PSE Carbon Air Stealth SE Review
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PSE has recently entered the carbon riser market, and they have made a huge splash so far. The newest riser design appears on the PSE Carbon Air Stealth, which has created a love/hate relationship for the market. The design itself is much more sleek than the previous bridged design, but it cause the bow to look different than many are used to. The grip has also gotten thicker in the shooters hand, which some appreciate and others do not. Overall, the 3.2-pound bare bow weight is extremely light, the 33-inch axel-to-axel measurement is about perfect for hunting in a variety of situations, and the 65-90% let off options give every shooter the holding weight they prefer pulling into the back wall. In addition to this, the Evolve Cam is one of the highest reviewed cam systems on the market in 2018. The Carbon Air Stealth SE is a redesigned Evolve cam, which features better performance for shooters with a shorter draw length in the 24-29.5-inches range. For anyone on the market for a lightweight hunting how, the Carbon Air Stealth is difficult to beat. With that being said, the $1499 price tag is one of the highest price tags for 2018, and is a lot to pay for a compound bow, even if money is not a deciding factor in choosing the best hunting bow.
FinishOverall, the finishes offered on the Carbon Air Stealth SE look very well done. Certain parts of the riser are thicker than traditional compound bow risers, which allows the pattern to show through better than risers with a large number of cutouts. The finish is well applied, despite some issues carbon risers have created the archery industry in the past. Unfortunately, the Stealth SE only comes in three finish options including all black, Mossy Oak Country, and Kryptek Highlander. Many archery forums appreciate the black finish more than the camo applications just based on looks alone. It would be nice for PSE to join some other major companies in offering more camo patterns, but the two offered are fairly popular, and the finish is more than likely not the deciding factor in choosing a hunting bow anyways.
RiserPSE is fairly new to the carbon riser market, and the redesigned riser featured on the Carbon Air Stealth has created all sorts of buzz based on the unique look of the riser. PSE was able to beef up the riser is spots, including the grip area, to eliminate the bridged design the outgoing Carbon Air models have. The new shape and design of the riser is pretty polarizing amongst shooters and their personal taste in how appealing it is. However, the added strength and rigidity all lead to increased accuracy.PSE is new to the carbon market, and their monocoque carbon construction is a new twist on what other manufactures have done with their carbon risers. The design PSE chose to use has the riser one solid piece of carbon, which allows shooters to fully benefit from the stiff carbon characteristics without the glued areas potentially forming weak spots. The carbon design is hollow the way PSE engineered it helping cut down on the overall weight of the bow. The tube is filled with a PSE proprietary substance to deaden vibration and help increase the bare bow weight up to the 3.2-pounds advertised. Rarely do companies try to increase the overall weight of their rigs, but in the case of the Carbon Air Stealth, it needs the filler to get to the weight of being the lightest bow on the market.The Flex Rod System (FRS) used on the Carbon Air Stealth is brand new for 2018 and much different than the outgoing models cable containment system. The FRS is adjustable for tuning to different arrow and vane configurations. The system is also partnered with a Vapor RollerGlide PSE says is the smoothest slide on the market. The rear mounting string stop system is not too fancy, but does function flawlessly, and can be adjusted for a more personal feel if shooters feel the need to do so,
GripThe Carbon Air Stealth grip has been polarizing amongst those with experience shooting the bow. It is important to note many of these conflicting reviews of the grip are only based on initial feel, not many are based on a significant amount of time spent shooting the Stealth's grip. As already stated, the riser loses the bridge design from the Carbon Air and Carbon Air 34 from last year. This creates a need for the grip area to get beefed up a bit to keep riser torque to a minimum. The grip area fitting in shooters hands has not changed from previous PSE models. The thickness has changed, and many are saying it is uncomfortable because of the thickness, not resulting in how the bow sits against the lifeline of shooter's hands. For shooters spending more time shooting the Stealth, most are pleased with how the grip feels and performs. The flat back fits well where it is supposed to, and the grip is easy to shoot the same during each shot, which is all that should matter. The grip is an integrated component of the riser as well, which means shooters hands will stay warm in hunting situations given the favorable heat characteristics of a carbon riser over an aluminum riser.
LimbsThe Carbon Air Stealth SE is of course equipped with the X-Force style limbs, which are highly pre-loaded at rest and aggressive looking. Shooters can choose from maximum draw weights of 40, 50, 60, and 70-pounds, and the limb bolts allow for 10 full turns of adjustment. To properly contain the SE Cam system, the limbs have gotten thicker to better distribute the workload and stress caused by the cam system, but they work well, and do not add much weight to the overall feel of the bow despite being pretty large. The limbs are solidly held in place by the Wedge Lock pocket design. Like other pockets, these are engineered to keep the connection between limbs and riser as strong as possible. As the bow is drawn, the limbs have a zero tolerance connection because of the wedge lock system, which allows the bow to perform the same every single shot.With lightweight bows, a concern tends to be the feedback produced after the shot. To help with this, factory dampeners are installed on the split limbs. These look different than the old style band dampeners, but are the same as those featured on other PSE bows for 2018. These dampeners are easily swapped out for a variety of colors for anyone wanting to add a personal touch to the look of their rig.
Eccentric SystemThe Evolve Cam System is a beloved cam for PSE lovers, and although it is not new for 2018, it is a welcomed carryover technology. The SE version of this cam is specifically designed for shorter draw archers, but has the same great shootability characteristics and draw force curve as the standard sized cam system. The SE version of the Evolve Cam System allows draw lengths of 24-29.5-inches, capable of half-inch adjustments with an rotating module. It also features two let-off modules, the LL Module for 65-75% and the HL module for 80-90%. The performance of the binary cam system is pretty outstanding as well with an ATA/IBO speed rating of 340-332 at the peak draw length of 29.5-inches.The Evolve Cam System is a great piece of engineering with a quad track keeping the cables tight to the center of the cam as the string is drawn. Instead of the cables mounting to the limbs, the Evolve Cam allows the split cables to mount on the inside of the limbs. This keeps everything towards the center of the bow, and ultimately allows for less stress to be placed on the outside of the limbs leading to potential cam lean issues. If shooters need to tune the bow, which would have required twisting yokes in the past on PSE bows, spacers will need to be adjusted to shim the cams instead. If adjusting the rest does not eliminate paper tears on the initial tune, cam shiming should do the trick and it is pretty simple. Left tears require shimming left, and right tears require a shim to the right. Both shimming cams, and twisting yokes require the use of a bow press, so it should not take much more time to do one over the other, and shimming the cams is likely more permanent than twisting the yokes because yokes can still stretch, and the shims are not going to move. The e-clips may be tough to keep track of if they decide to fly off when shimming, but once the system is tuned and shooting great, it should stay that way forever.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityThe Evolve Cam System has some of the best shootability and adjustment characteristics of any bow on the market in 2018. The outstanding performance of the cams with such a high let-off, makes the Carbon Air Stealth SE one of the highest rated bows on the market. With that being said, the whole system feels different depending on the let off module chosen by each shooter. Between the two modules, shooters can choose from 65-90% let-off in 5% increments. Those wanting more holding weight at the back wall can use the LL modules, and those wanting the 90% let-off can opt for the HL module. Although each of these options will feel different pulling through the valley and holding on target, each of them transition effortlessly without any felt humps or dumps.The bow is lightweight at 3.2-pounds before accessories are added, and it is noticeable how lightweight this rig is after taking it off the rack. However, it balances super well, holds on target great, and has no vibration or noise after the arrow is released. One of the major complaints of the first carbon risers from PSE were related to the felt recoil after the shot, and the new Stealth Air riser has eliminated that concern altogether. This bow is arguably one of the best carbon riser bows ever produced, and it is worth a test shot from anyone able to afford such a fine rig.
Usage ScenariosThe Carbon Air Stealth SE is a hunting bow. Shooters will appreciate the accuracy and performance of this bow, especially with the redesigned SE cams for shorter draw shooters. Anyone wanting a lightweight carbon riser bow should be stoked with this model, especially those on the lower end of the draw length range for the Carbon Air Stealth. Those backpacking long distances, tree stand hunting, or even ground blind hunting will appreciate the carbon qualities offered on this bow.
Carbon Air Stealth SE vs. Carbon Air Stealth
|Bow||PSE Carbon Air Stealth SE|
|Brace Height||5.875 "|
|AtA Length||33 "|
|Draw Length||24 " - 29.5 "|
|Draw Weight||30 lbs - 70 lbs|
|IBO Speed||332 fps - 340 fps|
|Let-Off||80% - 90%|
|Where to buy|
Best prices online
These bows are the same with the exception of the cam system. The SE cam is better designed for shorter draw archers, and will more than likely be the best option for those at the bottom of the draw weight range. For shooters in part of the cam cross over, the performance will more than likely be higher at the upper end of the cam versus the lower end of a larger cam. However, the PSE Carbon Air Stealth may be a more popular dealer order than an SE, so it may be more likely to find a Carbon Air Stealth on the bow rack at a local shop.