The annual Archery Trade Association show (ATA) is always buzzing with excitement, and the new flagship bows generate much of the stir. Here’s a look at nine top models we shot.
Bear Moment ($899; beararchery.com)
Specs: Weight: 4.0 lbs., Axle-axle: 31″, Brace height: 6″, IBO: 340 fps The lowdown: Bear stuck with its proven EAZ Hybrid Cam system on the Moment, so the draw cycle is pleasant and the back wall solid. The new Naro Grip should result in greater accuracy, and the Moment is the most dead-in-the-hand Bear we’ve shot in years. There’s plenty of speed here, too, but for those who like more gas behind the arrow, check out their other new model, the LS-6, which is slightly longer and 15 fps faster. Who Should Buy: For hunters wanting a flagship bow that’s at least $100 cheaper than most companies, the Moment deserves a hard look.
Bowtech Reign 6 ($1,049; bowtecharchery.com) Specs: Weight: 4.3 lb., Axle-axle: 32-5/8″, Brace height: 6″, IBO: 350 fps. The Lowdown: The Reign includes all of Bowtech’s SmartBow technology: the Binary Overdrive cam system allows for precise tuning, the Flip Disc lets shooters choose between Comfort and Performance settings, the Microsync dial allows cam timing without a press, and the FLX guard mitigates riser torque. But the cams themselves have been redesigned to eliminate harsh roll-over at the end of the draw cycle, and weight has been trimmed from the top of the riser to create better balance. Who Should Buy: Bowtech bows always duke it out for the top spot in our bow test, and the Reign should be no different; it’s a fast bow that’s surprisingly pleasant to shoot. Bowtech
Elite Option 6 ($1,199, elitearchery.com) Specs: Weight: 4.3 lbs., Axle-axle: 32″, Brace height: 6″, IBO: 342 fps. The Lowdown: Elite made some major changes with the Option, the first Elite bow to feature double-laminated split limbs. Also new is a redesigned 7075 aluminum riser with dual riser cages for added strength, an adjustable roller guard, and a much slimmer grip designed to reduce shooter-introduced torque. There’s also a 7-inch brace height Option that’s just a touch slower at 332 fps. Who Should Buy: While the Option is a radical departure from previous Elite models, hunters who demand “shootability” from their bow won’t be disappointed in the latest offering from the company that coined the term. F&S
Hoyt Pro Defiant ($1,099; hoytarchery.com) Specs: Weight: 4.2, Axle-axle: 30.5″, Brace height: 7″, IBO: 331 fps The Lowdown: The simple view is that the Pro Defiant is basically the aluminum riser version of last year’s Carbon Defiant. But the aluminum riser—dramatically less expensive—has also been redesigned, with cages top and bottom, for strength and stability. The Pro Defiant is also offered in two additional variations; the Pro Defiant 34 is 4 inches longer and slightly slower, while the Pro Defiant Turbo features a shorter brace height with a significant bump in speed. It’s a burner at 350 IBO. Who Should Buy: Hunters who want a flagship bow from a top company and appreciate three options to perfectly fit their needs. Hoyt
Mathews Halon 32 ($1,099; mathewsinc.com) Specs: Weight: 4.83 lb., Axle-axle: 32″, Brace height: 5″, IBO: 350 fps The Lowdown: Basically a longer version of the 30-inch Halon that won our bow test last year, the Halon 32 features the same stout, dual-bridged riser that’s (obviously) 2 inches longer. While this results in greater stability and a decreased string angle at full draw, it also adds some weight to the already-stout Halon. The Halon 32 features the same CrossCentric Cam technology, and True Center Nocking Point of last year’s model. Who Should Buy: Last year’s Halon won our test because it was incredibly smooth shooting for such a fast bow. If you’re looking for the same kind of performance with even better balance, and don’t mind some extra weight, this is a winner. Mathews
Obsession Hemorrhage ($999; obsessionbows.com) Specs: Weight: 4.0 lb., Axle-axle: 30″, Brace height: 7″, IBO: 340 fps. The Lowdown: Shorter than last year’s impressive Def-Con 6, the trimmed-down riser of the Hemorrhage results in a 7-inch brace height bow that should please shooters seeking extra forgiveness. Also new is the DE (Dynamic Energy) Cam, which provides a nice draw cycle and good speed. The DE Cam features Obsession’s Perfx system, which allows draw-length adjustment in ½-inch increments. Who Should Buy: Anyone seeking a pleasant draw cycle in a flat-shooting, shorter hunting bow. Obsession
Prime Centergy ($1,099; g5prime.com) Specs: Weight: 4.3 lb., Axle-axle: 33-1/4″, Brace height: 6-1/2″, IBO: 333 fps The Lowdown: Always known for innovation, Prime kept at it with the Centergy, which features a new 82X aluminum riser, with an integrated curve designed to mitigate lateral movement and reduce noise and vibration. Also new is the TRK parallel cam, which allows shooters to switch between limb or cable stops according to preference. The cams are draw-length specific and feature adjustable let-off up to 85 percent. Who Should Buy: Hunters who want a bow with a reputation for toughness and who value smooth shooting over blazing speed. Prime
PSE Evolve ($949; pse-archery.com) Specs: Weight: 4.3 lb., Axle-axle: 31″, Brace height: 6-1/4″, IBO: 338 fps. The Lowdown: PSE has long been known for making performance bows with a narrow valley, but the Evolve marks a sea change for the company. Thanks to the new ECS (Evolve Cam System), the Evolve features a smooth draw cycle, a solid back wall, and a generous valley that many hunters will really appreciate (with let-off adjustment up to 90 percent). Also new and notable is the Roller Slide adjustable cable guard; a stiffer, forged aluminum riser; and a Wide Track limb system. Who Should Buy: Anyone previously leery of the demanding draw cycle and short valley associated with PSE owes it to themselves to try this pleasant-shooting bow. PSE
Xpedition Xcursion 6 ($1,049; xpeditionarchery.com) Specs: Weight: 3.9 lb., Axle-axle: 32.3″, Brace height: 6″, IBO: 358 fps. The Lowdown: After taking a break from the speed wars with last year’s single-cam Xception, Xpedition has jumped back into the race with the Xcursion 6. As the name implies, this 6-inch brace height bow (there’s also a 7-inch model that’s slightly slower) delivers blazing IBO speeds while maintaining a smooth draw cycle, thanks to the new PX and XS cams. Also new is a cross-bridged riser that’s lighter and stiffer than previous models. Who Should Buy: The hunter who has to have one of the year’s fastest new speed bows, from a company that’s won our test in the past. Xpedition