Bear Grizzly Recurve Review
Bear Archery is a long and fabled company—and we'll talk about that below—but how does their Grizzly Recurve hold up? It featured its last design change in 1964, if you can believe it, so how does it compare to other high-end, one-piece bows that you'll find manufactured today?
We'll go over all that below, and talk about what we like about the Grizzly (and what we think you should keep in mind if you're interested in it). We'll start with an overview and then go into more detail:
SUMMARY: BEAR GRIZZLY RECURVE REVIEW
The Bear Grizzly is an aesthetically-pleasing bow that, if you care for it properly, can last the test of time, and go with you on your journey from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced archer. It's a great bow for the range, but it's designed specifically for traditional hunting, and it's got some great features to do so: ports for a side-mount quiver, a soft shelf to guide arrows, and leather side plate to lessen a little bit of that left-to-right motion that can happen on recurves. We strongly suggest you know what draw weight you can pull, because the Grizzly is a one-piece bow, and there's no changing the draw weight once you get it. We're big fans of Bear Archery and their history, and we think this can be a great option.
Now let's dive in...
Strengths of the Bear Grizzly
We'll be a little critical of this bow in the second half of this post, but for now, we're going to gush a little bit, so we'll start with something we think is apparent:
The Grizzly Is a Thing of Beauty
Yes, beauty is subjective, and what we may find beautiful, you may not find beautiful. So, to be clear: regardless of how you may feel about the Grizzly, we find this bow to be extremely attractive.
The design is sleek and streamlined, and riser is a deep red maple color. The limbs feature a black fiberglass on the belly and back, and the limb ends arc forward ("re-curve") dramatically at the top and bottom of the bow. At the end of the day, we're "form over function" people, because a bow needs to actually work in order for it to be worthwhile, but it sure is nice when it looks gorgeous, too.
The Grizzly Can Truly Be a Lifetime Bow
Alright, NOW we can dive into the more important features: Bear Archery has designed the Grizzly to be a bow that can last you many, many years. If you take proper care of your Grizzly, you can literally have it for decades. In fact, if you peruse the pages of Archery Talk, you might find some old-timers talking about how they're still using a Bear Grizzly that they bought in the 60s or 70s. That's not uncommon for one-piece bows like the Grizzly—they're built to last.
In recent years, we've seen a lot of great takedown bows enter the market, and many of them, including the Samick Sage, can be great options. We recommend them and we feel great about recommending them, and from the feedback we've gotten, people are very happy with them. But those takedown bows, by their nature, aren't meant to last—they're literally designed for you to take the limbs off and replace them. What you're really getting with those types of bows is a riser, and not a bow.
And that's one of the reasons we like bows like the Grizzly (as well as Bear's other iconic bow, the Bear Super Kodiak). If you've read our other reviews, you may notice that we have a tendency to "wax nostalgic" about certain bows and certain traditions, and one-piece bows are probably the most traditional and oldest bow of all.
It's Versatile, and You Can Use it for Target Shooting or Bow Hunting
Behind the long-lasting quality of the Bear, the second thing we like most about it is that it's a "dual-purpose" bow: you can take to the range for target shooting, and you can take it hunting.
And, in fairness... what bow can’t you take to the range for target practice? We always kind of chuckle when we see a review that says a certain bow is great for target practice, because at the very least, you should be able to shoot your bow at a target (and, to be fair, we also describe many bows as "good for target" practice, because there are a lot of people looking for bows who need to be reminded that certain bows are good for target practice).
But the real test of a bow is whether or not you can take it hunting. We have to be very careful about the bows we recommend, because some of them simply aren't up to the task of taking down game.
As you might have guessed, the Bear Grizzly is designed for bow hunting. It's got a compact design—you'll find plenty of longer bows, but the Grizzly is fairly short—and that's great for maneuvering a hunting environment. It's made in a range of draw weights, so you can select the draw weight needed to take down certain game (and we'll talk about this a bit later, because selecting draw weight is important). It's also got some nice design features that make bow hunting a little easier, and...
It Has a Quiver Port for You to Fasten a Bow Quiver
This is a nice touch, because traditional, one-piece bows didn't always have this feature. The Bear Grizzly has two accessory holes that enable you to add a side-mount quiver to hold your arrows, and that can save you a lot of grief if you're using the bow to hunt. Having to fumble around for arrows in a hip quiver or back quiver when hunting can be an almost comical pursuit.
If you do attach a side-quiver to the riser, we'd suggest you make a decision—either keep it on or keep it off—and then use the bow as much as you can. a side-mount quiver can slight affect the "feel" of the bow, and that can affect your shots, especially if you're shooting without a bow sight, as traditional archers so often do.
It's Great for Off-the-Shelf Shooting
Speaking of traditional archers, we should mention: The Grizzly is designed for "off-the-shelf" shooting, and Bear manufactures it with a bear hair arrow rest on the shelf, as well as an adhesive leather side plate, to eat a little bit of the left-to-right motion of your arrows. As far as we know, you can't add an arrow rest to the bow—we've never tried, because it makes the most sense to just use the bow as Bear makes it—so we can't speak to that.
It's Suitable for Archers of All Skill Levels
Behind durability, this is the another metric by which we measure bows, especially ones in our “best recurve bows” list: can you use it as you gain skill, and move from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced?
The answer here—as it is with many one-piece traditional bows—is yes, and it's designed to be the bow that you use throughout your career.
With that said, this may not be a great starter bow, and we'll talk about that below.
It's Manufactured in a Range of Draw Weights
That's kind of a rare thing among high-end, single-piece bows. Very often, bow manufacturers will make a single-piece bow in a single draw weight, and it either works for you, or it doesn't.
The Bear Grizzly, however, is made in draw weights of 30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 pounds. That's a great feature, we think, not only because it gives buyers a lot of choice, but it also allows more people to explore the world of traditional archery.
Bear Archery Has a Long and Romantic History
Remember how we mentioned earlier that we have a tendency to wax nostalgic? Well, here we are, at it again. You can skip this section if you don't like this sort of thing.
Certain industries have companies that have been around forever, and are "part of the firmament," if you will. There aren't too many companies in the archery world like that, which is kind of surprising, when you think about it, because bows have been around for tens of thousands of years. Bows literally pre-date recorded language, and we were using them long before the concept of a "company" even existed.
So you'd imagine that there would be more established bow companies here and there. But alas—there aren't really that many old bow companies!
And that's why we have a special place in our hearts for Bear. It is one of the oldest archery companies in the United States, and its founder—Fred Bear—is a fascinating man who dramatically changed the world of bow hunting (even though he didn't start bow hunting until the age of 29). The Bear Grizzly has not changed since 1964, when Mr. Bear himself made the last design change to it. That’s pretty neat.
Now, listen—does that tell us anything about the bow itself? Not really. And does it mean it's a good choice for a bow? Also, no. In fact, it has nothing to do with whether the Bear Grizzly is a good pick. But if you like archery and archery history—and get really wrapped up in that sort of thing—it can be fun and fascinating to know.
OK, so we're clearly fans of the Grizzly, but there are some other factors you'll want to keep in mind, and our Bear Grizzly Recurve review wouldn’t be complete without them. They're not necessary marks against the bow, but that may influence any decisions you'll make about it. So here they are:
The Grizzly: Some Things to Keep in Mind
There aren't many concerns about the Grizzly, but they include:
You'll Need to use Dacron Strings
While modern strings are faster, and just about better in almost every respect than traditional strings, the Bear Grizzly *is* a traditional bow, and you'll need to use "dacron" strings on it.
The strings that manufacturers currently make can chew up the top and bottom limb ends on the Grizzly, so as a precaution, Bear Archery recommends you use the dacron strings. People don't necessarily love dacron strings, although that—like so much else in archery—is a personal opinion.
You Need to Know Your Draw Weight
When you buy a one-piece bow, that’s your bow. There's no changing the limbs so that you can make the draw weight heavier or lighter, as you would on a takedown bow. The bow you get has a set draw weight, and that's that.
So you need to know your draw weight, and if you're a beginner, you probably don't know what draw weight you can handle—and that's why you need to be careful if this is for your first bow.
If that describes your situation, it may make sense to go to your local archery range and rent a couple of bows with different draw weights and see how they feel. Only then can you really have an idea of what kind of weight you should pull.
But there's another issue related to draw weight, and that is...
If You're Hunting Game, You Need to Know Your State's Required Draw Weight
Every state has a requirement when it comes to the game you want to hunt. For deer, in many states, the minimum draw weight is 35 pounds—so you'd need to bow hunt with a bow that has a draw weight of at least 35 pounds.
So, if you'll be using the Bear Grizzly to hunt, you need to buy a bow that meets your state's draw weight requirements for different types of game. If you're new to archery and/or bowhunting, that can be tricky.
You also need to recognize that if you have a lower-weight bow—say, 35 or 40 pounds—and you hunt deer or turkey with it, if you want to move onto bigger game, you'll need to use a bow with a heavier draw weight, as bigger game requires bows with heavier draw weights (and again, each state has requirements about draw weights and game). So if you get a Grizzly for deer hunting and that bow has a 40-pound draw weight, you may need to get a new one if you decide to hunt elk, which will probably require a higher draw weight.
That's not an argument for you to select the heaviest bow you can find, but just something you should be aware of.
Wrapping Up the Grizzly
Alright, that about wraps it up for us. The Bear Grizzly can be a great pick—and one that can last a while—but we recommend you know the exact draw weight you're looking for.
Good luck, happy shooting, and be safe!