by Jeff Johnston - Friday, May 29, 2009
I credit Mathews with revolutionizing the archery industry when it brought out its little 32-inch Solocam bow in 1998. Though the company introduced single-cam technology six years before, it was the little MQ32 that made hunters on the range cock an eye and ask incredulously, "Is that a kid's bow?" Then they saw it shoot faster, farther and quieter than the long piece of lumber in their hands. Soon, virtually every manufacturer offered a little bow with a single cam, and today these bows dominate sales.
The competition is so tight now that it is very difficult to say objectively if one top-end bow is better than another. In response, Mathews, like all the other companies, must re-up each year or else get left behind. Each year new features are added to its Solocam line; some years the new addition is miniscule, while other years its improvements represent true advances. The Drenalin, Mathews' latest version of the Solocam, borrows the proven advances of prior models and combines them with a couple new ones.
In 2002 Mathews laid claim to one of, if not the, smoothest-drawing bow on the market when it began featuring a patented cable guard that utilizes ball-bearing rollers to shepherd the yolk strings. Most other manufacturers use a simple plastic slide. Slides produce more friction than rollers. Together with the Drenalin's perimeter-weighted cam, the bow's draw is a fluid pull, not an incremental one. A smooth draw doesn't represent a big technical advantage, but it sure does feel nice. I've found that it's easier to draw slowly and with less jerky movements when game is close.
Other advancements include String Suppressors and Harmonic Dampers that reduce noise and vibration all around; its parallel limb design is proving to be superior to older, more vertical-limb orientations because it produces faster arrow speeds and seems to lower noise levels. The inclusion of a centershot marker on the grip is a simple yet terrific feature. But last year's model, the Switchback XT, also had these features. So what's new with the Drenalin?
First, its limbs are made of a new SE3 composite material that Mathews claims makes them twice as durable as its older limbs in factory tests. (The company won't reveal how, or of what, the SE3 is made.) By making the limb material tougher, engineers could shave material from them. The Drenalin's new Slimlimbs are a mere 1 1/8 inches wide-dramatically thinner and lighter than former Mathews limbs-yet are just as strong and fast. The Drenalin weighs 3.85 pounds, compared to the 4.25 of last year's Switchback XD, yet it doesn't sacrifice durabilty or speed.
I like a light bow that I can carry and maneuver easily. But by the time I add sights, a stabilizer, a rest, quiver and all the other necessary doodads, what was formerly a light bow can become 7 pounds. My Drenalin, fully rigged to shoot (except quiver) weighs 4.75 pounds.
Secondly, the Drenalin has a revamped system of attaching the limbs to the riser. Its new SphereLock system is basically a skeletonized limb cup that is lighter but functions the same as the older V-Lock system. It has a rocker that it now calls its Limb Turret, and it uses a Swivel Lock system that lessens the tendency of the limbs to bind as they change angles when the limb bolts are adjusted.
My complaints on the Drenalin are personal, yet threefold. First, its back wall is not as concrete as I like. Secondly, I prefer an ultra-thin grip, but Mathews continues to stick with its trademark wooden grip. Aftermarket grips are available, but why not give shooters options? Lastly, new advancements (and inflation) mean new costs. The Drenalin is expensive.
In practice, I set up my test Drenalin at my house, and in a matter of minutes I shot a whisper-quiet, 2-inch group at 20 yards. The Drenalin is super-light, easy to set up, shoot and maintain; it's fast and it is extremely smooth.
You can't go wrong with a Mathews bow for hunting. If you desire the company's latest, the Drenalin is it.
Type: compound bow
Cam System: single cam
Limb System: parallel; limb cups
Riser: machined aluminum
Brace Height: 7"
String: Zebra Barracuda
Draw Weights: 40, 50, 60, 70 lbs.
Draw Length: 25-30" and 25 1/2-29 1/2"
Advertised IBO Speed: 320 fps
Overall Weight: 3.85 lbs.
Axle-to Axle Length: 33"
Let-Off: 65% or 80% Available in Left Hand: Yes
E-mail your comments/questions about this site to:
For questions/comments about American Hunter magazine, please e-mail:
You can contact the NRA via phone at: NRA Member Programs
To advertise on American Hunter, visit nramediakit.com for more information
Get the American Hunter Insider newsletter for at-a-glance access to industry news, gear, gun reviews, videos and more—delivered directly to your Inbox.