Last year I tested the Mathews Chill, at that time the latest in Mathews’ McPherson Monster Series of dual-cam bows. For 2014 Mathews has introduced the Chill R. At a glance, it’s a little longer than its predecessor at 33 inches axle-to-axle compared to 30.5 inches, and the limbs appear to have a slightly sharper angle of take-off from the riser. Brace height is reduced as well from a full 7 inches on the Chill to 61⁄8 inches on the Chill R, which partly explains the boost in speed from a stated IBO of 333 fps for the Chill to a stated IBO of 342 fps for the Chill R. These are more than respectable speeds, but comparing them with the speeds of other bows in the McPherson series (the 350 fps of the Monster Safari, for instance, or the 360+ fps for the MR5) suggests that with the Chill R bows Mathews is appealing to shooters who are willing to shave from 5 to 20 fps or more off the highest speeds to get a smoother-shooting bow.
At 3.95 pounds mass weight the Chill R is on the light side, though a tad heavier than the Chill—not surprising, given the difference in length. The basic technology and features remain the same including the Geo Grid Lock Riser, Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Focus Grip, Harmonic Stabilizer Lite, Dead End String Stop, and, perhaps most significantly, Mathews’ Dyad AVS Perimeter Weighted Cam System.
The Dyad AVS system is designed with cables wrapped around offset bearings at each cam for increased efficiency while at the same time harnessing the cams to keep them in synch. The perimeter weighting increases efficiency as well and is a concept dating back to some of Mathews’ earlier and most successful single-cam bows. The overall idea is to maximize efficiency and find that elusive optimum balance between speed and smoothness. Draw lengths are module-specific in half-inch increments.
The grip on the Chill bows merits some attention. The polished, skinny, very comfortable walnut grips found on most of Mathews’ premium offerings is a popular feature, but for the Chill bows Mathews employs the Focus grip. It’s a softer synthetic grip, skinnier than most synthetic grips and less ergonomic, but still comfortable—some would say more comfortable. Its profile is designed to keep pressure on the center of the grip, as opposed to the sides, to minimize torque. It’s a very simple, but clever concept. Fit and finish on this bow as on all Mathews bows is above reproach. It’s worth noting that a variety of components on most Mathews bows, including strings, cables, the grip, harmonic stabilizers, and even the Monkey Tail string silencers, are available in custom colors, though some options might entail extra costs.
Mathews bows are normally easy to set up and tune, and the Chill R is no exception. Recommended center shot is 13/16 inches from the riser, and assuming proper shooting form that generally seems to get good arrow flight, as does squaring the arrow to the string and aligning it with the Berger holes. In this case I eyeballed alignment of the string with the arrow and the sight pins, and at the first shot I found I was an inch from the bull’s-eye at 20 yards before making any adjustments.
At 3.95 pounds the Chill R is not heavy by any means. Most compound bows are somewhat top-heavy, and the Chill R seems to be a little more so than most. This might make a slight difference to some hunters when carrying the bow, but it makes none at all when actually shooting it.
The cams are aggressive, but smooth—that is, 60 pounds of draw weight feels like every bit of 60 pounds of draw weight, but the buildup to peak is gradual as is the let-down to full draw and 80 percent letoff, with no discernible humps, bumps, or jolts. The bow is steady at full draw, and the cams are not grabby. Let-down, should it be necessary, is easy enough. The back wall is adequately firm for shooters who are shooting at a proper draw length and who pull through the shot using good form.
The string stop on the Chill R is fully adjustable on two axes. All string stops should offer that kind of adjustability; effects of an improperly adjusted string stop on accuracy, speed, and noise levels are usually slight, but why tolerate any such effects at all?
The Chill R, like the original Chill, is a quiet bow. There is no hand shock. Especially with a stabilizer in place vibration at the shot is negligible, if not undetectable; if you look hard for it you might detect a tiny amount, but if you don’t you won’t be aware of it. The draw lengths running down to 23 inches put it within reach of a lot of smaller-stature shooters, while the slightly longer axle-to-axle length and 70-pound peak draw weight should appeal to most others. Overall the Chill R is a good addition to Mathews’ line-up—a speed over 340 fps puts it in the speed bow category, with much the same smooth feel as the original, not-quite-as-fast Chill. At the same time, compared to several other McPherson Series bows that reach speeds of 350 fps and more, the Chill R leans more toward the smoother, quieter end of the spectrum.
Brace Height:.................... 61⁄8 inches
Weight:................................... 3.95 pounds
Axle-To-Axle Length:. 33 inches
Speed:....................................... 342 fps
Draw Weights:.................. 50, 60, and 70 pound peak weights, adjustable down 10 pounds from peak.
Draw Lengths:.................. 23 to 30 inches, module-specific in half-inch increments.
Options:................................ Finishes in Lost Camo, Desert Tactical,Black, Black Tactical, Blue Ice.
Suggested Retail:......... $999
Peak Hold*:............................ 70 pounds
Weight, Full Draw*:........... 19.5 pounds
*Rounded to nearest half-pound
Arrow Weight Speed @ Launch Speed @ 20 Yards K.E. @ Launch K.E. @ 20 Yards Sound Level
385 grains 324 fps 313 fps 89.8 ft. lbs. 83.8 ft. lbs.
500 grains 286 fps 278 fps 90.1 ft. lbs. 85.8 ft. lbs.
385 grains 294 fps 284 fps 74.0 ft. lbs. 69.0 ft. lbs. 57.5 dBA
500 grains 260 fps 253 fps 75.0 ft. lbs. 71.0 ft. lbs. 47.6 dBA