Bowtech recently introduced a new bow to the masses that has had some mild interest. Called the “Black Knight”, the bow has a 31” Axle to Axle, 330 FPS IBO speed, and an amazing 3.2 pounds mass weight.
The interesting part of this bow is that the riser appears to be injection molded polymer (really – plastic). Unlike Hoyt’s use of carbon fiber tubing to create the riser, the Black Knight seems to be a solid grid of carbon fiber infused plastic. Truth to tell – the riser feels like it’s made from Dupont Zytel RS, which is a carbon fiber reinforced polymer that can be injection molded and has extremely high strength properties.
So, let’s look at the technical aspects of the bow, some setup issues, and then cover how it handles from a shooter perspective.
The Black Knight (as mentioned before) is a 330 FPS IBO, 31” Axle to Axle, 3.2 pound bow. It uses more traditional binary cams rather than the newer Bowtech OverDrive cams, and in a throwback to more traditional designs, also uses a standard cable rod rather than rollers. The limbs are typical Bowtech solid limbs with reinforcements placed in the cam cutouts.
In a testament to the cleanliness of the molds – there is a barely perceptible seam felt that represents what appears to be the sign it was injection molded.
The riser is extremely reflexed, which increases arrow speed. The riser is equipped with grid like inner reinforcements that are placed for structural strength. Inserts are placed through the riser to accommodate the sight mounting, and a plate is inset into the riser to allow mounting of a rest.
Which brings up the biggest glaring setup issue. Since the plate that contains the Berger hole (the hole you screw the rest into) has a relatively shallow depth, you may have to track down a different length bolt to mount your rest – some bolts that are included with a lot of the popular rests found in most archery shops can be too long.
The sight mounting holes, unlike the Berger hole, go straight through the riser, allowing you to handle longer mounting screws for your sight. The mounting studs are inset with a triangular head, which locks the mounting holes into the riser so they don’t rotate.
Tuning the bow, like any dual cam synchronized system, is a breeze. The bow came with it’s timing perfect straight out of the box, and the use of a commercial press (SureLoc X-Press, Last Chance Archery EZ-Press, and others) makes the insertion of a peep a breeze.
Shooting the bow (with only a simple 3 pin sight and Whisker Biscuit) was someone of a surprising experience. For a two cam bow, the draw cycle was extremely stout, ramping up it’s weight immensely in the first 1/3rd of the draw. The draw cycle was such that I couldn’t use my standard hinges (T.R.U. Ball HT Pro Brass and Scott Longhorn Stainless 3 finger) and had to go to my T-Handled thumb trigger (Stan SX-2 3 Finger).
The “wall” (where the draw stops hit the limbs, in this case) is extremely solid, which is typical of most bows that use limb stops to set your draw length. The let off felt pretty normal at 80 percent, and the valley of the bow was such that you didn’t run the risk of the bow running away with you.
What surprised me is that the bow retained the typical Bowtech sound. It sounded almost exactly like a Bowtech Tomkat or Bowtech Sniper from prior model years. The bow also had the normal bottom cam kick out that is found with a lot of Berger hole centric balanced bow designs.
What was really nice to find is that for a 3.2 pound bow, the bow was pretty quiet. Normally, you can suppress sound by either weight (arrow or weight of the bow itself) or with noise suppressing materials on the bow itself. In this case, the light weight of the bow and the materials seemed to combine together so that you get a pretty low noise bow. Shooting a 380 grain Gold Tip Ultralight and an Easton A/C/C at 392 grains also help – a heavier arrow quiets down the sound.
I do have some mild criticisms of the bow. What really surprised me was that the bow didn’t come with the Overdrive cams that Bowtech is well known for. That would have likely increased the arrow speed a few FPS, and made the bow just a hair lighter.
I’ve heard some criticisms from some people wondering why Bowtech did not equip the Carbon Knight with a roller guard. Frankly – there’s no need to. There’s no evidence that a roller guard increases accuracy, there’s no evidence that it increases reliability. Why mess with something that you know will work?
But, if you also look at the amount of force that a roller guard is subjected to, that would have required an increase in reinforcement in the riser for a roller guard mount, which may have deviated from Bowtech’s intended target of mass weight and pricing.
Finally, I am very surprised at the way the sight mounts are set. As hard as the polymer seems to be, the jury is out if the sight mounts will tolerate a large amount of vibration over a long period of time. I would be the most worried about how that would work out in the long run.
In conclusion, Bowtech seems to have produced a winner here from a bow design and engineering standpoint. I do wonder about the price point, and am not totally sold on whether paying $849 for an injection molded bow is worth it right now; especially when the materials used are unknown.
For $150 less and a half pound more weight (which most adults can handle relatively easily), you can get a Bowtech Assassin using materials and a manufacturing method that is more traditional, and not subject yourself in being a guinea pig for materials that are unknown at this time.