Mathews VXR 31.5 Review
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Mathews has another exceptional lineup of hunting bows ready to go for 2020, and the "Proving Ground" hype videos do exactly what they are designed to do. It would be difficult to watch these videos without getting fired up about the new VXR 31.5 coming out of the Mathews' lineup this year. This bow borrows some of Mathews target design with a long, straight riser for increased stability. Great speed rating at 343 feet per second, with Switchweight technology cams and 80% or 85% let-off make the VXR 31.5 a great option for just about anyone on the market for a new bow. It is a bit disappointing to see some finish options as a "premium" pattern for an upcharge. It is 2020, and Mathews is one of the biggest games in town, stop upcharging for solid colors. It is also a bit disappointing for the MSRP of this rig to be $100 more than than the shorter 28-inch model. All things considered, the 2020 Mathews VXR 31.5 is going to make a lot of people very happy!
FinishAs always, Mathews delivers with a nice looking bow for 2020. The finish options are not as vast as some others, but what is offered looks great, and is diversified enough to meet the style of virtually all shooters on the market for a new hunting bow. The VXR 31.5 is available in: Green Ambush, Black, Stone, Realtree Edge, Barren, Elevated II, Forest, and Subalpine. Mathews also has a bow builder tool on their website, which allows shooters to customize the bow, dampener colors, and their string and cables for a unique look designed exactly for them based on personal preference. Each color option is well done, and looks great. The VXR limb graphics are tastefully done, and properly badges the bow without overdoing anything or taking away from the overall look. Although the look and finish of the bow does not make it shoot any better, the VXR is sharp looking, which helps a bit is justifying the premium price point for a flagship model from one of the top companies in the business.
RiserThe riser is the largest difference from an engineering standpoint on the VXR when compared to previous year Mathews hunting bows. Mathews is calling the new riser design an extended six-bridge riser. Instead of a singular bridged design, Mathews incorporated more bridges in the riser to add even more stability while reducing the weight of the riser overall. This keeps the bow from feeling overly top heavy, which has been a complaint for some Mathews hunting bows in previous years. In addition to the added bridge design, the VXR 31.5 also gets a lengthened riser. For comparison, the VXR 31.5 riser is longer than the riser on the Traverse, which is a 33-inch axle-to-axle bow. Arguably, this makes the entire rig hold more solidly on target, which will in turn increase the accuracy of the bow downrange as well. All this machining keeps the VXR 31.5 at a bare bow weight of 4.66-pounds. This is still fairly heavy for a relatively compact hunting bow, but many shooters appreciate the added weight for increased stability as well, so it is well received by some for being a bit on the heavy end of hunting bows. The engineering of the riser continues from the added bridge design and length to continue with the 3D dampening. The design is the same as previous years, but the carryout is a bit different with the cutout being a bit more pronounced. The goal is for all vibrations to exit the riser through the Enhanced Harmonic Stabilizer, which does an outstanding job doing exactly that. Mathews has also beefed up the bushings for the front and rear stabilizer mounts as well. The more sturdy anchor point is supposed to help with the stabilizers fitting to the riser better, but most shooters will more than likely not notice a major change in the feel or performance. The riser also has an integrated rest mounting location for those choosing to shoot a QAD rest. Mathews and QAD have partnered up with each other creating a fully micro-adjustable, clean mounting rest (of course sold separately) that is less likely to be bumped or jarred. Again, this seems like an issue most shooters have not experienced in the past, but the look and design are well executed, and those wanting a QAD can have a really nice system overall. The reverse assist roller guard system, in addition to the dead end string stop are also incorporated into the riser design for the VXR 31.5
GripThe Engage grip is a great feeling grip with some pretty outstanding ratings. Even diehard Mathews shooters not really interested in a new grip have found the Engage grip design and feel to be favorable. The flat back design in addition to the thin handle makes the bow sit perfectly in place. For shooters who do not like the engage grip, the synthetic handle can be removed and side plates can be purchased through Mathews for another grip option. Both grip options feel amazing, but leave shooters with the option to pick which feels best for them. The shape and feeling of the grip is a personal preference for many shooters, which can have a great impact on how well liked a bow is. For Mathews to offer two options straight out of the factory is great for all shooters, and between the two, shooters will find one that works for them..
LimbsThe VXR 31.5 is available in ten pound limbs, which have fine tune adjustments equating to roughly five pounds per full turn on the limb bolts. This keeps the limbs as close to peak performance as possible throughout the entire draw weight range of the bow. Anytime limbs are adjusted off being maxed out, there is a bit of efficiency lost. Having poundage as close to the top end of the range as possible allows for as minimal efficiency to be lost as possible. The VXR 31.5 is offered in peak draw weights of 60, 65, 70, and 75-pounds. Unique to Mathews, is the Switchweight technology cam system. This provides shooters an opportunity to change the peak weight of the bow simply by changing out the module in the cam. The limbs adjust in ten-pound increments, and the peak weight adjusts based on which module shooters decide to go with. So, if shooters want to go all summer shooting 60-pounds for 3D shoots, and change the module to 75-pounds for elk hunting, and 65-pound limbs for whitetail season, they could have the appropriate modules to do that. This allows them to change poundage without buying and swapping limbs, and also allows shooters to keep the draw weight at the maximum efficiency of the limbs.Mathews has also created two accessories to add on to the pockets if shooters are interested. The first system is the Silent Connect System (SCS). This is a quick release system added to the limb pockets, which allows shooters to connect a bow sling or pull up rope to. The pullup rope is positioned in a location, which will keep the bow perfectly balanced on its way up the tree, and does not put any unnecessary stress on the limbs or cams. The SCS system, and rope sell for $59, but it is well worth it for anyone hunting from tree stands regularly. The bow sling connecting to the SCS is $89. It may not be worth purchasing for those simply walking to their stand, but for those chasing game wandering through the mountains, this accessory may be worth it. Mathews has also created what they are calling Engage Limb Legs for a tripod type attachment for setting the bow down. The Engage system, although called limb legs, do not actually connect to the limbs. Instead, they connect to the bottom pocket so the cam and stabilizer do not need to touch the ground. Since no contact with the limbs occurs, the legs can also be left on during the shot with no interference with the shot. The cost is $79 for the limb legs, and will be worth purchasing for those wanting a way to rest their rigs while on the range, or needing to set their bow on the ground when hunting from a blind.
Eccentric SystemThere are no major changes with the cams from the Vertix of 2019 to the VXR platform of 2020. The Crosscentric cam with Switchweight Technology was a huge success last year, and for good reason. The cams fling arrows up to an IBO rating of 343 feet per second with draw lengths available in 26.5-31-inches in half inch increments. The draw length adjustments are made with a module system, and can also allow shooters a let-off of 80% or 85%. In addition to draw length, and let-off, shooters can also adjust the peak draw weight of the bow with a cam module thanks to the Switchweight modular system. This gives shooters the ability to change peak weight, within 10 or so pounds, without purchasing new limbs, while keeping the limbs fully maxed out instead of backing them off to a desired draw weight. Perhaps the coolest part of the Switchweight technology is the ability for shooters to shoot 60-pound modules for 3D during the summer, and 75-pound modules for elk hunting in the Spring without needing to purchase new limbs. The new modules should not mess up the tune of the bow, although they could potentially require shooters to have different arrows based on their draw weight and draw length. It will most certainly require shooters resight in their pin gaps if drastically changing their peak draw weight. However, all those solutions are cheaper than purchasing new limbs.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe VXR 31.5 may be one of the best hunting bows ever created. It is more compact than most bows on the market, and the long riser design makes it far more sturdy than one would believe given the 31.5-inch axle-to-axle measurement. The draw cycle is smooth. That word gets thrown around a bunch when it comes to draw cycles, but it is absolutely true with the Mathews VXR 31.5. The draw is a bit stiff as well meaning shooters are going to feel the draw weight chosen, but it really is simple to pull back, not really feeling the transitions u til the back wall. The back wall is not limb stop steady, but feels solid with limited sponge. However, the VXR 31.5 truly shines while holding the pin on target because it doesn't move. The pin simply sits on target so easily it basically aims itself. After the shot, the VXR 31.5 may be the most vibration free bow ever produced. For those who like the Vertix, somehow the VXR 31.5 is better. Some shooters may not like the string angle, especially from those at the upper end of the draw length, but the shot experience is truly unlike anything else. Personal preferences may lead shooters to a different bow, but anyone saying the VXR 31.5 doesn't draw smooth or feel dead after the shot have never shot one. The VXR 31.5 is a dream to shoot, and should be worthy of a test run for anyone interested in a new hunting bow for 2020.
Usage ScenariosThe 2020 Mathews VXR 31.5 is the latest installment of hunting bow perfection in the mind of Mathews engineering. The 31.5-inch axle-to-axle bow is an amazing combination of stability and maneuverability thanks to the longer, target bow themed riser. The speeds are great, the stiffer draw cycle feels nice, and the feeling after the shot is potentially the best of any bow ever made. The VXR 31.5 feels so great, it's even make the transition to a serious 3D bow for some shooters as well. The primary purpose of the VXR 31.5 is a hunting bow, and it's popularity will make it responsible for many successful hunts this fall.
Mathews VXR 31.5 vs. Mathews Traverse
|Bow||Mathews VXR 31.5||Mathews Traverse|
|Brace Height||6 "||6.625 "|
|AtA Length||31.5 "||33 "|
|Draw Length||26.5 " - 31 "||26.5 " - 32.5 "|
|Draw Weight||50 lbs - 75 lbs||40 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||343 fps||338 fps|
|Weight||4.66 lbs||4.7 lbs|
|Let-Off||80% or 85%||75% or 85%|
|Where to buy|
Best prices online
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These two bows are great shooters, and appeal to those wanting a little added stability when hunting. Although the axle-to-axle measurement of the VXR is a bit shorter than the 33-inch Mathews Traverse, the riser is longer. For those valuing a more favorable string angle, the Traverse may be the best option, and for those wanting a longer riser, the VXR 31.5 may be the better fit. The other major difference relates to the Switchweight technology on the VXR, and not on the Traverse. If anyone is interested in having the same bow set at different draw weights throughout the season, the Traverse will require a limb change, whereas the VXR 31.5 just needs a new cam module. Both bows are going to have an amazing feel. It is hard to go wrong with either choice.