Mathews has produced shorter axel-to-axel bows dating back well over a decade now, and the Mathews No Cam HTX is the 2016 version of that compact hunting bow design. The axel-to-axel measurement comes in at 30-inches, but with a longer riser measurement of just under 27-inches, it actually holds on target very nicely for being such a short bow. The No Cam technology is great in creating a center nocking position, and being able to maintain that for the entire draw cycle without the nock changing planes helping with efficiency. The ability to adjust the let-off on the back end of the draw cycle is great as well. Shooters can pick between the 65%, 75%, or 85% Rock Mods, and really fine tune the type of feel they want while holding on target. The IBO speed rating of up to 326 feet per second is not fast by 2016 standards, but shooters will also experience a more favorable draw cycle than those offered on bows shooting 360-370 feet per second. The price for the No Cam HTX is fair when compared to other flagship models of high-end bows, but $999 is not a cheap investment for most people, so it could play a role in deciding if the No Cam HTX is the bow to get. Those on a budget may have a tough time. As a bow, it is tough to find anything not to like about the HTX, and it is sure to go home with a lot of buyers wanting a compact hunting bow.
The Mathews look has continued to evolve a bit in regards to their finish options. The most recently created Mathews camo pattern is well done, and does offer a cool unique look to their entire lineup. The HTX comes in Lost Camo XD, as the most standard choice, but is also offered in Lost Camo OT, Stone, Black Tactical, and Black Anthem. The Lost camo options are nice looking, and not something shooters are going to find on other brands. They blend in well in most environments needing a camo bow, and still have some other options for shooters not wanting a traditional camo bow with the couple black choices. The Mathews logo and bow model badging has always been a bit conservative and tastefully done. The HTX name is visible, but in no way takes away from the design and overall look of the bow, which is something most shooters will greatly appreciate.
Mathews has a little different look to their bows than the Gridlock "waffle" design of previous years. There was a significant love/hate relationship with that particular design, but the technology behind it was sound and it did help create a solid functioning riser. The new riser cutouts are less waffle looking, but still work to created the lightest weight riser possible, while still maintaining strength and stability in regards to torque. The HTX riser looks like others from Mathews in the 2016 lineup, partly because of the new bridged riser design. On the top and bottom of the riser, the Mathews/ engineers took what used to be a solid riser, and added a reinforced "bridged" riser design. These bridges were placed in areas that are weaker and more likely to be impacted by torqueing as the bow is drawn. The bridged design does add a little weight to the bow in the end, but the benefits of having a sturdier platform are more beneficial than a slightly lighter riser. The riser measures 26 7/8, which is fairly long for a bow that only measures 30-inches axel to axel. The overall weight of the bow also comes in right at the 4-pound mark with a weight of 3.99-pounds. Aside from the bridged riser design, the HTX also has some nice features to help add to the overall shot of the HTX. The riser has several dampening devices installed to create a more vibration free and quiet shot experience. For starters, the Dead End String stop system keeps the string from oscillating after the arrow is released. There is less adjustment than previous versions of the Dead End String Stop, but there is also not a whole lot of adjustment required to have them work well. The rise also has cutouts above and below the cage where the harmonic dampener and the harmonic stabilizers are installed. These discs are designed to transfer the riser shock and absorb it before it is transferred to the shooters hand. All of these dampeners can be easily removed and modified for shooters wanting to add some color and flair to the black that comes installed from the factory. The final piece of riser technology worth mentioning is the reverse assist roller guard system. This system is a fairly simplistically designed roller system compared to some other designs that feature a great deal of adjustment and flexing. Instead of the strings pulling on the rollers, the string are actually located on the other side of the rollers, which Mathews claims helps with the draw cycle a bit, and keeps cable torque on the riser down a bit as well.
The new Flatback Grip featured on the HTX, takes the sleek design of the Focus grip and makes it a bit flatter on the portion contacting the shooters palm area. It is still a skinnier grip design, which helps shooters keep a repeatable hand position, but it may take some adjustment time for it to feel how it should. Mathews used to come with some great looking wooden one-piece grips, with the pronounced cursive Mathews' logo engraved on the side. Although the grip, shape, and design have changed, Mathews has still included a wooden plated sidepiece, which sits in the grip featuring the iconic Mathews logo. This is a really cool feature to the bow keeping the Mathews tradition alive, while still providing shooters the grip look and design that will help them be better shooters.
Mathews has decided to stick with the split limbs for the HTX power storage. The split limbs are offered in maximum draw weights of 50, 60, and 70-pounds, and can safely be reduced ten-pounds lighter. The limb pockets hold the limbs in place, and the widened riser allows a better connecting platform for the limbs and riser to join. Mathews does not install any dampening devices on the limbs straight from the factory, but most shooters are going to be fine with the low amount of noise and vibration from the system as it is. If shooters want less noise and vibration, those limb dampeners can be added with some aftermarket accessories.
On paper, the HTX does not seem overly impressive, but the cam system and the designed draw force curve of the NO CAM really make the bow a legit contender for those wanting a compact rig for hunting. The NO CAM is offered in half-inch draw length adjustments between 23.5-28.5-inches, which can be changed with modules. The modules are not rotating modules like others on the market, but they are generally swapped relatively inexpensively or even free in some cases at the local pro shop. Shooters also have the option to change out the Rock Mods for the desired let off of 65%, 75%, or 85% depending on how much holding weight feels the best. The cam system is not fast with speeds only maxing out at 326 feet per second with a 6 1/8-inch brace height. However, the smooth drawing system may be enough for some shooters to overlook the slower speeds when deciding to purchase the HTX. The design of the NO CAM is really interesting because it takes the conventional cam system shooters have gotten used to and simplifies everything to a perfectly concentric cam. With everything being circular, the nock travel is perfectly flat and straight from the start of the cycle to the end, meaning the arrow is never going off track during the draw cycle. The simplification of the cam system really does create a more efficient and better performing bow overall when compared to others.
The draw cycle and the shot experience are the two things that really shine on the HTX bow. From a specification stand point, nothing about the HTX is new or overly impressive to be perfectly honest. These specifications have been on the market for a while now. However, the NO CAM feels different than past Mathews bows, so the HTX really is not a bow like others that appear to be similar on the website or on paper. The NO CAM system is very easy to draw. There are no humps or dumps in the draw cycle, or into the valley even with the 85% let off Rock Mods installed. Shooters will feel the transition of drawing less weight, but there is not a felt hump in the draw cycle before this happens. The Rock Mods have a similar feel to other Mathews' bows that utilize them, and make for a pretty solid back wall feel while holding on target. While holding on target, the bow never feels like a small bow. The cams are rather large, and they help out a bit with the string angle being closer to one of a longer model bow. The riser is also pretty long considering the shorter compact design. Both of these technologies combined together really give the HTX a comfortable feel at full draw. After the shot, the HTX does not move at all. It has very little kick, and the hand shock and noise are virtually non-existent. The arrow speed is not overpoweringly fast, but it is enough energy for big game hunting situations.
The HTX is a short axel to axel hunting bow. It will more than likely be used by hunters to practice on the 3D range during weekend shoots, but this bow is designed and produced for hunting.
The HTX is a short bow, which is limiting the market to those wanting a compact hunting bow. However, the combination of the larger cams and the longer riser make it feel more like a longer bow then most short models. The HTX is not all that special on paper, but it really shines during at the shot and overall feel of the bow. The No CAM system makes the bow a great shooting bow, even though it has one the slow side of the IBO ratings. Most shooters are not going to buy the HTX based on the specification charts. However, the feel of the bow is going to win over some shooters and let them The feel on the shot is great, it fits a large range of shooters, and it is backed by some of really great technologies offered out of the Mathews' factory. Shooters at the longer end of the draw length range may need a longer framed bow to keep the comfort level of a more preferable string angle, but those willing to compromise a bit on that for a compact bow will not have to worry about the HTX feel. The MSRP of $999 is totally competitive with other top end models, but it is still not an easy amount of money to save up for many shooters. It is hard to find anything wrong with the HTX offering, especially considering those interested have already considered the potential negatives of shooting a more compact model. Those wanting a dedicated hunting bow should give the HTX an honest chance, and shooters will be surprised at how well they shoot a slower rated hunting bow just based on the comfort of the draw cycle.