The most obvious thing you will notice about the new Mathews bows is the highly sculpted design of the risers. Both the Z7 and Monster 7 have dozens of small cutouts creating a riser that resembles a screen when viewed from the side, or a web. There is not an ounce of material on these bows that doesn’t have to be there. Mathews also redesigned their single-cam on the Z7, but now we are starting to get ahead or ourselves. Let’s jump right to the bows.
The Z7 is the new top of the line single-cam bow from Mathews. Last year it was the Reezen and this year it is the Z7. It is hard to get ahead of a company when they keep cranking out improvements each year. Granted, the improvements may not be earth-shaking, but they are improvements nonetheless and after a few years of advances accumulate, it is time to buy again. We remember a recent study that suggested bowhunters replace their bows every three years, on average. Three years of improvements at Mathews would indeed start to look like something earth-shaking and certainly be compelling enough to warrant an upgrade.
For example, the new Z7 features the highly sculpted riser mentioned previously. This produces maximum stiffness at minimum weight. The bow weighs in at just less than four pounds. It has a lot of interesting stuff on it. For example, the new roller guard actually pushes the harnesses out rather than pulling them in. This reduces friction on the rollers and makes the bow slightly more efficient. It is called the Reverse Assist Roller Guard and is highly machined like the riser.
We also like the grip, not only because it is narrow and comfortable for accurate shooting, but also from a tuning standpoint. There is a red inlaid stripe in the grip that indicates the bow’s centerline so you can simply line the string and rest up with this stripe to hit the bow’s true center, resulting in quick, accurate setup.
The cam is the new Z7 SoloCam, a new design that also features the Quick Change Axle. We’ll have a lot more to say about this bow very soon once we have had the chance to shoot it.
Last year Mathews broke with their tradition of single-cam exclusivity and came out with the Monster, a two-cam monster of a bow. Pure speed was the bow’s number one selling point, but Mathews decided to tone it back with a 7-inch brace height. Toning it back is a relative term, however. How can you say it was “toned back” when it still produces an IBO speed rating of 342 fps? It is 33 1/2 inches long and features the same AVS dual cam system that graced last year’s Monster.
If you will recall, it is an innovative system that permits the harness endpoint to cross over the axle so it can aid as well as fight the draw forces giving the engineers another valuable lever to play with. They call the three Monsters in the line the “McPherson Series” to differentiate them from the single-cam models.
The new DR2 is kind of a mix of old and new from Mathews. It doesen’t have the beyond parallel limb designs that everyone is going for, but it does have a smooth single-cam, roller guard and string suppressors. It is 33 inches long, has a 7-inch brace height and an IBO speed of up to 320 fps. It is lightweight, at under 3.9 pounds and will retail for less than the other new models. The DR2 has kind of a Mathews retro look to it, sort of like a ‘best of the best’ from the last few years.
You will find some truly impressive technology on the two new bows from BowTech this year. BowTech has been a very progressive bow maker for the past several years. We can always count on them to think outside the box to push the industry to rethink how a bow should function. They did it again this year with three new features that are really very slick.
The first of these is the Overdrive Binary Cam System. The axles are geared and the split harnesses attach at their ends. The harnesses in effect anchor the ends of the axles and through the gearing system, they mesh both cams together. This is another one of those bows we are going to have to handle and shoot before we truly appreciate what it actually does. By splitting the harness ends to span the entire limb tip, BowTech produces the maximum amount of limb tip stability for cleaner arrow flight.
The second big advancement is a lot easier for us to understand. It is all right there to see. The roller cable guard actually flexes during the draw to reduce the amount of torque the harnesses apply to the riser and to the limb tips. By allowing the harnesses to fall more in line with the cams when they load up, there is less side pressure on the cams and less torque on the riser. The result is less limb tip twist and easier tuning. Think of it as a flip-away cable guard, sort of like a drop-away rest. It flips the harnesses out of the way before the fletchings can hit them.
The third feature is less eye-catching and less trend setting, but no less important. The new Hard Core limbs feature carbon cores for greater stiffness and strength and less weight. A lighter limb promises higher efficiency. BowTech put these three new technologies to good use in their two newest bows: the Destroyer 350 and the Destroyer 340.
The Destroyer 350 is faster (IBO speed of 342 to 350 fps) with its 6-inch brace height and the Destroyer 340 is potentially a bit more forgiving with its 7-inch brace height. However, it is still very fast with an IBO rating of 332 to 340 fp. Otherwise, the bows have virtually the same specs and appearance being just under 321/2 inches long.
After last year’s AlphaMax, Hoyt’s new 2010 bows have a lot to live up to. They didn’t disappoint us as the new bows take what we liked most about the AlphaMax one step farther. What we liked most were the light weight, the fast performance and the parallel limbs.
The Maxxis 31 and Maxxis 35 are the bows that most obviously extend the AlphaMax’s gains from last year. This is because the Maxxis bows look a lot like the AlphaMax but are slightly faster and have the beyond-parallel limbs we discussed in the intro. They also both feature the same cam system as the AlphaMax employs. Incidentally, the AlphaMax is still in the line and should continue to sell well because of the momentum it carries from this year’s marketing push.
Again, comparing the Maxxis to the AlphaMax, you will see that the brace heights are the same (7 inches) and the speeds are within a few fps (IBO of 323 fps for the Maxxis versus 321 for the AlphaMax). The Maxxis is an inch shorter but beyond that, the biggest difference is the limb design. The Maxxis carries limbs that go beyond parallel during the draw so they are poised to move in directly opposite directions on release to cancel each other’s acceleration and deceleration forces. You may not see much difference between these two bows nor feel much difference when you draw them, but you will notice that the Maxxis produces a little less recoil in the hand.
If you are looking for something that is just flat cool looking, you have to like the Carbon Matrix. The bow is not cheap—not at all. But it is the coolest-looking bow on the market right now. The Carbon Matrix is made from hollow carbon tubes. Hoyt engineers configured the tubes in just the right places to manage the forces that an 80-pound draw weight can exert on a riser. It almost looks like some kind of high-tech bicycle frame, leading one to wonder if maybe Hoyt didn’t go to that industry for help. The Carbon Matrix features the XTR Cam & 1/2 system, a 7¼-inch brace height and produces an IBO speed of 318 fps. Even though it has a riser that is long enough to produce an axle-to-axle length of 35 inches, it still weighs in at just 3.8 pounds.
Any time the word “burner” shows up in the name of a bow, we know what to expect, a 6-inch brace height and an IBO speed pushing the envelope. That is exactly what we get with the AlphaBurner. This is Hoyt’s fastest bow to date. With an IBO speed of 340 fps, it is a rocket launcher. We can remember when 315 fps seemed like a fast IBO speed. Wow, how times have changed. The AlphaBurner is the AlphaMax with its tail on fire. It has the same basic riser design, but with a more reflexed riser for a lower brace height (6 inches like we expected). It is 34 3/4 inches long and carries the aggressive Spiral X Cam & 1/2 system.
The Vicxen is the final new bow from Hoyt that we will profile here. It is a women’s bow and carries Vicki Cianciarulo’s signature to seal it. This bow features the same extended pocket design found on the AlphaMax and the Cam & 1/2 Plus performance system. The bow is 33 inches long and features good speeds. At 70 pounds and 29 inches of draw, the Vicxen puts out arrows at 306 fps.
PSE’s X-Force revolutionized the way we look at compound bow performance, and the company has continued to build on that momentum ever since. The latest versions of the X-Force are the Axe, Omen and Vendetta.
The Axe comes in two different brace heights: 6 and 7 inches. Obviously, the 6-inch model is faster. Both feature the Axe Cam, a hybrid with an inner cam system that permits a massive six inches of draw length adjustment. The bow is fast, but not startlingly fast compared to others in the PSE line. IBO speed for the Axe 6 is 337 to 345 fps. The Axe 7 has an IBO speed rating of 327 to 335 fps. Both are 32 1/2 inches long.
The X-Force Omen is the baddest bow in the land—at least based on PSE’s advertised IBO speed. The bow is fast, scorching fast. How about a 358 to 366 fps IBO speed rating? It gets this speed from an aggressive cam system and a 5½-inch brace height. It is 33 5/8 inches long. Bows with low brace heights aren’t for everyone, but the string suppressor helps to keep the string from whipping forward into your wrist. This makes the bow easier to shoot, as well as making it quieter. Like all the X-Force bows, this one has the beyond-parallel limbs.
The X-Force line doesn’t stop with the Omen. PSE also offers the new Vendetta in two sizes. The XL is 35 inches long and has a brace height of 7 1/4 inches. The Vendetta features the trademark X-Force limb design with the heavily curved limbs that permit a past-parallel shape at full draw. Again, the advantage is reduced recoil and vibration. The XL is plenty fast, powered by PSE’s smooth L6 hybrid cam to IBO speeds of 320 to 328 fps. The L6 permits a high degree of draw length adjustability. You can also get the Vendetta is a smaller size, just 29 1/2 inches long with a 6½-inch brace height and an IBO speed rating of 322 to 330 fps using the same L6 cam. They don’t get much smaller than this bow.
G5 Outdoors, a company well known for its engineering capability, produces the Quest bow line. The biggest new feature of the 2010 bows is a new finish process, called DuraFuse, that allows for a very durable, sharp finish with color options not seen on any other bows. For example, the Gfade pattern puts camouflage on the limbs, the top and bottom of the riser and a black finish in riser’s center. This cool look is also functional for those who often hunt from ground blinds. Quest also offers a twin-track binary cam system for controlled nock travel and fast arrow speeds. Next, let’s jump right to the bows.
The new Primal and Heat are the fastest performers, both topping out around 330 fps IBO speed. Both bows also feature Quest’s I-Glide cable guard system, eliminating moving parts by utilizing a ceramic insert to keep the cables away from the arrow’s fletching. They both also utilize string suppressors and limb-mounted vibration reducers. However, they differ in one key way. The Heat is a single-cam with a 65/8-inch brace height and the Primal features the binary cam and a slightly more moderate brace height.
The Hammer is an economical bow with a single-cam, a conventional cable guard system and a string suppressor. It features IBO speeds of 312 to 315 fps with a forgiving 7¼-inch brace height and will retail for under $400. The final new bow is the Smoke. It is also a single-cam design with an IBO rating of 320 to 324 fps with a 7¼-inch brace height. So it is both fast and forgiving. It also features a string suppressor and a conventional cable guard system with Alpine’s Mach 5 Cable Slide for reduced friction and increased arrow speeds. It also features limb silencers and is priced reasonably at under $500 retail.
Elite is coming on strong with a new management team, some very good-looking designs and a rejuvenated marketing plan. The company always made fast bows and that has not changed. However, what you will see now are also elegant designs with binary cams and loaded with features. The new bow for 2010 is the Judge.
The Judge is smokin’ fast with an IBO rating of 343 to 347 fps. This is primarily due to the bow’s aggressive binary cam system that assures level nock travel and partly to the bow’s 6-inch brace height that creates a lot of stored energy in the draw cycle. We have not had the chance to shoot this bow yet, but if it is like the other Elite bows we shot last year, it will produce a low degree of hand shock and recoil. The bow is just under 35 inches long and you can order it at draw weights up to 90 pounds.
Bear did it again. If you remember the 2008 product line from Bear, they basically came out with all new bows. That is what they did again, two years later, for 2010. The line features price points for every consumer. Each price point is supported by specific features that make the bow distinctive from the others.
At the high end of the price spectrum, you’ll find the Attack. This bow has all the features that Bear can muster. The three that jump out at you when looking at this bow are the string dampeners that arc inward from the top and bottom of the riser to stop (and suppress) the string at two points. The idea is not only to make sure the string stops vibrating immediately, but also to eliminate any chance that the string might whip resulting from contact with a single suppressor. This year, Bear offset the suppressors to reduce vibration even more.
The Attack also features radically pre-loaded limbs, called Max Pre-Load Quad Limbs, for an aggressive draw that begins storing maximum energy right out off the bat. It also offers the advantage of creating a beyond-parallel geometry at full draw. As a result, the acceleration and deceleration of the limbs cancel each other for zero hand shock. The new E-Cam (E for efficiency) powers the Attack to an IBO speed of 332 to 340 fps. The bow is 31 inches long and has a 7-inch brace height.
At the next price point, you will find the Assault. This bow has many of the same features as the Attack but is shorter and has a slightly higher brace height. It also features a self-grip, you hold directly onto a grip-shaped cutout in the riser. The bow produces an IBO speed of 320-328 fps with a brace height of 7 1/4 inches. Again, the E-Cam single-cam powers this bow. It is just 30 3/4 inches long.
Working our way down the line, we hit the Strike. This bow is starting to get into a price range that many archers will consider “affordable”. It doesn’t carry the new Max Pre-Load Quad Limbs or the E-Cam but has the dual string suppressors and is equipped with the standard Perimeter Weighted single-cam and the flared quad limbs. The Strike is 30 inches long, has an IBO rating of 302 to 310 fps with a 7 ¾-inch brace height.
Bear has always had at least one good low-end bow in the line and this year it is the Charge. This bow has an MSRP of $299 and an IBO speed rating of 300 to 305 fps. It is 30 inches long and has a 7 ¾-inch brace height. The bow is very similar to the Strike, but without the string suppressors.
The Apprentice is a very nice looking, high-performance youth or women’s bow. It is light (2.9 pounds), short (27 1/2 inches) and has a low 6-inch brace height to gain maximum speed from limited draw weights. The Apprentice has a huge 12 inches of draw length adjustability. We love youth bows that grow as the young archer grows, that we can size to fit just about anyone. The maximum draw weight on this bow actually changes with the draw length (it goes down as the draw length decreases). Perfect.
LimbSaver began making bows three years ago and when they debuted, they looked like nothing we had ever seen. With their forward-limb, pocketless designs, they totally reinvented what a compound bow can look like and how it can function. The company has had success with the line and this year they are adding to it with their new Proton.
The Proton features split limbs with a new adjustment system that permits you to carefully coordinate the adjustment of both limb pairs to keep their exactly equal, or for special tuning situations to set one pair higher than the other. It is a precise system that LimbSaver calls PowerLock Adjustment Technology. Obviously, the Proton limbs utilize Sims’ forward limb technology that spreads the stresses over the entire limb while still permitting parallel limbs and a moderate 7-inch brace height. The bow is fast, with an IBO rating of 330 fps and light (3.8 pounds). You will find the same HEAT Cam as last year. The bow is 32 1/2 inches long.
During the past couple of years, Martin has built a reputation for very good affordable bows. However, Martin has never trailed in the quest for high technology. One of the key features from Martin this year is the helical track in their improved cam systems. The track moves the harnesses to the side as you draw the bow to better balance the forces acting on the limb tip to eliminate limb tip torque and cam lean.
The FireCat-TR2 utilizes the helical track in the Cat 2 cam version. This is a hybrid cam system that is very fast. Coupled with the FireCat-TR2’s 7-inch brace height, it produces an IBO speed of 235 to 245 fps. The bow is 32 1/4 inches long and weighs just 3.5 pounds. Features include a roller cable guard, a string suppressor and vibration dampening modules in the riser. As a fun option, you can get all the accessories (roller card, cams, suppressor) in full camouflage for a complete camo package that Martin calls “Fully Cloaked.”
The Pantera features the single-cam version of the new helical track cam design. It is called the Accu-Trak cam. The Pantera has parallel limbs that flex beyond parallel at full draw. This produces the least possible recoil and hand shock. The Pantera has very similar specs to the FireCat-TR2 but with the smooth drawing single-cam, is not as fast. It is 32 1/4 inches long, has 7 1/4-inch brace height and an IBO rating of 315 to 320 fps. That is not slow by any stretch and many archers and bowhunters are happy to give up a little speed to smooth out the draw. You will find the same features on this bow as on the FireCat-TR2. In other words, a string suppressor, high quality string and harness, roller cable guard and vibration reducing modules in the riser.
Cam designs get better every year and this year is no exception. As more designers understand what is really needed to make a bow tune well and shoot straight, the cams begin to reflect this knowledge through greater innovation. One example of this trend is the new 3G Velocitec cam system from Alpine. The Velocitec is a hybrid cam with helical grooves on the take-tracks of the cams. The cams take up the harnesses on both sides of the string to help balance the draw force to reduce cam lean, but then this system takes that goal a step further by employing grooves that move the harnesses to the side during the draw.
As the force increases on the harnesses, and the angle of this force changes as the bow is drawn, the position of the harness relative to the center of the limb also changes. In other words, the new cam does an even better job of balancing limb torque than any we have seen. Alpine puts the new 3G Velocitec to work on their new line of LXP bows. There are three of them.
The new Assault is the hottest for 2010. It features the 3G Velocitec, as described above, in addition to an innovative pocket system that permits the reliability of a longer limb with the efficiency and parallel design of a short limb. The primary job of this new pocket system is to move the limbs forward. In effect, this makes it easier to achieve overall design goals, a moderate brace height with parallel limbs and a neutral riser, and do it without compromising reliability. This new limb pocket is called the LXP, short for Lateral eXtreme Pocket. It is a split limb system with Skulls Camo—kind of bizarre, but kind of cool—with a black riser. The bow produces an IBO speed rating of 328 fps with a 61/8-inch brace height. It is 34 inches long.
Alpine also put the new LXP system and the Velocitec G3 cam on two other hunting bows for 2010. They are the Nitrous N20 and Eclipse G2. The Nitrous N20 features a dead straight riser and is much longer than the Assault. In fact, it is almost 38 inches long. It is still fast with an IBO speed of 320 fps with a 71/8-inch brace height. If you are in the market for a longer, more stable bow, you should definitely look at this one.
Finally, the other LXP Velocitec G3 bow for 2010 is the Eclipse G2. It is very similar to the Nitrous N20, but is sized for women and youth shooters with shorter draw version of the Velocitec. It is fast for a youth/women’s bow, pumping out 298 fps with a 300-grain arrow at 60 pounds and 27 inches of draw length.