Silence a string that makes too much of a zing with our list of the best string silencers!
Noisy bowstrings aren't great if you're a hunter and they can be off-putting if you're a recreational shooter too. You don't want your bow sounding like some kind of badly tuned instrument! Fortunately the cure might well be simpler than you think. String silencers are relatively inexpensive and there are a few different styles, some easy to fit and some a little more involved. In this article we're going to take your through all the different styles and we've put together a list of some of the best we can find. Take a look...
Top String Silencer Picks
Note: Our individual reviews are below, but you can also click any of the links above to check current prices on Amazon.
How to Silence your Bowstring
What makes a bow string noisy?
There's a few reasons that your string may make unwanted noise. Firstly, you probably already know that if you vibrate a piece of taut string (like as a bowstring) it will cause sound-waves and you'll hear them as noise. This is the principle that many instruments work on. With your bow however you don't want the string to continue to vibrate after you've taken a shot.
If the arrow you fire isn't heavy enough for the bow the force from the string will be too much for just the arrow and energy will be left to go back into the bow after you've fired. This will cause the string to vibrate back and forth and the limbs to flex and a twang! Now you're never going to get a perfectly weighted arrow, but shooting an arrow that's heavy enough for the draw will minimize string sound from your bow.
Strings can also vibrate because of bow inefficiency. Just like you'll struggle to find the perfectly weighted arrow for our bow, you'll also never have a perfectly efficient bow. Inefficiencies in the bow design will cause some of the energy stored on release to be absorbed by the bow limbs and those limbs will flex and spring. That flexing and springing will also put energy back into the bowstring causing it to vibrate and make a noise.
Why do I need a quiet bow string?
Sound travels faster than even the fastest arrow from a recurve or a compound bow. If whatever you're shooting at has ears it's going to hear the sound from your bow just before your arrow strikes. If your target is a wild animal like a deer that lives or dies on it's reactions then it may well 'jump the string' causing you to miss. Hunters prefer quiet bows for this reason.
String vibration means bow and limb vibration. Too much limb and bow vibration puts wear and tear on components and will cause them to fail much sooner than anticipated. One of the reasons you're told never to dry fire a bow is because the limbs can't handle absorbing all the energy from a shot without first releasing some onto an arrow. The same principle applies (at a much reduced level) to a vibrating bow. Cure it! Or it may not last as long as you'd envisioned without maintenance.
What does a string silencer do?
Essentially silencers are designed to absorb the excess energy in the string. Here's a video to demonstrate the effectiveness of one of the most popular types of string silencer. This is shooting a Bear Grizzly 45# with brand new string with and without Beaver Balls installed and includes some useful comparison shots of the sound produced both ways. The difference is noticeable!
Alternatives and Additions to String Silencers
Install Limb Dampeners
As well as the string vibrating you'll also find that excess energy from a shot is transferred into the limbs of both recurve and compound bows. People who fit string silencers will also normally look into fitting limb dampeners to complement them. We have you covered there too and have a sister article on the best limb dampeners which includes some useful tips, information and reviews on the top picks. Take a mosey over there after you're done here.
Compound String Stops / Suppressors
Normally only found on compound bows, string stops or suppressors are usually mounted at the same level as the stabilizer and are there to 'catch' the string as it reaches the end of the release. We've a great article on the anatomy of a compound bow that details all the components including what a string stop looks like and where you'd find one.
Recurve, Compound and Crossbow String Silencers
You can use string silencers on anything you can fit them onto. They'll help to quieten any string from any type of bow. The only caveat to that is that most string silencers (but there are exceptions such as the Apex which has easy install) require you to be able to remove the string from the bow in-order to install them. Take that into account before you jump-in!
Where and How to Install String Silencers
The best location for a string silencer on a compound bow is 2 - 3 inches from the tip, or where the cam meets the string. On a recurve, because the string is longer the best distance can be up-to 10 inches from the limb tip. But as all bows have different brace heights and AMO lengths you need to experiment with your bow to find the sweet spot. Don't be tempted to install them towards the middle of the string or you're going to just add drag to your string and slow down your string speed, and consequently your bow and shot speed!
Compound archers sometimes also install string silencers on buss cables, depending on the bow these can also be culprits for noise.
Here's a good demonstration from Merlin Archery on how to install Bear Balls.
String Silencer Reviews
Mountain Man Beaver Balls
You just have to love the name and the look of these. They add something natural and a little camo to the look of any bow. Beaver Balls are made from real beaver fur.
2 come in a pack and you need to use both to correctly dampen the string. One at each end. Installation isn't completely painless, to install these you will need to be able to separate your string (there's a video above that shows an easy way to do this for a recurve). The effect on string sound is noticeable and these would be cheap at twice the price.
As they are natural animal fur they will change as they get wet, the fur will fluff up and bits will come off over time. However you won't be disappointed. Install them correctly and you'll notice a difference on nearly any bow.
- Great name
- Natural Camoflage look
- Great sound reduction
- String Separation Installation
Mossy Oak String Silencers
This type of silencer from Mossy Oak is what you'd refer to as a cats-whisker style. They are made from man made materials which makes them waterproof. Whilst installation of these is simpler than the Beaver Balls and there is no need to separate your string. You may struggle to get your tie-on installation to look exactly like the picture but nevertheless you get 4 so even if you fail the first time there are 2 spares in the pack. The overall effect on string noise is good and you will notice.
We found this useful video from Kenny Parson on the best way to install these on a compound bow but this would also work for a recurve.
- 4 pack
- Tie-on installation
BowJax 1036 Ultra Jax II
BowJax also make limb dampeners which are very similiar in design to these string silencers. They claim to be one of the most effective methods of absorbing vibration on the market. Whilst they don't look as pretty as some other string dampeners we can vouch for their effectiveness. Each of the little limbs sticking out of the saver are designed to flex and individually absorb different frequencies of vibration. This proves to work and as there are only 4 limbs, these are more aerodynamic than other string savers on the market and won't add drag to your string and noticeably slow your bow. These weigh 19 grains each.
- Good vibration absorption
- Color choices
- Aerodynamics (Speed)
- Not a subtle design
- String through installation
Li,bSaver Everlast String Leech
All of the LimbSaver product range that claims to dampen vibration and noise is made from the NAVCOM proprietary material. That material is used in all sorts of application from aerospace to automotive and not just archery. NAVCOM has been specifically designed to absorb vibrations into the 30 kHz spectrum which is well above what any human can hear, but not any animal.
You can get them in different colors but installation is similar to the Beaver Balls and you need to splice them into the string. Whilst this isn't difficult to do if you follow the method in this video there are simpler to install alternatives available.
They're a solid design, more discrete than some others in this roundup and there is little to get caught when you're out and about. The NAVCOM material should also endure well and is waterproof.
- Good vibration absorption
- Color choices
- String Separation Installation
Carbon Express 57509
Another cats whisker style silencer from Carbon Express. These rubber silencers are relatively easy to install and extremely cheap. If you want something to try we'd suggest some of these. There's only 1 in a pack, but that single set of strips is enough to create 4 silencers, so you could cover 2 bows. These are a step up from creating your own silencers out of yarn.
They might not be the most effective, but they're the most affordable.
- Downright Cheap!
- Enough for 4x per pack
- Tie-on Installation
Apex Gear Doubledown
The simplest installation of all the silencers in this roundup comes from the Apex Doubledown. You don't need a press, you don't need to thread your string through these and there is no tying involved. All you do is wrap them around the string, tuck the ball through the hole and pull tight until the ridge also passes through the hole and they're installed.
These are great if you really don't know whether a silencer would be effective on your string or not. The ease of installation makes trying them a painless affair. They're available in Pink, Red Black or Green and come in packs of 4 so there are enough to cover 2 bows.
Once tied onto the string you'll be surprised at how well they're attached. The principle is that once tied the two little arms are left to flail about in the opposite direction to your string when it is vibrating, this helps to slow that vibration.
- Quick and simple installation
- Color choices
- 4x Pack
- Not the best lookers
- Weight 23.5 grains
Anything to share?
I hope this roundup was useful and led you in the direction of a quality component for your setup. Please let us know if we're missing your favorite and need to add it to this review, or if there are any aspects of any of the above we've not covered correctly! Either leave a comment or send us some feedback!