Mathews Halon Bow Review

The 2016 Mathews Halon bow in Lost Camo XD.

Whether you’re a Mathews fan or not, it’s hard to deny the killer looks of the new Halon. Click for larger image.

When it comes to the archery side of bowhunting there are few things that get me as excited as getting a new bow.  There’s just something about setting up a new bow and shooting it for the first time that still excites me after several decades of flinging arrows.  So last week when the UPS driver showed up with a package from Sparta, Wisconsin you can bet I took a “break” from working to start my 2016 Halon bow review.

Halon First Impressions

Having seen photos of the bow prior to its delivery my initial impressions were that it looked similar to last year’s Monster Wake.  The ultra short, ultra wide limbs, large cams and new riser design make the Halon, in my opinion, one of the most attractive bows Mathews has ever produced.  Perhaps the best word I can use to describe this bow is “brawny”.

Now with the brawniness of this bow does comes some added weight.  Weighing in at 4.5 pounds this bow is considerably heavier than the featherweight Heli-m that Mathews released just a few short years ago.  Although the added weight doesn’t necessarily bother me, and even seems to help steady the bow at full draw, it’s certainly noticeable.

While the Halon is a relatively short 30” from axle to axle thanks to the large cams it measures just over 35” from tip to tip.  This helps reduce the severity of the string angle, especially for you long draw shooters out there. The Halon is available in models all the way up to 32” draw length.

Fit & Finish

I don’t think there’s any questioning the fit & finish on a Mathews bow.  I’ve personally owned 7 of them now and they’ve all put designed and put together flawlessly.  The Halon is no exception.  From the wood inlay on the new Flatback grip to the nearly impeccable HD graphics of the Lost XD pattern this bow is built to impress.

If you could judge a bow simply by whether or not it makes you feel like a badass when you’re holding it, the Halon would get an A+.

Dual Bridge Riser Design

New cutouts along with a dual bridge design make the Halon's riser not only attractive but extremely strong as well.

New cutouts along with a dual bridge design make the Halon’s riser not only attractive but extremely strong as well.

Perhaps the most obvious change from Mathews is the departure from the Geogrid riser that we’ve seen the past several years.  While I personally liked the way the geometry of the Geogrid riser looked I know it was one of the more polarizing features of recent Mathews bows.  It seemed that folks either loved it or hated it and there was no in between.  Whether the new design is in response to those haters out there or simply a change to help this bow stand out from it’s predecessors we may never know.  The fact of the matter is the long riser with its dual bridges not only looks great but is extremely strong.

The riser itself measures a touch under 27 inches long and is nearly 1.5 inches wide at the bridges.  The dual bridge technology first debuted on the TRG series bows which were introduced in 2015, so it’s not entirely new for the Mathews family.  However this is the first time we’re seeing it on a hunting bow.

As with all Mathews bows the Halon features a Harmonic Stabilizer on one end and a Harmonic Damper on the other.  The placement of these devices has been fine tuned over the years to provide maximum noise and vibration elimination and they certainly prove themselves on the Halon, which produces little of either when shot.  Of course the grommets which house the Stabilizer and Damper (technically called elastomers) are interchangeable so you can customize the colors of your bow as well as interchange the placement of the stabilizer and damper to fit your taste.

Crosscentric™ Cam System

Powering the Halon is a new dual cam setup called the “Crosscentric™ Cam System”.  This system uses Mathews’ patented AVS technology found on the Monster series bows to produce speeds up to 353 feet per second on the highest performance model.

The cams themselves are very large and one of the first things many people notice about the Halon.  However this is done for a purpose.  Roughly ½ of each cam is concentric – which means it shares the same center with its opposing cam.  As you draw the bow the string track pays out the string at the same distance from the axle through much of the process.  What this means for the archer is a very smooth draw with no noticeable humps in the draw cycle.

The new Crosscentric Cam System provides loads of power while maintaining a very smooth draw.

The new Crosscentric Cam System provides loads of power while maintaining a very smooth draw.

Speaking of the draw cycle, it does start off relatively stiff and build up quickly however it soon levels out and creates a very smooth pull back into the valley.  The let-off is not abrupt or aggressive at all, which typically causes you to jerk when the cams roll over.  Personally speaking I prefer the work to be done early in the draw cycle where the majority of my strength is so I really enjoy the way this bow draws.  For the power and speeds it produces it’s a very welcome surprise.   My test bow bottomed out at 71.6 pounds and I had no issues drawing it back – even after shooting and hunting with a 65 pound bow for the last 12 months.

Once at full draw the bow holds very steady thanks to the added mass weight.  A little bit of creep doesn’t result in a bow that wants to jump out of your hands.  This is very nice for us bowhunters who may find ourselves in precarious situations occasionally requiring some extended time at full draw.

3 Models, 3 Speeds

The Halon is available in 3 different models, the 5, 6 and 7, with each model corresponding to the bow’s brace height.  With the shortest brace height the Halon 5 produces the most speed hitting up to 353 feet per second.  The Halon 6 is IBO rated at 345 feet per second and the more forgiving 7 inch model clocks in at 335 feet per second.

Now when it comes to speed I feel there’s a lot of hunters and archers out there who don’t totally understand how these numbers are achieved, so allow me to take a sidebar to address this.  IBO speeds are calculated using a bow set at 70 pounds with a 30 inch draw length and a 350 grain arrow.  This standard is used across the board by all bow manufacturers and allows them to publish speeds that are the highest possible to safely achieve with their bow.  And while they look great on paper there is virtually no chance that the average bowhunter will see those speeds from his or her bow.

Most bowhunters are shooting bows that are 28” or 29” draw length with an arrow roughly 400-450 grains.  With a shorter draw length and heavier arrow than IBO testing if you put your bow through a chronograph don’t be surprised to see speeds considerably slower.  This is simply the nature of how IBO tests are conducted versus what happens in the real world.  Nobody is out to fool you, so put away the torches and pitchforks already.

Speed testing the new Halon 6 at the Bowhunting.com headquarters.

Speed testing the new Halon 6 at the Bowhunting.com headquarters.

I put both of the Halon 6’s we received to the test in our chronograph and here’s what I found.

Bow #1: 29 inches, 71.6 pounds with the limbs bottomed out.

437 grain arrow – 298 fps

492 grain arrow – 283 fps

Bow #2 – 28.5 inches, 66.6 pounds (the bow I will be hunting with)

437 grain arrow – 282 fps

492 grain arrow – 267 fps

I’m positive I could crack well into the 300’s with the 29 inch bow by simply lowering the arrow weight down to closer to 400 grains.  Several other testers out there are producing speeds in the 310 fps range with a 410 grain arrow, which is right on part with what I’m seeing.  However I prefer a little bit of added weight on my arrows which helps with kinetic energy, momentum and ultimately penetration.  Speaking of which the 29” bow is spitting out over 86 ft/lbs of kinetic energy with both arrows and the 28.5” bow tuned down to 66 lbs is just shy of 78 ft/lbs.   Both of those setups are more than adequate for hunting virtually any big game animal that roams our planet and should have no problem blowing through even the biggest bodied whitetails.

Both bows were tested with 85% let-off modules along with a Pine Ridge Archery Feather Peep and string loop in addition to the factory installed speed nocks and monkey tails.  A simple swap to 75% modules would surely accommodate for a few extra fps out of both setups. Let-off and draw length changes are both done by simply changing a module without the need for a bow press, which is very handy.

New Grip

With the new riser and cam system also comes a new grip for this year.  The Flatback grip is constructed almost identically to the Focus grip on last year’s NoCam HTR with a wood inlay on the camo models and a carbon inlay on the Tactical versions.  The big change however is in the back of the grip which is now flat rather than having the Focus ridge.  I am a big fan of this new grip which not only feels more comfortable but more repeatable as well.  I’ve always “liked” my Mathews grips but have never “loved” them until now.  Even though this is one of the smallest changes for this year it’s possibly the one I’m most excited about.

While camo versions feature a wood inlayed grip, Tactical versions come with a sleek carbon fiber inlay. And hey, don't make fun of my pin dropaway cord! It brings me good luck.

While camo versions feature a wood inlayed grip, Tactical versions come with a sleek carbon fiber inlay. And hey, don’t make fun of my pink dropaway cord! It brings me good luck.

New Finishes

Of course with a new bow comes new finish options!  The Halon is available in 5 options which are as follows: Black, Black Tactical, Stone Tactical, Lost OT and the all new Lost XD.  As I mentioned earlier the new Lost XD looks great in the high resolution printing with nearly flawless detail.  This new camo pattern is a few shades lighter than the original Lost Camo which will help it be more versatile in a variety of conditions.

The Mathews logo is inlaid on the inside of the riser just above the berger hole.

The Mathews logo is inlaid on the inside of the riser.

Although the Lost patterns do look great on the Halon I’m still a fan of the black and black tactical options.  There’s just something about a well put together black bow that I really enjoy.

Mathews Halon Bow Review: Final Thoughts

When it comes to bows the choice on what feels best to each archer is a very personal decision.  What feels great to me may not feel great to the next guy so there’s only so much stock you can put in one person’s opinion.  However since you’ve read this far I’m going to give you mine.

Last November I fell in love with my NoCam HTR when I got it.  I shot the daylights out of that bow and was very fortunate to harvest a spring turkey, a mule deer and 3 whitetails with it this year.  For all intents and purposes it’s one of the finest bows I’ve ever had the pleasure to own and I fully intend on hanging onto it for some time to come.  However having shot both the Halon and the HTR side by side I can unequivocally say I believe the Halon to be the superior bow.  From the overall looks to the added speed and new grip the Halon simply feels like a machine that was put here to do one thing, and that’s kill animals without apology.  God willing I plan to do just that with it.

Mathews Halon in Black Tactical finish. Look out Illinois whitetails, I'm coming for you!

Mathews Halon in Black Tactical finish. Look out Illinois whitetails, I’m coming for you!

Of course I’m just one guy and that’s just my opinion.  You’re certainly entitled to yours and I invite you to leave it in the comments below!  Of course if you want to shoot one of these bows for yourself visit your local Mathews Retailer and give it a whirl.

Comments

  1. Carter Kocian says:

    Hey Justin! Great review on the Mathews Halon! I was wondering if you’ve taken any time to explore Mathews new NO Cam HTX? If so, is there any possibility of a No Cam HTX review?

    Thanks,
    Carter Kocian

    • Carter – I don’t have one yet but will see what I can do to get my hands on one and try it out. Thanks!

    • Andrew V says:

      I am the bow technician at a Matthews retailer in Alabama and have shot both of the bows. My personal opinion is that the Halon, though not as smooth during the whole draw cycle, is the better bow and I am getting one myself. If you get a chance I would advise you to go in a store and test both of them yourself. You may be surprised like I was.

    • I have been shooting Hoyt Bows for almost 30 years. Happy with most of them. Owned a few other high-end brands also. I purchased a Halon6 last December 2015. In my opinion it is the finest bow I have ever shot. It is a little heavy by today’s standards. That being said, I have no complaints. Absolutely love it! I consider myself a lifetime bow hunter with much experience. All things considered I have never owned a better bow. That being said, I know there are a lot of nice new bows out there. I typically purchase a new bow every 3 years or so. Hope this helps somebody!

  2. Great review Justin. It is a fine looking bow, no question about that. Unfortunately, both my pocket book and I are still in love with my Heli-m and Z2 and neither of us will be able to afford the Halon (well, not this year anyway). 🙂

  3. Justin, outstanding review on the new Halon. However, it appears Mathews has mirrored Hoyt’s cam and a half technology with their crosscentric cam.

    • Thanks Jon.

      As for the cams, I’d have to disagree with you. Hoyt’s Cam & 1/2 technology was originally invented by Darton as the “CPS” cam about 12 years ago. The top and bottom cam in that system are asymmetrical unlike the Halon’s system where both cams are identical. Also, the Cam 1/2 system uses a cable system with a yoke that’s tied into the bow’s top limb. The Crosscentric system’s cables are tied to the bearings on the sides of the cam. The CPS or Cam 1/2 system would be referred to as a “Hybrid Cam” system where the Crosscentric cam is a true Dual Cam system. They’re similar technologies in some ways, but by no means a mirror of each other.

      • Justin,

        Just a followup to your post. I’m torn between this bow, the Halon 6″ just as you shot, and a binary cam system. I’ve shot both and the differences are so nuanced and minor that I didn’t get any closer to making a decision after getting a dealer to let me drive a Mathews bow all the way to a Bowtech dealer where I could shoot the two side by side, lol. My previous bow was a Mathews Drenalin. I had lots of problems with cam lean. With this bow, are the cams connected directly to the limb via the cables, or just each other like a binary?

        And what about tuning? I am at least a bit concerned at the state of the industry when bows marketed towards hunters keep getting shorter and shorter. One of my favorite bows in recent years was Bowtech’s Insanity CPXL . . . at 60 yards I could drive tacks with that thing. Since this is a true dual cam, do cam timings need to be tweaked periodically depending on cable/string stretch/creep?

  4. Chuck Kimmel says:

    Got mine on order after shooting one right handed. Awesome bow! Just sucks having to wait till February for it to come in since I’m a lefty.

    • Jon keen says:

      I feel your pain brother. I’m in the same boat. Hate being a lefty lol. As long as I get it by turkey season I guess

  5. Justin thanks for the review. I went up to my dealer last week my dealer hadn’t had time to set up the shooter bows until I got there for he had just back from a hunt. So we set up both the Halon 6 & the HTX. We shot both it was great to see his first impression of the bows. Although both bows shot good the Halon won us both over ( I myself wasn’t thinking I was going to like the Halon) all I can say is OMG I think Mathews has out done themselves with this bow, although I’ve said this about the last 4 Mathews I’ve owned lol oh yea I’am now in waiting for my Halon to show up

  6. Justin, I agree with the others, a great review of the Matthew Holon Bow. Because you have used the HTR No Cam Bow with great success and probably practiced with it a lot as well, and because the HTR is known as the most accurate hunting bow, how would you compare the accuracy of the Halon to your HTR?
    To me speed and power are second to accuracy.

    • Kyle – I personally believe the accuracy of today’s bows is so good that it’s difficult to truly say one is more accurate than another. For me it really boils down to how well the bow is set up and how good the shooter is that’s releasing the arrow. A great shooter can be great with almost any bow provided it’s setup and tuned properly. Conversely even a good shooter is going to have a tough time accurately shooting a bow that is not shooting well. So in honesty it’s hard to say if the Halon is truly more accurate than the HTR. I’m not an expert archer by any means however I shoot both bows very well and feel supremely confident in my ability to kill animals with them. That being said, I do prefer to shoot the Halon over the HTR. I simply enjoy the feel of the bow and the way it shoots. The added power and speed is a big bonus as well.

  7. Pat Ellison says:

    I just bought the new halon (6) and have had 4 bows by Mathews! This bow is by far the smoothest and most accurate bow I’ve have ever shot! You can ask any one of my friends and they would tell you I’m particular about shooting and hunting! This is the best bow ever! I should also say that I sleep with it!!!!

    • TOMgLADDEN says:

      PAT YOU ARE DEDICATED WOW SLEEP WITH IT . I ASSUME YOUR NOT PARRIED LOL. BUT YOUR RESPONSE PUSHED ME TOWARDS THE HALON OVER THE BOWTECH

  8. Gary brewer says:

    Justin! You are the man! I really enjoyed the review! I am going this weekend to check out the Halon. I was really torn on pulling the trigger on this bow because I love my Heli-m so much!!! Your review made me realize…. YUP! I need this bow!!! Thanks man!!! God bless ya brother!!!

  9. Andrew Gates says:

    Thanks for the review Justin. I just ordered my new Halon 5 after shooting it. It does have a smoother draw than my monster mr5. With my 27 inch draw I have been looking for a speed bow with a smooth draw. I was just wondering how heavy of an arrow I should be shooting for good kenectic energy without losing to much speed. I am shooting Levi Morgan 300s right now. Thanks.

  10. I was afforded the opportunity to shoot a Halon 6 and 7 over the holiday’s. All I can say is wow. Both bow’s balanced well and were truly dead in the hand during the shot . There is literally no vibration. The draw cycle is as advertised, smooth and silky with a very solid back wall. Its tough for me to say, but as a life long Hoyt shooter it may be time for a Mathews.
    By the way, I’m looking to transition from a wrist strap to a handle release. I currently shoot a T.R.U. Ball Assassin. Any suggestions?

    • Get a Scott Exxus. I’ve shot most of them and that’s the best I’ve ever used.

    • Douglas Heins says:

      Stan Shootoff Blackout
      Superior construction. Highly adjustable with no changing is springs. I know two guys that had to return there Scott Exxus because it wouldn’t release!

      • @ Douglas: To be fair that’s highly anecdotal. Applying an aquaintenance’s experience to the whole. I know at least 10 guys who shoot em and we’ve never had issues. I also know one pro and two serious competition shooters who (personally, not know of) shoot the Exxus. And you don’t have to change springs, that’s just so shooters can further customize the feel initially or down the road.

        I own the Shootoff! Quattro too, and it’s a good release, but I still prefer Exxus. They’re both great releases. Best advice is to hold them both in your hand before you decide. Shoot with them, if you have a dealer that sells them. I didn’t, which is why over the years I’ve accumulated dozens of release aids.

        When looking for a thumb release don’t be afraid to spend some money. $200 or so. Everyone I know who went cheap regretted it and wound up buying something better down the road.

  11. Luke vaccaro says:

    Just picked up my halon from pappas trading post and love the package randy treated me well and really knows what he is doing, the bow looks impressive and shoots even better, smooth quiet and fast, and balanced like nothing I’ve ever shot way to go mathews and thanks pappas trading post. Luke

  12. Yesterday I got my first bow ever, an Halon 6. This review helped me, a lot, to decide what bow could be my first one. Thank you, great job!

  13. Robert B. says:

    I just purchased 2 of the Halon 5 bows, one in camo the other in stone. Both are set up identical. 28.5″ draw, 72#, shooting a Easton Flatline that weighs out at 352 grains. Both bows shot an even 330fps. No hand shock, ultra smooth, and the quietest bows I’ve ever owned. I’ve been bow hunting around 15 years and upgrade bows every year and can honestly say “THIS IS ONE FINE SHOOTING BOW”

  14. Robert G. Kloos says:

    Justin,
    Besides the speed differences, why might one choose Halon 5 over 6, or 6 over 5? The 5 will give an extra inch draw, but should I expect the two bows to be vastly different in the “feel” of their cycles? (Presently shooting a Matthews NO-CAM HTR.)
    Bob K

    • Honestly, stay away from the 5″ unless you shoot a LOT. Bows with brace heights that low are extremely finicky with regard to how their held, and released. Minor errors in form are exaggerated. It takes more time to master them and more maintenance to maintain that mastery. The least important factor in archery, hunting in particular, is speed. Speed is irrelevant. We’re programmed to want faster bows because, in part, marketing has chosen speed to be the truest measure of a bow’s power.

      At any rate, unless you shoot a LOT I can’t imagine any reason to buy a 5″. The short axle to axle length, coupled with the low brace height will make for a bow that will be really sensitive to holding and release techniques.

      • Bob K. says:

        Matt,
        Thanks for your insight.
        I went to my shop today and ended up purchasing the Halon 6. The brace height is closer to the 6 5/8″ on the NO-CAM I’m shooting now. The draw cycles are a little different. I still love my NO-CAM, but I think I’m going to love the Halon too.
        Thanks again for your comments.

  15. Hey Justin, what string silencers are you all using? They don’t appear to be monkey tails.

  16. Wendell Tillery says:

    Mathews was due for a home run bow after the Creed and Creed XS were introduced. I had lots of problems with my Creed and finally sold it. Had to hold some of the draw weight at full draw and the cam wanted to take off while at full draw. I went to my local Mathews dealer and shot the Halon 6 and I was very impressed with the draw cycle, let off, overall looks and will be getting one this summer.

  17. Just a few numbers to follow-up on my previous post. Been shooting both my NO-CAM and Halon 6. Both are 50-60lbs bows. I am a 59 y/o male (soon to turn 60) trying to age gracefully and have gotten bitten by the compound bow bug. Initially had the NO-CAM set at a 27″ draw with 45lbs, with 85% let-off. Worked up to 47.1, 50.1, now 53.3lbs. Recently changed out mods to add an 1″ to the draw length to make it 28″. The FPS increased from 235 to 243.
    Interesting to note that my Halon 6 at 28″ and pulling only 52lbs with 85% let-off shot 21 FPS faster at 264 FPS using the same arrow (about 400+ grains). The brace height of 6″ (Halon 6) vs 6 5/8″ (NO-CAM) may be part of the difference, but I think some of it is the Cam design, shorter brace height and shorter axle length. I still like the NO-CAM (my first bow, no nock travel, 32″ axle-to-axle, etc.), but have fallen in love with the Halon 6.

    • Bob K. says:

      Update:
      Bumped the Halon 6 up from 52lbs to 54lbs. The FPS jumped from 264 to 271.
      Bob K.

  18. I just bought the Halon 6. It’s a sweet shooter! This is my forth Mathews. I feel this will be another one that’s spoke about for years like my Switchback XT.