Are you swimming in an ocean of arrow rest options and can't decide on a reliable one to fit your new bow?

Well, I'll tell you: Your journey stops here.

In this guide, you'll explore:

  • What is the best drop away arrow rest?
  • What are the most common types of arrow rest for compound bows?
  • What are the differences between cable vs. limb-driven rests?

So, here we go:

Top Drop Away Arrow Rests on the Market:

Best Drop Away Arrow Rest Reviews:

1. QAD Ultra-Rest MXT:

Quality Archery Designs QAD Ultra-Rest MXT Black RH

Via Amazon.com

The QAD Ultra-rest is BY FAR the best drop away arrow rest for hunting and target shooting.

It’s solid, light, and accurate.

Key features:

Bombproof

Firstly, it lays your arrow tight and secures on the launchpad without the risk of bouncing out.

So no need to worry about the wind blowing your arrow away and costing you your shot.

QAD full arrow containment

Secondly, the cable driven rest steadily connects to the string by a cord.

The cord keeps the rest upright at full draw and relaxes after you release it.

It creates ZERO FRICTION and no noise as the arrow passes through. You’ll get superior accuracy shot after shot, with ZERO VIBRATION.

And guess what?

If something nicks the cord, you can just replace it with a shoelace and get back to business.

It’s that easy.

Thirdly, unlike other cheap rests that often bounce back after release, the QAD Ultra-Rest MXT is smooth without any harsh rebound.

QAD lock down

How does it cut out the noise?

The over-molded rubber on the capture bar and laser-cut felt eliminate arrow fletching and therefore CUT OUT ANY NOISE.

So you don’t need to stress about spooking your big buck when that time comes.

QAD total arrow clearance

And, is it simple to set up?

Yep, installing and tuning it is a piece of cake, taking only 10 minutes, as per the instructions.

Whilst cheap cable-driven rests need to be installed with a bow press, setting up the QAD is a breeze. NO BOW PRESS NEEDED.

Since then, you’ll never have to reset the timing cord again.

Is it lightweight?

Sure is! It’s light as a feather.

Weighing only 2.1 oz, it's 60% lighter than a traditional rest.

It means you can minimize your bow weight.

This is crazy: Precision tuning

It’s super easy to precisely adjust the windage (left/right) and elevation (up/down).

The 2 dial knobs allow you to micro-fine-tune as close to perfect as possible.

Every single click equals just .00195”. Now that’s precision!

What happens if you sync your well-tuned bow with consistent shooting form?

Well, it boosts your confidence.

You're be able to make that perfect shot when the elk or deer steps out within range.

Want to know my favorite part?

"Cock-ability"

QAD upright & cock

With other standard rests, the arrow is off the rest when you let down your bow.

However, this inertia rest locks your arrow upright and leaves it cocked there, ready to go.

Imagine how handy it is when waiting for a big buck. Just cock the arrow, lock the rest down, and hang your bow on the tree.

It keeps your arrow always in position, prepared for the sudden emergence of a deer.

Cool right?

Even more, they feature 2 versatile mounting options:

  • MTX: Universal mount for most of the compound bows
  • IMX: the QAD partnered with Mathew to invent an integrated mount for dovetail brackets. The mount won’t interfere with your Mathews quiver.

Drawbacks:

Less tuning options than the Hamskea.

Unlike the Hamskea, you can’t tune the launcher arm, top or bottom containers (covered below).

It’s not a big deal if you’re not tinkering with it or have a pro-shop set it up.

Stretched string risk

If the bowstring stretches, it can affect its timing and arrow flight.

Takes more effort to set up

Timing is one of the disadvantages of cable-driven rest. Setting it up properly takes more effort than a limb-driven rest.

Pros:

  • Bombproof
  • Reliable
  • Easy to install and tune
  • Locked down arrows
  • Precision tuning
  • Made in USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • 3 launchers for backup
  • Lightweight and small size
  • Quiet
  • Sleek
  • Mathews-integrated mounting option
  • No bounce back after release
  • Aluminum construction

Cons:

  • Less tuning options
  • Stretched string risk
  • Takes more effort to set up
  • Pretty pricey

2. Hamskea Archery Epsilon Arrow Rest:

Hamskea Archery Epsilon Arrow Rest

Via Amazon.com

The Epsilon works as flawlessly as the QAD but is tougher, heavier, and more expensive.

This is the best limb driven arrow rest for 3D and target shooting.

Key features:

Bulletproof

Hamskea innovated and produced a brand new rest. It’s more compact and slimmer than their previous Trinity models.

How cool is the new design?

The new full containment protects your arrows from sliding out.

The U-shaped launcher keeps your arrow at the center and avoids arrow contact during release.

They cut down the coil to prevent hitting your bow hand.

Hamskea epsilon 2

Is it reliable?

The metal construction is built like a tank, so it won’t fail you during the hunting season.

You’ll get peace of mind by not needing to get it replaced or repaired in the field.

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty:

  • The 3-ball bearing system ensures a smooth, reliable feeling and repeatable performance every time.
  • You can configure BOTH top/down limb-driven OR cable-driven styles.
  • The hard stop provides repeatable accuracy once set up.
  • The buffering coil and dampener prevent the launcher from bouncing back after release.
  • The limb driven rest is FAR more forgiving to set up than a cable driven one.

C.O.R Mount Technology:

The C.O.R. stands for CenterShot Optimized Rest.

Why is it special?

The Epsilon makes sure your rest STAYS IN LINE behind the riser.

It places your arrow in a perfect center position (13/16”), no matter how thick it is.

What does that mean?

That means it improves your bow tuning and accuracy.

Unlike previous models, it does not only fit your bow nice and snug, but it also avoids interfering with your quiver.

All of these things are 100% DESIGNED FOR BALANCE.

Which mounting bracket do you get?

Well, Hamskea provides 3 mounting choices:

  • The universal bracket attaches to most compound bows.
  • The Mathews-approved bracket for new bow models, such as the Mathews V3X and HOYT RX7.
  • The mount riser interface.
Hamskea COR mount

Via hamskeaarchery.com

How's about micro adjustments?

The Epsilon comes with micro-adjustment at .003” per click.

Although it’s less precise than the QAD (.00195”), it is still a lot easier to fine-tune for target archery.

Even more:

Just get an additional convert kit (sold separately), and it becomes a target-ready rest.

Drawbacks:

On the heavy side

Although Hamskea cut out some load, it's still 2x heavier than the QAD MXT, at up to 5.1 oz.

Also,

The arrow can flip around the container and make extra noise while letting it down.

Expensive

You may be tempted to opt for a cheap rest.

However, when you miss a shot on the elk, you may be left thinking: “I should have just gotten the better rest at the start.”

The fail-proof quality is worth every penny. You get what you pay for.

Pros:

  • Sturdy
  • CenterShot Optimized Rest
  • Reliable
  • Durable
  • Accurate
  • Slim
  • 3 mounting options
  • Dead quiet
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to fine-tune with micro-adjustments

Cons:

  • Pretty heavy
  • The arrow flips around the container
  • Expensive

3. Ripcord Drive IMS:

Ripcord Drive Cage Black Drop-Away Lightweight Aluminum Arrow Rests

Via Amazon.com

The Ripcord Drive is a good backup rest for those who love the limb-driven style with a dovetail mount.

It’s simple, accurate, and quiet.

Key features:

The Rib Cage centers and keeps your arrow fully engaged without falling off.

So you can be confident that your arrow will stay in place when needed.

Get this: Integrated Mounting System (IMS)

As with the QAD Ultra-rest IMS, the Ripcord introduces an integrated mounting system.

It fits all new brackets produced by HOYT and Mathews.

But in my experience, the profile is not as streamlined as the QAD.

The mount can hit the low profile quivers, limiting your quiver choice.

Does the limb driven system work?

Yes, you can utilize both the top and bottom limbs.

Unlike cable driven systems which can cause timing issues if you don’t set it correctly, installing the limb driven system is much easier.

The fall-away rest is lightning-fast and creates no arrow contact during clearance.

Is it noisy?

No, it mitigates noise and keeps your draw and shoots quiet by featuring the following:

  • Overmolded launcher arm
  • Wide and rubber limb pad
  • Internal dampening system

Ball-bearing systems provide smooth and consistent accuracy.

Drawbacks:

The limb-driven style can be broken or cut in the thick bush, impacting your accuracy.

Get this:

In spot and stalk hunting situations, when your buck moves out of range, you must let your bow down.

So be mindful that in these times, without the locking rest, your arrows can fall off.

My advice: be aware of this and place it down in a controlled manner.

Pros:

  • Solid
  • Quiet
  • Simple to install by hand
  • Full containment
  • Windage and elevation micro adjustment
  • Lightweight
  • Made in USA
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Aluminum construction

Cons:

  • Can’t lock arrow up
  • Not a streamlined profile

4. Vapor Trail Archery Arrow Rest Pro V:

Vapor Trail Archery Arrow Rest Pro V

Via Amazon.com

The Vapor Trail Pro V is the lightest and most popular fall away rest for new archers.

It provides accurate, dependable, consistent arrow flight without breaking the bank.

Key features:

This limb driven system solves the #1 issue of cable driven rests: PERFECT TIMING.

Let me explain:

The cable driven rest often gets too fast timing. It causes the arrow to “nose down” before launching and affects arrow flight.

The Vapor Trail Pro X fixes this by replacing it with a limb-driven system.

Bow tuning becomes as easy as a walk in the park.

The result: the arrow flies straight and smooth with no friction.

Sounds good?

How easy is it to set up and repair on the fly?

Getting paper tuning only takes a few minutes, and then you’re ready to rock.

You don’t even need to send it to the pro shop.

The “V-Power”:

The V-shaped launcher keeps your arrow centered, shot after shot, without sliding out.

Besides that, the launcher falls down so quickly that it doesn't touch the arrow.

ACCURATE. CONSISTENT. RELIABLE.

And the amazing result:

Instead of re-fletching arrows due to wearing down from whisker biscuit rests, you’ll be freed from fletching arrows.

Unbeatable design

The unbeatable design comes with the lightest weight (only 2.7 oz).

It has fewer moving parts, which means there’s LESS THAT CAN GO WRONG in the field.

The Limb Driver Pro-V won 6 awards for its design, including Gold in 2014 and Silver in 2015 at the Bowhunting World Readers’ Choice Awards.

It is still one of the most popular choices for new archers.

Drawbacks:

Noisy

Though the launcher and dampening system are rubber molded, it is noisier than the QAD.

The noise can spook animals that are nearby.

Non-clicker adjustment

You can adjust the rest vertically and horizontally by using an Allen key.

But, I prefer a more convenient toolless adjustment.

Last but not least:

The arrow can move around in the cage and won’t stay cocked if you let it down.

Pros:

  • Super quiet
  • Improved accuracy
  • Simple to set up
  • Unbeatable design
  • Lightest drop away rest
  • Mathews bracket integrated
  • Pocket friendly

Cons:

  • Not the toughest rest
  • Noisy
  • Arrows can move around
  • “Un-cockable” arrow
  • No clicker for adjustments

5. Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro Rest:

Trophy Taker RH Smackdown Pro Rest

Via Amazon.com

Well, the Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro is a budget and beginner-friendly rest.

It’s designed for both hunting and target competition.

Key features:

This surprised me: The “multi-entrance” for your arrow.

You can attach the arrow from front to back or slide it through the container bracket.

The fall away rest works flawlessly without breaking the bank.

Plus:

You get to take advantage of all of these neat functions:

  • No timing worries, thanks to the limb driven system
  • Quick, easy to install and tune without a bow vice
  • The built-in dampening system offers a quiet shot cycle
  • Full containment avoids arrow dropping off
  • Micro-adjustable windage and elevation

Drawbacks:

They don’t incorporate micro-adjustment clickers as advanced as other models.

It’s less precise and smooth than the QAD.

Also… don’t expect it to retain its quality through thousands of shots.

But wait…

If you’re a first time archer, what else do you need when this budget-friendly rest offers so much?

My advice: Get it now!

Pros:

  • Functional
  • Budget-friendly
  • Lifetime warranty
  • A breeze to set up and tune
  • Quiet operation
  • Micro adjustment for windage and elevation

Cons:

  • No clicker for micro-adjustments
  • No locked-down arrow function
  • Less smooth and precise than advanced rest
  • Less durable than other options

Types of Arrow Rests for Compound Bows:

Typically here are 3 most common types of arrow rests:

  • Whisker biscuit (full capture) rest
  • Drop away (fall away) rest
  • Blade (prong) rest

Whisker biscuit (bristle style):

Whisker Biscuits Rests

The whisker biscuit rest is made of synthetic bristles featuring a hole to keep your arrow at the center.

Pros:

The full containment holds your arrows in the center without bouncing out, no matter how you move them around.

It’s beneficial for the extra movement of spot and stalking hunting situations.

Did you know?

Most starter compound bows attach a whisker biscuit rest.

As it's easy to use, low cost, and functional. There are no moving parts which means there’s basically nothing to break.

It’s a good option for backyard archery and beginner archers.

Cons:

While releasing, the arrow fletch fully contacts the rest and can create some issues:

  • Fletching arrows
  • Changing the arrow’s trajectory
  • Slowing the arrow speed by 3-6 fps
  • Creates extra noise

The result is that your arrows more easily wear out, and the flight becomes less accurate due to friction.

Also,

The rest usually last less than 5 years before needing replacement.

The whiskers can harden in cold weather conditions, which causes shooting issues.

Imagine how annoying it would be once the temperature drops and your bow rest freezes up.

Drop away (flapper style):

Drop Away Arrow Rest

The drop away is the most popular type of arrow rest on the market.

It keeps your arrow staying up 90 degrees at full draw and then falls away when you release it.

Generally, there are 3 basic types of drop-away rest:

  • Limb driven
  • Cable driven
  • Inertia

Pros:

This type of arrow rest creates less contact with the arrow shaft. It means you get more accurate shots and closer groupings due to less friction.

You can use a wide range of fletching choices, such as big feathers, fob's, t4 turbo knocks, blazers, and turbo knocks.

It’s more forgiving with inconsistencies with shooting form and is easier to set up and tune.

Cons:

The drop away rest has more moving parts, which means a greater chance of product failure.

If you get a standard rest, the arrow can drop out of place if you move around or set down your bow.

Besides that, it’s also more expensive than whisker biscuit rest.

It’s a good choice for experienced archers who need higher accuracy.

Blade (prong) rest:

prong arrow rest

Via Amazon.com

Blade rests had a long history in archery before whisker biscuits and drop away rests appeared.

The prong or v-blade supports your arrow throughout the drawing cycle.

Generally speaking, it’s exceptionally accurate for 3D and indoor shooting.

Pros:

It’s cheap, reliable, and easy to tune. There are no moving parts, and it causes less problems.

It’s a norm for top-of-the-line shooters who can hold the arrow steadily on the rest.

Look around the tournament and competition. They USE BLADE RESTS for great 10-ring accuracy.

Cons:

If you shoot a high-pound bow, the arrow will quickly bounce off if you shake your bow.

Stabilizing your rest and arrow outdoors on windy days is also challenging.

Not only that:

Blade rests require more time to make a smooth draw, aim, and shoot consistently.

That’s why it’s less preferred in bowhunting and better suited for competition.

It can tend to break and bend. However, replacing it is easy, taking less than 2 minutes.


Limb Driven Arrow Rests Vs. Cable Driven: Which Is Better?

Limb driven and cable driven rests are in the drop away rest category.

They’re reliable due to providing minimum contact or friction to the arrow flight.

But there are still some differences:

Limb Driven Rests:

Cord attaches to limb

As the name implies, limb-driven rests feature a cord tied directly from the rest to your compound bow's top/bottom limb.

Advantages: 

  1. It’s easy to use and repair in the field.
  2. If something cuts your cord, you can replace it with a shoelace, and you’re good to go again.
  3. Setting up and tuning it properly takes less time and thought, as there are no awkward spots to deal with. All you have to do is tie the cable to the limb, and that’s it.

Disadvantages:

  1. There’s room for arrow movement that often drops out if you let it down.
  2. The connecting cord might catch on the brush as you hunt, making extra noise. But it’s not a big deal if you hunt in a ground blind or tree stand with fewer issues like this.
  3. This type of rest is more pricey than the cable driven option. In my experience, the extra cost is worth the money. Since the trade off is that you get a lighter weight rest and allow more consistent shots.

Cable Driven Rest:

Rest Cord attaches to string

Cable driven rests connect to the spring launcher and the string on the bow via a cord.

Target shooters prefer cable driven rest due to their precision tuning. It gives them a slight edge over competitors.

Spot and stalk hunters also love it due to the ability to have it ready to shoot.

You’re able to lock the arrow at a cocked position while waiting for the deer to appear.

Advantages:

  1. The rest fully supports and contains your arrow at a nocked position.
  2. It means losing your arrow is hard, no matter how much you shake it around during a spot-and-stalk.
  3. The cable driven system is as close to fail-proof as possible if you install and tune it properly.

Disadvantages:

  1. It’s more tricky as you have to “time” the rest.
  2. As a rule of thumb, you need to lift the rest upright at full draw during the last inch of the draw cycle. Then you can securely tie the cord.
  3. If the string stretches, it also affects your timing.

So what’s now?

Our final choice for the best drop away arrow rest for compound bows is the: QAD Ultra-rest MXT/ IMS.

editor's choice

Via Amazon.com

Here are a few reasons you must grab one:

  • Not as pricey as Hamskea, although not quite as functional as Ripcord
  • Precise tuning for target shooting
  • Lightweight for hunting
  • Locks the arrow in place
  • Simple to set up
  • Quiet
  • Smooth draw
  • Will boost your confidence

So which one do you prefer: QAD, Hamskea, or Vapor Trail? Or are you still happy using the classic whisker biscuit rest?

Let us know below.

Remmembert to check out top bow sights reviews to improve your accuracy even more!

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.

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