It’s hard to believe the Z7 was introduced just last year, given its near-legendary status. For 2011 Mathews has introduced an entire line of Z-Series bows, one of which is sure to appeal to just about any bowhunter. Recent trends toward increasingly compact bows suggest that the Z7 Xtreme may prove to be the most popular in the line-up. At 330 fps the Z7 Xtreme is not the fastest bow in the series (that honor goes to the Z7 Magnum), but 330 fps still represents speed to spare for most bowhunters, especially given this bow’s very generous 73⁄8-inch brace height. The Z7 Xtreme shares with other bows in the series a long list of now-familiar Mathews technology including the trademark Grid Lock Riser, Parallel Limb design, Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Slimfit Inline Grip, Zebra Barracuda strings, and Mathews string suppressors. Another feature in common is the 80 percent letoff and draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds. It weighs a comfortable 3.98 pounds. Overall impression: This is the kind of soft-feeling, quiet-shooting bow that for a lot of bowhunters will represent the ideal combination of speed and smoothness. The Z7 Xtreme is available in any color just so it’s Lost Camo or black. www.mathewsinc.com
Hoyt’s revolutionary carbon tube riser design garnered a lot of attention for the Carbon Matrix in 2010. Now Hoyt employs the carbon tube riser in a new and improved version in the all-new Carbon Element, which Hoyt touts as the lightest and strongest of its bows. The Element offers all the advantages of carbon-tube technology in weight-to-strength ratio, reduced noise and vibration, and the welcome quality of remaining warm to the touch in the coldest conditions. This compact 32-inch bow also boasts Hoyt’s new high-energy FUEL Cam, similar to the XTR cam, with a firmer wall. The XTS Pro ARC limbs are new, with five laminations for maximum reliability. Also new is the In-Line Roller and a new damping material called Stealthshot to stop string oscillation, reduce noise and produce a cleaner arrow release. With a generous 7-inch brace height, the Carbon Element reaches speeds of 323 fps. Overall weight is 3.6 pounds, and available draw weights are 50, 60, 70, and 80 pounds with draw lengths running from 24.5 inches all the way to 30 inches in half-inch increments. The bow is available in Realtree AP, Max 1, Black Out, Half and Half (Black Out riser with camo limbs), and a special Bone Collector version with Black Out riser, camo limbs, and custom graphics. Price: around $1,200. www.hoyt.com
“Bowhunters love shooting new equipment,” says Alpine President Bob Proctor, “but these past few years of our down economy have made it hard to justify the high prices of new bows.” Alpine’s remedy for that conundrum is the new F1 Fireball, a high-performance bow at a price of just under $580 or, as Sales Manager Vince Kite puts it, “…a hot rod bow at an awesome price.”
The F1 Fireball is built around Alpine’s truly innovative Velocitec hybrid cam, which employs helical grooves to move the harnesses to the side during the draw stroke, reducing cam lean and limb torque. The F1 Fireball also boasts a new forged riser and parallel limb construction, which, together with a moderate 34-inch length, a comfortable weight of 4.2 pounds, and a reasonable brace height of just over 6 inches, makes for a very fast, super-quiet, smooth-shooting bow. It doesn’t hurt that the Fireball has a custom look with brown hardware, an antiqued medallion, Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity camo pattern, and rosewood grip. The F1 Fireball is available in 60- or 70-pound draw weights, and draw lengths of 27 to 30 inches. www.alpinearchery.com
Pete Shepley makes no secret of his personal preference in bows. “I like a bow that performs,” he says. What he means, of course, is that he likes speed. At 345 fps, PSE’s new X-Force EVO is not the fastest bow in PSE’s stable, but it’s still blazing-fast. It’s also just a little smoother drawing and a little more forgiving than some of PSE’s other barnburners and, at 321⁄2 inches, more compact. The 6-inch brace helps that speed, and the 75 percent letoff is very comfortable without getting mushy. The now-familiar, aggressive-looking profile of the EVO, with its highly reflexed riser and past-parallel limb design, is the same as the other X-Force bows, but there is a lot that is new on this bow. First, the Planar Flex Riser and Centerlock limb pockets are new. The Posi-Lock inner cam module means the draw length can be adjusted from 251⁄2 inches to 30 inches in half-inch increments with a simple adjustment of included modules. Weight is 4.4 pounds, and this bow is available in 50-, 60-, or 70-pound draw . It comes in choices of Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, EVO-Skulz camo, EVO Black, or the combination of black riser and camo limbs. At a suggested retail price of $850, it’s a fine value. www.pse-archery.com
The look is familiar: Bear’s new Carnage shares many of the features of the earlier Attack and Assault models, but Bear has cranked things up a notch with this bow. New is the slimmer One-Piece Slim Synthetic Grip and the Skeleton Cam and Idler Wheel, machined from 7075 aluminum with less mass and weight and a precisely placed Tungsten Carbide perimeter weight to create what Bear touts as “…the smoothest and most efficient single cam on the market.” At a sizzling 345 fps, the Carnage is the fastest bow in Bear’s line-up. At 32 inches it slightly exceeds the Attack and the Assault in length, arguably making it a little more balanced and a little more forgiving. Overall weight remains in the ballpark with the Attack and the Assault at 4 pounds even, and the brace height is 7.25 inches. The Dual Arc Offset String Suppressors and the past-parallel limbs with the flared limb tips are familiar enough to be recognized as a Bear design at a glance. The Carnage also features Max Pre-Load Quad Limbs and Bear’s 4X4 Roller Guard with eight sealed ball bearings. Overall the distinctive design features of this bow give it a very cutting-edge look. Letoff is 80 percent, and the Carnage is available in right- or left-hand models. The Realtree APG camo finish is sharp-looking, but we really like the black, Shadow Series profile-eliminating ground blind finish, which is flat-out evil. Price: under $850. www.beararcheryproducts.com
If you’re among the many bowhunters who have lusted for a new bow but blanched at the prices of recent high-end models, you’ll want to take a close look at BowTech’s Assassin. Promising BowTech quality at an affordable price, the Assassin is the newest in BowTech’s fully equipped R.A.K. (Ready. Aim. Kill.) series of bows. At the heart of the Assassin is BowTech’s famous Binary Cam System with adjustable rotating draw length modules and E-Lite Zero Tolerance limb pockets. Speed is, as you might expect from BowTech, impressive at 333 fps. The outfitted rig weighs 4.8 pounds; brace is 7 inches, with draw lengths ranging from 26 to 30 inches and draw weights 50, 60, or 70. The Assassin comes equipped with an array of high-end accessories including a 4-pin TruGlo Apex Sight, 1-Piece 5-Arrow Ultra-Lite Quiver, Octane Hostage XL arrow rest, 4-inch Light Stabilizer, Comfort Wrist Sling, Alloy Peep, and Fura-Flx String Dampening Components, all installed and tested at the factory. As with all BowTech’s bows, the Assassin is protected by an InVelvet top coat, and the Assassin shares the sophisticated looks of other BowTech models with Mossy Oak Treestand camo. At $649, it’s a lot of bow for the money. www.bowtecharchery.com
Elite is known for producing bows that are smooth and forgiving without compromising on speed. Born from Elite’s Z28, the new Elite Hunter fits that niche, with just a little more emphasis on the smooth and forgiving part. With a 313⁄4-inch length, a weight under 4 pounds, and a 71⁄2 -inch brace, the Hunter has, according to the folks at Elite, a simple mission: to help you put animals on the wall and in your freezer. Elite’s ESX Cams produce a very respectable, if not barn-burning, 323 fps. If you want maximum speed, Elite makes other bows for you. If you think hunting situations call for maximum forgiveness, and if a lightweight, compact, super-smooth-shooting bow with a deep valley and 80 percent letoff brings a smile to your face, you’ll love this bow. It comes with Elite’s now-famous fully transferable lifetime warranty against defects of the riser, pocket, limbs, and eccentrics, and it comes in a wide range of Realtree camo patterns including Snow, as well as in a matte black Ninja Edition. Draw lengths for the Hunter range from 25 to 30 inches, and available draw weights include 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 pounds. Suggested retail price for the Hunter is $869. www.elitearchery.com
The Prime Centroid is one of two bows in the new Prime line, from G5. Prime takes head-on the related problems of cam lean and torque. That tack is the current rage in bow design; the unique thing here is Parallel Cam Technology, using two parallel string tracks that are outside the cable tracks. The result is that the string and cable are on the same plane in the centerline of the limbs, thereby virtually eliminating cam lean. Though cam lean accounts for most system-induced torque, some is caused by the cable guard system pulling cables to the side. G5’s Prime bows address this issue with the TI-Glide Titanium Flexing Cable Guard System, which pulls the cables toward the arrow as the bow is drawn, then allows them to slide back and out of the way to provide clearance for the fletching. The resulting reduction in torque not only makes for less horizontal nock travel and increased accuracy, but greatly reduces limb stress.
Another feature of the Prime Series bows is the forged 7000 Series T6 Aluminum Risers, which promise to be twice as strong as traditional 6061 T6 aluminum risers for increased stiffness and reduced hand shock. C-1 Laminated Limbs use a cross weft design to reduce torsional stress, and a grip made of G10 material repels water and odor, staying dry and comfortable in all conditions. Finally, bows this unique can’t use just any custom string on the market; these bows make use of Gore Fiber String & Cables for reduced vibration and noise and increased durability. The Centroid shoots an impressive IBO speed of 332 fps. A 7-inch brace height adds forgiveness to the bow, as does the 34-inch axle-to-axle length. The Centroid weighs in at a moderate 4.3 pounds and is available in draw lengths ranging from 27 to 31 inches, and in draw weights of 50, 60, or 70 pounds. Also unique: G5 fully tunes each bow and cycles it 100 times, then retunes it. Available in Optifade Forest, Optifade Open Country, Realtree AP HD or Black, the Centroid sells for $1,000. www.g5prime.com
How does a third-generation, family-owned business in operation almost 60 years convince people that it’s on the cutting edge of bow design? By coming out with a bow like the Firecat 400, for one thing. Built around Martin’s smooth new Nitro 2.0 Hybrid Pro Cams, it reaches intimidating speeds of 335 to 345 fps, and that with a forgiving 7-inch brace height. At a compact 32 inches, the Firecat 400 tips the scales at a grin-inducing 3.7 pounds. The list of features includes Martin’s PowerTough Limbs, developed expressly for modern parallel-limb designs, the Saddleback Thermal Grip, which is comfortable even in cold weather, HammerHead Bowstrings and servings (employing BCY Trophy material and Gore-Tex), and Martin’s SOS (String Oscillation Suppressor). The Torque Reducing Cable Guard is simple, but effective, and the Quick-Lock (Integrated Quick Detach Stabilizer Mount) is a thoughtful touch. And, yes, Martin’s “cloaked cam” option, in which the cams are camo to match the limbs and riser, looks really cool. All in all the Firecat 400 is another impressively quiet, shock-free, fast-shooting bow from Martin Archery. Best about this bow, given its qualities, just might be its price: under $650. www.martinarchery.com
John Maus has the eye of an artist and the mind of an engineer. It is hard to imagine a better marriage of aesthetics and technology, traditional craftsmanship, and modern methodology than a Lone Wolf bow. Listening to Maus talk about vertical stability and computer-controlled presses creates a strange disconnect when you are looking at one of his elegant bows, but then without missing a beat he goes into aesthetic qualities like selection of osage orange, the nine layers of lamination, the accent layers, and why he prefers grips with a thumb rest. Handsome without being too pretty, the Lone Wold Kayapo is also light, strong, durable, and, like a fine English Double shotgun, lively in the hand. It’s also accurate and forgiving, making it ideal for the experienced traditional bowhunter or the novice. At 60 inches and in draw weights as low as 20 pounds, the Kayapo starts at around $600 depending on options selected.