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Best Bows of 2020: Top Flagship Compounds From ATA

Mathews VXRGearJunkie's Zach Burton stalks with the Mathews VXR; photo by Kurt Barclay
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GearJunkie staff scoured the floors of the Archery Trade Association trade show looking at the newest flagship compound bows of 2020. These are our favorites from the show.

There are a lot of great bows on the market, and they were all on display at the recent ATA show. Luckily for you, all these bows are already available and on the market for 2020.

A few trends stand out amongst this bunch. The first is very obviously the move toward micro-adjustments for perfect arrow flight. The second is a trend towards more midlevel affordability.

Most flagship bows on this list were a few hundred bucks lighter on the wallet than the 2019 lineup. Bows are a bit slower this year overall, but the lean toward perfect adjustment is likely worth the slowdown in arrow speed.

Want to compare them with last year’s models? Check out the best bows of 2019 here.

Best 2020 Compound Bows

Hoyt Alpha RX-4 & Axius: $1,199-1,699

Hoyt Alpha RXR

The only difference between Hoyt’s two flagship bows is easy to spot: It’s the carbon, silly. The carbon for the RX-4 does cost you, though — and it’s at a $500 difference.

But here’s the thing: The RX-4 is crazy-light and feels incredibly stable. At 3.9 pounds, it’s almost wacky to have it in hand. But, the exactly-the-same-besides-carbon Axius weighs in at 4.3 pounds. How much is that weight difference worth to you? Because the Axius is still pretty dang light.

The RX-4 shoots up to 342 fps, which is a smidge slower than last year’s RX-3 series. Across both bows, you’ll find draw lengths from 25 to 30 inches and weights from 30 to 80 pounds. Axle-to-axle heights are available only at the 29.5-inch option in this bow.

This bow is the most expensive in the lineup, but the variance allows you to dial in your specifications. And in talking with the Hoyt crew, they had the whitetail folks in mind with this build. But it could certainly do the job outside of the treestand as well.

This bow is available now at your local Hoyt retailer.

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Mathews VXR: $1,099-1,199

Mathews VXR

Mathews’ 2020 flagship bow comes in two lengths: 28 inches for your whitetail/treestand hunter and 31.5 inches for archers looking for a bit more stability through length.

Either way, each bow is designed for stability, and Mathews pulled from the target archery world to build the riser for the VXR. An extended six-bridge riser cuts weight, while the new platform increases cam efficiencies.

Field Test: 2019 Mathews Vertix Compound Bow Review

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The bow is designed to shoot quietly and stay dead in the hands, and the online reviews echo that. Poundage moves in 5-pound increments from 60 to 75, for draw lengths from 26.5 to 31 inches, and the bow weighs in at 4.66 pounds naked.

It also incorporates the Switchweight modules found on last year’s flagship Vertix model. Somehow, the bows stay very similar in speed, with the 28-inch model shooting at 344 feet per second and the 31.5-inch shooting at 343.

This one is available now at your local Mathews retailer.

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Elite Kure: $1,099

Elite Kure

Elite’s new Kure bow is a finely tunable machine made for archers looking for flight perfection. The new S.E.T. (Simplified Exact Tuning) technology allows archers to micro-tune the cam at the limb pocket for perfect arrow flight.

The ASYM Tri-Track cams themselves are a new build, and they make it simple to adjust draw length, cable stops, and limb stops.

At nearly 32 inches axle-to-axle, it’s leaning towards last year’s trend of longer bows. It weighs in at 4.6 pounds and hits the target at 335 max fps. A nearly 7-inch brace height allows for stability, and this bow offers draw lengths of 25.5-30 inches and weight options from 40 to 70 pounds, respectively.

The Kure is available now at your local Elite retailer.

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Bowtech Revolt (30″) and Revolt X (33″): $1,099

Bowtech Revolt

Like a few other bows in the list, the Revolt line offers two options for axle-to-axle length. But the big features remain the same.

Bowtech releases its Deadlock Cam System with this bow. Using this system, you can move the cams left or right on the axle to position the energy right behind the arrow. Then, you simply lock it in with a screwdriver for permanent accuracy.

Options for weight are more limited than most of the other bows with a range of 50-70 pounds. Arrows fly at a max speed of 335 fps. A 26- to 31-inch draw length should fit a lot of adults, and a max weight of 4.4 pounds fits well into the lighter bows on the market this year.

This one is available now at your local Bowtech retailer.

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Prime Black 3: $999

Prime Black 3

The Black echoes the micro-adjusting trend with a brand new Roto Cam 5-Track Parallel Cam system. This means the bow can be adjusted across the entire draw length spectrum. The Easy Tune Shim System allows for 0.03-inch cam adjustment right and left between limbs.

The Black 3 comes in at 33 inches and has a max speed of 337 fps.  The longer axle-to-axle lengths provide more forgiveness and a more stable foundation to begin your shot. And with draw lengths from 25.5 to 31 inches and a weight range from 40 to 80 pounds, this bow is varied enough for most adult archers.

The Black 3 is available now at your local Prime retailer.

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Elite Ember: $499

Elite Ember

If you’re looking for a bow that can grow with an archer, this is the one to buy. It’s not only the most affordable bow on this list, but it’s the most variable. The bow is a big step up from a youth bow, with high-quality components that mirror Elite’s best bows. The fun is in the specs.

The draw length goes from 15 all the way to 29 inches, and the poundage ranges from 10 to 70. You lose a bit of speed in this bow, but it still maxes out at 310 fps.

Additionally, the bow weighs a meager 3.6 pounds, making it the lightest on our list. The bow starts at only $499, but it’s also available in a ready-to-go kit for $599. This is truly a starter bow with big aspirations.

The Ember is available now at your local Elite retailer.

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Bear Status EKO 33″: $1,000

Bear goes back to the midprice bow with its new Status EKO. The EKO cam technology focuses on letoff flexibility, with four easy-to-switch options between 75% and 90%. The Align Lok lever within the riser allows you to adjust any sight to perfection.

It’s one of the faster bows in the lineup at 344 fps, and it’s still pretty light at 4.3 pounds. The Status offers draw lengths of 26-30 inches. The brand offers two options for draw weight, the first between 45 and 60, and the second between 55 and 70.

The Status EKO is available now at your local Bear retailer.

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PSE EVO NXT Series: $1,099


PSE’s 2020 flagship bow series offers three different heights. Its 31- and 33-inch offerings are well within the norm of the year’s axle-to-axle measurements. But the brand also has a 35-inch in the lineup. The whole goal for this lineup was a true dead-in-hand feel and an extremely quiet experience.

Draw lengths come in at 25-30.5 inches whereas draw weight is offered in options between 50 and 80 pounds. And arrows fly at 329-331 fps max. The brand also partnered with John Dudley of Nock On Archery to design specs on this bow, with a special Nock On EVO option.

The EVO NXT is available now at your local PSE dealer.

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