This year’s crop of compound bows lacks the radical innovations that have characterized the offerings of recent years. Research and development dollars have dried up as the economy continues to squeeze consumers and manufacturers alike. Instead, most bow makers have opted to tweak existing designs, producing solid, if frills-free, shooting platforms. In this year’s test, we’re introducing two new performance metrics that we feel are destined to become industry standards: AD/40, which predicts arrow drop at 40 yards, and KE/20, which provides a true measurement of kinetic energy at a realistic hunting distance, in this case 20 yards. These two new measurements, combined with our existing and unrivaled evaluation process, will help you decide how to spend your money at the bow shop as you prepare for hunting season. RATINGS KEY
★ ★ ★ ★ – Excellent
★ ★ ★ – Very Good
★ ★ – Good
★ – Fair See the 2012 crossbow test here. See our test of the Best Broadheads. Editor’s Note: _In the original version of the 2012 Bow Test there were some errors with the KE/20 and AD/40 numbers. The good news is that the errors don’t affect the Overall Scores of the bows or the bows’ rankings within the test, because we did not factor the KE/20 or AD/40 numbers into the bows’ Overall Score equations. Instead we let those stats stand alone as supplemental data. The bad news is that they_ are _mistakes, and there’s no excuse for having gone to print with them. Without further ado, here’s where we screwed up: KE/20 (ft.-lb.)
Actual: 87.5 PSE EVO 7
Actual: 83.5 Strother Wrath
Actual: 72.6 AD/40 (in.)
BowTech Insanity CPX
Actual: 13.5 Darton DS-3900
Actual: 13.7 PSE EVO 7
Actual: 14.2 Strother Wrath
Actual: 16.4 The product reviews you’ll see in this gallery reflect these corrections. Again, we apologize a thousand times both to our loyal readers who recognize Outdoor Life’s Bow Test as the most thorough evaluation of new compounds and crossbows in the industry, and to the manufacturers whose products’ performances we did not correctly portray. We still think our new AD/40 and KE/20 metrics are pretty cool, and will help you make informed decisions the next time you buy a new bow. We promise in the future to get you the correct info on the first attempt. John Taranto
OL’s Protocol Explained The bows are weighed on a certified scale, and draw lengths and draw weights are checked and adjusted as needed. Each bow is tested at a 30-inch draw length and a 70-pound draw weight to meet IBO standards. Octane Hostage arrow rests are installed, as are knock loops. To eliminate human interaction during the tests for speed, vibration, and noise, bows are shot from a Spot-Hogg Hooter Shooter with a Carter Insatiable release, which is triggered using a shutter-style cable. Vernier 25-g accelerometers are installed on the riser. Once a bow is shot, vibration data is downloaded to vibration analysis software. An average vibration “score” is displayed in meters per second squared (m/s2). The lower the number, the less vibration. Peak noise in dBA is measured by a calibrated Vernier Sound Level Meter. Again, the lower the number, the better. Each bow receives a score from 60 to 100 in 10 categories. Objective categories include weight, speed (shooting a 350-grain arrow), peak noise, and vibration. Subjective categories include fit and finish, ergonomics, solidness of the back wall, smoothness of the draw cycle, overall shootability, and Price/Value. Scores in these subcategories are combined to determine Performance and Design scores (with the exception of Price/Value, which stands alone). The bow with the best Price/Value score is given our Great Buy award, and the bow with the highest Overall score receives our Editor’s Choice award.
Outdoor Life is known for running one of the toughest bow tests in the industry. Find out which compounds scored the highest in our annual bow test.