Bow Report: PSE "X-Force DNA"

February 14, 2013

PSE touts its new flagship bow as “…entirely different, all the way down to its DNA.” Some important differences notwithstanding, bowhunters familiar with PSE’s products—and that would be most of them—would recognize the DNA as a PSE at a glance. The combination of a long, highly reflexed riser, flared at each end to meet the short past-parallel limbs, the big cams, the unique limb pockets, the Vibracheck limb damper bands, and the red sideplates all pretty much scream PSE. Like most PSE bows, it looks longer than it is, an phenomenon contributed to by the relatively skinny brace height of many PSE bows.

One genetic difference that many bowhunters may welcome is the DNA’s 3.7-pound mass weight, making it a relatively light bow by any standards, more so by PSE’s standards. A new riser forged from an ultra-light aluminum alloy, together with the newer, lighter Centerlock 2 limb pockets, achieved most of the savings in weight. There is something to be said for a certain amount of mass weight in a bow. Heavier bows tend to be more forgiving, all else being equal, and bucking the trend toward increasingly lighter bows probably contributed to PSE’s reputation for producing very accurate, forgiving bows. And for bowhunters who spend most of their time in treestands or ground blinds—and that would be the majority of them—weight is arguably not an issue. Still, many bowhunters (myself included, in the interests of full disclosure) prefer light bows, and the DNA increases PSE’s appeal to those hunters.

PSE is also known for producing bows that push the boundaries when it comes to speed. With a top published speed of 352 fps, the DNA would certainly qualify as a very fast bow. At the DNA’s core is (forgive me) the new Core Cam, a hybrid cam system with sealed ball bearings and an inner cam that allows for 5 inches of draw length adjustment. A cushioned draw stop makes for quiet, but firm back wall. Laser-engraved tuning marks on the cams are a useful feature.

The DNA includes some other new-for-2013 technology as well, including a new flexible cable slide to reduce torque and a new string stopper that is rotationally adjustable to keep it centered on the string, micro-adjustable for impact distance. Center Pull technology places the arrow in the center of the riser, which should facilitate tuning. PSE’s characteristic Vibracheck limb damper bands have been improved to make them easier to put on and remove. They can also be used on split- as well as solid-limb bows, and can be added to other bow parts if further noise/vibration reduction is desired.

The DNA, along with a few other bows that might be leading a welcome trend, is available in not only the standard 50-, 60-, or 70-pound configurations, but in 55- and 65-pound options as well. This makes a lot of sense, as bows generally perform best at or close to their maximum draw weights. Offering the five-pound increments enables hunters who shoot at or near 55 or 65 pounds to get maximum efficiency from their bows.

Fit and finish on the DNA are commensurate with a premium bow in its price range, and I found no visible flaws in the bow I tested. The red and black custom string from America’s Best Strings, along with a red D-loop, red sideplates, red logo, red inner cams, and red trim on the cable guard contrasted nicely with the camo pattern.

Shooting The Bow

At well under four pounds, the DNA is an easy carry. The grip is slim, but comfortable. Like other PSE bows with which I’m familiar, it tends to be a little top-heavy. The draw stroke is, as you would expect from a bow with this kind of speed, aggressive. It pulls back evenly with a noticeable, but not uncomfortable break-over. The valley is not deep, but assuming proper draw length and good shooting form it’s not so narrow that it creates grabby or jumpy cams.

Letoff on the DNA is 70 percent. That is obviously more than the long-time standard of 65 percent, but less than the now-common 80 percent. At my usual draw weight in the low- to mid-60s, I did not find this to be an issue. On the other hand, with a bow this fast, a hunter could back off draw weight several pounds and still be shooting a faster arrow than with most bows at the higher draw weight offering 80 percent letoff.

I didn’t need a chronograph to tell me this bow is fast; the speed is evident immediately. Recoil or hand shock are not issues, but the bow does pop forward in a loose grip, and there is a slight vibration.

Bowhunters who have shot PSE bows in the past will likely find the DNA has a familiar feel because of the grip, the balance, the draw, and the shot. The lighter weight will be noticeable. Improvements such as the more adjustable string stopper and the flexible cable guard will also be welcome. All in all, the DNA is consistent with PSE’s high performance standards, and will enable the company to expand its market to include hunters who prefer bows that are not only fast, but also on the light side.

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