reviews

Our favorite Hunting Bows of 2018

AJ Iaquinta

Whenever a new bow is released the media immediately swoons over it like a bachelorette contestant doting after Mr. McDreamy. We all know it’s not true love but we play along anyway because frankly it’s entertaining and we need something to satisfy our archery obsession. But now that we are more than halfway through 2018 these bows have had ample time to earn their reputations. We figured now would be a good time to do an honest write up of our favorite bows that launched earlier this year.

#3 The Prime Logic

IBO Speed: 330 FPS

Brace Height: 7”

Axle to Axle: 31”

Mass weight: 4.3 lbs.

MSRP: $1,099.00

Our number 3 pick is the Prime Logic. Prime has already demonstrated that they can produce a high quality bow over the past few years. The Logic builds off this reputation and proven track record. The logic is a rock solid platform that feels very stable and well balanced at full draw. We heard this marketed to exhaustion but we have to admit that this was something we legitimately noticed the first time we pulled the string back. The bow is also very dead in the hands and the 7” brace height helps make it a very forgiving package. We like that Prime went with a split limb design for 2018. The Logic is also offered in more colors than a crayon box which is always cool.

We love this bow and we’ve confidently recommend to friends that if they are in the market for a new bow that they give the Logic a try. The only thing hurting the Logic is it’s not our number 1 & 2 bows… at 330 FPS the Logic is still shooting at 2017 speeds when the top 2018 bows are shooting 10 to 20 FPS faster. That extra 10 FPS might not seem like a lot but when the competition costs the same, groups the same, but shoots faster, that can make or break a buyers decision.

The only other critique, and maybe we are crazy, but we don’t like how Prime bows sound when they shoot. Where other bows exhibit a characteristic “THWACKKK”, or “PHEWWW” Prime’s sound more like a “DOINK”. We concede that it’s a very quiet doink but it still sounds like a doink. Maybe we are getting a bit deep but we feel your bow should be an extension of your hunter spirit. It should evoke a visceral response each and every time you pick it up, draw it back, and release.

Like a sports car, it should excite you every time you see it. Give you confidence and a feeling of power when you grab the handle and draw the string back. And when you release the string the feeling of the arrow leaving your string and the sound of the limbs settling back into place should send satisfaction over your face and testosterone into your veins. In short, when you jump into a Ferrari and hit the ignition you want to hear a “ROAR” not a “meow”. That being said we still love the Logic and the way things are going for Prime we’d be surprised if we didn’t have one as our main hunting bow in the next year or two.

 

#2 The Hoyt REDWRX RX-1

IBO Speed: 340 FPS

Brace Height: 6”

Axle to Axle: 32”

Mass weight: 3.9 lbs.

MSRP: $1,599.00

There isn’t much to say about the RX-1 that hasn’t already been said. It’s an exceptional bow all around. Hoyt’s new Zero Torque (ZT) Hyper Cam and cable system are smooth and forgiving with a DEEP valley that gives the archer the feeling they can hang out at full draw for days. This new cam and cable system paired –with the RX-1’s lower grip position and offset weight distribution allows the arrow rest to sit perfectly centered between the limb pockets without creating a top heavy feel. Hoyt accomplished this by widening the lower limbs and limb pockets and adding additional material, such as their shock pods, to the lower half of the riser. The new exact grip is also sweet and we liked it so much we ordered a few to throw on our older model Hoyts.

Even with a 6” brace height the RX-1 is very forgiving. Its lightweight grants greater freedom to experiment with different accessories without fear of weighing your setup down. This all adds up to one heck of a confidence boosting rig. One of our larger KOTA Team members is shooting their RX-1 at 80lbs and we swears by it. We can vouch, his groups have gotten significantly tighter compared to his previous rig.

Hoyt’s known for making significant evolutionary leaps in their product line every couple of years. These advancements typically represent a new generation of bows which Hoyt builds upon and improves in its subsequent offerings. Based on the laundry list of enhancements incorporated into the RX-1 it’s safe to assume this bow and its aluminum sibling, the HyperForce, represent the first in the next generation of Hoyt’s.

With all that said there are a few reasons the REDWRX missed our top spot. For one, it’s not exactly the quietest Hoyt to come out in the last few years. We’ve shot our 2017 Pro Defiant at 70# next to an RX-1 set at 60# and 80# and both REDWRX seemed to have more aggressive noise signatures compared to the Pro Defiant. We assume this is due to the shorter limbs and more aggressive cams of the RX-1 which give it more of a crossbow like sound. Admittedly, we don’t have access to equipment to test the actual decibel rating of the RX-1 (we might look into getting that) so it’s entirely possible the difference only perception but it still played into our decision. Now it should be noted that the 60# RX-1 we tested actually shot similar speeds to our 70# Pro Defiant with the same arrows and accessories. When we cranked this RX-1 up to 70#’s it consistently shot 10FPS faster than the Pro Defiant. This should have been expected based on the advertised specs for both bows but it was still cool to see it play out this way in real life considering how misleading factory specs can sometimes be.

Regardless, it hard to keep any carbon Hoyt out of a top 3. They are engineering marvels with superior durability and accuracy. Hoyt claims they put these bows through a 1500 dry-fire torture test. We don’t recommend doing this but admittedly we have dry fired a Hoyt before (PSA: don’t pull back a bow with a hinge release unless you have an arrow nocked…) and there was absolutely no damage done and our bow stayed in perfect tine. It scared the hell out of us but the bow was completely un-phased. Props to the Fuse strings and cables as well. We’ve seen aftermarket strings tear to shreds or shoot speed nocks off when dry fired so it was impressive that these factory strings held up. We have had issues with center servings loosening up but that can also be said of pretty much every factory string these days.  

It can’t be avoided that the price tag for the RX-1 didn’t help it any in on this list. With an MSRP of $1,599.00 it is the most expensive bow in our top 3 by a long shot and one of the priciest bows on the market. Sure the warm to the touch hollow carbon riser is absolutely fantastic on those long sits in the late season. And yes, the bow is lighter than almost anything else on the market, with markedly more features. But overall it still costs roughly $500.00 more than the other two bows on this list and we just aren’t sure the advantages outweigh the costs. To be honest we aren’t even sure if it is $500.00 better than its aluminum sibling, the HyperForce. A bow which could have tied for the number 3 spot but what a boring list that would have been right?

Regardless there are people, a lot of people, who have and will continue to buy the RX-1. Just like there are people who will purchase an Astin Martin or Maserati over a Porche. Is it a better car? No. Is it more expensive? Yes. Does it look sexier and arouse that primal feeling we discussed earlier? You bet your ass it does. And there is nothing wrong with that. If you have the means feel free to get yourself the Hoyt without remorse. 

 

#1 The Mathews Triax

IBO Speed: 343 FPS

Brace Height: 6”

Axle to Axle: 28”

Mass weight: 4.4 lbs.

MSRP: $1,099.00

We question the judgement of anyone who doesn’t put the Mathews Triax in their top 3 bows of 2018. Seriously, it’s that good. Every time we pull the string back and let an arrow fly we get that “woah!” feeling like Neo the first time he realized he was in the Matrix. It’s just so fast, so quiet, so dead in the hands, and it does these things better than every other bow we’ve shot.

At 28” axle to axle, the Triax is easily the smallest bow in this list but it isn’t the lightest. What it lacks in the weight department it more than makes up for in balance. Like Hoyt, Mathews placed more weight at the bottom of the riser, choosing this as the position for their signature vibration dampener which also received a bit of an upgrade this year. Even with such a short ATA the Triax feels very stable at full draw and the oversized Cross Centric cams help mitigate the effects of this ATA on string angle making it more than adequately comfortable for the average sized shooter. We’re also a fan of the newer Mathews’ grip which is a tremendous improvement over their old wooden grips which were about as ergonomic as a 2x4.

The only beef we have with the Triax is that Mathews seems to have gotten a bit fuzzy with their draw lengths. Users may recognize that the advertised draw lengths for the Triax vary up to ¾” from what the bow truly reflects on a draw board. And here is the thing about that… IBO speed rating is measured by firing a 350 grain arrow from a bow set to 70#’s and a 30” draw length. It should be noted that this draw length is allowed to be +/- ¾” inches to allow for different manufacturer tolerances. The + part of this +/- is very important.

As you probably know, the longer the draw length the faster the bow. At 70#, ¾” of draw length gained can easily equal an extra 3-7FPS. We aren’t big on conspiracy theories but all we are going to say is that the Triax IBO speed rating is advertised as 3FPS faster than the Hoyt RX-1… Mathews wouldn’t be the first company to finagle these numbers to gain an edge. Does this take away from the awesomeness of the Triax? Absolutely not, but it is something to keep in consideration if you are a would-be buyer looking to properly tune your bow.

We can’t say enough about the Triax. It’s not hyperbole to say that every time we’ve been to our local bow shop someone has been purchasing a new Triax. We recently had a buddy head down to the shop to purchase a new bow, dead set on walking away with an RX-1 only to jump ship and buy a Triax. We love Hoyt’s and we’ve been ride or die with them for almost a decade but we have to hand it to Mathews that they simply knocked it out of the park in 2018.

Conclusion

You can’t go wrong with any of these bows. You might have noticed that we didn’t touch on accuracy at all in these write ups. That’s because the Logic, the RX-1, and the Triax will definitely outperform the average and even the above average archer so we didn’t see a point in comparing apples to apples. After reviewing this list it surprised us how much noise contributed to these rankings. In years past we’ve considered the sound of a bow, or lack-there-of, as a bonus but never a deciding factor. The fact that this tertiary consideration has become so impactful is a testament to just how tight the competition between manufacturers has gotten and we think that’s great for all of us.

Cheers to the next batch of bows to be launched in the next few months.


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