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Bow Review: Hoyt Z1S

Really fast. Really quiet. Really comfortable.

Bow Review: Hoyt Z1S

Hoyt’s new Z1S is a fast bow that holds extremely steady on target and is surprisingly quiet in the field, thanks to a host of high-tech features designed to eliminate shot noise and vibration.

Some bowhunters just have the need for speed, and Hoyt is ready to serve them with the new Z1S — a bow that offers a 350 fps speed rating in tandem with a host of high-tech features from tip to toe.

Highlights include Hoyt’s S-Type Binary cam system, Hybrid EXT limbs, a full complement of vibration- and noise-dampening accessories and compatibility with the company’s In-Line Accessory Mounting System.

Speed and Power

Hoyt introduces the all-new S-Type Binary Cams on the Z1S. These cams ride on steel axles paired with high-grade, sealed inner-race bearings for smooth operation and increased efficiency. The cams are built to offer a smooth shooting experience while producing IBO speeds up to 350 fps out of a bow with a 5.875-inch brace height.

Just like its predecessor, the HBX Cam, Hoyt’s S-Type has an improved vibration profile, reduced weight and positions the string to create a better center shot and enhanced sight picture. Hoyt employs a pair of cam modules to cover the entire draw-length range of 25-30 inches, in half-inch increments. The modules also give you the ability to choose your preferred letoff at either 80 or 85 percent.

The multi-layered, Hybrid EXT split limbs on the Z1S have a wide stance that gives them excellent lateral and torsional stability, while a limb lamination process allows for full contour through their Uniform Stress Distribution design. The four limb sections are matched based on deflection values and available in peak draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65 and 70 pounds. Like all Hoyt limbs, those found on the Z1S pass the company’s minimum testing standards of 1,500 dry fires and one million draw cycles. A plastic end cap snaps onto each limb end and then snaps into the precision-machined limb pocket that employs rockers, positioners and spacers to capture and perfectly align the limbs to the riser at this critical interface.

Core Alignment

Hoyt’s Tec-Lite Riser is the core of the Z1S, as it anchors and supports the overall bow. The forged, machined aluminum structure is configured with a reflex design to maximize power stroke and in turn, speed. It is built with many cutouts to reduce weight, while the flared structural chambers top and bottom and Hoyt’s signature rear-looping strut builds stiffness and strength into the design.

In many ways, archery is all about alignment, and Hoyt focused efforts to center all aspects of Z1S, starting with the In-Line Accessory Mounting System. A built-in Picatinny rail on the forward-facing section of the riser, adjacent to the sight window, allows for the installation of compatible bow sights. This eliminates side weight and offers the proven lockdown power of a Picatinny system. Further, an integrated dovetail-mount on the rear of the riser, just above the arrow shelf, will accept the QAD Integrate rest, again eliminating side weight and providing a more secure attachment. Standard sight- and rest-mounting holes are also included. Finally, Hoyt’s SL Sidebar attachment is low on the bow for improved effectiveness using a lighter and shorter sidebar. Top and bottom quiver attachments, two stabilizer-mounting inserts and Hoyt’s inner-race bearing Roller Guard cable-containment system round out the riser package.

Quiet Comfort

Hoyt pulls out all the stops — well, actually, they put in all the stops — to combat noise and vibration on the Z1S. A set of Shock Pods are screwed directly into the limb bolt dowels and are designed to intercept and eliminate any vibration and noise traveling through that interface. Made to work seamlessly with Hoyt’s Split Limb Technology, the Limb Shox limb dampeners have proven effective limb vibration killers, while the elastomer string-mounted Hole Shots expand and shrink during the shooting cycle to quickly dampen vibration in the string. The In-Line Short Stop Stabilizer is positioned low on the bow, lowering the center of gravity, and in turn increasing its effectiveness. In fact, Hoyt says its included 2.25-inch stabilizer produces the same benefits as a more traditional 6-inch model in the typical mounting location. Further, a rubber-tipped String Stop dampens string oscillation quickly after the shot. Last, but not least, Hoyt brings comfort and effectiveness to the Z1S through the VitalPoint Grip. This molded grip is made from a soft elastomer called Versaflex that adds comfort and has a non-slip surface. A shallower angle encourages a neutral wrist position and focuses hand pressure in the center of your grip, rather than the bottom, to reduce torque.

At the Range

As you should expect from a bow that stores this much energy and generates such impressive arrow speed, the draw cycle on the Z1S is firm from the get-go, with a buildup right at the end before dropping into the valley. Still, there were no harsh transitions. It is also worth noting that because the Z1S is so fast, you also have the option to shoot a lower draw weight and achieve the same arrow speeds you’d get pulling higher poundage on a competing bow.

At the shot, I noted a quick kick and low-level vibration in my bow hand, but both were virtually eliminated simply by adding a stabilizer to the riser. Considering its speed, I was also impressed at how quiet the Z1S is; this is a stealthy hunting partner!

I found the VitalPoint grip to be both comfortable and effective at full draw, thanks to its flat back and low angle. Finally, the Z1S is a bow that does not fight you to stay on the bull’s-eye. It is rock steady on target and makes aiming easy.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: Hoyt Archery, 801-363-2990;
  • Model: Z1S
  • Riser: Tec-Lite, reflex, machined aluminum
  • Grip: VitalPoint, molded elastomer
  • Limbs: Hybrid EXT, split
  • Draw Weights: 40, 50, 60, 65 and 70 pounds peak
  • Draw Lengths: 25-30 inches, in half-inch increments; modular
  • Cam System: S-Type Binary
  • Letoff: 80 or 85 percent, adjustable; 77.08 percent, as tested
  • String: Fuse Custom, BCY X99, 58.8 inches
  • Cables (x2): Fuse Custom, BCY X99, 37.15 inches
  • Brace Height: 5.875 inches
  • Axle-to-Axle Length: 33 inches
  • Weight: 4.7 pounds, advertised; 5.03 pounds, tested
  • Finish: Bourbon (shown) and 12 other camouflage and solid-color options.
  • Advertised IBO Speed: 350 fps
  • MSRP: $1,399
  • Comments: Speed and stealth in a single package.
Editor's Note: All of our Bow Tests are conducted using the same standardized procedures and professionally calibrated testing equipment. Bows are tested with a draw length of 29 inches and a draw weight of 65 pounds, unless otherwise noted.

Speed & Energy

  • Arrow Speed: 305 fps (375-grain arrow), 288 fps (425-grain arrow)
  • Kinetic Energy: 77.5 ft./lbs. (375-grain arrow), 78.3 ft./lbs. (425-grain arrow)
  • Dynamic Efficiency: 82.2% (375-grain arrow), 83.1% (425-grain arrow)
  • Shot Noise: 90.7 dBA (375-grain arrow), 89.7 dBA (425-grain arrow)

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