The Best New Bows Of 2016

In the market for a sweet new rig? Your search starts here—with models promising more speed, stiffer, more-accurate risers, faster and easier tuning, and much, much more.

by Mark Melotik

HuntStand Pro Contributor MORE FROM Mark

In the market for a sweet new rig? Your search starts here—with models promising more speed, stiffer, more-accurate risers, faster and easier tuning, and much, much more.


Take one look at the best new bows of 2016 and it’s clear today’s high-tech hunting tools do not end with the ScoutLook Hunting app. Most new-bow innovations center on two primary areas: cam systems and riser design. A whole host of sweet new cam systems is promising everything from easier micro tuning, to more speed and smoothness, to more stability at full draw, making shorter hunting bows shoot more like longer, ultra-stable target bows.

Risers are another “hot-button” of 2016 technological advancement. As proof, the list of companies offering ultralight carbon riser construction has grown, and you’ll also find several examples of premium, machined aluminum designs touting less flex and more strength, and therefore less noise and vibration and more accuracy.

The message here is quite clear: If your current bow model doesn’t possess a “stand-out” riser or cam system, several companies will sell you a bow that does.


ELITE—Impulse Series
The new Impulse series is being touted as Elite’s most-advanced bow ever, and it starts with performance. The bow reaches speeds to 343 fps with help from the new Impulse 2-track cam system; also adding to the speedy performance is the new “open geometry” 6061 T6 aluminum riser, designed to distribute load over a greater surface area and improve rigidity. The new Perfect Alignment Limb System limb pocket is designed to deliver exceptionally balanced, forgiving shooting. The new series includes the 31-inch axle-to-axle Impulse 31 (343 fps, 4.2 pounds, 6-inch brace height) and 34-inch Impulse 34 (340 fps, 4.4 pounds, 6-inch brace). Both bows retail for $999 and are available in a wide variety of finishes including new-for-2016 KUIU Vias and KUIU Verde camo patterns. 


PRIME by G5—Rize
The sleek new Rize is touting the strongest, stiffest riser in the industry; Prime has found the new 82X aluminum alloy design delivers easier tuning as well as less noise and vibration. The 4.3-pound, 33-inch axle-to-axle Rize ($1,049) also delivers solid performance, using the company’s unique and proven Parallel Cam design to propel the bow to 335 fps. More new features of the 6.75-inch-brace-height bow include the Sherpa Attachment Mounting System, which allows quick and easy mounting of a wide variety of accessories that include quivers and action cameras. The Rize is available in black, Optifade Open Country, Optifade Elevated II, and Realtree Xtra.


Bear’s consistent innovation and quality continues with the new-for-2016 Escape ($900), the company’s new flagship. Clocking in at an impressive 350 fps, this 32-inch axle-to-axle, 6-inch-brace-height speed-burner makes use of a new, super-strong and lightweight 7075 aircraft grade aluminum riser and cams, which help keep weight at an even 4 pounds. You’ll also find 75 percent letoff, a 25.5- to 30-inch draw length range, and either 45 to 60, or 55 to 70 pounds draw weight adjustments.

Could Mathews improve upon its 2015 No Cam HTR, a model it called the “most accurate bow ever made?” Luckily, Matt McPherson and company love a good challenge. And as typical, they were up for it. The sleek new-for-2016 HALON ($1,099) makes use of the all-new CrossCentric Cam that is inspired by No Cam technology; the difference, in a word, is speed. Lots of it. The CrossCentric Cam employs a partially concentric string payout that produces a stealthy draw and delivers speeds up to 353 feet per second. The HALON measures a compact 30 inches axle to axle and features a true-center nocking point to ensure straight and level nock travel, further enhancing shot-to-shot consistency. The HALON is available with 75 or 85 percent letoff, and in brace height variations of 5, 6, and 7 inches. It’s also available in five exclusive finishes, including new Lost XD Camo.


HOYT—Carbon Defiant Series
Hoyt continues to prove its mastery of carbon-riser bow design with the new Carbon Defiant Series. Touting the industry’s only hand-laid hollow pure carbon risers, the series includes the 31-inch axle-to-axle Carbon Defiant (331 fps, 3.6 pounds, 7-inch brace height), as well as the 33-inch Carbon Defiant Turbo (350 fps, 3.8 pounds, 6-inch brace) and 34-inch Carbon Defiant 34 (325 fps, 3.8 pounds, 7-inch brace). All models feature new UltraFlex Limb and DFX Cam Systems, designed to work together to deliver a broader string angle, an increased full-draw axle-to-axle measurement, and a more optimal peep position. The goal is extreme comfort and stability at full draw.

Bowtech BT-X600

Bowtech has made a career of churning out ground-breaking innovation, which continues in the new BT-X ($1,099). The 2016 flagship bow features Bowtech’s new Micro Sync Dial, which gives you the ability to precision-time cams in 10 micro settings for precise, simplified tuning. The BT-X is available with one of two cam sets: The X28 cam version features a brace height of 6 inches, delivers up to 333 fps and accommodates draw lengths between 25.5 inches and 28 inches; the X31 cam version has a brace height of 6.25 inches, reaches speeds to 350 fps and accommodates draw lengths between 27 inches and 31 inches. Both models measure 31 inches axle to axle, and weigh 4.2 pounds. 


For 2016 PSE made a huge leap in riser design to create the Carbon Air, touted as the lightest ultra-performance compound bow on the market. At just over 3 pounds, the 32-inch axle-to-axle Carbon Air ($1,500) also features a customized PSE HD hybrid cam designed to deliver a smooth draw cycle, and Center Lock Speed Pockets with patented X-Force parallel split limbs that help the bow generate speeds to 340 fps. The Carbon Air is available in peak weights to 70 pounds with 80-percent letoff, and 6 1/8-inch brace height.


The goal of the new-for-2016 GX2 ($949) was to raise the bar of hunting bow expectations. Constructed from the highest-grade aircraft aluminum, the GX2’s fluted riser is designed to offer maximized strength without adding mass and weight. The new Bionix 2.5 two-track cam system (a dual, cam-to-cam modular system) helps the 4.1-pound, 32-inch axle-to-axle GX2 reach speeds to 335 fps; the smooth-shooting feel is helped along by an all-new hybrid cable slide system and a generous 7-inch brace height.


Lots of bowhunters appreciate speed. So does Obsession. The aptly named new DEF-CON 6 uses Obsession’s patented two tracks, FX 1 Cam to achieve speeds up to a blazing 360 fps. Included is the company’s PerFX DS System that allows the bow at full draw to have a solid back wall, while eliminating cam lean. The 32.5-inch axle-to-axle bow features 80-percent letoff, a 6-inch brace height, and mass weight of 4.1 pounds (without dampener).


Value and performance continue to be stalwarts of the Mission line, and the new-for-2016 Ballistic 2.0 ($599 bow only) is another fine example. This new and improved version of the Ballistic is more compact (a ground-blind-hunter’s dream at just 28.5 inches axle to axle) and is built around the proven, speedy (330 fps) AVS cam system. You’ll also find a forgiving 7 5/8-inch brace height, and Harmonic Stabilizer Lite for added sound and vibration damping. The 4.27-pound bow is available in draw weights from 50 to 70 pounds, and draw lengths from 26 to 30 inches.


Typically Diamond has taken a technological back seat to its “Big Brother” Bowtech brand, but that gap is closing quickly. The new-for-2016 Deploy SB ($649), with its lightweight carbon riser and Bowtech Binary Cam system, is being called Diamond’s most technologically advanced bow ever. The bow weighs just 3.2 pounds, and reaches speeds to 330 fps. The bow’s Binary Cam system also provides simple, hassle-free adjustment of draw length and letoff. The Deploy SB measures 31.5 inches axle-to-axle and has a brace height of 6.75 inches. 


Few bow companies have taken the “shorter/more-compact is better” concept and run with it like Wisconsin-based Gearhead Archery; new for 2016 is its most-adjustable bow ever, the T24 ($1,299). Measuring a mere 24.5 inches axle to axle, complete with 7-inch brace height and mass weight of 3.5 pounds, the T24 is one of the most-compact designs you’ll find anywhere. Looking to shave even more weight? Optional Carbon Fiber construction ($1,699) reduces its weight to just 3.1 pounds. Also setting the T24 apart is multiple draw length options (25 to 29 inches); top speed is an impressive 355 fps, at its 29-inch draw. Like all Gearhead bows, the T24 can convert from right hand to left hand, without a bow press, in just minutes.


Martin has done its homework. In preparation for 2016 the company asked hundreds of archers, pro shooters and pro shop owners for input on the “ideal” bow. It lead to Martin’s new Phenix Series that includes the Hellfire 35. The bow utilizes a wide, distinctive, bridge-style riser and patented zero lean dual cam technology that has reportedly lead to scary-quiet performance; Martin is touting it as the quietest bow on the market in testing against leading competitors, in an independent sound lab. The Hellfire 35 reportedly went through an extensive battery of testing before its release, including shot cycles, draw cycles, and dry fires to ensure its lasting quality. 


The new-for-2016 Mamba M32TF ($979 in standard colors) is being touted as Canada-based APA’s smoothest, most-efficient dual-cam bow yet. It measures 32.25 inches axle to axle, and generates an impressive 358 fps, complete with nicely forgiving 6 5/8-inch brace height. The lightweight (3.8 pounds) bow also features APA’s Twin Flex Limb Technology, and efficient MX Cam System that comes equipped with easy tune mods that offer a sturdy back wall at full draw, and a full 7 inches of draw length adjustment in half-inch increments. You’ll also find familiar, APA-exclusive features such as the fang riser that allows for hanging the bow on any available tree limb or branch.


PARKER BOWS—UltraLite 30+
Parker Bows has always hung its hat on a smart strategy: offering bows packed with premium features, at affordable prices. And while most of Parker’s new-for-2016 innovation is centered on its respected crossbow line, its venerable UltraLite 30+ compound ($400 bow only) continues its strong run. The 3.7-pound bow features the High Performance UltraLite One Cam that clocks in at 320 fps, while offering 80-percent letoff, a tunable Draw Stop for a precision back wall, and draw-length adjustability from 26 to 31 inches.


The ultra-compact, ultralight Liberty Bow has been around for more than a decade, and the advantages of the unique design, touted as the world’s smallest, shortest bow, are undeniable. Weighing just 2.5 pounds (loaded with sight and rest), and with an axle-to-axle span of just 20.5 inches, this bow goes where few can follow. Critics of the design, explained owner/inventor Howard Winther, have claimed it does not measure up in the speed department, but for 2016, that’s all changed. The company is now selling its own arrows designed to maximize the Liberty Bow’s performance; ultralight Liberty Arrows (5.9 grains per inch, 320 spine, $159/dozen) allow the Liberty Bow to shoot 338 fps.



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