Mathews Z9 Review
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Editors' reviewThe long draw member of the 2011 Mathews Z family, the Z9, is specifically designed for archers whose draws lengths go to 32". The Z9 features the smooth driving Z9 Cam, SE5 Slimline Limbs, and the popular Grid Lock Riser packed into a 30" frame. Not as fast as the other bows in the Z line for 2011, but that is by design. The Z9's 8 3/4 " brace height and a more straight riser makes this bow very shootable for long draw archers and any short draw archer that is looking for a forgiving bow.
RiserWith Lost Camo finish, the Grid Lock Riser looked flawless on the test bow. All Mathews bows, accessories and components go through tough quality control measures. If the finish doesn't measure up, then the riser is stripped and refinished. The Grid Lock Riser is machined with several cutouts to reduce weight and add strength. As a Mathews standard, elastomer wheels are place near each end of the riser where Harmonic Dampeners or Harmonic Stabilizers are placed. The riser on the Z9 is not as radically reflexed as the others in the Z family for 2011. This helps the bow to be more stabile and forgiving, and helps to give the Z9 a longer brace height. This is especially helpful for the long draw archers who need the power stroke of the bow shortened to make the bow more shooter friendly for them.
LimbsThe Mathews SE5 Composite Slim Limbs on the Z9 is nearly twice as strong as previous Slim Limbs and are 30% lighter due to their new SE5 Composite Material. Because it is stronger, the new limbs are able to be made thinner than any previous Mathews limb, yet remain more durable as well. Using the Sphere Lock Limb Cup System to connect to the riser, the limb can pivot to insure positive alignment and downward pressure at all times.
GripMathews offers 3 grip options for almost all their bows, the standard grip for the Z9 is the walnut SlimFit Inline Grip. The narrow grip has the center line layer into it, and has been standard for Mathews bows since 2004. Being made of wood, it is warm to the touch in cold climates as compared to metal and looks attractive. Mathews other two grip options include the Classic Grip, which is made of wood, features a higher wrist sitting and had been their standard grip for many years. The other is the unique Focus Grip which minimizes hand torque and forces the hand pressure to the center of the grip. The Focus Grip is very narrow and made of polymer.
Reverse Assist Roller GuardThe Reverse Assist Roller Guard design, which is found on the Z9, allows the cables to resist wrapping and increasing pressure as they are free to move behind the roller guard. This brings added smoothness to the draw cycle. Typical roller guards where the cables are in front of the roller bring harshness to the draw cycle due to the pressure put on the cables during the draw process.
Z9 Single Cam & QCAThe Z9 utilizes a special version of the ZX Cam appropriately called the Z9 Cam. On the Z9, being a long draw bow, the A cam is for the 32" draw length instead of the 30" typically seen with the other Z Series Bows. The Z9 Cam also sports a yellow lobe on the cam as apposed to the red one on the standard ZX Cam. Designed for the long draw archer, the Z9 Cam produces an IBO speed of 312 due to the increase brace height of 8 3/4". However, by increasing the power stroke another inch or two definitely will add speed and the bow will remain shootable for those archers.
Like all Mathews bows, the Z9 draw lengths are in 0.5" increments, but from 27" to 32" with this bow. Again like all Mathews single cam bows, to change draw lengths another cam must be installed. To speed up this process, the Z9 has the QCA (Quick Change Axle). Needing no special tools, the QCA makes cam changing quick and easy without the hassle of e-clips and an axle puller.
Draw CycleAlthough utilizing the Z9 Cam, the Z9's draw cycle is typical of the bows in 2011 lineup that utilize the ZX Cam. The weight ramps up quickly at the beginning of the draw cycle and is pulled through the center of the cycle until reaching the valley. Once at the valley there is about 3/16" to 1/4 "of creep until completing the draw by settling against the backwall. Overall the draw is smooth and the back wall is solid. The bow balances perfectly in hand throughout the shot sequence. There is no noticeable vibration or recoil at the shot. Like all Mathews bows, the Z9 is quiet.
Silencing PackageThe Z9 has a Harmonic Dampner placed in the top elastomer wheel in the riser and a Harmonic Stabilzer placed in the bottom elastomer wheel. These two accessories help to absorb recoil and residual vibration during the shot sequence. The three Monkey Tail Silencers, two on the cable and one located above the cam on the string, help to eliminate vibration and sound while the resulting loss of speed due to their installation is reported as 1-2 fps. Located on the string immediately between the Monkey Tail and the cam is the String Grub. The String Grub reduces vibration at the shot so the bow picks up more speed. As typical of all Mathews bows, the Z9 has String Suppressors mounted on the end of each limb which stop the string upon the end of the shot deadening vibration. Mounted in the bushing opposite the stabilizer hole, the Dead End String Stop also stops the string at the end of the shot, dampening vibration, thus eliminating noise.
Mathews Z9 vs. Switchback LD
The best comparison is to say the 2011 Z9 is an upgraded Mathews Switchback LD, which was last made in 2009. Although a few years difference in age, to the eye the design is strikingly similar. Both have the riser that is relatively straight, and while the Z9's brace height is 1/4" shorter than the LD, the 30" axle to axle length of the Z9 is 3" shorter than the LD's 33". The Z9 also comes in roughly 5 to 6 ounces lighter than the LD. Due to the improvement of technology, the greatest difference between the two is speed. The Z9's IBO speed is 312fps while that of the Switchback LD is 280fps. The Switchback LD was a great forgiving design for the long draw archer and Mathews just improved it with the Z9 design.
|Bow||Mathews Z9||Mathews Switchback LD|
|Brace Height||8.75 "||9 "|
|AtA Length||30 "||33 "|
|Draw Length||26 " - 32 "||27 " - 32 "|
|Draw Weight||40 lbs - 70 lbs||40 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||312 fps||295 fps|
|Weight||4.0 lbs||4.36 lbs|
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