Mathews Z7

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It is safe to say that Mathews makes some of the best bows in the world. They have enjoyed unprecedented success and have created a brotherhood around their products like no other brand.

If they had introduced the MQ1 and simply sat on that big win rather than use it as a springboard for the future, they would have eventually faded into the background. We all know, however, that the story doesn't end that way. Mathews continually pushes the envelope, tweaks this feature and fine tunes that one. They go to great lengths to make sure they are on the cutting edge year after year and even venture beyond the norm for Mathews, as evidenced by the dual-cam Monster Series introduced last year.

Leading the pack for Mathews in 2010 is the new Z7. In addition to Mathews' core technologies such as past parallel SE4 limbs, harmonic dampening system and SphereLock Pivoting Limb Lock System, a few new technologies are featured on the Z7, including the Reverse Assist Roller Guard, Grid Lock Riser and Monkey Tails string silencers.

On the Grid
Mathews new Grid Lock Riser is designed to create a super strong platform that provides balance and performance in a lightweight package. Rather than the typical random cutouts found on most bows, the Z7's riser is checkered from one end to the other with a series of isometric cutouts. While the amount of material used in the riser is reduced, it remains strong through the interlocking bridges that span the riser's midriff.

Another Z7 feature found on the Grid Lock riser is the new Reverse Assist Roller Guard, which is mounted just above and opposite the shelf area. The "reverse" in the name comes from the position of the cables on the rollers. They are wrapped over the rollers (closer to the archer) rather than under them and are held in place by the tension of the system. When a typical bow is drawn, the cables naturally move toward the archer. If cables are wrapped on the side of the rollers opposite the direction of movement, it stands to reason that they will become tighter and tighter on the stationary rollers. The Z7's cables actually get looser and looser as the bow is drawn, resulting in a smoother draw. A post behind the cables provides a safe, full-capture system.

Mathews outfits the Z7 with a narrow SlimFit Inline grip. The one-piece walnut grip includes a thin layer of red colored wood that defines the centerline of the bow. Other features found on the riser include a metal stabilizer-mounting insert, Harmonic Dampener, Harmonic Stabilizer and Dead End String Stop.

Smooth Operator
The Z7 Solocam was designed to generate high efficiency numbers, a super smooth draw and excellent speed -- a tall order indeed. Both cam and idler wheel ride on sealed ball bearings and, together with the Reverse Assist Roller Guard, work to maximize the smooth feel of the draw cycle. The cam's design offers IBO speeds reaching 332 fps with a comfortable, 80-percent letoff. Draw lengths range from 25-30 inches, in half-inch increments. Z7 draw length options are cam specific, meaning that for each draw length offered, a new cam is needed. To make the job of changing cams easier, Mathews gears up the Z7 with its unique Quick Change Axle (QCA) feature. The QCA does away with the typical e-clip design and uses a simple, plastic fixture that captures one end of the axle while the other end is outfitted with a pull-knob.

Shooting the Z7 was a pleasure, with the draw cycle coming out on top as my favorite characteristic. It's no wonder Mathews founder and CEO Matt McPherson wants to call attention to the smooth draw of the Z7. He knows that feature alone will win over many archers. At the shot, there is a short-lived bump in the handle and little audile noise. In my opinion, Mathews made a good move in narrowing the grip.

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