Best-in-Class Compound Bows Put to the Test

We put the best new compound bows through their paces.

Best-in-Class Compound Bows Put to the Test

We put the latest best in-class compound bows through their paces to see which ones are worthy of hanging in treestands, leaning in ground blinds and going along on spot-and-stalks.

Prime Logic CT5

CompoundBows
Prime Logic CT5

35” axle to axle, 6” brace height, 4.5 lbs., 340 fps

My favorite feature in this bow is its direct-to-riser grip. It features a narrow throat and flat back, which reduces torque. The grip is comfortable and melts into the palm-swell area. The riser is long and balanced. At full draw, the bow sits like a well-trained Labrador. I could burn my pin into the target, regardless of distance, and really focus on shot execution.

A stable platform equals shot-to-shot consistency, and this builds confidence. Prime also provides cable and limb stops. This allows shooters to obtain a customized back-wall feel. Limb and cable stops can be swapped without a bow press.


Shot offhand and through a Spot-Hogg Hooter Shooter, the Logic CT5 was accurate with arrows tipped with field points, and fixed and mechanical broadheads. This bow’s balance makes it a great spot-and-stalk companion. Typically when spotting and stalking, shots on game are farther, and this bow is exceptionally accurate. I also shot it from a treestand and a ground blind, and though it measures 35 inches between the axles, it performed flawlessly.


LOGIC CT5 SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 80 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 24.5–30”(cam specific)
  • MSRP: $999

HITS: The Logic CT5 was built for pinpoint accuracy, and it delivers.

MISSES: The bow produces a small hum of noise, and though it’s not loud, I would like to see Prime place more emphasis on a quiet shot in the future.

Mathews Vertix

CompoundBows
Mathews Vertix

30” axle to axle, 6” brace height, 4.6 lbs., 343 fps

I doubt Mathews engineers ever read my review of their 2018 Triax. My one complaint was that the bow was, at 28 inches axle to axle, a tad short. Although they added only 2 inches to the Vertix, it makes a difference.


This bow feels very balanced at full draw. The big story is how hushed it is at the shot. This rig is the quietest bow I’ve ever fired. Period. The cagiest buck in the woods is going to have trouble ducking a Vertix-powered arrow. Another hat-tipper is the new Engage Grip. I love its tacky nature.

I shot it in a whiteout blizzard and in a 3-D competition when my hand got to sweating in the later rounds. It promises no slip, and it performs. The draw cycle is smooth, and weight builds throughout the cycle, ensuring a let-off that won’t surprise you.

The super-quiet Vertix will well serve whitetail fanatics who hunt from treestands. It is also a great ground-blind bow and is ideal for situations where maneuverability is important.


VERTIX SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 60, 65, 70, 75 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 26–30.5”(cam specific)
  • MSRP: $1,099

HITS: The Vertix is quieter than a church mouse trying to steal cheese out from under the tail of a cat. I can’t believe how hushed it is at the shot.

MISSES: At 4.6 pounds, this bow feels a tad heavy.

Bowtech Realm SR6

CompoundBows
Bowtech Realm SR6

32” axle to axle,6” brace height, 4.3 lbs., 352 fps

Bowtech adds to its popular 2018 Realm series with the addition of the SR6. The SR6 is heralded for its speed, but it’s also smooth and comfortable. The big story with the SR6 is Bowtech’s OverDrive Binary Cam system. There simply isn’t a more tunable cam.

My first shot through paper boasted a sizeable right tear. The fix was simple. I pressed the bow and put a twist and a half in both the top and bottom right yoke. My second shot was perfect. The bow offers Powershift technology, which means it can be set in “performance” or “comfort” modes. Switching between modes simply requires flipping a disc. I picked comfort mode. The draw cycle was silky, and my speed was only 5 fps slower than the performance setting. The cam system offers a wide draw-length range that doesn’t require a bow press to adjust.

The bow balances well and is reasonably hushed at the shot. It delivered field points, fixed and mechanical broadheads with precision. I like the caged top and bottom riser, and the exactness of the limb-to-riser fit. As fast as this bow is, the OverDrive Binary Cam system isn’t at all jumpy. I will take speed if it doesn’t come at a sacrifice. Not many bucks will be ducking an SR6-powered arrow.

REALM SR6 SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 40, 50, 60, 65, 70, 80 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 24.5–30”(cam specific)
  • MSRP: $1,199

HITS: The Realm SR6 has it all: speed, smoothness, accuracy and dependability. It’s easy to set up, tune, and switch between performance and comfort settings.

MISSES: Of all the bows I tested, the SR6’s grip was my least favorite. It feels thick, and the throat doesn’t slice in very far under the shelf.

TESTING NOTES

Bows were tested at these specs and with this equipment.

  • Draw Weight: 70 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 29”
  • Shooting Machine: Spot-Hogg Hooter Shooter
  • Arrow: Gold Tip Airstrike
  • Field Point: 100-gr. Saunders
  • Total Arrow Weight: 385 grs.
  • Fixed-Blade Broadhead: 100-gr. G5 Striker V2
  • Mechanical Broadhead: 100-gr. G5 DeadMeat
  • Bow Press: Last Chance Archery
  • Bow Scale: X-Spot Portable Bow Scale
  • Chronograph: Competition Electronics ProChrono Pal
  • Microphone: Rode High Definition Mic

Hoyt Carbon RX-3 Ultra

CompoundBows
Hoyt Carbon RX-3 Ultra

34” axle to axle, 6.75” brace height, 4.1 lbs., 334 fps

A compound’s grip makes or breaks the deal. If the grip doesn’t feel right, I move on. If you’re going to drop more than a grand on a bow, the grip better suit you. The grip, for the most part, suited me. The throat is somewhat narrow, the back is wide but flat and comfortable, and the sides flare out a tad. The grip is also adjustable. I favor customization. By inserting a 1/2-inch Allen wrench into the back of the grip, you can manipulate it left and right laterally.

I also liked the addition of some new noise and vibration grabbers integrated into the bottom of the riser just above the bottom limb pocket. This added an appreciated element of hush not found on last year’s RX-1. At 34 inches axle to axle, the bow held well and provided a balanced shooting platform. The cable stops contact the inner cable at full draw, providing a not-too-soft but not-too-hard back wall.

I drew the bow sitting, standing and kneeling. Draw weight seems to build evenly throughout the cycle, and transition to let-off, though a little more abrupt than I’d like, still ensures solid control. As far as accuracy, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. This bow performed flawlessly when shot from Spot-Hogg’s Hooter Shooter and offhand. It’s perfect for any deer-woods adventure.

CARBON RX-3 ULTRA SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 50, 60, 70 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 25.5–30” (no bow press needed)
  • MSRP: $1,699

HITS: I love the bow’s length-to-weight ratio and its balanced feel at full draw. This bow is a shooter.

MISSES: I like the customizable grip, but I would like a direct-to-riser grip. The grip was a little thick, and on a cold winter day in the stand, I prefer the warm-to-the-touch grip a carbon riser provides.

Bear Kuma 30

CompoundBows
Bear Kuma 30

30” axle to axle, 6” brace height, 4.1 lbs., 345 fps

Bear took its popular 2018 Kuma and shaved three inches off the axle-to-axle length to create the 2019 Kuma 30. The big story with this bow is its maneuverability. Bear created a short axle-to-axle bow that excelled from ground blinds and treestands.

I shot the bow from both, and it proved functional. Another feature of the Kuma 30 is the interchangeable grip. The bow comes with a standard Bear grip. It’s comfortable for those who prefer a wider, thicker grip. If you’re like me and prefer a skinny, flat-backed and narrow grip, you will want to make the swap. The process is simple. Remove two setscrews and pull.

The draw cycle is fairly stiff, and transition to let-off comes with a bit of abruptness. The cams are itching to unleash fury. If you creep forward at all, the bow will pull you into the shot. This took some getting used to. After shooting the bow for several weeks, both indoors and out, I got used to the cycle and found the bow reasonably balanced and impressively quiet at the shot. Those who place an emphasis on speed and raw power combined with maneuverability will want to look at this bow.

KUMA 30 SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 45–50 and 55-70 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 25.5–30” (no bow press needed)
  • MSRP: $900

HITS: I love the interchangeable grip system and the maneuverable feel the bow provides. The bow also tuned up incredibly easily.

MISSES: I have trouble getting short speed bows to produce great accuracy. Out to 50 yards I was good, but past 50 my groups really opened up. I struggled to relax and burn my pin into distant targets. Accuracy through the Hooter Shooter was good out to the tested distance of 80 yards.

PSE Evoke 31

CompoundBows
PSE Evoke 31

31” axle to axle, 6” brace height, 4.2 lbs., 342 fpsv

Though this bow measures a mere 31 inches axle to axle, it had a balanced feel. I credit this to the caged top and bottom of the riser. The cage adds width to the riser and creates added stability. PSE’s goal was to improve stiffness and strength. Mission accomplished. I also appreciated the multiple sight-mounting holes.

As for the grip, it’s direct to riser, flat backed and angled with a deep throat that slides seamlessly under a wide arrow shelf. Adjusted to 80 percent let-off (it’s a quick change in the cam), the bow draws smoothly and settles into a not-too-firm but not-too-soft back wall. A pair of draw stops contact the inner cable.

The bow tuned up easily and was stacking bare shafts with fletched shafts out to 20 yards. As far as accuracy, the bow delivered it in spades. Because the bow was only 31 inches between the axles, I was a little concerned about shooting it at distance, but my worries were quickly relieved. This bow offers solid speed mixed with shootability, which will make it shine from a treestand or ground blind.

A pair of rubber silencers between the split limbs quashes noise. This bow is quiet, and though it pops forward a little at the shot, it’s nothing to be alarmed about. This rig offers a great mixture of power, control and quietness.

EVOKE 31 SPECS

  • Draw Weight: 50, 60, 65, 70, 80 lbs.
  • Draw Length: 24.5–30” (no bow press needed)
  • MSRP: $1,000

HITS: This bow is accurate, quiet and fast, and it offers solid shootability. The grip is also a win, as are the multiple sight-mounting holes.

MISSES: Even when set at a let-off of 80 pounds, this bow was somewhat difficult to let down. I shot it from a treestand and a ground blind, and noticed this let-off issue in those situations as well.

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