Last year, Hoyt introduced the best carbon riser in years—the Carbon Matrix. It has now refined that design in the Carbon Element, a bow that melds ingenious form, space-age material, and meticulous craftsmanship.
It starts with weight: The Element’s hollow-tube carbon riser is featherlight (3 pounds 10 ounces) yet balances wonderfully in the hand.
Surprisingly, for a light bow, it offers almost no felt hand shock or vibration as it sends a 437-grain hunting arrow at 280 fps. The Pro-Fit grip is slender and easy to grasp, and the Silent Riser Shelf—which prevents the arrow shaft from contacting the riser and was made for use with drop-away rests—is one of those nice touches that separate the great from the good. Another impressive feature was the offset stabilizer mount, which helps balance the weight of a sight, quiver, and other -accessories. —Scott Bestul
Manufacturer: Hoyt (hoyt.com)
From a dead accurate factory rifle and hunting boots inspired by the demands of mountain warfare on the far side of the world to futuristic self-warming clothing and an ingenious treestand safety harness, this year’s winners will help any hunter improve his game.
The Gear Tests
Before a product earns recognition as Best of the Best, it must undergo field testing by our experts. In all, 150 products were tested, and 26 were deemed fit enough to earn Best of the Best honors. Here are some of the testing procedures we used:
Rifles and Shotguns
• Guns were inspected for overall fit and finish, and trigger pull weights were verified. Barreled actions were removed and inspected with a borescope. Rifles were shot from a benchrest, three shots at 100 yards, with three different types of ammo, to determine accuracy. Shotguns were fired from a low-gun start on the trap and skeet field with a variety of hunting and target ammo to assess responsiveness and function.
• Penetration and weight retention of big-game bullets were examined using the Ballistic Buffalo, an ingenious instrument created by Rifles editor David E. Petzal (fieldandstream.com/ballisticbuffalo).
• Knives were tested for edge holding, initial sharpness, and ease of resharpening. Special-purpose knives were tested by cutting wood, parachute cord, and seat belts.
ATVs and UTVs
• ATVs and UTVs were loaded with gear and driven hundreds of miles through narrow wooded trails, rock fields, and mud pits.
• Optics were submerged (riflescopes had turret caps removed) in 1 foot of warm water for a full minute, then placed overnight in a chest freezer at 10 degrees to test fogproofing. Then they were left out for another night and again checked for any signs of internal moisture. In addition to examining optical quality in varying light conditions, our experts tested the riflescopes with live-fire exercises.