The Best Bow Stabilizers for Hunting & Target Shooting
There's a reason why so many bows come with a bow stabilizer attached, and that's because stabilizers can provide in an incredible amount of accuracy to your shots. They may feel unwieldy at first, but when used properly, they can be a tremendous advantage when it comes to shot-after-shot precision.
So below, we'll go over our picks for the best bow stabilizers. As you read the sections below and go through the pictures, keep in mind that stabilizers are designed to enhance your ability to aim—and therefore, your shot-to-shot accuracy—for two main reasons:
1) The length and weight of the stabilizer provides heft and balance, allowing you to hover your bow sight directly over your target; and
2) The material of the stabilizer dampens the vibration you feel when you release an arrow, providing more bow steadiness and control.
Alrighty, then—with that in mind, let's jump in:
The Best Bow Stabilizer Reviews for 2020
We've reviewed dozens of different bow stabilizers, and here are the ones that come out on top, and what makes them unique:
The Bee Stinger Pro Hunter Maxx
- Pro hunter Maxx Stabilizer - 10 inch - matte black - new 2016
- Bee Stinger hunting Stabilizer
- Matte black
Of all the bow stabilizers we've reviewed, the Bee Stinger Pro Hunter Maxx gets our vote for the #1 bow stabilizer, and it can provide a really incredible amount of on-target steadiness and balance. Whatever you're doing—target archery, bowhunting, or just shooting for fun in the backyard—the Pro Hunter Maxx can provide an incredible amount of consistency and accuracy to your shots.
Here's why we like it (along with one or two minor gripes):
It's on the longer side. It's manufactured in lengths of 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches, which means there's something for just about everyone: target archers, who tend to like longer stabilizers, as well as bowhunters, who usually like to use medium-length stabilizers, because they're a little easier to maneuver in hunting environments.
Here's the 12-inch model here (and just for reference, the bow is a Diamond Infinite Edge Compound Bow, with a 31-inch axle-to-axle length):
Length, however, is only part of the story. The material of the bow stabilizer is 100% carbon, and it's designed to be ultra-rigid—meaning that the rod itself remains absolutely stationary during your shot, to help you center on your target and stay there.
It’s got an adjustable weight. In terms of weight, The Pro Hunter Maxx is unique among stabilizers: it's one of the few truly adjustable-weight stabilizers, and it comes with individual discs that you can add/remove them as you like, to allow for configurations of 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 ounces:
There are other adjustable-weight stabilizers out there, but not many with this range—you can add or subtract the individual weights as you like, making the stabilizer highly adjustable and suited to your personal shot cycle.
It's worth noting that a heavy bow stabilizer takes a lot more energy and strength to aim—and that's a negative, for sure—but it's a trade-off many are willing to make, because weight can provide incredible aiming capability and accuracy. It may take a second to get your pin on your target, but once it's there, a stabilizer like the Pro Hunter Maxx makes it much easier to keep it there.
Vibration Dampening Material. So, that covers the length and the weight. Both of those features are great, but neither of them does anything to reduce vibration in the bow after you release an arrow, and that's why Bee Stinger has integrated SIMs technology into the model itself. The Pro Hunter Maxx features SIMS Internal Harmonic Dampening material along the center of the stabilizer, to quell shakiness in your bow as you release an arrow.
It's also got some external vibration dampening material, as well—that's the SIMs De-Resonator material at the end of the stabilizers (it's the material right under the weighted discs):
That vibration-dampening material is one of the hallmarks of a high-quality stabilizer, and there's a lot of research and development that goes into it. On lower-end stabilizers, that material is just simple rubber, which is OK, but not great.
So there's a lot to like here—the Pro Hunter Maxx is designed to help you hold the bow with great steadiness both while you aim and in that millisecond when you release an arrow and all that freed energy pulses through your bow. We promised you a few gripes, though, and here they are:
That the weight can tucker you out after a while! If you don't have a lot of upper-body strength—or if you take a loooooot of time when aiming—you may want to check out the Bee Stinger Hunter Xtreme (which is basically just a lighter version of the Bee Stinger Maxx, and we'll talk about that in a second), or you can just take a few of the weights off.
The paint/finish on the length of the bow stabilizer is gorgeous out of the package but can get scraped up pretty easily. That's a cosmetic complaint, but as equipment junkies who like to keep their toys tip-top, that sort of thing can be irritating. The De-Resonator material can also be a little delicate, so you want to keep that away from your arrowheads/broadheads.
At the end of the day, though, those are minor complaints. The Pro Hunter Maxx is our top pick for best bow stabilizer overall, and our top pick for most versatile stabilizer.
Summary: The Bee Stinger Pro Hunter Maxx is high-end bow stabilizer that's incredibly versatile—it's great for bowhunting, 3-D shooting, field archery, and recreational shooting—and the weight and length of it can add an incredible amount of stability to your shots.
The Bee Stinger Sport Hunter Xtreme
- Sport hunter extreme - 8 inch - lost - new 2016
- Bee Stinger hunting Stabilizer
- The individual 1 oz. end-weights allow users to customize their stabilizer to meet the ideal balance requirements of their particular hunting bow.
The Bee Stinger Sport Hunter Xtreme is another solid option. We'll keep this bow stabilizer review brief, because the Sport Hunter Xtreme is very similar to the Pro Hunter Maxx—especially in its strengths. It even looks pretty similar, as you can see here:
So here’s what we like:
It’s got all the perks of Bee Stinger stabilizer. It's basically a smaller version of the Pro Hunter Maxx, but it's got many of the same high-end features, such as the:
> SIMS Internal Harmonic Dampening, which is the material *inside* the bow stabilizer, that Bee Stinger/SIMs developed to gobble up vibration during your shot, and the
> SIMs De-Resonator material, which is the external material at the end of the stabilizer, also designed to steady your during arrow release and provided added accuracy.
Those are the "tech" features that the Sport Hunter Xtreme shares with the Pro Hunter Maxx, and they’re both designed to imbue a lot of balance and stability in your bow. They may the Xtreme look a lot like the Maxx:
The two features that make it different from the Pro Hunter Maxx are...
The length can be more “manageable.” The Bee Stinger Xtreme is manufactured in a shorter range of lengths, at 6 inches, 8 inches, and 10 inches. That makes it a great option for bowhunters who really like to get into their hunting environment, and don't want to lug around a 12-inch bow stabilizer.
It’s not super-heavy. The other feature that makes it different from the Pro Hunter Maxx is the weight range: The Sport Hunter Xtreme features 3 weights of 1 ounce each, making it much lighter.
You can see the weights here:
As you can see, they're much smaller than the weights on the Pro Hunter Maxx—we've compared the two here:
With all that said, we think the Sport Hunter Xtreme is a great option if you like the high-end tech that the Pro Hunter Maxx features, but you want to a shorter bow stabilizer and you want to dial down the weight a little bit (without losing much balance). It's capacity for accuracy is great for target shooting and 3-D archery, and it's great for bowhunting—especially if you want to take a little more time aiming, or if you hunt from a group blind, and the longer length of the Pro Maxx might scrape against the inside of your blind.
Summary: The Bee Stinger Sport Hunter Xtreme is a great “middle-length” and “middle-weight” option for bowhunters and target shooters who don’t want a very long, very heavy bow stabilizer.
Before we move on, we should mention: one of the nice things about Bee Stinger stabilizers is that you can add additional weights to them. If you want the Sport Hunter Xtreme, but you want it at 4 ounces, 5 ounces, 6 ounces, whatever.
The Trophy Ridge Stabilizer
- Ultra lightweight design
- Unique design allows air to easily pass through, giving you a steadier shot during windy conditions
- Includes 2 customizable 1 ounce weights, and braided wrist sling
The Trophy Ridge Stabilizer is a little bit different—it's unique in both form and function—and if you're interested *solely* in bowhunting, we think this is one of the best hunting stabilizers you'll find. Here's why:
It's manufactured in four different lengths. At present, it’s manufactured in 3-inch, 6-inch, 9-inch, and 12-inch versions. Something for everyone, in other words. We particularly like that 12-inch option, because it's not often you find a bow stabilizer that's got both lengthy and lightweight. Here's an image of the 12-inch model on a compound bow:
It's got a lightweight design. Trophy Ridge manufactures the stabilizer with their patented Ballistix CoPolymer material, which is weighed to be 25% lighter than regular aluminum, but with the same strength and sturdiness.
The lightweight material—coupled with its unique design, which you can see below—make it one of the lighter stabilizers we've come across:
The lightweight feature of the Trophy Ridge is designed to allow you to take your time aiming, and makes it a great option for bowhunters, or anyone who needs a minute when aiming at a target. Heavier bow stabilizers can provide a lot of balance and accuracy, but they can be brutal on your arm, and this can be a "best of both worlds" option. By the way…
It’s great for windy outdoor environments. The Trophy Ridge’s “open” design not only takes a lot of weight off the stabilizer, it also makes it great for hunting in windy conditions: the perforated structure allows wind to pass through the stabilizer without moving it or pushing it around, and that's another real boon for hunters. That format is a particular asset if you choose a longer model, like the 9-inch or the 12-inch, because longer bow stabilizers can really catch a lot of wind, and take you off your target.
It's lightweight, and you can still take weight off. So, not only is the Trophy Ridge lightweight, but that weight is adjustable. The model comes with 2 weights of 1 ounce each, so you can do some micro-tuning.
That total weight adjustment of 2 ounces isn't the most drastic thing in the world—if you really want to vary the weight of your stabilizer, we'd recommend the Bee Stinger models—but it's definitely a nice feature, and even a little weight can improve shot-to-shot accuracy.
Finally—and this doesn't really get mentioned too often—it's got vibration-dampening material. At the tip of the Trophy Ridge is a three-horned piece of vibration-gobbling material, and as you can see, it's fairly pliable:
There isn't a ton of that material—the Trophy Ridge model is more about stabilization, that vibration-dampening—but that's a nice little touch.
The marketing folks over at Trophy Ridge have advertised this as a stabilizer "for serious hunters," and we'd agree—we think this is a great option if you're heading out into the woods.
Summary: This is our pick for the best bow stabilizer for hunting. It’s decent for target shooting—above average, even—but given its rough-and-ready design, we think it’s a great option for bowhunting.
The NAP Apache Stabilizer
The NAP Apache Stabilizer is only manufactured in one length—8 inches—but if you’re going to make a bow stabilizer in only one length, 8 inches is a good bet: it’s long enough to provide some sound-muzzling properties, and long enough to provide some forward/back balance to the bow, but still short enough so that you can maneuver the bow when you need to. Here's a pic of the stabilizer:
That said, the 8-inch length on the Apache is adjustable, in a sense, because it features a removable 3-inch extension bar, as you can see here:
You can separate the pieces, and that's a great feature. You can attach them together, and use it as an 8-inch stabilizer, or separate them and just use the stabilizer part, and use it as a 5-inch stabilizer. That's very cool, and when you think about it, it's kind of odd that more bow stabilizers don't have an "adjustable length" feature—length is one of the most important aspects of a stabilizer, and people would probably really appreciate the ability to make adjustments. Manufacturers—if you're listening...!
As for the stabilizer itself, NAP manufactured the stabilizer with material extending outward/away from the stabilizer itself. All that material gobbles up some of the bow's vibration when you release an arrow, and as you can see, it's sturdy by flexible:
There's a lot of physics behind that "flexible-material-extending-outward" design: more surface area on a bow stabilizer = more dampening qualities, and more dampening qualities = more accuracy. It’s the same logic behind cat whisker bow string silencers—all that vibration in the bow gets divided among the tassels in a whisker.
The Apache has some good design behind it, too—the individual dampeners stay in place, because there are divots in the three supporting rods that keep them where they're supposed to be.
Summary: We think the NAP Apache Stabilizer is a good pick if you're looking for a medium-length stabilizer that you can shorten. It's a solid bow stabilizer that's capable of gobbling up a lot of noise and vibration, and it's one of the few stabilizers out there that you can dramatically shorten or lengthen.
The Windjammer Limbsaver Stabilizer
The Windjammer Limbsaver Stabilizer is our "best bang for your buck" pick. It doesn't have a lot of "bells and whistles," but it's got all the basics we'd hope to see (and that's why it made our list), and it's actually got some surprising tech, which we'll talk about in a moment.
For starters, it's a "no fuss, no muss" model. It's got no adjustability features, and what you see is what you get: it's 7 inches and it stays 7 inches, and it weighs 13 ounces and it stays 13 ounces. You put it on your bow, and you're good to go:
It's designed for simplicity, and it's engineered to be easy to install. That's a great thing for all of you hunters who like to set up your gear once you get your bearings.
But while it looks pretty simple, it's actually got some clever design behind it: it's made from 6061 aluminum alloy, the same kind they use to make aircraft wings and fuselages, and the tubing of the stabilizer is filled with NAVCOM, which stands for "Noise and Vibration Control Material"—a proprietary material that Limbsaver designed specifically for its vibration-dampening qualities.
In addition to that interior material, it's also got an end node made of a material we'd describe as "jibbly," that also provides some steadiness for your shot:
This isn't the fanciest model in the world, and it’s not one of those stabilizers that provide a ton of balance to your bow, but we think it's a great option for the budget-minded among us (and in our experience, archers and bowhunters are nothing if not budget-minded!). It's juuuuuust the right length, it's got a camo design that's great for outdoor shooting, and it's designed with patented tech to control vibration—all important features.
Summary: Our pick for "best bang for your buck" bow stabilizer, that's just the right length, and can add some length (and stability) to your bow.
Best Recurve Bow Stabilizer
We’ve got one pick for best recurve bow stabilizer, and it is...
- Parallel design
- High quality carbon fibers
- Includes vibration dampener and end weight
The Cartel Doosung Carbon Pro New Generation Stabilizer. All of the stabilizers we’ve reviewed so far are great archers who 1) are using compounds, and 2) may want to go hunting, but this is a model you may want to look if you’re using a recurve at the range, or consider entering an archery competition.
The Cartel Doosung is much longer than the stabilizers we’ve reviewed above—it’s manufactured in lengths of 26-inches, 28-inches, and 30-inches—and that’s great for target shooting, because it adds a tremendous amount of forward/back balance to the bow. It may feel odd when you first use it—it really does add a lot of “heft” to the bow, and you’ll most likely feel it acutely. In fact, you might notice that it’s actually more difficult to move the bow around, and that’s the point—all that distance on the stabilizer… well, it stabilizes things!
Again, this is not for hunters, and not for compounds—it’s for recurve target shooters. If that’s you, the Cartel may be something to look into.
Summary: The Cartel Doosung is exactly what we’d want to see in a recurve stabilizer: it’s very long and very simple, and provides a great deal of heft to pin-point your target and stay on it.
How to Choose the Right Stabilizer
If you’re new to stabilizers—or if you need a brush-up—the following sections are for you.
Picking a stabilizer can be a little overwhelming, and the sheer variety of stabilizers available is enough to intimidate even the most stout-hearted of archers. Luckily, selecting one isn’t too difficult if you know what you’re looking for. There are a large number of features, but you really only need to keep three buying features in mind:
Bow Set-Up. Before you even start looking at models, you want to make sure your bow is fitted for a stabilizer. It should have an area on the back of the bow (that is, the side that faces your target; the “belly” of the bow is the side that faces you) where you can screw in a stabilizer, and if doesn’t have that, you probably want to wait off on selecting one. Most modern compound bows and recurve bows do feature that insert port, but some custom-made recurves, most longbows, and a lot of older bows don’t have it. So before you even look into stabilizers, make sure your bow will accept one.
Weight. As a general rule of thumb, the more a stabilizer weighs, the more heft—and balance—it will provide to your shot. If you’re shooting target archery, a little extra weight isn’t the worst thing in the world; if you’re out hunting, and holding the bow for prolonged periods of time, a hefty stabilizer is can wear out your arm as you aim. So, as a general rule of thumb, heavier stabilizers are good for target shooting, and lighter stabilizers are better for bowhunting. You’ll actually see this play out in length—because…
Length. Shorter stabilizers typically aim to help reduce vibrations and dampen noise, and these are most common for bowhunters using compound bows. They’re usually about 4.5 to 10 inches, and while stabilizer in this range can provide a lot of accuracy and on-target help, it’s the longer stabilizers that can really improve the stability and consistency of your aim. They range from 10 inches all the way to 30 inches or more, and they’re more popular with target archers who are aiming at a stationary target, and you’ll find them on both recurves and compounds.
That's It for Stabilizers
So, there you have it! Everything you want to know about our top picks for bow stabilizers. Hopefully that'll help you decide on what you're looking for.
If you’re choosing a bow stabilizer, we wish you all the best—good luck, have fun, and straight shooting!