By Shane Chuning
Archery Editor

We at Sportsman’s News get to try out quite a few products throughout the year. Not to mention all the tuning I do on bows for customers on a daily basis through my tuning services. This advantage gives us an edge and overall view of different product that comes out every year. Here are a few items that would be worth looking at when in the market for new gear.

Drive_1The Quest Drive by G5 Outdoors
I had the privilege of setting one of these up recently for this review and was very pleased at its performance. This particular one was set at 70 pounds 28” draw with a 400 grain arrow shooting 291 fps. This put IBO speeds right at their rating of 330 fps. For this particular set up I used a Whisker Biscuit for a rest which is generally a 2 fps decrease in speeds, but either way it is right at or slightly above its rating. Nice to see speed ratings that are honest and you are starting to see a trend with other manufactures in this area.

The fit and finish are right up there with the tops in the industry; in fact it just might be the best in my honest opinion. It holds up extremely well, very durable with crisp and clean camo patterns throughout. They call it a Durafuse Finish, which is their patented process that maintains these qualities. This one was done in the Custom GFade™ in Optifade Digital Open Country, one of my favorite patterns on the market and goes great with the Sitka line of hunting clothing. This pattern will be offered this year exclusively for Sportsman’s Warehouse.

When it comes down to the performance of the Drive, it is fueled by their Flux Cam, which is a twin-track style cam system that focuses on smoothness and speed. I will say they did achieve both of their claims. The draw is very smooth throughout the draw cycle with very little felt transitions throughout. It’s a very smooth consistent pull through the whole draw cycle. This makes it very comfortable to draw and one you can draw over and over again without the fatigue you might get with harsh transitions throughout the draw cycle. The Flux Cams do offer 1” of draw length adjustment with every module so you can tailor it to your desired let-off. The only down fall to this is when you need to achieve the shorter end of a certain draw length your let-off will be more like 70% and not 80%. For instance on the 3A module to achieve a true 28” draw, your draw stop would be in the number 1 position to get you spot on at the 28”. This is fine but your holding weight at 70 pounds would be 21 pounds with really no felt valley in the draw cycle. Just to give you an example, this same 3A module when the draw stop is in the number 2 position will draw a true 28 3/8”- 28 ½” and have a holding weight of 15 pounds with a much better valley. This is just one thing to ask about when getting fitted for the right draw length, it can make for a huge difference in the draw cycle feeling comfortable or not.

The riser is a forged CNC machined 6061 aluminum that is a very stable platform that has been a very tried and true material over the years. The CNC machining is top notch as usual with great looking cut outs that have a nice clean look to them. Combine this with a very stable tried and true pivoting limb pocket that is CNC machined and you have a very stable and consistent platform that will perform well.

They also use one of the best string material on the market today, 452X. This material has zero stretch or creep creating a very stable bow string material. It is definitely my preferred choice of the string materials out on the market. The 452X material does exceptionally well at holding a tune and is the single biggest reason I prefer it over other options. The 452X with a low wax, which they use, also produces speeds that are right there with some of the other faster materials on the market. For this reason, I feel this is one of the best materials you can use; you get the speed and the stability shot after shot. It is really tough to beat and it is nice to see them using it.

The last few years they have stayed with the I-Glide Flex cable system. They claim this flex system reduces cam lean by 25% by reducing the side load from the cables. With this particular bow I set up, I did notice some top cam lean that is generally very normal in a 2-Track Cam System. This is one area in the 2-Track System that I think can be improved on. It would be nice to see them with more flex to eliminate even more of the cam lean at full draw. The biggest advantage to this would be the improvement of lateral nock travel. This makes tuning much easier and friendlier when you are trying to achieve fieldpoint and fixed blade broadhead accuracy. In the future, I feel these changes would enhance an already  great product.

To sum this up, the Quest Drive was a very solid shooter with a great platform for anyone looking for a new bow purchase. A couple of features that stood out the most to me were the camo definition, overall feel in the hand, repeatable grip, smooth draw cycle, solid backwall and the overall quality that comes with G5 Outdoors.

dmd14_Cure14(1)_1Diamond Carbon Cure R.A.K Bow Package
This year Diamond came out with a lightweight budget friendly carbon bow and I must say they delivered. It will send arrows down range at a gripping 325 fps with the Diamond Archery Carbon Cure R.A.K. Bow Package.  Constructed using Knight Riser™ technology – a perfectly measured carbon compound – designed to be tough as nails yet ultra light. This is the lightest single-cam bow ever produced by Diamond Archery at 3.3 lbs. It features an ultra smooth draw; a forgiving 7” brace height and a 32” axle-to-axle length. Draw length can be adjusted from 27” to 30.5” on the user-friendly rotating module system. The Carbon Cure has durable  pre-stretched Octane™ factory strings. Effective 80% let-off, this bow is ready for the woods. The RAK Package includes a  TRUGLO four-pin Apex sight, Octane Deadlock Lite Quiver, Hostage XL arrow rest, comfort wrist sling, Octane 7” stabilizer, Diamond alloy peep, Diamond Dura-FLX string and the Diamond BCY nock loop.

First thing I noticed on the carbon riser was the camo finish. It appears Diamond did a great job at getting a very nice finish on the carbon riser. There are different grades of carbon and it seems that on some of the carbon from other manufactures it has been tough to get a good finish on their risers. This does not seem to be the case with the Carbon Cure.  They did an excellent job to insure the camo dipping process stays as consistent as it does on the aluminum risers. Overall fit and finish was very good considering this was their first year producing a carbon bow.

Testing this bow out was a pleasant surprise with a smooth draw pretty much throughout. It was nice to not have a hard drop off on the back end of the draw cycle. With the 80% let-off you will not have that feeling of the bow wanting to go on you at full draw, it locks in rather nicely. The backwall has a very firm and solid feel to it, accompany that with a generous let-off makes for a very shooter friendly platform. The grip is a little bulky for my liking but I easily got accustom to it without much effort. Overall balance of the bow was nice and coming in at 3.3 lbs felt nice in the hand. On the shot the Carbon Cure just sat there on the shot with little to no vibe. With the R.A.K Package included with this bow it was well balanced as well and did not move much at all after the shot. The Octane Strings aren’t bad; they will more than likely get some stretch especially with a single cam bow with the long string length. You might encounter some peep rotation from initial set up but not to worry, you will just have to readjust and you should be good from there on out.  This ready to shoot package was not bad at all for a starter bow and would definitely foot the bill for anybody wanting to get into archery this season.  It will also make for a very light weight compact hunting bow to take into the woods.

Bear Apprentice 3Bear Archery Apprentice 3
Bear’s Apprentice 3 Compound Bow Package is Bear’s newest entry into the youth archery market, and it blows the competition away. With a top speed of 265 fps, it’s as fast as some adult bows, yet it starts at 15 lbs of draw weight (going up to 60), so that young hunters can start at a beginner’s pace. A new string suppression system plus a smooth two-cam system makes it the best way to enjoy every shot, season after season. This is perfect for any boy or girl looking to get into the sport.  Their package includes Trophy Ridge sight, Whisker Biscuit arrow rest, quiver, peep sight, nock loop, G3 Cam with sealed bearings, and Contra Band strings. The Apprentice 3 produces IBO Speeds up to 265 fps with an overall weight of 2.9 lbs.  Brace Height runs 6” with and Axle-to-Axle length of 27-1/2”. The draw length has a wide range of adjustability, with a range of 15 – 27” in 1” increments. The 70% let-off makes for a comfortable aiming platform for these lower poundage youth bows.

This is the 3rd generation Apprentice which has already been a proven performer. Bear Archery continues to improve on this great platform for our youth. I have had two daughters shoot the previous versions of the Apprentice and they were always great performers. My middle daughter even took a Silver medal at the Utah Summer games shooting the Apprentice. They tune up very well and can send arrows down range as true as bows that cost much more. I would highly recommend this bow if you have any youth interested in the sport.

Carbon Express Maxima RedCarbon Express Maxima Red Arrows
Carbon Express has been known over the years for building some very good tolerance arrows. Arrows are rated by straightness but more importantly is spine consistency. This will give you the overall consistency down range within that dozen of arrows you might have purchased. Most manufactures don’t even report their spine tolerance on the arrows, where carbon express doesn’t have a problem for good reason. They generally give you what they are rated for, you get what you get, you might say. The Maxima Red arrows are no different with those same tight tolerances.

Straightness is coming in well within the +/- .001 rating and spine selection sorted tolerances at +/- .0025, which are right on par from the arrows I was testing. Now the Maxima Red arrows are only offered in two different spines and claiming they will tolerate bows from 40 – 92 pounds. For me personally I do a lot of bareshaft tuning and this very much depends on the bows cam design and how well the nock travel is engineered into a particular bow. I would still choose your spine accordingly and to be honest I would be hesitant to shoot a Maxima Red 350 at a .342 spine out of an 80 # bow that IBO’s at 330 and greater depending on draw length. The red portion of the shaft is the part that manages the dynamic spine. The static spine is the .342 rating that you get with a 350 Maxima Red arrow. The dynamic spine is the spine calculated for a certain bows performance. Not all bows create the same force on the arrow so realistically dynamic spine is  most important when selecting your arrows. I tested the Maxima Red’s earlier this year with a Bowtech Insanity. My customer shipped me the bow for tuning along with the Maxima Red 350’s. The specs on this bow were a 29” draw at 72# of draw weight. I will be honest I thought for sure the Maxima Reds would be to weak for this setup and to my surprised that bow tuned up perfect with bareshafts and fletched flying together at 20 yards. Normally, I would have had some issues getting the bareshafts and fletched to come together with a bow that IBO’s at 355 fps and those specs. If memory serves me right I believe that the speeds were coming in at 337 fps with that bow and the Maxima Red 350’s.  In all fairness I have not had the opportunity to test them with an 80# bow, but will shortly on an Obsession Phoenix at a 28.5” draw. I will keep you posted on the results to see how the Red Zone portion of that shaft holds up to bareshaft tuning.

Overall I would give a thumbs up for the Maxima Red’s for their consistency in straightness as well as spine consistency, not to mention holding up very well with perfect results in the test with the Bowtech Insanity and the .342 spined 350 arrows.

Easton Carbon InjexionsEaston Carbon Injexion Arrows
These for me personally have been the best most consistent all carbon arrow I have used to date. Over the last 2 years I have been shooting these arrows with excellent results. The first time using them did not go as well as planned in part by some field tips that had a machining flaw to them. At the base of the shank where it meets the tip, the part that seats to your raw shaft, there was a raised ring that would not let the field tip seat completely tight up against the shaft. This slight raised area would require the need for you to stone too much of the shaft and make for a weak shaft at the point it contacted the fieldpoint. Every time I hit something firm at all I would get some splintering at the end of the raw shaft. The slight gap left  from fieldpoint to raw shaft was enough to create a weak spot and put all impact pressure directly on the insert; not to mention the extra stoning required  weakened the shaft end.  This was more or less when they first came out and even with this slight problem at the time they flew exceptionally well down range which drove me to seek out the issue I was having. Since that first dozen I have not encountered that issue again, but it’s something to look for when building your arrows.

Now let’s get into more of the WOW part of these arrows. I test my arrows on the RAM spine tester for tolerances, straightness and spine consistency. Over the past couple years I have probably tested around 10 dozen random shafts checking for these things. They are rated in at .002 for straightness but honestly come in for the most part at .001 or tighter. A good portion of the shafts I have tested, the needle does not even move for straightness. More important than straightness is spine consistency, this generally will go hand and hand. The straighter the arrow the better spine consistency will be as well.  Spine is measured when you suspend a shaft at 28”, then take a 1.94# weight and hang it in the middle of the shaft. The measured deflection you get from horizontal is your measured static spine in thousandth. The Carbon Injexions are exceptional IMO when it comes to that. I would say on average from the arrows I have tested they are well within .002-.003 tolerance in spine deflection around the circumference of the shaft when you suspend the 1.94# weight on them. Some of the shafts you will find the needle never even moves when testing for spine. Another thing to point out is the consistency range when you hang the 1.94# weight from shaft to shaft. Your reading in thousandth will be extremely close from shaft to shaft.

One thing to point out is that they are a Deep Six shaft so they will not take standard sized broadheads and you will need to get Deep Six broadheads and fieldpoints. There are a number of your main broadhead companies making your favorite broadheads in the Deep Six design so it will not be an issue having a good selection to choose from. If you are in the market for a new arrow I would highly recommend trying the Easton Injexion arrows out, you will be glad you did.

AXT Titanium ReconAXT Titanium Recon Rest
This rest caught my attention with the light- weight strength of carbon and titanium. It is always nice to shed some weight and pack it into a platform that has the AAE DOA trigger technology. This is exactly what AXT did in this great rest. The first thing you will notice is how light it is but still leaving you that top notch quality feel. Instead of having a set position they offer multiple settings for longer contact time and arrow support; or the ability to fall immediately on the shot, accepting speeds up to 380 fps. This rest will not have an issue regardless how fast your bow is shooting with reaction times like that. I do like the forward position as well on the launcher when in the upright position. This gives that little extra give as the arrow is released on the shot verses a straight up vertical design when you desire the longer contact time with the launcher arm. With the popularity of limbdriven rest and the extra support they give to the arrow, this rest offers the same thing without all the extra cord attached to your bow. Personally for hunting I still prefer a cable driven rest due to the smaller amount of rest cord that is required for set up. The AXT Titanium Recon really offers you the best of both worlds in adjustability for arrow support while keeping the rest cord short and out of the way for those spot and stalk hunts. This rest was a breeze to set up and did not take long at all to tune up to perfection with zero clearance issue for fletching contact. I would also note the rest seems to be quieter than other competitors with similar designs on the market. Another feature that I like in a rest is the ability for the launcher arm to stay up when letting down on the bow, this rest gives you just that. This is a very nice feature when drawing on an animal to have the least amount of movement in your rest as possible if you have to let down while at full draw on an animal.  The ability for the launcher arm to stay up is so nice, not to be overlooked when selecting a rest in the future and the AXT Titanium Recon has just that.

AX 4 pin DriverAX Driver 4 Pin Sight
This is a multi pin slider sight that caught my eye due to the lightweight but yet rugged design. For me personally I like a lighter sight for hunting due to the better overall balance feel you get once quiver and everything is mounted for the hunting season. This sight comes in at under 8 ounces, which puts it lighter than any other slider sight on the market. Some of the features I took note of right away were the positive stops for a vertical slider. Meaning, when you go to operate the slider it will have a stop at the top and bottom so the sight won’t fall straight out of the mounting bar if you were to go too far on the dial, like similar sights on the market. I do like this feature; there would be nothing worse than having your sight head fall off the sight bar when making adjustments on a hunt under those pressure situations. It also has a very easy 2nd and 3rd axis adjustment to insure you are maintaining the accuracy you need down range. Most sights have Allen bolts that will get rust after one season and if you’re anything like me, I can’t stand to see the rust on my equipment. The AX sights have noncorrosive Allen bolts, meaning no rust at the end of the season. However, they are a little softer so I do not recommend over tightening them. You do not need to torque them down; just snug them up and you will be just fine. You will also have micro vertical and horizontal gang adjustment making sighting in very easy. Where the scope housing mounts to the sight bar, you will have adjustability to move the scope housing up and down, giving you the maximum potential of the 1 ¼” travel for long range shooting. The three different hole position mounting system will also aid in getting you the most amount of vertical travel for those 100+ yard practice sessions. Another thing to note that you might not see first off is the adjustability horizontally. Some folks will have issues with getting enough left to right adjustment out of sights on the market. AXT took note and gave you 3 different holes to mount your slider bar to. Between this and the already ample horizontal gang adjustment you should have no issues getting the adjustment you need with any bow on the market. The pin brightness is sufficient and when those low light situations arise they do come standard with a sight light. Overall a very well built sight that would be a great option to look at when in the market for a new sight. One of the things I would like to see in the future as an option, would be a little more vertical travel to stretch the long range practice sessions out a little farther, other than that, a very good choice when in the market for a new rest.

g5-havoc-2-blade-expandable-211810larThe G5 Havoc Broadhead
G5 is known for their quality machining in all the products they produce. The G5 Havoc is the newest addition to their broadhead selection. This mechanical two blade broadhead was designed to create a 2+ inch wound channel, giving you big blood trails for faster recovery. G5’s two blade Havoc is their first mechanical broadhead to use Swiss Steel LUTZ blades. The LUTZ blades are known for superior sharpness.  The blades on the Havoc lock in using the new Posi-Lock blade retention system, which eliminates the need for o-rings and rubber bands, creating a no-hassle system for hunters. Featuring G5s new balanced blade deployment system, the blades on the Havoc always deploy simultaneously, ensuring bigger and more consistent entrance holes. Blades are quickly and easily replaced with the new blade cartridge system. G5 has always been known for their nice chisel tips up front and the Havoc is no different. This insures deep penetration with bone crushing capability when those shots might be less than perfect.

Over the years I have used the Montec’s, Striker’s and T3’s and they have always performed with precision accuracy leaving great wound channels. For a mechanical broadhead the two blade is my preferred choice and look forward to using the G5 Havoc’s in the very near future.