PSE EVO NXT 31 Review

PSE EVO NXT 31

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Pros

  • An improvement in almost every way on an already great platform
  • Second grip option from the factory
  • Most compact design of the EVO NXT lineup
  • The Evolve Cam System

Cons

  • Some shooters may fit better in a longer axle-to-axle EVO NXT model
  • ATA/IBO Speed Rating is a bit slow at 329-321 feet per second

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Editors' review

The 2020 model year marks the fiftieth year PSE has been producing bows, and that is without a doubt something to celebrate. Mr. Pete Shepley and his amazing team of engineers has brought a number of amazing rigs to the hunting and target archery world during the last 50 years, and many of the bow names this year are throwbacks to those beloved models. The 2020 EVO NXT lineup shows respect in name to the X-Force EVO. PSE has produced some incredible shooting bows since introducing the Evolve Cam System, and the EVO NXT 31 is the latest rendition of their compact hunting model. This model features all the wonderful Evolve Cam features of module draw length adjustment from 25-30.5- inches, along with six different let-off options to match the holding weight and back wall feel each person wants. The speed rating is a bit disappointing on paper with an ATA/IBO speed rating of only 329-321 feet per second. However, these speeds are totally achievable directly out of the box, and many reviews have speeds surpassing this advertised rating. The compact 31-inch axle-to-axle measurement may be a bit short for some shooters with a longer draw length, but they could easily opt for a 33 or 35-inch EVO NXT model instead. The MSRP of $1099 is not cheap by any means, but it is comparable to what other flagship model hunting bows cost in 2020. For those wanting a compact hunting bow with a phenomenal cam, featuring a lot of great shootability options, the EVO NXT 31 is a solid platform with great feel.

Finish

To be honest, one of the areas lacking in recent years has been the finish options offered by PSE, especially when it comes to the hunting lineup. PSE has upped their game a tiny bit in 2020 with one new camo pattern coming to the lineup. The finishes for the ENO NXT 31 include returning favorites of Kuiu Verde, Mossy Oak Country, Black, Tan, and Realtree Edge, with a First Lite Fusion being added this year. The options are still a bit limited, but should give most shooters enough to choose from. PSE finishes have always been well done, and these choices are no different. The dipping process is done in house for PSE, and the end result is an amazing looking product, no matter the finish shooters decide to go with. With all the great camo options offered in 2020, it would be nice to see a few more options offered.

Riser

The EVO NXT 31 is the most compact of the PSE flagship models with a shorter 30.5-inch axle-to-axle measurement. The riser is straighter than it has been in previous years, and the laid back limbs give the bow the most shock-free feeling PSE has had in a while. The cutouts are different than PSE has engineered in the past. Instead of angular, aggressive looking cutouts, the EVO NXT 31 has a more rounded look for 2020. PSE also opted to remove the riser cage as well, which will make some shooters who felt the Evoke may have been a bit top heavy last year. The overall bare bow weight is pretty standard for flagships in 2020 as well tipping the scales at 4.3-pounds. When paired with the Evolve cam system, and the newly designed riser, the brace height is a pretty generous 6.5-inches, which will be a sweet spot between performance and forgiveness.The technology is standard issue equipment for PSE in recent years. There is a rear mounted string stop, which keeps the string from making too much vibration after being released. It also keeps the string off the shooter's clothing in the colder weather. Shooters can also adjust this carbon rod to fine tune exactly what it feels like. PSE is also interested in shooters being able to fine tune how the rig feels with stabilizers as well. Shooters have one rear mounted stabilizer hole for a back bar to be connected to. The front of the riser also has the standard stabilizer mounting location. However, PSE is also offering a lower mounting location off the front of the riser as well. This gives the bow an entirely different feel. The lower the weight is placed, the less of it is needed to give the desired feeling. Even if shooters choose the standard mounting hole, having the option for the lower alternative is a nice addition from PSE to let shooters decide what makes the most sense for their own situation. The cable containment system sticks with the PSE Roller Glide technology, which may be one of the slickest designs in the industry. This has a side mounted roller so the cables are able to roll freely, but also has a cable slide design the rollers move across. This eliminates a great deal of torque, and supports fine tunable movements for the perfect arrow flight no matter what type of set up shooters choose in regards to arrow and vane configurations.

Grip

The PSE grip comes in two factory offerings for 2020. The first, and perhaps most familiar is the grip built right into the riser design. This grip is the standard PSE grip, with a flat back, and an almost perfect width fitting well in the shooter's hand, right where it should be. PSE is also including a one-piece rubber molded grip to fit over the one built into the riser. This feels similar, although it is a thicker grip, and has a little different shape. Those who like the standard PSE grip, will notice similarities right away between the two models. The plastic over molded grip will be a bit warmer in the cold weather hunting typically happens during, and for those few who want a little wider grip, this one will make a nice option. Both grips are well thought out, and designed to place perfectly in the hand for the most repeatable shot possible.

Limbs

The limbs on the EVO NXT 31 look a bit different than the previous X-Force style limbs shooters have gotten used to seeing coming out of Arizona. Thanks to the new riser and limb pocket design, the limbs take a more laid back look to help deaden some noise and dampen virtually all residual vibration shooters may have felt in the past. The maximum draw weights include 50, 60, 65, 70, and even 80-pound limbs. For an adult hunting bow, these offerings cover the entire range of the spectrum! With the size of the bow overall, some may argue it would be nice to have a 40-pound maximum draw weight, but at the end of the day, the EVO NXT 31 is built to fit the overwhelming majority of shooters interested in a compact hunting bow. The limbs and pockets are a bit different for the 2020 model year as well. PSE went with less preload than previous model years, and at first glance the configuration may not even seem like a flagship hunting bow from PSE. With that being said, the laid back limb design was thoughtfully integrated to create a smoother feeling after the shot. The EVO NXT 31, is absolutely dead in the hand, and the more parallel limb design does an exceptional job cancelling out any left over vibration shooters may have felt in previous models. The split limbs are still bulletproof and made to the highest of standards. The limb graphics are very simplistic, and do nothing to take away from the overall look and feel of the bow itself. At the end of the day, the new design may look a bit less like the X-Force limbs of old, but the shooter experience will more than likely be a welcomed improvement for many wanting a compact hunting rig.

Eccentric System

The EVO NXT 31 is the fastest of the EVO NXT lineup for the 2020 flagship models. With that being said, there is a great deal of buzz surrounding how unimpressive the ATA/IBO speed rating of 329-321 feet per second actually is. The Evolve cam system is known for a lot of things, and has even boasted faster speeds on a very comparable platform in previous model years. However, in PSE's defense, the speed ratings released for 2020 are totally achievable slapping a rest on and shooting a properly spined arrow, without any tuning, and not overinflation. Honesty should always be the best policy, but in recent years, speed ratings have fallen victim to significant inflation and many are clocking in 10 or more feet per second slow. With the EVO NXT 31, the bow is going to shoot the advertised speeds, and in many cases will even outperform that rating according to many first hand reviews.The Evolve Cam System is not new from PSE, and those not super familiar with the cam system must not be paying attention to PSE in recent model years. This cam has been one of the most used cam systems out of the PSE factory. For a few years, the Evolve Cam has been a do it all, top of the line cam on flagship hunting bows, and serious target bows, and for great reason. The cam system tunes easily, adjusts easily, has a ton of customization to adjust to individual shooter preferences, and has an amazing feel throughout the entire draw force curve in the whole draw length range. The EVO NXT 31 is offered in a draw length range from 25-30.5-inches with the use of a rotating draw length module. This module rotates without the use of a bow press, and can adjust draw lengths in half-inch increments without having to purchase a different module. Shooters can also choose from the high let-off or low let-off module as well, which gives shooters an option of 65, 70, 75, 80, 85, or 90%. That is a ton of adjustment to match the holding weight and back wall feel everyone is looking for.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The Evolve Cam system is one of the best cams PSE has ever produced because it allows shooters the opportunity to tweak just about everything about the draw cycle. Shooters can choose their specific let-off and holding weight, which will ultimately adjust how the valley feels too. The Evolve cam is smooth drawing at all settings, and transitions very smoothly from peak weight, to the let-off, and ultimately into the valley and solid back wall. The 30.5-inch axle-to-axle bow is a bit on the compact side for shooters at the upper end of the draw length range, and that may be something to consider for the longer draw guys. Some of those shooters may be more comfortable opting for the longer EVO NXT 33 instead for a bit more favorable string angle. However, the perfectly balanced weight feels solid on target, and aims very well for a shooter bow. After the shot, the bow is whisper quiet, and there is no vibration in the shooter's hand whatsoever. For the hunter interested in a compact bow ideal for treestands and ground blinds, the EVO NXT 31 is a solid contender.

Usage Scenarios

The PSE EVO NXT 31 is a perfect little treestand or ground blind bow for the dedicated hunter demanding the most maneuverable bow possible. The 30.5-inch axle-to-axle measurement is very compact for some shooters, but it does not necessarily ever feel too short with how the bow is designed. However, for those with a draw length range at the upper end of the 25-30.5-inch range, shooters may want to consider one of the longer axle-to-axle rigs, which may be a little more comfortable. The bottom line is that the EVO NXT 31 is a hunting bow. Shooters will love refining their skills on the 3D ranges with buddies, but anyone hoping to be a competitive 3D archer will want to look into other PSE models perhaps more suitable for that purpose specifically.

PSE EVO NXT 31 vs PSE EVO NXT 33

BowPSE EVO NXT 31PSE EVO NXT 33
Version 20202020
PicturePSE EVO NXT 31PSE EVO NXT 33
Brace Height6.5 "7 "
AtA Length30.5 "33 "
Draw Length25 " - 30.5 "26.5 " - 32 "
Draw Weight40 lbs - 80 lbs40 lbs - 80 lbs
IBO Speed321 fps - 329 fps314 fps - 322 fps
Weight4.3 lbs4.5 lbs
Let-Off80% - 90% 80% - 90%
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These two bows are going to be very popular hunting bows coming out of Tucson, Arizona. Both rigs are built for hunting, and share many of the same features that make them such great rigs, including all of the same technology. The major difference between PSE EVO NXT 31 and PSE EVO NXT 33 is the axle-to-axle measurement, with the 31 being 2.5-inches shorter than the 33-inch version. This measurement impacts the brace height, and speed ratings a bit as well, but the major difference resulting in shooters choosing one over the other will more than likely be axle-to-axle length. For those demanding the most compact rig available, the 31 is a clear choice. For those around 29-inches or longer in draw length, the 33 may be a bit more comfortable to shoot in a fully upright position without having to tilt into the string for anchoring. Both bows are going to be amazing hunting bows, and with every decision in archery, shooters will have to decide what makes the most sense for them personally. What an awesome time to be alive, when shooters have such amazing bows to choose from, with such a relatively minor difference between them.

Summary

PSE is celebrating their 50th year in the archery industry, and the EVO NXT platform does not disappoint. The NXT 31 is the shortest of the EVO NXT lineup with a 30.5-inch axle-to-axle measurement, and also has the fastest speed rating out of the group as well. It is worth mentioning the slow speed rating is generating a lot of negative buzz around this bow, but anyone with experience testing the bow will know those are real numbers, and may even overperform the advertised speeds in the catalog. For those hunters demanding the most compact rig on the market, the NXT 31 is going to be tough to beat. The newly designed riser, added grip option, new finish offering, and laid back limb pocket design have all added minor tweaks to an already solid platform many shooters will love. The Evolve Cam System is the cam of choice again for this flagship hunting bow, and that is going to make lots of people very happy to see. However, with some many models using the Evolve Cam, it is possible some shooters will just stick with what they have, even with the great changes made in 2020. For a competitive price of a flagship hunting bow with an MSRP of $1099, the PSE EVO NXT 31 is going to be a popular bow for the diehard hunter this year.

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