Ever hunt at dawn or dusk? Of course, you do! Any hunter worth their salt knows that’s when the deer are out and about, the problem for bowhunters is locating your arrow after you’ve run into these out-and-about deer in the woods.
The answer for a lot of hunters is installing lighted nocks onto their arrows. That way you can track the arrow in flight, and it can help you locate the arrow in the brush after the shot. The quality of these nocks varies widely, as does their legality, so you need to know what you’re getting into before you buy these things. Here’s the best lighted nock, as well as some buying tips bought with experience in the woods.
Best Lighted Nocks - Table
Benefits of Lighted Nocks
The main benefit of using lighted nocks is being able to see your shot from the moment the arrow leaves the string until you walk over and pick it up. Provided it doesn’t skate underneath leaf litter or doesn’t pass through and run off with your target.
Especially now with LED lights and long-lasting batteries that can run continuously up to 24 hours you can really take advantage of these nocks for your archery set up.
The ability to track and recover an arrow much easier is one of the best things to come out in recent years in regard to technology on hunting arrows. Pairing them with high performance carbon fiber arrows is a potent combination!
Make sure the knocks you’re planning to use are legal for all the areas you will be hunting. Hunting regulations can vary by county, by hunting club, and especially by state and season. Often, if a law bans electronic sights during archery season, they’ll also have a ban on illuminated nocks.
If you still want to use them, see if they’re allowed on bows during gun season. If you hunt with a bow no matter the season, adding them in after early archery can be an option.
Reviews Top 5 Best Lighted Nocks
When it comes to innovation and competition in the archery industry the largest name in high tech arrows is carbon express. This is one of the best lighted nocks you can have because it adds to the already excellent launchpad nock the fully rugged LED.
The carbon express launchpad lighted nocks is designed to be a perfectly balanced, lightweight and precision engineered nock for compound and high-speed bows. They revolve around a precision engineered and manufactured nock point that is secure enough for a draw but doesn’t slow or skew the shot on release. The lightweight design is fully carried over to this illuminated version and gains a little weight, and is the lightest and highest quality illuminated nock on the market.
These nocks come in blue, green, pink, and red whichever you choose you won’t be disappointed. The light is activated on release and has a ridiculously long battery life. The biggest advantage to these nocks is their overall build quality and precision standard these nocks are made to.
They’re made to .10 straightness and made to an extremely lightweight, and concentrically balanced, 18.5 grains. A difference from other brands that make nocks that will wobble and are unstable in flight. These excellent nocks will work in any carbon arrows having an internal diameter of 0.244 in. through 0.246 in.
- Precision engineered design
- High accuracy
- Very bright
- Not universal
- Can’t replace the batteries
The first thing you’ll notice about these lighted nocks is that they are bright. One of the brightest on the market! These are super easy to trace all the way to the target and can be seen from a long distance at night when it comes time to look for your arrow. That brightness is available in green and amber, both of which are very bright and easy to see.
The real advantage to these nocks is the design that allows them to turn off so easily. All you have to do is gently pull them back until it clicks and then it’s turned off. You don’t have to worry about carrying a tool with you if you go out to practice, or if you’re going hunting.
Speaking of which, this is the only design that allows you to completely turn them off. Simply pull the nock backwards, then rotate the aluminum bezel and release, there you go! It won’t turn on again until you pull the nock back, rotate again, and release. That is a huge step forward in design and technology for the illuminated nock competition.
The battery life that is saved with the ability to turn the unit off so easy will likely make these last for at least two seasons, maybe more. The batteries themselves will last for a full 24hours at constant on. Meaning if you shoot an arrow in the morning, you’ll have all night to find it! Simply the best battery life on the market combined with a supremely bright LED.
- Extremely bright
- Only nock you can turn off permanently
- Disposable battery
- Larger than other nocks
These nocks are interesting because they come from the same manufacturer that makes Rage broadheads, a revolutionary design that made expandable broadheads popular, they’ve that knowledge of delicate, critical engineering into making LED illuminated archery nocks.
This exact model fits the unusually large inside diameter of .246, most notable Gold tip arrows. In a market, awash in extremely thin carbon fiber arrows, those are one of the best options for a perfect fit in the wider arrows out there.
The nockturnal lighted nock itself is pretty unremarkable, a simple nock made of high strength plastic. The feature that sets these nocks apart is the ruggedness and durability they have. They are designed to work pretty much no matter what. While being on the slightly heavier side they glow for over 20 hours, and are fully waterproof and optimized for rugged hard use.
These are available in red, green, blue, and pink. All of them are bright, high quality and will get the job done no matter what.
- Rugged design
- Long battery life
- Not as bright as other options
These are the granddaddy design hat is still relevant has distinct advantages and disadvantages you should consider.
The biggest downside to the illuminated nocks is their size, weight, and complexity. They are far larger and more complex than other designs, and that means they have more material more moving parts and is heavier just by nature.
That weight and design gives you the ability to not only replace the battery but means the arrow’s impact triggers the LED to activate. This is important if you’re unconcerned with the LED glowing flight, a concern for hunting game like turkeys, deer, and small game that is often shot at long distances and could cause them to jump the string even if they don’t hear the shot.
The next benefit this provides is the ability to change out the batteries. No other quality design offers the ability to switch out fresh batteries. You don’t have to worry about conserving the battery or wondering how much life is left in them, you can just switch them out each time you go afield or after long practice sessions.
A specialty nock indeed these have different advantages and disadvantages that could be exactly what you need when you go hunting.
- Replaceable battery
- Activates on contact
- Not on in flight
- Heaviest and bulkiest design
- Complicated design
Illuminated nocks for a crossbow are much less common because activating them is difficult due to the design that crossbow bolts have. Without a clip-on nock, which crossbows don’t use, it is difficult to have a reliable switch to activate the LED. The answer languished for a while but a reliable answer has come from Carbon Express, a giant in the archery industry.
This is a one-piece aluminum unit that is ready to go out of the box after you tailor the fully adjustable design for your exact crossbow bolt. They are a universal fit and takes advantage of the heavier crossbow bolt designs to make the nock brighter, more rugged, and offer more performance in the field. These are extremely high-quality LED nocks that, while on the heavy side, are excellent.
The mechanism works around an integrated aluminum housing and a reusable spacer tube that is removed when the crossbow is cocked. The violent force of the bowstring is what activates the LED to glow. Available in red, green, and blue, these are exceptionally large and bright LED illuminated nocks. You can really bet your hunt on these.
Carbon Express has really hit one out of the park with this design by pioneering an excellent solution to bring illuminated nocks to the crossbow bolt market, and base the design round the already successful Launch Pad nock. A shallow V design that is a consistent, reliable nock that isn’t hindered by the addition of the LED.
If you’re in the market for an illuminated best lighted nock crossbow, this is really your only option.
- Most reliable crossbow design
- Excellent launch pad nock
- High quality aluminum design
- You have to remember to remove the spacer
Best Lighted Nock - Buying Tips
Keep a few things in mind when you go shopping for your lighted nocks:
- Batteries Replaceable - On the vast majority of illuminated nocks you cannot replace the batteries that are included when you purchase them. They are designed to be used until the battery dies and then replaced. There are few designs on the market that allow for replaceable batteries but the batteries they use are somewhat hard to come by. Make sure if you are going hunting for a long trip to bring either a spare knock or spare batteries for each of the illuminated nocks you have in your quiver.
- The color is Important - Make sure the color that you plan on using is easy to see. Many of the colors that are used on knocks are simply a white LED that is filtered through a colored plastic. This makes them dimmer than either a red, green or blue LED that uses a clear knock. Make sure that if you hunt with night vision you don't choose a green knock that is going to be extremely hard to pick up through your night vision equipment.
- Be careful With Weight - Whichever design you choose for your knocks make sure that the weight of the system keeps the weight forward of the center of the arrow for the most accuracy. Consider the fact that you might have to upgrade or change out aspects of your arrows when you adopt lighted nocks to keep the overall balance in check. Otherwise, you may end up with lighted nocks, but poor accuracy.
- Don’t Cement the Nocks - Even if the manufacturer states that you should use a heavy adhesive when installing your lighted nocks make sure you don't use so much that the knocks cannot be replaced when the batteries die. Many designs are disposable and meant to be replaced when the battery dies and if they are cemented in too tightly or too securely you will have to destroy the arrow to get the knock out. An expensive process to have to repeat each season.
- Follow all Instructions - When you install your knocks make sure you follow all manufacturer's instructions. Each and every design is different and the way you installed lighted nocks from one manufacturer might be the completely wrong way to do it, even with a seemingly identical design. The last thing you want to do is ruin your arrows or your new nocks by installing them improperly. When in doubt your arrows to a pro shop and have a professional install your knocks if you're not sure.
The best thing you can do for your bow hunting experience is to make sure you outfit yourself with the proper equipment. Part of that is knowing whether or not you need a device like an illuminated nock and making sure the product you choose is decent quality.
If you stick to the major brands, it’s hard to go wrong. The examples above won’t steer you in the wrong direction and you can rely on them to last all season and stay illuminated after impact. Go out in the field and test them. The best lighted nock won’t do you any good while they’re in your quiver!