January 12, 2024
Between reps on the range and pounding paper and 3-D targets in pro shops, I've slung carbon from most of 2024's flagships. Here's a rundown of each rig and what you can expect when you head to your local pro shop for a test drive.
It's important to know that bows were tested at a draw length of 29 inches and 70 pounds of draw weight. I used a digital handheld scale to test peak draw weight, and some bows ran a little over 70, while others came in a tick under. I used Easton 4mm Axis Long Range Match Grade arrows with 4mm 8-32 aluminum half-out 50-grain inserts and 8-32 100-grain Saunders field points.
Bowtech CORE SR
A fan of Bowtech's DeadLock Technology, I was thrilled to see the CORE SR sporting this achieve-perfect-arrow flight system. Moving the cams left or right along the axle pins with an Allen wrench means right-now tunability, and when combined with Centermass Technology, which enhances balance and precision, this vertical rig flat-out shoots.
I applaud the 33-inch axle-to-axle build, and the 6-inch brace height is forgiving yet helps the bow reach a sizzling top-end speed of 344 fps.
The more purposeful tuning options a bow provides a bowhunter looking to achieve maximum accuracy, the better. I found this in the CORE SR. The GripLock let me fine-tune my grip angle to ensure reduced torque and consistent hand placement. A repeatable bow grip is essential to consistent accuracy, especially when stretching the legs of a bow, and this grip is remarkable.
Hoyt Alpha X 33
I've penned several articles stating that 33 inches is my ideal compound bow axle-to-axle length. I stand by that statement. I love the balance and feel of a longer riser, and I still get plenty of maneuverability. Hoyt's Alpha X 33 sits in hand like a well-trained retriever and feels balanced and controlled at full draw. I applaud the HBX Xact Cam. Though the draw cycle is a bit rigid and the transition to let-off is slightly abrupt, I appreciate the 1/4-inch-at-a-time draw-length adjustments, let-off adjustments, and customizable Hard and X-hard back wall settings.
At the shot, this bow is as quiet as they come. There is zero post-shot hand shock or vibration, which allows you to trust your pin to float, push and pull and let the release fire the bow. The bow proved uber-accurate, and because of its balanced and ultra-hushed nature, it's an excellent choice for the whitetail woods.
I also applaud the IMS system for back-of-riser rest mounting and the Picatinny-style rail integrated into the front of the riser for sight mounting.
Mathews Lift 29.5
My time behind Mathews’ Lift 29.5 was time well spent. Coming in under four pounds and measuring under 30 inches axle-to-axle, this aluminum-riser rig is a flamethrower. Mathews got the speed they wanted in a balanced platform that's ultra-durable through a top-mounted axle system, maximizing the surface area of all four limbs. At 29.5 inches axle-to-axle, this bow actually holds like a longer axle-to-axle bow.
A true blend of speed and accuracy, I found the 6-inch brace-height bow held and pointed like a dream. When the bow is triggered, you can feel the power, but not in your bow hand or arm. This bow is vibration-free and deadly quiet. Light and maneuverable, I can't dream up a hunt for which this rig wouldn't be ready.
I was impressed with the MATCH string. Peep rotation was minimized, and after 50 arrows, my cam marks still lined up, so there was no stretch. Another win is Shot Sense, which integrates into the grip on the Lift 29.5. You can see your shot analytics in real-time when paired with Mathews' all-new Shot Sense app.
PSE Mach 30 DS
Staying on the carbon kick, PSE did a bang-up job with its Mach 30 DS. The EC2 Cam System is smooth, and though the EC2 doesn't produce jaw-dropping speed, arrow fps is respectable. The draw cycle is silk, and like many of 2024's flagship models, the Mach 30 DS features adjustable (80-90 percent) let-off.
The bow balances well, and I do appreciate that it allows for the addition of top-end sights and rests fitted with a clamp-style mount, which eliminates the need for a mounting bar and screws.
At the shot, the bow is church-mouse quiet. It pops forward slightly in hand, but nothing to be alarmed about. The limbs have a wide stance, which promotes balance and feel, and the riser has large cutouts at the top and bottom. This reduces weight, but make no mistake, this bow proved ultra-durable and stable at full draw. The bow is accurate, maneuverable and an excellent 2024 whitetail companion.
Prime RVX 34
Prime typically gives new-for-the-year bow gifts in threes, and that's once again the case for 2024. The exact rig I ran carbon through was the RVX 34.
Measuring 34 inches between the axles, I love the more extended platform and full-draw stability. Though I am not a massive fan of draw-length specific modules, the Core Cam System does tune up exceptionally quickly, and one thing draw-length specific mods promise is defined shot-to-shot consistency. The draw cycle is butter.
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 and limbs work as one unit, this rig delivers accuracy in spades.
Bear's new-for-2024 Persist checks all the boxes. Bear added a new Picatinny sight mount and the IMS rest-mounting system, which makes accessory mounting a breeze.
At 31 inches axle-to-axle, the 6.5-inch brace height bow is balanced and maneuverable, and the wide-pocket limb design adds an appreciated level of full-draw balance. Bear doesn't give an exact weight on its website. Letoff options are many, and I appreciate that Bear's proven EKO Cam System rests between the limbs. This cam system is easily tunable, and the rotating modules allow draw-length adjustment in 1/2-inch increments. I also applaud the draw-weight system, which, unlike most compound flagships, is adjustable down 15 pounds from the peak.
The bow produces plenty of speed, and while there is a slight hint of hand tickle, the bow is generally dead in the hand and quiet. An accurate bow with customizable options, this rig is a Bear winner. I found it forgiving and a comfortable shooter.
There you have it, real results from seven different flagship models sure to make your whitetail dreams come true.
I had an SD card disaster during testing and lost many photos. I want to thank my buddy Nick Hult at Bwana Archery in Little Canada, Minnesota, for helping me with additional photo support. You may notice in some photos that the arrows aren't Axis 4mm Long Range. This is because of the loss of some photos, and Hult was able to shoot many of the bows at the shop and get some added photo support.