Like everything else in life, our list of wants as bowhunters is always kept in check by the size of our wallet. And as anyone knows, different seasons in life call for different plans when it comes to purchasing your next bow. What you can afford as a college student, for instance, is quite a bit different than what you'd get yourself for a retirement present.
Because of the advances in compound bow technology in the last decade or so, there really are a lot of great options out there for every bowhunter and every budget. Some guys will want primo quality, and they'll spring for something like the Hoyt Carbon Element, which wows at every turn — including the point when you hand over a thick wad of cash to your local archery shop salesperson. Others need their dollar to stretch as far as possible, and they'll be satisfied with a great bow under $500, like the PSE Sinister. Either way, we've got you covered, so check out our list of the best compound bows at every price point.
High End: Hoyt Carbon Element
's renowned carbon riser technology is back and better than ever for 2013. The new Carbon Element G3 features the same short and sweet 31€‰1„2-inch axle-to-axle length that has made this bow a favorite among bowhunters along with the all-new, patent-pending AirShox limb dampeners for deadly silence at the shot. The Carbon Element G3 is powered by Hoyt's fast and smooth RKT Cam and ½ system and boasts an IBO speed rating of 332 fps.
The carbon riser helps hold the rig's mass weight to just 3.6 pounds yet offers the strength to stand up to severe abuse in the field. The Carbon Element G3 has a 6€‰¾-inch brace height, can accommodate draw lengths from 24€‰1„2-30 inches and is available with peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, 70 and 80 pounds. Other highlights include Hoyt's XTS Pro ARC limbs, Fuse Custom Strings, In-Line Roller Guard, Pro-Fit Custom Grip, Silent Shelf Technology and more. Finish options include Realtree Xtra, Realtree MAX-1, black and more.
Price: $ 1,499
High End: Mathews Creed
Hardcore bowhunters can put their faith in the all-new, split-limb Mathews Creed
, featuring the company's legendary Solocam technology. Powered by the new SimPlex Cam, Mathews says the Creed is the smoothest-drawing single-cam bow ever created, yet it still produces IBO speeds up to 328 fps.
It's also balanced, lightweight at just 3.85 pounds, quiet and accurate. Other highlights include the Geo Grid Lock Riser, Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Rich Walnut SlimFit Inline Grip, Dead End String Stop Lite and Mathews Harmonic Stabilizer Lite.
The Creed measures 30 inches between the axles and has a 7-inch brace height with 80 percent letoff. It can accommodate draw lengths from 26-30 inches and is available with peak draw weights of 50-70 pounds. Finish options include Lost Camo, Black and Tactical.
High End: BowTech Experience
Released this year at the 2013 ATA show in Louisville, Ky., the BowTech Experience
is the company's new top of the line bow. BowTech touts it as the "smoothest drawing, quietest shooting, most forgiving bow" ever produced by the company. Improvements include a new dampening system and a Clutch String Stop, while the bow shoots an impressive 335 fps. It comes in 50- to 70-pound draw weights.
Price: $ 999
Mid Grade: Bear Method
's philosophy is that a high-performance speed bow shouldn't cost you a fortune and shouldn't compromise on the draw cycle. Another of Bear's great budget-friendly offerings is the Method, which like the Domain is a 33-inch axle-to-axle bow with incredible forgiveness. The Method has a brace height of 6.75 inches, which helps it stay smooth throughout the draw cycle. It's only $50 more expensive than the Domain, but shoots a screaming 340 fps. It's available in 50-, 60- and 70-pound draw weights and comes in either RealTree APG or Shadow Series (black).
Price: $ 649
Mid Grade: Martin Onza XT
Continuing in its legacy of the bridged riser design, Martin offers the Onza XT
3, which boasts of the most advanced features on the market. The Onza comes with a 33.25-inch axle-to-axle while maintaining extreme rigidity. Created with perfect balance, the Onza also shoots an amazingly smooth 340 fps. It features a Nitro Hybrid cam system that remains steady in hand and deadly silent. The Onza also has a carbon fiber string dampening system and pivoting Roto Cup alignment system. It's hard to beat the value on this bad boy.
Price: $ 649
Mid Grade: PSE Prophecy
According to PSE
, the new Prophecy is the 'fastest single-cam every created, ' shooting an amazing 340 fps. But most importantly, the Prophecy is as smooth as it is fast — a great addition for hardcore bowhunters who need performance at a budget-friendly price. The Prophecy has an axle-to-axle length of 32 inches and a brace height of 6 inches, both of which make it an incredibly stable bow to shoot. It comes with past parallel limbs, a Planar Flex riser and the new Backstop 2, making this a great buy for any serious bowhunter.
Price: $ 699
Entry Level: PSE Sinister
The PSE Sinister
might be one of the most impressive price-for-pound bows on our list. At under $500, the Sinister is incredibly compact — 28 inches axle-to-axle with a brace height of 7.25 inches — and incredibly fast, boasting of 327 fps. Because it's so compact, the Sinister is great for a treestand, a blind or on those long hikes out West. Forgiving, fast and easy on the pocket book — it's hard to say no to that combination.
Price: $ 499
Entry Level: Quest Torrent
Another great offering from Quest
, the Torrent is built for a wide range of hunters. A shorter brace height and new Fluid Cam gives hunters extra speed without sacrificing a smooth, comfortable shot. The Torrent also comes with Quest's patented I-Glide torque reduction system and has a crazy smooth draw. With a starting price of $500, it's hard to beat the value of this setup. Speed isn't an issue with a solid 322 fps and an axle-to-axle height of 31 inches. Like the Drive, the Torrent comes with a 6061 forged aluminum machined riser.
Price: $ 499
Entry Level: Mission Riot
Easily one of the best options on the market for budget-conscious bowhunters or the parents of children who are archery-obsessed, the new Riot from Mission Archery
offers high-end performance without the sticker shock. The Riot is fully adjustable from 19-30 inches of draw length and 15-70 pounds of draw weight, meaning this bow is capable of handling a seven-year-old's first chipmunk hunt or a seasoned veteran's moose hunt. The Riot weighs 4.3 pounds, measures 31 inches from axle-to-axle and features a comfortable 7-inch brace height.
Price: $ 399