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Martin Saber Recurve Review

In the post below, we'll take a look at the Martin Saber Elite. Martin has a long and fascinating history making bows, and like many long-lasting bow companies, they started as a family affair and grew and grew and grew until "Martin" became a really well-known name.

They've got some really gorgeous one-piece bows, and they've got some interesting take-down bows, but this one is fascinating. It's got some very unique design features—especially for a recurve bow—and it's attractive, to boot. In many ways, it a recurve trying to be a compound, and we haven't seen too many bows like that. 

So how does the Saber add up? Let's dive into our Martin Saber Recurve review and get to it.

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Saber Features: What We Like

We'll look at the pros first:

It's Designed to Dramatically Reduce Vibration During Arrow Release

This is probably one of the stand-out features of this bow: it's got some design features inside the riser that reduce a little bit of that "twang and shake" you get with a lot of recurve bows. That's a wonderful thing, because there are a lot of recurve bows out there—even some really good recurves out there!—that shake like a leaf when you shoot them, and resonate loudly as they shoot the arrow.

The tech that Martin uses is call "Vibration Vortex V.E.M.," and it's got two of these models mounted inside the riser, to dissipate some of the energy that's released when you let go of your bow string and release an arrow. We're going to be very open and honest with you: we only *kind of* understand what "vibration vortex" is. Vortex-induced vibration is craaaaaaazy complicated, and so we're going to keep it simple as say, "The Saber Elite features tools inside the riser that dampen vibration.”

That feature is actually a big deal, and it’s one of the things that makes it a slightly better bow than its brother, the Martin Jaguar Recurve.

Keep in mind, you can still take further measures to quiet the bow and reduce vibration—you can add string silencers if you want, and there's a port in the riser for a stabilizer, too.

The other stand-out feature of the Martin Saber would most likely be...

The Grip is Very Comfortable and Snug

Recurve bows tend to have a slight edge over compound bows in the "comfortable grip" department, and we think that's the case here. The handle is contoured in the tradition of most recurve bows, and the grip leans slightly forward so that it feels natural during the shot cycle, but also so that you can get that nice "fall-forward" effect after you let an arrow loose.

The riser grip is more than just comfort, though—it, too, features some vibration-dampening tech, and it features Martin's "Thermal Elite" grip that further reduces shake and vibration, so that arrows flying off your arrow rest experience less disturbance in their flight path. That's obviously a good thing.

There's one last thing about the riser that we should mention, and it's something we imagine most people will like:

There's a Lot of Area on the Riser for Add-Ons

There's a port on the side of the riser for a bow sight (multi-pin, if you so desire), and there's a port in the front for a stabilizer (long or short, depending on your needs), and there's room above the shelf for an arrow rest.

That's a nice feature, and if you want to shoot or hunt with a recurve but don't like the more traditional recurves out there (which typically don't have ports for any of those aim-enhancing pieces of equipment), this can be a very nice feature.

The Saber Elite Has a Really Aggressive Look

You didn't think we'd get through this Martin Saber review without talking about how the bow looks, did you? We hate to admit it, but we're looks-obsessed. There's no "inner beauty" when it comes to bows, so we don't think it's too wrong to talk about a bow's "outer beauty," and bows don't have feelings, so we don't feel too bad. 

And, you can rest assured, if we're bringing up looks, chances are we like the bow we're looking at. In the case of the Martin Saber Elite, we like the way it looks very much.

First of all, it's manufactured in various patterns, including camo. It's not hard to find a compound bow in a camo pattern—in fact, sometimes, it's hard to find a compound bow in a pattern that's NOT camo—but it can be very difficult to find a recurve bow in a camo pattern. The Saber is made in a pattern that looks like it came right out of the woods.

Second of all, it's got a deflex riser, wherein the riser itself juts backwards towards archer. On most recurve bows, the entire bow is more of an arc, but on a deflex recurve, the handle of the riser is closer to the archer. That gives it a more aggressive look—and it also effects the brace height, which we'll discuss in a minute.

So, thumbs up for the looks on the bow. Recurve bows have a tendency to *always* look traditional, and while that's fine—traditional bows are usually gorgeous, after all—it's nice to see a recurve have a more assertive, "pugnacious" look.

It's Quick (Although Maybe a Little Unforgiving)

Remember above, we mentioned the Saber's deflex riser? Well, that design doesn't only make it look cool—it's actually a design feature included so that you can increase the speed of your arrows.

As a general rule, bows with a shorter brace height shoot arrows that are really fast. If you've ever seen an advertisement for a bow brag about a short brace height, that's why—when a bow has a shorter brace height, it pushes the arrow for a longer period of time, imbuing it with more of the stored energy from the limbs.

(If you want to learn more, there's a great article on brace height here).

The only problem is that shorter brace heights can make it a little more difficult to aim accurately. The longer the arrow is attached to the bow string, the more likely it's going to experience some disturbance from any imperfections in the archer's form, and that's one of the endless trade-offs you'll find in the world of archery and bow hunting.

Just for reference, on the Martin website, the brace height on the Saber is between 6 3/4 inches and 7 1/2 inches. Most recurves have a brace height that starts at 7 1/2 inches, so that really is a low brace height.

There's one last aspect of the riser that we should mention...

It's a True Takedown—Great for Traveling

Because it's a recurve, you can take it apart and throw it in a backpack. That's great if you're traveling, but it's also great if you're a bow hunter and you really like to go deep into your hunting environment.

That doesn't seem like much, but there aren't too many takedown recurves that 1) are up to the task of bowhunting, and 2) are camo, so it's actually a really great thing about the Saber. Hoofing it mile after mile with a full-length bow on your back/backpack can be a drag, so it's great that you can break this one down, get to where you want to be, and re-assemble. You do need an Allen key / hex wrench, so keep that in mind.

Alright, as much as we like the Saber Elite, there are a few things that aren't perfect, that you may want to keep in mind, so let's talk about them.

The Saber Elite: Some Negatives

We've reviewed hundreds of bows and hundreds of pieces of archery gear, and we can tell you without hesitation: there is no perfect piece of archery equipment. It's just not out there. With that in mind, here are the "cons" of the Saber:

It's a Little on the Heavy Side

On the Martin Archery website, it lists the bow as 3.4 pounds. That’s not the worst thing in the world—especially because you don't want to aim a recurve for too long, because it doesn't have the let-off that compound bows do—but it's still something to keep in mind, especially if you like reallllly long practice sessions (and we're big proponents of practice sessions).

If you're used to "recreational" recurves like the Samick Sage, you may find this a little bit on the dense side, so if that's a problem, you may want to consider a lighter bow, or make peace with the idea of gaining a lot of strength as you shoot with a heavier recurve.

You'll Need an Allen Key to Attach the Limbs

Not a big deal, and hex keys are super easy to use—the more you're in the archery game, the more you'll have to use them—but plenty of people have become used to the "tools-free" setup you'll find on a lot of recreational bows, so we just want to let you know you won’t' be able to do that on the Saber.

It's Not Designed for Shooting Off-the-Shelf

This is another peculiarity of the Saber: it's not designed for shooting off the shelf.

If you look, you'll see that the shelf is actually reeeeaaaaaaally wide. Maybe that's because of the tech in the riser that gobbles up vibration, but whatever the reason is, you're not supposed to shoot arrows off that shelf. It's too wide, and there's nothing to keep the arrow in place, and there's no telling where they would go after you shot it.

So you'll need an arrow rest. Luckily, there's one that comes with the bow, but you can always replace it if you want. 

It's Manufactured (At Present) In Right-Hand Only

Sorry, lefties! No Saber Elite for you.

Wrapping Up: "Saber" Is a Funny Name, If You Think About It…

Alright, we've come to the end of our Martin Saber Recurve review. We think it's a solid choice for target shooting, and it's nice and quiet and steady—and capable of shooting arrows with great speed—so it can be a great option for bow hunting. It's a little on the heavy side, so keep that in mind, and you won't be able to shoot of the shelf, so you "shoot-off-the-shelf" folks may want to look at another bow. For everyone else, we think it's a capable (and attractive!) option.

Alright—y'all be good now, you hear? Peace, love, and straight shooting!

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