Best Archery Release for Hunters

There are numerous options out there when it comes to choosing an archery release for hunting. Yet few stand at the top of the list and continue to remain there, such as the Stan sx3, which you will see us recommend in this article.

Thumb Release

One of the most common types of releases for hunting is the thumb release. Thumb releases are handheld releases that have a thumb trigger to activate the release. 

Stan Sx3

As promised in the intro one of our first recommendations for a release is the Stan SX3.

Now I get that is not the cheapest release on the market, rather it’s one of the more expensive ones. I’m a buy once cry once type of guy. Not only will the Stan SX3 outlast cheaper models available, but it will also offer a better shooting experience.

People are skeptical of just how smooth the Stan is but are usually converted once they have one in their hands.

A testament to this release is how long they have been around and is still one of the top-selling releases on the market. 

The SX3s are a particularly good fit for large hands. I have relatively big hands and some releases just don’t feel right. I use a large 4 finger SX3 and it fits like a glove.

The Stan SX3 also features an adjustable thumb trigger just to add that extra level of comfort.

It also comes with a trainer lock pin, which allows the shooter to use the release and gain confidence with it before firing.

Now I know you’re thinking it can’t all be good. Well, it’s not, really. The big drawback with the Stan is the price as we have mentioned. If you’re prone to losing handheld releases a Stan SX3 might not be for you.

Carter Wise Choice

The biggest competitor to the Stan SX3 is the Carter Wise Choice Release. Is it better? It’s hard to say. The quality is certainly as good. In the end, it will be a matter of personal preference.

Regardless of the exact model, the two biggest names in handheld releases are Carter and Stan.

The Wise Choice is one of the higher tier models in Carters’ lineup. It also comes with a premium price tag similar to the SX3.

One of the nice features of the Wise Choice is the addition of the finger hole, to offer more security.

The lanyard system is a great addition that is sure to please tree stand hunters.

Tru-Fire Edge 4-Finger

Tru-Fire have found their place in the bow release industry. While they may not produce the most expensive products, they certainly produce top quality products at an affordable price.

The Edge 4-Finger is one such product. It’s good enough for the enthusiasts and 3D hunters and affordable enough for the person who just wants to get the job done.

It comes with basic features such as adjustable thumb known and adjustable trigger travel. However, one clever feature it has is a rotating head, which is pretty good for a release of this price.

It’s also worth noting who Tru-Fire actually is. They are under the umbrella of FeraDyne outdoors which is a powerhouse in the archery and bowhunting world. The list of brands they produce is astounding and many top names are on the list such as Muzzy, Carbon Express, and Nockturnal.

Index Release

Thumb releases are one of the most used releases in hunting. However, the other most common release if not more common hunting release is a wrist release or index finger release.

These releases are strapped to your wrist and are activated using your index finger.

Some hunters prefer these to thumb releases as it offers more surety in the field.

The strap keeps the release attached to you thus ready to shoot at all times and reduces the risk of losing it.

Stan Xtinction 2

It’s probably going to come as no surprise to see Stan at the top of the list again.

The Stan Xtinciton is probably the best selling index finger release on the market. It’s not without stiff competition which we will get to below. But first, let’s look at what makes the Xtinction such a good release.

The first noticeable thing with the Xtinciton is the quality feel to it, and we wouldn’t expect anything less from Stan.

The Xtinction comes with a lot of features and one of our favorites is the Sear &1/2 mechanism.

This allows for no activation pressure change when the draw weight is changed on your bow.

As with all Stans, there are numerous adjustments you can make to make the release perfectly comfortable. 

The web connecter is one of the better adjustment technologies I’ve seen in a wrist release.

One of the drawbacks of the Xtinciton is the strap feels a bit bulky and hot. Many hunters end up swapping out the strap, although this depends on your personal taste and what weather you are hunting in.

Carter Rx1

As we’ve mentioned in the handheld releases, the most worthy opponent of Stan is Carter, and many hunters will argue for either one or the other.

The Carter RX1 is packed full of features and extremely high quality just like the Stan.

It’s hard to separate these two releases and will again mostly be personal preference.

One of the interesting things with the RX1 is the magnetic hook that closes by squeezing the trigger.

It’s also worth mentioning that the RX1 has one of the best wrist straps on the market.

One of the drawbacks of the RX1 is that it doesn’t have the same range of adjustment as the Carter Like Mike II. So if you like a lot of adjustabilities it may be worth checking out that release instead.

But we chose the RX1 for all the other reasons, and 9 out of 10 archers that shot both will tell you the RX1 feels much better.

Tru-Fire Hardcore

While Carter and Stan may take the lion’s share of the handheld release market, when it comes to index finger release they have some more competition.

However, although the Tru-Fire Hardcore is up there with the best, it costs considerably less, making it a solid option for a hunting release.

The Harcore has an extremely smooth trigger despite its more affordable price tag.

The Hardcore also features a comfortable strap and is not to be confused with the Hardcore Max whose strap is not as comfortable.

Spot Hogg Wiseguy

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Spot Hogg are probably better known for their bow sights, which are outstanding. But don’t let that overshadow the quality of their archery releases.

The Wise Guy release was designed by hunters for hunters. The first thing noticeable about this release is the quality.

Then next is the finesse. The Wise Guy release offers the same performance as a thumb release. The trigger is crisp, light, and adjustable.

There are two options for the type of strap, you can choose a nylon strap or a rigid strap. The Rigid release costs a little more but makes for a more comfortable strap.

Choosing a Release for Bowhunting

There are a few things to take into consideration when choosing your release for hunting. 


The most obvious and one of the first things we look at when choosing a bow release is the budget.

We understand not everyone has or wants to spend the same budget. The guy that takes a crack at a rabbit once a year is not looking for the same performance in a release as the guy on a once-in-a-lifetime bison hunt or whose release doubles as his competitive 3D release.

I find that releases generally come in 3 categories, up to $100 is for the beginner, the person who is not really sure what to look for in a release, and is just testing the waters of the world of archery.

$100-150 is where your average hunter comes in. Maybe he heads out once a year to his tree stand and just needs a solid release to get the job done.

He’s not interested in 3D hunting and just needs a reliable release, not the fancy features.

$150+ is for the enthusiast. The guy that spends a lot of time practicing. He has a high performance bow and needs a release to match. It’s likely his release doubles as a 3D release or maybe he has a collection of premium releases.

Type of Release

Best Archery Release for Hunters

The type of archery releases is a whole article by itself. If you want to know more about that read our article on the Types of Releases. 

For this article let’s just touch on the most common types of releases used in hunting.

The thumb release and the index finger release are considered to be the best archery release for hunting.

A thumb release generally comes without a strap, although some manufacturers have added lanyards for hold purposes but not firing purposes.

The thumb release is held in your hand with the tips of your fingers in the groves. You then use your fingers to pull back on the release to draw the bow.

Most shooters find then to operate the release your hand will need to twist so that the back of your hand is closest to your face.

Then to fire, you need to very gently touch the trigger with your thumb. 

Thumb releases are very common in 3D shooting and quite common in hunting.

An index finger release utilizes the use of a strap that you attach to your wrist, for this reason, it is also sometimes known as a wrist release.

Unlike the thumb release, the wrist release does not require you to hold it. Some hunters prefer this as it’s one less thing to do in the field. The release is always in position.

When the hunter wants to shoot he draws back the bow without gripping the release as it is strapped to his wrist.

Then he is in a more natural “Trigger Position” as he would be with a rifle. Most beginners tend to start out with an index finger release.

What You are Doing With the Release

Best Archery Release for Hunters

What you are doing with your release should also influence your decision on what type to choose.

If you are primarily a treestand hunter you may find that a thumb release is more comfortable. Whereas if you are heading after sheep you might prefer the security of a wrist release.

Some hunters who 3D shoot prefer a thumb release that doubles as both a hunting and 3D release.

Think about how you plan to hunt and which release may be more suitable. Generally if there is much hiking or rough terrain or brush, hunters prefer a wrist release. 

Whereas if it is treestand hunting or ground blinds for turkeys the thumb release is often the go to for hunters.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a release is a very personal choice. What may work for one hunter may not for another.

However, there are good brands with excellent craftsmanship and innovative features. These are the brands to look for as they are generally superior to lesser brands.

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