OL Bow Test: A Look Back (2006)

Each bow is tested on four objective criteria, which account for 60 percent of the total score, and five subjective criteria, which account for the remaining 40 percent. The objective criteria are:
Weight
Speed when shooting a 350-gram arrow
Peak Noise
Vibration The subjective criteria are:
Fit and Finish
Balance and Ergonomics
Solidness of back wall
Smoothness of the draw cycle
Overall Shootability The star system you'll see is based on four stars.
****=90-100
***=80-89
**=70-79
*=60-69
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Archery Research Velocity **
retail: $749 speed (fps): 309.25 weight (lb.): 4.2 contact: 800-385-5046;
AR/PSE lead engineer David Kronengold is an MIT graduate with some solid ideas and a good team behind him. The Velocity's bold design is radically different from that of traditional compounds. What immediately catches the eye is the long riser and 9-inch limbs. What's Hot: This bow is fast, at 309.25 fps (4th), and feather light, at 4.2 pounds (2nd). We liked the beyond-parallel limb design. When the AR was drawn for the first time, test members gathered around to have a look at the unusual limb deflection. These short limbs during draw are a sight. The Velocity is a pleasure in hand. The narrow riser throat and grip settle nicely in the crotch of the palm. In addition, the Velocity has excellent balance. The adjustable draw stop is another handy feature, letting shooters fit the back wall to their individual shooting style. And though it's not a feature, you do get a dozen free arrows with the purchase of an AR, which is a very nice perk. What's Not: The AR stumbled in the shootability category, receiving a "good" from the judges. It's also loud, at 90.29 dB (15th). While it wasn't the loudest bow in the test, the AR's shot noise was noticeable. Bottom Line: This long riser/short limb design is the wave of the future. Either you get it or you don't. Performance:
***
Design:
****
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
EDITOR'S CHOICE
EDITOR'S CHOICE
** Mathews Switchback XT **
retail: $795 speed (fps): 302.5 weight (lb.): 4.5 contact: 608-269-2728; mathewsinc.com
In last year's bow shoot-out I said solo cams were passé. After all, many manufacturers have migrated toward cam-and-a-half hybrid systems. My comment raised the collective eyebrows of bowhunters and sparked hot controversy among archers. Internet chat rooms buzzed with debate about what was, after all, simply my personal observation on what I saw as the overall trend of the industry. Well, with their Switchback XT, the folks at Mathews have proved me wrong. What's Hot: The SoloCam from Mathews is back in a big way. Let's run the numbers. The XT finished first in fit and finish, receiving excellent ratings. It led in smoothness and back wall, too. The XT is a meticulously built piece. The attention to detail on its machining and cable guard is impressive. The string suppressors, a Mathews trademark, are tight and clean. This bow was runner-up to the Tribute in ergonomics, finished third in vibration rankings and sent carbon downrange at a respectable 302.5 fps (9th). At 87.97dB and 4.5 pounds, it finished fourth in both noise and weight. Hand shock was minimal at 58.38 meters per second squared (m/s2), settling the XT into a comfortable third on our vibration tally sheet. What's Not: We'd like to see refinements in the grip. I'm sure we're going to get letters on this, but everyone on our panel felt it was too fat. Bottom Line: This bow was clearly the best of the best, worthy of its designation as the 2006 Editors Choice. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
****
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Ben Pearson Stealth **
retail: $769 speed (fps): 307.75 weight (lb.): 5.45 contact: 800-441-6734; benpearson.com
This small Brewton, Alabama""based company keeps quietly turning out top-of-the-line arrow launchers under the watchful eye of design engineer Roger Templeton. Pearson is the classic example of an underdog gamely taking on larger competitors""and prevailing. What's Hot: The Pearson is 335⁄8 inches long with an expansive 75⁄8-inch brace height. It's easy to shoot and very forgiving of shooter error. It's also fast, at 307.75 fps, which put it into fifth place during our speed test. At 88.77 dB, it was the fifth-quietest bow, and it finished fifth for the least amount of vibration, registering 79.22 m/s2 on our calibrated test equipment. The Stealth received high marks for fit and finish; most evaluators agreed that the rosewood-accented burl maple grip was one of the best in the group. Attention to detail can also be found in the machine work on the riser""it's simply top-shelf. What's Not: As in previous years, this bow would have finished in the top three if it weren't so heavy. At 5.45 pounds, it finished dead last in the weight category. Part of that is due to the patented VIB-X vibration control system, which I can't see contributes anything to the bow other than weight. If Pearson lost the VIB-X, shaved a bit more aluminum off the riser and split the limbs, the Stealth would put a serious crimp in the style of bigger bow manufacturers. Bottom Line: Another quality piece from the folks at Pearson. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** BowTech Tribute **
retail: $749 speed (fps): 323.95 weight (lb.): 4.7 contact: 888-689-1289; bowtecharchery.com
This Oregon-based company has come a long way in a short amount of time, speeding into a spot as one of the top three manufacturers. Ultrafast bows and forward thinking have become BowTech hallmarks. What's Hot: This is one juiced-up bow. The Tribute blazed its way through the field to the top, at 323.95 fps. That translates into more than 220 mph""we're talking NASCAR fast. Simply put, this bow grabs you by the throat and insists on being shot. We also like the binary cam system, which was introduced last year and has proved to be a viable cam controller. The Tribute combines meticulous attention to detail with blistering speed. We were impressed with the handsome dipped-camo finish and overall craftsmanship. This piece is high quality from limb tip to limb tip. At a diminutive 315⁄8-inch axle-to-axle length, the Tribute will be at home in a crowded ground blind or aloft in the narrow confines of a climber. An expansive brace height of 75⁄8 inches makes this bow forgiving and ultra-accurate. What's Not: At 93 dB, the Tribute is loud, but it dampens vibration quickly, delivering little hand shock. On the bright side, an arrowed animal won't know what hit it, given the bow's speed. This bow will peel paint off shutters, it's just that fast. Bottom Line: If this bow doesn't turn your head, check yourself for a pulse. This is the bow for hunters who demand speed. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
*
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Browning Illusion **
retail: $699 speed (fps): 295.5 weight (lb.): 4.6 contact: 800-644-0245; browning-archery.com
The Illusion is just 32 inches axle to axle. It's also light in hand, at 4.6 pounds. In fact, it was the sixth-lightest bow in the test. The Browning brand has stood for quality for decades. A few years ago it was bought by PSE, which now manufactures Browning-brand bows in Tucson, Ariz. What's Hot: The Illusion has a solid feel in hand. It received high ratings for its smooth draw cycle, back wall and shootability. This Browning sample had very little vibration, at 66.38 m/s2 (fifth overall), and is fast enough (295.5 fps) to catch up with any North American big-game animal. However, the engineering bar has been raised considerably this year when it comes to speed, and the Illusion garnered only 14th place. We liked the multiple mounting receiver holes for the sight. On other bows, a single set of mounting holes hampers archers with less than perfect shooting form and odd anchor points. We were also fond of the top-notch precision machine work on the cams. The Illusion has 4 inches of adjustable draw length, and you can also change its let-off from 65 to 80 percent without having to use a bow press. What's Not: There weren't any glaring drawbacks to this offering. If forced to name something, we'd ask for a refinement to the stark white cable slide and metal cable guard for cosmetic reasons. Bottom Line: Worth a good look. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
*
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Diamond Liberty **
retail: $649 speed (fps): 295.55 weight (lb.): 4.2 contact: 877-269-2776; diamondarchery.com
An enigma is a mystery or puzzle; it's also an apt description of the Diamond Liberty. Diamond, BowTech's sister company, offers budget-priced equipment to the larger box stores. In prior years, our panel of judges has been impressed with the bows carrying the Diamond name. And this year was no different. In subjective testing the Liberty ranked second overall, which is quite an accomplishment, given the competition. However, in objective testing it finished 16th in our field of 18 bows. So what gives? What's Hot: The panel liked the Liberty's fit and finish, rating it "excellent." The machine work is great and the riser is exceptional. We also liked this bow's ergonomics, which earned it another "excellent" rating. The back wall scored a "very good," and the bow was deemed smooth and very shootable. The Diamond was the second lightest in the test, at 4.2 pounds. This bow is a shooter that did well in many of the test's subjective categories. What's Not: Everyone who handled this bow was pleased with its performance. However, our unbiased test equipment related a totally different story. With a speed of 295.55 fps, the Liberty was 13th fastest; at 90.05 dB it was fourth loudest; and at 88.66 m/s2 it ranked near the bottom (17th place) in vibration. The combination of these results knocked the Liberty out of contention for one of our top spots. Bottom Line: The Liberty didn't fare well with our test machines, but it was definitely an evaluator favorite. Performance:
**
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Elite Archery E-Force **
retail: $629 speed (fps): 323.8 weight (lb.): 4.65 contact: 877-503-5483; elitearchery.com
The E-Force left skid marks on the speed trap as it blistered through our radar at 323.8 fps. Only the Tribute, shooting 0.15 fps faster, kept it out of first place. To put this into bowhunting perspective, consider that if you traditionally shoot a three-pin sight, you'll need only a two-pin setup with the E-Force. Likewise, if you shoot a five-pin sight, count on eliminating two pins. It's that fast and flat shooting. What's Hot: The E-Force has a 71⁄2-inch brace height and stretched the axle-to-axle tape to 315⁄8 inches. As was mentioned earlier, the speed of this bow warmed our souls. The E-Force received high marks for fit and finish and its highest mark for a razor-crisp back wall. This bow anchors nicely and settles into the hand effortlessly. The riser has a narrow throat and an excellent grip. We also were attracted to the $629 MSRP, which is at least $100 less than other premium bow offerings. And we dug the heavy-duty aluminum cable guard slide. What's Not: At 4.65 pounds, the E-Force is a bit heavy; however, the added mass reduced the felt hand shock. The other oddity is the Moth Wing camo, something we didn't get. And the powder-coated limb pockets detracted from the bow's otherwise overall attractiveness. Bottom Line: The E-Force will leave you wondering how you ever lived without this kind of performance. For such a young archery company, Elite has produced an outstanding bow. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
****
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Fred Bear Instinct **
retail: $399 speed (fps): 289.7 weight (lb.): 4.55 contact: 800-426-1421; fredbearoutdoors.com
The 2006 Instinct carries the name of the most influential man in modern archery. This offering surely would put a smile on Bear's face. He was a proponent of quality equipment at a fair price. The Instinct does that and more. What's Hot: Let's start with the fact that this bow retails for only $399 and that it was shouldered against an elite field of bows with an average MSRP of $728. I wasn't an econ major, but I figure if you want to, you can kick in a couple more bucks and get two Instincts for the price of one premier-label bow. This bow is a great value. The Instinct clocked in at 289.7 fps, earning a 17th-place finish in the field of top-fuel dragsters. Its 88.83 dB put it in ninth place on the noise scale. And at 4.55 pounds, the Instinct was the fifth lightest. The rounded split limbs are nice, and the limb pockets are first-rate. These are high-end features on a bow anyone can afford. What's Not: The Instinct has some hand shock. Did it detract from the shooting experience? No. We weren't crazy about the unattractive green limb pockets and cams. And we found the brass perimeter weight distracting and very shiny. But these are personal preferences. You might love them. Bottom Line: This bow demands the attention of hunters looking to shoot a quality bow that doesn't carry a hefty price tag or trendy name tag. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Hoyt Trykon XT **
retail: $749 speed (fps): 306.5 weight (lb.): 5.1 contact: 801-363-2990; hoyt.com
Every year we look to Hoyt for clues as to what's new and innovative in the archery world, and this year, the company's 75th, was no different. Hoyt's track record has been impressive. In the past three years, It has anchored either a number-one or number-two spot in our bow tests. For 2006, the innovation is in the form of the Trykon XT. What's Hot: The XT utilizes the cam-and-a-half hybrid system along with the company's time-tested TEC-riser. Limbs complement the power generation package. The Trykon finished seventh in speed, at 306.5 fps, and was third quietest, at 87.91 dB. That's an excellent balance between noise and velocity, and one you'll appreciate when pointing the business end of an arrow in the direction of a monster buck. A vibration reading of only 52.00 m/s2 had the XT in second place for the least amount of hand shock and vibration. Not surprisingly, the Trykon was awarded a subjective "excellent" shootability score. The bow balances very well and has the superior fit and finish and comfortable grip that has become a Hoyt trademark. What's Not: At 5.1 pounds, the Trykon settled in one up from the bottom in weight. In its defense, however, it handles well because the weight is distributed across the bow's length. One panel member wasn't fond of the back wall and called it "spongy." Bottom Line: The Trykon is a smooth operator destined to take its place in a long line of benchmark bows from this legendary bow maker. Performance:
***
Design:
**
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
GREAT BUY
GREAT BUY
** Darton Marauder **
retail: $599 speed (fps): 292.3 weight (lb.): 4.6 contact: 800-356-6522; dartonarchery.com
Darton is the brainchild of Rex Darlington, arguably one of the top four bow designers ever. Darlington shares status on this short list with Earl Hoyt Sr. (deceased), Tom Jennings and Matt McPherson. Darlington holds some 19 compound utility patents, so it's no surprise that his 2006 Marauder was so highly regarded by our evaluators. This is an incredible bow, worthy of being listed as an Outdoor Life Great Buy. The Marauder was the dark-horse entry. Darton is a regional manufacturer that has a niche market centered in the north. The introduction of the Marauder will change that. What's Hot: The Marauder drew accolades from panel members for its grip, which, oddly enough, is manufactured from molded black rubber. One panel member thought the grip was the best in the field. This grip won't slip in a gloved hand during draw on an icy morning, compared with itswooden counterparts, which grow slick as the mercury drops. Evaluators gave the Marauder "excellent" marks across the subjective board on fit and finish, ergonomics, back wall, smoothness and shootability. Attention to detail can be seen in the set screw on the limb bolt. While simple, the screw prevents the limb bolts from loosening, keeping the bow in tune. The Darton arrow launcher found favor with our unbiased objective test equipment, too. It was the quietest (85.10 dB) and had the least vibration of all the bows fielded (36.51 m/s2). These numbers reinforce evaluators' comments about the Marauder's "church-mouse demeanor." At 4.6 pounds, it ranked sixth in weight. The Marauder has a racy balance and handles like a high-priced European sports car thrown hard into a right turn. What's Not: The Marauder stumbled in the speed category, tripping the chrono at 292.3 fps, which put it in 16th place. Bottom Line: At $599, this bow is a fantastic value and delivers top-tier performance when compared with other bows costing hundreds of dollars more. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
****
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Martin Slayer Extreme **
retail: $907 speed (fps): 320.35 weight (lb.): 5.0 contact: 800-541-8902; martinarchery.com
Martin bows have set countless world records in the target arena. The Slayer Extreme is the company's initial entry into the ultra-high-performance hunting market. What's Hot: The Slayer Extreme throws thunderbolts. It blazed carbon through the chronograph at 320.35 fps. Only the Tribute and E-Force eclipsed this reading. We liked the rubber arrow shelf and the creative machining on the riser. The Slayer was the longest bow in the test by a fair margin, measuring 371⁄2 inches. With a more generous brace height you'd have the perfect bow. But that isn't the case. What's Not: The Slayer had the shortest brace height in the group, measuring a diminutive 51⁄2 inches. As a rule of thumb, brace heights shorter than 61⁄2 inches are destined to cause shooter discomfort and potential injury. After being string whipped, one panel member said it was the first bow he's shot in 10 years that had hurt him. At 90.66 dB, the Slayer placed 16th on the noise chart. A 93.27 m/s2 on the vibration meters put the bow in 18th place. Less-than-rave reviews on back wall, draw cycle and shootability cost this bow lots of points for 2006. Bottom Line: This bow's design is a throwback to the '90s, when long axle-to-axle bows shared short brace heights in an attempt to achieve both speed and shootability. It was a concept that didn't work well then, and it doesn't work well now. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
*
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Parker Hornet **
retail: $639 speed (fps): 306.2 weight (lb.): 3.9 contact: 540-337-5426; parkerbows.com
Parker has made real strides over the past few years with its innovative designs and is on the verge of becoming a household name in archery circles. Simply put, these folks make some cool stuff. What's Hot: The Hornet is superlight at 3.9 pounds. In fact, it was the lightest in the field by a considerable margin. The Hornet is also fast, at 306.2 fps, which put it in eighth place in our field. With such a light weight in hand, the Hornet balances just right and feels great. Since the bow is only 301⁄2 inches axle to axle and has a 7-inch brace, we were concerned that it might be unruly to shoot, but just the opposite: This bow sends off arrows effortlessly. Being so light and maneuverable, the Hornet will make a great tree-stand, ground-blind or spot-and-stalk bow. We also liked the film-dipped eccentrics and cable guard. The standard Sims Vibration damping products are also a welcome feature. What's Not: The Hornet does have a bit of a sting""no pun intended""when shot. This is not unexpected considering the bow's ultra light weight. And the grip is a bit boxy and sharp on the bottom. Bottom Line: While the Hornet has some hand shock, this is easily overlooked given all of its other great attributes. A $639 price tag and lifetime warranty make this bow even more attractive to prospective buyers. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
**
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** PSE Mach X **
retail: $749 speed (fps): 300.7 weight (lb.): 4.7 contact: 800-477-7789; pse-archery.com
The Mach series of bows is the flagship of the PSE product line. The Mach X represents a bold departure from traditional compound bow design. What's Hot: Like the AR Velocity, the Mach X features an exaggerated riser and stubby-short limbs. The independent draw-weight adjustment bolts also intrigued the panel. Popular compound designs stick close to a 1:1 limb-to-riser geometry. The Mach X challenges this thinking drastically and subsequently makes for a different feeling when shot. At 300.7 fps, the Mach X closed out our top 10 in speed. It was the seventh-quietest bow, at 88.7 dB. One oddity was this bow's weight, 4.7 pounds (good for 11th place), which is not insubstantial, though the Mach X doesn't feel heavy. One panel member even described it as "very light." This is once again attributable to the intelligent distribution of weight on the bow. Another nice touch is the patented cam-lock cable guard. An actual cam replaces the old Allen set screw to hold the cable in any desired position without its slipping. What's Not: The Mach X proved to have quite a bit of vibration. At 86.05 m/s2, it finished near the bottom (15th) in the vibration test. The grip also elicited some griping from our test team. One tester just couldn't get comfortable with its narrowness. Bottom Line: At the very least, you owe it to yourself to visit a local pro shop and shoot one of these. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
***
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Reflex Super Slam ZR100 **
retail: $499 speed (fps): 300.3 weight (lb.): 4.75 contact: 801-363-2990; reflexbow.com
Reflex has built a solid reputation for producing feature-packed bows at very reasonable prices""a combination that led it to occupy our Great Buy winner's circle for the last two years running. So it comes as no surprise that we were eager to see whether the Super Slam ZR100 would uphold the tradition of its forerunners. What's Hot: At 351⁄8 inches axle to axle and with 71⁄8 inches brace height, the Super Slam ZR100 has the proportions that make a bow accurate. At 300.3 fps, it is plenty fast (11th) for any hunting situation and it sports the high-end Slam & 1/2 hybrid system. However, the panel was split on the bow's shootability and draw cycle. Some liked both, while others didn't care for either. The deer hoof prints built into the riser make a clear statement about this bow's purpose and are a touch that will probably find favor with younger shooters. What's Not: The Super Slam is a bit boxy and has some hard machined lines. Most panel members didn't care for the ancient military camo anodized pattern on the limb pockets and eccentrics. We griped about this same feature last year, too. Would a more appealing design really add to the cost? At 4.75 pounds, this bow is heavy and doesn't balance particularly well in hand, which cost it points. Bottom Line: A disappointing entry from a company that has so many good designs to its credit. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
***
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Ross CR334 **
retail: $705 speed (fps): 294.4 weight (lb.): 4.65 contact: 816-767-1432; rossarchery.com
Ross is a relatively new manufacturer, and this is the company's first appearance in the Outdoor Life bow test. From all indications, Ross has a chance to make an impact as a player in the bowhunting arena in the very near future. What's Hot: As its name implies, the CR334 tapes 34 inches axle to axle with a large 71⁄2-inch brace height. The bow received a "very good" rating for shootability, and panel members rated its fit and finish excellent. The limb pockets are exceptional, and the entire package fits together nicely without any noticeable deficiencies. Several of the testers were taken with the overall aesthetics of the bow, too. In short, the judges deemed the the CR334 to be quite a looker. The Ross was one of the most consistent bows in the field, placing fifth overall in the subjective rankings and eighth in the objective rankings. At 87.36 dB, the CR334 was the second-quietest bow in our group. What's Not: Launching arrows at 294.4 fps, for a 15th-place finish, the CR334 disappointed. Archers willing to lay down dollars for a top-end bow should expect a minimum of 300 fps from their hunting rigs. We would like to see future models from this company step on the gas, so to speak. Bottom Line: The CR334 is a good all-around bow that exudes quality workmanship. No doubt many bowhunters will be carrying them to their deer stands this fall with very happy results. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
****
Price/Value:
***
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Rytera Bullet X **
retail: $1,024 speed (fps): 296.5 weight (lb.): 5.0 contact: 800-541-8902; rytera.com
Rytera is a spin-off brand from Martin. The folks at Martin bring some 55 years of bow-building experience to the Rytera line so our expectations for this bow""particularly given its price tag""were high. What's Hot: The Bullet X is built on a riser machined from a solid block of aluminum. It scored evenly across-the-board in all our subjective categories. While none of its features overly impressed our panel of judges, neither did they disappoint. This is quite an achievement. On the objective scoreboard the Rytera did well in both the noise (88.40 dB) and vibration (67.20 m/s2) categories, putting it in fifth and sixth place respectively. Some panel members were particularly fond of the Rytera, saying it had a smooth, silklike draw cycle and was a solid shooter. What's Not: The arrow speed of this bow does not live up to its name. Put simply, the Bullet doesn't shoot bullets. It attained a top velocity of 296.5 fps, which was good enough for 12th place. Its slower speed coupled with its high price raised eyebrows among the panelists, who expect much more from a bow that breaks the $1,000 mark. Bottom Line: The bow is a shooter and should gain acceptance if it can overcome its hefty price tag. However, as with other expensive bows, we also expect better performance in the speed department. Performance:
***
Design:
***
Noise:
****
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Storm Elite **
retail: $699 speed (fps): 289.5 weight (lb.): 4.6 contact: 877-577-8676; stormarchery.com
Storm Archery, an established bow company with a solid reputation, prides itself on its hand-built bows. The company makes a point of saying that its owners inspect every bow that heads out the door. Each riser is matched to both limb and limb pocket to ensure quality shooting. What's Hot: At 4.6 pounds, the Elite was ranked sixth lightest. This is impressive given its long 34-inch axle-to-axle measurement. The 71⁄8-inch brace height should make this a shooter. One panel member felt the Elite was smooth, shooting with very little hand shock. It is available in a variety of finishes, including Realtree H.D. Hardwoods, and comes in models for both right- and left-handed shooters. What's Not: The Elite we tested had a pronounced idler-wheel lean, a cause of concern among team members. The fact that wheel and cam use bushings instead of bearings was also considered a weakness in the bow's overall design. At 289.5 fps, the Elite was the slowest bow in the field, and at 91.82 dB, it was the nearly the loudest (17th)""not a great combination. Its score of 83.98 m/s2 put the Elite in 13th place on the vibration scale. Sharp machined edges on the riser and grip added to the design distractions. Bottom Line: The hard idler-wheel lean caused this bow to score poorly. Given a better test unit, we're confident that the Elite would have scored higher. Performance:
**
Design:
***
Noise:
*
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor
** Storm Elite **
retail: $699 speed (fps): 289.5 weight (lb.): 4.6 contact: 877-577-8676; stormarchery.com
Storm Archery, an established bow company with a solid reputation, prides itself on its hand-built bows. The company makes a point of saying that its owners inspect every bow that heads out the door. Each riser is matched to both limb and limb pocket to ensure quality shooting. What's Hot: At 4.6 pounds, the Elite was ranked sixth lightest. This is impressive given its long 34-inch axle-to-axle measurement. The 71⁄8-inch brace height should make this a shooter. One panel member felt the Elite was smooth, shooting with very little hand shock. It is available in a variety of finishes, including Realtree H.D. Hardwoods, and comes in models for both right- and left-handed shooters. What's Not: The Elite we tested had a pronounced idler-wheel lean, a cause of concern among team members. The fact that wheel and cam use bushings instead of bearings was also considered a weakness in the bow's overall design. At 289.5 fps, the Elite was the slowest bow in the field, and at 91.82 dB, it was the nearly the loudest (17th)""not a great combination. Its score of 83.98 m/s2 put the Elite in 13th place on the vibration scale. Sharp machined edges on the riser and grip added to the design distractions. Bottom Line: The hard idler-wheel lean caused this bow to score poorly. Given a better test unit, we're confident that the Elite would have scored higher. Performance:
**
Design:
***
Noise:
*
Price/Value:
**
Outdoor Life Online Editor

The latest class of compound bows (18 in all) and we put them through a gauntlet of tests to determine the top shooters. "Parallel limbs" has been the hot topic in bow cirlces, and this year, the first bow achieved true parallel.