Gear Review – Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro Arrow Rest

I have been shooting a QAD drop-away rest for years, and although I haven’t had any problems with it, I decided to move in a new direction for my 2013 Elite bows.  I wanted something quieter, easier to setup and tune, and simpler in design.  I did a lot of research to find the best limb-driven, full containment arrow rest for my needs, and I settled on the Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro.

Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro Arrow Rest

The Benefits of Limb-Driven Rests

Before I dive into the review and explain why I chose to use a limb-driven rest, it is important to note that the Smackdown Pro allows for a variety of configurations – including lower limb, upper limb, upward cable, and downward cable driven setups.

The most common drop-away rests are activated by the bow’s downward-traveling buss cable.  When the bow is drawn, the downward-traveling cable pulls the rest’s cord tight, which raises the rest’s launcher.  On a limb-driven rest the mechanics work in reverse – the rest’s cord is under tension at rest, which holds the launcher down, and as the bow is drawn the rest’s cord becomes slack, allowing the launcher to rise.

In short, cord tension on a limb-driven rest holds the launcher down (while the bow is at rest), whereas tension on a downward-cable driven rest causes the launcher to rise (while the bow is at full draw).

The beauty of a limb-driven rest is that it doesn’t have to be timed! When you setup a cable-driven rest you have to carefully set the timing of the cord’s tension, and thus the timing of the launcher’s rising and falling.  However, since a limb-driven rest needs tension to fall (not rise), the launcher is always going to fall at the right time, according to the bow’s limb movement.  “Timing” a limb-driven rest is as simple as ensuring that the rest’s cord is under tension while the bow is at rest, and that the launcher is completely down.  That’s it.

Another downside to a cable-driven rest is that it loads the bow’s cables with additional torque as the rest’s cord is pulled tight.  This torque can affect the bow’s timing, and obviously a limb-driven rest avoids this.

Finally, a limb-driven rest supports the arrow longer throughout the shot than a cable-driven rest.  This additional support allows the arrow to stabilize during the launch sequence, which translates to more consistent flight downrange.

Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro Arrow Rest

Silence Is Golden

The Smackdown Pro is, without a doubt, the quietest rest that I have used.  The rest is silent throughout the draw cycle, thanks to the Smackdown’s internal dual bearings.  The steel launcher is fully wrapped in a fleece-type material, and upon the arrow’s release the launcher falls into built-in rubber dampeners.  The rest’s containment ring is also coated in a silent rubber material.  There’s no “spring” or click noise with the Smackdown Pro; I can’t say the same about my QAD.

Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro Arrow Rest

The Smackdown Pro comes with a universal limb clasp to attach the rest’s activation cord, but as you can see in the photo above, I simply tied the cord to my lower limb.  When using the tie-on method, the cord can then be tightened by using the set screw on the rest’s body, which makes it easy to fine-tune the tension, or even repair the rest in the field, if necessary.  Speaking of the rest’s cord, the only complaint that I have with this rest is that the cord stretches quite a bit when it is first installed.  But it is a minor inconvenience since tightening the cord takes just seconds.

While we are on the topic of attaching the rest to your limb, I should mention that it makes no functional difference if you decide to attach the cord to the top or bottom limb.  There are reasons that some choose one limb over the other – such as routing the cord around a quiver, or making  sure that the cord isn’t in your sight picture at full draw – but as far as performance is concerned, it doesn’t matter.

Construction & Durability

One of the main reasons that I chose the Smackdown Pro over other full-containment, limb-driven rests is because Trophy Taker has a long history of producing solid, durable, and reliable rests.  The Smackdown Pro features high quality bearings and all-metal construction, but due to its sleek and low-profile design, the Smackdown Pro is also a lightweight addition to your bow.

When you talk about Trophy Taker products you can’t overlook the fact that these products are developed and tested by extremely dedicated and accomplished hunters, built right here in the US, and backed by an unconditional warranty.  I simply have more trust in the Smackdown’s design and construction than I do in other rests, which means that it is my rest of choice for critical hunts, such as my upcoming elk hunt.

In Conclusion

I’m obviously a fan of this rest.  So much so that I have bought two of them – one for my 2013 Elite Answer and one for my 2013 Elite Hunter.  If you are looking for a versatile, durable, and quiet rest, with an unconditional warranty – then be sure to consider the Trophy Taker Smackdown Pro.

(I should also mention that the 2013 Smackdown Pro now features a spring-loaded arrow loading gate in place of the bristled loading gap that you see in these photos.)

The Author

Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. Learn more about Sole Adventure or get in touch with Mark...

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  • Al Quackenbush

    Great review, Mark. I am a huge fan of limb-driven rests and this one looks t be a winner. I am glad i am not the only one who has heard the noise of the QADs. Great rest, but noisy. Well written review!

    • SoleAdventure

      I appreciate it, Al. The noise and overall “feel” of the Smackdown is much better than the QAD.

  • Allan K.

    Nice review Mark. I also switched to a limb driver rest and couldn’t be happier. However, I have wondered since the tension holds the arm down, (I’m assuming the spring would be at tension when the arm is down), does the spring wear out, since it’s at tension more often?

    • SoleAdventure

      Great question, Allan. I’ve researched that quite a bit (for both arrow rests and keeping gun magazines loaded), and the general opinion is that a spring wears out from “cycles”, not being kept in a compressed state. Trophy Taker, and others, have been making limb-driven rests for a long time and I haven’t heard of a higher failure rate with limb-driven rests over “traditional” fall-away rests that don’t keep the springs under tension.

  • Kurtis Baus

    Hey Mark, just wanted to say I love your blog and the advice you give. I have been having a problem with my Smackdown Pro. I have had it for 2 weeks now and am having trouble getting it setup right. I paper tuned it just the way i like it. Sighted it in, and then after 40 or so arrows through my bow, my shots were dropping at 40 yards pretty bad. I noticed that even though I had tightened everything really well (as tight as I could get it), the force of the dropaway cord tightening after every shot had actually pulled the rests elevation adjustment down considerably.

    Have you heard of this problem? Did I get a bum rest? Should I go to the hardware store and buy a new “tougher” screw?

    • SoleAdventure

      No, Kurtis, I haven’t heard of that problem, or experienced it with the couple of Smackdown rests that I have. I would call Trophy Taker – I’m sure they’ll take care of you.

      • Kurtis Baus

        I heard back from Trophy Taker already. They said this is a known issue with some of the Smackdown Pros that have a ‘button-head’ elevation screw. He suggested that I switch out the crew to a ‘socket-head’ screw that I can tighten harder because the socket head screws have a larger Allen head hole. He said that in the newer models of the Smackdown Pro they have switched to this style of screw for this exact purpose. So if you are having this problem you can pick up a 10/32 – 1/2″ socket head screw and it should keep it from slipping.

        • SoleAdventure

          Great info, Kurtis, Thank you for sharing that with us.