Video top bows for 2018

Photo: Mathews Triax

G5 Prime Logic

Almost any bow can shoot quarters repeatedly — from a shooting machine. So what are we talking about when we call a bow a “real shooter”? I can’t speak for everyone, but what I mean is that, assuming proper fit and tuning, the bow acquires the target quickly, the pin stays rock-steady on the bull’s-eye and the arrow seems to find the target despite an occasional slight error in shooting form. G5 Prime bows have long had a reputation for that kind of shootability. For 2018, G5 brings that performance to a more compact bow in the 31-inch axle-to-axle Logic. With the same Center Grip technology and balance that has made previous models so steady, the Logic boasts a new TRK Parallel Cam System with 85 percent letoff, designed to be smooth and super efficient at shorter, as well as longer, draw lengths. Weighing in at 4.3 pounds, the Logic has a wide 7-inch brace height and offers cam-specific draw lengths from 25.5 to 30 inches. Peak draw weights include 40-, 50-, 60-, 65-, 70- and 80-pound options, with a top speed of 330 fps. Finish options include Optifade Elevated II, Open Country or Subalpine; Ghost Green; Recon Gray; Realtree; Tactical Tan; First Lite Cipher or Fusion; or Black. (Combinations are available at extra cost.) The G5 Prime Logic retails for $1,199.

best bows 2018

Hoyt REDWRX Series Carbon RX-1

The tubular bridged carbon riser, Silent Shelf and split limbs with Limb Shox reveal at a glance it’s a Hoyt bow, but make no mistake: the Carbon RX-1 is a brand-new bow in a brand-new series. The new Zero Torque Hyper Cam cam-and-a-half system is a yoked-cable design with dual take-up cams on the bottom to reduce torque and ensure level nock travel. Asymmetrical limb pockets improve balance by making the bow less top-heavy, and Hoyt’s new Shock Pods contribute to a unique design that makes the Carbon RX-1 extremely quiet by any standard. The limbs are new, and Hoyt touts the new string and cable system as its most stable yet. A lot of R&D went into an entirely redesigned X-Act Grip, which is more comfortable for most shooters while promoting more consistent hand placement. An offset stabilizer for improved balance complements a rear mount for a stabilizer or accessories, and fans of Hoyt’s effective string-angle design, which makes for a less acute string angle and a more relaxed shooting form, will be pleased to see that feature retained on the RX-1. It offers a choice of 80 or 85 percent letoff and, at 3.9 pounds, is an easy carry. Axle to axle it’s 32 inches, with a 6-inch brace height and a top speed of 340 fps. Peak draw weights are 40, 50, 60, 65, 70 and 80 pounds, with draw lengths in half-inch increments from 24.5 to 31 inches. Finish options for 2018 include Blackout, Buckskin, Realtree Edge, Gore Optifade Subalpine, KUIU Verde 2.0, Under Armour Ridge Reaper Barren, four custom hunting finishes and eight target colors. The Carbon RX-1 retails for $1,649.

best bows 2018

Mathews Triax

What’s it mean when we say a cam system is extremely efficient? It means more energy is transmitted to the arrow for higher speed with less effort, for one thing. It also means less vibration and noise. Add Mathews’ new 3D Damping technology to its famously efficient Crosscentric Cam system, and the result is an extremely efficient, extremely quiet, absolutely dead-in-the-hand bow that reaches a top speed of 343 fps. Without getting into the physics, the damping system that (presumably) gives the Triax its name employs Mathews’ new Enhanced Harmonic Stabilizer, positioned at maximum distances in all three directions from the grip. At 28 inches axle to axle the Triax is a very compact bow — though the oversized cams decrease string angle to produce the effect of a longer bow. The compact size, together with an asymmetrical riser design, improves balance. Brace height is 6 inches, and peak draw weights are 50, 60 and 70 pounds, with draw lengths running from 24.5 to 30.5 inches and a mass weight of 4.4 pounds. Rock Mods offer the choice of 75 or 85 percent letoff. Finish options include Optifade Subalpine or Elevated II, Ridge Reaper Barren or Forest, Lost Camo XD, Stone or Black. Suggested retail price is $1,099.

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best bows 2018

Elite Ritual

Elite aficionados are shooters who put a premium on shootability. They — and anyone else who truly enjoys an easy-drawing, smooth-shooting, quiet bow — are going to love Elite’s 2018 flagship bow. Elite bills the new Ritual as “the most efficient bow ever developed.” In fact, efficiency approaches 90 percent, which means, in practical terms, that 90 percent of the energy is transferred to the arrow, leaving less that is transferred to the bow in the form of vibration and noise. It also means little is sacrificed in the way of speed, which is why a bow with a draw cycle this smooth can still reach a respectable top speed of 335 fps. Axle to axle the Ritual is 33.25 inches, with a brace height of 6.75 inches. Mass weight is 4.3 pounds. The Ritual’s draw weight extends from 50 to 70 pounds, and module-specific draw lengths start at 26.5 inches and go up to 31 inches. Finish options are KUIU Vias and Verde; Realtree Snow, Max-1 and Xtra; Mossy Oak Mountain Country and Break-Up; and a variety of solid colors. Retail price is $999.

best bows 2018

Parker Bows Poison 30

Parker Bows’ new Poison 30 features the T2 Cam System and past-parallel split limbs and delivers a top speed of 330 fps with up to 90 percent letoff. Made in the U.S.A., the riser is machined aluminum with pre-installed dampeners for vibration and noise reduction. Add to that Bowjax limb dampeners and an adjustable draw stop, and the result is a consistently smooth, quiet shot. Adjustable draw stops make for the kind of firm back wall today’s bowhunters demand, and the integrated wrist sling is a nice touch. Axle to axle the Poison is a maneuverable 30 inches, with a 6.25-inch brace height. Peak draw weights are 60 or 70 pounds, and module-specific draw lengths maximize efficiency in half-inch increments from 27 to 30 inches. Mass weight is 4.9 pounds. Finished in Kryptek Highlander, the Poison 30 a good value at $780.

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best bows 2018

PSE Carbon Air Stealth EF

Yes, it features the smooth Evolve cam system and the monocoque carbon riser introduced on last year’s Carbon Air, but the Carbon Air Stealth EF also boasts some significant improvements on an already great bow. The riser geometry is very different; the bridge has been dropped, and the grip is offset to reduce torque. It’s an inch shorter axle to axle at 33 inches, and the brace height has been shaved by 3/8 of an inch to an even 6 inches, no doubt contributing to the slightly higher top speed of 350 fps. Mass weight is the same sure-to-please 3.2 pounds, and thanks to an even stiffer, stronger riser, vibration and noise are even lower than on last year’s Carbon Air. A new Flex Rod System further reduces cam lean and torque, and new premium Live Wire strings are the most stable available. Hardware is titanium for 2018. Letoff is up to 75 percent. Available peak weights are 60 or 70 pounds, with draw lengths ranging from 25.5 to 31 inches, adjustable without a press. Finish options are Black, Kryptek Highlander (my own favorite) and Mossy Oak Country. Retail price is $1,499.

best bows 2018

Bear Kuma

Bear’s flagship for 2018, and newest addition to the Legend Series, is the Kuma. At 345 fps it qualifies as a speed bow. How to get that kind of speed and retain a smooth draw? A 6-inch brace height — comfortably moderate for most shooters — helps. So does a 75 percent letoff, which, while not generous by current standards, is friendly enough for most shooters, and even preferred by many. The new H18 hybrid cam system, together with Bear’s Max Preload Quad limbs, gets some credit as well. Bear’s new Shockwaves limb dampeners and dual Sonic Stop string suppressors keep noise and vibration to a minimum, and a new riser system with generous cutouts keeps weight to 4.3 pounds — low for a forgiving 33-inch axle-to-axle bow — while a caged design maintains lateral stability. Peak draw weight adjusts from 55 to 70 pounds, and the Kuma, like most Bear bows, features draw length that adjusts easily without a press, in this case from 25.5 to 30 inches. Bear’s hinged roller guard system has been improved for 2018 as well to further reduce friction. Available in finishes of Badlands Approach and Iron, the Kuma retails for $900.

best bows 2018

Obsession Fixation Series

Georgia-based Obsession Bows continues to create a buzz, this year with the new Fixation Series. The series consists of four models, two XP models boasting Two-Track DS cams for maximum speed (fastest being 358 fps), and two M models featuring Two-Track DE cams for a smoother draw. Each model is available with a 6- or 7-inch brace height. My own favorite is the Fixation 6M — I like a 6-inch brace height, and the smoother draw cycle is still smokin’ fast at 354 fps. All the Fixation bows feature Obsession’s newly designed risers, which reduce bow flex for enhanced accuracy, and new anti-torque cable rods to reduce cam lean and torque. Axle to axle the 6M is approximately 32 inches, with peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65 and 70 pounds. Draw length is cam-specific starting at 23.5 inches and increasing in half-inch increments to 30 inches. Letoff is 80 percent, and the Fixation 6M has a mass weight of 4.5 pounds. Specs vary slightly from these for other models, but all the Fixation models are available in 15 finish options, including several patterns from Mossy Oak and Realtree, as well as Kryptek, Last Leaf, Muddy Girl, Black and others. Retail price for all is $1,000.

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best bows 2018Darton Spectra-e

The original Darton 3800 bow was introduced in 2010, and I’ve kept one version or another of that series tuned and ready to shoot ever since. For 2018 Darton introduces something entirely new in the Spectra-e. While the 3800 series was touted as a “muscle bow with manners,” the Spectra-e is clearly a nod in the direction of enhanced shootability. The DualSync cam system produces a super-smooth draw cycle with a top speed of 335 fps and boasts adjustable draw length and limb stops to provide a solid back wall, as well as enabling the shooter to customize the feel of the bow. Darton’s Equalizer Cable System, featuring split yokes and cables anchored outside the limbs, virtually eliminates cam lean. Shootability is further enhanced by an 85 percent letoff, and overall the Spectra-e offers in a hunting bow the kind of balance rivaled only by dedicated target bows. Axle to axle it’s 32.75 inches with a 6-inch brace height. Draw length is adjustable from 25 to 31 inches, and peak draw weights are 40, 50, 60 and 70 pounds. Available finishes include Highlander, Typhon and Carbon Black, as well as Soft Touch Red, Green, Blue or White. Retail price is $990.

best bows 2018

Xpedition Xplorer SS

First introduced last year, the Xplorer SS was billed as “. . . the first compact axle-to-axle bow to combine speed and accuracy in the same package.” Taking full advantage of its compact size, for 2018 Xpedition added the option of a PXT cam to make this bow available to shooters with draw lengths in the 22- to 24.5-inch range. Other cam sizes in this hybrid-cam system are the PX, in draw lengths of 25 to 26.5 inches, and the XS Plus, for those shooting at 27 to 30 inches. Modular and adjustable without a press, that efficient hybrid-cam system plus pre-stressed parallel limbs produces a blistering top IBO speed of 355 fps with a full 80 percent letoff. Mass weight is on the light side at 3.9 pounds, and peak draw weights are 45, 55, 60, 65 and 70 pounds, with an 80-pound option available by special order. Standard finishes, which can be mixed and matched between limbs and riser, include Black, Realtree Xtra and Badlands Approach, with riser and limbs available as custom finishes in Realtree AP Black, and the riser available in a range of competition colors. Surprisingly smooth and quiet for a bow reaching these speeds, the new Xplorer SS is a lot of bow for $1,049.

best bows 2018

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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 >>