archery releases

Hook VS. Caliper Archery Release – What’s The Difference?

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I’ve been shooting a dual caliper wrist release for years and am considering trying something different.  I started to research hook releases and wondered if they might be better or worse than a caliper release.

Dual caliper bow releases have been a staple in the archery industry for a long time and provide even release of the string or D-loop.  Hook releases however offer a quicker, easier way to connect to the string and many people report they release more smoothly and are quieter.

But wait, there’s more!  It seems there’s a number of opinions floating around the archery community so let’s dive in further and see how each of these types of releases works and compares.

You can also head straight over to my Recommended Releases section if you like

Hook vs. Caliper Archery Release

Over the years there have been a number of ways that a release aid could be attached to your bow: by rope, hook, caliper, etc.  Today we’re looking to compare the caliper style release to the hook style and see how they differ. I also wrote an article all about back tension releases.

Both types of release heads can be found in either a handheld or wrist release depending on your personal preference.  If you’re unsure which is best for you, then you may want to try out a few.

Wrist strap releases are a favorite among bowhunters and many recreational shooters.  However you will rarely if ever see anything but a handheld release being used at professional events.

What is a Caliper Bow Release

The most common type of caliper release is the dual caliper.  This is essentially a pair of symmetrical jaws that open simultaneously when the release trigger is pulled. The mechanism is typically a ball bearing type setup. 

Single caliper releases have just 1 jaw that moves while the other side of the release is stationary.  In a way it’s sort of like a hook release but without being open on one side.

The idea of a dual caliper release is that it provides equal distribution of friction as the bow string or D loop slips through the calipers, or jaws.

This helps prevent the bow string from having any torque put on it, or any left to right tension. This will ensure minimal interference on the flight of the arrow.

For an even better shot and more adjustability you can get a dual caliper release with a rotating head.  This will let you get your anchor point just right without torquing the bowstring at all.  

TRU Ball Shooter Release with Caliper head
This TRU Ball Shooter Release features a caliper head

If the head attaches to the strap with a rigid mount, you need to be careful not to rotate your hand during shot execution.

Caliper releases allow you to shoot either with a D-loop or right off the string if you so choose.  These days most people shoot with some type of string loop anyway.

What is a Hook Bow Release

The hook style release aid has become more popular in recent years.  25 years ago when I first started shooting a compound bow the hook release didn’t exist, or if it did it hadn’t become mainstream yet.

This type of release only has one moving part at the point of connection to the bow, the hook.  As the name implies, it is shaped like a hook and is open on one side.

This Release from TRU Ball features a Hook style head

When the trigger is pulled, the single moving hook mechanism releases the string with minimal effect on the bow string.  Most archers report a very positive feel with this type of release.

Unlike with a caliper release, a hook release should really only be used with a d-loop.  In all honesty, most people will say that you should be using a string (or D) loop anyway to reduce torque on the bow and save on having to re-serve the string periodically.

Which One is Better – Hook or Caliper?

I’m sure you can find people that will argue one way or the other until they are blue in the face.  But you aren’t reading this article just for fun, you want to know which one’s better, right?

When I first started researching this topic I was convinced I’d be sticking with my dual caliper release.  I’ve been shooting one for years and have been really happy with it.

However, at this point I’m starting to think I may be a convert to the hook type.  After receiving input from numerous people shooting a hook bow release I was able to compile a few common themes.

Nearly every archer claimed that the hook style head was smoother upon release than the caliper type heads.  In addition, and perhaps as a product of being smoother, the hook releases were also quieter.

The most agreed upon advantage was the speed at which you can attach a hook vs. a caliper.  Bowhunters in particular claim this as a huge advantage and said you don’t even have to look down, you just hook it on by feel and away you go.

In contrast, a dual caliper release normally requires you to look down and see what you’re doing so that you can get the string between the jaws of the release.

Also, because of the friction as the string leaves the mechanism you’ll chew through string loops or bowstring serving much quicker.

My Conclusion on Hook Vs. Caliper

Without talking about price up until this point my honest opinion is that the hook release is a better choice.  It’s quieter, has a more positive feel and puts less wear on your string loop.

Does that mean that caliper releases suck? Absolutely not, and honestly from an accuracy standpoint they’re very similar.

As I mentioned above, the hook style head has some advantages that are intriguing for me, but if you’re not a fan of that head you might actually shoot worse with it and that’s counter productive.

Hook vs. Caliper Cost Comparison

Like any product, there are cheap ones and expensive ones and middle of the road ones.  So I could speculate about price all day long. But I did look at price ranges for each style at popular retailers such as Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, Amazon, etc.

Here’s a few things that affect the price:

  • Brand
  • Head type (caliper or hook)
  • Handheld or Strap
  • Adjustability

Let me walk you through the price points.  

The lowest priced releases were all dual caliper releases with a wrist strap of various brands.

Moving up in price you get to the hook releases, still with a wrist strap and of course higher quality dual caliper releases. Keep going to find the handheld releases, dual caliper first, then hook style.

Pricing gets more mixed as you climb north as adjustability, quality, and comfort all play a role in the price of the release.

You could spend $100 on a real nice dual caliper wrist strap release, or that same amount on an OK handheld hook release.

If your #1 concern is pricing, then you’ll probably have to go with a dual caliper release with a wrist strap as the hook releases start easily $20 higher. You can check out my best archery release recommendations by clicking here.

Jason Brooks

I've been involved with archery for over 25 years off and on and am always interested in learning as much as I can. I've taken part in local tournaments and even 3D course setup.