Of all the 2019 bows that have dropped so far the Hoyt RX-3 has been by far been the most intriguing. Now that is not to nock (pun intended) any of the other brands but most of new flagship bows that came out thus far represent slightly enhanced or simply different axle to axle additions to their 2018 line ups. So if you liked the 2018 Prime’s, PSE’s, or Bow-tech’s, odds are you will like their 2019 models too. To be clear, those are all great bows and I am sure the 2019 models will likewise be equally great if not better, but the same technology in a different ATA length just doesn’t blow our skirts up.
In contrast Hoyt introduced a lot of new features that piqued the interests of the KOTA crew. Now I am sure many of you are thinking “what about Mathews”, well as I sit here writing this article the new Mathews Vertix will not be released for several days. So consider it out of scope for the time being. From what we have heard the new Vertix is set to be a game changer. Cliché as that may sound we’ll bite. The Triax was our favorite bow last season and most of the KOTA crew either bought or wished they had the budget to pick one up. If all Mathews did for 2019 was find a way to make the Triax 2-4 inches longer, and a few ounces lighter, you can bet that our bank accounts will also be significantly lighter when the Vertix drops on November 13th.
But back to Hoyt…
We stopped by Adventures Archery in Tampa to test drive the new Hoyts and got some quality time with both the RX-3 and its chubbier aluminum sibling the Helix. The 2019 REDWRX series is offered in either the 30” ATA RX-3, 34” RX-3 Ultra, or 30” RX-3 Turbo. Josh at Adventures Archery setup a 30” model RX-3 set to 70# for us to try.
RX-3 (left), RX-3 Ultra (middle), RX-3 Turbo (right)
Now for the disclaimers… the only accessories we mounted to the bow were a whisker biscuit and D loop. If you are looking for a comprehensive and scientific final review of this bow this is not going to be it. We were strictly interested in gaining some first impressions of the RX-3. I’m personally in the market for a new bow and you don’t exactly have to twist any of the other guys to buy a new bow so if one of us ends up buying a new Hoyt you can bet your ass a more in depth review will follow. Personally I like blank bailing new bows before I purchase them anyway because it helps me get a sense for the foundation I am working with and what accessories I might want to add to get the optimal performance out of the bow and match my shooting style.
RX-3 in Sitka EV 2 Camo
Those archers who have been around for more than the past 6 years might find the riser design of the RX-3 reminiscent of the old Carbon Element which was the first ever carbon riser design Hoyt introduced. I still have an old Carbon Matrix which was the third generation of the Carbon Element. I was very blessed to have the Carbon Matrix gifted to me by my Dad as a graduation present. The Carbon Matrix was the first bow that was truly mine and not borrowed from my Dad. It was the first bow that was fit for me and accessorized to my specifications. It was the bow that got me obsessed with archery and the one I killed my first buck with. It represented the apex of archery technology for its time and to me, though I was a completely incompetent bow hunter (some things don’t change…) it gave me a super human sense of confidence. To me it was the equivalent of Thor’s hammer. It was probably the aesthetics of the similar carbon tube riser but I couldn’t help but feel a similar sensation come over me when I picked up the new RX-3. I will do my best to proceed objectively but be warned that due to my obvious emotional connection and nostalgia the lens with which I view the RX-3 is likely to be a bit tainted. Sorry…
Carbon Matrix G3 (left), RX-1 (right)
The RX-3 felt very familiar albeit much beefier. It was like reuniting with an old friend who had since gotten jacked AF from years crushing protein shakes and living in the gym. That being said, the new Hoyt wear’s its muscles well and feels lighter than it looks. On paper the bow is 3.9 lbs but for some reason it feels lighter. If I were to guess, this is likely due to the offset weight distribution and wider lower limb pocket design which it shares with last year’s RX-1. New for this year is the weight forward design of the riser which was also one of the things I liked about my old Carbon Matrix. The combination of last year’s offset weight distribution, lower grip height, and new weight forward riser, paired with the RX limbs, ZT CAMS, and split BUS cable system (which all appear to have been carried over from last year, though Hoyt will swear the limbs and cables are new…) make for the most well balanced and rock steady rig Hoyt has ever produced. Now these balance points are all personal preference but to me drawing back the RX-3 and holding at full draw felt smoother and more natural, even with a bare bow, than any other Hoyt I have pulled back before it. And the ZT Pro cams feel even smoother in the smaller 30” platform.
One change which seems to have gone largely overlooked by most observers was the widening of the risers arrow shelf. Both the REDWRX and aluminum Helix risers feature the same valleyed arrow shelves as previous models. I tend to like this design because it facilitates quick tuning of a bow’s center shot. However, as the launcher blades of modern drop away arrow rests got wider this valley sometimes forced shooters to set rests higher on the riser in order to allow the launcher blade adequate clearance. The now wider valley allows more room for wider launcher blades like the AAE Pro Drop or Hamske Hunter Hybrid so that the rest and nock positions can be lower and closer to the center of the bowstring which smooths tuning and forgiveness.
Also new for 2019 is some fresh vibration dampening tech. All of the vibration dampening components on the RX-3 utilize a new and patented material. No idea what or how this material differs from previous years but it certainly feels different so we’ll take Hoyt’s word for it that they didn’t just blow money on a patent and that this new material is actually a step forward. What definitely did change was the introduction of a new string stop design and the much talked about “hole shot” string dampeners. Like other string dampeners, the hole shots sit in between the strands of the bow string. When the archer comes to full draw and the tension shifts from the string to the bow’s cables, the rings expand against the bow string. When the string is released and tension builds back into the string, the rings are compressed under this tension which helps soak up string oscillation and mitigate post shot vibration.
New "Stealth Shot" and "Hole Shot" String Dampeners
I’m not sure whether it is these new dampeners or the new riser but the RX-3 is certainly quieter and more “dead in the hand” than the RX-1. That being said all of us who shot the RX-3 noticed some forward jump after the shot. This is somewhat expected from a sub 4lbs bow. Keep in mind that we were essentially shooting a bare bow with a Whisker Biscuit so the addition of accessories like stabilizers, a sight, fall away arrow rest, quiver, etc… usually kills a lot of this jump.
Another cool feature of the new 2019 REDWRX series is the new modular grip. Similar in size and ergonomics as last years molded grip, the 2019 grip which is exclusive to the REDWRX line, has a small screw on the back which allows the archer to move the whole grip left or right to help account for any torque the shooters hand might naturally produce. This design helps alleviate those pesky left and right tears some shooters just can’t seem to tune out. I have never really had a problem with this but I do know guys and gals who struggle to not torque certain risers due to the natural size and shape of their hands. I tend to blame this on poor form and undo tension in their hand but I am sure there are shooters who’s hands just naturally torque grips even when relaxed and if this simple innovation helps them more power to ya.
Now the awkward bottom line, the price… Many shooters will scoff at the $1699 price tag of the RX-3 but I think this attitude is a bit immature and short sighted. Now, I understand that not everyone will be able to afford a new RX-3 but c’est la vie. I wish I could afford a Ford Raptor but I’m not dropping hate comments on their social media page about it... A lot of research and development goes into creating new bows every year and Hoyt, more than most brands, goes the extra mile to provide vastly new line ups year in and year out. Not to mention that in any industry products utilizing carbon fiber usually feature a substantial price premium. Such is the cost for an increased strength to weight ratio. If you want a cheaper bow there are plenty on the market that will drop a deer just as well as an RX-3 but recognize that they won’t come loaded with the same features. Frankly most shooters aren’t even good enough to harness these features and should be spending their money on more arrows and targets to practice. So please remember that no one is forcing you to buy a new bow but why be mad at options? New cars, boats, guns, etc… come out every year. Innovation is good for all of us regardless of our budgets because the technology used in flagship bows eventually trickles down to the lower price point models. One thing I do wish Hoyt would do to cut this bow’s cost, even if it’s just a little, is ditch the bow bag that comes with all of their REDWRX bows. I’m a sucker for good marketing but the REDWRX bow case just seems a bit pretentious to me. That being said my Pops has an RX-1 and he loves his REDWRX bag so I guess it works?
All things being considered if you are in the market for a new bow in 2019 and you have the means you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least fling a few arrows through the RX-3. If nothing else you can say you tried the most expensive flagship bow of 2019 and if you don’t fall in love with it you can at least use it as a bench mark for your eventual purchase. As I alluded to earlier, depending on what Mathews releases this week the RX-3 is a serious contender for my new bow. Which model of RX-3 I choose would require an entirely separate article worth of deliberation…
Check out all the new Hoyt models at Hoyt.com