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2010 is full of some great bows that push the limits of performance and introduce new technologies to the market.  One such bow is the Bowtech Destroyer 350 which was sent to Archery Report for review.  When the Destroyer arrived, my first impression was that the bow is great looking and seems to exude a feeling of performance with its aggressive appearance and styling.  Are looks everything or does this bow perform as advertised?

Bowtech Destroyer 350 Manufacturer vs. Measured Specifications

Manufacturer Specification Measured Specification
Weight NA 4lbs. 3 oz.
Max. Poundage 70 lbs. 72 lbs.
Brace Height 6” 6 1/16″
ATA 32 3/8” 32 3/8”

The measured specs came in very close to those stated on the Bowtech webpage.  The above measurements were taken at 72 lbs.  Turning the limb bolts 5 1/2 turns brought the draw weight down to 60 lbs even.  At this weight the brace height edged out to 6 3/32″  and the ATA 32 11/32″.  Many bows will change up to and sometimes more than 1/4″ under such changes; the design of the Destroyer does a great job at holding the specs very close no matter the poundage.

Each Bowtech is delivered with a birth certificate and this one has the following:

72 lbs., 29″ and a 350 grain arrow resulted in 342 fps.  With an IBO speed spec at 350 fps for a 30″ draw, this particular bow looks ready to impress.

Bowtech Destroyer 350 First Impressions

As I first stated, the bow looks great in person.  This bow came in RealTree Hardwoods camouflage with the InVelvet finish that looks and feels very nice.  The Destroyer’s cams are some of the biggest made; in pictures I thought they looked a bit odd, but in person they give the bow an impressive and aggressive look.

One thing that did bother me about the looks are the limb graphics.  By taking an impressive riser and cam design, adding nice looking camo but then putting a huge logo that is somewhat cheesy takes the looks down a notch.  Overall I give the bow a big thumbs up on looks, minus the ugly limb graphics.

Drawing the bow back for the first time shocked me a bit as I expected a stiff draw force curve (with speed comes the necessity of hitting the peak draw weight early in the draw) but wasn’t quite ready for the dump into the valley.  The Destroyer has an effective 80% let-off and combined with the stiff draw this is to be expected.  I don’t think the draw is unreasonable and after several times of drawing back I quickly became accustomed to it.  Normally I prefer bows with 65% or even a little less let-off so I will be interested to see how shooting this bow over the long run will be.

Pictures of the Destroyer 350

Without further ado, I present you with several pictures of the Destroyer 350.  Click for full size and view.

First Shots with the Destroyer

I set the bow up with a NAP Sizzor rest, Smooth Stability stabilizer, TruPeep and a Copper John Dead Nuts Extreme sight.  After installing a d-loop, setting the draw length to my liking and eyeballing the setup, I headed out to shoot with a few GT 22 Series arrows to give the Destroyer a test run.

I take everything I read about different equipment with a grain of salt because the internet tends to be saturated with those that either love or hate the equipment they post about.  Some things I have read praise the Destroyer as the best thing since sliced bread while others say the draw is too harsh and harp about a few incidences of cable derailment that have happened.  With all these stories safely stored out of my mind, I began my shooting with a blank slate.

OK, I lied, I did have visions of the greatness of this bow and the many praises that have been heaped on it no matter how hard I tried to block them out.  My first shot with the bow shocked me with it’s lack of anything really.  Lack of noise, lack of vibration, lack of bow movement other than gently rolling forward from the weight of the stabilizer.  I really despise sounding like a commercial or company shill, but twenty shots later I was still being impressed with this bow.  Rain be damned, I continued to shoot until the cold and wind forced me back inside.

There are two minor grievances I have; as with anything nothing is perfect for everyone.  The bow does have a short ATA and the string angle is a bit sharp for my liking, but with the massive cams pushing the string up at full draw, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.  For me to become consistent with this bow I’ll have to adjust my head/hand/string position to better fit the bow.   Time will tell.  Secondly is the issue of the let-off.  I’m one of those people that like a little extra weight at full draw and the 80% let-off is tough for me to get used to.

Tuning

Every bow has it’s own personality and attitude when it comes to tuning.  Some are a joy to work with and some are like spoiled children that do things behind your back when they think you aren’t looking.  Being that the Destroyer is a high performance, short brace height bow I expected it to be a bit temperamental.  I performed a quick paper tune on the bow using Carbon Express Mayhem arrows.  By eyeballing the centershot and doing a quick measure on the nock point height with a square, I was able to get the Destroyer tuned in less than half a dozen shots with no issues.

Next it was off to the target with some bare shafts.  Bare shaft tuning for me is where the rubber hits the road.  Starting at ten yards the bare shafts were hitting nearly identical to the FOB tipped arrows.  At twenty yards the bare shafts got a little squirrelly and were up and to the right.  A couple of taps and tweaks to the rest had the bare shafts hitting dead on.

Overall tuning the Destroyer was fairly simple with no real surprises.  For a high performance bow it is well behaved and easy to set up.

Destroyer String Stop, Cable Guard, Grip and Strings

String Stop:  All Destroyers come with a custom string stop (as most bows do these days) that has a substantial, soft rubber bumper at the end of a woven carbon rod.   The bumper is made of a fairly soft rubber and seems to do the job as good as any other quality stopper I have used.  After a couple of thousands shots there is a small mark where the string hits the bumper and not other visible wear.

Cable Guard:  Much of the noise this year about the Destroyer is due to it’s FLX Guard.  The FLX serves as a roller cable guard that is built on a composite base that flexes with the cables.  As the bow is drawn, the FLX Guard moves inward with the pressure of the cables and springs back on the shot.  In theory it helps relieve pressure on the cables at full draw and improves the tunability of the bow.  At first I was a bit apprehensive of yet another moving, breakable part on the bow.  It’s hard to say just how much the FLX helps the bow, but I had a very easy time tuning the bow and the FLX Guard has given me no issues.

Grip:  I’m a bit of a stickler when it comes to my bow handles and grips.  Seeing the plastic grip of the Destroyer was a bit of a disappointment as I tend to prefer a good wood grip or sideplates.  As a engineer I understand the great properties plastics can have and do most of my designing with various plastics.  However, when it comes to touch and feel, a quality piece of wood is tough to beat.  Shooting with the handle has had no adverse effects and it performs well.  The throat is fairly narrow and fits my hand and as far as actual shooting is concerned, I have no complaints about the grip.

Strings:  Factory strings that come on bows are generally considered inferior to custom built strings though many say the Bowtech strings are some of the better on the market.  I have had some absolutely terrible stock strings come on bows and I usually replace them rather quickly.  The strings that came with the Destroyer have definitely been above par when compared to other factory strings.  After about five hundred shots I had to add on twist to one of the cables to correct a slight cam timing issue.  At the same time I added a half twist to the string because the peep had turned slightly.  Otherwise the strings have performed well and there are no visible wear issues with any of the serving after over two thousand shots.

Other Notes

One thing I really have to hand to Bowtech is their use of large hex bolts for the limbs.  I really despise the standard sized bolts that have been used for years that tend to scar and strip when the bolt has been set for awhile and applaud Bowtech for using the larger size.  It means using a different hex set than the standard archery ones sold in most stores and shops, but it’s worth the stronger bolt that is much less apt to strip or scar.

Adjusting the draw length and draw stop is not hard to do, but will require a bow press.  Pressing the Destroyer requires a very stout press as the limbs must be pressed a significant amount before the FLX Guard will relax enough to allow manipulation of the strings, cables and cams.  If you are not familiar with pressing different bows or question how to press the Destroyer, don’t risk it; go to a qualified pro shop that is familiar with the Destroyer to make sure it is done right without harming the bow.

Performance of the Destroyer

To judge the performance of the Destroyer I shot it with Gold Tip Ultralight 22 at 334 grains, draw weight of 67 lbs and draw length adjusted to measure 30″ exactly.  There was a draw loop, tied nock points and a TruPeep installed on the string.  This resulted in a speed of 345 fps which is right within the Destroyer 350 specifications.

The following chart shows the momentum and kinetic energy performance of the Destroyer (set at 72 lbs. and 30″) when shooting a variety of arrow weights from 466 to 1429 grains (see the kinetic energy and momentum article for more details):

With the kinetic energy ranging from 92.4 to 95.2 and the momentum from 0.62 to 1.1, the Destroyer packs plenty of punch for any large game.  The Destroyer is a fairly efficient bow and the KE continues to climb steadily even with an arrow weight of 1429 grains.

After having put over two thousand shots through the Destroyer, I am happy to say that the bow is a great shooter is very accurate.  It took a little adjustment to get used to the short ATA, but after a few dozen shots I was stacking shafts just as well with my target/3D bow.  With a quality stabilizer the balance of the bow is great and holds steady.

Bowtech Destroyer in Action

Here’s a short video of the Destroyer in action.  Notice how the sound of the bow shooting is only about as loud as setting the trigger on the release.

Final Thoughts on the Destroyer 350

I will admit that up until this point I had not found a Bowtech bow that I was overly thrilled with.  There has never been much wrong with them, they simply didn’t fit me quite like I would prefer and so I stuck with other brands for my personal shooting.  The Destroyer has definitely made a paradigm shift in my thinking of Bowtech bows.

The Destroyer is definitely not a bow for beginners, but if you are an experienced shooter looking for a bow with great performance and aggressive styling, the Destroyer is worth a hard look.

What I Like About the Destroyer 350

  • Performance: one of the fastest on the market while still being accurate
  • Smooth, quiet shot; little vibration and minimal noise even with light arrows
  • Easy to tune, great to work with
  • Aggressive styling that screams performance and “look at me!”
  • Solid back wall and crisp feel

What I Don’t Like About the Destroyer

  • Horrid limb graphics, these could be much better!
  • Plastic grip cheapens the look of the bow, though it performs well
  • Short ATA, I’d like to see a version with about two more inches

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