5 Top Compound Bows for Hunters on a Budget

Don’t call them cheap. These bargain bows deliver plenty of performance and value

As the captain of Outdoor Life's annual Bow Test, I'm able to handle and shoot just about every flagship bow model available. These bows are marvels of engineering technology. They're fast, quiet, and yeah, damned expensive.

Dropping $1,000 (or more) on a flagship bow isn’t a purchase most hunters make lightly. In fact, it’s a purchase many bowhunters likely can’t make at all. Does that mean budget-minded archers have to settle for a sub-par bow?

Nope.

Here are five great bows that happen to be great bargains.

1. OBSESSION TURMOIL

Obsession Turmoil
The Obsession TurmoilObsession Archery

When the lineup to shoot a bow at the annual Archery Trade Association show reaches down the length of an aisle, that’s a pretty good indication that a new model is worth checking out.

I waited 15 minutes to shoot Obsession’s Turmoil. After a few arrows, I was moderately impressed. Yes, it was a smooth, fast machine. But Obsession has produced plenty of those. So why the special attention? The price tag. The Obsession sells for $699.

2. BASS PRO SHOPS BLACKOUT S3

Bass Pro Shops Blackout S3
The Bass Pro Blackout S3Bass Pro

The Blackout S3 is the very definition of a great buy, earning that honor in our 2017 Bow Test.

The bow sells for $549.97, which is a fair price for this excellent bow built with BowTech technologies including their vaunted binary cam system. But that $550 price tag includes more than just the bow. You get everything you need to hunt — a sight, rest, quiver, D-loop, and stabilizer.

3. MISSION BALLISTIC 2.0

mission ballistic compound bow
The Mission Ballistic 2.0.Mission Archery

Mission Archery is the price-focused arm of Mathews. Thus it stands to reason that Mission bows are pretty darned good. And they are. But, many of the models feature super-adjustability in bow draw lengths and draw weights. This is a very good thing when buying a bow that needs those features. The downside? Ultra-adjustable bows tend to lag a bit (some more than others) in features like backwall, draw cycle, and speed. The Ballistic 2.0 is not an ultra-adjustable model. In fact, it uses the same AVS cam system featured in previous Mathews flagship models. It’s fast (330 fps), has a great draw cycle and a rock-solid backwall. With a price of $599, it can compete with bows twice its price.

4. PSE BRUTE FORCE LITE RTS

PSE BRUTE FORCE LITE RTS

PSE Brute Force Lite compound
The PSE Brute Force Lite.PSE

PSE has built some of the best-performing bows in recent years, and some of the fastest.

The Brute Force Lite pushes arrows at 330 fps but does so without an overly harsh draw cycle thanks to its Madness Hybrid cam. That cam, by the way, offers plenty of adjustment and 80 percent let-off. The bow does exhibit a little jump at release, but overall accuracy was solid.

The bow weighs 3.8 pounds (1/2 pound less than the original Brute Force) and the RTS package is excellent — a Whisker Biscuit rest, AMP sight, sling, quiver, peep sight and D-loop. And at $549.99, it’s a terrific value.

5. QUEST FORGE D.T.H.

QUEST FORGE D.T.H.

Quest Forge
Quest Forgequestbowhunting.com

Quest is the child company of G5, builders of the PRIME line of bows. The folks at G5 take great pride in everything they build and the overlooked and underrated Quest line of bows are a great example. For starters, you’re looking at a sub-$600 bow with a machined riser of 6061 aluminum. You’ll be hard pressed to find another machined riser in this price range, especially one of the more rigid 6061 aluminum. The bow also features a roller guard instead of the cheaper cable slide — another high-end touch on a bargain-priced bow. For $529.99, you not only get a top-notch bow, you also get a killer package that includes a G5 tool-less sight, HALO rest, quiver, sling and a META peep.