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Bow Review: APA Black Mamba 31

Compact, lightweight and truly innovative!

Bow Review: APA Black Mamba 31

APA’s Black Mamba 31 is packed with features, including its Twin Flex limbs, X1 Dual Cams with Rotating Draw Stops, Micro Tune Technology, and a riser that is unique and extremely useful.

APA Archery, founded in 2002, is a think-outside-the-box company with bow designs and features you will not find anywhere else. Its unique risers are particularly interesting and bring instant brand recognition to both the company and the bows.

APA’s innovation continues with the introduction of its Black Mamba 31, which is home to the company’s slimmest riser to date, a riser fang, snake head cutouts, tool center, center shot indicator and much more. Let’s dig in and take a closer look.

A Standout Bow

There’s no mistaking APA bows due, in large part, to their unique risers. The Black Mamba 31 takes this to the next level with its snake head-shaped cutouts up and down the riser. It is CNC machined from a block of 6061-T6 aluminum and sports a reflex structure, meaning the throat of the grip is behind the pivot point of the limbs, resulting in a longer power stroke and increased speed.

A “fang” machined into the front of the riser provides a convenient hook that can be used to hang the bow on limbs, accessory arms, etc. Two sight-mounting positions allow for a range of peep sight and anchor positions, while a second rest-mounting hole gives archers the opportunity to double up on rest bolts for a super secure lockdown. A built-in carrying handle — complete with finger contours — loops forward from the top of the sight window to just below the grip. Shallow recesses, which APA calls the Nockpoint Alignment Zone, are machined into the riser above the shelf and on the carrying handle to produce a visible line that can be used to ensure your arrow is square during the tuning process.

The Torque-Free Grip, machined into the handle, is outfitted with two wooden side plates and creates a neutral wrist position. A groove machined into the handle in front of the grip serves as a reference point for your fingers, promoting repeatability and better shooting. Immediately below the grip is one of the most interesting features you will find on any bow — the Tool Center. The included metal pin serves as APA’s Center Shot Indicator when setting up the rig, and as a Cam Lock for in-the-field string work. Additional tools include a broadhead wrench, nock wrench and carbide sharpener. A string stop is mounted behind the Tool Center and a metal stabilizer insert is located in front of it. Multiple rear stabilizer-mounting holes, a roller-guard cable-management system, side-mount weight distribution system, built-in quiver, wrist-sling mounts and Soft Touch Armor coating complete the riser package.

The Muscle

APA’s X1 machined aluminum, two-track dual cams power the Black Mamba 31 to advertised IBO speeds up to 350 fps on a 6.75-inch brace height and 80 percent letoff. A series of modules cover the draw-length range of 25-31 inches, in half-inch increments, while the Rotating Draw Stop (RDS) is designed to produce a solid back wall at any draw length. The adjustment also allows the shooter to fine-tune and personalize the feel at full draw.

With tuning as a significant focus, the Black Mamba features Variable Yoke Technology (VYT) that autocorrects its position, and Micro Tune Technology that allows the archer to quickly and easily advance either cam for perfected timing. It’s tuning made simple.

Double Flex Technology

APA’s Twin Flex (TF2) limbs are machined from a fiberglass/carbon composite material and measure 13.5 inches long. They are designed to flex in two places along the limb — the forked section near the cams and the main belly of the limb between the limb pocket and limb ‘V.’ This distributes the load/stress over both bending sections, storing more energy and packing more power. Maximum efficiency and longer limb life result as well, according to APA. The narrow, solid limbs are matched into pairs based on deflection values and are available in 40-, 50-, 60-, 70- and 80-pound peak draw weights. Limb pockets are machined from aluminum, include the fang shapes and pivot during draw-weight adjustment.

At the Range

The first thing I did with the Black Mamba 31 was set it up for testing using the Nockpoint Alignment Zone and on-board Center Shot Indicator pin. I like those additions to the APA arsenal!

This bow is unmatched in the utility it provides beyond the norm. At the shot, the bow has only a small jump in the handle, mid-level vibration and proved notably quiet — all good performance markers for a bow that weighed in on our scale at only 3.9 pounds. The draw was stiff on the front end and loaded up just before dropping off into the valley and finishing with a rock solid back wall. The carrying handle is convenient and the grip is functional and comfortable.

The Specs

  • Manufacturer: APA Archery, 306-948-5101;
  • Model: Black Mamba 31
  • Riser: Machined aluminum, reflex, pre-loaded
  • Grip: Machined, wooden side plates, reference groove
  • Limbs: Twin Flex, solid, slim
  • Draw Weights: 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 pounds peak
  • Draw Lengths: 25-31 inches, in half-inch increments; modular
  • Cam System: X1, Dual, Rotating Draw Stop
  • Letoff: 80 percent (advertised); 75.1 percent (as tested)
  • String: Scorpion, BCY X-99, 53 inches
  • Cables (x2): Scorpion, BCY X-99, 32.75 inches
  • Brace Height: 6.75 inches
  • Axle-to-Axle Length: 31.25 inches
  • Weight: 3.8 pounds (advertised); 3.9 pounds (as tested)
  • Finish: Sandstone, Matte Black, Desolve Wing Camo and seven other hunting and target colors
  • Advertised IBO Speed: Up to 350 fps
  • MSRP: $1,199
  • Comments: The Swiss Army Knife of compound bows!

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.

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