reviews

QAD Ultrarest Integrate MX Review

AJ Iaquinta

When the 2019 Mathews flagship line launched last November, Mathews and Quality Archery Designs (QAD) announced the release of the Ultrarest Integrate MX rest which is the first arrow rest designed to pair with the machined Integrate Rail featured on the 2019 Mathews Vertix, Traverse, and TX-5. I briefly covered some of the advantages provided by the Integrate Rail in my Vertix review but to quickly sum up; unlike traditional arrow rests which rely on a single screw tapped into the Berger Button hole, Mathews new “Integrate Rail” section allows for a more secure, ergonomic, easy to install and weight saving design which clamps directly to a machined section on the back of the riser. This design is very similar to the 1913 style Picatinny rails you see on virtually every modern rifle and handgun on the market today. The machined rail section provides a larger surface area and tighter tolerances than the now antiquated Berger Button mount. This new mount is complimented by QAD’s long established UltraRest cable driven drop away design which has been an industry standard for some time now. Fans of the Ultrarest design will no doubt love the new Integrate MX but I had some issues with it.

In my Vertix review I praised QAD and Mathews for this new mount design and I stand by that. I simply followed the directions provided with the rest, mounting it so that the milled hash mark on the riser next to the berger button hole lined up with the painted arrow provided on the rest, and set my rest adjustment to zero. With my nock tied perfectly in the center of the top and bottom cams all of these reference points line up perfectly with my nock and when it came time to paper tune my up and down was dead on. Not even a single click was needed. Having some pre-provided reference marks line up might seem insignificant but it is representative of the extreme level of consideration that went into the design of this rest and how it integrates with the bows intended design.

Two months and over one thousand arrows later I'm still very impressed with this rest. I’ve taken shots at three hogs with it and even in one instance where I was forced to come to full draw, let down, and then come back to full draw, the rest proved quiet enough to not raise attention. But there are two things I just can’t seem to get over and those are the price tag and the overall cable driven fall away design.

In general I am not a fan of cable driven fall away rests I prefer limb driven rests like the Hamske Hybrid Hunter or AAE Pro-Drop because of their reliability and ease of installation, use, and maintenance. On limb driven rests the rest's launcher blade is spring loaded in the up position and an arm on the side of the rest is attached to a cable which runs to the bow’s limb. When the bow is at rest this cable is pulled tight by the limb, depressing the spring and forcing the launcher blade down. When the bow is brought to full draw the limbs compress releasing the pressure on the line and allowing the spring to lift the launcher blade and bring the arrow to the shooting position. In turn when the bow is fired the limbs separate again, the rest line is pulled tight, and the launcher blade is brought down once again. Because the launcher blade's position is directly tied to the limbs it has no choice but to drop as the bow is fired. So long as your rest line is tight your arrow is essentially guaranteed the clearance it needs to pass over the rest without contact. Installation is as simple as leveling the rest and tying the line to your limb so that it pulls the rest down tight. From there you simply adjusting your windage and elevation as needed and you are good to go. With a quality rest likes the one’s I mentioned earlier, this is as close to a “set it and forget it” design as there is. I've admittedly gotten complacent at inspecting my equipment and in particular my arrow rests simply because they have been so phenomenally reliable. The only regular maintenance I do is to replace the line that runs to the limb about every other time I replace my D loop and this is probably conservative. Other than that just make sure your line remains tight every time you head out to the range or woods and you should be good to go. 

Pictured Above: AAE Pro-Drop Mounted to a 2017 Hoyt Pro Defiant

In contrast to the limb driven system, cable driven rests operate by tying a line to the down cable of your bow. Similar to the limb driven system the rest is brought to the shooting position as your cables travel during the draw cycle which pulls on the rest line and lifts the launcher blade. When the bow is fired the sudden release of this cable allows a spring within the rest to drop the launcher blade. Think of it like buckling and unbuckling your seatbelt. You pull against the tension of the spring in the seatbelt and buckle it. When you unbuckle the belt the spring causes it to recoil and return to rest. But if you pull too hard or release it too slowly the spring doesn’t have enough tension on it and the belt won’t return to its intended position. It’s a similar situation with cable driven rests. If the line mounted to the down cable is not tight enough or mounted low enough the launcher blade will not drop fast enough and you can encounter clearance issues. Additionally, if you fail to adequately secure the rest line to the down cable there is the potential for it to slide which can lead to the same problem. Commonly you’ll see the rest lines simply tied below the serving on the down cable. This works pretty well on most bows but over time servings can slide especially when under tension of the rest line. For me I noticed this happening right around 800 arrows. All of a sudden I began seeing erratic arrow flight and realized my rest was not dropping fast enough. My arrows were basically bouncing off the launcher blade as it dropped. It wasn't a painful fix, I simply had to serve my rest line to a lower position on the down cable. Not a big deal but if this happened in the woods I would have been pretty pissed and because I didn't have any sort of reference point where to re-attach my rest line there was some guess and check involved before I fully rectified my clearance issues. I now mark where on my down cable the rest line should anchor with a silver sharpie. 

Pictures Above: Limb Driven (Left), CableDriven(Right)

Keep in mind these issues happened with a 75# bow and only arose after around 800 shots in the very wet Florida heat. Moreover, most archers won't shoot that high of poundage and may never shoot 800 arrows in an entire year let alone two months so you may never face this problem. It could also be that I just suck at installing and tuning these types of rests and I am willing to take total responsibility for that if you want to lay that on me. But there is another issue with utilizing a cable driven rest design on the new Mathews and that is it makes utilizing the new Switchweight Technology an unnecessarily tedious process. Because this  rest operates by applying force to the down cable it invariably affects the bow’s cam synchronization so you have to tune your bow to the rest. This may require adding or subtracting twists to your cables to get them to tune. This is not a big deal if you are someone who only shoots a set poundage year round but if you are one of the many consumers like me looking to take advantage of the highly advertised Switchweight technology available on the new Vertix, Traverse, and TX-5, this becomes somewhat of a headache.

For those who do not know, this new Switchweight design allows you to utilize the same limbs and cables and increase your max poundage in 5lbs increments from 55 to 75 by simply swapping out modules on the top and bottom cams. These modules work by applying pressure to the bows cables so switching them will effect tune but this is relatively nominal. So unless you are a serious tournament archer (in which case you probably have a dedicated target bow anyway) you can probably get away with only needing to adjust your sight up and down when exchanging mods. Now bow press or other tools needs, aside from an Allen wrench. However because the Ultrarest is also driven by your cables you now run the risk of clearance issues unless you also check your rest's tune. If your tune is way off this could require a draw board and bow press in order to add or subtract twists to your cables and this would effectively diminish many of the advantages of the Switchweight mods. I hunt a good deal and one of the things that sold me on the Vertix was the ability to quickly go from my 75# hunting setup to a 60# practice setup with the turn of 4 screws. If I have to worry about checking my cam timing and re-tuning my rest every time I swap modules it nullifies that convenience entirely. If I get a text from the KOTA Crew that reads “Hog Hunting tomorrow” I don’t want to have to worry about paper tuning and re-sighting my bow that night.

Lastly, the Integrate MX has an MSRP of $250 that is over $100 more than the next Ultrarest in their lineup. I don’t know all of the R & D that went into creating the Integrate MX so maybe I am being ignorant to the cost of its production. After all it is a phenomenally well made rest, the first of it's kind, and they did introduce a launcher blade and cage made from machined aluminum. But at it's core it is still an Ultrarest. Does that warrant the highest price tag in the industry? I guess so because I still bought one, but I looked at the cashier with a very harsh eye brow raise the entire time I checked out.

You may ask if I had so many reservations why not just continue using the Hamske or AAE? Well, when I bought my Vertix I told myself I was going to go all in on Mathews and immerse myself in their product. So I opted for the QAD rest since it represents an exclusive collaboration between the two manufacturers. And let me be clear it’s not that the Ultrarest is a bad design. It's easily the best Ultrarest ever released and plenty of archers far more qualified than me have sworn by this design for years and have killed more animals with one than I can hope to achieve in my lifetime. The Ultrarest Integrate MX represents an extremely low profile, lightweight, and revolutionary design. I just wish it came in a limb driven version which would allow me to take more advantage of the new Switchweight mods. But alas, almost five months after the release of the Vertix the QAD Ultrarest Integrate MX remains the only Integrate Rail compatible rest on the market. So I will patiently wait for a limb driven option but in the meantime I am far from slumming it with the QAD. Check out more in the short video below or on https://www.qadinc.com/


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