[Horsebow] Review: Flagella Dei Hungarian-Magyar bow


New member
Hey there, I have been a member here (lurking mostly) for a long time but haven't posted much despite learning a great deal. Now I hope I might be able to contribute something useful finally. So here is a quick hands-on review on my latest purchase, the Hungarian-Magyar horse bow by Flagella Dei.

A little background info first: I have been shooting and making selfbows on and off for almost as long as I can remember. I have some experience with recurves as well, but for the past few years I have been mostly into compounds (currently shooting a 70lb Hoyt Charger). These days I am getting back into self-bows more seriously again. I've always been fond of compact hunting recurves. Unfortunately, at my build (6'2") it's not always easy to find a good bow that doesn't stack too badly at longer draw lengths. It was mostly for that reason that I became interested in horse bows as a possible alternative. Not knowing what to expect, I thought it better to start with an inexpensive bow to see if the style suits me at all.

A number of Hungarian-based manufacturers are producing more or less similar fiberglass and/or laminated horse bows - Grozer, Kassai, Toth etc. However, it was Flagella Dei that really caught my attention as they seem to offer a range of laminated glass/wood at a very competitive price (ca. 100 EUR). I was looking particularly at their laminated Hungarian-Magyar bow. What's more, they happened to have that model in stock exactly at the draw weight that I wanted (47lb).

I didn't honestly know what to think of that model because there is not all that much detailed, up-to-date information on Flagella Dei bows available. I was only able to find a few decent reviews, and the general consesus didn't seem all that favorable in comparison to Grozer and Kassai. Anyway, I guess I couldn't resist the price tag so I gave it a go. The package arrived very quickly, in just two days (!), and fortunately all in one piece. The bow arrived complete with a black Dacron string (I also ordered two extra strings just in case), stored in a synthetic bag and packed in a thin cardboard box with some bubble wrap.

I bought the black poplar version, with a thin pigskin wrap around the handle and bare limbs with poplar veneer on the back and belly. The transition between the limbs and siyahs is wrapped with black string. There also seems to be some additional reinforcement underneath (possibly fiberglass), which is all the better for the peace of mind. All in all, the initial impression was pretty good - a plain and simple design but made with some attention to detail.

The tiller looks good and even. I have measured the draw weight, which is right on the mark. At my regular draw length (29,5" @ corner of mouth) it's almost exactly 50lb. Drawing back to the ear three-finger Mediterranean style (32") I get to 55lb. Pretty much perfect for me, though at this point I would not like to go much heavier than that. 60lb seems to be about the most I can manage right now with a stickbow or recurve for longer shooting sessions with acceptable accuracy.

So far, I have only been able to squeeze in about an hour of target practice. My instinctive shooting skills are not what they used to be so I tend to limit myself to a maximum range of 20m. Moreso as my target is pretty small to begin with (Rinehart 18-in-1). I think I'm getting to like this bow quite a bit. It doesn't seem to stack at all despite my relatively long draw length.

The draw is really smooth, significantly better than my selfbows and any low- to mid-range recurves that I have ever shot. At 50lb I feel I'm drawing at least 5lb less. I don't find string pinch problematic even when drawing all the way back to the ear. So for me at least the Mediterranean draw works just fine.

Another observation: very little handshock, not that I necessarily mind that very much in a traditional bow. And it's almost dead quiet, so much so that I don't intend to fit string silencers even though I use them on all my selfbows and recurves. Also, the bow seems to be pretty fast. It drives my wooden 125gr tipped arrows deep into the target with a lot of oomph. I will test the velocity some time soon when I get access to a proper chrony.

It's still far too early to tell how this bow will stand up to real use. I will add at least a couple of modifications. I don't care much about tradition for tradition's sake, so I will make a new handle grip with a small arrow rest plus a nocking point on the string. I don't feel comfortable shooting with a thumb ring just yet, so I will stick with the Mediterranean draw for a while at least.

I will add another update in a few weeks once I do some more shooting if there is any interest. BTW, please note that I have no commercial affiliation with Flagella Dei in any shape or form - I simply hope someone finds this useful if looking for more information on that particular brand.



New member
Short update: I've done a good bit of shooting over the last week. Learned a lot and getting to know the bow a little better.

The bow is a lot of fun for sure. It is holding up just fine - no issues whatsoever for now. I really like the smooth draw, which beats a good many hunting recurves in my experience. Accuracy-wise, the Hungarian is not that easy to shoot well compared to a longbow or a longer recurve. The short length tends to magnify any deficiency in form and technique, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to a novice archer.

That said, the bow itself is capable of very good accuracy once tamed and coupled with suitable arrows. During my first shooting sessions I had some difficulties keeping my shots on target, with frequent flyers that missed altogether. Using arrows that were slightly too short for my setup compounded the problem a great deal. Now that I've gotten that part of the equation under control my accuracy is improving. Using gap shooting (as opposed to a purely instinctive style) I managed to score some really nice groups yesterday. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the learning experience so far.

For some reason, I can shoot this bow much better with a glove as opposed to a finger tab. I don't think it has anything to do with string pinch, which isn't really an issue. Maybe it's just something else about the dynamics of the bow that I haven't quite figured out yet. Or simply a matter of personal preference.

Also, I've noticed the bow performs best with relatively heavy arrows. I currently shoot 11/32 pine shafts w/ 4" feathers and 100gr field tips, overall weight approx. 500gr. That seems to work pretty well. However, the bow has a tendency to produce increased noise and hand shock if using very lightweight arrows, probably due to the large siyahs.


Hi Tom

I have also gone the Flagella Dei route with their Mongolian bow.

Very pleased and and good fun to shoot. Stringing it is an art you soon adapt to, it is a more curly, highly reflexed bow when unstrung.