Z7 Xtreme Bow Report by Inside Archery’s Bill Krenz

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Z7 Xtreme Bow Report by Inside Archery’s Bill Krenz

January 14, 2011 - Mathews Inc

Sadly, Bill Krenz passed away on December 13,2010, and this was final bow report for Mathews, Inc.  Read more…

As a society we love to expect things. One small example of that is the expectation level that archers today hold for bow manufacturers for new bows on an annual basis. Archers expect a lot.

For some manufacturers, those expectations can be difficult to live up to. After all, what’s fully expected is something new and exciting each and every year. Of course for innovative manufacturers, that’s not all bad. Ready bow sales do grow from genuinely novel developments.

Last year Mathews rocked the archery world with the introduction of its 2010 flagship bow, the Mathews Z7. The Z7 represented an extraordinary departure from all previous Mathews’ compound bows. The Z7’s new Grid Lock Riser was striking, its Reverse Assist Roller Guard ingenious, its Dead End String Stop effective and its new SlimFit Inline Grip well received. At the same time, the all-new Z7 Solocam System was heralded as smoother, quieter and compellingly fast. Archers understandably lined up in droves to shoot and buy the Mathews Z7. The 2010 Mathews Z7 was, as Mathews put it, “Expectations Exceeded.”

Now, for 2011, the call might well be “Expectations Expanded.” Springboarding off the resounding success of the 2010 Z7, Mathews has launched a whole new lineup of Z-Series bows. While the original Mathews Z7 measured 30 inches from axle to axle (ATA) and delivered an IBO Rating of 333 feet per second, the new 2011 bows each offer something a good bit different.

The new 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is notably more compact at just 28 inches ATA. Its speed rating is a convincing 330 feet per second. The new 2011 Mathews Z7 Magnum, which measures 32 inches ATA, is designed around extra arrow speed with an eye-opening 340 feet-per-second IBO Rating. The new 2011 Mathews eZ7 takes a different approach. Its rounder, smoother solocam system serves up a silky-smooth draw and an IBO Rating of 321 feet per second. And for long-draw archers (all the way out to 32 inches), the new 2011 Mathews Z9 will likely prove to be just the ticket. Its forgiving brace height and 312 IBO Rating make for one smooth, quiet and comfortable shooting machine.

The annual element of new-bow expectation hovers over Mathews, in large measure because Mathews has so often delivered what archers crave. This year, I find, is no exception. Expectations exceeded has morphed into expectations expanded. The 2011 Mathews Z-Series provides a bow for every archer in every category.

Xtremely Compact

Measuring just 28 inches from axle to axle, the 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is amazingly compact. I can see a huge bonus to be had with such a bow in any tight bowhunting confine. In a brushy treestand, in a dark and quiet ground blind or on a crawling stalk through a broken prairie or at timberline, the Mathews Z7 Xtreme would be a most welcome companion.

Such a compact bow would move better with you. It would also conceal better. And, maybe best of all, it could be easily shot in positions where longer bows would prove either cumbersome or a complete hindrance. Think sitting flat-out on the ground. Think thick brush. Think shooting in a ground blind without worry of a bow limb or cam hitting anything.

No Sacrifice in Performance

Mathews has long been a pioneer in the development of compact hunting bows that deliver high performance and shootability. The ugly truth is that not all especially short bows perform particularly well. The 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme apparently doesn’t know that, and it clearly doesn’t recognize its compact nature as any sort of shooting drawback. This short bow seems to shoot like a much longer bow, thanks to its longer, more stable riser design.

I’ll freely admit that I’ve never been much of a short-bow fan. Too much string angle at full draw for my six-foot frame, and I could never quite stomach the loss in performance most overly short bows served up. But after several weeks of serious shooting, I must admit that I could shoot this short bow…and gladly.

To begin with, the Mathews Z7 Xtreme draws with a smoothness that is most welcome in a hunting bow. Draw weight builds evenly and rounds into an unusually gentle letoff. What a welcome relief that is from those bows that routinely demonstrate sudden and dramatic letoff, the kind of letoff that surprises you and the kind that you don’t want to try to let down because it suddenly jerks your hand and arm forward. The 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is nothing like that. It’s pleasingly smooth to draw and to let down.

But at the same time, I found the Z7 Xtreme packed with performance. Like the original Mathews Z7, this 2011 bow is compellingly fast. See the included Arrow Speed Chart. It certainly gives nothing away to a comparable, longer compound bow.

With the Mathews Z7 Xtreme, the arrow speed is there, and so is the forgiveness and the accuracy that we all demand in any top-end hunting bow. There is a shooting stability to this especially short bow that too many short bows, and even many longer bows, sadly lack. Much of that seems to rise up out of the details of this bow and out of the pleasingly quiet and vibration-free way it shoots.

Built on the Details

The 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is a bow built on details. Everything has been considered. Everything has been added into the final Z7 Xtreme equation. Instantly noticeable is the bow’s remarkable Grid Lock Riser. The stiff and stout riser utilizes a distinctive grid pattern to increase riser rigidity while paring down riser weight. There is no mistaking this Mathews innovation, nor denying its ability to provide a sound and stable shooting platform. Combine that with the bow’s inventive SphereLock Pivoting Limb Cup System, a limb-pocket system that’s amazingly trim while locking the bow’s limbs in perfect, balanced alignment for every shot.

The trimmer SlimFit InLine Wood Grip on the Mathews Z7 Xtreme is also a plus. This is a better Mathews grip. It’s smaller through the throat and slimmer in the palm-swell area for a more torque-free shot. This grip also includes a distinctive red laminated line through its center to clearly mark the centershot of the bow. When setting up the Z7 Xtreme, simply adjust your arrow rest in and out until the arrow on the rest and your bowstring lines up with that red line. That’s the perfect place to start tuning. Such details matter.

The power plant behind the Z7 Xtreme is the bow’s new ZX Solocam. As already mentioned, it’s smooth-drawing and packed with power. Because it’s an advanced solocam system with no synchronization issues, it seems especially easy to tune (particularly with broadheads) and forgiving to shoot. That’s all good. It also features nifty Quick Change Axles (QCA) which make this bow even easier to work on.

Particularly unique is the Z7 Xtreme’s Reverse Assist Roller Guard. Most roller guards tug the bow’s cables inward, putting increased tension on those cables and the rollers as the bow is brought to full draw. The revolutionary Mathews Reverse Assist Roller Guard works differently. It’s designed to push the cables outward so that there is less tension on the cables and rollers when the bow is drawn back. That reduces overall system friction and makes for a smoother drawing bow.

What Was That?

I believe and most archers have discovered that they shoot better and probably enjoy themselves more when their bow is both quiet and shock-free. But only the best bows deliver peak performance plus those desirable features.

The 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is such a bow. With the very first shots in my tests, I was struck by how quiet this new bow shoots. And it didn’t seem to matter much whether I used heavy or lightweight arrows. The Z7 Xtreme is an unusually quiet bow any way you slice it.

It’s also a bow with very little hand-shock. The truth is that when compared directly to plenty of others bows, you’d have to say the Z7 Xtreme has almost no hand-shock. It shoots that sweetly.

So how does a bow delivering this level of performance also deliver that level of silence and lack of vibration? It starts with the Z7 Xtreme’s Parallel Limb Design. The more parallel a bow’s limbs, the more they tend to cancel each other out at the shot. The limbs on the 2011 Mathews X7 Xtreme are clearly parallel. At the shot, the top limb goes up and the bottom limb goes down, and those equal-but-opposite reactions cancel each other out.

There’s more, though, with the Mathews Z7 Xtreme. In addition to the noise-and-vibration-reducing effects of parallel limbs, this special bow also includes an amazing array of built-in damping and suppressing technology not found on other bows. Included in that array are proprietary Harmonic Dampers, an integral Harmonic Stabilizer, String Suppressors, a Dead End String Stop, a String Grub and Monkey Tails.

Risers can vibrate with the shot if not properly dampened. Mathews Harmonic Dampers are located near the top and bottom of the Z7 Xtreme’s riser. Within those Dampers, weights float in a soft elastomer wheel to absorb riser vibration before it reaches the archer. The bottom Harmonic Damper includes an even heavier and slightly larger Harmonic Stabilizer. While working to squelch shot noise and vibration, that heavier Harmonic Stabilizer also helps to better balance the bow during and after the shot. That stabilizer can be removed, replaced or even relocated to fine-tune the Z7 Xtreme’s overall bow balance to the archer’s preference.

Limb-tip-mounted Mathews String Suppressors grab and dampen the bowstring of the Z7 Xtreme with every shot. The bow’s String Grub, located on the bowstring just above the bottom cam, also reduces string vibration while it catapults the string forward for more arrow speed.

Located just below the bow’s grip is one of today’s most effective string stops. The soft, wide bumper of the Mathews Dead End String Stop captures and stops the bowstring, eliminating residual string vibration and promoting a cleaner release of the arrow from the bowstring.

On top of all that, factory-installed Mathews Monkey Tails cable-and-bowstring silencers further dull shot vibration and noise. Monkey Tails are long lasting, stay firmly in place and they seem to work extremely well.

The upshot of all of this is that when you shoot, deer, elk and probably your buddies will ask, “What was that?” The 2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme is that quiet and that shock-free.

Arrow Speed

2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme set at 29 inches (by factory) and adjusted to 70 pounds

Shaft Arrow Kinetic Arrow
28-inch Test Arrows Gr/In Weight Energy Speed
Easton XX78 Alloy 2512 10.3 448 gr. 78.6 281 fps
Easton Full Metal Jacket 400 10.2 426 gr. 78.5 288 fps
Carbon Express Aramid KV 350 9.8 415 gr. 78.5 292 fps
Carbon Tech Whitetail 65/80 9.5 411 gr. 78.9 294 fps
Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 350 8.9 398 gr. 78.5 298 fps
Easton ST Axis N-Fused 400 9.0 392 gr. 78.4 300 fps
Beman ICS Hunter Elite 400 8.4 390 gr. 78.4 301 fps
Gold Tip XT Hunter 55/75 8.2 385 gr. 78.0 302 fps
PSE Radial X Weave Hunter 300 8.1 376 gr. 77.7 305 fps
Gold Tip Ultralight Pro 400 7.4 361 gr. 77.1 310 fps
Carbon Tech Cheetah 400 6.4 346 gr. 76.3 315 fps
Easton FlatLine 400 7.4 344 gr. 76.3 316 fps
High Country Speed Pro Max 5.5 303 gr. 75.1 334 fps

Draw weight measured with an Easton Digital Scale, and all tests conducted with a Spot-Hogg Hooter Shooter Portable Shooting Machine and a Competition Electronics Pro Chronograph.

2011 Mathews Z7 Xtreme

Draw Lengths 24 to 30 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length 28 inches
Brace Height 7.4 inches
Grip Throat Circumference 4.1 inches
Test Bow Mass Weight 4 pounds 7 ounces
Test Bow Letoff 77.4 percent
Draw Weights 40#, 50#, 60#, 65#, 70#
Colors Lost Camo

For more information, log onto MathewsInc.com or call Mathews at (608) 269-2728.

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