If you have a riser with an ILF limb fitting, there are a lot of different bow limbs to choose from. From bow limbs that cost only $50 to limbs that cost more than $700. The limbs are constantly under stress while you are shooting a bow, so they need to be durable.
But how can you test the durability if you are buying the limbs in a store or web shop? Some stores let you borough the limbs for a short time, but even then, you don’t know how they hold up in the long run.
That’s why I have written this article, via readers of this blog and my own experience, I have learned what to look for when you are buying limbs. In this article, I will use this experience to select the best limbs depending on your needs.
1. Best cheap limbs
If you do not care about the limb’s design and would like to buy some cheap limbs, you can’t go wrong with the Sanlida Archery Miracle X8. Sanlida Archery is a Chinese archery brand that focuses on high-quality products for an affordable price. I have used many Sanlida products and know many other archers that do. Thus far I have never heard anything bad about this brand.
There are limbs available for a cheaper price, but these are from less established brands. These brands tend to be less reliable, as they are often bought by other manufacturers or go bust. So, I recommend sticking with a reliable brand.
2. Best-looking limbs
Some archers don’t care about how their bow looks. But if you are going to spend the money, there is no shame in wanting your bow to look good. Sadly, most limbs are made in the most boring colors and designs. They are often just big black or white surfaces with big logos on them.
If you want to have a cool design, you might like these Junxing Pharoes limbs. The faux bamboo design will really stand out on the archery range and I bet you will get a lot of comments on it.
I have bought some Junxing products before, but I have never used their limbs. Luckily you will get warranty and can return them if you buy them from a reputable store.
3. Best wooden look limbs
Maybe the bamboo look from the previous set of limbs is a bit too exotic for you. If you want a more basic wooden look, you can also choose the TopArchery wooden limbs. Again, the additional price you pay is mainly for the great wooden look. The limbs are relatively basic and comparable to the previous two limbs I mentioned. But if you like the look of it, that may be worth it for you.
4. Best hunting limbs
Target archery limbs (like the other 4 limbs in this list) are not suitable for hunting. The main difference between these limbs and the target limbs is the color/design and the length.
Target limbs tend to be longer because that provides a smoother draw. But in the woods, moving around with a big bow can be rather cumbersome. The camouflage on the limbs will also make it more difficult for the dear to spot you amongst the foliage.
So, if you intend to hunt with your recurve bow, you might want to consider buying these Hunting recurve limbs.
5. Best high-end limbs
All previous limbs I recommended are made of wood, fiberglass, or bamboo, which are great materials to make bow limbs out of. But an even better material is carbon fiber.
The major benefit of carbon fiber is that it is more reliable than wood, as they are less likely to break. Also, the draw feels smoother when you draw the bow if the limbs are made of carbon. Because wood is a natural material there will always be some inconsistencies. If you practice a lot, you will start to feel the difference.
So, if you have the money to spend, and you would like to have the best shooting experience, I recommend carbon limbs.
Carbon limbs are more expensive than wooden limbs. Carbon limbs can easily cost $500 or more. But the brand Topoint Archery has made this set for a more affordable price. It’s still a lot of money, but carbon fiber is just a very expensive material.
Before we continue
If you already have a riser, then it makes sense to buy your limbs separately. But if you are just getting started, I recommend buying a full bow. Buying it separately is almost always more expensive, so unless you have some specific wishes, you could save some money by buying it in one package. You can read my top picks in the article below:
Choosing the right limbs for your bow
When you are shopping for bow limbs there is a lot to consider. I will briefly discuss the most important points for consideration.
By far the biggest consideration is the limb fitting. This is how you attach the limb to your bow. Most target recurve bows have an ILF limb fitting, which is used by almost all manufacturers. So, an ILF limb will fit on any ILF riser. Make sure that both your riser and the limb have the same fitting!
Another fitting that is getting more common is the Formula fitting. These are found on some of the high-end bows, primarily manufactured by Hoyt. Although there are claims that it improves your accuracy, I see no real benefit. So, if you can, I recommend sticking with the ILF fitting. That’s why I only added ILF limbs in this article.
Most beginner bows have a proprietary limb fitting that only works on their bows. This can become an issue when you must replace the limbs because they broke, or if you want to change the draw weight. If you buy a bow with proprietary limb fitting, make sure that it’s a bow from a reliable manufacturer, so you can purchase limbs separately if need.
Bow limb materials
One of the biggest differentiator between a cheap and expensive bow is the material used in the limbs. Budget limbs tend to be made of wood, bamboo, or fiberglass. These are all good springy materials for bow limbs. But an even better material carbon fiber.
The benefit of carbon fiber is that it’s extremely strong and durable. This means that carbon fiber limbs can truly last a lifetime, even under abuse. Carbon fiber is also lightweight and provides a smoother draw than natural materials.
You might think, why don’t they make more bow limbs from fiberglass? It’s a cheap material and will also provide a smooth draw because it’s not a natural material like wood.
The reason is that fiberglass is quite a dangerous material. The material is known to deteriorate over time and snap suddenly without any warning. Also, when it snaps, shards of sharp fiberglass will shoot in different directions which can cause significant injury. That’s why it is only used, side by side with other materials like wood to prevent those issues.
One of the most important things to consider when buying new limbs is choosing the draw weight. It is essential that you buy limbs that you can comfortably draw and that you are not stretching yourself.
Shooting with a bow with a too-heavy draw weight can cause all sorts of issues. The biggest issues are muscle strain, shaking during the shot, and deteriorating posture. If your body must fight the draw weight, focusing on shooting accurately will be very difficult.
In the table below, you will find my recommendation based on your profile. Some archers may say that these draw weights are on the low side, but I believe you can better stay on the safe side. Shooting with a too-heavy bow is much more detrimental to your accuracy than the benefits a heavy bow provides.
|Archers profile||Draw weight|
|Small children||16 LBS or less|
|Larger children||16 till 18 LBS|
|Teenage female||18 till 22 LBS|
|Teenage male||20 till 24 LBS|
|Female||20 till 26 LBS|
|Male||22 till 30 LBS|
If you want to know more about choosing the correct draw weight, make sure to read my detailed article below:
Choosing the limb length
The length of your bow limb you need is determined by your draw length. This is how far you draw the bow back. So, to know the ideal length of the bow limb, we first need to measure or estimate our draw length.
The official way to measure draw length is quite complicated to measure without a bow. Therefore, I will explain the arm-span method which very accurately estimates the draw length. You can read this article if you want to know the official way to measure draw length.
Step 1: hold your arms horizontal and let someone measure your arm-span from finger to finger. Make sure that you are not stretching during this measurement. In most cases, you will need two friends to keep either side of the measuring tape in the right place.
Step 1 (one friend alternative): stand against a wall with your arms horizontal. Let your friend mark both ends and measure the space between the two points.
Step 2: make sure that the measurement is in inches. If you use centimeters make sure to first convert it to inches by dividing with 2.54 or using this tool.
Step 3: divide your final measurement with 2.5. The resulting number is your draw length estimation.
Since this method is not measuring the draw length, it isn’t all that accurate. But it provides a reasonable estimation for your actual draw length.
Now you know your draw length you can see what limbs you need (short, medium, or long). Sometimes the length is provided in the total bow length.
|Max draw length||Limbs||Bow length|
|26 inch||Short||66 inch|
|29 inch||Medium||68 inch|
|31 inch||Long||70 inch|
When in doubt, always take the larger limbs. There is no real harm in shooting with longer limbs than necessary. Even a small child can shoot with long limbs, it will just be a bit more difficult to wield.
I get a ton of questions from people that are new to archery, either via email or the comment sections on my blog. Below I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
What are the differences between cheap and expensive limbs?
The major difference between cheap and expensive limbs is the material it is made of. Most expensive limbs are made of carbon fiber, while most cheap limbs are made of a combination of wood, bamboo, and fiberglass. Carbon fiber has some benefits over other materials, but the difference is minor.
If you are just getting started with archery, you probably won’t even feel the difference between natural materials and carbon fiber. So, if you are just getting started, there is no need to buy carbon limbs.
You might even switch to heavier limbs after 1 or 2 years, as you are building your muscles. So, investing in some expensive limbs might not be worth it.
Can you get used to a heavy draw weight?
Sadly, I get this question so many times. Archers have bought too heavy limbs and now feel stuck as they notice that they can’t comfortably draw the bow. The only way to solve this issue is by buying new limbs or building muscle.
The first option is recommended in most cases. But if that is not possible for some reason, you can also train your muscle with some exercises. I provide some exercises in the article below. Just be aware that it can take a long time before you have sufficient muscle to comfortably shoot your bow. So, you have to be dedicated!
How can you determine if the limbs are durable?
This is very tricky. I generally recommend products from archery brands that I trust, especially with limbs. I will never recommend Core Archery limbs for example, because I have a disastrous experience with their limbs and customer service.
Luckily most limbs on the market are relatively durable, so there is only a small chance of breakage. Especially if you have a draw length of 28 inches or less.
If you don’t stretch the limbs to their very end even less reliable limbs will survive for a long time. If you have a draw length of 30 inches or more (like I have) you can run into more issues.
Reviews can help in those cases, but even then, the reviews are often written after the limbs have been used only a few times. So, it’s hard to make a fair assessment of the durability based on that.
If I had to buy some new limbs, I would probably buy the first or the last limbs I recommend, depending on my budget. I do not care much about the design of the limb, so I tend to go with the cheapest reliable limb or the cheapest carbon limb.
If you are still searching for more information about how to select the right limbs for your bow. You can read my detailed article below. In that article, I explain in more detail how to select the right limb size and how it affects your bow.
I hope this article was helpful in your search for bow limbs. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. Please feel free to leave them down below. I incorporate your feedback in my articles!