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Bow Reviews

Martin Onza 3 Bow Review

by Jon E. Silks   |  July 21st, 2011 7

Martin’s Onza 3 sports an eye-catching bridged riser, distinctive string damper, clever cable containment system and Vibration Escape Modules that look like the intakes on a jet engine. Nitro Cams power the Onza 3 to good speeds, and the Roto Cup effectively serves as the critical interface between limbs and riser.

Martin Archery is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. That is a tremendous accomplishment considering the number of bow makers that have come and gone in that time. The company has has been a very positive influence on bowhunting through its innnovative designs (more than 25 patents) and support of the archery community.

For 2011, Martin brings back a bridged riser design from the early 80s on the Onza 3. Also featured is the Torque Reducing Cable Guard (TRG), Quick-Lock Stabilizer Mount, String Oscillation Suppressor (SOS), HammerHead string and cables, VEM Vibration Vortex and Nitro Cams.

Distinctive Features
With a bridged format, Martin is going back to a design it brought out in the early 80s. Bridging creates strength and stiffness through a wider and more stable footprint. A component I particularly like on the Onza riser is the Quick-Lock Stabilizer Mount — both front and back. Your tightly secured stabilizer can be removed from the bow with a few quick turns of the threads, which loosens the entire fixture and allows it to slide out of the open receiver.

Two of these technologies share the same carbon-rod mounting system — the SOS and TRG. Martin situates the SOS so it contacts the string near its midpoint using a soft rubber module that is suspended by two posts in a U-shaped fixture. With this setup, the module is permitted to move within the fixture as it reacts to the string. After absorbing the first blow, the SOS module flows with increasing resistance to quickly reduce string oscillation. According to Martin, having the SOS near the midpoint of the string reduces vibration up to five times faster than systems that catch the string low on the bow.

Martin’s TRG cable-containment system has two angled slots that allow the cables to move freely toward the centerline of the bow as it is drawn and then back out again  upon release. This movement eases tension, reduces torque and minimizes cam lean.

Seated within each end of the riser, Martin’s Vibration Escape Modules (VEM.) consist of an aluminum, bullet-shaped component suspended in the middle of a soft polymer body. During the shot, the solid bullet moves within the soft module counteracting vibration. VEM material is also used for Martin’s Hunter Arrow Shelf, which prevents noise if your arrow falls off the rest.

Combo Cams
The Onza 3’s Nitro Cams do an excellent job of combining speed, adjustability and smooth draw cycle. A clearly marked rotating module is easily adjusted to draw lengths from 27 1⁄2-30 1⁄2 inches, in half-inch increments. Fine-tuning is available through an adjustable draw stop on the bottom cam, which customizes the feel of the back wall/valley and slightly changes draw length. Martin advertises 80 percent letoff, with downward adjustability.

Functionally, the cables in this system are tied directly to the opposite cam to create a self-correcting mechanism. Structurally, Nitro Cams ride on stainless steel axles and sealed ball bearings and are CNC machined with three tracks to handle the cables. Cams are black anodized.

Precision and Power
The Onza 3 has a set of solid, 13-inch PowerTough limbs made with Gordon glass. Limbs are offered in 50-, 60- and 70-pound peak — each with 15 pounds of downward adjustment. Martin designed the 2011 limbs to reach beyond parallel at full draw. A proprietary coating is added to the limbs for increased toughness and durability.

The critical limb-to-riser interface is handled with the company’s Roto Cup limb alignment system, which uses a minimal amount of material to gain a maximum return in terms of control. For 2011, Martin tightened the Roto Cup tolerances for even more precision.

In addition to a bull’s-eye killing aim and rock-solid balance, the Onza 3 has a draw cycle to be proud of. In testing, a quality stabilizer and set of simple string silencers placed near the cams effectively tamed shot vibration and noise. This bow will get the job done in the field.


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  1. Martin ShadowCat Bow Review
  2. Martin Firecat Pro-X
  3. ATA Show 2016: Martin Inferno 33
  4. Martin Cougar III Magnum Bow
  5. Martin Pantera
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