Editors Review: 2016 Bowtech BT-X
April 14, 2016
You would think that every conceivable design that could be engineered into a cam would have been done by now. That's obviously not the case, and the new Bowtech BT-X is a perfect example.
I can't think of a cam design that has more technology built into it than the Overdrive Binary cam on this bow. Besides the arrow speed this cam system has always generated, this new version is armed with three separate technologies that all revolve around the customization of this bow. Let's start off with the more basic of the three — draw length adjustment.
The Bowtech BT-X comes in two versions, the BT-X 28" Cam and the BT-X 31" Cam. The draw length on the 28 is adjustable from 25.5" to 28". The 31 comes with two modules. The X30 module goes from 27" to 30" and the X31 module adjusts from 29.5" to 31". Depending on cam position it may be possible to make changes without a press, but in some cases a press is needed to facilitate access to the module screws.
The next technology isn't new this year, but it is significant. Powershift technology allows you to set your BT-X to one of three settings that change both the feel and performance of your bow. Without the use of a press you can set the Powerdisc to the Comfort, Classic, or Performance position, depending on what suits you. These options are quite different so this technology essentially gives you three bows in one.
The newest technology to be adapted to the Overdrive Binary cam is the Micro Sync Dial. By adjusting the Dial you can fine-tune the cam timing on your bow without having to put it in a bow press. Even minute changes are easily made should you want to experiment with cam timing to get the feel you prefer. This is a very ingenious feature.
Of course, those aren't the only technologies that combine to create the BT-X, but they were my primary focus when my new bow showed up at the office. My first impressions of the BT-X 31" Cam were the fit and finish was very good and the 31" axle-to-axle bow didn't seem too short, mostly because of the large cams. I really like the slim grip on this bow, but the 6.25" brace height was the first hint as to the true nature of the bow. This bow was built for speed.
Set on the "Comfort" setting from the factory, I installed and adjusted the X31 module to a 30" draw length, even though my draw length is 30.5". That's because I wanted the bow to be set at IBO when I shot it through the chronograph.
I started off with a 65 lb. draw weight, which is what I typically hunt with during the turkey season, and shot a few arrows to get warmed up. The draw cycle was unmistakably that of a "speed" bow. It started off stiff then dropped into a narrow valley. That valley, however, was deep, and the wall was very, very solid so it was easy to hold at a full and consistent anchor.
Designed for Speed
I seldom shoot through paper anymore, but after I checked for cam lean and got this bow set up with a level arrow and centershot, I shot a single bullet hole and called it good until I could get outside to the range. Next, I set up the chronograph and shot several arrows at the 65 lb. draw weight. My typical hunting arrow weighing 486 grains zipped through at 272 fps. I switched to an IBO arrow weighing 350 grains and it registered 317 fps.
Then I cranked the bow up to 70 lbs. and the hunting arrow flew at 283 fps and the 350-grain arrow took the chronograph to 325 fps. The five extra pounds of draw weight didn't make that much difference, but if you're into maximum speed or have a short draw length, it might matter to you.
With the bow still set to 70 pounds, I changed the Powerdisc to the 1st setting, which is the Performance mode. I have to be honest, this is where things got real. The draw cycle was noticeably stiffer, which is what you would expect when switching to the Performance setting. That's the bill that comes due when you're in pursuit of maximum speed. My hunting arrow flew at 296 fps and the IBO arrow hit 343 fps. Considering I had a peep and D-loop on the string, I'm sure this bow would have met the factory IBO rating of 350 fps with an empty string. That is blazing fast!
I dropped the draw weight back to 65 pounds and in the Performance mode my hunting arrow was 12 fps slower than the Comfort setting at 284 fps and the IBO arrow dropped to 331 fps.
Now, I've never been much of a speed guy, preferring to launch a heavier arrow for more reliable penetration. Fortunately, I was able to completely change the bow's character by switching it back to the "Comfort" setting. That's the beauty of the Powershift technology.
It has always been true. If you want maximum arrow speed, you pay the price in a stiffer draw cycle. If you'd rather shoot a more comfortable draw cycle, then you'll give up a few feet-per-second. Maybe you like your bow somewhere in between. With the Bowtech BT-X you get all three options in a single bow.
Why is that significant? Well, if you plan a September hunt for pronghorns, mule deer or Coues deer you might want to max out the draw weight and shoot this bow in the Performance setting. Once November comes, you could switch it to the Comfort setting and crank it down to 62 pounds for those cold whitetail rut hunts.
How much more versatility could any bowhunter ask for?