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Up to date Feb 5, 2023 10:44 AM

I’ve been testing the perfect compound bows head-to-head for Discipline & Stream since 2013. In that point, no different searching bow model has prompted extra of a response amongst readers than Mathews. On the one hand, you might have Mathews Archery shooters who’re fiercely loyal. Put merely, if Mathews doesn’t win, these bowhunters consider we’ve achieved one thing unsuitable. Then there are the archers who shoot one thing in addition to a Mathews compound bow. And when Mathews does win, these people assume it’s as a result of we took a bribe.

In comparison with the anger I’ve seen come from the outcomes of our bow checks, bickering over rifle calibers—like .308 vs. 6.5 Creedmoor—appear to be playground spats.

However that enthusiasm for bowhunting—and for the talk over the perfect compound bow—is strictly why we’ve determined to do a run-down of the 5 greatest Mathews bows ever made. In any case, Mathews is an organization that, since 2013, has gained our bow check 3 times and completed runner-up twice. (Because of COVID, we weren’t capable of maintain a check final 12 months to find out a Better of the Finest winner within the Finest Compound Bow 2021 class.) Solely Bowtech has been as aggressive as Mathews.

How We Chosen the Finest Mathews Bows

In fact, selecting the “greatest ever” from a lineup of weapons and calibers is fairly straightforward. You simply select the red-meat classics that’ll maintain the lots completely satisfied (even when stylish folks such as you and me know higher). However compound bows are typically discontinued after a pair years. Plus, they’ve steadily gotten higher over time. One of the best Mathews bows of the ’90s would get crushed by just about any of the bows we examined final spring.

So, we simply choose the most recent compound bows, proper? Not so quick. For all the target testing we’ve achieved, there’s nonetheless lots of subjectivity in selecting a favourite searching bow (i.e., that model loyalty referenced earlier). 

So, once I sat right down to give you this record, I needed references for second opinions. First, I reached out to my buddy Danny Hinton. Hinton is a former pro-shop proprietor, Mathews seller, bowhunter, and a member of the bow check panel since 2013. He’s additionally bothered with a situation of claiming precisely what’s on his thoughts at any given second—for higher or worse.

However I needed a 3rd opinion—so I went straight to the supply and interviewed Mathews founder, Matt McPherson. An inductee to the Bowhunter’s Corridor of Fame, McPherson has that lightning-in-a-bottle mixture of engineering expertise (he builds guitars on the facet), enterprise savvy, and approachable character.

His story within the archery business started in 1985, with McPherson Archery. The model was making dual-cam bows in these days, together with the primary compound bow with greater than 50 p.c let-off. However McPherson discovered himself at odds along with his traders at occasions, so he ended up promoting McPherson Archery in 1987. 

Quickly after, McPherson had a brand new idea for a bow—the only cam—and he launched it with a brand new model, Mathews Archery, in 1992. Mathews has since launched almost 200 new bow fashions, when you embrace bows below their sister manufacturers like Mission and Genesis.

Of these 200, listed here are the 5 we’ve narrowed down as the perfect Mathews bows of all time.

The SoloCam Basic

Mathews rolled onto the bow-building scene with a advertising marketing campaign that highlighted the failings in two-cam bow know-how of the day—specifically, preserving the cams in sync. However with one cam on the underside limb and a spherical loafer wheel on prime, “SoloCam” bows didn’t have synchronization points. The primary Mathews was known as the Normal, and the second was the UltraLight—a bow that McPherson nonetheless regards as a private favourite. Firm gross sales elevated by 400 p.c that 12 months.

Perimeter-weighted single cams had been quickly to observe—an engineering innovation that McPherson considers to be one of many firm’s highest. Not solely had been these bows smoother, quieter, and simpler to tune than two-cam bows of the day—they had been typically quicker, too.

The Z-Max was the primary Mathews with a perimeter-weighted cam, and it was adopted up with the MQ1. Weekend 3D shoots had been fashionable on the time, and just about all of individuals I knew taking pictures the “Bowhunter Launch” class shot MQ1s. I acquired one for Christmas in 1999, once I was 16, and I hunted with it for the higher a part of the following decade. I shot a few of my greatest bow bucks with that bow—which I nonetheless have.

“It was essentially the most parallel limb bow on the time,” McPherson says. “It was so clean that it was in a category of its personal. In fact, when you shoot one in opposition to certainly one of our bows right this moment, it’s horrible. However again then, the notion was no recoil.” 

Many veteran bowhunters nonetheless regard the MQ1 because the model’s all-time greatest. With a 7.5-inch brace peak, 37-inch axle-to-axle size and 308 fps IBO ranking, it had goal bow specs by right this moment’s requirements, however was a searching machine on the time.

The Bowhunting Fan Favourite


If any bow can unseat the MQ1 as a fan favourite, it’s the Switchback XT. One other single cam, the XT was launched in 2006, following the unique Switchback. At 31 inches axle to axle, it was about average-size by right this moment’s requirements, however it was the must-have compact bow of its day, with limbs that had been extra parallel than ever in addition to a harmonic dampening system within the riser that severely lower down on vibration. 

“One of many issues we did at our present was drop a naked riser on the ground with no dampers, and it appeared like a bell,” McPherson says. “Then we caught the dampers in, and it’d go dink. It was nice proof. We despatched a type of risers to all of the sellers, so they may present the distinction to clients.”

The Switchback XT had a 7.5-inch brace peak, however was speedy at 315 IBO. “That bow was simply bullet-proof,” Danny Hinton says. “I didn’t promote them at our store, however I labored on a bunch of them. To this present day, when you look on boards and classifieds, you’ll see guys on the lookout for a Switchback, or speaking about how a lot they remorse promoting the one that they had.”

Along with simply being an excellent bow, the Switchback had an excellent title and launched with good timing. Out of doors TV was hovering in recognition within the mid-2000s, and Mathews did an excellent job seeding their bows with high-profile personalities like Tom Miranda and Lee and Tiffany Lakosky. 

The Velocity Demon


With single-cam bows promoting like 2020 bathroom paper, McPherson famously stated he didn’t see how Mathews would wish to make a two-cam bow. However by 2010, the two-cam competitors was getting higher. “Typically you need to backtrack somewhat bit to make sure you’re making good enterprise selections,” he says now.

Realizing he wanted to launch a two-cam bow of his personal, he purchased again the title of his unique firm—McPherson Archery—and below that, launched the Monster sequence. The XLR8, with a 5-inch brace peak and 360 IBO, stands to this present day because the quickest “Mathews” compound bow ever made.

On the peak of his enterprise, Hinton and his staff shot Monsters themselves. “That was when PSE had some scorcher bows, however a correctly tuned Monster would whip their ass,” he says. “It was only a higher bow; it was heavy however it shot nice.”

Gross sales of single-cam bows had been nonetheless robust, making the Monster a bow that was, in some methods, forward of its time. In explaining the variations in that bow and comparable “hatchet cam” velocity bows of the day, McPherson talked about ratios and bell curves—stuff that’s admittedly over my head. However one of many largest developments of the Monsters was the Superior Vectoring System (AVS), seen to this present day on the CrossCentric sequence (extra on these in a bit).

“There’s a worth you need to pay for velocity, and it’s saved power,” McPherson says. “It’s important to pull tougher and longer. Hatchet cams had actually high-tension strings at brace place (making the bow extra demanding to attract from begin to end). We ended up making low-tension brace place strings, and it made (the Monster sequence) draw smoother and shoot higher.”

The Finest System But


In 2015, Mathews launched the “No Cam” HTR—a bow that didn’t do significantly properly in our check, however it was one thing new and totally different. McPherson calls it “essentially the most tunable bow within the historical past of mankind.” Gross sales weren’t pretty much as good as he’d hoped, however the No Cam was in some ways the stepping stone to the CrossCentric Collection—the hybrid two-cam system nonetheless used right this moment, and that first launched with the 2016 Halon sequence.

The Halon got here as a shock to us, because it had two huge cams and was marketed as a real Mathews. Along with these and the AVS system, the Halon sported brief, “vast stance” parallel limbs and a protracted Twin-Bridged riser. That’s actually what set the sequence aside.

The Halon 5 took Better of the Finest honors in our 2016 check. There’ve been subsequent bows within the CrossCentric sequence together with the Triax, Vertix, VXR 28, and V3, plus girls’ fashions just like the Avail and Prima. All have had incremental enhancements like user-friendly draw size/weight adjustment modules, dovetailed sight mounts, and silent connection programs for pull ropes and slings—however they’ve been based mostly on the identical confirmed design. That’s for good motive: Because the introduction of the Halon, Mathews has both gained or completed runner-up in all of our bow checks.

The Final Coach


In my graduating high-school class of 29 children, there have been three or 4 of us into bowhunting—and we had been solely into it as a result of we had been into deer searching. There have been no in-school archery packages, however that modified big-time in 2002, because of a joint effort between the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife and Mathews Archery.

The Kentucky Archery in Colleges Program supplied college students of any age, race, gender, or potential to take part in a crew sport. Indoor goal archery exploded in recognition, and this system was quickly renamed to the Nationwide Archery in Colleges Program (NASP) because of nationwide curiosity. Now, almost 14,000 faculties nationwide have NASP packages—and I do know of opponents who’ve gotten school archery scholarships.

Because the inception, the single-cam Genesis has been the official compound bow of this system. With a 15- to 30-inch draw size and 10- to 20-pound draw weight, the Genesis will stick arrows within the goal and match nearly anybody. “In 2000, we puzzled how we might promote archery in faculties with one thing that was tremendous easy to make use of,” McPherson says. “I used to be speaking with a buddy of mine who’d labored with a bunch of children, and he stated children don’t want a sight to learn to shoot. They choose up instinctive taking pictures rapidly. I knew in the event that they didn’t want a sight, we might make this occur rapidly.”

The Genesis generates extra energy than a recurve of comparable draw weight, and it’s simpler to deal with. McPherson says some 20 million children all over the world have discovered about archery with that bow. And perhaps it’s no accident that motion pictures like “The Starvation Video games” and Disney’s “Courageous” adopted quickly after—and that the Archery Commerce Affiliation reported a 20 p.c enhance in archery from 2012 to 2015.

Contemplating all of that, perhaps the perfect Mathews bow of all time can be the only one.

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