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mathews_z7_smallMathews Inc. has been on the top single cam market for several years and they plan on maintaining that lead with the introduction of the Z7 for 2010.  Last year’s flagship bow for Mathews was the Monster series, which was a two cam bow; this led to a lot of criticism that Mathews had lost it’s Solocam way.  Will the Z7 put the critics to rest and pacify the Solocam lovers?

Description from the Mathews website:

mathews_z7_camoExperience the perfect blend of speed, and accuracy with the All New Mathews® Z7™.  Featuring the Z7 Cam™ which provides blazing speed with an ultra-smooth draw, the Reverse Assist™ Roller Guard that reduces friction for a smoother draw cycle, and a stronger, lighter-weight riser made with revolutionary new Grid Lock™ Technology combine for the ultimate balance in performance.  The Z7™ comes standard with the Dead End String Stop, Harmonic Stabilizer, Monkey Tails, SlimFit grip.  This is the finest hunting bow ever produced.  Mathews Z7™- Expectations Exceeded!

Mathews Z7 First Look and Details

When pictures of the Z7 first came out, my initial reaction was similar to many: “what were they thinking!”  The Grid Lock riser has received such jabs as “waffle iron”, “tennis racket”, “egg carton” and many more.  It is definitely a unique look and if Mathews was going for attention over beauty, they certainly succeeded here!  However, in person the bow does look better in pictures, though it still won’t win any beauty pageants.

Besides the waffle iron pattern, the first thing that many notice about the Z7 riser is the extreme deflex design.  The limbs have very little bend to them and are parallel (or slightly past) to each other before the draw.  In order to have any kind of length to the limbs, the riser must take on the radical deflex design.  Even with the riser geometry as it is, the Z7 still sports a 7″ brace height.  The rest of the specs come out to 30″ for the ATA and just under four pounds for the weight.  Sporting a 337 IBO rating the Z7 is no speed slouch.

The Z7 inherited much of its technologies from the previously released Reezen bows, including the SphereLock Pivoting Limb pockets, SE4 Composite limbs and a cam that appears to be a slightly modified Reezen cam, dubbed the Z7 Solocam.  One difference is that the Z7 comes standard with a string stopper, the Dead End String Stop; something that previously was only seen on the two cammed Monster XLR8.

z7_reezen_cableguardsOne other significant difference is the introduction of the Reverse Assist Roller Guard.  Previous versions of the roller guard always had the cables on the riser side of the rollers.  The Z7’s roller guard reverses this and places the cables on the string side of the rollers, utilizing a much longer roller guard.

Shooting and Performance of the Z7

As with the Hoyt Maxxis Review I do not own a Z7 nor did Archery Report qualify for a review bow this year so my shooting of the Z7 was relegated to shop bows and bows owned by others.  I’ve shot Z7s from 60 to 70 lbs., and 28-30″ (I usually settle in with most bows at 29.5″).  One thing that I did immediately notice is that the Z7 generally runs long on the draw.  I would highly recommend that you shoot one and figure out what draw length you need before blindly ordering one at the draw length you’ve shot before as the Z7 cams are draw length specific.

The Z7 is short, very short at 30″ ATA.  Many people will love this, especially treestand and blind hunters that want a more maneuverable bow.  I still have not converted over to such short bows (my shortest is just under 34″) and thus a naked Z7 did not balance well at all for me.  However, once a stabilizer on the heavy side (I liked about 14 oz. on a 9-10″ stabilizer) and a sight were added, the Z7 settled in much more to my liking.  I first shot the Z7 without any other accessories to get a good feel for the bow.

mathews_z7_camA naked bow had a bit of a jump and noise at the shot, but little residual vibration.  Overall it felt very odd, unbalanced and not to my liking at all.  Momentarily my hopes for a great bow sank, but then I added the accessories and the story was much different.  With the stabilizer and sight installed, the shot still had a slight jump (I personally like a little feedback on the shot) but was significantly quieter and the balance was a world of difference for the better.  For anyone shooting a Z7 that is interested in buying one, I would recommend throwing on a few different stabilizers and a sight to get a good feel for it.  It could very well make or break your decision to buy the bow.

Once that Z7 was balanced and the 20 and 30 yard pins sighted in, tuning was a snap.  As Mathews has always advertised, the Solocam system is easy to tune. When shooting I was grouping very well for a bow I had never shot before.  The sharp angle of the string at full draw (due to the short ATA) took some time to get used to and I tend to like a harder back wall for back tension shooting.  However, after getting used to the hold of the bow and feel of the shot, the Z7 was very pleasant to shoot.  Of the four Z7s mathews_z7_blackthat I have shot, I was able to chronograph two of them.  Both came out to be shooting about 323-327 fps IBO with various arrow weights.  This is slightly under the 332 fps top rating given by Mathews and I’d attribute that to the fact that I measured the actual draw length and used that in the IBO calculations.

Final Thoughts on Mathews Z7

An obvious comparison to the Z7 is going to be the Mathews Reezen series.  There are some significant changes from the previous years and I believe the Z7 is a definite step forward for Mathews.  The Z7 feels better on the draw and is quieter than the Reezens that I have shot.  With an MSRP of $899 that is only $30 more than the Reezen, I would predict that the Z7s will be flying off the shelves unless the Reezen is significantly discounted.

Mathews fans and probably many others will be very happy with the Z7s overall performance.  The looks of the Grid Lock Riser and somewhat corny red accents are sure to turn off some buyers, but given the chance to see and shoot the bow in person will allay some of the fears of an ugly bow (though I must admit a black Z7 with red accents looks pretty slick).  Mathews does offer the various vibration dampers in different colors (for a price) that will allow archers to customize their look from the norm.

What I liked about the Mathews Z7

  • Quiet and little vibration
  • Excellent finish and apparent quality
  • Good balance between shootability and performance
  • Easy to tune

What I didn’t like about the Mathews Z7

  • Too short to my liking
  • While better looking in person than pictures, it’s still ugly
  • Back wall not as solid as I’d like

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