Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

Best New Bows for 2013: A First Look From the ATA Show Floor

Okay fine, a trade show may not the best place to thoroughly test new bows. It’s noisy and you only get to shoot each model a handful of times before having to pass it off to the next person in line. But you can get back in line as many times as you want, and you can absolutely get a solid first look at every bow at the show.

And so we did. At this week’s ATA show in Louisville, Kentucky, Bestul and I focused on the new flagship models for 2013. We shot, and waited to shoot, and shot, and got in line again…until we had a firm enough grasp of the new crop of compounds to share our first impressions with you. Here they are, in alphabetical order by manufacturer:

Bowtech Experience ($899; bowtecharchery)
Specs: 335 fps IBO; 32 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 4.2 pounds
Skinny: After playing the speed game—and playing it very well—for the last couple of years, Bowtech has touched the brakes a little to offer everyday hunters a smoother, easier shooting experience.
Hits: Smooth draw cycle. Excellent valley; you can relax a little at full draw without the bow yanking your string hand forward--a critically important feature for the average hunter in the field. Good back wall. Good balance and feel. Fairly dead in the hand, but not perfectly so.
Misses: A little loud—but only a little, and we were shooting a bare bow.

Elite Answer ($899; elitearchery.com)
Specs: 330 fps IBO with smooth mod, 340 with speed mod; 33-1/2 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 4.1 pounds
Skinny: Elite doesn’t have one flagship bow but several in different configurations at the same price level. After shooting the newest models, we liked the Answer because it offered the best combination of smoothness and speed.
Hits: Exceptionally smooth draw cycle (second only to the G5 Prime, see below). Very good valley, much like the Bowtech. Good balance, good feel, good fit and finish.
Misses: A little louder than some, and the Answer jumps in your hand just a little at the shot.

G5 Prime Impact ($949; g5prime.com)
Specs: 340 fps IBO; 35 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6.25; 4.5 pounds
Skinny: G5’s bows have been getting better every year—inching closer the perennial top contenders. This year, based solely on these preliminary tests, the Impact has cleared the bar. It should join the discussion for best bow of 2013. The other version of the bow is the 30-inch Defy, but we liked this one better.
Hits: Smoothest draw cycle of all the bows at the show. Nice valley; doesn’t want to yank your string hand forward. Good back wall. Absolutely dead in the hand, more so, I thought, than any other bow we shot.
Misses: A tad heavy. It’s overpriced.

Hoyt Spyder 30 ($999; hoyt.com)
Specs: 330 fps IBO; 30 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6.75; 3.8 pounds
Skinny: This bow is also available in a 34-inch version with a 340 IBO. Both shot and felt very much the same. As you would expect from Hoyt, this is a very well-built bow, featuring the company’s new Airshox Technology designed to tame limb vibration and noise.
Hits: Smooth draw cycle. Good feel and balance. Very little hand shock or vibration.
Misses: Back wall is a tad mushy. A little louder than some.

Martin Nemesis 35 ($899; martinarchery.com)
Specs: 335 fps IBO; 35 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 7; 3.8 pounds
Skinny: I’d like to be more generous here, but this bow just doesn’t compare favorably to the others in this price range. The hard truth is that even if you knocked $200 off the tag, you could still find as good or better a bow for the money.
Hits: Good draw cycle and valley. Fairly dead in the hand. Decent balance.
Misses: The loudest bow on this list. Fit and finish isn’t nearly as good as other similarly priced models.

Bear Motive 6 ($899; beararcheryproducts.com)
Specs: 350 fps IBO; 32 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6; 4 pounds
Skinny: Oh how I despise the suddenly ubiquitous term “game-changer.” And yet it seems apt for Bear’s new flagship. The Motive 6 is a pure speed bow, the company’s first dual-cam model since maybe forever, and their best shot at the top of the heap in years.
Hits: Bear’s fastest bow ever. Surprisingly smooth draw cycle for a speed bow. Good back wall. Pretty darn smooth at the shot. Nice fit and finish. Good feel and balance.
Misses: The valley is a little steep, but that’s what you get with such a fast bow.

PSE X-Force Dream Season DNA ($899; pse-archery.com)
Specs: 352 fps IBO; 31 inches axle-to-axle; Brace Height 6; 3.7 pounds
Skinny: Another real contender for the top spot in 2013, this is PSE’s latest in a long line of pure speed bows, and, at first blush at least, their best. If you don’t like a speed bow, you won’t like this one. If you do, oh Mama….
Hits: Holy s**t, it’s fast. The draw is surprisingly smooth—not easy—but smooth; it doesn’t roll over with a clunk like some earlier PSE speed models do. It is shockingly, insanely quiet for such a flame-thrower. Good balance and finish, as always.
Misses: The draw is smooth, but demanding. (What would you expect?) The valley is steep. (Of course.) It jumps just a tad at the shot—no big deal.

Strother Rush XT ($799; strotherarchery.com)
Specs: 345 fps IBO, 33-3/8 inches axle-to-axle, Brace Height 6-3/8, 4.25 pounds
Skinny: If you’re not familiar with this company, you should get that way. Strother is another bow maker that inches closer to industry’s top tier with each new model. Like Elite, it offers several bows at the same price level, of which we liked the new Rush XT.
Hits: Like many bows this year, the XT has a smooth draw cycle, but at the end of that cycle it outshines the rest. This back wall is concrete, titanium, diamond hard—the best of the bunch. Pretty smooth at the shot—and fast.
Misses: A little bit louder than some.

 

Comments (20)

Top Rated
All Comments
from floyd11 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I'm really excited about the new Bowtech Experince. I have a 2011 Bowtech Swat that I absolutely love but I'm really thinking about retiring her for this new Experience. I've heard all good things about it and if it compares to the Swat I may just end up owning one in the future

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I like the new bows, but I swear these things look like something from science fiction "The future is here"

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rballoutdoors wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I will always be a Matthews hunter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter00015 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Surprised not to see a Matthews on the list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E_Blair wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

How about some articles on real archery? Those pulleys and wheels are for weaklings who can't shoot a real man's bow, like a longbow or recurve.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

In one word, expensive.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave Hurteau wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Mathews doesn't exhibit at the ATA show.
Don't worry, we'll cover the new mid-range and budget models, too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from lovetohunt wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Dave,

The price on the Prime bows may seem high, but they are incredible bows. The machining and finish is flawless on them. They are in a league of their own, nothing else compares.

As for the DNA, I own one of them bad boys. It isnt one of those bows where you can shoot a few times and decide if you like it. You really gotta get used to the 70% let off and short valley. The bow flat out shoots though. Not a bad draw at all for a bow that fast either.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

I have a 2010 Strother Infinity. By far the beat bow I have ever owned. 340 fps at 65lbs. I'd live to shoot their new line up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from missedit wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Bowtech has come a long way!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Logan Simpson wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

i think that diamond gets enough credit as it should there high quality for there price and shoot very fast very very good bow

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jonesy43 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

iam looking to get a new bow i love that g5 prime any one got one yet and if so what u think

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tag wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I think I have my mind set on getting the new motive six by bear. does anyone have one who can confirm or deny that the bow is as great as it sounds?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shawn Smith wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I still would love to be able to own the Bear Carnage. I have not had the opportunity to shoot any of these new bows though. Currently shooting Bear Done Deal. One of these would for sure look good in the bow case.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Frank A wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

I see no High Country bows on this list. Did they exhibit at this year's ATA?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Barnett wrote 28 weeks 3 days ago

In my opinion they are all good. But Bear has come on strong! Awesome bows. All depends on what you are looking for. I like smooth and quiet with moderate speed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jaymz007 wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Prime will send you a new string every two years when you register your bow. That is something to consider as well!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ssdes98 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

That Martin is trying to look like a Hoyt

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tommybjr4 wrote 3 weeks 1 day ago

I'm looking buy me a new bow this year before hunting season and like to is the mission blaze is a good bow buy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tommybjr4 wrote 3 weeks 1 day ago

Seen no tired a mission blaze yet

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Josh Giannino wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I like the new bows, but I swear these things look like something from science fiction "The future is here"

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

In one word, expensive.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave Hurteau wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Mathews doesn't exhibit at the ATA show.
Don't worry, we'll cover the new mid-range and budget models, too.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from floyd11 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I'm really excited about the new Bowtech Experince. I have a 2011 Bowtech Swat that I absolutely love but I'm really thinking about retiring her for this new Experience. I've heard all good things about it and if it compares to the Swat I may just end up owning one in the future

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rballoutdoors wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

I will always be a Matthews hunter.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Hunter00015 wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

Surprised not to see a Matthews on the list.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from lovetohunt wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Dave,

The price on the Prime bows may seem high, but they are incredible bows. The machining and finish is flawless on them. They are in a league of their own, nothing else compares.

As for the DNA, I own one of them bad boys. It isnt one of those bows where you can shoot a few times and decide if you like it. You really gotta get used to the 70% let off and short valley. The bow flat out shoots though. Not a bad draw at all for a bow that fast either.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 1ojolsen wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

I have a 2010 Strother Infinity. By far the beat bow I have ever owned. 340 fps at 65lbs. I'd live to shoot their new line up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from missedit wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Bowtech has come a long way!!!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Logan Simpson wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

i think that diamond gets enough credit as it should there high quality for there price and shoot very fast very very good bow

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jonesy43 wrote 1 year 8 weeks ago

iam looking to get a new bow i love that g5 prime any one got one yet and if so what u think

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tag wrote 1 year 5 weeks ago

I think I have my mind set on getting the new motive six by bear. does anyone have one who can confirm or deny that the bow is as great as it sounds?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Shawn Smith wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

I still would love to be able to own the Bear Carnage. I have not had the opportunity to shoot any of these new bows though. Currently shooting Bear Done Deal. One of these would for sure look good in the bow case.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Frank A wrote 33 weeks 3 days ago

I see no High Country bows on this list. Did they exhibit at this year's ATA?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Bob Barnett wrote 28 weeks 3 days ago

In my opinion they are all good. But Bear has come on strong! Awesome bows. All depends on what you are looking for. I like smooth and quiet with moderate speed.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jaymz007 wrote 26 weeks 1 day ago

Prime will send you a new string every two years when you register your bow. That is something to consider as well!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ssdes98 wrote 23 weeks 1 day ago

That Martin is trying to look like a Hoyt

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tommybjr4 wrote 3 weeks 1 day ago

I'm looking buy me a new bow this year before hunting season and like to is the mission blaze is a good bow buy.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from tommybjr4 wrote 3 weeks 1 day ago

Seen no tired a mission blaze yet

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from E_Blair wrote 1 year 13 weeks ago

How about some articles on real archery? Those pulleys and wheels are for weaklings who can't shoot a real man's bow, like a longbow or recurve.

-3 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment