1999 HUNTING BOW BUYER'S GUIDE.
The bowhunting industry is one that never sleeps. One of the people I spoke with in preparing this feature was Jim Taylor, President of McPherson and Pearson Archery. Jim said, "We're already starting on next year's bows. It would sure be nice to catch my breath, but as soon as one line is in the catalog and into production, the next one begins. If you take a year off you fall behind."
While this kind of pressure makes life difficult for bow designers, marketers and even retailers, it maintains a constant flow of new technology for the consumer. In archery, if you stand still you get lapped; and it only takes one year. This year's crop of new bows proves that every bow company has learned that lesson well. Everyone has something new for 1999.
There is a continuing trend toward single-cam bows. That's no surprise. Everyone is focusing on single-cam bows now. Of the approximately 20 bows I profiled, less than half are available in two-cam models.
Short axle-to-axle length: Mathews introduced the MQ-32 (with a 32-inch axleto-axle length) at the AMO Archery Trade Show in January, and since that time PSE and Alpine have also released extremely short bows. Personally, I don't see the point in short bows, but I guess I don't represent the masses because these radical bows are definitely selling. Short bows are lightweight arid extremely maneuverable, but they give up some degree of stability.
High letoff: Letoff continues to be a very popular feature of today's bows with McPherson offering the highest letoff ever on a single-cam design: 87 percent effective letoff on their new Mark 9.
Less focus on speed: Speed will always sell bows, but most of the new models for 1999 balance raw performance with forgiving riser designs. You'll even notice a few bows with brace heights approaching or exceeding eight inches. We haven't seen that focus in new bows for several years. With today's aggressive cams, bow manufacturers are able to produce extremely accurate bows that still produce respectable arrow speeds.
Without further discussion, here are the top new hunting bows for 1999.
The Best New Hunters
ALPINE Turbo Xtreme: The Turbo Xtreme is brand-new. In fact, it came out so recently that it didn't even make Alpine's 1999 catalog. In every regard except one (limb length), the Turbo is identical to the Silverado Lite. The limbs on the Turbo are 1.5 inches shorter than on the Silverado Lite. This produces a bow with an axle-toaxle length of 33 inches and a brace height of seven inches. The Turbo is powered by Alpine's new perimeter weighted one-cam, an aggressive single-cam design. IBO standard arrow speed is an advertised 310+ fps.
BROWNING Eclipse: The new Eclipse is the hottest new bow from Browning. I spoke with Travis Hall about the bow at this year's AMO Show, and he said he is expecting big sales. Travis pointed out that the Eclipse's draw length is adjustable over a full five-inch range by 1/2-inch increments with no additional parts required-an incredible feature. The riser is forged for strength and then machined for accuracy. The Eclipse comes in the great-looking Mossy Oak Shadow Branch pattern.
CHAMPION Extreme: Champion Bow Company was known as Pro Sport until this past winter. The Canadian bow manufacturer is beginning to gain a strong following in the United States with solid bows like the Extreme. The Extreme features a machined riser, recurved solid limbs and a pair of hatchet cams. It takes advantage of a low brace height (5 7/8 inches) to produce an AMO speed rating of 242 fps. Petersen's Bowhunting Associate Editor Joe Bell has tested the Extreme and came away with the impression that it is a very good bow for intermediate to advanced archers. He was especially impressed with the bow's smooth draw cycle.
DARTON Cyclone 3-D: By now all serious bow junkies are aware of the Controlled Power System (C/P/S) single-cam developed by Rex Darlington of Darton. It produces level nock travel, equal tiller measurements, a very smooth draw and excellent arrow speeds. Most notably it has been employed on the company's popular Maverick, affordable Yukon and elegant Cyclone. In an effort to produce the best possible combination of speed and accuracy, Darlington offers aversion of the Cyclone, called the Cyclone 3D, with the C/P/S Express cam and a 7 3/4-inch brace height. It still produces an advertised 300 fps IBO speed despite the neutral to deflexed riser design.
DIAMOND Recon: Diamond is the only bow company to build all-carbon riser bows. Of course, you're dying to know just how light a carbon bow can be. That was my first question too. The WidowMaker weighs only 2.9 pounds. But it's not a carbon bow that I'm reviewing here. Diamond also makes aluminum bows at a lower price point--affordable bows for those who don't have the needed wallet thickness to manage a carbon bow. The aluminum Recon features the Vapor system with a perimeter-weighted cam and a perimeter-weighted idler wheel that produce a very smooth draw and IBO speeds of 314 fps.
FRED BEAR Epic: The Epic features the newly redesigned Perimeter-Weighted Cam II, a smooth-drawing version of last year's OneCam. The Cam II also has a more solid back wall for consistent shooting. The patented SwirigArm cable guard bas been redesigned for 1999 with a side-mount to improve stability. The Epic has a compression molded split-limb configuration (called CarbonAir quad limbs) and QuietTech limb pockets to practically eliminate bow noise. The Epic is among the sharpest-looking bows on the market.
GOLDEN EAGLE LiteSpeed 1: The angled offset grip on Golden Eagle's new Natural series risers makes them stand out from the crowd. The bottom of the grip is angled 15 degrees to the left (on a right-handed bow) to promote a more comfortable, natural shooting position. The LiteSpeed 1 that I tested features Golden Eagle's new Efficiency Upgrade Kit for 1999. The optional package increases the bow's efficiency, making it faster for each draw weight. The upgraded LiteSpeed 1 produces an 180 speed of 293 fps with a 38 3/4-inch axle-to-axle length.
New for 1999, Golden Eagle offers a new Solid Gold Assurance Policy that provides an annual factory inspection, lubrication and calibration-free-for any Natural series bows.
HIGH COUNTRY Premier Force MX1: High Country has its share of speed-burners, such as the Four Runner, but this new bow was designed with accuracy as the top priority. It features a moderate brace height (7 1/4 inches) and a fairly long axle-to-axle length. Combined with the bow's great grip, this one is set up to drive tacks. The MX1 cam is a perimeter-weighted single-cam design that is fast, quiet and vibration-free. Shooting it is a dream. It also feels a little smoother in the draw than most single-cams on the market today.
HOYT Viper Redline HO: The Viper is the most radically reflexed bow in the Hoyt line. Its brace height is only 5 1/2 inches, resulting in screaming arrow speeds. The bow's stylishly machined riser features smooth, rounded corners and six large cutouts to save weight. The Viper with the Redline HO cam is one of the fastest bows on the market with an 180 rating of 328 fps. Combine that with a short axle-to-axle length of only 34 1/2 inches and you have a bow that is quite a departure from Hoyt's traditionally conservative lineup. It's a great choice for the hunter who demands speed and portability in a hunting bow.
JENNINGS ProMaster: The new Jennings ProMaster features the same improved Perimeter Weighted Cam II and Swing Arm cable guard that I profiled with the Fred Bear Epic. The ProMaster is available in straight or split limbs. Speed is not the defining characteristic of this 38-inch bow-its new machined riser is designed with a fairly high brace height (8 1/4 inches) for greater accuracy.
IBO speed is still a respectable 284 fps.
MARTIN Cougar 2000 Fuzian: Martin's most recent release is the Cougar 2000. This bow is available in a number of different cam styles, but the one that is drawing the most attention is the Fuzion. This single-cam has an adjustable perimeter weight that can be fine-tuned for location and weight. The Cougar 2000 Fuzion has a high brace height (711 inches) and a moderately long axle-to-axle length (40 inches) for maximum accuracy. The bow produces an 180 speed rating of 292 fps. The Cougar 2000 can best be defined as a cross between Martin's highly accurate Scepter bow and its super-fast Fury.
MATHEWS ARCHERY MQ-32: When it was released at the 1999 Archery Trade Show, the MQ-32 was the shortest adult bow on the market. Since that time several late releases--a couple of which have been profiled in this feature--have followed that were similarly short. The new MQ-32 may not be long on length, but it is long on performance. With an BA-inch brace height, the MQ-32 is easy to shoot despite its stature. It is also fast. Mathews advertises arrow speeds of 305 fps IBO (230 fps AMO). Derek Phillips, who heads up the Mathews pro shooter program, claims to have shot a 300 round with 58 X's the first time he shot the new bow. Maybe short bows aren't as critical as we've thought?
ONEIDA Black Eagle: Oneida has taken the best components from its most popular bows and combined them into one great release for 1999. The Black Eagle features the smooth-drawing K-Cam from the LiteForce, the recurve limbs from the Aero Force and the lightweight forged riser from the Stealth Eagle. To launch the bow in style, Oneida has offered a signed, limited edition of 500 Black Eagles and is making them available over the Internet at www.oneidaeaglebows.com. The cost is $500. An unlimited release is also offered. The new Black Eagle has the same unique timing system for which Oneida bows are known and has performance numbers identical to the Lite-Force.
PARKER Premier Mag: The Premier Mag is a longer version of the company's very popular Super Mag 35. It features the same fast Super One-Cam, which produces excellent speed. The Premier Mag's 39-inch axle-to-axle length and 6 1/2-inch brace height make for a good compromise between stable, forgiving accuracy and raw arrow speed (309 fps IBO at 70 pounds, 30 inches and 350 grains). Combine all these features with great styling and a strong customer service commitment, and the Premier Mag becomes a surefire winner.
PROLINE Prestige: Now owned and manufactured by Darton, Proline bows have taken on a definite Darton flair, right down to the riser design and the single-cam system that powers them. But these new Prolines don't compromise the company's long reputation for performance. The new Prestige features the C/P/S single-cam, even tiller, interchangeable draw length modules and a very smooth draw. It has a fairly long (by today's standards) axle-to-axle length and a moderately low brace height, making it fast and accurate.
McPHERSON Mark 9: The McPherson Mark 9 was another late release for 1999. "We were refining the bow right through the trade shows," said Jim Taylor, McPherson's president. "So we didn't make the 1999 catalog." The bow features the highest letoff in the industry (87 percent effective) with McPherson's new Twin-Head Weighted One Cam. The cam features a larger lobe for greater perimeter weighting. With a brace height of almost eight inches, the Mark 9 is one of the most forgiving hunting bows on the market; yet it still produces an IBO speed of 295 fps.
PEARSON Anaconda: The grip is the aspect of riser design receiving the greatest emphasis lately. Pearson's new machined-riser Anaconda features a 20-degree offset grip (the bottom is rotated clockwise for right-handed shooters). According to Pearson's president Jim Taylor, "the new design works with your body rather than against it." The offset grip complements the natural rotation of your hand and forearm when your bow arm is fully extended. The Anaconda features Pearson's fast Z1 Catapult-Weighted One Cam to produce IBO speeds of 310 fps.
PSE Sting Ray: PSE's new Sting Ray has only a 32-inch axle-to-axle length, yet surprisingly it achieves a full range of draw lengths from 26 to 30 inches with only a 71/4-inch brace height. Most short bows offered this year rely on a long brace height to achieve the required draw lengths. PSE does it through a combination of draw posts and modules, maintaining fit without giving up performance. PSE literature describes the bow as perfect for tree stand hunting, stalking and turkey hunting. (That doesn't leave out much.) The Sting Ray takes the short Baby G one step further (or should I say, one step shorter).
REFLEX Xpress: Despite its short existence, Reflex has already come to be known as a company that produces high-quality bows at an affordable price. But let's not forget about performance. The Xpress takes a back seat to few other bows when it comes to speed. The bow has a 6 1/8-inch brace height and twin Reflex Cams (hatchet-style) that produce an IBO speed rating of 314 to 319 fps. With the smooth-drawing Solo Cam the rating drops to 304 to 309 fps. The bow features a side-plate grip that is very narrow and comfortable.
Bow Specifications MANUFACTURER & MODEL CAM LENGTH Alpine Turbo Xtreme Perimeter 33" Weighted One-Cam Browning Eclipse Optima Dual Track System 36" Champion Extreme Max Flyte twin hatchet cams 40 1/4" Darton Cyclone 3D C/P/S Express single-cam 38" Diamond Recon Vapor Vapor, weighted 35 1/2" Fred Bear Epic Perimeter-Weighted Cam II 39" Golden Eagle LiteSpeed 1 OneCam 38 3/4" High Country Premier Force MX1 MX1, weighted 40" Hoyt Viper Redline Redline 34 3/4" Jennings ProMaster Perimeter-Weighted Cam II 38" Martin Cougar 2000 Fuzlon Fuzion perimeter-weighted 40" single-cam Mathews Archery MQ-32 Straightline MaxCam, weighted 32" McPherson Mark 9 Twin-Head Weighted One Cam 36 1/2" Oneida Black Eagle K-Cam 46" Parker Premier Magnum Super One-Cam 39" Pearson Anaconda Z1 Catapult-Weighted One Cam 36 3/8" Proline Prestige C/P/S 39 3/4" PSE Sting Ray Lightning single-cam 32" Reflex Xpress Reflex cams or Solo Cam 38 1/2" MANUFACTURER & MODEL BRACE HEIGHT ADVERTISED IBO SPEED Alpine 7" 310 fps Browning Eclipse 6 3/4" 301 fps Champion Extreme 5 7/8" 307 fps Darton Cyclone 3D 7 3/4" 300 fps Diamond Recon Vapor 6 3/8" 314 fps Fred Bear Epic 7 1/2" 300 fps Golden Eagle LiteSpeed 1 7 1/2" 293 fps High Country Premier Force MX1 7 1/4" 309 fps Hoyt Viper Redline 5 1/2" 328 fps Jennings ProMaster 8 1/4" 284 fps Martin Cougar 2000 Fuzlon 7 3/4" 292 fps Mathews Archery MQ-32 8 1/2" 305 fps McPherson Mark 9 7 1/8" 295 fps Oneida Black Eagle 6 3/4" 300 fps Parker Premier Magnum 6 5/8" 309 fps (70 pounds, 350 grains) Pearson Anaconda 6 3/4" 310 fps Proline Prestige 6 3/8" 304 fps PSE Sting Ray 7 1/4" 310 fps Reflex Xpress 6 1/8" 319 fps W/ Reflex Cams MANUFACTURER & MODEL WEIGHT EFFECTIVE LETOFF Alpine 3.2 lb. 80% or 65% Browning Eclipse 3.8 lb. 65% - 80" adjust Champion Extreme 4 lb. 80% Darton Cyclone 3D 4.1 lb. 80% Diamond Recon Vapor 3.4 lb. 70% Fred Bear Epic 4 lb. 75% Golden Eagle LiteSpeed 1 3.75 lb. 75% High Country Premier Force MX1 3.8 lb. 70% Hoyt Viper Redline 3.75 lb. 75% Jennings ProMaster 4 lb. 75% Martin Cougar 2000 Fuzlon 4.4 lb. 75% Mathews Archery MQ-32 3.25 lb. 70% McPherson Mark 9 3.9 lb. 87% Oneida Black Eagle 4 lb. 80%, 65% optional Parker Premier Magnum 3.95 lb. 80% Pearson Anaconda 3.6 75% Proline Prestige 4.2 lb. 80% PSE Sting Ray 3 3/4 lb. 80% Reflex Xpress 4 1/4 lb. 65% or 75% 309 fps w/ Solo Cam MANUFACTURER & MODEL SUGGESTED RETAIL Alpine $400 - $450 [*] Browning Eclipse $700 Champion Extreme $500 Darton Cyclone 3D $600 to $620 [*] Diamond Recon Vapor $549 [*] Fred Bear Epic $459 Golden Eagle LiteSpeed 1 $425 High Country Premier Force MX1 $550 - $600 Hoyt Viper Redline N/A Jennings ProMaster $680 Martin Cougar 2000 Fuzlon $449 Mathews Archery MQ-32 $659 McPherson Mark 9 $359 Oneida Black Eagle $500 [*] Parker Premier Magnum $550 Pearson Anaconda $529 Proline Prestige $475 to $485 [*] PSE Sting Ray $590 Reflex Xpress $400 [*] (*.)Approximate retail price (not MSRP). All others are MSRP.