Hoyt Carbon MatrixHoyt Carbon Matrix

For sure among the most attention-grabbing bows of the year is this handsome and high-techy offering from Hoyt. Its sweeping lines of hollow-tube and laminated carbon, beyond-parallel limbs coiled to strike, and top-quality feeling in hand make it a definite standout.

Hoyt calls its Hoyt Carbon Matrix “ground-breaking,” an “epic advancement,” and its “lightest high-end bow ever.” Utilizing high-tech, hollow carbon tube riser (patent-pending) O-Tech technology, the manufacturer claims this strong and stable bow demonstrates a new standard of lightweight design, vibration reduction, shootability, and precision. At 35 inches axle-to-axle, it offers the advantages of a longer axle-to-axle bow, but with the super-light mass weight—3.8 pounds, to be exact—of a much shorter bow. Other features include a 71⁄4-inch brace height, XTR Cam & 1/2 system that offers up to 75 percent letoff, XTS ARC limbs, an IBO speed rating of 318 fps, and draw weights ranging from 40 to 80 pounds.

At $1,600, this bow is custom from cam to cam and, as such, production is limited. However, contrary to what a prominent bowhunting magazine recently predicted, demand for the bow is running very high despite the price. (Yes, the mistaken magazine was us.)

The bow is handsome with a very much premium-quality feel to it. Best of all, the Carbon Matrix is pure pleasure to shoot. My test model had about the smoothest draw I’ve ever felt in a compound, and it was truly “dead in hand” at the shot—even fresh out of the box with no “stuff” on it.

Contact: (801) 363-2990, www.hoyt.com

New Breed GenetixNew Breed Genetix

New kid on the block New Breed is competing by offering a custom, hand-built touch to their bows—and, already, its flagship bow, the Genetix, is garnering some serious attention.

The New Breed Genetix bow is hand-assembled with top-quality components, including pre-stressed and conditioned VaporTrail VTX BCY 452x strings and cables made especially for this bow as well as the clean-looking aluminum/titanium Bow Rattler adjustable bow string silencer that offers the archer fine tuning adjustability. The bow also boasts Barnsdale limbs, a T6061 machined aluminum riser, and Bowjax noise dampeners The two-cam, two-track Bionix cam system (where cables connect cam to cam) is not just smooth on the draw, but offers a rock-solid wall and sweet valley. And, if you have to let down again, there is also no sudden “jerk” or back strain.

The result is sweet-shooting accuracy at a blazing 345 fps IBO speed rating. A brace height of 7 inches and an axle to axle height of 33.5 inches supplies that extra forgiveness needed when the shot really counts. The Genetix bow comes in draw weights ranging from 50 to 70 pounds at draw lengths of 24.5 to 30 inches. It is decked out in Next Vista camo and weighs just 3.8 pounds. MSRP is $749.99.

I found that the bow felt good in hand and shot well.

Contact: www.newbreedarchery.com

Rytera Alien NemesisRytera Alien Nemesis

One of the most unique new bow designs to come along in a long time…“Eye-catching” leaps to mind but hardly seems adequate to describe this unique compound. Beyond appearance, in hand it also feels other-worldly. It has a very Spartan feel to it, with everything seeming to line up on a single plane. And there’s a lot of aluminum going on there. It took a while to get used to a feel so different, but I like it.

At a 34-inch axle length and 7-inch brace height, the Nemesis’ 4-pound frame offers stability and accuracy to match its 335 fps speed rating. Rytera touts its balance, light weight, absence of recoil, and “artistic engineering.” The Nemesis has Speed Bearings, super-hard axles, custom strings, and an elaborately machined truss-style riser. Draw lengths range from 27 to 30 inches for the Hybrix 2.0 hybrid cam system, and 25 to 28 inches for the Hybrix 1.5. Suggested retail price is $799.

Contact: (509) 529-2554, www.rytera.com

Mission ManiacMission Maniac

The Maniac, 31 inches axle-to-axle, is 4.12 pounds with a 7.125-inch brace height. Letoff is up to 77 percent, and its IBO speed rating is 310 fps. It features parallel limbs and comes with D-Amplifiers silencers and limb-mounted string suppressors to tame shock, and Mathews’ own Zebra Hybrid bowstring and harness system. MSRP (bow only) is $449.

The highly adjustable dual-cam system means the Maniac will fit a wide variety of archers, everyone from teenagers to experienced adults. As you increase the draw length from 22 to 30 inches, the peak draw weight—anywhere from 20 to 70 pounds—also increases.

I’m not sure what it is that makes me gravitate toward bows made by Mathews. The Maniac I tested was very reminiscent of the Mathews DXT that has been my go-to bow for three years running. It is very smooth and compact and just feels great in hand—at not much more than half the price.

Contact: (608) 269-2719, www.missionarchery.com

Diamond Iceman FLXDiamond Iceman FLX

The Diamond Iceman features parent company BowTech’s Center Pivot technology on its forged aluminum riser. The center pivot point supports short parallel limbs, allowing the bow designers to use a hinge at the butt of the limb rather than locking it solidly in a pocket, and it cuts the number of components in half, thus reducing weight and vibration. The entire limb can flex, spreading the stresses for greater reliability.

The new FLX-Guard cable guard system addresses the tuning effects of extreme cable tension and inflexible cable guards found on many bows. It flexes inward to absorb cable guard torque that normally transfers to the riser. The result is substantial reduction in lateral nock travel, yielding a real advancement in tune-ability, forgiveness and accuracy. The FLX also has a suppressor to stop string vibration and noise and a single-cam system with a rotating module that makes draw length adjustment easy. Simply remove the mod screws, rotate the module, and re-tighten.

Another interesting feature is the InVelvet coating that makes the bow feel soft to the touch, insulates hands from cold winter weather, dampens noise, and protects from dings and scratches. Even better, it is unaffected by common chemicals such as insect repellents or scent sprays.

With a 7-inch brace height, the Iceman produces an IBO speed rating of 308 to 315 fps. It is 311/2 inches long, is adjustable to draw lengths ranging from 24 to 30 inches, comes in 60- and 70-pound draw weights with 65 to 80 percent letoff, and has a suggested retail price of $799.

I was chuckling to myself as I opened the box, as I found myself wondering what wild and unique things I would find on this bow, as I’ve gotten used to with BowTech and Diamond products. Sure enough, the forked riser setup, eye-catching eccentrics, unique roller guard and string stopper add up to a very distinctive bow. I love the grip—probably the most consistency assisting grip I’ve tried in a long time. And it shoots smoothly and hard.

Contact: (877) 269-2776, www.diamondarchery.com

Quest PrimalQuest Primal

The 33-inch-long Primal is one of the fastest performers in Quest’s line, topping out around 330 fps IBO speed. With a 71/4-inch brace height, it features Quest’s I-Glide cable guard system that eliminates moving parts by utilizing a ceramic insert to keep the cables away from the arrow fletching, offering longer cable life and a quieter, more accurate bow. It comes equipped with BowJax limb silencers, fully adjustable string suppression system, and a two-piece laminated wood grip. Quest’s Twin Track SYNC modular binary cam system provides draw length options from 26.5 to 30 inches in half-inch increments as well as peak draw weights of 40 to 50, 50 to 60, and 60 to 70 pounds with 80 percent letoff. Suggested retail price for the Primal is $699 (standard finish in black or Realtree AP-HD) or $729 with G5’s proprietary GFade custom finish (Realtree Advantage Max 1, Realtree Advantage Max 4, or Realtree AP-HD).

One thing I noticed about the Primal right away was the ergonomic grip. It just seemed to fit me well and be conducive to consistency.

Contact: (866) 456-8836, www.questbowhunting.com

APA MambaAPA Innovations Black Mamba 6.5

The designers at APA Innovations have put a great deal of thought into packing their parallel-limbed Black Mamba 6.5 full of features. Before we get into them, however, let’s take a look at the vital statistics. This 4-pound bow measures 32.25 inches axle-to-axle with a 6.5-inch brace height. Available draw lengths and weights are 25.5 to 30.5 inches and 50, 60, 70, and 80 pounds, respectively, at 75 percent letoff. APA says that its extra rigid 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum riser transfers more energy to the arrow, resulting in higher arrow speeds—348 fps IBO in this case—with a larger brace height.

For smooth shooting, there is a dual ball-bearing cam system with positive stop, APA Speed Silencer, and APA Vibrastop.

Like the rest of the APA line, the Black Mamba 6.5 has several handy features. The Cam Lock allows you to change strings and cables on your bow without the use of a standard bow press. The bow’s built-in bow tool center includes a nock wrench, broadhead wrench, and carbide sharpener. The patented Bow Grip Carrying System with Built-in Balance Point provides a balanced way of transporting your bow with more comfort. A direct mount makes it quiver-ready, and there are front and rear stabilizer bushings as well. Finally, the new Fang riser has a “hook” for convenient hanging from any available tree limb. Suggested retail is $929.90.

The most distinctive thing about this bow is how hard it shoots—as hard or harder than any I’ve shot this year. That’s partly attributable to its lower brace height, which did not seem to affect forgiveness for me.

The carbon grid pattern finish on the model I tested is handsome. I also like the bow’s unique features, which may not be critical but are useful and neat: the carry handle, the integral hanging hook, and even a broadhead wrench.

Contact: (866) 353-7378, www.apaarchery.com

Ben Pearson AdvantageBen Pearson Advantage

Ben Pearson had competition shooters in mind when it designed the new Advantage, but it also focused on durability and easy maintenance. Top of the list is the company’s own ETI (Energy Transfer Insert) technology to eliminate fractures at the axle hole, a leading cause of limb failure. A lightweight aluminum bolt redistributes forces from the axle hole in the limb tip up and across the entire limb-tip surface, doubling the strength of the limb.

The SteeLock system helps shooters avoid stripping limb bolts or misguiding them into the riser and rendering your bow riser useless.

Also equipping this bow is Ben Pearson’s string stop system that absorbs vibration and noise coming from the string. And speaking of strings, the Advantage features strong, durable custom strings and cables from Stage One Strings.

The quick specs on the Advantage are: 37.5-inch axle-to-axle length; 75/8-inch brace height; draw lengths ranging 26 to 31.5 inches; and 40-, 50-, 60-, and 70-pound draw weights. This 4.1-pound bow shoots 318 to 327 IBO. Suggested retail is $949.

If color is your thing, you have several choices: black w/black limbs, black w/camo limbs, pink w/black limbs, candy red w/black limbs, blue w/black limbs and Mothwing Orange w/black limbs.

Ergonomics of this bow are slender and simple, with a fast two-cam system.

Contact: (800) 441-6734, www.benpearson.com

Athens Buck CommanderAthens Buck Commander

The 3.95-pound Buck Commander is powered to its 330+ IBO speed by a pair of binary cams and a 7-inch brace height. It has string suppressor limb-mounted BowJax silencers. You get a choice of a 32- or 34-inch bow in draw weights ranging from 50 to 70 pounds and draw lengths from 25 to 30 inches in half-inch increments. Letoff is adjustable from 65 to 80 percent. Suggested retail is $749.

Features include CNC machined pivoting limb pockets; EV2 Duo-Cam System; The Anchor String Stopper; Custom Buck Commander Diamond Wood Grip.

A few things I like about this bow are the draw stops, the string stopper and the standard-issue limb shocks. I like the grip; the arrow shelf and guard seems a little bit much, but with my Whisker Biscuit bolted on it’s pretty much moot. I like how this bow shoots.

Contact: (574) 224-2350, www.athensarchery.com