Compound Bow Review: Hoyt Helix
A deeper look at the classic Hoyt Helix and the newer Helix Turbo—a favorite compound bow among speed freaks
The 2019 Hoyt Helix was a popular hunting bow. It was quiet and quick, and the overall fourth-place finisher of our annual bow test. The Helix Turbo, still available, is the same bow with a little shorter brace height, with a good appeal to speed freaks everywhere.
Hoyt Helix Turbo Specs
- Speed: 350 fps ATA
- Axle-to-Axle Length: 31 inches
- Brace Height: 5 7/8 inches
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
- Peak Draw Weights: 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds
- Draw Lengths: 26-28 inches; 28-30 inches
What Kind of Hunting Bow Is the Hoyt Helix?
The 2019 Hoyt Helix was a flagship hunting bow with a machined aluminum riser. Though the Helix has been discontinued, used models are still available and Hoyt still offers the Turbo version of the Helix, which has a shortened, sub-6-inch brace height for a little extra speed and a slightly modified cam system. We’ve tested both compound bows. The Helix featured the ZT (Zero Torque) cam system, and the Turbo has the ZT Turbo Pro system. Two different cam configurations allow for two different draw length range settings, and they come with adjustable cable stops, too, so shooters can tweak the back-wall feel to their liking. The cams are paired with a Split-Cable system that’s interesting and mitigates the need for a flexible cable guard (though the bow does have roller guards). The split cable also makes for a convenient spot to tie in a drop-away rest.
The Helix has some other key updates compared to previous year models, too, including a more rigid, slightly heavier riser and a noise-dampening Shock Pod setup on the bottom limb, plus an updated grip and other thoughtful additions, like rear stabilizer mounts. With a fairly demanding draw cycle and price tag, the Helix—and especially the Turbo version—is a bow that’s probably best suited for more advanced archers and bowhunters, but it’s a good bow for anyone willing to pay for performance.
How We Tested the Hoyt Helix
We tested the Hoyt Helix in spring of 2019 as part of our annual compound bow review. Per procedure for that test, we received two of each participating compound bow. One is set to IBO specs: a 30-inch draw length and 70 pounds. The other is set to 28 inches and 60 pounds, for hands-on range testing. We verify all the specs of the IBO bows upon arrival, and adjust them as needed. Then we chronograph them with a bare-shaft, 350-grain IBO-spec arrow. We use a Whisker Biscuit rest and D-loop for this procedure, so you can assume a loss of 5 feet per second, give or take, with those things added.
Noise and Vibration
Once that is finished, we take the IBO-spec bows to Stress Engineering, where we use their equipment and procedures to measure noise and vibration for each bow, in addition to mapping draw force curves and calculating efficiency. Bows are randomly labeled during this phase of the test so that when the results are in, we know they’re unbiased.
Accuracy and Forgiveness
Next, we set up the 60-pound bows with drop-away rests, sights, and peeps, and then we paper-tune them. Our shooting panel then evaluates the bows by shooting and measuring a series of 25-yard groups with each of them, using 340-spine Carbon Express arrows, cut to 28.5 inches. During that, we also subjectively evaluate the categories of draw cycle, fit and finish, balance and handling, and grip. Our accuracy and forgiveness test—where multiple shooters measure multiple groups from multiple bows over the course of several days—is unique to our review, but we believe it’s the most important part of the test. Just about any bow can shoot one-hole groups through a Hooter Shooter. And just about any individual shooter can have a bad day. But with multiple shooters over the course of several days, certain trends do indeed emerge from bow to bow, and that’s what we’re after. Everyone makes minor errors in form and release. The bows that consistently shoot well—regardless of who’s shooting them—are, by definition, the most forgiving.
How the Hoyt Helix Performed in Our Test
The Hoyt Helix placed fourth in our 2019 test to find the best compound bow for hunting. The Helix earned high marks in the following categories:
- Speed (and the Hoyt Helix Turbo is even faster)
- Accuracy and Forgiveness
- Balance and Handling
- Noise and Vibration (that is, a lack of both)
- Fit and Finish
What the Hoyt Helix Does Best
The original Hoyt Helix was one of the fastest compound bow models of that year’s test at 342 fps (on our chronograph). The Helix Turbo is a scorcher at 350 fps. Some bow brands inflate their advertised speeds, but set up properly, Hoyt bows almost always shoot as fast as promised. That speed makes the Helix a flat-shooting bow, and that’s never a bad thing. At whitetail hunting ranges, more speed paired with a middle-weight hunting arrow means you can get reliable penetration with large cutting-diameter broadheads. For stalking open-country mule deer and antelope, where shots tend to be rangy, extra speed allows for a flatter-shooting arrow. That’s a big deal if your rangefinder reads a yucca plant at 56 yards, but the buck is standing just beyond it, at 61. Target shooters, especially unknown distance 3D archers, like a fast bow, too, since it compensates for range estimation errors.
But enough of that, because speed isn’t everything. Some speed bows are loud and they kick, but the Helix is not. In fact, it was one of the quieter bows in our test, and almost dead-in-the-hand to shoot. It handled nicely and as expected from Hoyt, fit and finish were flawless. And maybe best of all, the Helix is a shooter. Our test panel averaged 1.34-inch groups with it, the third smallest of the test.
What the Hoyt Helix Does Worst
The original Helix was something of a handful. We docked the most points for its demanding draw cycle. The Turbo model, with a shorter brace height, is even more demanding on the front end of the draw cycle. At full draw, the Helix has a pretty good back wall, a generous valley and plenty of let-off. Drawing this bow could be a chore on a cold morning, but then again it’s hard to fault a bow with Turbo in the name for being demanding on the front end of the draw cycle. More speed always comes at some sort of price. Speaking of price, the Helix Turbo (the one still available) is expensive ($1,249) compared to the aluminum flagship competition.
Does the Hoyt Helix Deliver on its Mission?
Yes. Competition is tight in our bow test, and any new flagship that cracks the top-five list is near flawless. The 2019 Helix may no longer be available new, but the Turbo version still is, and if you’re shopping for a speed bow, it’s one of the best ones out there right now. Maybe do a few push-ups before you grab hold of it, but expect the Hoyt Helix to be a premium bow that’s quiet and accurate, and one of the fastest models on the market today.