Martin Hellfire 35 Review
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Since the redesign of the company in 2015, and the fire that destroyed its main manufacturing facility shortly thereafter, Martin Archery has built itself from the ground up as a whole new operation- and one of the compounds created as a frontrunner to their 2016 Phenix series is the Hellfire 35. Bringing a 35" axle-to-axle measurement to the table, this bow features a redesigned, 4-ring symmetrical cam system, a 328fps IBO, a bridged riser, and a whole lot of vibration killing power. Although beefy in the hand, the shot sequence is beyond par- the Hellfire 35 is a very impressive flagship for right around a thousand dollars.
FinishOffered in two patterns, black smoke and Kryptek Highlander, this bow does not come in countless color options, however, they are quality Kolorfusion finishes. Similarly, the pockets and components are anodized flawlessly compared to compounds of Martin's past. In terms of strings, standard Brownell two-color strings are included. Overall, there are no blemishes noticeable to assist with making it a high quality finish.
RiserMartin designed the riser of the Hellfire 35 in a minimalistic fashion, with 12 huge cutouts and an "airy" design. To assist with the strength and riser structure, a bridge was implemented, similar to many past and current Hoyt designs. On the negative side, this creates a heavy riser, and at 4lbs 12oz, it is one of the heaviest compounds on the market, however the flipside to this includes the incredible stability it creates at full draw. As one of their featured pieces of technology, the riser flares towards the limbs to a wide standpoint to keep vibration from the center of the riser. Also, the implementation of multiple sight mount holes allow for the archer to have an adjustable sight window for many draw lengths. Installed from the factory are parts like a fiberglass cable slide rod and string stop below the bridged riser mount.
LimbsThe Hellfire 35 features split "Stackforce" Gordon Glass composite limbs, which are wider and have the ability to flex more, containing more energy and improving the overall effectiveness of the shot sequence compared to regular solid limbs. At full draw, the limbs do not quite become parallel, but are close in standpoint, to assist with the vibration reducing properties of the compound. With 50, 60, and 70lb peak draw weights, it is a very adjustable setup, especially since each set of limbs has 15lbs of draw length adjustment from its max. The bow also features minimal limb pockets and a modest 6.5" brace height.
GripSetting itself aside from others, this grip on this compound consists of mostly the stock aluminum riser, with the addition of thin synthetic sideplates. Compares to blockier grips, it may take some getting used to, but it is thin and easy to find a comfortable shooting placement with this setup. It may be an issue for hunters in cold weather situations, due to the stock aluminum being a conductor of heat, compared to wood or rubber, however there are easy solutions, like gloves and thin wrappings like tape or foam.
Eccentric SystemMartin's new Symmetry M4 cams are advanced and unique to the compound market, as they are completely symmetrical on the plane of the compound. This not only prevents cam lean from occurring, but allows for less string wear due to being drawn back and fit into a groove at an angle. With four modules, 5 strings leading to each cam due to the inclusion of cable rings, and quad limb-actuated draw stops, these cams are beefed up, yet provide a decent speed of 328fps IBO. Draw length ranges from 27.5" to 31", and although the modules all need to be switched out with any change in DL, Martin has a program that you can simply send the modules back to receive a set of new ones at no charge. If tuned with stock settings, which is recommended, these cams feature 80% letoff. Also featured in all of Martin's new compounds are precision ground axle pins to prevent issues with rotation.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe Hellfire 35's draw cycle lives up to the hype- it starts out smooth and builds up weight exponentially as the draw peaks two thirds of the way back; coasting into the smooth, plentiful valley until a solid back wall. Even though it is not an extreme drop into the valley as the letoff of the cam sets in, the geometry of the cams minimize creep, and therefore the feeling of the compound want to "jump out of your hands" is just not present. After the shot, a small kick is noticeable, but very little vibration and sound are given off by the firing of an arrow at upwards of 300fps. Even with a little shorter brace height, this compounds shoots very effectively and is comfortable for the entirety of a shooting session- as mentioned before, the only drawback is holding arm fatigue due to the bow's extra mass.
Silencing PackageThe Hellfire 35 is factory equipped with Limbsaver superquad limb silencers, riser dampeners located at the ends of the riser, a Bowjax cable slide rod suppressor, and multiple Bowjax super speed string sleeves located on the string itself, as well as each cable. The featured accessories, as well as the geometry and weight of the bow together all create an efficiently silenced package, with a low tolerance for internal resonance from the shot sequence.
Compared to the Hoyt Defiant 34, another 2016 compound with a bridged riser, the Hellfire 35 features a .5" short brace height, 1" longer axle-to-axle measurement, and most negatively, is nearly 7oz heavier in weight. Although the Defiant 34 also has a wider draw length of 2.5" and a wider draw weight range of 20lbs, it is 3fps slower in terms of IBO and has 5% less let-off. Specs aside, the Defiant has a bit more of an aggressive draw cycle and seems to contain more vibration after the shot, but the lighter stature is a definite benefit. Overall, for roughly $1000, either compound is an adequate compound for any scenario, albeit hunting, target, or backyard shooting.