Bow Test 2008

Alpine Ventura PRICE: $735
SPEED: 324 fps
WEIGHT: 4.35 lb.
CONTACT: alpinearchery.com WHAT'S HOT: At 35 inches axle to axle, the Ventura is a relatively long bow by today's standards. The handcrafted grip impressed our panel of shooters. It fits nicely in the hand and lends to the bow's rock-solid feel when drawn. At 324 feet per second, the Ventura zipped arrows with authority- the third fastest in our field. Evaluators were also impressed with the generous 7 3/4-inch brace height, which translates into accuracy on the range or afield. WHAT'S NOT: The abrupt draw cycle drops off into a very short valley. BOTTOM LINE: Look for Alpine to become a major player in the near future. PERFORMANCE: 3 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 1 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 1 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 3 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Great grip; The yoke on the binary cams is cool; A bit harsh to draw; A neat-looking bow that's pretty quick as well.
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Browning Illusion PRICE: $649
SPEED: 320.5 fps
WEIGHT: 4.45 lb.
CONTACT: browning-archery.com WHAT'S HOT: Measuring 33 1/2 inches, this bow is perfectly suited for ground blind or tree stand hunters. It's also fast, sending arrows through the chronograph at an impressive 320.5 fps (4th fastest). For a bow this fast, the Browning was also relatively quiet, at 84.6 db (6th). The checkered grip was popular with some panelists, as was the Illusion's draw cycle, referred to as "very smooth" by one test member. Limb pockets are clean and keep the limbs aligned nicely. WHAT'S NOT: We weren't too excited about all the oddly shaped vibration dampeners that adorned the Illusion. BOTTOM LINE: This bow is a shooter. PERFORMANCE: 3 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 2 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 2 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 4 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: This bow has a great draw cycle; A bit heavier than I'd like to see; At home in a stand or even on a long spot-and-stalk.
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Diamond Marquis PRICE: $749
SPEED: 316 fps
WEIGHT: 4.3 lb.
CONTACT: diamondarchery.com WHAT'S HOT: This bow is a rare one, performing solidly across the board. The panel liked its fit-and-finish (3rd overall), balance (3rd), back wall (3rd) and overall shootability (3rd). At 316 fps, the Marquis is fast, while producing little hand shock and vibration, registering an average of 41.5 m/s2 (5th) on our accelerometers. The 7-inch brace height is respectable for a bow that produces this kind of speed and kinetic energy. Its InVelvet insect-repellent-proof finish feels good to the touch. WHAT'S NOT: Sound level registered 85 db- the third loudest bow in the test. BOTTOM LINE: This diamond is a gem. PERFORMANCE: 4 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 4 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 2 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 3 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Very little hand shock; It balances like it's on a tightrope; Love the finish- it feels soft to the touch; Very smooth to draw.
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Bowtech General
2008 EDITOR'S CHOICE PRICE: $799
SPEED: 302.5 fps
WEIGHT: 4.8 lb.
CONTACT: bowtecharchery.com WHAT'S HOT: Last year, BowTech shocked the archery industry with its introduction of the radically new Guardian. Its CenterPivot limb technology and CenterTrac Binary Cam System were groundbreaking. The General is centered on these same technologies, with a few welcome refinements. The General measures 31 3/16 inches axle to axle and is coupled with a cavernous 8 1/4-inch brace height- impressive numbers for those archers arduously searching for a "pure shooter." It topped the field in 6 of 10 categories, setting two benchmarks along the way. The General measured an infinitesimal 19.92 m/s2 of vibration- the lowest reading we've ever recorded for any bow- and it was also the first bow to break the 80 db mark, registering 79.9 db on the sound-level meter. This bow is church-mouse quiet and as close to vibration-free as we have seen. We also appreciated the fact that BowTech chose to keep its 2008 MSRP the same as its 2007 MSRP. In stark contrast, some manufacturers raised their retail prices by as much as 16 percent. WHAT'S NOT: At 4.8 pounds, it was the heaviest bow in the field. Speed was a lethargic 302.5 fps. BOTTOM LINE: Simply put, the quietest, smoothest and sweetest shooting bow on the market. PERFORMANCE: 4 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 4 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 4 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 2 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Never felt a better shooting bow; Rock-solid in hand; A little heavy; Has lots of eye appeal.
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Fred Bear Truth 2 PRICE: $649
SPEED: 310.5 fps
WEIGHT: 4.02 lb.
CONTACT: fredbearoutdoors WHAT'S HOT: The Truth 2 tied with the Mathews DXT for top honors in our objective testing. Its most notable attribute is its weight, tipping the scales at a mere 4.02 pounds (2nd lightest). Our sound-level meter and vibration-analysis hardware took a liking to the Truth, measuring 82.8 db (4th) and 39.57 m/s2 (4th). The flared split quad limbs, axle-mounted vibration dampeners and dual arc string suppressors were popular with panel members. WHAT'S NOT: Its rough draw cycle. BOTTOM LINE: The Truth 2 is a feature-packed bow at a reasonable price. PERFORMANCE: 2 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 3 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 3 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 4 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Another innovative bow by Bear; The fluorescent-orange string is a little bit distracting; Really like its maneuverability.
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Hoyt Katera PRICE: $869
SPEED: 326 fps
WEIGHT: 4.6 lb.
CONTACT: hoytusa.com WHAT'S HOT: The Katera was the fastest bow in this year's field, a first for Hoyt. It blazed arrows through our chronograph at 326 fps. Power is provided by the new Z3 Cam & 1/2 System. The Katera is compact, stretching just 33 inches axle to axle, making it well-suited for most hunting applications. As is the case with all Hoyt products, the Katera is a quality piece, tallying high marks for its fit-and-finish (89.2, 4th). WHAT'S NOT: This bow is a bit on the loud side (85.3 db), and the bow's balance did not find favor with the panel (80.6, 8th). BOTTOM LINE: Hoyt builds quality bows, and the Katera is a classic example. PERFORMANCE: 3 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 2 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 2 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 1 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Smooth shooter; Amazingly fast bow from the Hoyt camp; Probably needs to lose a few ounces in weight.
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Mathews DXT PRICE: $859
SPEED: 318 fps
WEIGHT: 3.7 lb.
CONTACT: mathewsinc.com WHAT'S HOT: This year's DXT continues in the tradition Mathews has established for building top-shelf archery equipment. The DXT is surprisingly light, weighing just 3.7 pounds (lightest in the test). With such a low mass weight and an axle-to-axle length of 29 3/4 inches, the DXT handles like a sports car. The panel was thrilled with the new, slimmer grip, and the draw cycle is as silky as we've seen, with a solid back wall resulting in the high mark (2nd) the DXT tallied for overall shootability. WHAT'S NOT: The DXT is loud, registering 85.6 db on our meter. BOTTOM LINE: Another complete shooting package from an industry leader. PERFORMANCE: 4 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 4 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 1 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 1 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Really lightweight; Smooth drawing; perfect back wall; effortless to shoot; What we've come to expect from Mathews.
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Mission Journey
2008 GREAT BUY PRICE: $599
SPEED: 306 fps
WEIGHT: 4.25 lb.
CONTACT: mathewsinc.com WHAT'S HOT: The Mission bow line is built and marketed by parent company Mathews. The Journey was our second quietest bow, peaking the sound-level meter at a hushed 81.5 db. Testers were impressed with how little recoil the Journey had. It had the third least amount of vibration, at 39.43 m/s2. The 7 1/2-inch brace height will be welcomed by those archers searching for a forgiving bow. At 31 inches axle to axle and 4.25 pounds (5th), the Journey is well-suited for long hauls when spotting and stalking. It¿s equally at home in the narrow confines of a ground blind or for getting it done while you¿re perched in a tree stand. The panel appreciated the limb-mounted string suppressors, a nice touch that epitomizes the thought that went into designing this bow. At an MSRP of $599, the Journey was the obvious choice for Great Buy honors in this year's test. WHAT'S NOT: We'd like to see a few more feet per second (306 fps). It ranked eighth. BOTTOM LINE: The Journey competed against and outperformed bows that retailed for as much as $270 more. For those budget-minded hunters: Drop by your local Mission retailer and give this bow a hard look. PERFORMANCE: 3 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 3 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 4 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 4 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: Great bow for the bucks-dollars and deer; So quiet it's hard to tell that it's been shot.
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PSE Dream Season PRICE: $849
SPEED: 325.5 fps
WEIGHT: 4.2 lb.
CONTACT: pse-archery.com WHAT'S HOT: PSE's introduction of its X-Force last year caught the industry off guard. It was, after all, the first compound to solidly step across the 340 fps barrier. The Dream Season for '08, while not as fast as its predecessor (325.5 fps), was the second fastest bow in the test. A 1-inch increase in brace height promises a more tameable shooter. At 4.2 pounds (3rd), and with a score of 92 for balance and grip (1st), the Dream Season "just feels right." WHAT'S NOT: This bow produced the second most hand shock and vibration. BOTTOM LINE: The latest performer from PSE is a fine hunting bow. PERFORMANCE: 4 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 4 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 3 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 1 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: The split limbs are unique; Love the grip; Light and fast; It just seems to nestle naturally in your hand.
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Quest QS 31 PRICE: $650
SPEED: 304 fps
WEIGHT: 4.2 lb.
CONTACT: g5outdoors.com WHAT'S HOT: Quest enters this year's test as the only freshman bow company in the hunt. The first thing we noticed about the QS 31 is that it¿s light. At 4.2 pounds, it was third lightest of the field. It's also very quiet, registering just 82.2 db (3rd) while producing 42.2 m/s2 (6th) of vibration. The draw cycle brought mixed reviews. Some panel members found it appealing, while others were on the fence about it. WHAT'S NOT: The QS 31 didn't balance particularly well, and the back wall seemed a bit mushy. BOTTOM LINE: A good initial offering from a company with a bright future. PERFORMANCE: 2 out of 4 stars
DESIGN: 3 out of 4 stars
NOISE: 4 out of 4 stars
PRICE/VALUE 4 out of 4 stars TESTERS' COMMENTS: The back wall is somewhat spongy; Low mass weight- a plus in the field; Nice entry into the high-end compound market.
Outdoor Life Online Editor