As a custom bow string manufacturer and distributor for bow string material we are always getting asked what is the best material for a crossbow string. There are several factors that come into play when selecting the proper material for each crossbow string. While there are exceptions and oddballs as with anything this article will serve as a basic guide that can aid in helping choose the correct material for your crossbow string.
The major factor that contributes to the crossbow string material is the style of the crossbow. This can be narrowed down to 3 basic designs-teardrop, recurve and compound. Since each of these have different characteristics the crossbow string needs to be tailored to work best for each application.
The first design is the recurve crossbow. This design requires the crossbow string to attach directly to the limbs of the crossbow. Since the crossbow string attaches to the limb the end loops of the crossbow string need to be larger. The most important thing with a recurve crossbow string is knowing what the limbs are made from. On wooden limbs (non reinforced) you need to be certain that the crossbow string is made from dacron material. The dacron material has more ‘give’ during the show and absorbs the energy generated from the crossbow. If using newer ‘fast flight’ or ‘dyneema’ crossbow string materials the bow can be damaged due to the added strength of the material. Conversely if your crossbow limbs have reinforced tips then you are safe to use newer materials such as D97. Using such materials will allow for maximum performance and stability from your crossbow string.
The next design is known as a teardrop. This will be a compound crossbow but will have steel cables that wrap around and have an anchor known as a teardrop. This style of crossbow string will usually have midsized loops and be fairly short in length. On a teardrop crossbow you want to use again use a dacron bow string material for your crossbow string. Just like on the recurve crossbow the steel cables do not absorb the shock and bow damage can result if using the incorrect material for the crossbow string.
Lastly is the compound crossbow. On this style the crossbow string will attach directly to the cam. There will be two styles of these as well. One will have steel cables and the other will have synthetic cables made from the same bow string material as the crossbow string. If the crossbow has steel cables then the crossbow string needs to be made from dacron. If the cables are synthetic then you are safe to use a dyneema material such as D97 for your crossbow string.
I hope this article has helped shed some light on the proper material for each particular crossbow string. Remember that some brands or models of crossbows do vary from these general guidelines. If you are ever in doubt it’s always best to contact the crossbow manufacturer for their recommendation. For more helpful articles check out our blog at www.60xcustomstrings.com/blog/ or join our newsletter.