We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›
The new-for-2023 flagship compound bows are taking center stage at 2023 Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show in Indianapolis this week, and there’s plenty for archery to get excited about. While carbon-riser bows have been around for many years, the buzz around them is at an all-time high, and several bow builders have responded by added new carbon models to their flagship lines. The other big trend this year involves innovative accessory attachment systems that promise bowhunters a more balanced and streamlined shooting experience.
Those are the good trends. I’ll bet you can guess the bad one: Along with everything else these days, the price of a flagship bow has notched upward, partly because of the carbon risers. The average cost of the best compound bow last year was $1,263. This year, based on the bows below, it’s $1,443. Maybe that’s why the ATA show is so far in advance of the 2023 fall hunting seasons—so you can start saving your pennies. I;ve shot most of the newest flagship models, including some that are not at the show, and have been impressed so far. So here’s our first look at the hottest new compound bows of the new year.
The new Phase4 comes in two versions: a 29-inch axle-to-axle model, perfect for hunting in tight spaces, and 33-inch model for more general-purpose use. In keeping with Mathews’ recent focus on making not just great bows but complete hunting systems, the Phase4 debuts Resistance Phase Damping (RDS), which according to Mathews, is a first-of-its-kind technology that mitigates excess energy in the limbs to further dampen vibration and reduce noise. Also new for 2023, the Bridge-Lock Stabilizer (not included with bare bow purchase) is designed to create a more rigid connection and a better balance point, as the stabilizer runs completely through the riser. The Phase4 features the company’s Stay Afield System (S.A.S.), which is a fluorescent-orange servicing cable married with specially modified cams that allow the backcountry bowhunter to remove or repair strings and cables in the field without the need for a bow press.
The Phase4 29 measures 29 inches between the axles, as you would expect, has a 6-inch brace height, and, at IBO specs, slings arrows at a top speed of 340 fps. Mathews’ Phase4 33 is 33-inches axle-to-axle, has a brace height of 6.5 inches, and an IBO rating of 336. Both rigs are offered in multiple solid-color and camo options and are draw-length adjustable in ½-inch increments, between 25.5 and 30 inches with the Phase4 29 and between 27 and 31.5 inches with the Phase4 33. Peak draw-weight options are 60, 65, 70, and 75 pounds.
First Impressions After Shooting the Mathews Phase4 29
Mathews gives bowhunters another win with this balanced and highly maneuverable compound. The Engage grip is rubberized and promotes repeatable hand placement no matter the conditions. Noise and hand shock are less than the V3X. For a 29-inch axle-to-axle bow, this shooter is highly accurate. The bow tunes quickly and shoots even better.
Following the now well-established trend of offering new flagship bows in more than one axle-to-axle length, Hoyt’s new VTM also comes in two versions, the 31-inch VTM 31 and the 34-inch VTM 34. At first glance, shooters will see the tried-and-true Ventum Pro aluminum riser, complete with Hoyt’s In-Line System, which allows you to select accessories with dove-tail mounting clamps that attach to the face of the riser. With the need for mounting brackets removed, weight is reduced, and accessories lock on to the riser like a vise. Hoyt engineers working in the company’s sound lab also found that In-Line mounted accessories reduced post-shot noise by 11 percent. Other top features include the HoleShot V2 string silencer and the Drop Cord Slot, a tiny hole in the riser through which you can pass your rest’s timing cord to reduce clutter and hang-ups. The VTM 31 sports a 6-inch brace height, tips the scale at 4.6 pounds, and has a top-end fps rating of 342. The VTM 34 weighs 4.8 pounds, has a 6 ¼-inch brace height, and hits a top speed of 334 fps. Both models are draw-length adjustable in 1/2-inch increments between 25 and 30 inches for the VTM 31 and between 26 and 31 inches for the VTM 34. Peak draw weights are available between 30 and 80 pounds.
First Impressions After Shooting the Hoyt VTM 31
A rock-solid bow with great fit and feel, the VTM 31 has a smooth draw cycle, and the transition to let-off is not abrupt. At full draw, the bow balances like a dream and is whisper quiet and dead in hand when the arrow is released. I like the bow’s valley. Take advantage of Hoyt’s In-Line System and use In-Line-approved accessories to squelch noise further. This is Hoyt’s quietest bow to date.
BowTech Carbon One
Carbon-riser bows are nothing new for Bowtech, but the new-for-2023 Carbon One looks very different from the Carbon Rose or Carbon Knight featherweight models we’ve seen in the past. The Carbon One sports a totally new carbon riser with much more flowing lines that give it a sleeker, less-boxy look. The grip is long and flat-backed, and Bowtech claims that the new riser combined with Orbit Dampeners all but eliminate vibration. The new Carbon One wears the tried-and-true DeadLock Cam System, which makes tuning super-easy without any need for a bow press. Another win is the bow’s Integrate Mounting System, which means the rest mounts to the back face of the riser for reduced weight, perfect alignment, and absolute lockdown. The Carbon One weighs 4.5 pounds, measures 30 inches between the axles, and has a top-speed IBO rating of 335 fps. The brace height is 6.63 inches, and the bow is draw-length adjustable in 1/2-inch increments between 25.5 and 30.5 inches. The Carbon One comes in a variety of solid colors with peak draw weights of 50, 60, and 70 pounds.
First Impressions After Shooting the Bowtech Carbon One
The draw cycle is silky, and like other carbon builds from Bowtech, the Carbon One holds and aims incredibly well. Transition to let-off is generally smooth, and though it’s rated for at 335 fps IBO, it feels much faster. The bow is deadly accurate; when the shot breaks and the arrow is gone, there is zero vibration. This is the type of bow that builds shooting confidence quickly.
PSE Mach 34
PSE’s new Mach 34 also gives you options, but not in terms of axle-to-axle length. With this new-for-2023 rig, you can choose between the smoother-shooting E2 cam system or the faster S2. Either way, this carbon-riser bow has a sleek look and is PSE’s first-ever model with the Full Draw Stability System, which, according to the company, provides an ultra-stable shooting system and resists torque at full draw for better, more consistent accuracy. The new Mach 34 also comes with the EZ.220 Snap Spacer System, making it easy to perform quick tuning adjustments and cam-lean tweaks. The riser’s Dead Frequency Carbon Technology is designed to reduce noise and vibration, giving the shooter a dead-in-hand shooting experience. As the name implies, the Mach 34 measures 34 inches between the axles and weighs an ultralight 3.6 pounds. The E2 model, which has a 7-1/8-inch brace height, has an IBO top-speed rating of 335 fps. The S2, with a 6-3/4-inch brace height, sizzles at 340 fps. Both versions are available in peak draw weights of 50, 60, 70, and 80 pounds and are draw-length adjustable in 1/2-inch increments between 29 and 33 inches with the E2 cams and 26-1/2 and 30-1/2 inches with the S2 cams. Both bows feature a machined Dovetail Plate to attach QAD’s Integrate MX or Hamskea’s Epsilon rest.
First Impressions After Shooting the PSE Mach 34
I love the bow’s ultra-balanced feel, and it’s a tack driver. The bow is a feather in hand, and the grip is flat-backed, perfectly angled, and direct-to-riser, which is an appealing feature. Smooth from top to bottom, this bow is sleek and streamlined and has some differences that set it apart from the popular Levitate. The bow tuned well, and the string angle was perfect.
Bear Archery Execute
Bear’s new Execute 30 and Execute 32 (you guessed it, for axle-to-axle length) feature several innovations, including an all-new riser with a swing-arm cable guard and Shock Management System (SMS). According to Bear, this new cable guard results in a dead-in-hand shooting experience and an ultra-hushed shot. Both models have new aluminum limb pockets and wider limbs. Align Lok Technology is meant to work in harmony with the bow sight to aid in 2nd- and 3rd-axis alignment, and EKO Cam technology allows the shooter to easily adjust let-off at 75, 80, 85, or 90 percent. The Execute Series is available in a variety of solid, camo, and half-in-half options, and each bow comes with a pair of interchangeable grip options. The Execute 30 has a brace height of 6.5 inches and is draw-length adjustable in 1/2-inch increments between 26 and 30 inches. The Execute 32 also has 6.5-inch brace height and is draw-length adjustable between 26.5 and 30 inches. Both bows hit a top speed of 340 fps and are offered in draw-weight ranges of 55-70 pounds and 45-60 pounds.
First Impressions After Shooting the Bear Execute 32
The bow does have a slight hump on the back end of the draw cycle, but other than that, it’s a shooter. It has a balanced feel at full draw, and it’s reasonably quiet and vibration free. I like that the Execute 32 comes with a pair of grips, which gives shooters options, and though my go-to is a slim-grip design, the Grizgrip should perfect for those who like a thicker palm-swell design.
Prime REVEX Series
Keeping with their tradition, Prime gives bowhunters a trio of flagships for 2023, each designated with a 2, 4, or 6, which correlate to the bows 32, 34, and 36 axle-to-axle measurements. The Prime name has always been synonymous with stability, and the company’s engineers claim that the new REVX is the most accurate and stable platform they’ve has ever created, thanks to the center-gripped riser. The Core Cam System has draw-length specific modules that allow each bow in the series to achieve maximum efficiency at every draw length. Modules are available from 26 inches to 31.5 inches in 1/2-inch increments. Another benefit of the Core Cam System is that the string and cables come in line with each other during the draw cycle, which creates a smooth, balanced feel and excellent transition to the bows’ let-off. Each REVEX model sports Prime’s highly touted Nanogrip. IBO speeds ratings range from 338 for the REVEX2 to 330 for the REVEX6, and each bow comes in peak draw weights between 40 and 80 pounds.
For 2023, Elite, too, has decided to throw its hat in the carbon-riser ring. The ERA weighs in at just 3.95 pounds, measures 31.25-inches axle-to-axle, and offers a generous brace height of 7.25 inches. Lightweight and handy, the bow has a top-speed IBO rating of 336 fps and is available in peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds. Built around the SP Cam System, the limbs don’t bend as far as some bows, giving shooters a longer feel out of a sub-32-inch ATA bow and a more forgiving string angle. According to company, the ERA was designed to have the look of a highly machined aluminum bow but with the shootability that carbon-riser bows are known for. Early reports from people I trust have been very positive. The ERA is available in four solid color options, can be adjusted to 90 percent let-off, and is draw-length adjustable between 25.5 and 31 inches.
First Impressions After Shooting the Elite Era
A top-end carbon build from Elite, the Era tunes wonderfully, and though the SP cam was built for speed, the draw cycle is generally smooth, and at full draw, the cams aren’t trying to pull your shoulder through the riser. The front end of the draw cycle is a tad rigid, but at the release, I felt like this is one of the most vibration-free carbon bows I’ve ever shot.
Elite’s other 2023 flagship, the aluminum-riser Omnia, is a flamethrower capable of speeds up to 347 fps, and the new Delta VRT (Vibration Reduction Technology) works alongside Elite’s VibeX & VRT to further dampen vibration. The all-new SP Cam features V2 Micro Mod Let-Off Adjustment, giving archers the ability to fine-tune holding weight. Another win of this cam system is that shooters can customize draw length precisely with 1/4-inch adjustments. The Omnia measures 32 inches between the axles, weighs 4.5 pounds, and has a 6-inch brace height. Peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds are available, and the Omnia comes in multiple solid and camo color options.
Darton Prelude E 32
Darton’s new Prelude E 32 is a 4.9-pound bow that hits a top speed of 342 fps IBO thanks to improved Patented Cam Technology, and the adjustable draw module allows bowhunters to make draw-length adjustments in 1/4 inch. The bow’s new 7075 T-6511 pre-stressed aluminum riser with a direct-to-riser grip is designed for excellent strength and stability. The cable stops and adjustable roller guard give shooters maximum control, and the split-yoke system that anchors on the axles helps equalize and stabilize the limbs for consistent performance. That same system also reduces the load on the cam bearings to ensure shooters get a pleasant draw. The Darton Prelude E 32 has a 6-inch brace height and is available in peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 70, and 80 pounds.