Review: 2016 PSE Carbon Air

Review: 2016 PSE Carbon Air

PSE has jumped headlong into the current carbon bow arena with its new Carbon Air. This is actually the company's second carbon bow, as it introduced the Carbon-Lite in 1996.

There has been, and continues to be, quite a buzz centered on the new Carbon Air. The talk is mainly focused on the new True Carbon riser design, smooth draw and good speed coupled with low hand shock, vibration and noise. Is it all just fan-boy, loyalist propaganda, or is there something to the hype?


The 2016 PSE Carbon Air utilizes monocoque True Carbon construction and a single-radius Full Arch Bridge to create a high-strength, rigid platform. Other features include a highly adjustable HD cam, X-Tech Speed limbs, 800 Series B.E.S.T. grip, America's Best Bowstrings, integrated carbon rod Backstop, Shock Modz limb dampeners and titanium


A New Horizon

PSE's new single-shell, monocoque carbon construction riser is core to its new venture into the carbon bow market and is said to reduce weight dramatically while increasing strength, stiffness and stability.

There's no denying the ultra-lightweight numbers on the scale — the Carbon Air tipped the scale at just 3.15 pounds in our test. So yes, it's a featherweight. Meanwhile, the strength of carbon is well documented, and the effectiveness of monocoque construction — which creates a single structural carbon-fiber shell that bears the applied stress/load — has been proven in many industries. The Carbon Air's strong, stiff riser provides both durability and accuracy.


The carbon riser is wrapped around PSE's Structural Rigid Acoustic Core, or S-RAC, which further increases strength, reduces thermal conductivity and suppresses vibration. Basically, that means it won't suck the heat out of your hand and is a key player in keeping the rig quiet.

PSE's Arch Bridge built into the riser is designed to increase strength. Although some have suggested this concept was stolen from a competitor, PSE Vice President Blake Shelby noted that, "Bridged risers go back to recurves in the 1960s, and PSE had a bridged riser compound in 1998." A side view of the Carbon Air reveals the full arch running through the main riser body and reaching out to the limb pockets. With this structure, the load is carried along the curve of the arch rather than straight on.

Other riser features include a stainless steel stabilizer bushing, B.E.S.T. grip and integrated Carbon Backstop string suppressor.


The Carbon Air's HyperDrive (HD) Cam system offers several benefits. First, it has a wide range of draw lengths from 24'‰1⁄2-30'‰1⁄2 inches, in half-inch increments, that can be selected without a bow press via a single, rotating, inner cam. The cable and adjustable limb stop allow you to customize the feel of the valley and back wall.


The skeletal aluminum cam is designed to work with PSE's CenterPull technology (everything working in concert to align the arrow with the bow's centerline, thereby optimizing tunability) and is advertised to hit IBO speeds from 332-340 feet per second on a 6'‰1⁄8-inch brace height with 80-percent letoff. PSE outfits the Carbon Air with America's Best Platinum Series string/cables.


The Carbon Air's X-Tech Speed limbs are the latest and most efficient in a long line of PSE X-technology split limbs, which the company pioneered in 2005. PSE optimizes stress profiles to allow for highly pre-loaded limbs, which reach far beyond parallel to greatly diminish the amount of shock, vibration and noise created by the shot.


Limbs are available in peak draw weights of 50, 60, 65 or 70 pounds. PSE outfits the Speed Limbs with its new Shock Modz dampers. The pivoting CenterLock Speed Pocket features super lightweight titanium hardware and aligns the limbs to the centerline of the bow at this critical interface.


The obvious first impression of the Carbon Air is that this bow is incredibly lightweight. With such minimal mass, you might expect significant shock, vibration and noise — but none of that proved to be true. Yes, there was a jump in the handle and some lasting, low-level vibration at the shot, but the bow was notably quiet.


The Carbon Air's draw cycle is quick out of the gate before transitioning nicely across the declining plateau and into the valley. Adjusting draw weight took some muscle. The grip was comfortable and functional.

At just shy of $1,500, the Carbon Air's sticker price may produce some shock, but it is right in line with other rigs on the leading edge of bow technology.


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