however. Once it’s strapped to your wrist, it is always with you. 

Compound Bow Release Glossary

D-Loop: Metal or string loop that is tied onto a bow string for the purpose of attaching a release. Loop is D-shaped and is tied directly behind the nock point.

Trigger Head: Upper section of a wrist strap-style release aid which contains the jaws, release mechanism and trigger.

Swept-Back Trigger: Trigger style that has a curved orientation. The curvature improves finger placement on the trigger for proper shot execution.

Trigger Travel: The distance the trigger moves prior to the jaws opening to release the bow string.

Trigger Tension: The amount of force applied to the trigger to release the bow string. 

Yoke: Middle section of a wrist release that connects the trigger head and wrist strap. Typically adjustable for different sized hands. 

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