Lighted Nocks; Which Is Right For You?

I believe it was sometime around 2005 or 2006 when I first started to notice lighted arrow nocks popping up on my favorite hunting shows.  Arrows that were once a quick flash in a dimly lit screen, leaving viewers to wonder if and where the arrow hit it’s mark, were now streaming bolts of light streaking towards their target.  Without question, the “cool factor” of lighted nocks was pretty high those first few years. 

Like many bowhunters out there, I quickly rushed out and picked up the first pack of nocks I could find, slapped them in my arrows and began shooting.  Of course I did little to no research on available brands or technologies, and even less research on how to properly install and use them.  Much to my dismay, I was never able to achieve consistent results and my somewhat expensive experiment was given up after a season full of mistrials.

Now, some 6 years later I’ve finally come full circle with these fiery little gadgets.  With a plethora of new options available to modern bowhunters , each with its own unique design, I decided I wanted to find out just how these new lighted nocks worked and which ones would be on the back end of my Carbon Express Maxima come October.  After all, there are few things cooler in the bowhunting world than seeing the bright flash of a lighted nock as it rushes towards a deer’s boiler room.

First Things First

To start things off I began to research the different brands and options available to me.  Queue Google!  A few savvy web searches turned up about ½ dozen major players in the lighted nock arena.  I quickly set out to get my hands on them all and wound up with 5 different brands; Carbon Express, Lumenok, Nockturnal, Firenock and Tracer.

Group of lighted arrow nocksWho knew there were so many different lighted nocks to choose from?

For my evaluation I decided to rate each nock on a scale of 1-5 in five different categories; Price, Ease of Use, Reliability, Brightness, and Weight.  While this system does leave out a few features which may be important to some such as color options, replaceable battery, durability and advanced technology, I felt these were a good sampling of what’s important to most bowhunters.  Here’s what I found out.

Carbon Express Laser Eye Nock

The first lighted nock I tested was the CX Laser Eye.  I purchased this 2 pack from an online retailer for a cost of $20 plus shipping.  This is just slightly above some of the other brands, but not out of reach for most bowhunters.

When they are shipped, the nocks have a small plastic collar installed that prevents them from activating and discharging in the package.  Upon removal from their plastic wrapper I took off the collar and slid the nocks into the back of my arrow shafts. 

Laser Eye lighted nock protective collarsHere you can see the protective collars that come installed on the Laser Eye nocks to prevent premature discharge in their packaging.

The fit was a little on the tight side, but I was able to get the nocks slide all the way down without too much trouble.  Upon installation the nocks will activate and turn on as you push them down into the shaft.  In order to deactivate the nock you pull it back about 1/16 of an inch until you feel a slight click.  The nock will switch off and is then ready to shoot. 

The only thing I don’t like about this design is that the nock is not securely seated to the back of the shaft upon release.  If for some reason you bump the nock, or click it onto your string too firmly, you can accidentally light the nock.  Of course if it gets bumped in your case or quiver, it could discharge before being used in the field.

Laser Eye lighted nock in inactive positionHere you can see the slight gap between the back of the nock and the arrow shaft.  When shot, the nock moves forward and the light is activated.

However, one thing I do like about the Laser Eye nock is that you can easily rotate the nock after it’s installed.  This makes fletching alignment much easier, if needed.  With most lighted nocks, they manufacturer discourages rotating the nock in the shaft as to prevent damage to the wiring or circuitry that controls the light.

As for functionality, the Laser Eye worked perfectly.  I took roughly a dozen shots out of my Mathews Helim and the nocks lit perfectly every time.  They are extremely easy to turn off as well.  Just pull them out a hair, and they turn right off.  It’s quick and easy.

The Lazer Eye nock is reported to weigh 18.5 grains, however my scale showed both nocks weighing in at just over 20 grains, which was still the lightest of all nocks tested.  Of course weight becomes a concern for many archers, especially when added to the back of your arrow.  When it comes to lighted nocks, the lighter the better.

Laser Eye lighted nock on scale

Nock brightness was slightly below the rest of the tested nocks.  From a distance of 25 years during twilight hours, the nocks could easily be seen both in flight and once they got to their target.   However, put next to some other brands the Laser Eye was clearly not as bright.

Lase Eye lighted nocks active in archery targetWhile you can still see them easier than a non-lighted nock, the Laser Eye was one of the dimmer nocks I tested.

My overall impression of the Carbon Express Laser Eye is that it’s a solid nock that is extremely easy to use.  If you’re looking for something you can take out of the package, put in your arrow and go shooting, this is it.

Now for the scores:Price: 4 – At $10/each they certainly aren’t cheap, but are about average for most lighted nocks.Ease of Use: 5 – pull them out of the package and start using them.   It’s that easy.Reliability: 5 – worked every time, no problems turning them offBrightness: 2 – slightly below average brightnessWeight:  5 – the lightest of any nock tested

Overall: 4.2/5


Admittedly, I spend a lot of time on the Forums.  When it comes to lighted nocks, the most talked about unit the past few years has been the Nockturnal.   So when it came time to test these out, I was pretty excited to see how they would perform.  

I picked up a 3 pack of these nocks for around $24 plus shipping, making them roughly $8 per nock.   Of all the nocks tested, they are certainly on the more affordable side.

The Nockturnal’s design is unique in that it features a string-activated switch embedded into the throat of the nock.  When you release your arrow, the string forces the switch down and activates the nock.   The Nockturnal comes completely assembled, and all you need to do is insert it into your arrow and start shooting.  You can’t get much easier than that.

Nockturnal lighted arrow nock on bow stringThe unique design of the Nockturnal allows it to sit flush with the back of your arrow shaft, and be triggered by a switch in the base of the nock’s throat.

Just like the Laser Eye, the Nockturnal activated each time it was fired from my bow without problem.  The one issue I have with the Nockturnal is the method by which you turn the nock off.  There is a small hole in the side of the nock where you must insert a small pointy object (I used a field point from another arrow)to slide the switch back into the place.  Not only did I find this tedious, but one time I had to force the switch so hard that the entire nock came back out of the arrow.  Of all the nocks tested, I felt this made the Nockturnal one of the least friendly to use.  At the very least, Nockturnal should include some sort of small tool to use for this duty.  Using field tips, or even broadheads, to deactivate the nock after your shot could very well result in some injured fingers if you’re not careful.

My other concern with this design is the potential for water or moisture to get inside the nock and effect it’s long term reliability.  Of course I was unable to test for this, but it is something I felt was worth noting.

Close up of Nockturnal on-off switchHere you can see the tiny hole that provides access to the red switch which deactivates the Nockturnal.  Of all the nocks tested, this was the most difficult to turn off after the shot.

My Nockturnal lighted nocks weighed in at 21.6 grains each, making them the 2nd lightest of the group.

Nockturnal lighted arrow nock on scaleWhen it comes to brightness, the Nockturnal was on par with the rest of the nocks tested.  The nock body itself is clear which they claim gives additional light output, but to the naked eye I couldn’t tell a difference.  These nocks are solidly in the middle of the pack when it comes to brightness.

Nockturnal lighted arrow nocks active in archery targetr

My overall impression of the Nockturnal is that it is very well built product and easy to install, but the difficulty in deactivating the nock off after each shot was a real turn off (pun intended).

Price: 4 – At $8/each they’re right in the middle of average costEase of Use: 3 – Installation is a breeze, but turning them off is a choreReliability: 5 – worked every time, no problems turning them off.  Long term reliability remains to be seen.Brightness: 3 – average brightnessWeight:  5 – the 2nd lightest of any nock tested

Overall: 4.0/5


When it comes to lighted nocks, I believe Lumenok is the most widely known brand name out there.  I’m not sure if they were the original lighted nock, but they certainly helped put them on the map.  My 3 pack of Lumenoks cost $28, making them just over $9 per nock.  Although I did find places online selling them for as cheap as $6 to $7 per nock.  With these prices, they are among the more affordable options.

When it comes to using the Lumenok, it appears to be very easy at first glance.  They come fully assembled and ready to go out of the package.  However, even though the nock may be ready to go, your arrow shaft may not.  You see, the Lumenok works when it is pressed securely into the back of your arrow shaft upon release, thus completing the electrical circuit needed to make it light up.  If the back of your arrow is not completely square, or there is a material blocking the electrical charge, your nocks may not work.

In the case of my Carbon Express Maximas, I had a two step process to prep my arrows to ensure reliability.  First, I had to glue my nock collars in place on the back of my arrow shaft.  Second, I had to sand off the anodized finish on the back of the collar to reveal the metal underneath.  While it did take a few extra minutes to prep my arrow shafts, it certainly wasn’t difficult.  Anyone should be able to do this at home on their own.

Carbon Express Nock Collar close-upWhen using Carbon Express arrows with Lumenok lighted nocks, you must sand down the back of the nock collar to ensure maximum reliability.

Sanding down the Carbon Express nock collarI used a small piece of emory cloth to sand down my nock collars, which worked great and only took a few secods per arrow.

Once installed, I put my Lumenoks to the test.  Just like the previous two contestants, they worked flawlessly every time.   In order to deactivate the Lumenok you simply “wiggle” the back end just enough to break the electrical contacts.  One problem with this method is that if you don’t break the contact completely, the nock may remain dimly lit and run the battery down while not in use. 

Similar to the Laser Eye, the Lumenok doesn’t sit completely flush with the back of your arrow upon launch.  Upon release of your arrow, the nock is pushed forward and seated into the shaft.  While I don’t think this effects accuracy much, if at all, it’s something to be noted.

The Lumenok also weighs in just shy of 28 grains, making it tied for the heaviest of all lighted nocks I tested.  This is in comparison to the 11 grains of a standard Carbon Express nock.

Lumenok weight

Where the Lumenok stands head and shoulders above the competition is in the brightness category.  Of all the nocks tested the Lumenok was easily the brightest.  When it comes to lighted nocks I feel this is the most important feature next to simple reliability.  Lumenok truly puts the “light” into lighted nocks.

Lumenok lighted nock active in targetThe clear winner in brightness, the Lumenok can be seen from a very long distance.

Price: 5 – At $6-$7 each (online) they are one of the most affordable lighted nocksEase of Use: 3 – Installation is a breeze, but prepping your arrows can be a bit of a choreReliability: 5 – worked every time, no problems turning them offBrightness: 5 – brightest nock tested by farWeight:  2 – tied for heaviest of nocks tested at just shy of 28 grains

Overall: 4.0/5



For anyone who has met or spoken with Dorge Huang from Firenock, you know what a fire and passion he has for archery and technology.  With that said, it’s no wonder that the Firenock is far and away the most advanced, and complicated, of the systems tested.  However, that technology does come at a price. 

A 3 pack of Firenocks will set you back $56, while a single nock costs $22.  However, it is worth noting that all Firenocks include practice nocks with match weights so you don’t have to wear out the battery in your hunting units.  The same cannot be said for most of their competitors.  Additionally, if your battery does run dead you can replace it relatively easily, which again you can’t do with some of the competing models.

Firenock instructions and partsWhen using the Firenock, be sure to read all of the instructions first!

So what are you paying for when you buy a $22 nock?  Instead of a manual switch or simple electric circuit, the Firenock actually uses a very small 24K gold plated hermetically sealed circuit board to control and power the light.  We’re talking about the same type of circuit board that’s found in military ballistics.  Yeah, that means missiles.  Because the Firenock requires a significant “G” force to activate it, there’s no chance of accidental activation.  The nock can only be turned on when launched from your bow, which means there’s no chance of accidental activation while not in use.

Assembled FirenockA fully assembled Firenock.  Here you can see the circuitry that powers this advanced lighted nock system.

Due to the nature of its design, and the hundreds of possible configurations available, the Firenock requires a little bit of work before it can be used.  There are nearly a limitless combination of nock colors, circuit types, and even battery types to choose from.  If you wish to change nock colors, circuit types or battery types there may be some assembly required.  For some models, you must also glue a small stopper into your arrow shaft to prevent the battery from flying forward upon impact.  While this isn’t difficult work, it is certainly much more than a simple “plug and play” type design. 

Additionally, Firenock does recommend that for those of us using CX arrows with nock collars that we glue the collars down in order to prevent damage to the nock.  Since I already had mine glued down from the Lumenok test, I didn’t have to do any additional work this time.

Firenock weightAt just over 26 grains, the Firenock is in the middle of the pack when it comes to weight.

Once you have your Firenock assembled and installed, shooting it is a breeze.  My Firenocks performed flawlessly each and every time I shot them.  When it comes to turning them off, the Firenock has a unique shock system that requires you to drop it on a hard surface from about a foot or so.  While this works great shooting in my backyard and bouncing it off my deck boards, I sometimes struggled to find a flat, hard surface to bounce it on while in the field.

Brightness of the Firenock was on average with the rest of the nocks tested.   Slightly above that of the Tracer and Laser Eye, but not quite as bright as the Lumenok or Nockturnal.  This was tested using the standard “S” nock with the “BL” battery. 

Firenock active in targetThe bottom Firenock is a  “Target” model, which automatically turns off after 17 seconds.  It worked just fine when I shot it.  This system comes in handy for target archers who want to see where their arrow impacted, but don’t want to give competing archers a spot to aim at.

My overall impression of the Firenock is that this unit isn’t for everyone.  As Dorge himself would say “The Firenock is the Mercedes S Class of lighted nocks.” For the guys who love the absolute best performance, reliability and the ability to mix & match just about any color combination possible, and experiment with different circuit types, this is certainly your nock.  Without question it is the most technologically advanced of all the lighted nocks on the market today.  Although some archers may find the variety of nocks, circuitry and battery choices a bit overwhelming.

Price: 2 – At over $20 for a single nock, you don’t want to lose these!Ease of Use:4 – While it does require some assembly, once they’re installed they turn off very easilyReliability: 5 – worked every time, no problems turning them off or onBrightness: 3 – average brightnessWeight:  3 – the 2nd heaviest nock at 26.2 grains

Overall: 3.4/5


Tracer Nock

The final nock tested was the Easton Tracer Nock.  With an average cost of $8-9 per nock, these were right in line with most of the other nocks tested.

The Tracer nock works a bit different than others in that it actually uses a magnet to activate the nock as your arrow is shot.  The magnet itself is mounted on the shelf of your bow, close enough to activate the nock but far enough away to not affect arrow flight.   While the magnet installation isn’t a major undertaking, my biggest concern is what happens if the magnet is dislodged and falls off while I’m in the field?  If that happens, my $9 lighted nock just becomes all but worthless.

Tracer lighted nock magnet on Mathews bowI mounted the Tracer magnet to the riser of my Helim.

Magnet aside, the Tracer nocks are extremely easy to use.  They come pre-assembled and ready to shoot.  All you need to do is slide them into your arrow and start shooting.  When shot out of my bow, my Tracer nocks turned on every time.

Now when it comes to turning your nocks off, you must pass them back by a magnet.  Again, not a huge difficulty but it can be a little annoying.  I kept finding myself wanting to turn my nocks off and put my arrows back into my quiver before picking up my bow again, but couldn’t do that with the Tracer.  Instead I had to pick up my bow, run each arrow by the magnet, then put them away.

Additionally, the Tracer’s built-in functionality keeps the light on constantly during the shot and for several seconds after, and then the nock begins flashing.  There is no way to change that or turn the flashing off if you want a solid light.  I personally prefer a solid light rather than a blinking one, and it would be nice to have that option.

The overall brightness of the Tracer nock was on the lower side of the nocks I tested.  I wouldy say it was tied with the Laser Eye for the dimmest of all the lighted nocks.

Tracer nock brightness

The other item I didn’t care for was the sheer size, and specifically the length, of the Tracer nock.  It appears to use a full size nock like you’d find on your dad’s old 2317 arrows.  I mean this thing is BIG.  I’m sure that helps account for the fact that the Tracer was tied for heaviest nock shot at 27.8 grains.

Tracer nock sizeHere you can see the size difference between the Tracer nock (orange) and standard Carbon Express nock (white).

Tracer nock weight

My overall impression of the Tracer is that it’s a good product, but just not up to today’s standards.  The size of the nock and requirement of adding a magnet to your bow just make it seem a bit antiquated. 

Price: 4 – At $8-9 each, they are in line with other lighted nocksEase of Use: 3 – Installation of the magnet on your bow’s riser brought this score downReliability: 5 – worked every time, no problems turning them off or onBrightness: 3 – average brightnessWeight:  2 – the heaviest nock at 27.8 grains

Overall: 3.4/5


Final Thoughts

Each and every lighted nock I tested is more than capable of getting the job done in the field.  Seeing where your arrow impacts the animal you’re shooting at is crucial to knowing how and when to take up the recovery.   Nothing can help you with that decision quite like a lighted arrow nock.

I will say that the final scores of each nock can certainly be a bit misleading.  Although the Firenock and Tracer scored the same, I will say the Firenock is far and away a superior product in just about every aspect.  And although the Carbon Express Laser Eye scored the highest overall, it was one fo the dimmest lights.  Below you can see a side by side comparison of all 5 of the lighted nocks that were tested.

Lighted Nock brightness comparisonFrom left to right: 1. Laser Eye, 2. Nockturnal, 3. Lumenok, 4. Firenock, 5. Tracer

When it comes to deciding which nock will work best for your application, you should evaluate your personal needs before making a decision.  Your overall budget, amount of time to setup/tweak your nocks and importance of brightness should all be factored into your buying decision.

I still haven’t quite made up my mind which I’ll be shooting this fall, but you can bet the next time you see me loose an arrow on Bowhunt or Die you’ll be able to track the flight of my arrow thanks to one of these lighted nocks.


Do you have an opinion on which lighted nock is best?  Have an experience or tip you want to share with the community?  Be sure to post your comments below!


  1. Justin Zarr says:

    Chad – thanks for the detailed response! The Tracer nocks I got straight from a major sporting goods retailer, so if they are the "old" style there must be quite a few of them still out there being sold as new. As for the Firenock, I think you'll see the biggest area that drove their score down was simply the cost. They scored middle of the pack or better on all other ratings. I just felt that for the average person, $22/nock was just too much considering their competition was sometimes 1/3 of that price. I agree that they are a great product in virtually every aspect, but the cost just puts them out of range for a lot of people. For purposes of my testing I was unable to really test reliability or longevity, but I'll be sure to give an update post-season to let you know. I plan on carrying 3-4 different nocks with my throughout the year to give them a good workout. You can bet the Firenock will be one of them.

  2. Steve Flores says:

    The best thing about "Reviews" are they make excellent starting points for the consumer. In the end, nothing replaces personal experience. Considering what it would cost our readers to "test" each one of these nocks, I think your review definately helped someone make a decision or choose a starting point….and that is exactly what it was meant to do.

  3. Birchwood Bowhunter says:

    Thanks for the information Justin!

  4. Josh Jacobson says:

    I have shot both the Lumenok and the Tracer nocks and I decided to go with the tracers. I have been shooting the tracers for the last three seasons now. I love the on/off feature (though i will say sometimes it is an art to hold the arrow steady enough for the nock to turn off or on.) I did not like messing with pulling out on the Lumenok after every shot. Sometimes I would open my bow case and find the Lumenok lite up. The main selling feature for me on the Tracer was the blinking after 10 seconds. You mentioned that as a negative but I love how it makes it just that much easier to locate the arrow after its been shot. As mentioned before the new Tracers come with a lithium battery that can be replaced. They also come with practice nocks which is huge. I finally bugged easton enough they sent me a dozen practice nocks so I shoot year round with the same set up as my hunting rig. I have never had a Tracer not light up. Loved the review just wanted to give a little love to th

  5. chad rumsby says:

    your tracer nock that you used was an old style… like 2010 they all come with replacable batteries now and arnt wrapped like that. also the lumanocks arnt that reliable after practicing with one many times u can easily break/wear out the connectors, as well with the lumanock they sometimes do get knocked on. also back to the tracer if your using an arrow like the full metal jacket the magnet system sometimes will react upon nocking the arrow b/c of the full metal arrow causing it to not function perfectly everytime. as far as giving the firenock such a terrible rating i think realiablity should be a bigger player and as far as cost goes. its like anything you get what you pay for. i have shot every one of those over the last 3 years and feild tested each one, and hands down the winner is the fire nock. only problem i had ever had was a weak battery, but swapped them out and worked perfectly. as for the magnet problem with tracer…there is nothing a little superglue cant hold. its th


  7. Jarrod Erdody says:

    Nicely done, Justin. My biggest factor is durability. I believe time brings the cream to the top, and there's nothing more frustrating than products that get great reviews when brand new, but a year later are better off in the trash. If they market them as disposable, great…but they don't. So I feel they should last. So I'd be most interested if you did a review of these products one year and two years later, with the exact same nocks you test here. I think the results will be compelling. Thanks again.

  8. Donnie W. aka Finch says:

    Great writeup Justin! I'm going on my second season shooting Nokturnals and I've found no reason to switch. You'll get used to the method of turning off the nokturnal. I always have a pocket knife on me and I can turn these nocks off in a blink of an eye now. Its really that simple for me. And like Rusty stated, a little bit of wax applied over the hole will prevent blood/water from getting to the internals of the nock. I've also found that the red ones are brighter than the green. Good luck this season!

  9. just use the tip of other arrow in your quiver

  10. sorry should of mentioned nocturnal nock just use tip of other arrow to reset best lighted nock ive ever used and some will stay bright for a week no joke.

  11. Scott_R says:

    Great write-up, thanks!

  12. robert welsh team fi says:

    Hi justin great article.Just wanted to let other hunters know that firenock also offers the lighting nock for the S NOCKS which is about half the price of the firenock which you can still replace the battery and the nock if it brakes i have shot all other nocks and firenock was the only one that gave me the performance i wanted. Robert welsh Team firenock thank you have a safe and great season.

  13. Nat Triplett says:

    Great article Justin,
    I have found both versions of the Tracer on the store shelves depending on where you shop. There are also 2 different versions of the Luminok still out there.

    I shoot Easton Axis arrows and they use the X nock. All of the lighted nocks that I have tried are lighter for this arrow. Tracers weigh 22gr and Nocktunals weigh 19gr. The Tracer practice nocks are setup for the bigger diameter arrows and need to be filed down to the correct weight if using small diameter arrows.

    I have had failures of both the Tracers and Luminoks. the Tracer I just had to glue back together but the Luminok nock split. I emailed them and they sent me a new one the next day. With that said, these failures will not keep me from using their products.

  14. Nat Triplett says:

    One other thing, I don't like the idea of the nock having to move to turn on the light. That is why I stopped using the Luminoks. The switch on the Nockturnal and the magnet switch on the Tracer is a better design, in my opinion. I haven't used the Firenock or Laser Eye.

  15. gunslingr45 says:

    what nothing for us crossbow hunters? can't use my compound because of steel pins in my back that didn't work. going bow hunting after 5 years of no bow hunting. YAY


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