Bow Report: Bowtech Carbon Icon

Shooters who want the lightweight, warmth, rigidity and other advantages of a carbon-riser bow, along with the cutting-edge technology and design features that have made Bowtech a major player in the industry, will find the Carbon Icon a great bow and great value.
Bow Report: Bowtech Carbon Icon

The Carbon Icon is one of four carbon-riser bows in Bowtech’s current lineup, and one of several R.A.K. bows. (Touted as featuring “the most accurate preset components in the industry,” the Ready Aim Kill bows feature Octane and Apex Gear accessories and are tuned and sighted-in at the factory.) Bowtech’s carbon bows look remarkably similar, sharing the same riser, grip and limb pockets, among other features. In fact, the Carbon Icon appears to be all but identical to the Carbon Knight in technology, specs and performance, with the significant difference being Bowtech’s PowerShift technology, which was featured in a bow report a few months ago on Bowtech’s (non-carbon) Prodigy. PowerShift enables the shooter, without pressing the bow, to easily switch between a Power setting and a Comfort setting. As the labels imply, the Performance setting produces higher speeds, while the Comfort setting trades off some speed for a smoother draw cycle. The switch between the two cycles on the Icon (three on the Prodigy) can be made by simply removing a small module, dubbed a PowerDisc, and flipping it over.

In common with other Bowtech bows, the Carbon Icon offers a rotating-module feature that allows the draw length to be changed over a 6-inch range, in half-inch increments. In the case of the Icon, this can be done without pressing the bow. The draw stop, naturally, is adjustable as well. The grip is Bowtech’s signature side-plate-style grip, very skinny but comfortably rounded and, since the riser is carbon, warm to the touch regardless of ambient temperature.Bowtech Carbon Icon_Camo

The test bow was black with the R.A.K. package, and since that is how the bow is billed and no doubt the way it will often be purchased, I varied slightly from the usual testing procedure and used the accessories provided. This further enabled me to determine how well pre-tuning and sighting-in actually works. The bow was set on the Comfort setting out of the box, so that is how it was tested, though I did some testing on the Performance setting to see how it compared, as referenced in “Shooting the Bow” below. I did test at the IBO standard 30-inch draw length.

The accessories complement the bow nicely in terms of both function and appearance. They’re lightweight but appear durable. The Apex sight features four pins and the rest is the Octane Hostage XL. (More about the accessories later.) Fit and finish are generally excellent on Bowtech bows, and the Carbon Icon was no exception. The gold FlipDiscs and the red logos pop out sharply and save what would otherwise be a boring matte-black finish on the BlackOps bow.

Shooting the Bow

Setup was virtually complete, given that the bow is R.A.K.-equipped. At 3.2 pounds the Carbon Icon is light even for a carbon bow, and that is naturally among the first things any shooter is likely to notice. The grip is another. Not everyone prefers skinny grips, but they do offer advantages and I found this one very comfortable. The draw cycle, subjectively speaking, struck us as being Bowtech’s smoothest yet on the Comfort setting. The Performance setting is noticeably more aggressive but still remarkably smooth. As the draw-force curves indicate, peak weight drops off a little sooner in the draw cycle for the Comfort setting. Vibration and noise on either setting are negligible.

Bow Reports are all about the bows, but given that this was a R.A.K.-equipped bow, some comments about the accessories and the factory tuning/sighting-in would seem to be in order. I normally prefer a slightly larger peep, but this one worked for me with the Apex pin sight. I would prefer that the white ring on the pin guard be a little larger or brighter for quicker acquisition through the peep, but this is a minor issue for many shooters and a non-issue for others. The pins are bright, but there is no option for a sight light which, depending on your vision, can be an issue in a ground blind with a black lining or other low-light situations. The peep is not served in, something I would do prior to hunting with the bow.

I particularly like the Octane Hostage XL rest. Assuming the brushes that contact the arrow are reasonably durable – an issue on some similar types of rests – it’s a rest that contains the arrow, is quiet, causes little or no loss of speed, and offers the kind of simplicity that design engineers love. Setup is uncomplicated, and once set up there are no timing issues or moving parts that are likely to wear out or fail.

On the target range the bow got very tight groups, with arrows grouping about 2 inches to the right of the bull’s-eye at 20 yards. Shooting an unfletched arrow through paper from the Hooter Shooter, the bow got near-perfect bullet holes from the start. Given the differences in individual shooting forms and arrow choices, I’d have been surprised if no tweaks were necessary. The R.A.K. setup did achieve good arrow flight out of the box, shot very tight groups and required only a minimal windage adjustment to be on the bull’s-eye.

Switching from the Comfort to the Performance setting took a matter of minutes. The difference is noticeable, but, as mentioned when testing this technology on the Bowtech Prodigy, the Performance setting results in significantly higher speeds with little change other than a slightly more aggressive feel on the draw. Shooting at 60 pounds, the Performance setting reached speeds of 289 fps with a 385-grain arrow, compared to 273 fps on the Comfort setting. With a 500-grain arrow the Performance setting reached 255 fps, compared to 241 fps on the Comfort setting. Depending on the weight of the arrow, the Performance setting boosts speed about 15 fps.

Shooters demanding the highest possible speeds will look to other bows (and Bowtech certainly offers some screaming-fast bows). Shooters who want the lightweight, warmth, rigidity and other advantages of a carbon-riser bow, along with the cutting-edge technology and design features that have made Bowtech a major player in the industry, will find that both the bare bow and the R.A.K. Carbon Icon are great bows and great values.

Bowtech Carbon Icon_ForceDrawCurve

Bowtech Carbon Icon Specs


Brace Height:………………7 inches

Weight:…………………….. 3.2 pounds (approximate)

Axle-To-Axle Length:…….. 31 inches

Speed:……………………… 335 fps

Draw Lengths:…………….. 26.5 to 30.5 inches, in half-inch increments, rotating module

Draw Weights:…..………… 50, 60 and 70 pound peak

Options:…………………… BlackOps, Mossy Oak Break-Up Country

Suggested Retail:………… $749 R.A.K./$649 bare bow

Objective Tests  (30 Inches Draw)

Peak Hold*:…………………70 pounds

Weight, Full Draw*:………15.5 pounds

*Rounded to nearest half-pound

At 70-Pound Draw Weight

Arrow Weight Speed @ Launch Speed @ 20 Yards  K.E. @ Launch K.E. @ 20 Yards
385 grains 293 fps 283 fps 73.5 ft. lbs.
68.5 ft. lbs.  
500 grains 259 fps 252 fps 74.5 ft. lbs. 70.5 ft. lbs. 

At 60-Pound Draw Weight

Arrow Weight Speed @ Launch Speed @ 20 Yards K.E. @ Launch K.E. @ 20 Yards Sound Level
385 grains 273 fps  265 fps 63.5 ft. lbs. 60 ft. lbs.
56.8 dBA
500 grains 241 fps  235 fps 64.5 ft. lbs. 61.5 ft. lbs. 47.1 dBA


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