An often-overlooked part of the bow is the D-loop, some simply view it as a piece of looped string that helps the archer draw the bow, but in reality, there is so much more to it.
Many new bowhunters may not even know the variations of D-loops available to them and for the most part, some may not even care.
But for those archers that truly want the best performance out of their bow, will want to know the difference between a string and a metal D-loop.
The metal D-loop is an interesting concept that makes sense in principle but when it comes to meeting the real needs of archers one must wonder, does it make the grade?
The bow industry is great because it is constantly pushing the boundaries of innovation and just when we think the latest bows have reached that pinnacle, another year brings even cooler designs and technological advances.
I am sure this was the same train of thought when it came to the metal D-loop. The basic idea behind the metal D-loop was durability and ease of attaching the loop to the bowstring, without having to make special knots and burning off the tips.
Yes, for those that know how to tie on a string D-loop the process is easy but to a newcomer that only needs to tighten four screws, the metal D-loop looks more appealing.
Attaching the metal D-loop to the string with two sets of screws allows the archer, whether it be in competition or hunting, the ease and speed to replace the loop.
Bowhunters are notorious for wanting their bows to be as light and quiet as possible, hence they will scrutinize every inch of their bow to achieve the desired outcome.
Unfortunately, when the topic of a metal D-loop comes up in either a hunting forum or amongst bow hunters swapping stories in the bow shop, the number 1 complaint is the amount of noise and additional weight that is added to the bow.
For those two reasons alone, the metal D-loop will always be placed in the category of “Good idea, but not practical”.
Before we completely toss out the metal D-loop, it is only fair we list a few of its pros and cons.
- Strength and durability
- Easy to attach to the bow string with four screws
- Spares can be interchanged in the field with ease
- Heavier, adds weight to the string. Lightest D-loop on market weighs 21.7g
- Increased noise and vibration
- Overtime will wear into jaws or hook of release
- Screws can pinch or erode the string
- Shape is non-adjustable
- Slippage of the D-loop if screws are loose
- Loose one or more of the screws and the loop is useless
String D-loops are by far the popular option amongst bow hunters and for good reason. Yet they do have some flaws, albeit small ones, and when one considers those flaws it easy to see why the metal D-loops were created.
D-loop string isn’t just a piece of cheap nylon rope or an off-cut of paracord that was lying round the bow shop, there is so much more to it.
Remember bow manufacturers pushing the limits of innovation and technology? Well, they did the same with bowstrings and for good reason.
Don’t forget, that tiny, looped piece of string is the connection between the release that is attached to your arm and the bow, so within that link there can be as much as 60 – 75lbs worth of force.
Therefore, quality string material needs to be used in a D-loop and most importantly tied to the bow string correctly.
The best material currently on the market, in my opinion, is a stiff braided polyester rope. It is durable and grips the strings of the bow well.
The stiffness will also prevent stretching of the D-loop over time which can affect not only your anchor points but the accuracy of the arrow. A string diameter of 2,4mm is best suited for compound bows.
It is clearly obvious the pros of string D-loops outweigh the negatives and offer more confidence to the archer than a metal D-loops.
- Cost efficient
- Minimal damage and wear to release
- Silent and no vibrations to the string
- Size of loop can be adjusted to shooters requirements
- Lighter than metal loops
- Signs of wear or needing the replacement can be picked up early
- Adaptable to all release types
- Difficult to attach to the string without the correct know how
- Less durable than metal under stress
Metal D-Loop vs String
We have discussed both metal d-loops and string d-loops individually above. But how they stack up against each other in the areas that matter most.
Weight is an important factor to bow hunters. Everything we do we consider weight, from broadheads to shafts, and even the bow itself.
Sometimes added weight to a bowstring is useful and helps with speed, like speed nocks. However, d-loops aren’t placed optimally for speed increases, in fact, the opposite may be true and heavier d-loops will likely slow down the bow.
String d-loops have the advantage in this area. A two-inch piece of string d-loop material weighs less than 2 grains, compared to a metal d-loop there is a significant difference, as metal d-loops average around 20+ grains.
Noise and Vibration
Often with unoptimized weight placement on a bow and particularly a bowstring, there is a noise and vibration increase.
This is true for metal d-loops. Due to the extra weight and the type of material, there is increased noise and vibration compared to the string d-loops.
Durability is often overlooked on d-loops. People will buy the best equipment in every other area of the bow but not put much consideration into the d-loop, perhaps because it is such a small component.
However, the use of the bow hinges on that small component, so durability is worth considering.
Generally, the metal d-loop is going to be more durable. String d-loop material can fray and slowly break down over time with much use.
However, materials like BCY are becoming much more durable while still allowing flexibility.
While metal d-loops are generally more durable as the product, there are other areas of wear and tear to think about.
Metal d-loops typically cause more wear and tear to bowstrings and releases due to being a harder material and in areas where friction can cause damage.
Flexibility is a huge consideration and one of the main reasons why sting d-loops are much more popular than metal d-loops.
This is especially true for archers using handheld releases like a thumb release. As you draw back and twist your hand to find your anchor point the bowstring will end up being torqued with a metal d-loop.
This puts strain on the bowstring, as well as the archer. Most hunters much prefer to use a string d-loop for this reason alone.
Interestingly string d-loops are much more popular and it has nothing to do with the cost even though it is cheaper.
String d-loops can be purchased in cut lengths or full rolls. In full rolls, it will likely be more expensive than a metal d-loop but a full roll would last a very long time.
Cut lengths of string d-loop are cheaper than metal d-loops but generally wouldn’t last as long. However, they still last a long time and generally come in slightly cheaper overall.
Maybe there are some parts of a bow that don’t need to be tweaked and enhanced to the highest levels of human technology, sometimes a simple piece of string is best.
The D-loop is a crucial component of any bow there is no doubt about it, but that does not mean it has to be complicated.
Yes, the intentions of a metal D-loop mean well, but for me there are to many negatives that will not persuade me and many other bow hunters from replacing our string loops with a metal one.
With all that said, I still believe there is a place for metal D-loops in the world of bowhunting. As mentioned earlier, one of the negatives of the string loop is that they are difficult to replace and time-consuming.
So, for those that like to prepare for any situation, it may be handy to keep one or two metal D-loops in your backpack. That way if your string loop breaks and you find yourself out in the woods hot on the heels of a herd of elk moving slowly through the timber, you can attach the D-loop in next to no time and get back to the stalk.