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Review of Three Piece Takedown Recurve Bows

Submitted by C. Moffat - August 2014

The following is a review of popular 3-piece recurve bows that are relatively affordable and within the price range of beginners. If you are looking for something higher quality I recommend reading my upcoming review of Bear Archery Product's Grizzly, SuperGrizzly and Take-down recurve bows in September 2014.

A note about the purchase prices. I am listed the normal purchase prices for the equipment. If you find a store that is jacking up the price to a ridiculous level (eg. $200 for a Ragim Matrix) then that store is trying to rip people off and you should not go shopping there. Shop around, compare prices. Don't just buy your bow at the first store you happen to find.

Also, regardless of which of the bows mentioned here - if you string it without a bowstringer, you probably voided the warranty. Most recurve manufacturers insist that users use a bowstringer when stringing the bow otherwise you may damage / twist the limbs.

I have shot every one of the bows reviewed on this page, and own quite a few of them.

Ragim Matrix Vs Ragim Wildcat

Ragim Wildcat and Ragim Matrix

Italian manufacturer Ragim has been making Matrix and Wildcat 3-piece takedown bows for many years now, and the bows themselves are fine - if strung properly. The problem these days is that many people are stringing their bows without using a bowstringer and the manufacturer is getting too many complaints that the bow limbs are crooked.

Now let us set the record straight here. If you buy a bow in a store and they demonstrate how to string it using their legs (and not a bowstringer) then they voided the warranty on the bow. The moment they string the bow improperly, that warranty is gone.

Apparently with all the new archery enthusiasts (mostly "Hunger Games" and "Arrow" fans) buying Ragim bows the company has decided to get rid of their warranty entirely. Why? Because too many people were demanding refunds on bows that weren't strung properly using a bowstringer and the company got fed up with replacing limbs that had been twisted by beginners. So the company basically decided to post up a sign up saying "Go Away Katniss Fans! You're all a bunch of liars who don't know how to string a bow properly!"


So which Ragim is best? The Matrix or the Wildcat? Honestly, they're identical except for the colour. Some people claim the Matrix is better, but having shot both, it is my opinion that they're both absolutely identical except for the colour.

And is there anything wrong with Ragim? Nada. Perfectly fine bow to be shooting. Very affordable at $130 too. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

Value for Price - Excellent. $130.

Shoots Straight - Excellent.

Durability - Excellent.

Beauty - Somewhat. Half star. I personally think the Matrix is prettier than the Wildcat.

Warranty - None, no thanks to the beginners who cannot string a bow properly.

Jandao Vs PSE Razorback

PSE Razorback Recurve Bow

Honestly, they're the exact same bow. Both made in the same factory in China, just with different labels. There is also several other "companies" selling identical bows with different labels on them, but they're all made in the same factory. Quality wise they're on par with the Ragim Matrix or Ragim Wildcat, but the difference is that Jandao and PSE both currently give warranties for their bows.

So which one should you get, the Jandao or the PSE Razorback? Well, the Jandao is $120. The PSE Razorback is $135 on You are paying an extra $15 just for the PSE name on it.

I give the Jandao 4.25 stars and the PSE Razorback 3.75 stars out of 5.

Value for Price - Excellent for the Jandao at $120, half star for the PSE Razorback at $135 (because why pay extra for the name?).

Shoots Straight - Excellent.

Durability - Excellent.

Beauty - The riser is somewhat attractive, but not enough to warrant half a star. Thus I give it a quarter star.

Warranty - Excellent, one year warranty is voided if you string the bow without a bowstringer.

Martin Jaguar Vs Martin Sabre Vs Martin Panther

Martin Sabre Recurve Bow

All three of these bows are excellent value for your dollar. And I happen to know that they're on sale on for a lot less than what other places are offering the same bows. The Martin Jaguar is selling for $149, the Martin Sabre for $199 and the Martin Panther for $249. Expect to pay an extra $50 at other locations unless they agree to match Amazon's price.

Now you might think, well why is the Sabre and the Panther more expensive? The limbs are the same, but the risers are different. So what is so special about the Sabre and Panther risers that makes them worth more?

Martin Vibration Vortex VEMs (Vibration Escape Module). The Martin Jaguar doesn't have any. The Martin Sabre has two located near the limbs on the riser. The Martin Panther likewise has two, but also has a more complicated riser design with a bridged section that gives off less vibrations and is therefore more accurate. Same goes with the Panther's arrow shelf, which is Martin's patented Vibration Escape System Arrow Shelf designed to prevent noise and dampen vibration.

In other words the Sabre and Panther are designed to dampen vibrations and make them quieter, making them more ideal for hunting - and also a bit more accurate as the risers have built in dampening technology.

However I do have something to say about the looks. Often the Jaguar and Sabre is available in camouflage - which is basically just for looks and to trick fools who think any bow covered with camouflage gives them an edge when hunting. Absolute nonsense. Deer and many other animals are colour-blind, they don't even see red or green. What they do see however is motion. Their eyes are very motion sensitive. But hey, if you use a tree-stand then the deer don't really look up anyway.

My point here is that if you are going for looks you might as well get black. Very Darth Vader-esque. The Panther only comes in black. Huzzah! Although I will point out that I think the Panther is basically just the Sabre with a Panther image on it and a slightly different riser. Is the unusual riser really worth the extra $50 for the Panther? Having shot the bow, it is really quiet - which is important if you want to be hunting and doing so quietly. If you are not hunting? Not worth the extra $50.

The Martin Jaguar, Sabre and Panther are all basically designed and geared to be hunting bows. That is their target audience. And they're excellent bows and great value for money. Although if you are not planning to hunt with them, why are you buying them? Hmm. Think about that one.

I give the Jaguar 4 stars (because I dislike the camouflage version of it), and the Sabre and Panther get 5 stars out of 5. (I only give the Panther 4.5 stars if you are not planning to hunt with it.)

Value for Price - Excellent. (Half star for the Panther if you are not planning to hunt with it.)

Shoots Straight - Excellent.

Durability - Excellent.

Beauty - Jaguar no, Sabre and Panther yes. The photo shown above right is the Sabre.

Warranty - Yes.

Samick Polaris Vs Samick Sage Vs Samick Red Stag

Samick Sage Recurve Bow

The Samick Polaris is one of cheapest recurves you can get on the market - but just because it is cheap don't let that fool you. It shoots straight, although it is a tad ugly. In contrast the Samick Sage and the Samick Red Stag are both excellent - and beautiful - bows - with the Red Stag *feeling* more powerful and is the best looking recurve bow reviewed on this page.

So yes, the Polaris is cheap. But it is also great value for money - although I once saw someone snap the Polaris riser in half so my opinion of Polaris has been forever tainted. The limbs however are interchangable with the Samick Sage - which means you can order the Samick Sage riser (which is prettier and less likely to break) with Polaris limbs. The Samick Sage comes in a minimum poundage of 25, which is too much for many beginners. So my recommendation for beginners is that they get Sage Riser and then get the Polaris limbs in a poundage they can handle. Do that and they will be just fine.

The Samick Polaris is below average when it comes to durability and beauty. Thus I only give it 2.5 stars.

The Samick Sage is above average when it comes to the beginner range of bows. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

The Samick Red Stag is pretty much as perfect as a bow can get without being super expensive. I give it 5 stars out of 5 for its price range.

Value for Price - Polaris gets zero. Sage and Red Stag are both excellent.

Shoots Straight - Polaris gets half of a star. Sage and Red Stag are both excellent.

Durability - Polaris gets zero. Sage and Red Stag are both excellent.

Beauty - Polaris gets zero. Sage and Red Stag are both excellent. The photo above right is the Samick Sage. The photo below it the Samick Red Stag.

Warranty - I am not sure if the Polaris even comes with a warranty. But the Sage and Red Stag do come with a limited warranty, so I have to assume the Polaris likely does too.

Samick Red Stag Recurve Bow