Last week Hurteau, Brantley, and I hit the floors of the annual Archery Trade Association (ATA) show, where we shot the new crop of hunting bows. Though the little time we spent with the bows by no means served as a proper test, we all left the show with a lot of excitement for the 2016 class. Here are the new lineups from the top companies.
Bear BR33 $899; beararchery.com Specs: Brace Height: 7”, Axle-axle: 33-1/4”, Weight: 4.2 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 330 fps. The skinny: Bear’s “EAZ” hybrid cam delivers a zippy arrow while maintaining a nice draw cycle. And though there was a trend at this year’s ATA toward shorter brace heights, the BR33 stayed with the longer 7” version. Even better, there’s a new “integrated” grip, a huge improvement over previous versions. Bear Archery
Bowtech BT-X $1,099; bowtecharchery.com Specs: Brace height: 6”, Axle-axle: 31”, Weight: 4.2 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 350 fps. The skinny: Many of the quality features of recent Bowtech bows are in the BT-X, including CarbonCore Limbs, FLX roller guard, Overdrive Binary Cams, and last year’s revolutionary Powershift Technology. New this year is the Microsync dial, which allows a shooter to precisely time cam position without a bow press. Bowtech Archery
**Elite Impulse 34 ** $1,099; elitearchery.com Specs: Brace height: 6”, Axle-axle:34”, Weight: 4.4 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 340 fps. The skinny: Elite fans looking for a little more speed will like the new Impulse cam. The company’s new “perfect alignment limb system” pocket uses a pair of tabs that place downward pressure on the limb, resulting in better alignment. Typical of Elite bows, the Impulse drew smoothly and shot well. Elite Archery
Hoyt Carbon Defiant $1,449; hoyt.com Specs: Brace Height: 7”, Axle-axle: 34”, Weight: 3.8 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 325 fps The Skinny: Another impressive introduction from Hoyt, the Defiant features new DFX cams, which offer a surprisingly easy draw for the speed. Also new are draw- and limb-stops on the cams, which make for a solid back wall. Another neat feature is draw-length modules that allow adjustment without putting the bow in a press. Hoyt
Mathews Halon $1,099; mathewsinc.com Specs: Brace height: 5”, Axle-axle: 30”, Weight: 4.6 lbs (6” BH), Let-off: 75% or 85%, IBO: 353 fps. The skinny: Among Mathews’s most innovative bows in recent years, the Halon combines Mathews’s smooth draw and pleasant shooting with downright zippy speeds. The new, dual-bridged riser is NFL-lineman beefy and will undoubtedly reduce the torque inherent in a speed bow. We all loved the flatback grip, too. Mathews Archery Inc.
New Breed GX2 $949.00; newbreedarchery.com Specs: Brace Height: 7”, Axle-axle: 32”, Weight: 4.1 lbs., Let-Off: 80%, IBO: 335 fps. The skinny: We’ve been testing New Breed bows for the past two years and they’ve always shot well. The GX2 will likely continue this trend, thanks to innovations such as the Bionix two-track cam, which made the bow pleasant to draw. Other new features include a redesigned longer limb pocket for added stability, a new cable slide system, and a grip style. New Breed Archery
Prime Rize $999, g5prime.com Specs: Brace height: 6.75”, Axle-axle: 33”, Weight: 4.3 lbs., Let-off 80%, IBO: 335 fps. The skinny: Prime hasn’t made any radical changes with the Rize, which is a good thing, considering their 2015 bow (the Ion), tied for first in our 2015 bow test. Prime risers—among the toughest out there—have been beefed up with the 82X aluminum riser, and the also-new Flexis FlexShock damper should knock back vibration. G5 Prime
PSE CarbonAir $1,499; pse-archery.com Specs: Brace height: 6.12”, Axle-axle: 32”, Weight: 3.2 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 340 fps. The skinny: Hunters who love a light bow should worship the CarbonAir, which was at least a pound lighter than almost every other bow we shot. PSE’s HD Cam provided plenty of speed, and the bow was surprisingly quiet, thanks to PSE’s new “ShockModz” limb dampers. PSE Archery
**Xpedition Xception ** $1,049; xpeditionarchery.com Specs: Brace height: 7.25”, Axle-axle: 32.35”, Weight: 3.9 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 328 fps. The Skinny: We were surprised by the Xception, which Xpedition engineers told us was “designed to appeal to shooters who loved the Mathews Switchback and Z7.” That’s not a bad thing, of course, and the Xception features a smooth draw cycle and pleasant shooting experience, thanks to a new XP1 cam, which also features modular draw-length adjustment without a press. Xpedition Archery
Obsession Def-Con 6 $959; obsessionbows.com Specs:Brace height: 6”, Axle-axle: 32-1/4”, Weight: 4.2 lbs., Let-off: 80%, IBO: 360 fps. The Skinny: One of the most impressive introductions we saw at ATA was the Def-Con, which has an amazingly pleasant draw for a speed bow, with a generous valley and virtually no hand-shock or jumpiness typical of so many flame-throwers. We’re anxious to put this one through the wringer in our annual bow test.