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Bow Report: Hoyt Charger

There is something to be said for not compromising quality, and when it comes to bows Hoyt has a solid reputation for innovative design and cutting-edge technology. There is something to be said for value and getting a lot of bang for the buck, too. All-too-recent economic woes spurred the entire industry to seek that elusive optimum intersection between a moderate price and a bow that offers the speed, shootability, and features that serious bowhunters have come to expect. The Charger is Hoyt’s current entry in that category.

A casual glance at the Charger hanging on a rack would not distinguish it from most of Hoyt’s other offerings, including the popular Spyder series bows. Same distinctive Tec Lite bridged riser, same past-parallel limb design, same Stealth Shot String Stopper, same Fuse custom strings. At 31 inches axle to axle it’s an inch longer than the Spyder 30, with the same 63⁄4-inch brace height, same light weight of 3.8 pounds, and same wide range of camo and color options.

Hoyt ChargerUnder the hood, so to speak, the Charger is powered by the same Multilayer Lamination Limbs and Hoyt’s famous Cam & 1/2 system. So what’s different? The Charger uses AlphaShox, as opposed to the more recently introduced AirShox. The grip is rubber instead of wood, and there is no Silent Shelf. The Charger employs a conventional cable guard slide as opposed to the in-line roller cable guard found on the Spyder Series and some other Hoyt bows. The stabilizer mount is not offset as it is on the Spyder bows. Some might say that at 325 fps, the 5-fps-slower speed of the Charger is the most significant difference, but that’s true only if you consider a difference of 5 fps to be significant—which it might be to a world-class 3-D shooter, but won’t be to any game animal on the planet.

Cams on the Charger, as with other bows featuring the Cam & 1/2 system, are modular and draw-length specific. One cam size covers the draw lengths from 24 inches to 261⁄2 inches, another from 27 inches to 30 inches, with different modules for each half-inch of adjustment. Changing modules does not require a press and is a simple matter of removing them with a hex wrench and replacing them with the correct size modules, then moving the draw stop on the bottom cam to the corresponding position. Peak draw weights are 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, or 80 pounds, each adjusting downward 10 pounds as desired. There are no set screws, so adjusting draw weight is a matter of turning the limb bolts, with three or four turns covering the 10-pound range. Fit and finish on the Charger is indistinguishable from that of Hoyt’s most expensive bows, which is to say faultless. There is a slight texture to the outer coat, and nothing on this bow is likely to glare or shine. The logos are understated and seemingly indelible.

Two available variations on the Charger should be mentioned. A Long Draw version covers draw lengths from 301⁄2 to 31 inches, with a 7 1⁄2-inch brace height, a mass weight of 4 pounds even, and a top published speed of 327 fps. A Fuse Accessory Package option includes a Fuse sight, quiver, and stabilizer, along with a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest and a peep sight with alignment tubing.

Shooting The Bow

Hoyt recommends a starting centershot 13⁄16 inch from the riser, so after squaring the arrow on the string in alignment with the Berger holes, I adjusted the QAD Ultra-Rest accordingly, then adjusted the timing cord. Arrow flight with field tips appeared good. I shot several arrows from 10 yards to get in the ballpark, then backed off to 20 yards and shot a couple of four-arrow groups to make final adjustments. In less than 15 minutes from that initial shot, the bow was shooting 2-inch groups at 20 yards. At 3.8 pounds the Charger qualifies as a light bow. I shoot a Spyder 30 on occasion, and not surprisingly the feel of the Charger was very similar in just about every respect, with Hoyt’s characteristic smooth draw, steady hold, and solid back wall. Nothing grabby about these cams, nor is letting down from full draw difficult. At the shot there is a very slight amount of detectable vibration. The drop-away rest clacked against the shelf slightly, but a little moleskin resolved that issue.

As a general rule I don’t like rubber grips, preferring grips that are skinny, slick, and ergonomic. I have to say this grip is very comfortable and not overly wide, though it is sticky and not slick. It’s also probably warmer than most grips. In any case, it’s compatible with other Hoyt grips and could easily be replaced if desired.

With increasing numbers of bows sporting curved or flexible cable guard systems to reduce torque, I always look for indications of torque when I shoot bows that don’t employ that technology. Possibly if I were a machine I could detect the difference; I’m not, and I usually can’t, which proved true in this case.

There are several features of this bow I would point out. First, the draw range starts at a peak of 40 pounds, which is adjustable down to 30 pounds. That makes an excellent bow accessible to a lot of younger hunters. The 65-pound peak weight option is a trend that makes a lot of sense to me, since bows generally operate at peak efficiency at or close to their peak weight, and many bowhunters who are not quite comfortable at 70 pounds can shoot very comfortably at or close to 65 pounds. Finally, I mentioned earlier the fit and finish on the Charger, and the fact is that without a close inspection it’s difficult to distinguish from Hoyt’s other bows. Appearance is one of the qualities many bow manufacturers compromise to achieve the lower price of their lower-tier bows, and that certainly makes more sense than compromising on performance. At the same time, it’s nice to find an affordable bow that doesn’t scream “Affordable bow.” In the case of the Charger, that is true in terms of performance as well as appearance.

Hoyt Charger

HOYT CHARGER SPECS

Letoff:...................................... N/A

Brace Height:....................... 6 3⁄4 inches

Weight:.................................... 3.8 pounds

Axle-To-Axle Length:...... 31 inches

Speed:....................................... 325 fps

Draw lengths:....................... 24-30 inches, module-specific in half-inch increments.

Draw weights:...................... 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 80 pounds peak, adjustable down 10 pounds from peak.

Options:.................................. Long Draw; Charger Fuse Package. Finishes: Realtree Xtra, Max-1, Snow, Pink; Black Out; Half and Half; Bone Collector; Vicxen; Custom Red; Custom Blue; Custom Black; Pearl White; Pink.

Suggested Retail:.............. $599 bow only

OBJECTIVE TESTS  (30 Inches Draw)

Peak Hold*:............................ 70 pounds

Weight, Full Draw*:.......... 20 pounds

Arrow Weight:..................... 385 grains.............. 500 grains

Arrow @70 Pounds*:....... 314 fps .................. 279 fps

Arrow @60 Pounds*:....... 287 fps................... 257 fps

K.E. @70 Pounds*:............ 84.5 ft. lbs............. 86.5 ft. lbs.

K.E. @60 Pounds*:............ 70.5 ft. lbs............. 73.5 ft. lbs.

Sound Level @60 Pounds:................................ 58.6 dBA.........57.8 dBA

*Rounded to nearest half-pound.

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