By Christian Schauf
In the past 3 years, I’ve carried several of the major bow brands into the woods. Between changing needs, a vehicle theft, and some cool opportunities, I’ve had the chance to shoot the Mathews V3, Hoyt Ventum Pro, Hoyt RX-7 Ultra, and the PSE Mach 34.
Last year, I wrote a glowing review of the Hoyt RX-7 Ultra. A bow I had plenty of success with. A bow I am very comfortable with, and planned to take to South Africa for a 2 week hunt with Crusader Safaris.
That was until Jason called less than a week before we were wheels up.
“You wanna try a new PSE for this hunt?”
This was a once-in-a-lifetime hunt. Did I want to switch up from something I knew well and was confident with? No.
Am I a cheap bastard that loves the idea of a new carbon bow? Absolutely.
“Send it over. I’ll do my best to get it dialed. No promises.”
A few days later, I was working with Isaac Aleman Jr down at Black Rifle Coffee to get the new bow set up. This Mach 34 in green featured the EC2 cams and 80 pound limbs (83 pounds on the scale). We set up my 31” draw, mounted up a Hamskea epsilon rest, Garmin Xero A1i Pro Site, and I put my first arrow – a Method Archery ZMR – through paper. It was so absolutely perfect of a tear, we didn’t have to adjust a thing.
So much for checking out that new shim system.
I drove across town to the Easton Archery Center to get the site dialed in and put some reps on the bow. I had 2 days, and there was a lot of getting-to-know-you that needed to happen.
In what was the fastest sighting-in I’ve ever had with a bow, my first group of 3 arrows at 50 yards were all touching. This became the norm, and after shredding 4 fletchings, I stopped aiming at the same dots on my paper target for fear of running out of arrows.
Two long flights and several hours on bumpy roads didn’t affect the Mach’s zero. Two shots at 40 yards showed that it was dead on and ready to hunt. The accuracy continued as 4 animals fell to the Mach 34 in as many shots – 2 impala, 1 nyala and 1 blesbok. The bow was satisfying to carry around, hit like a freight train, and shots landed true, despite any level of nerves on my part.
But I know you want more specifics than that, so here are the finer points:
Draw cycle : It’s different. Especially coming from a different brand. But only for about 5 draws, and then it became normal. Yes, there’s more of a hump at the back of the draw cycle, but the EC2 cam is smooth, and the hump quickly became an afterthought as I got used to it. While I haven’t shot the other faster cam options, the EC2 was plenty fast for me and smooth as can be. Drawing 80 pounds felt light, and I failed to experience any extra fatigue vs my 70 pound bows of the past. I can shoot it all day.
Let Off: This bow features a 90% let off. It feels like you could hold at full-draw all day. In fact, combined with my Garmin Xero A1i Pro site, my technique in Africa was to draw while behind cover, slowly move out where I was exposed to the animal, range my distance, and fire. Never once did I need to shoot quickly because the hold became too much. Yes, letting down is abrupt, but a worthwhile compromise for how nice the hold is.
Pin Float: This was the biggest difference I felt vs other brands. I read about the “Full Draw Stability” while waiting for my bow to arrive and, if I’m honest, chalked it up as marketing.
At full draw, it almost feels as if this bow locks in and the pin just sits. I don’t know how else to explain it other than it was so locked in, that I often found myself rotating at the hips to adjust my pin on to a target. With my Hoyt, I had learned to embrace the pin float and timed my shots based on it. With the PSE, the ability to lock in and slowly move the pin in to your target is unlike anything I’ve experienced.
Weight: This bow is LIGHT. At 3.65 pounds, it’s a full .65 pounds lighter than the RX-7 Ultra. And I thought that bow was plenty light.
Speed: My 603 gr Method HMRs flew at 265 fps out of the RX-7 Ultra with 80 lb limbs. They flew at 277 fps out of the Mach 34, also at 80 lbs. My 503 gr Method ZMRs were flying at 302 fps. That’s serious speed for a fairly heavy arrow. In fact, half the arrows that killed animals in South Africa were not found. They simply flew through the animal and kept going, almost as if they didn’t realize they’d impacted something.
Sound: All of these bows are quiet, but different. I don’t have a way to measure sound, but in my opinion, it’s a non-issue.
Manufacturing: It’s absolutely worth noting that this bow is made in the USA. This is no easy task, and if you’re on the fence about which bow to buy, I hope this simple fact sways your decision. American manufacturing is important and I applaud them for this.
No Picatinny?: This may be my only real strike against this bow. I like a picatinny rail for mounting. It’s consistent, it’s centered, and I have a lot more confidence when swapping out sights and putting them back on. The addition of a pic rail, which already exists on other PSE bows, would be a nice touch.
Accessories: I think the other manufacturers have done a better job of building integrated rests, quivers, and stabilizers. There are plenty of good options out there, but if I’m honest, this could be better.
Conclusion: The high end carbon bows available today are defying physics. Quieter, faster, and more accurate than ever. I’ve never been more confident with a new bow, so quickly. If you’ve been thinking about an upgrade, the made in the USA PSE Mach 34 should absolutely be on your short list.