Bear Kodiak Magnum Recurve Bow

You don’t have to be a detective to realize I am an archery  fanatic.  And, hey!  I was doing it long before Merida, Legolas and Robin Longstride popularized it.  With a single bow and a handful of arrows, a clever man can feed himself for years.  A bow is safe.  No one ever accidentally shot themselves with a bow they took for unloaded.  They don’t overshoot and send arrows down miles past their target.  They don’t disturb the forest’s peace and quiet.  They are swift and humane, in skilled hands.

So, with all that in mind, and aware that my own archery endeavors have inspired others to take up the art and craft of the bent stick, I thought I’d offer a review of some bows I have used over the years, and later on, some advice on becoming an expert traditional archer.


magnumThe Bear Kodiak Magnum Recurve

The Bear Kodiak Magnum is a heavily recurved, very short and well built bow, a mere 52″ long.  Mine–the one I used for this review, has a 60 lb draw weight.

This is the second time I’ve owned a Bear Kodiak Magnum recurve bow. My first one, I bought used. It was already very old: as best I can figure about 30 years. It was rated for 55 lbs and still drawing 50 at it’s rated 28″ draw. And it was light, fast and easy to handle anywhere. In fact, like I’ve told friends who shoot those ultra-small, itty-bitty, surprisingly heavy compound wheely bows–it was easier to manage than a compound bow. Sure, there is no let off on the draw, but you can pull effectively at more angles, not just directly off the shoulder. And it’s more versatile. You can pull full draw for big game and less draw for small game, if you’re worried about arrow pass through. I often take partridges with my bow and only pull it about a third of the way so the arrows don’t shoot through and get lost in the forest.

I sold the old one because 50 lbs is just too light for me. Not showing off, it’s just power yields speed and speed yields flatter trajectories. As any trad archer knows, learning to line up left and right is relatively easy. The real challenge in archery is the vertical, or mentally calculating an arrow’s arc and drop. The more arrow speed you can get, the flatter the trajectory is going to be so aiming becomes easier.This new Kodiak Magnum I just purchased is a 60 lb draw and it pulls 63 at my 29″ draw. The draw is smooth and very little noticeable stacking. (By the way, I did not experience finger pinch, even at 29″!) Not quite as heavy or fast as my Tomahawk Woodland Hunter longbow at 72 lb at 29″, but nearly so. I don’t even see the difference till I’m shooting at 30 yards and have to add a little more height to the arrows’ flight. I figure the recurved limbs make up for the lighter draw with additional oomph in arrow speed. But then, that’s the purpose of recurving the limbs. (BTW, for us longbow fanatics, it has recently been found that the English probably recurved their longbows.)  Also, if there was hand shock, it was barely noticeable. There was some hand shock on my old Magnum, so maybe Kodiak has improved the new Magnum in this way. And though some persons have written the Magnum is loud, I did not find it loud at all. No louder than my longbow and much quieter than my crossbow. I seem to recall my old Magnum was loud, though. Another improvement?The other reason I bought this bow, apart from that it’s simply a work of art, is I shoot mounted on horse back, from blinds, from stands and the country around here is very thick with brush and scrub, even in deep woods. This bow does it all great! I love my longbow, but it is simply inconvenient for this thick kind of country and nearly impossible on a horse. The much shorter Magnum is easy to get into dense brush, does fine in tight spaces, and it is a blast shooting from a horse’s back. Plus, it’s small enough I can sling it over my back like a rifle, or drop it into a rifle-like saddle case. A real boon for a horseman.It is a magnificent bow, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I got it last night and put 50 shots through it this morning. It was pouring snow and the wind was whipping at my wooded mountaintop homestead. It shot sweet as butterscotch pudding.

I think I noticed some other small differences from the older version of the Magnum (it’s been around 50 years since the original Magnums were made), and I would call them improvements. The arrow shelf is now crowned, and I am almost certain (don’t quote me on this) that my old Magnum’s shelf was flat. I think the grip is narrower now, and the shelf is more centered, too. I like that–more of a longbow feel. My old Magnum’s grip felt broader in my hand and when I would switch from my longbow to it, I would tend to miss to the left with the Magnum due to the offset.  However, with the new Magnum I did not experience any need to adjust the horizontal.  I did have to raise it a bit higher (as compared to the slightly faster Tomahawk longbow) to accommodate arrow arc, but only at 30 yards did that become noticeable. The Magnum is a little slower than my longbow, but barely. It makes up for it with its convenient size.

This bow will go everywhere with me. On my regular treks into the woods, hunting, foraying for mushrooms and wild edible plants, and teaching courses on woodscraft. This bow is going to be my new nearly constant companion.

Final thoughts: This bow is a work of art, in appearance and performance! Worth every penny and durable.


7 thoughts on “Bear Kodiak Magnum Recurve Bow

  1. Larry R Trow

    Cliff, your site has seem to have made me into a chattery little creature!. I like your writing I feel your enthusiasm and joy in what you pursue. Truly you remind me of myself 20 years ago. You seem like a person who looks at every stroll or ride an adventure, hopeing to find the end of the rainbow, but inwardly scared that finding it would end your journey to pursue the real fantasy of just being free to do what you want. Your desire to continue to find things to build and pass on your knowedge and skills are evident that you are excited to share your new wealth of information. I look forward to reading about your new exploits, so have fun making your next journey our adventure.

    Larry R Trow

    • Hello Larry, thank you for your kind words. I try to live in that place between the heart and the mind. It was the between places that were sacred and magical in the Old World, so it works for me. I think my years in the wilds have given me a somewhat different perspective, and I just hope to share a simple message: the world is enchanted, so live with her well and gently.


  2. Larry R Trow

    Cliff I’m flattered that you would respond to my comment of the article you had written. Like an old song, or the smell of fuel and paint in an aircraft as you settle into the cockpit a few words of a story can catapult you back to the past and bring untold pleasure to your intire sole. It is this that I wish to Humbly thank you for.

    Best of journeys


  3. Arturo Flores

    Great review on a very underestimated factory bow. I dont own a Kodiak but I do shoot a Bear Super Grizzly which at 58″ is considered too short for my 29″ D/L . Short, manueverable,light, repeatable shot after shot, exceptionally fast and its a one piece with no moving parts-absolutely perfect for hunting. Apart from what I wrote the bow is affordable. Great review keep up the good work.

  4. I enjoyed your article on the Bear Kodiak Magnum, having just purchased one myself a few weeks ago. Mine is a lefty (40 lb. draw). I have only a 27 in. Draw length and find this a great performer. After experimenting with different shafts I have found it likes Gold Tip Traditionals in 35-55 with 125 gr. points, and Easton XX75 aluminum 2013’s with 125 gr. points. I am quite sure your old Bear that you spoke of did have a flat shelf, the 1968 Bear Grizzly that I bought back then and still own today has a flat shelf too. Cheers! Keith Wilson.

  5. Justin

    I have a old kodiak magnum just got it yesterday actually what arrows should I buy it’s 55 50lbs draw I was told easton 28′ arrows?

    • 28″ is standard for most men. Your need may vary depending on length of arm, chest and overall height. If you have a bowyer or bow shop in your town, they can help you determine the right arrow length for you. You need to find your anchor point and the arrow should draw to the the point where the arrowhead almost touches the shelf at full draw.

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