Middle Weights

It was not that long ago that the majority of the bows I sold were either flagships or entry-level price points. The bows that I would classify as being mid range (fully loaded for between 700-900 dollars) just didn’t offer enough advantages to pay the extra money and they weren’t even close to the flagship models in performance and innovation. To be honest it seemed many manufacturers were trying to put lipstick on a pig. Fast-forward to today and we see quite the opposite trend, manufacturers offering high-end performance on a less “dressed up” platform. A real no non-sense hunting bow that gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. I am going to test fire and evaluate what I consider to be the best three options available in the “middle weight” category and hopefully if you are in the market for a new bow this will help make your decision a little easier.

We are rating the following bows:

Hoyt Powermax Package – Retail Price of $865.00

Bowtech Carbon Icon R.A.K - Retail Price of $829.99

PSE Drive R RTS – Retail Price of $859.99

I am going evaluate all three bows with my current set-up for arrows, draw length, and draw weight. Some attributes like bow speed, noise, and vibration will be pretty easy to measure. Other attributes like draw cycle, balance, and shootability will purely be based on my own opinion and open to interpretation from the individual shooter.

Draw Length 29”

Draw Weight 60lbs

Deer Arrow Weight 385 Grains Finished

Elk Arrow Weight 430 Grains Finished

I am using a basic ranking system of 1 to 3 for each criteria that I am evaluating the bows on. In the end the bow with the lowest overall score will be the winner, please remember that not every bow suits every archer and many of these rankings are my personal opinion based on what I like in a bow.

I tested the speed of each bow by shooting 2 different hunting arrows through the chronograph 3 times each.

380 Grain Arrow Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3
PSE Drive R 281 281 280
Hoyt Powermax 271 270 269
Bowtech Carbon Icon 270 271 270

430 Grain Arrow

Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot3
PSE Drive R 271 271 271
Hoyt Powermax 263 263 263
Bowtech Carbon Icon 260 260 261

The rest of my evaluation involved spending time sending arrows down range with each bow focusing on specific attributes. Remember that the lower number in this case is the better score.

Bowtech Carbon Icon Hoyt Powermax PSE Drive R
Speed 3 2 1
Draw Cycle 1 2 3
Balance 1 2 3
Noise 2 3 1
Vibration 1 2 3
Shootability 1 2 3



Hoyt Powermax: I shot exclusively Hoyt bows for several years so the Hoyt Powermax felt very familiar to me. I really enjoyed the draw cycle and having a softer back wall was a very typical Hoyt feel. If you were going to shoot a back tension or barrel release you would definitely enjoy the feel of this bow.

PSE Drive R: I think if I was still used to shooting low let off target cams I would have like the PSE Drive R the best. The bow had a slightly more aggressive draw cycle which was more than manageable for a hunting bow but it sports a short valley which really forces the archer to pull hard against the back wall. I used to love bows with short valleys that forced me to pull hard into the wall but for a hunting bow I think it should offer a little more room to relax at full draw. Overall I was still very impressed by the PSE Drive R.

Bowtech Carbon Icon: It’s pretty clear by the numbers that this bow was my overall favourite. I am at the stage now where I choose a bow based purely on comfort and ease of use. The Bowtech Carbon Icon boasts a smooth draw cycle, firm back wall, and light carbon riser making it one of the nicest bows to shoot in its price range.

If you are in the market for a new bow before fall rolls around make sure if you give these three bows some careful consideration, you wont be disappointed.