By Dave Hurteau, a new USA writer
Mathew’s new Heli-M is a rule-breaker and a nice surprise. I’ll come right out and say that I’m leery of ultra-light, super-short bows. I’ve tested too many of them that were inherently unforgiving and not especially pleasant to shoot. The Heli-M, at just 30 inches long (axle to axle) and 3.5 pounds, is plenty short and light enough to make me skeptical about the prospects of holding it steadily on target. But when I shot the bow, I found that whatever instability is inherent in its wispiness is nearly cancelled out by how well the bow balances and how naturally it points. As a rule, longer, heavier bows shoot better, but there are exceptions to that-and the Heli-M is a notable one.
Unsurprising was the bow’s smoothness, which is the signature trait of Mathews’ single-cam technology. The new Heli-M Cam combines an even, easy draw cycle with a draw stop that delivers a solid back wall. The slim Reverse Assist Roller Guard also reduces friction as you pull the string back.
The price you pay for the joy of drawing the Heli-M is a little less speed than some of the other top-end bows for 2012. True speed freaks may find the bow a little sluggish at 332 fps IBO, but it is not slow by any means. It’s also quiet and pleasant to shoot, although I did notice a tiny bit of jump at the shot—no big deal. For most hunters, the Helium offers a nice compromise of speed and shootability.
According to the company, the new Geo Grid Lock riser not only looks cool but also makes for an ultra-rigid yet lightweight riser. The jury remains out on the looks of what has become known as the “waffle-iron” riser. That’s your call. But there’s no doubt that this riser blends in well in cover and it does make for a very light, very maneuverable bow. New lighter Harmonic Stabilizers and Dead End String Stop further reduce the bow’s overall weight. Which is all well and good. But for my money, it has to shoot. And it did. For my range test, I shot 10 three-shot groups at 30, 40, 50, and 60 yards, and then averaged the group sizes.
Here are the results:
30 Yards: 2.64 inches
40: 2.75 inches
50: 4.90 inches
60: 5.13 inches
I actually averaged a little over 2.8 inches at 40 with my first 10 groups. But figuring that this had to be an aberration, that I must have just shot a little out of my mind for that round, I did it again the next day. And I shot a little over 2.7 inches. The number above is the average of both sessions. The groups at 50 and 60 are not bad either, but these groups tended to be inconsistent, with some real fliers. The Heli-M is probably not what you want for a long-range 3D course, but it’s tough to beat in the field.
Compact, light, easy to draw, and accurate at typical field ranges, this is a pure hunting bow-and a darn good one. If you do not need blazing speed, and if you are not apt to shoot much beyond 40, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better hunting bow than the new Heli-M.
Draw Weights: 40-70 and 65
Draw Lengths: 26-30, including half sizes
Brace Height: 7 inches
Axle-to-Axle Length: 30 inches
IBO Speed: Up to 332 fps
Let-off: 80 percent
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