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Published Jul 27, 2023 11:00 AM
Like everything in archery and bowhunting, you must match your equipment—including your arrow rest—to your shooting expectations and hunting style. For instance, you want to avoid coming west for high-country mule deer with a circular whisker biscuit attached to your bow’s riser. The “whiskers” contact the arrow, slow it down, and create arrow interference which will be noticeable beyond 40 or 50 yards.
If you’re a whitetail and turkey hunter who dusts your compound bow off a week before each season, hunts a little, and then puts your bow back in the case, you don’t need a $300 drop-away arrow rest with all the bells and whistles. To help you choose the right one for you, I’ve reviewed the best arrow rests by category below from Quality Archery, Trophy Ridge, and more.
How We Picked the Best Arrow Rests
There are so many arrow rests to choose from, and when you start slugging certain arrow rests with award labels, things get sticky. However, rest easy (pun intended). I’ve thoroughly tested every arrow rest in this article both on the range and in the field. I have been testing compound bows, hunting arrows, and bow accessories for 20-plus years, and the products I pick aren’t by chance. I want you to have equipment you can depend on and that will meet your needs.
I watched a world-class archer win a local 3-D shoot with a whisker-biscuit arrow rest attached to his bow. He did it to prove a point: that a non-drop-away arrow rest would get the job done to the furthest shot distance of the shoot (43 yards). Granted, it didn’t hurt that he was a world-class shooter.
Two weeks later, at the Colorado State Championships, I noticed his favorite drop-away arrow rest was back on his bow. He dominated the field. Most shots at this 3-D shoot were between 43 and 62 yards. He also won the long-shot money shoot when he put an arrow in the 12-ring of a lesser-sized Delta Mckenzie 3-D deer target from 119 yards.
I pen both stories for a pair of reasons. First, you don’t need a fancy-to-do drop-away rest if you don’t plan to shoot beyond 40 yards. Second, nothing boosts your long-range proficiency like a perfectly timed and tuned drop-away rest.
The to-come arrow rests have proved their salt. I have used them all—some more than others—but the arrow rests I have less experience with, I lean on a group of remarkable archers/bowhunters for additional advice.
Best Arrow Rests: Reviews and Recommendations
- .0019 thousands of an inch per adjust click windage and elevation
- Dual dovetail mounting clamps
- Full arrow containment with capture bar
- Aircraft grade aluminum launcher arm
- Mounts to the back of the bow’s riser and not the Berger hole
- Rapid arm fall away with no bounce back
- Ultra micro-adjust windage and elevation for precise tuning
- High-grade plastic containment arm
I have no problem telling you I’m a Quality Archery Designs (QAD) snob. I love their rests, and the Integrate MX is the manufacturer’s best build to date. The rest mounts to the back of most modern-day bow risers via a pair of dovetail slits, making a rest mounting bar and screw obsolete. Plus, the streamlined connection to the back of the bow’s riser melts the rest into the riser. The rest locks to the riser with a two-part locking system, so it will never move or rotate.
The cable-driven design is easy to tune thanks to laser-engraved markers, and QAD brands the rest itself as 60 percent lighter than most other top-tier drop-away rests. The micro-adjust windage and elevation in .0019 thousandths mean maximum tunability and precision.
- Integrate Mounting System
- All-aluminum construction
- Works with all arrow diameters
- Full-containment arrow rest with no chance of arm failure
- Laser-engraved windage and elevation reference marks
- Tool-less windage and elevation adjustments
- V-shaped design centers the arrow with fewer points of contact
- Bristles contact the arrow
- Lack of rigidity
Trophy Ridge wrote the book on non-fall-away arrow rest design, and its original Whisker Biscuit has been a fan favorite for over a decade. The latest rendition of a tried-and-true favorite, the V Max adopts QAD’s Integrate Mounting System. With the IMS, the V Max attaches seamlessly to the back of the bow’s riser. The V-shaped design of the rest better centers the arrow using fewer contact points. This means less side-to-side arrow movement and increased accuracy, even at longer ranges.
The perpendicular bristles reduce drag, which cuts down on friction and loss of arrow speed, while the all-aluminum build adds durability and longevity. Bonus: You don’t need any tools to adjust the windage and elevation.
- Integrate Mounting System
- 14 color options
- Launcher arm supported for 70 percent of shot cycle
- Limb pad prevents cord slippage
- Arrow-grabbing shag pad cradles the arrow during the draw cycle
- Top or bottom limb attachment
- Micro-adjust windage and elevation via hex head and lock screw
- Only limb-driven options are available
Arrow rest builders worth their salt are jumping on the QAD Integrate Mounting System bandwagon—the Berger hole is out, and the IMS is in. This Vapor Trail arrow rest is highly customizable with 14 interchangeable colors to choose from, meaning you can match the color of the rest to your bowstring, vanes, wraps, etc. The removable side pulley arm lets you mount the rest to the top or bottom limb for additional versatility, while the free-floating launcher arm supports the arrow for 70 percent of the shot cycle to boost shot-to-shot consistency better.
The rubber over-mold on the full capture cage allows for silent arrow loading, and I love the cage’s full containment, which is especially helpful on spot-and-stalk bow hunts. With the mounting bracket and screw removed, the rest weighs a mere 4.1 ounces.
- Integrate Mounting System
- Limb driven
- Ball bearing drive system
- Over-molded launcher adds stealth
- Internal dampening system reduces noise
- Easy-adjust cord tension
- FlexFit launch pad cradles the arrow before you draw
- Small thumb wheel
- Weak full containment
You should get excited when you find a quality limb-driven rest with IMS mounting for under $200. A great buy and an excellent rest, the RipCord Drive IMS features a full-containment RipCage locks the arrow in place for worry-free bow maneuverability. You can attach this limb-driven rest to either the top or bottom limb. The well-designed ball-bearing drive system ensures friction-free smoothness, allowing the whale-tail launcher to rise and drop uniformly. This sure-to-center-the-arrow launcher also has angle adjustment, which means increased tuning.
- .250-inch vertical micro-adjust
- .375-inch horizontal micro-adjust
- .625-inch torque-tune adjust with rail
- 20- to 60-degree blade angle adjustment
- Protective lizard tongue cover for added protection
- Lower housing is removable from the torque-tune rail for safe storage
- Torque-tune rail can be shot on or off
- Torque-tune adjust allows you to tune the rest to your sweet spot
Built from stainless steel and high-grade aircraft aluminum, the QAD Integrate TRI promises durability in a streamlined design. Built around QAD’s now-legendary Integrate Mounting System, it offers what’s arguably the most secure rest-to-riser attachment possible. Numerous adjustments—each independent of the other—and locking features allow you to tune the TRI to your exact liking. Once tuned, you can rest easy thanks to the secure locking vertical, horizontal, pitch and torque, which ensure zero chance of movement.
Micro-adjustable horizontal and vertical knobs are branded with a solid hash-mark system, and a protective patent-pending lizard tongue cover prevents any chance of blade damage during practice sessions and competition shoots. With the torque-tune adjustable repeatable stop, you can also swap rests in and out and always return a rest to its exact setting. That means no more showing up to competitions with multiple bows.
- .003-inch per click windage and elevation
- Stainless steel ball bearings for added stability
- C.O.R. Mount Technology sets center shot by design
- Top or bottom limb-driven design
- Can be mounted in line with the riser
- Over-molded arrow containment bracket makes for easy loading
- Rebound Dampener System means no bounce back
- Multiple mounting options
- Only limb-driven options are available
To reduce weight, boost tunability, and create a streamlined connection between the riser and rest, Hamskea gives compound shooters its Epsilon w/ C.O.R. Riser Interface Bracket. The C.O.R. bracket allows you to mount the rest in line with the riser via a system that locks into the dovetail slits in many of today’s flagship bow risers.
Detent micro-tune ensures additional windage and elevation adjustments and Zero Tolerance technology eliminates lateral shaft movement. An elastomeric Rebound Dampener helps mitigate the shock transferred from the limb to the rest during the shot. Plus, the Hamskea Delta V Arrow Guide and Riser Mounted Arrow Glide are included.
What to Consider When Choosing an Arrow Rest
Match your rest choice to your shooting expectations and your style of hunting. For instance, if you’re a Western bowhunter who roams the sunlit plains and high alpine basins, shots at game could be beyond 60 yards. I recommend a drop-away arrow rest to achieve spot-on accuracy at longer distances. And, of course, a top-end drop-away rest will work just as well should that Western hunter go east in search of whitetail nirvana.
A 3-D shooter who shoots his/her hunting compound and a standard fixed-position sight, doesn’t need a top-tier competition-style rest, but a shooter looking to climb the podium at a National IBO or ASA does.
We initially covered this, but this is an excellent time to drive the point home. You don’t need an ultra-pricy rest on your compound bow if you never plan to send carbon past 40 yards. A fixed-position rest will handle this chore, and it will save you over $150, in most instances.
Q: What is a drop-away rest?
With a drop-away arrow rest—sometimes called a fall-away rest—the arm of the rest comes to static at full draw but drops out of the way of the speeding arrow to prevent contact with the arrow. Though the launcher still supports the arrow for much of the draw cycle, it falls away at the shot.
Q: What is a fixed-position rest?
Less expensive yet super reliable, a fixed-position arrow rest doesn’t move at the shot. In most cases, the arrow passes through a small hole surrounded by bristles.
Q: How much do arrow rests cost?
You can get a solid fixed-position rest for under $100, but most drop-away rests will be over the $180 mark, especially for models with IMS technology.
Q: What is a Berger hole, and what is IMS?
The Berger hole is a threaded hole in the riser above the arrow shelf that is used to mount a rest bar. In recent years, IMS technology—which refers to slits in the back of the bow’s riser that allow for streamlined rest-to-back-of-riser-face mounting—has become popular.
Best Arrow Rests: Final Thoughts
The excellent news for compound bow owners in the market for a new arrow rest is that we are living in an era of options. You will have plenty of rest choices, from fixed-position to drop-away to target-style rests. Match your rest style to your shooting and hunting needs, and you can’t go wrong with any of these best arrow rests.
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