Mathews Switchback XT

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The Switchback is the latest in a series of ever-improving, top-end Mathews bows. The Switchback line includes three models-including the 33-inch, 4.34-pound Switchback, 33-inch, 4.36-pound LD-and the XT, with a 31-inch axle-to-axle length, 7.5-inch brace height, and 4.25-pound mass weight. The XT bridges the gap speed-wise between the faster (318 fps) yet slightly less forgiving Switchback (seven-inch brace height), and the slower (295 fps) and more forgiving LD (nine-inch brace height), the latter made especially for shooters with longer draw lengths. Like other Switchback models the XT includes every bit of technology Mathews has introduced to date. This maneuverable bow has everything a hunter could ask for, what might prove the ideal tree stand or mountain weapon.

Mathews’ XT Checklist

Check off the XT’s coveted features: The most parallel of limbs of any Mathews bows to date; slim-line design with lifetime warranty; pivoting, Zero Tolerance V-Lock Limb Cup design limb pockets; riser-mounted Harmonic Damping System; string suppressors with Harmonic Dampers; Triple Damper Roller Guard and StraightLine XT (single) Cam with 80-percent letoff (65-percent available) and perimeter weighted technology. Mathews’ handsome In-Line Grip and Zebra Barracuda Bowstring round it out.

At Home On The Range

I’ve seen a lot of Switchback XTs on 3-D courses lately but have not handled one until now. To be honest, I wondered why any serious 3-D shooter would choose so short a bow for competition. Standing four inches better than six feet tall, drawing 30 inches, I’ve never been a big fan of short bows. That’s changed.

SPECIFICATIONS MANUFACTURER:Mathews Inc.MODEL:Switchback XTDRAW WEIGHTS:40 to 70 poundsDRAW LENGTHS:25 to 30 inches; 25.5 through 29.5 in half sizes, cam specific to draw lengthRISER:Machined aluminum with heavy reflexLIMBS:Solid, one-piece with V-lock Limb Cup SystemMASS WEIGHT:4.25 poundsLETOFF:80-percent; 65-percent optionalGRIP:Laminated hardwood IN-Line GripBRACE HEIGHT:7.5 inchesAXLE-TO-AXLE LENGTH:31 inchesFINISH:Realtree Hardwoods HDADVERTISED IBO SPEED:315 fpsPRICE:$795COMMENTS:A compact, highly-maneuverable bow with forgiving shooting characteristics, built-in hunting silence, and complete lack of hand shock.

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I’ve dealt with StraightLine cam technology via a Mathews Ovation I hunt with regularly, so the silky-smooth draw cycle of the same cam technology in the XT was no surprise. Bows so equipped pull through letoff without distracting bumps and include an accuracy-enhancing, rock-solid wall allowing you to relax during the shot without it trying to get away from you. The StraightLine makes it easy to draw smoothly on game without excessive, attention-grabbing movement.

I’m a stickler for bow balance, a bow that automatically sits level while at rest, and especially at full draw. I don’t want to fight to coax a bow to sit up straight while I’m making an important shot. These are functions of geometry as well as grip design. Even without accessories the Switchback XT fills this bill perfectly.

After installing a popular drop-away rest and string loop I paused to fire some test shots, using a zippy 353-grain arrow (finished weight). Despite the light arrow, and no non-stock dampening accessories, there was a complete absence of hand shock or even perceivable grip vibrations on release. The bow is quiet enough to hunt with off the rack. But few of us proceed in this manner.

The Big Question

So, how fast is it? These answers nearly always illicit mail, but I’ll stick my neck out yet again for my gentle readers. Test arrows constituted readily available, popular models, two “lightweights” cut to 29 inches to accommodate the “over-draw” created by the rest, the “heavy” 30 inches. The first had a finished weight of about 336.5 grains (Carbon Tech Cheetah 4570, and yes I understand this doesn’t meet IBO standards), the second about 353.4 (Carbon Express Maxima 250; close to IBO standards), the heavy about 510.7 (Easton Full Metal Jacket 340). I say about because my precise reloading scales aren’t government certified.

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CRAFTSMANSHIPGRIP ERGONOMICSFINISHDRAW CYCLERECOILSHOT NOISENOTESProven Mathews workmanship throughout.Comfortable with high degree of repeatability.Flawless and razor sharp.Remarkably smooth for such performance.What recoil? This bow is pure silk.Out of the box hunting silence.Better-than-expected shootability and

performance from such a short bow.

The super-light arrow clocked an average speed of 305 fps, the light 299, the heavy 257. Keep in mind these are real hunting speeds, with string silencers, peep and string loop attached.

Conclusion

Mathews has done it again; in a package I wouldn’t have considered had I not handled it myself. This compact little bow flat out spits an arrow out, but does so with a silky-smooth demeanor and highly forgiving nature.

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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 >>