A while back, I wrote up a comparison between some of the top bows on the market from some of the top companies. I went to my local archery shop, Hit or Miss Archery in Albuquerque, and shot the bows that they had in stock. In the first comparison, I shot bows from PRIME, Xpedition, Mathews, and Elite. That article was one of the most popular articles of 2015 on this site, however there were quite a few readers who were disappointed that Hoyt, Bowtech, and other brands were not represented.
I decided to go down to a different shop in the area who was a dealer for these other brands (The Archery Shoppe in Albuquerque) so that I could shoot the newest bows offered and give a detailed comparison. During my time there, I was able to get considerable time with the Hoyt Defiant, Bowtech Prodigy, Bowtech BT-X, and Bear BR33.
Why two bows from Bowtech? Bowtech released the Prodigy last year with much fanfare and much anticipation of the new Power-Shift technology. With the slight shifting of a mechanical wheel (“Power Disc”), the draw cycle could be altered between comfort, standard, and performance. The brand new BT-X uses the same technology. In order to have a more rounded understanding of the specifics of the BT-X, I thought it only fair to compare it to the Prodigy so as to determine where the differences lie.
As was the case with the last comparison, I feel it necessary to let everyone know that I am not paid by any bow manufacturer and I am under no obligation to give a biased view. The contents of this article are as unbiased as it can get from someone who has nothing to gain and nothing to lose from reporting on my findings.
Let me repeat myself for the sake of being very clear: I am not paid/sponsored by any manufacturer. This is a no smoke-and-mirrors, true review/comparison based on my experience. There is no brand loyalty here and no bias. Everything that you read is based on my experience and perception and is in no way influenced by anyone else.
Each bow that I tested was a 70# model that was turned down to about 63# as I am still recovering from a shoulder injury. They were set to a draw length of 28″ and shot through a Whisker Biscuit rest.
Lastly, I purposely do not talk about specific speed numbers in this comparison. Take a moment and read this article about the misunderstanding of speed and you will see why. Any of the bows in this test are plenty fast to kill anything that moves; therefore, it is not necessary to quibble over a few fps from bow to bow.
Here are the bows:
Hoyt Carbon Defiant
31″ ATA – 7″ brace height – 3.6 lbs.
The Hoyt Carbon Defiant was a much anticipated bow as it was said to be a smooth-drawing bow that would be a great alternative to the Nitrum, a bow many felt was very harsh to draw. The bow certainly looks like a Hoyt with its unique riser design. It is also very light in hand at only 3.6 lbs. The Defiant balances very well and the grip was by far the most comfortable of this test.
The draw cycle is noticeably nicer than some of Hoyt’s more aggressive counterparts, however it was not easy by any means. There is a definite peak in the stacking of the weight in the draw. The pleasant part of this bow is that the weight stacks very consistently until that peak so there is no harsh build up or roll over. I would say it is a nice compromise between a purely smooth draw and a draw cycle that will produce great speed.
After shooting the Defiant, there was absolutely, positively zero vibration. None. However, what it lacked in vibration, it made up for in torque. There was noticeable torque with each shot, thanks in part to the lightweight riser. Noise was not an issue for this bow.
This bow is a great option for someone who needs balance between speed and a smooth draw. It is a great addition to the Hoyt brand and will very likely make lots of people happy.
The Defiant is available in 3 models: the Defiant, the Defiant Turbo, and the Defiant 34 (34″ ATA). This review is based on the basic Defiant.
33.25″ ATA – 7″ brace height – 4.2 lbs
The BR33 from Bear Archery is their entry into the smooth-draw competition. While a few years ago it was all about speed, 2015-present seems to be about smooth-drawing with reasonable speed. The BR33 utilizes a cam and a half set-up that makes for a nice draw, but will lead to timing issues as the various strings stretch at different rates. This is ultimately not a big deal, but you’ll definitely need to stay on top of tuning and maintenance.
This bow is easy to hold and has a decent grip. The draw cycle was by far the smoothest I have felt on any bow to date (I have not shot a NO-CAM though so I couldn’t tell you how it compares). It was very easy and gradual with little stacking and little rollover. That’s where the fun ended.
The shot felt sloppy and it liked to rock back from the top after each shot, likely due to the fact that the cam is up top and it pushed force backward when it unloaded; this bow would certainly need a stabilizer to balance properly. There was not a lot of vibration thanks to the large, soft string stoppers. However it did produce more noise than the other 3 bows… thanks to the large, soft string stoppers.
The BR33 is not a bad bow. For the right person it will be great. I just did not like shooting it for the reasons mentioned above.
32″ ATA – 7″ brace height – 4.2 lbs.
The Bowtech Prodigy was Bowtech’s flagship bow last year. It featured Bowtech’s brand new (back then) Power-Shift technology which utilized a moveable disc and 3 settings that allowed the user to select a preferred draw setting. The comfort setting made for a smoother cycle with slower speeds, the performance setting was geared for speed and the standard setting was a mix of both. It was without a doubt the most innovative feature on any bow in 2015.
First impressions on the Prodigy were that it was a well-built bow (as is expected from Bowtech). It balanced well and had an ergonomic grip that set comfortably in your relaxed hand.
Shooting the bow was pleasant on the comfort setting. It was smooth to draw and did not jump too hard in you hand. On the performance setting, it had a noticeably harder draw cycle, however it still wasn’t terrible. Torque increased with speed on the performance setting as well.
The Prodigy is a great bow and the Power-Shift technology is not a gimmick; it really does work. The tech at the shop said that they found an increase of 10-12 fps between the comfort and performance settings, with the standard setting falling in the middle. When you shoot this bow, the potential of the Power-Shift technology for different hunting scenarios is pretty incredible.
31″ ATA – 6.25″ brace height – 4.2 lbs.
The BT-X is Bowtech’s newest bow for 2016. It features the same Power-Shift technology as the Prodigy, but with noticeably more aggressive cams. The riser is also quite different. It features a shorter brace height than the Prodigy while also being slightly shorter axle-to-axle.
One innovative feature on the BT-X is the fact that there are small adjusters on each cam that allow for micro-adjustments to cam timing while in the field. If you are in elk camp and you notice your cams are out of tune, you can adjust the timing with an allen key and no bow press. That is a very valuable feature.
This bow just feels good when you hold it. Not too heavy, but not too light either. The grip is great, though not as comfortable as the Hoyt (but it is still pretty derned comfortable). The shorter ATA length makes it easy to maneuver as well.
I started with this bow in the comfort setting and noticed that the draw cycle on the BT-X on the comfort setting was almost identical to the Prodigy on performance. Bumping the BT-X up to performance made for an entirely different draw from the Prodigy. Also, there was noticeable torque in the BT-X after each shot while on performance. The BT-X is definitely the more hot rodded bow of this test, but it was still a pleasure to shoot. If you like the flexibility of the Power-Shift technology but want to have a few extra FPS at your disposal, this might be the bow for you.
As stated in the last bow comparison article, get out to your local archery shop and shoot these for yourself. Don’t let hype and marketing be the main reason for your bow purchase decision. Use this info as a starting point, but confirm my findings on your own by shooting the bows you are interested in. You can’t go wrong with most bows on the market today. You just need to find the one that fits your needs/wants the best.