All photos by Kurt Barclay

2020 Mathews VXR Review: A Bow That’s Plain Fun to Shoot

It was the beginning of fall hunting when Mathews teased and then launched its newest addition, the VXR, calling it the strongest and most stable bow yet. I put it to the test over a full hunting season for this review.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Mathews VXR to see what the hype was all about. In the past, the brand typically released its flagship bows around a single axle-to-axle length. However, this year it brings the VXR to market with two lengths.

The VXR comes in a 28-inch model that suits nimble hunting from a treestand or ground blind and a 31.5-inch model with a slightly longer riser to accommodate longer draw lengths. Each of these bows has a 6-inch brace height and peak draw weight options at 60, 65, 70, and 75 pounds.

The VXR 28 brings a claimed IBO speed of 344 fps and draw lengths ranging from 25.5 to 30 inches while the 31.5 clocks in at 343 fps and offers draw lengths from 26.5 to 31 inches.

Mathews VXR Review

New for 2020, Mathews introduced Green Ambush color to its offering, rounding out an already impressive group of patterns and color options. I generally hunt from a treestand in Minnesota chasing whitetail, so my weapon of choice was the VXR 28-inch in the Green Ambush color.

I will go out on a limb here and say that the color looks even better in person, and black Mathews accessories complement it well.

New Tech

The highlight for the 2020 VXR is Mathews’ new riser design: an extended, six-bridge riser. It reduces weight while maintaining a strong and stable platform for shooting. Mathews has used this technology before, but only on bows in its target line. The VXR marks the first hunting bow to adopt the platform.

In Mathews’ words, the new riser design allows the VXR to “hold like a target bow and handle like a dagger.”

Crosscentric Cams With Switchweight Technology

Mathews VXR cams review

The VXR features Mathews’ Crosscentric Cam system, made popular several years ago with the Halon bow. The Switchweight technology allows a hunter to modify the bow’s peak draw weight in 5-pound increments without using a special tool or bow press. You simply have to have the cam module with a peak draw weight of choice, and you’re good to go — no headaches re-tuning the bow you’ve spent time dialing in!

While I’ve not yet utilized the system, it’s an attractive feature as I start to plan my 2020 hunting season with hopes of chasing elk out west.

Silent Connect System

Another new addition to the VXR is Mathews’ Silent Connect System (SCS). This add-on sits in the bow’s limb pockets and allows a hunter to attach the brand’s new bow rope or bow sling (both sold separately) quickly and silently.

The bow rope is a great option for whitetail hunters who climb into treestands, and the bow sling is nice for carrying your bow hands-free on long walks in and out of your hunting spot.

Mathews Silent Connect System

Impressions

The Mathews VXR is just plain fun to shoot. I have to get that out of the way early, because above all that is my biggest compliment to the bow. It’s fun. I’ve used different Mathews bows in the past, and while they’ve been good, this one is just a blast.

Mathews VXR Review

With the new VXR, Mathews provides a smooth draw cycle similar to that of the 2019 Vertix. There is very little “dip” as you pull through to full draw, giving the entire draw cycle a consistent feel. Two cable stops engage the inner cable and provide stiffness on the back wall that you would expect from a bow of this caliber.

The most impressive part of the VXR for me is how steady it is through the shot. I have shot plenty of bows that brag about being “dead-in-hand,” but the VXR met and exceeded my expectations here. There’s almost zero vibration on the shot, and it’s very quiet. Mathews advertised it as such, and I was skeptical of how the bow would actually perform after the hype.

Needless to say, I’m a believer. The stability this bow brings shot after shot instills confidence on each pull. The VXR is a shooter!

Another piece worth noting is the Engage grip. After last season’s success with the new grip on the 2019 Vertix, Mathews kept the momentum going by including it stock on the VXR. Mathews boasts that the Engage grip is “designed for consistent hand placement,” “reducing torque,” and is “comfortable for all shooters regardless of hand size.”

Admittedly, a new grip isn’t something that I normally get stoked about when I hear about a bow coming to market. That said, it’s really comfortable, and you spend a lot of time with a bow sitting in your hand. This comfort cut down on the break-in period when I was sighting in the bow — it felt familiar and balanced.

Mathews Engage grip

The one gripe (that is consistent for Mathews) is the overall weight of the bow. The VXR 28 comes in at 4.44 pounds, and the VXR 31 at 4.66 pounds.

While this is an improvement over the 2019 Vertix, the bows still fall on the heavy side. The trade-off here is the stability and dead-in-hand feel that the VXR brings with the weight. For me, I’m happy to take a slight weight penalty in exchange for a bow that has nearly zero felt vibration.

My build:

  • 2020 Mathews VXR, Green Ambush
  • Mathews Ultrarest Integrate MX
  • 8” Mathews Flatline Stabilizer
  • Trophy Ridge React Pro 5 Sight
  • DL: 28”
  • DW: 64 lbs.

Mathews VXR Bow Review

Final thoughts: I’ve said it before and I will say it again — the VXR is plain fun to shoot. This bow checks the right boxes for me with a smaller platform, easy tunability, consistent shooting, and top-rate stability through the shot. While it doesn’t come cheap ($1,199), this is a bow that is worth a serious look for any serious hunter looking to try something new.

Zach Burton
By

Zach has shaped his life and work around outdoors, adventure, and generally being as active outside as possible. He’s devoted to activities and experiences that push him mentally and physically and is a firm believer that there is 'no such thing as bad weather.' If he’s not riding his bike or planning his next adventure, you can find Zach hunting with his dog Stella, fly fishing, or climbing.

Topics: ,

Tags: , , ,