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Bow Test ’09

Diamond Iceman __ Overall Rating: 4 stars What's Hot: There's a lot to like about this bow. The Iceman was the second quietest at 81.1 dBA, and it registered the least amount of vibration (44.96 m/s^2). The draw cycle is as smooth as running a cotton cloth over a freshly waxed car hood. The 7 1/8-inch brace height delivers tack-driving accuracy, while the 31 1/2-inch length makes the bow maneuverable. At 4.05 pounds, the bow balances well, and the grip found favor with the entire team. The InVelvet finish promises protection from Deet and harsh elements. You can adjust the draw length without changing cam modules. To service the bow, simply loosen the limb bolts to relax the string and cables. What's Not: At 309.5 fps, we'd expect more speed out of a bow priced at $829. Bottom Line: The Iceman is a gem from Diamond that leaves the competition out in the cold. ($829) __ Report Card **Performance: B+ ** **Design: A+ ** **Noise: A+ ** Price/Value: A

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Recent downturns in the economy find bow manufacturers scrambling for sales. As consumers tighten their belts, it's the manufacturer who's been issued the challenge–provide the hunting archery faithful with the most bow for their buck. This year's compound class is crowded with performers. However, while speed remains king, today's archery enthusiasts demand a "total shooting package," one providing superior shootability and trouble-free operation at a reasonable price. Here's our annual evaluation and review of the hottest new compound bows on the market.
BowTech Admiral __ Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: The Admiral is short, taping just 31 1/16 inches axle-to-axle. But with a 7 1/2-inch brace height, it handles its diminutive nature well. You can adjust the draw length of this bow (from 24 to 30 inches) and service it without the need of a bow press. At 54.58 meters per second squared, the Admiral finished in the middle of the pack for vibration and was third quietest (81.6 decibels). It has as solid a back wall as you're likely to find. What's Not: The Admiral felt a bit top-heavy at full draw. Bottom Line: This bow is a welcome addition to a long list of "shooters" from a company known for quality. __**($829)** __ Report Card **** Performance: B+ Design: B+ Noise: A+ Price/Value: B+
Darton Pro 3500S Overall Rating: 3 stars What's Hot: The Pro 3500S was the fastest bow in the field, firing arrows a blistering 337 feet per second. Power is provided by the company's proprietary 2 1/2 Cam Generation 2 eccentric system. The bow balances well, and at 33 13/16 inches axle-to-axle, it swings nicely. The back wall is crisp and the valley is prominent. The deeply textured grip was the best of the rubber grips in the field. Producing 84.6 dBA, this bow is moderately quiet. What's Not: The Pro 3500S was third heaviest (4.35 pounds), and lost points in vibration testing (64.67 m/s^2). Bottom Line: Fans of Darton are sure to favor this rocket ship of a bow. ($867) __ Report Card **** Performance: B+ Design: C+ Noise: B Price/Value: C
Elite GT500 Overall Rating: 3 stars What's Hot: The sexy curves of the GT500's riser, the clean Realtree AP finish and the elegant lines of the handcrafted grip make this an eye-catching bow. Tester Moose Whitmoyer pronounced the back wall "the most concrete I have ever felt." At 326.5 fps, this bow will catch up with anything leaving tracks in North America. It drew accolades for its draw cycle, and was deemed "smooth" for a bow producing this kind of feet-per-second performance. What's Not: While the draw cycle is smooth, it takes some getting used to. Bottom Line: A top performer from a little-known company, yet a bow you'll no doubt want to take for a spin. ($799) __ Report Card **** Performance: A Design: C+ Noise: C Price/Value: A
Hoyt AlphaMax 32 __ Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: Tipping the scales at a lean 4.1 pounds, the AlphaMax was the test's fourth-lightest bow. As with Hoyt entries in the past, the fit-and-finish of the AlphaMax 32 is fantastic, and so are the redesigned limb pockets. The grip is top-notch, following Hoyt's tradition of great throttles. The AlphaMax sent 350-grain shafts through the speed meter at 320.5 fps. The XTR Cam & 1/2 system provides for a silky draw cycle. The bow drew kudos for its balance and crisp back wall. What's Not: The $899 price cost this bow points in price/value. Bottom Line: We're glad to see Hoyt back on track with a great bow. ($899) __ **Report Card ** Performance: A Design: A Noise: A+ Price/Value: B
LimbSaver Dead Zone 32 __ Overall Rating: 2 stars What's Hot: At 322 fps, the Dead Zone 32 was the fourth-fastest bow in the test, and, at 52 m/s^2, the DZ-32 had the second-lowest amount of vibration. The Dead Zone's machined riser is crisp and clean; we liked the symmetry that flowed along its length. The NAVCOM rubber bumper and track on the arrow shelf eliminate the need for messy applications of moleskin to the riser. Like many other entries, the DZ-32 requires no bow press for servicing. What's Not: The DZ-32 registered 88.45 dBA on the noise meter. Bottom Line: LimbSaver fans will want to take the DZ-32 out and put it through its paces. ($849) __ **Report Card ** Performance: B Design: C+ Noise: C Price/Value: C
Mathews Reezen 6.5 __ Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: The Reezen was the second-fastest bow in the field, at 331.5 fps. Impressively, that speed is achieved with a single-cam eccentric system. Beyond that, the limb pockets are the cleanest on the market, and their fit-and-finish is first-rate. The string suppressors with harmonic dampers (a trademark of Mathews bows) are a welcome feature, providing much-needed vibration damping (57.88 m/s^2). What's Not: Three out of four panel members found the Reezen a bit top-heavy and noted its short valley. Bottom Line: Another quality piece from a perennial industry leader in design and product execution. ($869) __ **Report Card ** Performance: A+ Design: B Noise: B Price/Value: B+
Parker BlackHawk __ Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: The BlackHawk EZ-Draw is a throwback to a kinder, gentler time, when the bow you shot was smooth, oh-so-easy to draw and sufficiently fast. Its 70-pound draw weight pulls like a 50-pounder, and is as smooth as sliding a razor-sharp ice skate across virgin ice. The quality of construction is top-notch. The bow is lightweight, and it handles flawlessly. What's Not: Ironically, the draw was too smooth for some testers, used to pulling harsh, ugly draw-force curves. Bottom Line: The BlackHawk is a good bow for archers seeking a top
performer at a good price and those with limited physical strength. ($699) __ **Report Card ** Performance: C+ Design: B Noise: A+ Price/Value: B+
PSE Bow Madness __ Overall Rating: 4 stars What's Hot: This bow impresses on many levels, particularly its $600 MSRP. The Bow Madness was the lightest bow in the test–weighing just 3.55 pounds–and still produced speeds of 321.5 fps. The bow handles confidently. The synthetic side-plate grips are fitted to the narrow riser throat, allowing the bow to nestle naturally in hand during the draw. What's Not: At 83.95 dBA, this bow is relatively quiet; however, it produces some hand shock, generating 65.94 m/s^2 of vibration. Bottom Line: The Bow Madness is the latest performer from PSE, a company that continues to deliver solid-performing bows and good value. ($600) __ **Report Card ** Performance: A Design: B+ Noise: B Price/Value: A+
Ross Carnivore 34 Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: The Carnivore was the quietest bow in the field, registering a whispery 81.05 dBA. At 312.5 fps, it generates respectable speed. The draw length is adjustable from 25 to 31 inches without cam module changes, and the let-off is adjustable from 65 to 80 percent. We were intrigued by "The Krank" draw-system feature, but weren't able to test it, so for now we'll consider it a solid idea. What's Not: This meat-eater needs to mix in a salad. It was the heaviest bow in the field, at 4.8 pounds. Bottom Line: A moderately priced bow with infinite adjustability. ($699) __ **Report Card ** Performance: B Design: C+ Noise: A+ Price/Value: B
Mission Eliminator Overall Rating: 3 1/2 stars What's Hot: The Eliminator's MSRP is penciled in at an unbelievable $479. The bow received high marks for fit-and-finish, with a clean and precise application of Advantage Max-4 HD camouflage. Attention to detail can be seen throughout, as evidenced with the fully machined riser. At 30.25 inches axle-to-axle, the Eliminator will be at home in tight tree stands. High-end accessories include a single perimeter-weighted cam, limb-mounted string suppressors, a rubberized grip, a Zebra bowstring and a carbon cable guard. What's Not: It's hard to nitpick, but, at 84.8 dBA, this bow is fairly loud. Bottom Line: A tremendous offering for the budget-minded hunter. ** ($479)** __ **Report Card ** **Performance: B+ ** **Design: B+ ** **Noise: B ** Price/Value: A+
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The most comprehensive evaluation of new compound bows anywhere.