Xpedition Archery: Aerospace Meets The Treestand

If a fighter jet mated with a longbow, you’d get an Xpedition Archery compound bow. Allow me to explain.

XpeditionArchery f/GJ, 2016, 3 lakes MPLS
Xpedition Archery Xcentric 7

Xpedition Archery, a bow manufacturer from the diminutive town of Yankton, S.D., is making top-of-the-heap bows in the same facility that has produced parts for the aerospace industry for 48 years.

Parent company Applied Engineering was looking for a way to diversify during a slump in aerospace spending. With a shop full of top-end machines (and the people with the knowledge to run them), a few “ah-ha”moments led to taking on orders to produce bow risers for several archery brands. (A “riser” is the aluminum backbone of a bow.)

Xpedition Archery Review
The author testing an Xpedition Archery Xception at the factory

Armed with knowledge and infrastructure that no other bow companies had access to, Xpedition Archery was born in 2013.

Review: Xpedition Archery Xcentric 7

Last fall, I was searching for a new bow to replace my aging (2004) Parker compound. I’d never heard of the Xpedition brand until a hunting buddy insisted I take a look.

When Field and Stream Magazine gave the brand top honors in its annual 2015 “Compound Bow Shootout” I was convinced I needed to try one.

I landed on the 2016 Xpedition Xcentric 7 model—my first “premium” level bow. This beauty is smoother, quieter, shoots faster (300+ fps), and has a shockingly “dead-in-hand” feel when the arrow is released. There’s barely any vibration transferred to the shooter.

XpeditionArchery f/GJ, 2016, 3 lakes MPLS
Xpedition Archery Xcentric 7

Once I got through the break-in period and began really sighting the bow in, I had to be careful not to “Robinhood” my arrows—that is, stabbing one arrow into the back of another.

The bow was so precise that I was stacking arrows in the same hole my first day on the range; something I rarely ever achieved with my old bow.

Inside Xpedition HQ

During a recent spring break roadtrip with my family, I got a chance to stop by the Xpedition factory for a tour. General manager Devin Bakley served as my tour guide.

GJ_Xpedition_06

It wasn’t exactly Willy Wonka for archers – a strong odor of cutting fluid filled the air as we perused the factory floor and nobody wore camo.

I craned my neck, scanning, itching for anything bow or hunting related, but it was gray machines and safety-glass as far as I could see. Bakley fanned his hand to a pallet of parts and casually told me “That’s part of a nosecone for a F-18 Super Hornet jet.” Huh. No big deal.

“What’s this, some sort of transmission?” I asked, desperately hoping to sound like I knew something. “Um yeah, sort of. That’s part of a ‘flight safety component,’ the kind of device that allowed ‘Captain Sully’ to make that emergency landing in the Hudson River,” my guest dryly replied. Satisfied, I scribbled some notes and kept walking.

GJ_XpeditionArchery_05

Making bows is a small part of what happens at Applied Engineering. Turns out profits are a tick better in the aerospace world than hunting. But those same machines and techs that make jet parts also cut pulleys and risers when it’s time to build bows.

So, it makes jet parts and it makes bows, too — why should that matter? “We have the tightest tolerances in the game,” Bakley declared. “In this industry, our target for consistency is as stringent as it gets. Our level of precision is unheard of in the archery industry. We literally raised the bar when we introduced the Xcentric line. We build the most consistent bows available today.”

I suppose that makes sense, as a bow is a machine after all, right? What makes one car’s motor outlast another? More than likely the answer is good design and the best machining. Best gun, best bike, best watch? Same answer.

GJ_Xpedition_07

We at GearJunkie are not qualified to compare this bow to that of other top manufacturers like Hoyt, PSE and Matthews – you’ll have to take the word of extensive reviews like that of Field and Stream. What I can tell you is that I’m convinced that this bow has made me a better hunter. I consistently shoot “coke can” groups out to 40 yards now. By next season I hope to extend that lethality even further.

Shooting the Xcentric 7 has been a fully a gratifying experience. Like driving an expensive automobile, it just feels solid, smooth, dialed, and deadly. I found that mine had no problem lung-punching my deer this last fall. But don’t take my word for it. If you’re in the market for a premium level bow, go visit a dealer and see if you agree with me.

I ordered mine (yes, each bow is semi-custom, made to order) in full-on, murdered-out, “ninja black.” Pricing is middle of the road for premium bows, beginning at around $1,050. Not too bad, perhaps, for something made next to nose cones and jet parts.

tagged: #archery

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