Bear Escape Review
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Editors' reviewBear Archery has created another flagship model that incorporates a great deal of performance in a package that meets what many shooters want at a relatively affordable price point for a flagship model with an MSRP of only $899. The Escape features a modular based hybrid cam system with a draw length range of 25.5-30-inches with the option for dual cable of limb stops. The 32-inch axel to axel measurement seems to be a happy medium for many shooters wanting a stable platform with a more compact design for use in the woods. This combined with a 6-inch brace height and a 350 feet per second speed rating make the Escape very competitive in the archery industry. The bow only features four finish options, which means shooters have less choices available from the factory. There also seems to be a love/hate relationship with the hinge cable guard system used on the Escape. With all things considered, it is hard to find something not to like about the Bear Escape bow. For those on the market for a speed bow without the desire to go broke, the Escape may be worth a look.
FinishThe finish options available from the factory for the Bear Escape are rather limited with only three offerings available. Each of the four choices look nice, but it would be nice for a little more variety to be seen from Bear in regards to the factory finish choices. Finish options include Realtree Xtra Green, which has a camo dipped riser and limbs, or Shadow (black), Olive, or Sand, which all include black limbs. It would be nice to see a few more camo patterns offered, even if it is just more Realtree patterns. Today's shooters like to customize their rigs, and having the option from the factory is a nice choice to have.
RiserThe 7075 aluminum series riser on the Escape has a typical Bear look, which widens out a bit toward the limb pockets. The Escape engineering team wanted to keep the noise and vibration on the high performance rig down a bit, and included an adjustable string stop system on the top and bottom of the riser to eliminate noise and string oscillation. This design is a familiar one in the Bear flagship lineup and has appeared in the past as well. Bear has also engineered two locations in the riser to allow a rubber insert to be added for vibration dampening as well. The front mounting stabilizer bushing is stainless steel, which is a nice touch for those that use their bows in extreme hunting conditions.
The cable guard system is the Bear Hinge guard, which is advertised to reduce lateral torque on the riser as the string is drawn. Systems that work to eliminate cable toque transferred to the riser are generally well received. However, there are complaints from Bear bow owners stating the hinge guard is tough on the cables. Some shooters take time to serve the cables where they go through the hinge guard as an extra precaution to help control the wear on the cable.
GripThe Bear engineers did something else great with the design of the Escape in building in the option for grip choice. The rubber grip is attached to the riser with a pair of screws, which can easily be removed for shooters wanting to shoot straight off the riser. The rubber grip, although not too wide, is the largest option offered on the Escape. The integrated riser grip has a smaller feel and fits the need for shooters wanting a slimmer grip to hold on to. Both options are comfortable and would not be too tough to get used to. However, with the grip being the only constant connecting point between the bow and shooter, it is nice for them to offer some choices so shooters can discover what fits best for them.
LimbsBear offers only two separate limb configurations on the Escape, but each choice has 15-pounds of adjustment. The max preloaded split limbs come in a 45-60 of 55-70-pound draw weight option. Many bows are offered in ten-pound increments, so it is nice to see some additional draw weights available. The split limbs do not feature factory-installed dampeners, but they can of course be added with aftermarket dampeners should a shooter decide they are necessary. The Escape is pretty dead in the hand and silent, especially when factoring in the speed produced, but the option is there for those wanting an even more quiet bow.
The limb pockets take on a bit different of a look and function as well in hopes of tightening up the tolerances even more than before. The high strength barrel nut is fully adjustable and works to make sure the limb pocket has a sturdy pivoting fit with the riser and split limbs at all times throughout the shooting experience. The pocket is black on all four finish options, but does not add or take away much from the overall look and design of the bow.
Eccentric SystemThe H15 hybrid cam system supplies the wonderful performance the Escape offers with an achievable, out of the bow IBO rating of 350 feet per second. Shooters also have the option to fine-tune the feel of the back wall by using the limb stops or cable stops, based on how hard they want the back wall to be. The let-off on the H15 cam system is designed to be 75%. The rotating module also fits a large range of shooters with draw lengths available between 25-5-30-inches in half inch increments simply by adjusting the rotating module.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe Escape's platform is built around performance, and it delivers. Shooters wanting 350 feet per second are aware of some possible trade offs required in order to obtain the level of performance they desire. With any high performance bow, perhaps the largest benefits are the ability to shoot a heavier weight arrow or lower poundage without sacrificing arrow speed too much. Some shooters are simply interested in speed, which the Escape has, but many just want to make little changes and still have good performance.
The draw cycle starts out by building up to the peak draw weight pretty quickly. With the Escape being a speed bow, the draw weight levels, then drops off into the valley and back wall, but it does hold close to the peak holding weight for quite a few inches of the draw cycle. While on target, the pin float is great meaning it is very minimal. The combination of the 4-pound bare bow weight and the customized feel on the back end make the Escape a solid holding bow on target. For a speed bow, the creep is very manageable and even allows shooters to relax a bit on the shot. After the arrow is fired, the bow has little to no handshock, and the noise is very quiet. Overall, the Escape seems to draw like a speed bow, but the recoil, and back wall are not what shooters typically expect from such a high performance bow. The sting stop assisted back wall has a little play, but has a pretty solid feel for most shooters. Those wanting an even more solid back wall can opt to use the limb stops to firm up the back end of the draw cycle.
Usage ScenariosThe Bear Escape is designed to be a hunting bow, and will perform best when used as such. Some shooters will use the bow as a multipurpose rig shooting 3D courses in the summer, but the Escape's main purpose is to put food on the table.
Bear Escape vs. Arena 34
|Bow||Bear Escape||Bear Arena 34|
|Brace Height||6 "||6.5 "|
|AtA Length||32 "||34.5 "|
|Draw Length||25.5 " - 30 "||26.5 " - 31 "|
|Draw Weight||45 lbs - 70 lbs||50 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||350 fps||340 fps|
|Weight||4.0 lbs||4.0 lbs|
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These two Bear bows are similar in specifications and will more than likely both be on shooters lists interested in a new flagship bow from Bear. The Escape is a bit more compact and faster, but also has a little shorter brace height. They share most of the same technology including the H15 hybrid cam system and hinge guard. Each bow has the same draw length range, but the Bear Arena 34 is geared towards slightly longer draw shooters. Although bow bows are great shooters, the final decision will more than likely come down to the axel to axel measurement shooters are most comfortable with.