Mathews Z3 Review
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Editors' reviewThe Mathews Z7 was a very popular bow for Mathews a while back featuring a compact design, decent speeds, and single cam technology. For 2016, Mathews has decided to bring the Z7 back with a newly designed riser for a remake of a classic, which comes with a new name - the Z3. The Z3 is a great bow for shooters wanting the best of the solocam technology smoothness and 80% let-off combined with speeds up to 330 feet per second and a forgiving 7-inch brace height. The 30-inch axel-to-axel measurement is a nice compact design as well, and really brings shooters a nice hunting bow option if a compact bow is desired. The riser is the most notable difference from the current Z3 and the former Z7, with the design moving away from the GridLock riser of old. A bare bow weight of 4.55-pounds may be a bit heavy for some shooters considering the overall compactness of the Z3, but it does not feel too heavy in hand to be a major complaint for most shooters. Perhaps the best part about the Z3 is the $749 MSRP. Although this bow is realistically a few years old, the new designed riser, solocam technology, and performance really do make it a great value despite it basically being a rebuild of a very popular bow several years ago.
FinishThe Z3 gets a fresh look from the Lost Camo Z7 in regards to its stock camo pattern as well. The newly designed Lost XD pattern looks really nice on the Z3 design, and helps add a high quality look since it is the pattern of choice on the flagship models for 2016 Mathews rigs as well. Shooters also have the ability to go straight black on the Z3 as well. Similar to other Mathews bows, there is a simple logo on the limbs, and one near the rest mounting holes in the riser displaying the iconic cursive Mathews name.
RiserThe Z7 had the Geogrid riser, which was popular with some shooters and not visually pleasing to others. The function was great, and the idea driving the engineering behind the design was sound, but the look it created was debated in regards to how pretty it looked. The Z3 features an entirely redesigned riser, but keeps similar specifications and functionality. For most shooters, the major difference is the look of the new cutouts and the removal of the grid design. The new design adds a little bit of weight to the overall bow with a bare bow weight of 4.55-pounds. For a 30-inch axel-to-axel model, that number seems a little high on paper, but in hand it does not feel too heavy to be a burden. With that being said, the riser is fairly lengthy for the compact design measuring 27.64-inches in overall length. Although the axel to axel is shorter, the riser is fairly long, which will help a great deal with the stability of the Z3 on target.
Mathews take dampening very seriously with the riser design of the Z3. The riser integrates the Dead End String Stop system, a harmonic dampener lite, and a harmonic stabilizer lite insert. The combination of these three devices makes really keeps the hand shock vibration and noise down quite a bit. They can also add to the overall cool factor of the bow if shooters decide to accessorize and change out the factory installed black dampeners for some colored ones.
GripThe Z3 comes with the Focus grip installed from the factory. Back in the Z7 day, the Focus grip was an option from Mathews, but the bow came from the factory with the Mathews walnut grip. The Focus grip has proven to be a more standard option for many shooters given the more streamlined and simple design. The rubber composite grip is flat backed and fairly narrow where is sits in the shooters hand. There is a centerline down the back of the grip allowing shooters the ability to see where the mid point of the grip and bow is in relation to the shooters hand placement on the bow. This is a great reference to start reinforcing proper hand placement, but may be less popular for shooters to reference after they get proper form built into their shot sequence. Overall, the grip is comfortable, and should help shooters more consistently hold their bow grip.
LimbsIt was not long ago, Mathews was strictly a solid slim limb company. Then they started producing the Monster series with split limbs, which eventually carried over to their mainline hunting flagship models as well. The Z3 comes equipped again with solid limb technology. The limbs come in five different poundage configurations including maximum draw weights of 40, 50, 60, 65, and 70-pounds. The 65-pound offering is a great compromise for shooters wanting to max out their limbs, but not willing to draw the full 70-pounds. The solid limb constriction is not able to offer as much pre-stress as compared to the split limb designs, but the nostalgic look of the Z3 will make archers feel right at home with their choice.
The limb pockets are fairly simplistic in their look, but the hold the limbs in place at the end of the limbs, and provide a pivoting point for the limbs to flex over toward the cams a bit, which is factored in to where the riser contacts the limbs.