Compound Bow Review: Xpedition Smoke


The Smoke is a no-apologies, short-brace-height speed bow that almost won our 2022 Flagship Bow Test. It has a hybrid cam system that’s draw-length specific and remarkably efficient. It was, in fact, the most efficient bow of the test at 86.8% (and actually, one of the most efficient bows we’ve ever tested). It also won our speed test—and it did it with half an inch of draw length tied behind its back.

For our test, we ask manufacturers to send in bows set to a 28-inch draw length, and Xpedition assured us that they’d done exactly that, per AMO specification. Still, our measurements put it at 27.5 inches (with no option to adjust it). And yet, even with that handicap, the Smoke fired arrows at 3 fps faster than any other bow.

Xpedition Smoke Specs

Xpedition Archery
  • Test Speed: 324 fps. (through our chronograph, at 60 pounds of draw weight and 28 inches of draw length; see “How We Test” below)
  • Advertised ATA Speed: 370 fps
  • Axle-to-Axle Length: 32 inches
  • Brace Height: 5.375 inches
  • Weight: 5 pounds, 4 ounces
  • Efficiency: 86.8%
  • Final Score: 94 (out of 100)

The Smoke had a remarkably smooth draw cycle, given its impressive speed, and it was consistent from start to finish. Tester Danny Hinton and I both, in fact, pegged it as our favorite draw cycle of test. Zach Bell, the third member of our test panel, didn’t like it as much due to the shallow valley that made it a touch jumpy at full draw. That’s why we average such things out.

The Smoke was a good shooter, too. We averaged 1.23-inch groups with it. It finished middle of the pack for both (lack of) vibration and noise. I hunted with the Smoke for a couple days last deer season, and in the stand I did find it to be a little big and top-heavy. Ultimately, we all agreed that in the categories of handling, balance, and grip, as well as fit and finish, it wasn’t quite on par with some other bows in the test, particularly the two that edged it out for first and second place. Still, as it finished within a point and a half of the winner but costs $750 less, the fastest bow of the year also gets our hands-down vote as the Best Value flagship bow of 2022. As the Smoke is a limited-edition model, you need to figure out your draw length and order yours soon. Speaking of which, keep in mind that its cam system is draw-length specific, so make sure you get your draw length right before you order.

Who Should Buy the Xpedition Smoke?

For the money, the Smoke was the best bow of our test, and that alone is enough to get the attention of many bowhunters. But it is a specialized rig; not everyone wants a sub-6-inch brace height, and some shooters might feel confined by the fixed draw length. It gives up a little in handling, too, especially compared to the Mathews V3X.

But the tradeoff is performance, and let’s be real—a 32-inch bow is far from a club. Most adult bowhunters don’t need to mess with their bow’s draw length, once they know that it’s set properly. And though it’s become somewhat unfashionable to admit you like a fast bow (a fad that’s bound to change, again, with marketing trends), the truth is a speed bow that you can shoot really well is a huge advantage in the field. It lets you shoot a heavy hunting arrow faster, which equates to a flatter trajectory and better penetration on critters. As speed bows go, the Smoke is one of the best we’ve ever tested.  

How We Tested the Xpedition Smoke

photo of a man testing a compound bow
An engineer at Stress Engineering Solutions prepared to fire a bow in a sound-proof room to measure noise. Will Brantley

The Xpedition Smoke was part of the annual F&S Bow Test, which took place at the Stress Engineering Services lab in Mason, Ohio, and on my farm in southwestern Kentucky, where we wrung every bow out and pitted them head-to-head. Our test panel included the engineers in Stress’s Outdoor Division, as well as myself; former pro-shop owner and bow technician Danny Hinton; and Zach Bell, a serious bowhunter and target shooter. We scored each bow on a 100-point scale in the following categories, in the following ways:

Accuracy and Forgiveness: 20 Points

This category is the most time-consuming part of our process, but also the most important. Our Accuracy and Forgiveness test takes the average of five, three-shot groups per bow from a panel of three shooters. All of the bows we test will shoot better than any of us can, individually. The idea here is to notice trends that make some bows inherently easier (or more difficult) to group with. This year’s test was conducted indoors at 25 yards over the course of three days using hunting spec Carbon Express Maxima Red arrows, HHA sights, and peep sights installed.

Xpedition Smoke Results

All of the testers shot the Smoke well. It finish tied for second, just behind the Mathews V3X, in Accuracy and Forgiveness, with a score of 19 out of 20.

Speed: 20 Points

Each bow is set to 28 inches and 60 pounds (advertised IBO specs would be from bows set at 30 inches and 70 pounds, but 5 grains of arrow weight per pound of draw length gets you close). Bows that didn’t arrive to spec were adjusted if possible. That done, we prepared a couple IBO-spec, 300-grain arrows that were used for measuring speed (an average of three shots through my chronograph). At 30 inches, you could assume another 20 fps. or so added to the velocity measurement. We also use a Whisker Biscuit rest and with that, you could assume a loss of about 5 fps. So, compensating for the shorter draw length and the rest, and you can assume an extra 15 fps, give or take, added on to our published speeds.

Xpedition Smoke Results

The Smoke ran away with the speed test, registering an average arrow speed of 324 fps with the specs above (and an advertised IBO rating of 370.) The only bow that was close the Smoke in speed was Hoyt RX-7, which was 3 fps behind it at 321, and the next closest bow was 315. It scored a perfect 20 out of 20.

Draw Cycle: 20 Points

This is our only double-weighted subjective category. It’s an evaluation of how comfortable a bow is to draw, hold, and shoot—important things to know both on paper and when stuck at full draw in a deer stand. For this category, we’re evaluating the comfort of the overall cycle, the valley, and the back wall, and then comparing what we think we feel to the draw force curves mapped out at Stress Engineering.

Xpedition Smoke Results

It is really impressive that the fastest bow in the test also tied for the best draw cycle. If it weren’t for a somewhat shallow valley, it would have gotten a perfect score. As is, it got a 19.5 out of 20, tied with the Hoyt and slightly better than both the Mathews and Elite.

Noise (lack of): 10 Points

At Stress Engineering in Mason, Ohio, a sound-proof chamber is used to measure noise of each bow, again, using the IBO-spec 300-grain arrow.

Xpedition Smoke Results

Again, for such a fast bow, the Smoke is pretty quiet. It scored a 9 out of 10 in the category.

Vibration (lack of): 10 Points

Another measurement taken at Stress Engineering, this one with an accelerometer mounted to the bow’s stabilizer port.

Xpedition Smoke Results

This was the Smoke’s biggest stumble. It scored and 8.5 out of 10.

Fit and Finish: 10 Points

This is a subjective category that not only assesses how a bow looks (some are sharper than others), but how well it’s put together. We’re checking for things like tool marks and blemishes in the finish. It’s rare that we deduct more than a point or two in this category for a flagship bow.

Expedition Smoke Results

The Smoke is a good-looking bow, but not quite the equal of a few others. It scored a 9.5 out of 10.

Balance, Handling, and Grip: 10 Points 

How does a bow feel in the hand and up in a tree? Is it light and handy, or heavy and cumbersome? At full draw, does the grip facilitate good shooting form, or does it get in the way? Worst of all, does it dig into the hand and cause pain (we’ve seen it all before). Is the bow easy to hold on target? Does it tip or flip this way or that upon release? This is a subjective category, and we take all of these things into consideration when assigning a score. 

Expedition Smoke Results

This is another place where the Smoke stumbled a little, scoring an 8.5 out of 10. We found it a tad bulky and a little top-heavy. But if pure performance is what you’re after, this is a very impressive bow, at a price that’s less than most flagship models.



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