Few bows generate the controversy that Mathews’ new Monster Wake has stirred. The combination of a $1,700 price tag, a trend-defying mass weight of 5.38 pounds, a 5-inch brace height and an IBO of 352 fps at 85 percent letoff gets a lot of attention. The obvious questions are: Can a bow be worth $1,700? Does a bow need to be that heavy? Is a 5-inch brace height too skinny? Obvious questions usually have obvious answers. If you can’t afford the bow, it doesn’t matter how good it is; if you can afford it and like it more than other bows, it’s worth the cost. No, a bow doesn’t need to be that heavy – but there are advantages to a heavy bow – and there is the fact that if you do all your hunting from a treestand or a blind, weight is a small concern. (Not to mention the fact that if you bench press 250 pounds, the difference between 4 pounds and 5.38 pounds is probably subtle.) Is a 5-inch brace height too skinny? Yes, if your anatomy or your shooting form makes it a problem; otherwise, it just boosts speed. The more interesting question is how does the bow perform, and all the controversy surrounding the new Wake made me eager to test it.

Being described by many as a cross between the TRG and the Chill series, the Monster Wake features a riser length more common to target bows than to hunting bows (32.28 inches with an axle-to-axle length of 35 inches), though the Geo Grid Lock design is familiar, even with Mathews’ recently introduced cage riser. Apart from the very skinny 5-inch brace height, accentuated by the length of the riser, if anything jumps out at a glance it’s the quad limbs – super short, super wide and, presumably, super rigid. The dual-cam system is a variation of Mathews’ Perimeter Weighted Dyad AVS cams with a redesigned harness and a larger AVS similar to that of the equally controversial No Cam. (The AVS is Mathews’ system for slaving the dual cams to ensure synchronicity.) In common with almost all Mathews’ bows, the Monster Wake offers Mathews’ integrated Harmonic Dampers (in this case the Lite version), an adjustable string stop and Mathews’ Reverse Assist Roller Guard, among other features. Fit and finish of the test bow, as you’d expect from a bow that is at the high end of High End, was flawless. It’s a beautiful bow if you like bows with very long risers, short limbs and skinny brace heights, and it’s available in any color so long as you want black.

Shooting the Bow

Setting up the bow was routine – 11⁄16 inches centershot, 90-degree nock point. No difficulty accommodating our standard test sight or rest. The upper limb bolt chattered a bit, but turned easily enough. I tweaked centershot and soon had perfect arrow flight as indicated by bullet holes through paper with an unfletched arrow.

No getting around it, the first thing a shooter is going to notice upon picking up this bow is the weight. Second thing, especially if the shooter is not accustomed to target bows, is the grip. It’s close to no grip. The inset wood sporting the Mathews logo looks good but is functionless. Having said all that, the grip is smoothly rounded and comfortable, and the only downside I can see is that it will make for a cold carry in winter weather. The bow is well balanced on one axis but, as with most longer bows, will feel a bit top heavy to those accustomed to shorter bows.

On first drawing and shooting the bow, there are a few other things the shooter will notice. First, it draws very smoothly – not as in “smoothly for a bow this fast,” but smoothly for any bow at any speed. The weight increases more gradually as peak weight approaches, settles into a steady, even pull, then drops off smoothly into the valley. There is no hard stop of the kind you might expect from a limb stop, but the back wall feels comfortably firm. Second, the Monster Wake is absolutely rock steady at full draw. Steady as in pin is on the bull’s-eye and not getting off it. At the shot, the Monster Wake is super quiet. There is no hand shock. Vibration? Detectable if you’re looking for it, but barely so.

The question is: Why would bowhunters want a bow this heavy and this long, with this skinny a brace height and with this price tag? Here are some answers: Because they want a bow that is supremely accurate and forgiving, a bow that can extend their kill range by 10 or even 20 yards, a bow that is extremely smooth drawing, a bow with a lot of speed and a bow that is very quiet.

Matt McPherson himself has said this is not a bow for everyone, and others have called it a niche bow. Mathews, like every major player in the industry, has its admirers and its detractors. Say what you will, the designers at Mathews have never been among those who put their finger to the wind before introducing a new product. Mathews doesn’t follow trends so much as it makes them. The Monster Wake is unlikely to set any sales records, but it will provide a great deal of satisfaction to those bowhunters who demand the very best, and it may well influence the way we shoot in the future.

Prime Rival Specs

Letoff:………………………65-85%

Brace Height:………………6.25 inches

Weight:…………………….. 4.3 pounds (approximate)

Axle-To-Axle Length:…….. 35 inches

Speed:……………………… 340 fps

Draw Lengths:…………….. 26 to 30 inches, cam specific in half-inch increments

Draw Weights:…..………… 40, 50, 60 and 70 pound peak, adjustable down 10 pounds from peak

Options:…………………… Realtree Xtra, Blackout, Gamma Green, Red Hot, Ice Blue, GORE Optifade Open Country

Suggested Retail:………… $999-$1,049

Objective Tests  (30 Inches Draw)

Peak Hold*:…………………70 pounds

Weight, Full Draw*:………13 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 300 fps 288 fps 77 ft. lbs.
71 ft. lbs.  
500 grains 268 fps 260 fps 79.5 ft. lbs. 75 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 287 fps  277 fps 70.5 ft. lbs. 65.5 ft. lbs.   57 dBA
500 grains 257 fps  252 fps 73.5 ft. lbs. 70.5 ft. lbs. 46.5 dBA