Athens Ace Review
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Editors' reviewThere's something to be said about a company who believes in their product enough not to outsource the manufacturing of a product- in which Athens Archery is a perfect example. This year's flagship compact compound, the Ace, is a tack driver; yet could nearly fit in a large backpack. A newly designed DLS cam is a workhorse dual cam system, bringing you reliability and accuracy at 340fps IBO. Although it would be nice to have a bit of insulating rubber on the grip's surface, the compound makes a solid statement both in your backyard and in the whole archery industry.
FinishSimilar to or better than other more specialized, U.S.- based bow manufacturers, Athens allows for a buyer to have many color choices and options at the time of purchase. This bow features 8 standard finishes, each stating a riser and limb finish combination, as well as powder coated colors for the target archer available an extra fee. If not specified, this bow will come factory dipped with Next Vista Black Camo with silver decals, silver and black 452X strings, and silver serving. In terms of cosmetic blemishes, the machining is precise, finish is of high quality, and no marks are shown on the exterior of the riser or limbs. Similarly, Athens features a custom shop for those who care to make their bow stand out from the rest.
RiserKeeping with their flowing riser design, Athens minimized the weight while maintaining integrity for a stiff riser by increasing the size of their 10 cutouts, as well as minimizing their limb pockets even further. This compound features a 30.875" ATA measurement, which is on the short range for everyday hunters to be the most maneuverable up in a treestand or in tight quarters on the ground. On the flipside, however, the brace height is small as well, at 6.375", but it is not as small as some designated "speed" bows on the market. Overall, the riser geometry is perfect for the smaller to medium framed individual, and at a 3.9lbs finished weight, is easy to hold in the hand for long period of time.
LimbsAthens' Tetra Limb System is slightly restyled, but maintains the tried and true rear pivot limb design that has features on many popular bows over the years. One of the nicer features offered is the extended draw weight, given by the fact that three different sets of limbs are available from the factory on this flagship bow, not a normal two. At 50, 60, and 70lb max weights, it can adjust for archers of all strength and comfort levels. The Ace features split pre stressed limbs and are very aesthetically pleasing from all angles.
GripThe Ace, as well as all of the other compounds in the Athens lineup, features "The Grip"- a CNC machined handle designed as part of the riser. Being comfortable for a small to large set of paws, it is a nice feature, and a true sign of a quality product. Although it is extremely comfortable to hold and to shoot with, hunters may have an issue with the lack of thermal insulation it provides; there is a reason why 90% of the grips on bows in the market today are built around materials like rubber and wood. Likewise, it has no effect on the bow's performance, so it is recommended that any prospective archer should shoot one before making any sort of purchase.
Eccentric SystemAthens also redesigned their Draw Length Specific Cams for 2016, featuring a 65%-85% adjustable letoff and a draw length range of 24.5" to 29" for this compound. This cam is good for minimizing weight and maximizing efficiency, as there is only one track for the strings, and no extra material or screws that are associated with adjustable modular cam systems. With this DLS cam, the Ace reaches an IBO of 340fps, a respectable speed for a highly maneuverable compound with dual cams. The only downside to the DLS design is the fact that a complete cam swap is necessary when any change in draw length needs to be made.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe Ace follows a long line of extremely smooth and quiet shooting machines produced by Athens Archery. The cycle starts with a modestly stiff front, containing the majority of the buildup of poundage within the first 40-50% of the entire draw length. At the peak, the string pulls back extremely smoothly, with a consistent drop in poundage until the very end, dropping to the designated poundage adjusted by the letoff screw. To say the least, it is a very soft, smooth draw cycle that is not rough on the shooter's shoulder. In terms of the actual shot sequence, the Ace proves itself again, as it is a quiet, responsive machine. The tight tolerances of high quality machining and build materials like the installed Limbsaver dampeners allow for a crisp release and a fast recovery, without any sort of residual buzz or vibration notable after the shot.
|Bow||Athens Ace||Mathews Halon 6|
|Brace Height||6.375 "||6 "|
|AtA Length||30.875 "||30 "|
|Draw Length||24.5 " - 29 "||25 " - 31 "|
|Draw Weight||40 lbs - 70 lbs||30 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||340 fps||345 fps|
|Weight||3.9 lbs||4.55 lbs|
|Let-Off||65% - 85% (adjustable)||75%, 85%|
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Compared to the hyped 2016 Mathews Halon 6, the Ace stands its ground with more letoff adjustment, a slightly larger brace height, and half a pound less mass. The Halon has the edge with a 5fps faster IBO rating, slightly larger draw length range, and an option for a 40lb max limb, however comes at $1100 MSRP. Overall, the Ace, with its $899 price tag, is an incredibly worthy contender in the archery industry, and deserves as long of a look as the manufacturers with bigger names. Each bow has a different feel at the shot and it would require a bit of personal preference to pick one over the other at your local shop.