Hoyt Defiant Review


Editors’ review

Hoyt fully redesigned their previous Nitrum series bow to create an entirely different platform with the Defiant models for 2016. Despite the success of the Nitrum series, Hoyt has redesigned the limbs, pockets, cams, and riser to create the brand new Defiant. The new limb and pocket design are more preloaded than any previous Hoyt model in recent years, which makes the bow feel like a longer axel-to-axel model. This means the shooters head position will be more vertical on the shorter axel-to-axel Defiant and the string angle more ideal for a comfortable shooting bow. Hoyt claims the 31-inch axel-to-axel Defiant has the same string angle and feel as the 33-inch Turbo model of 2015. In addition to this, the newly designed DFX cam system features 75% let-off and speeds up to 331 feet per second. The DFX cam sticks with the three unique base cam offerings, but adds a rotating adjustment eliminating the need for modules. There is also the ability to shoot the DFX cam with string stops or a limb stop for a more solid feel at the back wall. The MSRP of $999 is comparative to other top of the line models for 2016, but still may be a bit too premium for some shooters to consider.


The Hoyt Defiant is offered in a bunch of finish options for 2016 including those that would be more ideal for strictly target shooters. More than likely, the Defiant model bows will be used by those more interested in a hunting set up. For more hunter friendly finishes, Hoyt offers: Black, Realtree Max-1, Realtree Xtra, Realtree AP Pink, Realtree AP Snow, and brand new for 2016 Under Armor Ridge Reaper Camo. Each of these come with black components and can have an added color accessory kit added to give the bow a little more flair. They can also be mixed with a black or Harvest Brown riser for a little different look.Hoyt also offers some special edition models including the American Heritage, which features read, white, and blue strings and cables, accent accessories, and limb graphics. The Bone Collector special edition Blackout bow and Realtree Xtra camo options, which features the Bone Collector logo and florescent green strings, cables, and accessory kit. There is also a Vixcen edition model for the ladies, which features pink or purple accents on the blackout or Realtree models. For those wanting the Defiant as a dedicated target bow, there are also several options available as well. Shooters may be hard pressed to find these finishes available in stock at the local dealer, but they can be ordered this way. Colors offered are: Pearl White, Championship Red, Cobalt Blue, Electric Teal, Harvest Brown, Jet Black, Mean Green, Orange Torch, Silver Ice, Victory Violet, and Black Gloss. Each of these models can also have an added color kit to further the visual appeal of the bow.


The Defiant riser takes on a new look for 2016, but the strength enhancing bridged riser and offset structure are carried over to the new models. Despite having a different look visually; there has not been a giant change in the overall function and performance of the aluminum series risers when compared to the 2015 designs. The bare bow weight also tips the scales right at the magical 4-pound mark, which will make a lot of shooters very happy. When looking at the bare bow, one-thing shooters will notice right off the bat is the offset riser structure. This top offset in the riser widens the overall stance of the bow making it a more substantial riser in regards to the width of the platform. The bottom cage design also helps add additional stability while offsetting the weight of the accessories mounted to the opposite side of the bow with the perfect balance stabilizer-mounting hole. The Zero Torque Roller Guard system was new for 2015, and remains unchanged for 2016. As the string is drawn, the cables flex the roller guard system towards the arrow to help eliminate riser torque. After the string is released, the moving roller guard system returns to its resting position allowing for proper vane clearance from where the cables are at full draw. Despite the system being a moving system, it does not add much additional noise or vibration to the shooters overall experience of shooting the bow. Again, not new for 2016, the silent shelf technology is really handy in reducing the noise that can be associated with shooting a drop away arrow rest. The silent shelf includes a rubber dampening material virtually anywhere an arrow or rest can come into contact with the riser shelf. This helps with noise and any vibration the rest creates if it contacts the riser in anyway.

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Hoyt offers a few styles of grips based on what shooters ultimately prefer for grip material and feel in regards to size. In general, the blackout and Harvest Brown are equipped with a black wooden one-piece grip, and the camo options are outfitted with a real wood colored wooden grip. These grips are easily removed with a screw on each side of the handle and can be replaced a rubber composite one-piece 180 grip or wooden side plates can also be added. Although each of the options feel differently, the throat of each of the grips is narrow, and the textured grip seems to accommodate the shooters hand size. Where more hand is typically on the grip, it is a bit wider; and where the shooters hand is a bit smaller, so is the grip. Shooters will more than likely have their own personal preference for which feels better, but it is nice to offer a few options for shooters to choose from.


The new UltraFlex limbs on the Hoyt Defiant may be one of the largest differences between the 2015 models and the 2016 bows. The new tapered limb design allows the cam axel to move less towards the center of the bow, creating a longer axel-to-axel feel at full draw and a less steep string angle. This means the 31-inch axel-to-axel measurement feels like previous Hoyt model year’s 34-inch model at full draw. Shooters reluctant to switch for a shorter axel to axel model in the past for the step string angle will now have the comfort of shooting a longer bow feel while having the compact size they enjoy for treestands and ground blinds. Along with this, the pocket also sees a change in moving toward a more pivoting type pocket versus a full enclosure style limb pocket. The Pro-Lock limb pocket design is different as well in that it does not incase the entire limb like before. Instead, the limb is connected to the riser, and toward the cam end of the limb there is another contact point on the riser, but it does not come on the topside of the limb. The Shox Rod technology has also moved away from the riser to sit just under the limb pockets to remove noise and vibration.The limbs continue to be offered in a variety of maximum weights to allow just about anyone wanting a new Defiant the ability to own one. Maximum draw weights are available in 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80-pounds, with each maximum weight adjustable by ten pounds. The 65-pound offering is a great option because it is the sweet spot many shooters love in regards to draw weight and it allows the limbs to be bottomed out to get there. The 80-pound limbs are a great offering for shooters hunting some larger big game animals. Although those limbs are not going to be for everyone, those needing a significantly heavier arrow can still maintain legit speed numbers, which is appreciated. The final change on the limbs is the removal of the Air Shox system. The Limb Shox limb dampeners fit in between the split limbs and can be swapped out for a variety of colors to match the shooters personal style.

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Eccentric System

The Hoyt Z5 cams were sweet, but the redesigned DFX cams for 2016 already have a strong following and it is still very early in the production year. Hoyt will continue to offer the three separate base cam models, but instead of using modules for changing the draw length within each cam, there is a rotating cam module for 2016. The modules allow for half-inch adjustments within each base cam. The number 1 cam offers a draw length between 24-26-inches, the number 2 cam is 26-28-inches, and the number 3 cam is 28-30-inches. Along with this, the DFX cam and a half system offers dual cable stops or an optional limb stop for those wanting a solid back wall feel. The system produces an IBO rated 331 feet per second combined with a 7-inch brace height, which is not blazing fast, but should still get the job done just fine.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The shooting experience of the DFX powered Defiant is a great one. The DFX cam has a really nice draw cycle and the preloaded limbs mimic a longer axel-to-axel bow, which is nice from the comfort side of things. The effort required to start the draw is not as stiff as the previous Z5 cam. The peak weight levels out a bit longer as well, and there is a smaller dump into the valley than the Z5 cams offered. Overall, the draw cycle is very smooth. The factory cable stops offer a pretty solid back wall feel, but those wanting a rock solid wall will love the option to add a limb stop post. This firms up the back end of the draw cycle quite a bit. Although not all shooters prefer the same feel on the back end of the draw cycle, it is a brilliant idea for Hoyt to offer the ability for the shooter to decide what type of feel they prefer. The option is great to have. After the shot, there is not much feedback with the bow either. As with most models, the bare bow will have a bit of vibration felt in the shooters hand, but after accessories are added, there will be absolutely none. The largest downside, if it even is one, is the 331 feet per second speed. Those speeds are not fast, and although Hoyt has the reputation for being dead on their advertised speeds, or even a bit faster with some cams, another 10 feet per second would make the Defiant a hard one to turn down.

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Usage Scenarios

The Hoyt Defiant will be a hunting bow for most people. Female archers or youth shooters may find great success in the lighter limb offerings for the Defiant to be a target bow. However, the shorter axel to axel measurement is usually most appealing to those taking the Defiant to the woods.

Hoyt Defiant vs. Hoyt Nitrum 30

The Hoyt Defiant is the Nitrum 30 replacement, and it is basically a brand new bow. With the exception of some carryover technology, Hoyt has put a lot of resources and energy into creating a new model. Despite almost a complete overhaul from last year with new limbs, pockets, dampeners, cams, and riser, the performance between the two is almost identical. Those not purchasing the Hoyt Nitrum 30 last year should see enough of a positive difference to upgrade to the Defiant. However, those with a Nitrum 30 already may not see enough of a difference performance wise to spend another $999.


The Defiant is taking some criticism for not being much different than the previous Nitrum 30 to warrant an upgrade. However, Hoyt has redesigned most major components on the Defiant to make it a new bow, with a better shooting experience. The Defiant has an option for cable stops of string stops, is offered in 50-pounds of draw weight adjustment, and features more highly stressed preloaded limbs for a better feel at full draw. The speed will more than likely not be a deciding factor one way of the other coming in at 331 feet per second, but it would be hard to say no to the Defiant if it added an additional 10 feet per second. The platform is great, the shooting experience is improved, but if shooters only look at the paper performance rating, it would be tough to justify $999 on a new Defiant. With that being said, those that feel the difference in how the Defiant shoots, will more than likely be impressed. Archery is all about personal preference, and the Defiant is no different. To know for sure, shooters should test shoot one for themselves.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>