For some bowhunters, the release of the 2014 Mathews Creed XS may feel a lot like déjà vu….at least on paper. However, the follow up to last year’s highly popular model is anything but the same bow with a different name. Sure, there are similarities between last year’s Creed and the all-new 2014 Creed XS; their name being the most evident. However, the XS has its own unique characteristics which not only make it deadly quiet and “sniper” accurate, but overall, a real pleasure to shoot. Recently, I had the opportunity to experience these facts firsthand.
Don’t let the name or the specs fool you. The new Creed XS has its own unique qualities that make it one deadly hunting bow.
Looking at the specs on the new Creed XS and comparing them to last years Creed would lead one to believe that there really isn’t much to get excited about. I admit that I initially felt that way. But, as usually is the case, when it comes to judging a Mathews bow, you really shouldn’t look simply at the specs. Historically, the company has a knack for exceeding everyone’s expectations; especially after consumers actually shoot the bow in question. Thus was the case for me after putting the XS through its paces. I was pleasantly surprised at its performance.
Just like the original Creed, the new XS sports the same, highly effective quad-limb design. The carbon fiber paint scheme on the all-black XS is one of my favorites.
But, before we jump into that, here are a few specification highlights of the new Creed XS:
IBO Speed: 321
Axle to Axle Length: 28”
Brace Height: 7.5”
Riser Length: 24.58”
Physical Weight: 3.80 approximate (with Dead End and HS Lite)
Let Off: 80%
In my opinion, declaring a bow has “virtually no hand shock” has almost become somewhat of a cliché when writing bow reviews. I’m guilty of it myself. This time instead, I will say that (believe it or not), the Creed XS seems to have even less hand shock than its predecessor. The original Creed had very little buzz after the shot and the XS has next to none. In addition, I also felt like the XS came to full draw a little more smoothly than the original Creed. It’s not that last year’s bow wasn’t a smooth drawing bow. It definitely was. But somehow the XS manages to reach full draw with little if any “hump” just before dropping into the valley. And once you reach the end of the draw cycle, you will enjoy the rock-solid back wall of the original Creed thanks to the draw stop located on the SimPlex Cam. This over-sized cam system, in conjunction with the new Matched Radius Idler Wheel, offers a buttery smooth draw cycle and all the speed you need to take down any North American big-game animal.
Six arrows were all it took to demonstrate the lethal accuracy of the new Creed XS.
Need For Speed
While we are on the subject of speed, I would like to say that speed, in my opinion, is highly over rated. Don’t get me wrong, I like a fast bow….but only if its speed is manageable. Bows advertising IBO speeds of 350, 360 or even higher may look good on paper and sound good while bragging about it to your buddies, but they quickly become a major liability after sitting motionless in a cold November treestand for hours on end. If coming to full draw means “reaching for the sky” in an effort to get the cams to roll over, the odds are good you’re going to get busted. Mature whitetails, or any other big-game animal, simply won’t tolerate your exaggerated movement.
The Creed XS has plenty of “manageable” speed thanks largely to the over-sized design of the SimPlex Cam.
Fast bows, with harsh draw cycles, will require more movement under cold conditions. Besides, how much speed do you actually need to shoot through a whitetail? The Creed XS comes in at a highly adequate IBO speed of 321fps. That is 7fps slower than last year’s model and is directly related to the longer, more accurate, brace height of 7.5 inches; as opposed to the 7 inches offered last year.
When it comes to choosing a hunting bow….. accuracy trumps all other characteristics in my book. Like I said, speed may look sexy, but if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at then you’re really wasting your time and money. I’ve done the speed craze. In fact, I dove head first into it early in my career. Today, my accuracy and confidence are light years ahead of where it was when my focus was on all out speed. The new XS is a prime example of my current philosophy. It will kill anything in North America, or beyond, and is accurate. How accurate? Sniper accurate. After the initial setup was complete, my Creed XS scored a robin hood on the 6th arrow it fired; destroying my Carbon Express arrow some 20 yards downrange. In my book that kind of performance is worth a lot more than a few more “feet per second” in the speed category.
It didn’t take long for the Creed XS to find success in the timber. In fact, its in-the-field accuracy proved to be just as deadly as what I experienced at the range.
And, while I’ve always been a big proponent of longer, heavier bows (I think they are more accurate), the XS proves that a shorter, lighter bow CAN be just as accurate. This was but one of several little surprises the Creed XS revealed during my first days with it. Lethal accuracy, along with its ultra-smooth draw, and almost non-existent post-shot vibration, make this bow a dream to shoot and a nightmare for whatever is standing down range.
In addition to all of the aforementioned qualities, the new Creed XS comes standard with the following industry leading, Mathews exclusive technologies.
Reverse Assist Roller Guard: The Creed XS continues the tradition that was started on the Z7 by including this simple, yet very effective, change to an age-old design. Instead of placing the bow cables behind the roller guard, which increases friction and robs the bow of efficiency and smoothness, Mathews places the cables in front of the roller guard. This greatly diminishes friction, thus, making the bow more comfortable and easier to draw.
The Reverse Assist Roller guard took smooth to the next level and is a major reason why Mathews bows are such a pleasure to shoot.
The Dead End String Stop Lite: This simple feature not only reduces overall bow weight but it also drastically reduces vibration and virtually eliminates post-release noise.
Harmonic Damper: Introduced in 2000, perhaps no other image is more identifiable to a bow brand than the Mathews Harmonic Dampers. The weights inside the Harmonic Dampers actually float in an elastomer wheel and act to absorb recoil vibration in the riser at the shot. This reduction in recoil vibration is so significant that Mathews has actually licensed the use of the technology in other industries.
Harmonic Stabilizer Light: The Harmonic Stabilizer Lite is a descendant of the original Harmonic Stabilizer developed in 2009 for the Z7. It was designed to fit into the bottom Harmonic Damper hole and eliminate excess vibration and noise created by high speed bows. A single Harmonic Stabilizer will make a smooth-shooting Mathews even smoother while reducing up to 75% more residual vibration than a Harmonic Damper in its place. The Harmonic Stabilizer Lite does the same thing only it is nearly 70% lighter than the original Harmonic Stabilizer!
The effectiveness of the Stabilizer Lite is unmatched and the gray accents match the black paint scheme of this particular XS beautifully.
String Grub: String Grubs aid in reducing string vibration in order to gain more speed out of the cam system. The String Grub on the Creed XS works as an important component in the overall synergistic approach that was created when designing the original Creed.
Monkey Tails: Monkey Tails™ come standard on the new Creed XS and basically equate to a minimal speed loss of 1-2 fps while virtually eliminating all string and cable sound and vibration. Monkey Tails are available in a variety of colors which allow you to customize the look of your bow; giving it a personal touch.
SlimFit Inline Grip: The walnut grip on a Mathews has a distinctive look which adds to the overall craftsmanship of the bow. Over the years, Mathews has continually slimmed down the dimensions of the grip in order to give shooters a more accurate handle. The grip on the Creed XS is narrow in the throat while gaining a little mass in the palm-swell area. In my opinion, it is the best feeling handle yet. In addition, I personally love the look of it.
While the Slim Fit grip is highly functional, I find it highly attractive. Each grip is different from the next giving the bow a sense of uniqueness.
Overall I was highly impressed with the Creed XS. I will admit I don’t particularly like short bows despite the current trend that is undoubtedly pointed in that direction. I don’t really care for a “feather-weight” bow setup either. However, one of the best things about testing a Mathews bow is the fact that they most often cause me to rethink my philosophies and beliefs when it comes to what I want out of a hunting bow. This bow was no different than most of the other Mathews bows I’ve tested over the years. It is a solid design that draws smooth, holds steady, and delivers arrows with unmatched precision. Add all of those features together and you have the makings of another great Mathews bow; which has become the norm for several years running.