January 11, 2024
Each year, compound bow manufacturers have a challenging task before them. The job is to produce at least one dripping-with-technology flagship bow to make the masses gasp with joy.
Of course, the new-for-the-year bow or bows can boast some technologies of the past, but to get the stick-and-string crowd fully excited, each bow must be rich with new features, and those features must be purposeful.
I've been testing and tinkering with flagship bows for well over a decade. The process never gets old, and no matter how much I feel one or more bow manufacturers hit a design out of the park, I'm typically even more impressed the following year.
This is one of those years. Nobody laid an egg or produced a flagship that wasn't field-worthy. From the Rockies to the whitetail woods and everywhere in between, 2024's crop of new bows is a winner.
Let's dive in.
Hoyt Alpha X and Carbon RX-8
In typical Hoyt fashion, the compound kingpin launched four new flagship bows — two with aluminum riser s and two with carbon. The aluminum-riser bows are the Alpha X 30 and Alpha X 33. Naturally, the numbers following the name reflect each bow's axle-to-axle length. The new-for-2024 HBX Xact Cams allow for draw-length adjustment in 1/4-inch increments, and archers can select between let-offs of 75, 80 and 85 percent. Other wins of the cam system include a setting for a Hard or X-hard backwall. The Drop Cord Slot ensures easy riser pass-through for a cable-driven rest cord and noise and vibration robbing WireWRX Bow Strings are sure to be cheered. The Alpha X 30 has a brace height of 6 3/16 inches, weighs 4.55 pounds, and is branded with a 344 fps (ATA) top-end speed. The Alpha X 33 weighs 4.75 pounds, has an ATA speed rating of 334 fps, and has a 6 3/8-inch brace height.
Hoyt's carbon-riser rigs include the 30-inch axle-to-axle, 4-pound Carbon RX-8, and 34.7-inch axle-to-axle, 4.4-pound Carbon RX-8 Ultra. Like the Alpha X bows, both RX-8 models wear the HBX Xact Cams. Another pleasing cam feature is the integrated kickstand, which protects the cam and string from excess wear. The strength-to-weight ratio of the bows is second to none, and the VitalPoint Grip is exceptionally comfortable and helps ensure a repeatable, torque-free grip.
MSRP: $1,339-$2,049 | hoyt.com
How They Shoot
I have yet to sling carbon from the Alpha X 30, but have shot hundreds of arrows from the Alpha X 33. The bow is forgiving and quiet, and with 33 inches between the axles, it feels ultra-balanced at full draw. Hoyt's Carbon RX-8 30-inch axle-to-axle wonder is the best Hoyt bow I've ever shot. Not only is it light and maneuverable, making it ideal for spot-and-stalk and sit-and-wait hunting, but it minimizes pin float at full draw and is dead quiet when the string is dropped.
I appreciate that Mathews added Shot Sense into its all-new Lift 29.5 and Lift 33. Shot Sense integrates into the grip of both bows and pairs with the Mathews Shot Sense app to track and record shot analytics. Both rigs also feature a new top-mounted axle system that maximizes the working surface area of the limbs while cutting weight and increasing stability across the entire platform. The Lift 29.5 is a sub-four-pound, 6-inch brace height shooter fitted with Mathews' all-new SwitchWeight-X Cam. The cam ensures a steady stacking draw cycle that ends with a rock-solid backwall and can propel carbon at a top speed of 348 fps. The Lift 33 weighs 4.26 pounds, has a 6.5-inch brace height, and hits a top-end arrow speed of 343 fps. Both bows are offered in multiple draw weight options and camo and solid color schemes.
How It Shoots
I spent a lot of time behind the string of the Lift 29.5. For an aluminum-riser bow, it feels light and airy in the hand. The draw cycle is silk, and I found the 6-inch brace height helped the bow produce plenty of speed and still be forgiving. Oh, and it's as accurate as the day is long.
Bowtech Core SR & Core SS
Both of these new bows produce solid speeds and are ultra-easy to tune via the DeadLock System. Getting superior arrow flight is easy when you can insert an Allen wrench and walk cams left or right along the axle pins. Another excellent technology on both rigs is CenterMass. This feature aligns the sight to create maximum stability and ensures fantastic shot-to-shot consistency. TimeLock means rapid tuning thanks to quick and easy cam position adjustments, and the GripLock allows each shooter to achieve a custom grip angle. Both bows are available in peak draw weights of 50, 60 and 70 pounds. The Core SR measures 33 inches between the axles, weighs 4.5 pounds, is draw-length adjustable between 25 and 30 inches, and is capable of 344 fps. The Core SS is 31.5 inches axle-to-axle, weighs 4.5 pounds, fits draw lengths between 26 and 31 inches, and has a maximum fps of 337.
How It Shoots
The pro shop I visited had a Core SR ready, and I punched paper and 3-D targets for an hour with it. This bow is uber-accurate and feels remarkably balanced at full draw. Pin float is minimized, and when you let the release fire the bow, this rig is dead quiet. I didn't do a speed test, but it hit targets with authority and buried my 4mm Easton shafts deep. The draw cycle is a bit abrupt when the cams transition to let-off, and there is also a slight hump in the cycle. Aside from that, this was one of my favorite bows.
PSE Mach 30 DS
A bow creating a lot of buzz is PSE's Mach 30 DS. I cheer its 6-inch brace height, which allows for speed and forgiveness, and the Full Draw Stability makes the bow feel longer than it is. The 3.6-pound bow sports an effective string angle comparable to longer axle-to-axle bows, making it ultra-maneuverable and extremely accurate downrange. The 6-inch brace height Mach 30 DS hits a top speed of 338 fps and comes in peak draw weights of 50, 60, 70 and 80 pounds. Each is adjustable down 10 pounds from the peak. From the treestand to the Rockies, PSE is confident this ultra-quiet, ultra-light, and ultra-accurate vertical rig will meet and exceed your bowhunting expectations.
How It Shoots
The grip is warm and inviting and feels great in hand. Thanks to Full Draw Stability, the bow feels balanced at full draw, and getting to full draw is butter. I love this bow's draw cycle. At the shot, the bow pops forward slightly in hand, but I detected minimal vibration and zero post-shot noise. Another feature that must be mentioned is the weight. If you pair this bow with accessories that fit the IMS System and Picatinny Rail System, you'll have a bow that will be easy to tote around the woods.
Prime RVX 32, 34, & 36
Good things come in threes at Prime regarding new-for-the-year bow launches. This year, the RVX Series consists of bows with axle-to-axle lengths of 32, 34 and 36 inches. Perfect for the bowhunting woods or chasing podium finishes, this trio utilizes Prime's Core Cam System, heralded for its arrow-driving accuracy and draw-length specific mods. Combined with the Center Grip Riser, which puts more mass lower in the riser to improve aiming and stability throughout the shot cycle, the RVX Series can't be ignored. The Nano-Grip incorporates NASA-developed materials to thwart having a too-cold or too-hot bow grip, and Quick Tune Technology means you'll be punching perfect holes through paper in no time. The RVX 32 has a 6.25-inch brace height, propels carbon at 340 fps and weighs 4.4 pounds. Sending arrows downrange at a top IBO arrow speed of 342 fps, the RVX 34 sports a 6.25-inch brace height and has a fighting weight of 4.5 pounds. The RVX 36 weighs 4.6 pounds and hits a top IBO speed of 332 fps.
How It Shoots
Though I didn't put arrows through the 32 or 36, I shot the heck out of the RVX 34, and I loved it. Something about the proficiency of bows that use draw-length specific cam modules makes me smile. The bow's platform provides an ultra-stable shooting experience. The Center Grip Riser sits lower in the riser for improved aiming, and I promise this technology is something Prime should be incredibly proud of. The shot cycle is balanced and fantastic. The pin float is minimized, and because the Core Cam System, Center Grip Riser, limbs, etc., work as one unit, this rig delivers accuracy in spades.