Perfect bowhunting release aids should include a crisp trigger that has little to no travel and tough enough to take a beating in the field. No one can tell you which type or brand of bowhunting release will make you a better bowhunter — that’s up to you to decide. Our guess is your next best release is somewhere in the following list, waiting to prove itself to you.
Carter Enterprises Simple 1
Carter is a brand many pros depend on when the tournament is on the line. This year, Carter has a new bowhunting/target release called the Simple 1 ($180). The name says it all. This thumb-style release is designed to be easy to use and to adjust. One thing that caught my eye was the head of the release. It's self-loading and self-cocking so you don't have to fumble around trying to close the jaws around the string. Just push the button and it's ready to go. Other notable features include a shortened head which increases your draw length and a fitted loop slot that positions the loop in the same spot shot after shot, resulting in consistent shooting and improved accuracy. The Simple 1 also has a simplified sear for a travel-free, crisp trigger. This is a three-finger release with a contoured handle that uses Carter's one-of-a-kind, Interchangeable Tension System, making trigger adjustment extremely easy.
Hot Shot Stan Potts Signature Series Release
One of the first companies to offer a release decades ago was Hot Shot Manufacturing. When Hot Shots hit the market, well-known bowhunters started using the thumb-trigger releases. When Hot Shot went out of business, Stan Potts continued to use the release and often referred to it as his "little red release." Hot Shot is now back in business and has teamed up with Stan Potts to create the Stan Potts Signature Series Release ($196). Many three-finger thumb releases are small and dainty, but that is not the case with this one. It offers additional surface area on the handle for unparalleled comfort. By adding surface to the handle's face where your fingers touch, Hot Shot has eliminated annoying finger tingle, numbness, and "dead hand." The release has a single-screw adjustment for trigger travel and tension, and a multiple axis thumb post that ensures a perfect fit regardless of your hand size.
Scott Archery Longhorn Hex Hybrid
A back-tension release will shrink your arrow groups, but many bowhunters are deathly afraid of using one because it can fire without warning if you're unfamiliar with the technology. The Longhorn Hex Hybrid ($145) from Scott Archery is bowhunter-friendly, thanks to features like the RCS System (Rope Connector System) that has a connector rope and buckle strap similar to a finger-trigger release. This makes it nearly impossible for the release to come out of your hand. The Hex has a draw-optimizing hook with an auto-locking band that makes connecting to the string simple. It also has a torque-free pivoting roller. The RCS System and pivoting roller design, with its ergonomic finger positioning, make this release easy to use and hard to accidently fire when you move or jerk your hand. That's because as you draw the release you don't have to touch or move the handle.
T.R.U. Ball Max 3 Hunter
T.R.U. Ball's new Max 3 Hunter ($85) thumb-trigger release will prove perfect for bowhunting or the 3-D range. This three-finger release has a trigger that you push forward to fire. If you have an issue with punching or jerking the trigger when firing, this release might help solve your problem. The Max 3 Hunter has the look and feel of a target release but features a head that swivels 360 degrees, resembling a trigger-finger release. There's an adjustable sensitivity screw so the "weight" of the trigger can be set to your liking. Camo finish is Mossy Oak Break-Up.
Tru-Fire Edge 4
The new Edge 4 ($99) four-finger thumb release from Tru-Fire has become an instant hit on the 3-D course. It has many of the features of high-end thumb releases but costs much less. The rotating head and fluid trigger action combine for a smooth release every time you pull the trigger. The slim, lightweight aluminum handle fits perfectly in the hand. The Edge 4 is available in black or camo.
Cobra Archery Serpent E-Z Adjust
The Serpent E-Z Adjust ($59.99) is one of the new release models offered by Cobra. An E-Z Adjust module on this release rotates 360 degrees and allows length adjustments without the need for tools. That makes fine-tuning the length of your release a breeze. The adjustable forward-mounted trigger is extra thick for better control, and "thin tip" dual calipers make attaching the Serpent E-Z Adjust to your string loop simple. It's available with a leather buckle strap or a padded strap.
Jim Fletcher Archery Insider
The most notable feature of Jim Fletcher's Insider ($75) -- designed for string loops only -- is a quick-reset hook that allows you to hook up instantly for a second shot. It has a roller system so the trigger is smooth with zero travel, and the adjustable forward trigger helps increase your draw length. The Insider has an anodized head and you can choose between a leather buckle strap or a nylon Velcro strap.
FUSE's Clinch (price not available at press time) has a smooth, crisp trigger and an advanced radius jaw that reduces string pinch and minimizes D-loop wear. The Clinch has a knurled, forward-positioned trigger, and comes with a no-sweat strap and alloy buckle for easy on/off. Two models are available: the Clinch Barrel has a three-hole solid stem adjustment system to adjust the length of the release, and the Clinch CFT (Custom Fit Technology) has a nylon connector strap that allows for endless adjustments.
Hot Shot Infinity
Hot Shot gave its Infinity ($59) release entirely different internal workings for 2011. The Infinity's Lever-Link trigger replaces traditional roller bearings, creating a crisp shot and less trigger creep. The extra-tough actuating mechanism ensures less friction than roller bearings so the release will work flawlessly for years without getting balky due to harsh weather or dirt. The Infinity can be customized with endless adjustable length and it's available with a Cordura strap with Velcro, traditional buckle, or quiet magnetic closure.
Scott Archery Silverhorn
The Silverhorn from Scott Archery ($80) has been redesigned for 2011. The new version has a spring-loaded hook for quick and easy loading. It also has a wide roller sear for a smoother trigger pull. Extra draw length means more speed, so the Silverhorn was designed with a forward knurled trigger that maximizes draw length. The Silverhorn also comes with a five-hole strap so it can be adjusted for the perfect fit.
Spot-Hogg Wise Guy
Spot-Hogg may be best known for making quality bowsights, but this company also makes a microadjustable release called the Wise Guy ($109) that's accurate and tough as nails. The Wise Guy is designed for bowhunting but has many features target archers demand including an extremely light trigger. Spot-Hogg says it is the lightest trigger on the market for bowhunting. Key features include overall release length adjustment, no trigger travel, a quick-loading jaw that eliminates torque, and a rigid body that will last a lifetime. The Wise Guy can be purchased with a magnetic wrist strap or a leather buckle, and with your choice of a hard connector or nylon tether.
T.R.U. Ball The Beast
T.R.U. Ball has teamed up with Michael Waddell to create a super-tough finger release called The Beast ($95). Beast models come with a solid rod connection between the head and strap of the release and can be fitted with either a 3 or 11-oz. spring, depending on how heavy you prefer your trigger. The forward trigger gives you extra draw length, resulting in more arrow speed. The Beast II ($95), the "comfort-plus" model, has a swept-back, relaxed trigger to create a super-smooth shooting release. Both models can be purchased with T.R.U. Ball's new Speed Buckle wrist strap that attaches to your wrist in seconds thanks to two CNC-machined connectors. One side slides into the other to create a secure lock. The Beast II also comes with a Globo-Swivel connection with a draw length adjustment.
The new Hardcore ($99) release from Tru-Fire comes with Center Pivoting Technology, which means the head of the release pivots 20 degrees side to side, assuring the release is perfectly positioned at full draw to provide a torque-free shot. It has a deep jaw so the hook doesn't slip off the loop, a wide-open sear design for easy hook/loop alignment, and a sear that quickly resets itself after the shot. The length of the release can be adjusted, and it comes with a variety of strap options including a leather fold-back buckle strap. The Hardcore can be bought with a swept-back or forward trigger.
TruGlo introduced several releases to the market in 2011, but the one that caught my eye is the Tru-Steel ($75). It has a very impressive 90-degree pivoting connection system that makes connecting the release to the bowstring easy because the entire release pivots. A microadjust connector twists out to provide additional length, and a 360-degree rotating head eliminates torque. The synchronized jaw design makes grabbing the string loop easy and results in a smooth trigger pull with a contoured adjustable trigger. The Tru-Steel's stainless steel, wear-free jaws will last a lifetime. The Velcro strap comes in Realtree AP.
Winn Archery Free Flight Release
One of the nicest fitting releases on the market is the Winn Archery Free Flight Release ($61). The Free Flight is a glove that contains the release. The leather/Cordura glove is durable and fits snugly on your hand and wrist, providing support as you draw your bow. With this design you will quickly notice it feels like you're drawing and holding less weight. Since the release is built into the glove, it's always in position instead of dangling down, and the hook is exposed and unobstructed, making hook-up fast and easy. The Free Flight must be bought according to hand size and is available in X-Small through X-Large.