Survival bows and arrows can be not only fun, but essential when you’re in the wilderness. They make a fine hunting and defensive tool.
When you are in the wilderness, one of the greatest skills you can have is the ability to hunt game for food. Anyone who claims to be a serious outdoorsman or survivalist, spends weeks on end in the wild, and often relies on wild game for food should own a good survival bow. It’s important to pick the right bow and arrows if you’re planning to carry them on your next outdoor adventure. In this article, we share what we believe are the best survival bows and useful tips on choosing a great one as a prepper when bugging out or for survival.
2. Spectre II Compact Take-Down Survival Bow
1. SAS Tactical Survival Bow
3. SAS Recon Folding Survival Bow
1. 25#, 35#, 45#, 55# draw weights available
1. Bow type: Modern Longbow
1. Economically designed
HOW TO CHOOSE A SURVIVAL BOW
There are certain factors that you need to consider when choosing a survival bow, including:
1. Draw Length
The ideal bow draw length differs from person to person. If you ask people for advice regarding the right draw length, it’s likely that you will get different answers. The truth is that your “proper” or right draw length is the draw length at which you are the most accurate and the most comfortable.
2. Draw Weight
This is another pivotal factor to think about when choosing a survival bow. If you’re getting a bow for hunting game, then you should get a recurve bow with a minimum draw weight of 40 pounds.
3. Bow Length
Bows are available in different lengths – it can be confusing to know which length would be ideal for you. A key tip to keep in mind is to pick a bow that is at least twice as long as your draw length.
4. Eye Dominance
When you talk about eye dominance, you might hear people using terms like the ‘power eye’ or the ‘master eye’ – keep in mind that they are all the same thing. It means the visual preference you have for either your left or right eye. You should know which eye you prefer to use before choosing a bow.
5. Brace Height
The majority of modern longbows are braced at approximately 7 inches and, depending on the design, recurves between 7 and 9 inches. This is the distance between the deepest part of the riser and the string when it is in a loose position. Brace height plays a vital role in bow forgiveness and arrow speed.
6. Bow Weight
When it comes to bow weight, you should keep in mind that lighter bows are the ideal choice for beginners. A light bow allows you to practice more without tiring yourself out. Plus, a heavier bow will shoot flatter than a light one. If you are a beginner, choose a bow that weighs about 3 pounds.
A versatile bow is fabulous, as it allows you to make any adjustments that you might need to make the bow more comfortable, more accurate, etc. Versatility also plays a crucial role in regard to the maneuverability of the bow you have chosen.
8. Takedown Bow
A takedown bow is one that is assembled out of two limbs and a riser to make a working bow when strung. The primary advantage of this type of bow is that it is compact, making it easier to store and transport. Secondly, a takedown bow allows you to change the bow configuration by changing limbs. If you’re looking for the best survival bow, you should definitely pick a takedown bow.
With these points in mind, you will be sure to find the right survival bow for you. With so many different bows available nowadays, finding that ideal one can be quite tough. However, consider the factors mentioned above and you will find the perfect survival bow to carry with you on all your outdoor adventures, whether you are camping, hunting, or a prepper who wants to be ready for a survival situation.
You might find interesting to read our best slingshots for survival article.
TOP 7 SURVIVAL BOWS
1. SAS TACTICAL SURVIVAL BOW
SAS stands for Survival Archery Systems, not the British special forces. The SAS Tactical Survival Bow is built more for an apocalypse rather than an archery competition. The riser is made from hollow aluminum with composite risers. It has a non-reflective black finish to keep it stealthy.
This bow is made in the U.S and will offer years of service due to the quality of the materials and construction. The engineering-focused design of this bow optimizes utility over aesthetics.
To make the bow pack down so small, they designed the limbs to fold into the riser. One of the limbs has to be reversed to pack it away by removing a retention pin. The assembly and pack down are all done without tools.
Since the riser is just a rectangular shape, you don’t have an ergonomic handgrip. There is a bit of grippy material attached to the riser to improve grip, but this isn’t the nicest grip in the cold or wet. It works without any of the polished details you would expect from a specialty archery company. It comes with an arrow rest, but you will want to carry extras as it just gets stuck on the side, so could get knocked off.
The materials, no-tool assembly, and compact size make the SAS Tactical Survival Bow a good choice for a strong archer who wants a bow that will survive in the harshest conditions.
- Light (2.2 lbs.)
- Compact (21″ folded size)
- Powerful (45, 50, 55 lb. draw options)
- The handle is hollow for arrow storage
2. Xpectre Spectre Ii Compact Take-Down Survival Bow
The Xpectre Spectre II is one of the original take-down bows. The limbs just slot into the riser, so no tools are needed to assemble the bow. The tension of the bowstring holds the limbs in place. When you slide the limbs into the riser, it’s easiest to use the step-through method of stringing the bow to keep the limbs in place.The ESEE Izula II is crafted from superior quality materials. Something you would expect from ESEE knives. It is built for durability and enhanced performance. This lightweight neck knife can easily double up as a concealed carry knife and comes with full canvas Micarta scales on the handle for enhanced grip.
This is a made-in U.S. product, which is surprising considering the affordable price. It has an arrow rest mounted to the side that offers ambidextrous operation by just flipping the bow around. The arrow rest is a plastic-coated metal wire, so it doesn’t offer the same rigidity for repeatable shots as some other designs. As a plus, the design is unlikely to get damaged during use.
The Spectre II is available in 25, 35, 45, and 55 lb. draw weights. This is useful for the new archer who can start with a lighter weight and build up as they get more skilled. Spare limbs of different draw weights are available separately, so you can work up in the weights – just like hitting the gym.
This is a great option for a starter bow that will last you a long time.
- Quick, no-tools assembly
- Lighter draw weights available for new archers
- Available with arrows
- Short assembled length is good for smaller people
- Arrow rest design can lead to inconsistent shots
- Not the most compact
- 23″ long when packed isn’t as compact as some options
3. Sas Recon Folding Survival Bow
If you want the ruggedness of the SAS Tactical Survival Bow but with even quicker deployment, the Recon model will be right up your alley. The SAS Recon is designed to be folded open without having to reverse that one limb, like you have to do with the Tactical model.
The trade-off of this convenience is that the bow’s packed size is a few inches longer – 24.3 VS 21 inches.
They also offer this bow in a lower weight draw of 40 lbs. instead of the 45 lbs. of the Tactical version. Otherwise, the bows are very similar.
The riser is still a rectangular aluminum box that doesn’t have any ergonomic shaping. The anodized coating is matte black to reduce reflection.
Think of this bow as the even-easier-to-deploy version of the zombie apocalypse bow. Tough and functional, but lacking the feeling that an expert archer would look for. With practice, however, it will still put food in your pot.
Morakniv Eldrisis one of the best neck knives. It is the winner of the 2016 Scandinavian Outdoor Award based on sustainability, functionality, design, innovation, and quality. The blade is built from Sandvik12C27 stainless steel which is known for its razor sharpness. The neck knife features exceptional toughness and hardness with great corrosion resistance.
- Quicker deploying than the SAS Tactical Survival Bow
- More draw weights than the SAS Tactical Survival Bow (40-55 lbs.)
- Can hold arrows in the riser when folded up
- Larger packed size than SAS Tactical Survival Bow
- The rectangular riser doesn’t offer the best grip
4. Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow
The Samick Sage is a classic. The great riser, made from Dymondwood and Maple, fits the hand very well. It comes pre-tapped for accessories such as sights and stabilizers. This may be the best entry-level bow when it comes to the actual shooting.
The draw is smooth and has very little vibration compared to a bow with an aluminum riser. This will reduce hand fatigue during long sessions, allowing you to practice more. It’s only when you compare it to higher-end bows that you get a bow with even less hand shock.
As a survival bow, its packed size is bulkier and heavier than the specialty survival bows. However, that is the trade-off for a better shooting bow. The Sage is aimed at beginning to intermediate archers, but just happens to come apart without tools, making it an option for survival purposes.
You can get draw weights from 25-60 lbs. in 5 lb. increments. The limbs are compatible, so you can have different weight limbs for practice and stiffer ones for hunting.
The limb tips are reinforced, so it’s ready if you want to upgrade to Fastflight strings. These strings stretch less than Dacron, meaning more speed for the same weight but a little more vibration.
Ka-Bar BK11 Becker Necker is a multi-functional knife and can be of use in survival as well as self-defense situations. The blade is made from 1095 Cro-Van steel. It is easy to sharpen which helps you keep the edge always good to go. The fixed blade is extremely durable and sharp. Even after several uses, you will rarely see it dull.
- Great ergonomics
- Available for both right- and left-handed archers
- Riser pre-tapped for accessories such as sights and stabilizers
- No-tool assembly
- You can get extra limbs of different weights
- A little more vibration than higher-end wood bows
- Bulky packed size for a survival bow
5. Sinoart 59 Folding Bow
The SinoArt 59 Folding Bow is a true folder that deploys without any tools. Just release and flip out the limbs, tension, and string the bow. This folding style makes it a little bigger (23″ folded) than some of the other options, but much easier to deploy.
The 59 in the name is the length of the bow in inches when strung. The bow is only available in two weights, 35 and 55 lbs. This means most people will have to start with the lower weight, as 55 lbs. is too hard for most people who are new to archery to learn on.
The weight comes in heavier as well at 3.79 lbs. This isn’t too bad unless you have to ruck for a lot of miles. Remember when planning your survival kit, ounces add up to pounds and pounds add up to pain.
Once deployed, the riser is comfortable to grip even though it isn’t an ergonomic shape, like some of the other bows on our list. The edges are chamfered so you don’t have any sharp corners. The built-in arrow rest makes for the easy nock of your arrows.
- Quick deploying folding design
- High-quality construction
- Comfortable hand position when gripping the riser
- Arrow rest built-in
- Packed size is longer and heavier than some of the competitors
- Only available in 35 and 55 lb. draw weights
6. Obert Original Black Hunter Takedown Recurve Bow
The Black Hunter Takedown Recurve Bow is a great shooting bow for general archery, hunting, and survival. The ergonomic riser fits the hand very comfortably and allows for a more natural technique. The wood laminate doesn’t conduct the cold like the metal risers do, making for a better experience when shooting in the cold.
Being a recurve style, you can get limbs that are from 30-60 lbs. that work on the same riser. This will allow you to have multiple setups without having multiple bows. A lighter weight for practice will speed up the improvement in your shooting, as you can send more arrows downrange before becoming tired.
The wood laminate construction of the riser and bamboo laminate of the limbs gives you a very smooth shooting bow with little hand shock or vibration.
This is more an archer’s bow than that of a survivalist/prepper. It emphasizes the shooting experience over packability. You’ll want to be more delicate in how you pack this bow, as it is much nicer looking than most of the survival-oriented bows.
- Great ergonomics
- Can run recurve or longbow limbs
- Weights from 30-60 lbs. available
- Very durable
- Not ambidextrous, so you have to order the correct handed version
- Doesn’t pack as small as dedicated survival bows
- You will need to supply your carry case
7. Top Archery Takedown Hunting Recurve Bow
The Top Archery Takedown Bow is a blend of the old and new, with laminated maple/fiberglass limbs and an aluminum riser. The riser is tapped for accessories, but metal tends to transmit more shock than a wooden riser would.
It is available in draw weights from 18-50 lbs. Combined with the low price, this makes it a good option for kids or new archers who don’t want to spend a lot on their bow.
The Top Archery Takedown Bow needs an Allen Key to assemble, so make sure to pack that in the kit. It also doesn’t come with a bow stringer, so make sure to order one separately as this is helpful to string your bow.
At 3.5 lbs., it’s on the heavy side for a survival bow. However, this isn’t a problem if you keep your bugout gear in your truck.
This bow isn’t fancy, but will still bag your food if you practice enough to hit what you aim at.
- Very affordable
- Draw weights from 18-50 lbs. available
- The aluminum riser comes tapped for sights and other accessories
- Only available in a right-handed version
- Doesn’t pack as small as specialized survival bows
- More vibration than a wooden riser
- You need an Allen key to assemble
Frequenty Asked Questions
1. DO I NEED A SURVIVAL TAKE-DOWN BOW?
If you want to harvest your own game while being relatively silent, then the answer is yes. If you want to have a renewable source of ammo in the form of arrows you can make yourself, then the answer is yes. And if you want to be like Hawkeye from Avengers, then the answer is hell yes. FYI – In all our research and testing, we couldn’t find a bow that assembled itself just by shaking it, as Hawkeye’s did in the movies.
However, you need to pick the right bow plus develop the skills to use them.
2. WHAT IS A SURVIVAL TAKE-DOWN BOW?
A survival take-down bow is a full-size and power bow that either folds or comes apart into three pieces for easy transport. Most have a carry case, making them easy to strap to a backpack or bugout bag.
3. IS A BOW A GOOD SURVIVAL WEAPON?
If the goal is to procure wild game for food, a bow and arrow are one of the most time-proven weapons. However, remember that you only eat what you hit. Just having a bow doesn’t guarantee a meal. Using a bow for hunting requires both great archery skills to be able to hit the target, as well as great stalking skills.
It’s much harder to hit a target with an arrow than it is with a bullet, so you have to get much closer. With a typical take-down bow, you want to be within 30 yards to increase your odds of making a kill. Thus, you have to be good at approaching animals downwind with a minimum of noise and movement.
Practice a lot, as you don’t want your first time trying to feed yourself with your archery to happen when you are cold, tired, and hungry.
4. IS A BOW GOOD FOR SELF-DEFENSE?
Contrary to what you see in movies, a bow isn’t a very good personal defense weapon. If someone is armed with a firearm, their range is much further than yours and follow-up shots are usually much faster.
You usually aren’t walking around with the bow assembled and an arrow nocked, so you’re at a disadvantage in how quickly you can react.
When faced with people with blades or melee weapons, you might have a chance to get one arrow off before they close the distance to you. The bow itself isn’t a very good weapon for hand-to-hand fighting.
5. WHAT ABOUT COMPOUND BOWS?
Compound bows are great tools for hunting with a longer range than a take-down survival bow, but are heavier and bulkier. This limits their utility as a survival tool to have in your bugout bag.
A compound bow needs to be assembled and tuned, so you can’t carry it around in a compact case strapped to your pack.
To use a compound bow, you will need a trigger release as opposed to pulling back with your fingers. Again, this increases the complexity of its operation and the gear you have to carry.
6. WHAT SIZE BOW DO I NEED?
For hunting, you will need a minimum of 30-40 lbs. draw weight to have enough power to take down small to medium-sized animals. For deer or elk, you will want to have 45 lbs. or higher.
For many people, this is too much draw weight to learn on. If so, you might want to look for a bow that has the option of different weight limbs. This means you can learn on a bow with a lighter pull before moving up to the heavier for hunting. This way, you don’t need to own more than one bow.
Archery is a fun pastime as well as an important skill for survival in the wild. With a few bushcraft skills, you can even make your own arrows so you will have renewable ammunition. Our list can help you narrow down your choice and find the right bow for you.
A take-down survival bow is a great tool for survival – as long as you know how to use it. Like all tools, the skills are just as important as the quality of the tool. Regardless of what bow you choose, you need to become a proficient archer if it’s going to be anything more than just an extra weight you’re carrying in your survival kit or bugout bag.