Hoyt Carbon Defiant Review

Hoyt Carbon Defiant

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  • Compact 31-inch axel-to-axel measurement feels like a longer bow
  • Forgiving 7-inch brace height
  • Carbon riser will not get cold even in the most extreme temperatures


  • 331 feet per second is mediocre performance
  • $1449 bare bow is hard to pay even if money is not an issue

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Editors' review

Hoyt is no longer the only archery company utilizing carbon in their bow designs. However, Hoyt does claim their design is, "Carbon done right." Although several companies have engineered carbon into their designs, Hoyt has used the material the most in the last several years and has produced some really great models. With that being said, Hoyt has a lot more to offer on the Carbon Defiant than a carbon riser. The DFX cam system, although still designed in three separate base cams, incorporate draw length adjustment modules, and an optional limb draw stop. Hoyt also has a newly designed limb system, which in combination with the DFX cam system allows for a more favorable string angle while at full draw feeling more like a longer axel-to-axel bow. When added all together, and packaged with about any color option imaginable, Hoyt has another really nice bow for one of their flagship offerings. 331 feet per second is a bit under the factory norm in regards to performance, although the 7-inch brace height may be a fine compromise for some shooters. $1449 is a lot of money to spend on a bare bow, despite all the potential benefits of the 2016 Hoyt models.


Hoyt has really expanded their finish options the last several years. In addition to the many finish options, Hoyt also allows shooters to swap out the colored dampeners to add more personal flair as well. Hunting options available include: Black, RealTree Max 1, Realtree Xtra, and Under Armour Ridge Reaper. Ridge Reaper is a brand new offering, and should be extremely popular. It offers a new fresh look to mix things up a bit. Hoyt also has some custom hunting options as well. These include the American Heritage design with a black out riser, a RealTree Max-1 riser, or a RealTree Xtra camo riser. The Bone Collector edition designs have a blackout riser or a RealTree Xtra riser combined with the lime green accent colors. The Vixcen edition models come with a blackout riser with pink or purple accent colors, or a RealTree Max-1 riser with carbon fiber limbs and purple or pink accent colors. Hoyt also has a few choices for shooters wanting the traditional graphics. Any of the camo patterns can be mixed with a black riser or a harvest brown riser. Shooters can also decide to go with RealTree AP Pink or RealTree AP Snow.If those choices are not enough, Hoyt also offers several paint options for those wanting a bow with more of a target archery appearance. Blue, custom black, pearl, or red are all choices for anyone not wanting a hunting look. All of the options look nice and cover the surface well.


Aside from the looks of the Carbon riser design, which some admittedly do not like, the carbon riser has some legit advantages over the aluminum varieties. According to Hoyt marketing, the carbon used to create the Defiant riser is 11 times the stiffness to weight ration when compared to aluminum. That means less carbon material and a stiffer riser. Hoyt has designed the riser to utilize three distinct hollow tubes woven together for the strongest riser version possible. Do not be nervous about the hollow tubes though, because they maintain 97% of the strength solid carbon tubes produce, with less overall mass. Carbon can also absorb more dispersed energy than aluminum can without permanent distortion. If all this was not enough of a bonus, the carbon will not get cold in the shooters hand regardless of how low the temperature gets outside. All this does come at a price though, with the carbon models costing about $400 more than their aluminum counterparts. The debate for whether or not it is worth the investment will also be a spirited argument, but many shooters choosing carbon have no interest in going back to aluminum.

Carried over from last year's 2015 models, the Zero Torque Cable Guard System is a roller system that moves while the bow is drawn. Many shooter prefer a roller system, and the Hoyt ZT cable slide rolls and pivots in a reverse motion to eliminate side torque on the riser. When the bow is fired, the roller system returns back to rest, and leaves plenty of room for clearance of even relatively high profile vanes. The cable slide movement does not add any noticeable vibration or noise to the shot either, which makes it a welcomed addition.

The riser also integrates some tried and true Hoyt engineering. The silent shelf adds a rubber dampener straight into the riser itself, for a silent place if an arrow or rest contacts the riser shelf area. The stabilizer mounting location is also offset, which helps counter balance the side weight added with a sight, rest, and possibly a quiver full of arrows. This helps the bow balance up and down as well as right to left. Shooters are also able to utilize the built in attachments for the use of a two-piece quiver. It is rather easy for these technologies to go unnoticed because they are not overly glamorous, but the function of each built in design helps make the shooting experience of the Defiant a really great one.


The Hoyt one-piece wooden grip will be the standard choice from the factory. The stain color will differ a bit based on the riser color, but the wooden grip will be standard. Simply removing two screws opens up the possibility to utilize side plates or the rubber composite 180 grip. Each of the three choices will have a slightly different feel, but they all aide in proper hand placement in an easily repeatable position. The side plates offer the thinnest choice, and perhaps the warmest option since more of the shooters hand will be exposed to the carbon riser, which is 208 times better at thermal insulation than aluminum.


The limbs and pockets get a full redesign as well for the 2016 models. Hoyt has decided to go with a significant pre-stressed split limb design, which helps with the newly obtained wider string angle at full draw. With the limbs having more pressure than ever at rest, the pockets also needed to get an upgrade to handle the new design. The limbs are still held to the riser with rear zero tolerance, but instead of the pockets completely surrounding concealing the limb at its connection point, engineers added a pivot point instead. The limbs are a bit freer floating than they have been in the past. The new design is sure to be a fine one, but it does look a bit strange when compared to other versions used in the past. The rubber dampeners have also been relocated a bit to go directly between the connection point of the pocket and the pivot point. The AirShox limb dampening system has also been removed for 2016 as well. There is a simple split limb dampener added between the two limbs, but the fancier AirShox system is a design of the past.

It should also be noted for shooters that like to do their own tweaking, the new limbs require a different type of press than in previous years. Hoyt suggests an X-Press, or requires separate fingers in order to make something like a EZ-Press work without causing damage to the limbs. Although it is understandable for parts to change from time to time, the need for dealers and do it yourselfers to buy new parts may unfortunately be a deal breaker for some.

Eccentric System

The DFX cam system is the third major tweak for the Carbon Defiant. The cam system sticks with the three base cam offerings Hoyt has always offered, but a rotating module will be used to change the draw length instead of draw specific modules. Again, changes will only occur within the base cam settings in half-inch increments, but the ability to simply rotate the module is a nice touch Hoyt has not had in the past. Shops should appreciate not having to stock a bunch of modules, and shooters can easily change out to a different draw length if they desire to do so. The DFX cams supply decent performance with an overall IBO speed rating of 331 feet per second. This is not too fast in the world of speed numbers, but for a 7-inch brace height bow, it is still quick enough to produce desired results.

Perhaps the largest benefit is the highly advertised improved string angle for shooters. In the past, short compact bows often had pretty steep string angles, forcing shooter's heads into a variety of positions to make sure the sting met the corner of their mouth and the tip of their nose. With the new limbs, pockets, and cams, the string angle mimics one of a bow measuring about 3.5-inches longer axel to axel. So, in theory, the Defiant with a 31-inch axel-to-axel measurement will have the string angle of previous Hoyt 34-inch models. This means the shooters head can remain in a more erect position, and the peep will be in a better position for increased accuracy. The benefit of having a compact bow feel like a longer rig, is a great one for those shooters than want maneuverability in the stand, but not willing to compromise feel and proper shooting form to get it. Although this feeling is noticeable at full draw, it could be the amount of advertising Hoyt put into mentioning this added feature. Hoyt is also not the first company to use this design method.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The draw cycle created by the DFX cam system is a nice feeling one for the entire shot cycle. The weight stacks up relatively quickly, and the dump into the back wall is noticeable, but comfortable. The feel at full draw is customizable with the addition of the optional limb stop post. When installed, the back wall is one of the most solid walls Hoyt has ever created. Without it, the back wall has a little give, but still solid for the most part. 331 feet per second is not blazing fast by any means, but when combined with a forgiving 7-inch brace height, it is a bit easier to deal with. The hold on target is fantastic, and even though the mass weight of the Carbon Defiant is only 3.6-pounds, there really is minimal pin float down range. The marketing gimmick of the DFX cam and limbs creating a more comfortable string angle is true as well. For a shorter axel-to-axel bow, the Carbon Defiant allows shooters to hold their head fully upright, without the scrunched up feel caused by a sharp string angle. Finally, a compact bow design without the compact bow feel. After the shot, the Carbon Defiant truly lives up to the "Carbon done right" slogan because there is no hand shock and the bow is as quiet as can be. The DFX cam system will surely have people praising its easy pull and ease of shooting. The stiff riser design should also aide with accuracy as well since the bow will experience less torque due to the superior strength of the carbon material.

Usage Scenarios

The Carbon Defiant is a hunting bow without a doubt. The shorter axel-to-axel measurement may feel more like a target bow than a compact hunting bow, but the main purpose is for hunting. Some shooters dropping the $1449 bare bow price may decide to use this bow for every style of shooting they do, but those wanting a dedicated target bow may want to look for something with more target archery features.

Hoyt Carbon Defiant vs. Defiant

Bow Hoyt Carbon Defiant Hoyt Defiant
Version 2016 2016
Picture Hoyt Carbon Defiant Hoyt Defiant
Brace Height 7 " 7 "
AtA Length 31 " 30.5 "
Draw Length 24 " - 30 " 24 " - 30 "
Draw Weight 30 lbs - 80 lbs 30 lbs - 80 lbs
IBO Speed 331 fps 331 fps
Weight 3.6 lbs 4.0 lbs
Let-Off 75% 75%
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On paper, Hoyt Carbon Defiant and Hoyt Defiant are basically identical with the exception of a the carbon riser and a half an inch longer axel to axel measurement on the Carbon Defiant. Both bows are great shooters with virtually the same performance. The risers are the largest difference between the two models, and it used to be the aluminum risers transferred noticeably more hand shock to the shooters grip hand. That really is no longer the case. Carbon risers are stiffer and warmer, but may not be worth the additional money for many shooters. With that being said, there are some shooters that will never shoot anything but a carbon riser bow again. Despite personal preference on the riser material, both bows have a lot to offer anyone on the market for a redesigned, high-end hunting bow.


The Carbon Defiant has been designed as one of the most ideal compact bows in regards to engineering a great shooter without compromise. Although Hoyt is not the first company to use highly pre-stressed limbs and cams to offer a more favorable string angle, they are marketing the benefits. The decent 331 feet per second is nothing to write home about, but combined with a 7-inch brace height and a smooth drawing DFX cam, many shooters will not be stuck on the mediocre speeds. Carbon bows have a feel all to themselves, and the Carbon Defiant continues this trend. $1449 is a lot of money to spend, and many shooters are experiencing much longer wait times to get their 2016 Carbon Defiants from the factory. However, those not able to give up the carbon feel after a test shot will be very pleased with the benefits the carbon model has on paper. Shooters wanting a completely redesigned bow with a lot of really great technologies and features owe it to themselves to give Carbon Defiant a test shot.

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