August 30, 2018
Thankfully the evolution of hunting bows is a never-ending process.
We have so many options. There is nothing cookie-cutter about manufacturers' lineups because the companies are all now designing bows for specific tasks and specific hunting situations.
That's good news for us bowhunters. But we have to do some research so we know which option works for each of us. Take into account personal preference, hunting styles and target critters when narrowing down your search. After that, head to your local bow shop and shoot the bows that are on your list
Check out a few of the top bows on the market and what they do best. Be sure to see others, such as Prime's Centergy, which we call "The Tack Driver," Elite's Option 6, which we call the "Whatever Walks" bow, and others. — Tony Peterson
Note: These reviews were published in the September editions of Game & Fish magazines. Click here to subscribe to your state's edition
The Tree Hugger
For 2017, Mathews stretched out their Halon to add an extra two inches between axles, which provides a better string angle and enhances stability throughout the shot cycle. Mathews also outfitted the Halon 32 with the Crosscentric Cam technology to provide perfect string payout, which delivers a true nocking point and honest, straight (and level) nock travel.
In laymen's terms, this means that shot-to-shot performance is highly consistent, which also means that there will be a higher degree of overall accuracy. While you can opt for Halon 32s with either a 5- or a 6-inch brace height, the devout deer addict need look no further than the model with the 7-inch brace height.
This bow is what Mathews has always been about and is perfectly sized for tree stand and ground blind hunting. The last, and probably most important, argument that the Halon 32 is a deer hunter's dream is the draw cycle. It's smooth and ends in a rock-solid back wall, meaning that while drawing from a tree stand at funny angles or having to hold at full draw for 45 seconds in a ground blind while Mr. Bigs makes up his mind, your shoulders won't turn to mush.
What We Like: The Crosscentric Cam technology and its ability to produce tight groups and nightmare-free tuning.
What We'd Change: Fully accessorized, this bow is on the heavy side, so we'd send the Halon 32 to the gym to do a little cardio and shed a few ounces.
- Axle-To-Axle: 32 inches
- Brace Height: 5, 6, 7 inches
- Bow Weight: 4.73 - 4.83 lbs.
- Advertised FPS: 335 - 350
- MSRP: $1,099
When you're 54 yards away from a bedded mulie and he decides to finally stand, you've got the makings of a filled tag in front of you. The problem is, most of the shots you earn while spotting and stalking are on sidehills or other varied terrain, and you'll never be standing flat-footed with all of the time in the world to shoot.
These shot situations are the reason that the Pro Defiant is the stalker's choice.
This bow, which measures 30.5 inches between axles, actually shoots more like a 34-inch bow. This is accomplished through the DFX Cam & 1/2 System and UltraFlex Limbs, which work together to promote strain-free posture at full draw through a broader cam-to-cam distance.
Essentially, this bow is designed to help your shooting form, which is most necessary when you're in the field and ready to make good on a grueling belly crawl into bow range. To further ensure you can make the shot, the Pro Defiant also features Dual Cable Stops and an optional limb stop, meaning the back wall on this bow is brick-solid.
What We Like: Shootability is an intangible, but it's real — and this bow has it.
What We'd Change: This bow can only be pressed in a few of the bow presses on the market due to its limb design, which can make setup somewhat of a hassle.
- Axle-To-Axle: 30.5 inches
- Brace Height: 7 inches
- Bow Weight: 4.2 lbs.
- Advertised FPS: 331
- MSRP: $999
The World Traveler
Let's say you're the kind of bowhunter who lives to target whitetails close to home, but who also happens to point your truck in search of adventure in the mountains or prairies. Going from ambush hunting to spotting-and-stalking means that, shot-opportunity-wise, things are going to change.
This is where the FlipDisc2 Technology in Bowtech's latest comes into play. If you can operate an Allen wrench, you can choose between Performance and Comfort draw cycles on this bow, which means that you can actually customize the Reign 6 to your hunts.
Better yet, while the draw cycle will change quite a bit, your point of impact won't. Naturally, the Reign 6 is also designed with the OverDrive Binary Cam system, which pretty much ensures perfect cam timing, or in other words, fewer tuning issues and a higher degree of accuracy. If you're the wanderlust-afflicted sort, this is the bow for you.
What We Like: The fact that yoke-tuning Bowtechs is so easy — and that we rarely ever have to do it.
What We'd Change: The thing that wouldn't hurt this bow at all is if it were stretched another inch or two between axles. The Reign 6 can really throw darts, and having a little more riser to work with would probably make the shooting experience even better.
- Axle-To-Axle: 32 5/8 inches
- Brace Height: 6 inches
- Bow Weight: 4.3 lbs.
- Advertised FPS: 350
- MSRP: $1099
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So what if you don't hit the elk mountains each fall or obsess over hit-list bucks and other celebrity-driven silliness in the whitetail woods? What if you just want to hunt with a great bow and not go broke doing it?
In either case, this is your bow. Bear has been on a tear in recent years with their flagships, and the Moment is no exception. It's fast enough to cover you should you misjudge shot distance by seven yards, is short enough between axles to function perfectly out of ground blinds and tree stands, and is the perfect weight for comfortable shooting.
It also happens to feature Max-preload quad limbs, dual string stops for whisper-quiet operation, and the Hinge Guard, which reduces lateral torque during the shot cycle and allows you to deflate lungs with ease. There is much to like about this workingman's bow that, even new, will leave you with enough extra Benjamins to pick up killer Trophy Ridge accessories with which to fully outfit it.
What We Like: This bow was throwing bullet holes after a simple setup job and never needed any advanced tuning, which was impressive.
What We'd Change: The draw cycle is a bit aggressive, but nothing you can't get used to. We found that backing the bow down two turns so that we were shooting in the mid-60s proved to be the sweet spot for a comfy draw cycle.
- Axle-To-Axle: 31 inches
- Brace Height: 6 inches
- Bow Weight: 4 lbs.
- Advertised FPS: 340
- MSRP: $900