Survival bows are a necessary part of a decent survival kit, but how do you go about picking the right one? Do you just get the best compact bow to put in your survival backpack, or do you go for something sturdier, stronger and faster?
We can help you figure that out because we found the ten best survival bows you can buy. Most of them are lightweight and compact, but we did include a couple of compound bows, for those of you that want something exceptionally fast and strong.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Survival Bows
Keep reading to find the best survival bow for you!
Best Bow For Experienced Shooters
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Most Affordable Compact Bow
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Best Compact Survival Bow
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Best For Beginners
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Best For Older Kids
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The PSE Stigner Max is an amazing survival bow, which will satisfy even the most experienced shooters. It is tough, durable and perfectly suitable for hunting big game. If you’re looking for a heavy duty survival bow that is fairly simple to use, then this is the one to get.
Of course, the Stinger Max is not a survival bow everyone can afford. It is one of the best bows on the market, and its retail price reflects that. But that’s just another reason why this isn’t meant for people who are just getting into archery, but rather for those who know what they are doing and want the best possible equipment.
This survival bow features a draw weight between 55 and 70 lbs, with 80% let off thanks to the new SS cam. And that’s absolutely amazing – it means you are holding 70 lbs of energy, but you only have to control 20% of that.
It also has great draw speed of about 312 fps, which pretty much guarantees exceptional accuracy. And with a draw length range of 21.5” to 30”, you can control pretty much anything about the bow.
The only downside of the PSE Stinger Max is that it’s not exactly a portable bow. This is a compound bow and it doesn’t fold down, so you can’t really fit it into a backpack. It has an axle to axle length of 30”, and it weighs nearly 4 lbs. But this shouldn’t be an issue if you’re looking for an outstanding, heavy duty survival bow. Perhaps one of the best survival bows around.
The Spectre II survival bow is a great bow for people who are looking for a budget option. It retails for under $100, and it’s definitely one of the most affordable survival bows you can get your hands on.
It is available in four different draw weights – 25, 35, 45 and 55 pounds. Which means that this survival bow is great for beginners, especially the lighter poundage versions. However, it’s not a bow that you can really use for hunting, an experienced shooters should probably stay away from this one.
The max draw length of the bow is 30”, and this is true for all the four versions of the Spectre II. It measures between 46 and 60 inches when assembled, depending on the exact version of the bow you get.
Another thing that makes the Spectre II a great takedown bow for beginners is the general ease of use. This is one of the easier survival bows to string, and you can do it in just a couple minutes even without any actual prior experience.
When folded, this survival bow is 23” long, which will fit into the larger outdoor survival backpacks. In any case, the folded takedown bow can fit into the side pockets, provided that there are compression straps above to hold it in place.
The survival bow features a metal riser, for excellent durability and toughness, with fiberglass limbs for flexibility and sturdiness. And if you are after something compact, this is probably the best survival bow for you.
The SAS Tactical survival bow is one of the best compact options out there. This survival bow folds down to a length of 21”, which means it will easily fit into most outdoor backpacks. If you’re looking for a bow that is easy to transport, this is by far the best survival bow. When strung, the total length of the bow is 60”, with an average 28” draw for all the different versions.
It also helps that the SAS Tactical survival bow weighs only 2.2 lbs, thanks to the lightweight but sturdy aerospace T6 grade aluminum. Another thing that makes this bow extra portable is the fact that you can store several arrows into the riser, so you will have all the necessary equipment at the same spot.
This survival bow is available in 45, 50 and 55 pound versions, with each of those offering options for both left and right hand orientations. Newer archers, especially those are very slim or have a small body type, are advised to go with lower poundage bows, because they will be much easier to handle.
The maximum draw length of the SAS Tactical survival bow is 31”, and this is the same regardless of the poundage of the bow. The arrow speed does depend on the poundage though, and it maxes out at 200 ft/s for the 50 pound version, and 210 ft/s for the 55 pound bow.
The WTA Magnum Bow is one of the shortest compound bows on the market. Its axle to axle length is only 20”, so it is actually very compact. And with a draw weight range of 40-60 lbs, it’s a pretty tough bow suitable even for hunting.
Even though it’s small, it’s not a very portable survival bow. You can’t fold it down, so you can’t really put this in your backpack. But, the length does make it easier to attach this to your pack with a carabiner, or to just carry it in your hands.
Actually, this is a surprisingly tough survival bow, considering the small size. The let off at max draw weight is 85%, which means that you’re left with holding just 9 lbs, as opposed to 60. This makes it much easier to control the bow, and allows you to take your time while aiming at the target.
The high let off makes this survival bow really easy to use and control, so it is an excellent option for beginners. You won’t struggle too much to control the bow, which will make the entire experience much more enjoyable.
In addition to that, it doesn’t hurt that this is a really fast survival bow. It features an IBO speed of 320 FPS, which guarantees nearly perfect accuracy even at longer distances.
This survival bow has aluminum cams, which are very durable but also lightweight. Actually, the entire bow is pretty light at only 3 lbs, which makes sense considering the compact size.
If you’re looking for a survival bow that’s suitable for your children, the Escalade Sports Bear survival bow is a great option. It is recommended for kids older than 12, and who have at least some experience in archery. This bow is available in three different lengths, so pick one according to the height and physical strength of your child.
The draw weight varies on the length of the bow, from 25 to 29 lbs, which should be light enough for your kids to handle. However, it is important to note that this survival bow is suitable for right handed people only, and there is no option for lefties.
All the bows are made from lightweight multi-laminate, and they are very sturdy. You can detach the limbs from the riser, which makes this survival bow easy to store – you could even keep it in your backpack. However, that would mean you’d have to assemble it on-site, which might be a tad awkward depending on the weather conditions.
Another thing worth noting that this is a recurve bow, which doesn’t have any let off like the compound bows do. So, it’s slightly harder to control, as you have firmly hold on to the entire weight.
That’s another reason why this is the best survival bow for kids who are already somewhat experienced in archery – if your child has never held a bow in their life, you’re best off getting them a compound bow with a high let off.
The Escalade Sports Bear survival bow does not come with arrows or any accessories, and it retails for some $100. It is a bit pricey for what you get, but the quality of build does make up for the lack of accessories.
The SAS Scorpii survival bow is another great mid-range option. This is a compound bow, which retails for about $120 for just the bow. If you haven’t owned a compound bow before, then this a great entry-level option to get.
One cool thing about this survival bow is that you can opt to get just the bow, or a bundle that includes some accessories you would probably buy anyway. However, all of the options include the exactly same 29” bow – if you were hoping for something faster or stronger, I’m sorry to have to disappoint you.
The SAS survival bow features adjustable draw length that ranges from 19” to 29”. The draw weight also varies from 30 to 55 pounds, which is pretty great for beginners. People who don’t have a lot of experience in archery will find it much easier to control the bow at 30 pounds draw weight, especially with the 68% let off this bow has.
In addition to that, the max speed of this bow is 260 fps, which is very good. It is very accurate on short distances, but it’s not the best options if your target is very far away.
Another thing worth noting is that the limbs of this survival bow are made from compressed ABS. The materials is often used in hardside luggage, and it’s one of the lower quality materials that suitcases are made from. ABS is known to crack under a lot of pressure, and it is nowhere near as durable as fiberglass or carbon fiber, which are used in the more expensive survival bows.
The Rapture is a compact bow by Xepctre, Inc. The brand is popular for their high quality survival gear, which includes everything from bows to cutting tools and backpacks. So, if you’re looking for a folding bow that will fit into bigger backpacks, this is another great option.
One thing to note is that the folded length of the bow is 23”, so it’s not going to fit into every bag. Sure, you won’t have an issue finding a spot for this in your big survival backpack, but with smaller bags you will have to put it in a side pocket or attach it to the front panel.
This survival bow features a draw weight of 40 to 50 pounds, with a maximum draw length of 30”. It can be used by both right handed and left handed people, which is pretty cool – with most other bows, you actually have to choose your preference.
The riser of the Rupture survival bow is made from aluminum, and it is very lightweight but tough. The limbs, on the other hand, are made with Supersil poly- resin fiberglass – a very durable material that is found in a variety of the brand’s other bows. And honestly, it is impressive how lightweight this bow is; the entire set (including arrows and the pouch) weighs less than 2lbs!
Another thing worth noting is that the Xpectre survival bow is quite affordable. It retails for less than $150, and that includes both the arrows and the rugged case. So, not only is this survival bow incredibly lightweight and portable, but it is also one of the cheapest compact survival bows you can get your hands on!
The PSE Pro Max survival bow is a lightweight takedown recurve bow that’s great for entry level shooters. This is a good option for children, since it doesn’t have a high draw weight. It maxes out at 25 lbs, and there isn’t any let off like you have with compound bows.
That should be fairly simple to control, but you should still have your kids practice with something even simpler, before you let them start shooting with this one. Additionally, this bow is only available in one size, so you really should think about whether or not it will be too big for your kids.
It is recommended for children who are 11 or older, but it really does depend on their height and build. This survival bow is 62” long, which will be too big for kids that are still pretty small.
The great thing about this takedown bow is that you get all the accessories you need with it. It is excellent value for money, which makes it a great option for people who are just getting into archery.
The bundle includes carbon arrows, a wooden handle, a sight, an arrow rest and a quiver. You’ll get everything you might need for a little over $100, and you’ll be ready to start target practice as soon as this package arrives.
Another thing worth noting is that the bow features a three-piece design, which means you are able to detach the limbs from the riser. This makes it super portable and you can even fit it in a backpack for easy transport.
The D&Q Archery survival bow is one of the best recurve bows you can get. It features fibreglass limbs and bamboo laminates that are very flexible and durable. This bow is available in a wide variety of draw weights, ranging from 20 to 60 lbs, so there are options for everyone, regardless of your skill level.
However, even though there are multiple draw weights to choose from, it is important to note that none of the bows have let off. So, don’t go for the 60 pound bow just because it is the strongest – you have to be an experienced archer who is able to handle that amount of weight, if you want to be able to make use of your bow.
Another thing worth noting is that the bow costs the same, regardless of which draw weight you go for. It is one of the pricier recurves, but it comes with an accessory bundle, so it’s actually really good value for money.
Along with the survival bow, you will also get an arm guard, a stringer (and string), a finger tab, an arrow rest, a quiver and 12 fiberglass bows. That’s pretty much everything you could need if you’re just getting into archery, and it makes this survival bow an excellent option for beginners.
Additionally, it’s also important to note that you can disassemble the limbs from the riser, which makes it super easy to store the bow when not in use. When taken apart, the bow will easily fit into your hiking backpack, so you will be able to take it anywhere.
The Sage recurve bow is another great option if you want something tough but lightweight. It features an olive dymondwood and hard maple laminated riser, for excellent flexibility and durability.
The limbs of the bow are made from fiberglass, so they are extra tough. And you can remove them from the riser, for easy storage and transport of the bow. Actually, the bow will arrive disassembled and stored in a neat foam case that will keep it protected. But it’s not a case you could actually use to transport the bow everywhere, since the case is really bulky.
You’ll also get a lot of accessories with this bow – an arm guard, a finger tab, a stringer and string, and a neat paper target so you can do some practice. Unfortunately, no arrows are included in the purchase of this bow.
You can get this survival bow in quite a lot of different poundage options, ranging from 20 to 60 lbs. So, there are options for both beginners and the more experienced shooters, which is what makes this bow great for so many different people. And it is available in both a right handed and left handed version!
Another thing worth noting is that the Sage bow limbs can be purchased separately, so that you can always increase or decrease the draw weight however you need. Also, the bow has a max draw length of 29”, which is pretty good for a lightweight survival bow.
The Samick Sage Takedown Recurve Bow is a favorite amongst survival bow hunters. It is a very strong and reliable survival bow that is also easy to set up and find replacement parts for. Some reviewers on Amazon even ran over it (accidentally) with their truck and it still came out shooting straight as an arrow.
It comes complete with both a B-50 wow string and and an arrow rest, so you will be good to go right out of the box. Just be aware that in order to maintain the warranty of this takedown bow you have to string it with a stringer tool. They recommend the one from Southwest Archery.
The construction is also quite impressive as it uses limbs made with hard maple combined with black fiberglass to ensure strength and longevity.
Finding the right survival bow is not an easy task even for those who have years of experience. But we’re dedicating this section to people who are just getting into archery, and don’t know that much about choosing the right bow.
I will tell you all you need to know about poundage, draw speed, let off, draw length and all those other terms, and what they mean in terms of bow performance. If you already know all this by heart, feel free to skip over this section. :>
The max draw length of a bow pretty much defines what you are able to do with it. There are a couple things to keep in mind here, all of which are already well known to experienced shooters. But if you’re new to archery, here’s what to look for when it comes to draw speed and poundage.
It’s quite simple actually; the max poundage of a bow refers to the amount of energy that is created when you pull back the arrow. So, if a bow has a poundage of 45 lbs, that means that, when you pull back that arrow, you are holding up to 45 lbs of energy in your hand.
Obviously, that’s not easy to control or handle, which is why it’s recommend that inexperienced archers pick up some simpler bows. On the other hand, the higher the poundage, the more you can do with a bow. While a 30 pound bow might be great for someone who is just getting into archery, they wouldn’t be able to hunt big game with it. For that, you need some really heavy-duty bows, with a poundage of at least 60 lbs.
With higher poundage comes higher draw speed, which also means better accuracy. The best hunting bows have a draw speed over 300 ft/s, which allows you to hunt big game from a distance and still be really accurate.
Another thing worth noting is that bows with really high poundage are never lightweight and compact. This is reserved for compound bows, which have cams, idler wheels and exceptionally durable limbs. The cams are the part of the bow that allows for let-off, which basically means that the overall amount of weight you are holding is reduced, but the energy is not. So, if a 60 pound bow has 80% let off, that means that you’re only holding 60 lbs minus 80%, so 12 lbs.
Do you want a heavy duty survival bow, or something portable and lightweight?
If you’re looking to get a survival bow that will fit in your backpack, then you should look at compact bows. These are the ones that can be folded, and they feature really simple and lightweight design. You usually have to string them yourself, since these will arrive folded. But they are by far the most portable options – they measure only 20-24” when packed up, and they take up very little space in your survival backpack.
Some of the best compact bows, like the SAS Tactical, even allow you to store arrows into the riser, so that you have all the necessary equipment easily accessible in one place.
However, compact bows are not as strong or as fast as compound bows, and they are rarely suitable for hunting big game. You can use them for fishing and hunting small game, provided that you’re experienced enough at shooting.
Recurve bows are also great if you want something portable, because you can usually take them apart. And when disassembled, they easily fit into any hiking backpack so they’re almost as portable as compact bows. But they don’t have any let off like compound bows do, and they’re not as portable as compact bows, so they are not my first choice.
On the other hands, recurve bows are usually quite sturdy and durable, and they are great for beginners. If you’re just getting into archery, or want to get your kid a decent survival bow, a recurve might just be the way to go.
Don’t forget the takedown bow as well, which is more about compactness than anything else, but it’s another option for a survival bow.
Compound bows are the more elaborate ones, which have more moving parts. They have cams, which are those tiny wheels as the axles, which help you control the string. These bows usually allow for greater draw weight, length and faster arrow speed. But you can’t fold them and they will not fit into your backpack, so they’re definitely not a good option if you want something portable.
Additionally, compound bows tend to be more expensive than compact ones, so they’re not exactly great for people on tight budgets. You can find some affordable compound bows, but they’re not the best performing options, especially for experienced archers.
Honestly – compound bows usually aren’t even considered survival bows, because they are bulky, heavy and not portable. But if your idea of surviving includes hunting big game and really becoming a pro at archery, then you will likely need such a bow to get by. And that’s why I decided to include a couple of compound bows as well.
Not entirely sure which of survival bows is the best one for you? Go with one of our top three choices and you won’t have any regrets!
The SAS Tactical bow is easily one of the best survival bows you can get. It is pretty much the definition of a good survival bow – it is 21” long when folded so that it will into almost all backpacks, but it is still very strong, durable and fast. With a max draw weight of 55 lbs and a draw speed of 200 ft/s, this can even compete with some of the best compound bows out there!
The PSE Stinger Max is by far the best bow for experienced shooters. It might not be a survival bow per se, in the sense that it is not simple and lightweight, but it is one of the few bows featured here that you can actually use for hunting. So, if you’re really serious about archery and want a bow that will let you hunt big game if it comes to it, this is without a doubt the one to buy. It features a max draw weight of 70 lbs with 80% let off, and a draw speed or 312 fps for nearly perfect accuracy.
If you’re just getting into archery or want to get a survival bow for your kid, go with the Escalade Sports Bear bow. It’s a great bow for beginners because it is very durable, but it’s also pretty easy to control. With a max draw weight of 29 lbs, even 12 year olds can learn how to control it -provided they have some previous experience in archery. Plus, you can disassemble it, so it will be really easy to carry in your favorite backpack!
Head over to Amazon to see the prices of these bows, and all the different draw speeds that are available. And be sure to check out our related posts, for ideas on other things you need in your ultimate survival kit!