PSE Razorback Review
Recurve bows can be a little puzzling, because they look pretty simple—after all, it's just two limbs, a riser (handle), and a bow string—but there's actually a lot of "hidden features," and not all bows are created equal. Choosing the right bow can be difficult, and that's especially true if you're new to archery.
In the post below, we'll look at a bow that a lot of new archers consider: the PSE Razorback. It's got some real strengths—and a few weaknesses!—and we'll discuss each of its characteristics and features in detail.
SUMMARY: THE PSE RAZORBACK REVIEW
The Razorback is a nice mix of "just-the-basics" and adjustability. It comes relatively "bare," meaning it doesn't come with a bow sight, or an arrow rest, or any other gear—but it's designed so that you can add that gear if you like. It's got a solid design and it's made for durability, while also featuring a lightweight handle, which can make it easy to hold—and that makes it a great option for longer practice sessions. Because PSE manufactures the bow in low draw weights—at present, they make it with draw weights of 15 pounds, 20 pounds, 25 pounds, and 30 pounds—it may not be a great option if you've got a lot of upper-body strength and/or are looking to shoot arrows at great speed or with great force. If, however, you're a youth, young adult, or beginner archer looking for an easy-to-draw bow, this can be a solid option to learn on and develop your archery skills.
OK! That's the overview, now let's dive in and look at the details:
Razorback Features: What We Like
We’ll start with one of the Razorback’s best features:
The Razorback Is Very Easy to Set Up
This, perhaps, is one of the strongest features of the PSE Razorback: it's really simple to put together. It requires no tools for assembly—no Allen wrenches / hex keys / tuning instruments—and you can put it together with your bare hands.
That's a pretty fantastic feature. Archer can be an intimidating sport—there's a LOT of gear you can use, and a lot of that gear needs a lot of tuning to work correctly—and archery manufacturers FINALLY figured out that new archers get scared off by hard-to-assemble gear.
And, because it's designed to be so easy to set up...
It's a Great Starter Bow
When we look at a starter bow, we want to see that it's easy to assemble, but we also want to see that the bow is easy to use. It’s important that new archers get some "small wins" right off the bat, so that they can feel like it's possible for them to be capable archers.
When we were kids, "starter" bows were basically garbage, and they were incredibly unsatisfying to shoot. They were made from cheap materials, they didn't shoot straight, and they probably chased more people *away* from archery than they got on board. The Razorback is actually capable of shooting arrows with accuracy and allowing new archers to connect with the target—and that can mean the world to someone starting out.
We can't speak to your experience or how you'll use the bow, but it's designed for ease-of-use, and that's something we look for in a beginner bow.
One of the reasons it's an excellent option to develop your skills is...
It's Easy to Accessorize
We’ve mentioned that archery is a "gear-heavy" sport, and there are a lot of tools that archers use to increase their accuracy. In most cases, those pieces of equipment are attached directly to the bow itself, and the bow needs to be designed for those add-ons. The Razorback has multiple accessibility options, and you can install a bow sight, a stabilizer, a quiver, and some types of arrow rests.
We should mention, you don't need any of those items to use the bow—although you will need arrows, and those don't come with this bow—and you can have great shooting experiences without them. If you want to "upgrade" your bow, though, you've got the opportunity to do so.
It's Lightweight for a Recurve of Its Size
This isn't the most important thing we look for on a beginner bow, but it's a great feature.
Most people assume that a light bow is good because it can make it easier to shoot, and while that can be true, the real advantage of a lighter bow is that you can use it for longer practice sessions without getting too tuckered out. Archery is very much a "what-you-put-in-is-what-you-get-out" sport, and increased accuracy takes practice—using a lighter-weight bow can elongate your practice sessions, and make you a little less sore afterwards.
With that said...
The Razorback is Surprisingly Solid
Archery is one of those sports where everything is a trade-off. Very often, in order to get one advantage, you have to trade another.
For example, a longer bow can be more accurate, but is harder to draw; a bow with a taller brace height is more forgiving, but they shoot arrows that aren't as fast as bows with shorter brace heights; and a bow with a high draw weight can shoot blazing-fast arrows, but it's so heavy it can tucker you out after a few pulls. In order to get something, very often, you have to give something up.
(If those terms confuse you—don’t worry about it! They’ll make sense the more you learn about the sport).
The Razorback is both lightweight AND very solid—and that’s that rare “best of both worlds” situation, where you get an advantage, and don’t need to give anything up. It's crafted from walnut wood, burma white wood, and beech wood, and the limbs are made from hard maple and fiberglass (which is great for recurves because it has elastic properties), so the bow is designed for sturdiness.
That's a great quality—we mentioned old-school "starter" bows earlier, and they... how do we put this? They were not made to last. They were basically made to fall apart, so that you would then buy a better bow. The Razorback is *actually designed for long-term use,* and that's a real strength. Not only is it a great option to begin your archery journey and learn the ropes, but it's model to build your skills once you can past the amateur stage—it's durable enough for plenty of use.
PSE Is a Great Company with a Great History
We’ve seen a lot of archery companies come and go over the years, so it’s noteworthy when a manufacturer manages to stick around for a while. PSE Archery has been around for more than 35 years, and they've made a loooooooooooooooot of bows in that time, and even developed 20 individual patents. That’s really fantastic.
That's not the most important thing when you're looking at a bow—there are plenty of archery companies that don't have name recognition, and they make solid products—but it's definitely a good sign when an archery company stands the test of time.
Alright! So that's the "good stuff" section of our PSE Razorback review. Those are the features we like. But nothing is perfect, and neither is the PSE Razorback, so here's what we think you should know:
Razorback Features That Are Just OK...
Don't get us wrong—the Razorback is still a solid option, and we happily recommend (and use) it. But here are its imperfections:
It's Only Manufactured in One Size
And that size is 62 inches. It would be nice if this bow were offered in a wide range of sizes, especially because it's a beginner bow—archery beginners tend to come in all shapes and heights, so it would be nice if PSE made the bow in a few more sizes.
But... if you're going to make a bow in a single size, 62 inches would be a good choice! That size means it's a good bow for most people who stand a little over five feet tall and a little under six feet tall (you can get a better understanding of bow sizes in our post about the top recurve bows. There are plenty of recurves that are only made in one height, the most notable probably being the Samick Sage Recurve Bow (review).
It Has a Relatively Low Draw Weight Range
That's not really a point against the Razorback, because plenty of people need a lower draw weight, and that range—the bow is manufactured (at present) at 15 pounds, 20 pounds, 25 pounds, and 30 pounds—is just about perfect for archers in their teens and archers who have a little less upper-body strength.
That said, we’d like to see a wider range of draw weights, and if you're a super-muscular person with great upper-body strength, it's probably not a great pick.
We just mentioned the Samick Sage, and that bow is in fact similar to this one—but it's made in a wider—and higher—range of draw weights, and it may suit you better. The Samick Sage Recurve Bow is made in draw weights of 30 pounds, 35 pounds, 40 pounds, 45 pounds, 50 pounds, and 55 pounds (and in our humble opinion, anything about 35 pounds is getting up there, and requires some considerable strength to shoot over and over again).
So, if you're looking for a very strong bow capable of shooting arrows with great speed and force, the Razorback probably ain't it (and that also means it's not a great option for hunting, either). If you're looking for a nice, relaxed draw, that doesn't take too much effort, this may be a good option.
That Stabilizer is OK...
...but nothing special. Stabilizers are tools that eat up some of the vibration you'll feel in the riser when you release an arrow, and it can give you a little more accuracy on your shot. The Razorback features a stabilizer, and it's decent, but nothing great.
And, to be fair, that's OK. It's a little unreasonable to expect that a starter bow would feature an amazing, top-shelf stabilizer. But we just need to give you heads up, that you may want to get another one at some point.
Before We Wrap Up the Razorback...
There's one bit of advice we'd like to offer: if you *do* find yourself falling in love with archery, and you want to build up your Razorback, we recommend that you look into getting an Allen Wrench / hex key set.
While you don't need any tools to set up the Razorback, much of the gear you may want to add onto your bow will use an Allen Wrench, and it can be a pain to get a piece of gear you're excited about... and find out your don't have the tools to attach it to your bow. The Allen wrench aka hex key is the go-to tool for a lot of archery equipment (and it's great for a lot of around-the-house fixes, too). A simple Allen wrench, like the Bondhus Gorilla Grip, will usually do you just fine.
OK, Now We're Ready to Wrap Up the Razorback
We're big fans of PSE, and we recommend this bow to younger archers, young adults, and folks who are looking for a solid beginner bow that won't take too much upper-body strength to use. It's got a solid design and is built for wear-and-tear and long practice sessions, which can make it a great option if you're looking to get into archery. It's not a great option if you've got a lot of upper-body strength, in which case you may want to look at a bow with a higher draw weight. For everyone else, though, we think this is a solid option.
Alright, that's it from us! Good luck, have fun, and enjoy your archery journey!