The Best New Compound Bows for 2021
Fast, light, deadly—this season’s line-up of new hunting bows just might be the best ever designed
I’m disappointed that I won’t be sending carbon down the shooting lanes at the Archery Trade Show this year. Like most things, the annual ATA show was canceled due to Covid-19. This January will mark the first in the last 12 years that I haven’t wrapped my hand around the grips of the new-for-the-year bow crop. Yes, I’ve already shot a few new flagship and budget bow models, but haven’t been able to try all of them, and that’s a hard pill to swallow. Especially when creating round ups like these.
Instead, I’ve done the next best thing for bringing you the latest models from the virtual showroom floor, and spoken to the brands’ marketing managers and engineers to get the intel. Honestly, I was shocked. While it’s customary and expected for kingpin bow makers to unveil a new lineup each and every year, I figured the current pandemic would halt things a bit. That’s not the case. Not only did bow manufacturers launch new products, but they’ve launched big ones.
Most have produced all-new flagship and budget models. Many have developed a flagship series or produced multiple flagship models. The emerging theme this year is customization. There are new bow models designed specifically for female bowhunters, short-draw archers, long-draw archers, and those in between. New bow technologies aren’t in short supply for 2021. Here’s a preview, but remember that we’ll be testing these and other new bows in the coming months for a full wring out.
Mathews Archery V3 27 & V3 31
Archers await Mathews’ annual bow launch with great anticipation, and for good reason. When it comes to providing quality bows teaming with purposeful technologies, Mathews doesn’t disappoint. This year is no different. The new V3 is available in 27- and 31-inch axle-to-axles. Both rigs have a 6-inch brace height and are branded with a rating of 342 fps. The main difference, of course, is the length between the axles. The 27-inch V3 is Mathews’ most compact bow to date, making it ideal for gnarled treestands, ground blinds. and spot-and-stalk missions. The V3 will be a great choice hunters looking to take advantage of new Mathews innovations like the CenterGuard Cable Containment system that’s designed to provide ideal cam timing, and the vibration-robbing Nano 740 damper. Getting a slight facelift, the Extended Bridge Riser on both bows is lighter and provides shooters with Mathews’ longest riser-to-axle-to-axle ratio to date. The V3 27 and V3 31 are offered in 60-, 65-, 70- and 75-pound draw-weight options and are available in an array of finishes, including new-for-2021 First Lite Specter and Under Armour All-Season Forest. $1,199; mathewsinc.com
Mathews Archery Prima & Atlas
Also new from Mathews is the 30-inch axle-to-axle Prima and 34 ¾-inch axle-to-axle Atlas. Like the V3′s, this pair of assassins were built around the principals of accuracy and stealth. The Prima sports a 5 ½-inch brace height, has a fighting weight of 3.93 pounds, and during testing by Mathews, hit speeds up to 346 fps when set at 30-inches of draw length. Like the V3′s this bow boasts the new-for-2021 Centerguard Cable Containment System and Nano 740 damper.
The tower in the 2021 family, the Atlas, was built for long-draw hunters with a draw length of up to 34 inches. Capable of speeds up to 350 fps, this 7 ¾-inch brace height tack driver boasts new EHS+ 3D, which has been tuned to the specific harmonics of the bow to thwart post-shot vibration and cancel noise. Draw weight and finish options mirror those of the V3 bows. ($1,099 (Prima), $1,349 (Atlas))
Hoyt Archery Eclipse
A premier bow for the female bowhunter, Hoyt’s new 29-inch axle-to-axle Eclipse tips the scale at a mere 3.7 pounds and is fitted with a 6¾-inch brace height. Resting between the rig’s top and bottom split limbs is the Eclipse Cam, which is optimized for the shorter draw lengths many women require. Fused together by a harness system, the cams fire at the exact same time, which boosts accuracy and overall consistency. The draw cycle is silky smooth, and the Eclipse Zero-Tolerance Limb Pockets ensure a cement-like connection between the limbs and riser. The Eclipse is available in a host of finish options, hits an ATA rating of 314 fps, and is available in draw length ranges of 23.5 to 25.5 and 26 to 28 inches. Draw weights range from 20 to 60 pounds. ($899; hoyt.com)
Hoyt Archery Torrex & Torrex XT
It’s been said good things come in threes, and this appears to be the case with Hoyt’s new Torrex bows. The family includes the Torrex (30¾-inch axle-to-axle), Torrex XT (30-inch axle-to-axle) and Torrex XT Long Draw (30-inch axle-to-axle). Each bow comes in under the $700 mark, and all feature proven Hoyt technologies.
The XT models put a little icing on the cake with Torrex-branded innovations like Shock Pods, Stealth Shot, and a Roller Cable Guard designed to reduce friction and boost shot-to-shot consistency. The 3.8-pound Torrex hits a top speed of 327, while the 4-pound XT and XT Long Draw push projectiles at 336 fps. Draw-length adjustable between 26 and 30 inches, the Torrex is available in draw weights of 40, 50, 60, and 70 pounds. Peak weights on the XT and XT Long Draw mirror those of the Torrex, however, Hoyt did add a 65-pound option to this dynamic duo. Draw lengths on the XT go from 25.5 to 30 inches, and the XT Long Draw is adjustable between 30 and 31 inches. The standard Torrex is adjustable between 26 and 30 inches. ($599 (Torrex), $699 (Torrex XT & XT Long Draw); hoyt.com)
Read Next: The 2019 Bowhunting Gift Guide
Xpediton X Series
Two years in the making, Xpedition’s X Series (X30, X33, and X37) give bowhunters and target archers a trio of new patented technologies. The riser is a blend of two alloys, Xloy and Magnite, giving each bow in the series an airy feel combined with German-tank toughness. Another hat-tipper is the all-new Lever Cam, which was specifically engineered to allow shooters to push kinetic energy and momentum to new levels. Lastly, the ETS (Energy Transfer System) enhances the X-Series’ cable system dynamics by preloading the cables to limit cable movement.
The speed demon in the group is the 30-inch axle-to-axle X30, which tops out at 352 fps. Not far behind is the 350-fps, 32.5-inch axle-to-axle X33. At 37.5-inches axle-to-axle, the X37 was designed for bowhunters and target archeRs alike and hits a respectable 334 fps. Brace heights are 6¼ (X30), 6½ (X33) and 7½ (X37) inches. Peak draw weights are 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds, and the modular Lever Cam allows draw lengths to be altered in ½-inch increments without a bow press. ($1399 (X30 & X 33) $1499 (X37), xpeditionarchery.com)
Bowtech Archery Solution SD
The pandemic put a halt on many things, but it didn’t slow down manufacturing mastermind Bowtech from launching a litany of new bows. In no particular order, here are the new-for-2021 marvels. Built around a cam system that allows shooters to tune their bow without putting it a bow press, the DeadLock Cam system continues to be a win, and is the key ingredient in this short-draw flagship. Dubbed the Solution SD, this bow was designed to be the “solution” for short-draw archers. Adjustable without a press from 23.5 to 28 inches, this 7-inch brace height, 30-inch axle-to-axle killer comes in multiple finish options and in peak draw weights of 50, 60, and 70 pounds. ($1,199.99; bowtecharchery.com)
Bowtech Archery Eva Shockey Gen 2
Female archers will cheer the 2021 Eva Shockey Gen 2. A feather-like 3.9-pound 10-ringer with a rock-solid riser, this bow comes fitted with Bowtech’s already legendary DeadLock Cams, DeadLock Pockets, and DeadLock Cable Containment. Other notable features on this 30-inch axle-to-axle, 323-fps compound include the vibration-reducing and weight-offsetting Orbit Dampener and Clutch Performance Grip. The Gen 2′s draw-length range is 23.5-28.5 and peak draw weights of 40, 50, and 60 pounds are available. ($1,199.99; bowtecharchery.com)
Bowtech Archery Carbon Zion
The carbon crowd will applaud Bowtech’s Carbon Zion. Beside wearing a well-under-$1K price tag, this bow weighs just 3.3 pounds—the lightest carbon bow ever crafted—making it ideal for western backcountry hunters and those who spend their season 20-feet up a hardwood. At 31-inches long, the bow falls in the not-too-long but not-too-short sweet spot, and the adjustable (25.5 to 30.5 draw) synchronized Binary Cams make tuning a dream, allowing hunters to choose between Comfort and Performance settings. In particular, Bowtech focused on improving the bow’s grip. Those who favored the Carbon Icon asked for a carbon bow with a better fit and feel, and the 6.625-inch brace height, 335-fps Zion delivers. ($749.99; bowtecharchery.com)
A do-all bow that will cost you less than $600, the Amplify was made for slinging carbon in the backyard, in the woods, and on the 3-D trail. Giving the archer 62 pounds of draw-weight adjustability and 9 inches of draw-length adjustment, this bow will fit virtually any shooter. Fitted with Bowtech’s Binary Cam system, performance and accuracy won’t be an issue, and this 31.5-inch axle-to-axle killer can hit speeds up to 335 fps. That’s a lot of oomph in a 4-pound, 6-inch brace height rig. ($599.99; bowtecharchery.com)
Elite Archery EnKore
A blend of speed and smoothness, Elite’s 33-inch axle-to-axle EnKore showcases the newly-designed Versa Performance Mod system. Set at 90 percent let-off, this adjustable from 23- to 30-inch system boosts shootability and increases speed to a maximum rating of 340 fps. An innovative addition to the Mod system is the Tri-Track Cam. Laterally balanced and fully synchronized, this cam ensures a smooth draw and allows the archer to customize let-off between 70 and 90 percent. Another bonus of Elite’s 4.55-pound, 6-inch brace height flagship is S.E.T. Technology. Ensuring simplified tuning without the need of a bow press, archers can bank on a perfect tune. Finish options are too many to list, and the EnKore is available in peak weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70 pounds. ($1,099.99; elitearchery.com)
Elite Archery Remedy
Another worthy Elite flagship is the 34-inch axle-to-axle, 4.6-pound Remedy. Crafted for those who prefer a longer riser, this bow combines the ASYM Tri-Track Cam system, Versa Performance Mod system and S.E.T. Technology to provide shooters balance, smoothness, speed, durability, and pin-point accuracy. Draw-length adjustable from 24 to 31 inches, the Versa Performance Mod requires no bow press, and the 331-fps compound sports a brace height of 6 3/8 inches. Peak draw weights mirror those of the EnKore. ($1,099.99; elitearchery.com)
Prime Archery Nexus Series
There’s no denying Prime’s drive to create vertical wonders that make jaws drop, and its 2021 flagship line is another shining example of the manufacturer’s desire to achieve a killer-looking compound. Enter the Nexus Series. Available in 32-, 34- and 36-inch axle-to-axle lengths and peak draw weights from 40 to 80 pounds, there’s a just-right Nexus for every hunter. At each bow’s center point is the new Nanogrip with Aerogel technology. Developed by NASA to protect astronauts from extreme cold, Aerogel creates an insulated barrier between the aluminum riser and the Nanogrip. Wrapping completely around the grip, Aerogel provides a warm feeling and an incredible feel. According to Prime, the Nexus Series provides a 50 percent reduction in overall vibration when compared to the 2020 Prime Black Series. This was accomplished by paring a light cam system with reduced cable splitter weight. Specs vary slightly by model, and each is available in a pile of finish options including Prime’s Army Green, Midnight Blue, and Hammered Grey. ($999 (Nexus 32 & 34); $1,199 (Nexus 36); g5prime.com)
PSE Archery Xpedite NXT
In true PSE fashion, the manufacturer has launched a plethora of new compound offerings for 2021. Noted by those who’ve fired the rig to be a perfect blend of power and comfort, the Xpedite NXT is capable of hitting a draw-dropping 360 fps. Sure to raise the eyebrows of the speed-demon crowd, this 33-inch axle-to-axle bow sports a 5 ½-inch brace height and weighs 4.47 pounds. A longer riser with a lower stabilization mount and PSE’s ComfortGrip System will undoubtably create a steadier hold and increased accuracy. The Xpedite NXT comes in peak draw weights of 60, 70 and 80 pounds, and the adjustable module on the EC Cam allows draw lengths, in half-inch increments, between 24.5 and 30 inches. Finish options are many and the bow ships with PSE’s 90 percent high let-off module. ($1,099.99; psearchery.com)
PSE Archery Drive NXT
A 33-inch axle-to-axle bow fitted with a forgiving 7-inch brace height, this vertical shooter showcases an all-new machined aluminum riser and PSE’s ZF Quad-Track Cam System to give archers a balanced, forgiving, easy-to-tune bow. At 4.3 pounds, the Drive NXT features PSE’s swappable ComfortGrip System, lower stabilizer mount and quick-disconnect sling mounts. Top speed on this bow is 330 fps, with peak draw weights of 60 and 70 pounds are available. The draw-length range is 24 to 31 inches. ($699.99; psearchery.com)
PSE Archery Embark
The latest incarnation in the Nock On family is the Embark. Inspired by professional archer John Dudley, this budget-friendly bow is both compact and forgiving. Measuring 31-inches between the axles and sporting a brace height of 7 inches, the Embark is an ideal choice for treestand, ground blind, or spot-and-stalk sojourns. Top speed is 327 fps, draw weights are 60 and 70 pounds and the draw-length range is 23.5 to 30.5 inches. ($799.99; psearchery.com)
PSE Archery Carbon Air Stealth Mach 1
Getting some upgrades for 2021 is PSE’s carbon marvel, the Carbon Air Stealth Mach 1. A longer riser, laid-back limbs and a redesigned grip boost comfort while also providing a platform that leads to increased stability and shot-to-shot consistency. This ultra-light (3.5 pounds) bow has adjustable let-off between 80 and 90 percent and hits a top speed of 332 fps. The longer riser, of course, upped the bow’s axle-to-axle (32.5 inches), and the brace height is 6 1/8 inches. Draw weight options include 50, 60, 65, 70, and 80 pounds, and the adjustable Evolve Cam fits draw lengths between 25 and 30.5 inches. ($1,599.99; psearchery.com)
Bear Archery Redemption EKO
Bear’s 2021 flagship bow measures 31-inches between the axles, weighs 4.1 pounds, and sports a brace height of 6.25 inches. Branded the Redemption EKO, the rig features Bear’s all-new Vibration Reduction System (VRS) to help stabilize and soak up post-shot vibration. Bear notes the new technology boosts vibration control up to 25 percent over previous designs. Capable of arrow speeds of 342 fps, the bow ships with the Bear’s VERSAGRIP and NAROGRIP, and the adjustable limb stop further aid shooter customization. Fitted in the riser is the Align Lok, a level that works in harmony with the bow sight to make aligning the second and third axis a breeze. Let-off can be adjusted between 75 and 90 percent and draw lengths between 26 and 30 inches can be achieved without a bow press. Finish options are many, including Fred Bear Camo, Iron, and Olive. ($999.99; beararchery.com)
Bear Archery Whitetail Legend
A single-cam shooter offered with a package that includes all the Trophy Ridge accessories you’ll need to get out into the field, Bear’s Whitetail Legend is a nod to Fred Bear’s classic Whitetail Hunter. Just meat and potatoes, the bow was born for the whitetail woods. At 320 fps, its speed is respectable, and at 31-inches axle-to-axle, the Whitetail Legend is sure to be maneuverable in treestands and ground blinds. Draw length is adjustable between 23 and 30 inches and draw weight options include 45-60 and 55-70 pounds. ($479.99; beararchery.com)