PSE Xpression 3D Review
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Editors' reviewPSE has upped their game a bit in the competitive archery world releasing a dedicated spots bow with the Xpression and a dedicated 3D bow in the Xpression 3D for 2016. The Xpression 3D offers a ton of what shooters need to be competitive in the archery world of 3D shooting. It has a balance of decently quick performance with an ATA/IBO speed rating of 324-316 feet per second, a forgiving 36 1/2 - inch axel to axel measurement with a 7-inch brace height, and adjustable cams and limbs to get the exact shooting experience shooters demand. Best of all, the cams are very shootable, and feel great on the draw and after the shot. The Xpression 3D is pretty limited in regards to being a 3D bow only, although it could be used on the line for some spot shooting, this thing shines brightest on the 3D range. Shooters may have a hard time forking over an MSRP of $1399 for a 3D bow, but those serious enough to take their abilities to the next level with a top of the line bow have a solid option with the 2016 Xpression 3D.
FinishShooters interested in the Xpression 3D have the option to choose between five target colors straight from the factory. Each of these choices feature a glossy finish, and look great on the target model. PSE finishes are always durable and can withstand the abuse a finish is put through being a dedicated 3D bow. 3D shooters are perhaps some of the most likely to get creative with the colors used to deck out their bows, so the five base colors are great places to start from. Shooters can pick between black, red, blue, pearl white and polished titanium. Each model comes standard with black limbs as well, and help complete the overall style and look of the Xpression 3D.
RiserThe Xpression 3D is a longer framed bow measuring 37.5-inches axel to axel. This stability is primarily made up with the newly forged 7075-aluminum alloy riser unlike anything PSE has designed in the past. With that being said, it has very similar characteristics to the spot shooting Xpression, also in the 2016 PSE line up. Shooters are sure to notice the forged asymmetric shoot through riser and the lower riser cage just below the strip stop system and front stabilizer-mounting hole first because it gives the Xpression 3D a completely different look than other PSE's in the lineup. The shoot through cage is reduced a bit when compared to the height of the Xpression's shoot through portion, but it serves a similar purpose. The cage is asymmetric, which means part of the riser is reflexed, and the other side is deflexed. This difference in more pronounced on the Xpression, but again it is there. This will help the bow stabilize and the riser twist much less than having a fully reflexed or fully deflexed riser. Shooters also have the ability to choose which height of sight mounting holes they want to use based on their exact set up.The Fleslide 2 is a bit of a different cable system. It has less moving parts than a Flexslide on a PSE hunting bow, which means less pieces, but it also looks a lot more simplistic and borderline cheap. The function of the traditional slide system is fine; the looks hurt the overall design of the bow for some shooters. The Backstop 4 is the fourth generation of the PSE rear-mounted string stop system. Again, PSE went to a more simplistic design creating a one-piece rod, which has the same types of adjustment the previous generation did. The fourth generation has in and out adjustment as well as rotational adjustment, but they are all done with the rubber stopper. The previous models had a two-piece rod design, which slid in and out. Serious 3D shooters are very personal about where they put the stabilizer weight, and how they choose to make the bow feel holding and after the shot. The bare Xpression 3D weighs in at a fairly heavy 4.7-pounds. However, there are forward facing, and rear facing mounting holes for shooters interested in more freedom to move the stabilizers and weights around. Combined with stabilizer off-sets, the options are basically endless as to how shooters can set up the Xpression 3D for a personalized feel.
GripThe Asymmetric Raptor grip gets a beefier feel when compared to previous model year bows with the B.E.S.T. grip. As already mentioned, 3D shooters are very picky about certain things on their bow, and the grip is one of them. For shooters that liked to tweak with the size of the grip by adding tape to get a certain feel, the larger starting point the Raptor forces shooters to deal with may be slightly problematic. Perhaps shooters can add less tape to get the feel they want, but it seems like the smaller frame is easier for some to tweak to personal preference perfection. Either way, the grip is designed and fits in the hand the same way, it is just a bit wider than many PSE shooters have gotten used to over the last few years.
LimbsThe Xpression 3D limbs are quite a bit wider than what shooters are used to seeing on their beloved PSE bows. This is in part to help reinforce limb tip strength and better stability for the cams, and in part to provide some better limb qualities and energy storage. The wide limbs are offered in 50, 60, and 70-pound maximum draw weights and have 13 turn limb bolts, which allows for a few more than the standard 10-pounds of adjustment off the maximum draw weights.With the wider limbs come two technologies as well. The Wedge Lock Pocket System keeps the limbs in place by tightening the limbs up against a wedge, which helps keep them secure in the pocket. Loose limbs in the pockets has not been a large issue with PSE models in the past, but with lots of engineers working on the released technologies, it is sure to be a proven technology from the research and development team at PSE. The next large change comes with the Lateral Alignment System (LAS). This kind of technology is not new to PSE, but is new on the compound side of the company. Shooters using certain PSE recurves have seen this technology before. Basically, shooters are able to move the limbs and pockets left to right to get a more precise tune out of the bow. Keep in mind movements as small as 1/32 makes a giant difference, and PSE has made this adjustment a bit easier with the use of some marks on the front side of the pocket. Moving the limbs will have the same impact as moving a rest during the initial set up process. Whether or not this is a useful technology for shooters to have, or just a gimmick is yet to be proven, but the option is nice to have for shooters that want to get the best tune their bow has to offer.
Eccentric SystemPSE is marketing the Xpression 3D as the ultimate 3D bow, in part because of the DM Hybrid target cam system. These cams are extremely adjustable and fairly easy to tune being a hybrid system with the top wheel basically just a glorified string track for the string and cables to use. Draw lengths are available from 25-30.5-inches in half-inch increments simply by sliding the included rotating module to the proper draw length without using a press. The standard let off module is 75%, but shooters have the option to choose a 65% module if that fits their shooting style better. Shooters can choose to utilize the bottom cam cable stop system or initiate the top cam limb stop peg if they want a more solid feel. The ability to fine tune this part of the cam is great, since personal preference on the feel of the back wall varies so greatly from shooter to shooter. The speed rating of the DM Hybrid cams ends up being fairly respectable with and ATA/IBO speed rating of 324-316 feet per second with a 7-inch brace height.
Draw Cycle/ShootabilityEverything about the DM Hybrid cam is customizable for the most part. The cams are smooth enough to be great for everyone, and the back wall can be made into a hard stop with the use of the limb stop, or have a more spongy feel with the simple cable stop used on the bottom cam. The ability to adjust the let-off is another major advantage of the system as well. Shooters wanting more holding weight on the back end will be excited about the 65% let off module, and those wanting less holding weight, should be pleased with the standard 75% module.For shooters wanting to earn some serious bragging rights, the Xpression 3D is a bow that can certainly get them there. The cams are smaller and less aggressive than the hunting bows produced by PSE, which is rightfully so. However, 3D shooters are generally not interested in aggressive drawing cams. The speeds are decent, and the bow is solid holding on target. The ability to adjust and move weight around with stabilizers and off-set brackets literally allows shooters to get exactly what they want for balance on their Xpression 3D. There is a slight bit of vibration and noise on the shot when the bow is not set up, but after accessories and more weight is added, it is a nice feeling rig.
Usage ScenariosThe Xpression 3D does not hide the fact that it was designed as a foam shooter. Some shooters may use the 3D as an indoor target bow in the wintertime as well, but it is made for shooting 3D targets. Shooters would have a tough time justifying an Xpression 3D as a hunting bow, however, it could end up working as a hunting bow if absolutely needed. The Xpression 3D really does its best work shooting 3D targets though.
PSE Xpression 3D vs. PSE Xpression
|Bow||PSE Xpression 3D||PSE Xpression|
|Brace Height||7 "||7.125 "|
|AtA Length||36.5 "||40 "|
|Draw Length||25 " - 30.5 "||26 " - 31.5 "|
|Draw Weight||40 lbs - 70 lbs||40 lbs - 60 lbs|
|IBO Speed||324 fps||308 fps - 316 fps|
|Weight||4.7 lbs||4.8 lbs|
|Let-Off||65, 75%||65, 75%|
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The differences between these two models are fairly minimal. Each bow is designed for a singular purpose with the 3D more aligned to what shooters want in a 3D bow and the Xpression more so a target bow. The bottom line is that despite some minor differences, either model can be shot with success in either shooting situation. These bows are both available to fill a need with the PSE lineups based on what staff shooters are demanding. One is not necessarily better than the other, but each has a style of shooting it may work better for. The PSE Xpression 3D shooters will have a little less axel to axel and some more speed, while the PSE Xpression shooter will have a longer platform and a bit more forgiveness with the longer riser and better string angle feel. Overall, both bows are solid performers and should be photographed a lot on the podium next to some large checks.