Best Survival Bows For Hunting and Self Defense


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Last Updated: February 7, 2021

The best survival bows are foldable, lightweight, and incredibly durable.

Some stay true to traditional styles whilst some of the more modern options come with an array of innovative features.

We’ve researched them all to come up with our list of the top picks in each category.

Firstly though – what exactly are we looking for in a survival bow?

The Anatomy of a Survival Bow

Just any old bow won’t do the trick. While a lot of bows are phenomenal for target shooting or hunting, there’s a lot that goes into constructing the best one specifically for survival.

  • Durable construction to last weeks on end of hard use
  • Easy to carry and break down to small size
  • Quickly assembled and ready to shoot
  • Good balance between weight and power

Our Top Pick

SAS Tactical Survival Bow

Compact foldable design without sacrificing too much power. This durable bow is ideal for survival.Check On Amazon

Budget Pick

Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow

Large amount of power and portability for a reasonable price.Check On Amazon

Survival Bow Reviews

Best Overall: SAS Tactical Survival Bow

This bow is made purely for survival scenarios, designed to be lightweight and portable, all while retaining a good amount of power. It folds down easily from 60 inches to 21 inches.


The bow will quickly pop into place and be ready to fire faster than any of the other options on our list.

It opens out to almost three times the folded length allowing for easy stowage in a bag or vehicle.

Importantly it also scores highly for durability and will stand up to lots of use and abuse.
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Specs:

  • Weight – 2.2 pounds
  • Assembled Size – 60 inches, 21 inches folded
  • Draw Weights – 50 pounds, 55 pounds

Pros

  • Incredibly portable size and weight
  • Can still fire arrows at up to 210 FPS
  • Highly durable build to last for long term use

Cons

  • The grip isn’t the most comfortable
  • Can’t change draw weight over time

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Best Overall Value: Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow

The Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow brings all of the positives of a traditional recurve bow, with the ability to detach the limbs and become highly portable.

Since the limbs are available to purchase separately, you can start at a draw weight of 25 pounds and work your way to pulling 60 pounds for the maximum power.


The bow is constructed of a maple wood core with fiberglass sheets on the exterior to enhance durability and add more power and strength to the maple.

With this, you can personalize your shooting in a survival scenario and know that you’ll be able to up the power when you feel ready.

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Specs:

  • Weight – 3.4 pounds
  • Assembled Size – 62 inches
  • Draw Weights – 25-60 pounds in 5-pound increments

Pros

  • Great price to quality ratio
  • Easy to switch up the limbs and the draw weight
  • Comfortable grip
  • Durable fiberglass and maple construction

Cons

  • More expensive than most tools
  • Can be a little trickier to put together

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Best on a Budget: TopArchery 56” Takedown Hunting Recurve Bow

A quality combination of a traditional takedown recurve bow and a survival bow. The recurve limbs detach for easy transport in a bag.


This bow also utilizes a maple wood interior and fiberglass exterior in its limbs. The high tension and low compression of the maple give you the quick response that traditional wooden bows have, but the fiberglass adds to the power.

Delivers impressive power and a solid aim in experienced hands.

The riser is cast from aluminum which means it will be able to stand up to the weather no matter what environment you find yourself in. It also is molded to a comfortable and ergonomic shape to help boost your aim and comfort.

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Specs:

  • Weight – 3.5 pounds
  • Assembled Size – 56 inches
  • Draw Weights – 30-50 pounds in 5-pound increments

Pros

  • The aluminum riser is corrosion-resistant and durable
  • Benefits of a recurve bow with those of a survival bow
  • Powerful construction
  • Ergonomic grip

Cons

  • Not assembled as quickly as others
  • Doesn’t come with everything you may need

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Best Included Accessories: Southland Archery Supply SAS Sage Takedown Recurve Bow

With a respectable case, paper targets, finger guard, stringer, wrist guard, and arrow rest included in the package of this bow, you’ll be ready to go straight away. This will help you practice and protect yourself with a more accurate shot to reduce the loss of arrows.

The accessories are impressive, but they aren’t what makes the bow a great choice for survival. The riser is constructed from olive Dymond wood and maple which is equally beautiful and strong.

The comfortable grip helps to get your aim down and make a true shot. The limbs come off easily and stash away ready for quick transport.

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Specs:

  • Weight – 3.5 pounds
  • Assembled Size – 62 inches
  • Draw Weights – 25-60 pounds in 5-pound increments

Pros

  • Comes with a wide array of accessories
  • Beautiful and strong construction
  • Comes apart quickly
  • Wide range of draw weights available

Cons

  • On the more expensive side
  • Not as compact as others

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Best for Beginners: PSE Archery Pro Max Traditional Takedown Recurve

If this is your first bow or you are looking for something that will work well for a younger archer, the PSE Archery Pro Max brings a lot to the table while leaving some room for improvement.

It starts at a 20-pound draw weight and can get up to 35 pounds with different limbs. At 62 inches, it will probably only fit kids over the age of 11.

To add to your practice, there is an adjustable sight that is included. It gives you a great opportunity to hone your skills without having to spend a lot of money. Plus, it will still get the job done in a survival situation.

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Specs:

  • Weight – 2.5 pounds
  • Assembled Size – 62 inches
  • Draw Weights – 20, 25, 30, 35 pounds

Pros

  • A lot of room for learning with low draw weights
  • Comes with adjustable sight and everything else you need
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Composite limbs are lower quality
  • An upgrade will need to happen eventually

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Buyer’s Guide

Each one of these bows is made to help deliver power in a portable and compact form, but they are different criteria to understand before making a purchase.

Start by understanding the lingo, we’ve made a list of common terms below;

Glossary of Common Terms

Draw Weight – The draw weight of a bow refers to the difficulty to pull back the bowstring when shooting. It is compared to the feeling of lifting a certain amount of weight in a similar fashion with your arm. Therefore, the higher the weight, the more difficult to pull.

Limbs – The limbs of a bow are the top and bottom pieces that flex when the bowstring is pulled. This is where almost all of the power comes from when firing.

Recurve Bow – A recurve bow has limbs that bend away from the archer when the bow is unstrung. This shape helps provide even more power to the shot.

Riser – The riser of a bow is the middle section where your grip and the arrow shelf (where the arrow rests while drawing and aiming) are located.

Power

The power of your bow will determine what it can achieve. For example if you are planning on doing a lot of hunting, you will need a higher draw weight to take down a large target.

If you are just starting, 25 pounds is a good place to be. It will help you improve quickly but can have enough power to take down some small critters if you find yourself needing to use it. It will start to fall short when you are going for larger prey, but increasing power with most of these bows is incredibly simple.

The bows that come with different draw weights allow you to hone your skills gradually. Fine-tuning your shooting is going to be the most important part of survival archery, not the type of bow you have.

Durability

A bow that shatters in a few days is just going to leave you hungry and unprotected. If you buy something made of cheap materials, the chances are good that you won’t be using that bow for a long time.

When buying a survival bow you need to remember, Mother Nature can be incredibly tough on gear.

The bows on this list that use a wooden base with fiberglass added on the outside are going to have a great level of durability. The wood and fiberglass work together to get high amounts of power, but each also protects the other.

Portability and Weight

The ability to move quickly when in a survival scenario is important so look for something that won’t hinder your movement.

A large bow that doesn’t break down easily will be cumbersome and can easily trip you while running or weigh you down in an already-heavy pack.

All the survival bows in our list are lightweight and go from being over five feet in length, to under two in a heartbeat.

The important balance is finding the perfect spot between power and size. The more bow you have, the more power but the less portable.

Draw Length

Your draw length is going to determine what type of bow you can buy without having to shorten your draw or make any serious adjustments.

The draw length changes with the different draw weights and each manufacturer recommends different weights for specific draw lengths. Pay close attention to this before purchasing, and be sure to know your draw length.

If you don’t know your draw length, it’s simple to find.

  • Measure your wingspan (tip of middle finger to tip of middle finger with arms outstretched against a wall)
  • Subtract 15 from this measurement
  • Divide this by 2
  • This is your draw length.

Weather Resistance

Archery simply isn’t meant to be done in the rain. The moisture messes with the bow and tends to screw up the whole process.

While surviving, there’s not much of an option to only use your bow when it’s sunny out. That’s why it’s key to find a bow that can take a beating from the weather as well as your use.

Depending on where you live, you’ll need to consider different bows. In a dry, desert environment, you can get practically any bow and not worry about the moisture ruining it. For those of us in rainforests, it will be much more difficult to find the right option.

A great way around the weather is to find a good protective case for your bow. This will help boost its lifespan by protecting it from both rain and any mishaps or falls. A high-quality case will ensure that you have a functioning bow waiting for you to use when the time comes.

Arrows and Arrow Storage

You’ll obviously need arrows to go along with your bow. This can be another tricky thing to have to bring along and pack in a survival bag, but necessary.

Takedown survival arrows are often the best bet for your setup. They break down into separate pieces, allowing you to store them easier, but still form a strong arrow shaft when connected. These can be stashed in a quiver or right alongside your bow in your gear bag.

The arrow storage on the SAS Tactical Survival Bow is by far the most innovative out of all these bows. The riser acts as a quiver and you can quickly remove the arrows before unfolding the bow. This protects the arrows as well as keeping them easily accessible when you need them.

Conclusion

A survival setup without a survival bow is simply incomplete. It’s an amazing tool for collecting food as well as giving you the added protection from other people or larger animals you may encounter.

The right bow will stay out of sight and out of mind until you need it most. At that moment, you will be ready in a heartbeat with the bow strung and drawn, staring down your prey.

Until then, just keep on practicing.

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