I originally posted an article comparing string materials 2 years ago. Here's an updated look at how these materials stack up against each other based on what is available to archers today.
What has changed since 2021?
Brownell (while purchased by another company) seems to have disappeared from the scene and their materials are no longer available (at least in the US).
Bloodline (a US company) has expanded their line of materials to offer those designed for recurve as well as compound bows.
Correction: The original FastFlight material is equivalent to BCY's 652 Spectra material and FastFlight Plus is equivalent to BCY's 8125. That information has been corrected in the updated diagram.
In addition to the bow string material characteristics mentioned in the original article (which still hold true), here are a few other factors that should be considered in selecting your material and specifying your string build.
String material is not round
While not new information, this is pertinent to this discussion. String material is more of a flattened fiber, much like tape style dental floss. Bow string material size is measured in denier, a unit of measurement used in the fiber industry and refers to the thickness of the individual threads or filaments.
Many archers hear about strand count and assume that 16 strands of one material is equivalent to 16 strands of another material. That is not the case as materials come in all different thicknesses. Here's how these materials stack up against each other in terms of denier:
The next time you are talking about a strand count, make sure you specify the material you are discussing because it makes a difference!
A 12 strand string made with Mercury compared with a 12 strand B55 string will have a massively different finished outer diameter. I'm pretty sure I could floss with the finished 12 strand Mercury string.
Some materials come in multiple sizes
There are quite a few materials (or material blends) that come in different sizes and are advertised under different names. Here's how these stack up:
BCY 8125 - 1300 denier
BCY D97 - 1600 denier
Bloodline Glory Pro - 880 denier
Bloodline Loyal - 1600 denier
BCY Mercury - 800 denier
BCY Mercury 2 - 1600 denier
Bloodline Brave 99 - 800 denier
Bloodline Tenacity 99 - 1600 denier
SK75 Dyneema + Vectran
BCY 452X - 1200 denier (800 SK75 + 400 Vectran)
BCY 450 Plus - 2350 denier
SK99 Dyneema + Vectran
BCY X99 - 1000 denier
BCY 454 - 1200 denier (800 SK99 + 400 Vectran)
Bloodline Valor 99 - 1200 denier
If you're wanting to switch from one material to another and have an equivalent outer diameter for the finished string (and potentially a similar mass weight string), these denier values can come in handy.
The strand counts detailed below are based on:
Manufacturer strand count recommendation
Manufacturer denier information
String building experience with these materials
Approximate draw weight
This is meant to be a guide to use as a starting point only.
(Blended materials are not included here as I don't use them and would not be comfortable making such recommendations.)
Another big difference between some of the materials discussed here is how the materials are treated.
Waxed materials - All BCY materials are waxed. They recommend that additional wax be added to the finished string periodically to protect the fibers and increase the longevity of the string.
Coated materials - Bloodline and Angel Majesty materials have proprietary coatings that are meant to protect the fibers and cause a bundle of strands to hold together when burnished. They should not be waxed.
Thus far I've not noticed a difference in how they wear.
I hope this helps with understanding of materials across manufacturers so archers can make the best choices for how they are shooting. Again I've made every effort to make sure this information is complete and accurate so you can make the best bowstring material choice. If all this is too much for you and you just want someone to tell you where to start, please contact us at OCD Strings or refer to our recommendations.