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Evaluations : Jon E. Silks
Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 - 18:37:03

Evaluation: Tru Fire Judge
By Jon E. Silks
Sep 19, 2005, 09:01

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Tru-Fire 'Judge" Buckle Release Aid

By Jon E. Silks

Camo Buckle 'Judge'

As many of you most likely are, I have long been a fan of Tru-Fire Releases. Year after year they find a way to make an already great product even better. Two of my favorite Release features courtesy of Tru-Fire are the rotating jaws in front of the trigger and the Evolution Buckle strap. I am particularly impressed with the latter. It saves many archers a tremendous amount of trouble!

This year they have taken their popular Judge Series and have added a camo finish. Let’s take a look at the Judge Buckle Camo and see what it has to offer and how well it performs.



The Judge features a V-strap that is made of three layers. The top, or outer, layer is made of leather finished in Realtree Hardwoods Camo, the middle layer is a special anti-stretch material and the bottom, or inner, layer is a soft felt-type material. Like most V-style buckle straps one leg of the “V” has a buckle at the end while the other has holes along its length for attachment and adjustment. That is about as far as the similarities go. The Judge buckle employs a tough elastic material at the end of the leg containing adjustment holes. At the end of the stretch material is Tru-Fire’s patent pending “Arrow Head” leather tab. The Arrow Head is pliable enough to be forced through the buckle but stiff enough not to easily come back out. This maintains a continuous loop that your hand can easily fit into. The benefit is that you can slip your hand in, grab the head of the release and then easily cinch and secure it with your other hand. Once adjusted the excess can be neatly tucked away by stretching the arrow head out and placing it behind the plastic clip which is located behind the buckle. The clip has approximately 2” of adjustment. No more major struggles just to get your release on. There are 10 hole positions spanning approximately 3.5” for maximum adjustability. A leather capture holds a metal rod that is attached to the rod/barrel of the release. The attachment allows the head to pivot from left to right and also fall out of the way.

The barrel of the release holds it own feature in that there is ¾-inch of length adjustment with 32 individual positions. To adjust the length simply hold onto the rod near the attachment to the strap and twist the trigger barrel clockwise or counter-clockwise. When the length is adjusted as short as it can go the barrel is completely covered by a rubber sheath that is designed to protect the adjustment connection. When fully extended the sheath covers all but ¾” of the rod which equals the total amount of length adjustment.

A unique and clever feature on the Judge is the trigger pressure adjustment dial. It is simple to operate, does not affect trigger travel and provides a pressure range between 4 and 21 oz.

The trigger and jaw mechanisms, both set in aluminum bodies (finished in Realtree Hardwoods Camo) that make up the head, are linked but independent of one another in regard to rotation and position. The jaw fixture rotates 360 degrees freely on 12 sealed ball bearings in front of the trigger body. The whole purpose of this feature is to allow the archer to rotate his/her hand to any comfortable position without inducing torque into the string. Tru-Fire advertises that this design will not even torque a string loop.

Another trigger related benefit is ease of loading offered by the “pull to open”, “let up to close” jaw action. When the trigger is pulled an internal roller is pulled from between the bottom of the jaws. This allows the bottom of the jaws to move together through spring pressure applied near the string loading end of the jaws. When the trigger is let up another spring snaps the trigger back to the “at rest” position which forces the roller back up between the bottoms of the jaw pieces, closing their open end. For quality and durability Tru-Fire has chosen to make all internal firing mechanism parts from stainless steel components with the same Rockwell C hardness rating. If the parts were of different hardness materials premature wear of one of the pieces would result. A set screw that is exposed when the trigger is pulled adjusts the trigger travel.


First up was a complete quality inspection of the materials, finish and mechanics. There was not one single visible flaw or perceived mechanical flaw anywhere on the Judge. It was quality from top to bottom.

Testing continued with a speed and simplicity test of the Evolution buckle system. Regarding simplicity – I was able to completely attach the Judge, including taking up the slack, with just one hand and my mouth! That is virtually impossible with any other release on the market. For speed the attachment was timed two ways, one using both of my hands and the other using one hand and my mouth. With both hands free the entire process took, on average, only 3.5 seconds. Using only one hand and my mouth the time, again on average, increased to 40 seconds. I am particularly impressed with this feature.

The trigger pressure adjustment was indeed easy to use and will most likely encourage those who avoided it in the past due to the difficulty. Now a simple twist and you can experiment with any trigger pressure in the Judge’s range. I ended up closer to the hair trigger than the harder pull. The pivoting rod to strap interface allowed me to tuck it into my shirt sleeve before climbing my stand which is a useful feature keeping it out of my way and also preventing any metallic noises from a release to climbing stick or stand collision.

Length adjustments resulted in a true ¾” of travel however I had a difficult time defining the separate 32 positions that Tru-Fire advertises. It would seem to me that the adjustment is almost infinite within the ¾”. There are approximately 32 discernable clicks felt within each rotation but it takes approximately 27.5 rotations to cover the whole range. That would make it an 880 position length adjustment system! Ok, that is not exactly infinite but for my style it just as well could be.

Now on to the big feature – the 360 degree rotating head in front of the trigger body. I first placed the Judge directly on the string of one of my bows and tried in vain to torque it. No matter how I twisted my hand it did not impact the string at all. The string loop was the same – no effect.

After the basic tests were through I just shot my bow for a while using the Judge. The strap was comfortable, the adjusted length and trigger pressure just right and the release action smooth.

Overall I was very impressed with the Judge. It looks good, works well and is packed full of useful features. I guess it is time to switch releases although it won’t be easy. I’m currently shooting a Tru-Fire Hurricane. In fact I just took a bear last week at Missinaibi Outfitters in Northern Ontario using the Hurricane!

Design: 5 of 5

I’m not sure what else they can do! Knowing Tru-Fire though, I can almost guarantee they will find some way to make an improvement. 

Quality: 5 of 5

From the jaws to the buckle there was not one blemish of mechanical glitch to be found on the test release.

I think this may be the first time I gave any product a perfect score!

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