Black Swan Hybrid 66" 45#@28"
I originally reviewed this bow last year, however it's taken me a few months to get the bow back from the current owner for some pictures. So to celebrate here it is in all his glory and an update to the review.
There are plenty of bows out there to choose from, from small custom bowyers right up to huge Korean conglomerates making many thousands of bows a year. All of them have their plus points and often it comes down to personal preference on what you choose to shoot. However whenever there is a discussion on the fastest bows around only a handful of those many bows and bowyers come up time and again, often on the very edge of bow making technology they are doing something slightly different from the rest and that filters down to form a well known reputation for quality and speed, while other bowyers produce great bows, these few produce something exceptional. Read the various archery forums and these names will become familiar to you, mentioned again and again. It has been my extreme pleasure and luck to own many of these bows over the years, while many people consider it hype having used these bows I can assure you that the reputations are well deserved indeed. In all honesty there is far more to success in archery than just a great bow, but having one as part of that holy trinity of bow, arrow and great form will do wonders for your shooting or hunting success.
One bow which falls firmly in to that category is the Black Swan, if anything it doesn't get as many mentions in such conversations as it should in my opinion, mainly due to it's looks which I will detail a little later on, but in terms of performance it is right up there with the best of them. I'm from a technical background and while I love the natural and primitive elements of archery I have also been a huge advocate of the more technical aspects of archery, scratch the surface and archery becomes a stunning exercise in mathematics and physics and I can spend hours messing around with different combinations of arrow spine, strike plates and anything else to find that elusive perfect combination. This is where the Black Swan fits in as the bowyer, Arvid Danielson, is from an engineering background and that comes across very strongly in the construction and look of the bows.
I wanted to try a Black Swan for some time and was eventually able to track one down, you don't see that many for sale which is often a good sign as people tend to want to keep hold of them. Black Swan offer a number of different configurations based around a central set of limbs, Longbow, Hybrid and Recurve, these can then be placed on a wood or aluminium alloy riser, either front or belly mounted. The limb fit can be the standard two bolt lockdown system, ILF, DAS or Black Swan ATS (adjustable tilering system). The bow I managed to get my hands on was far more traditional looking than some of the configurations, it has front mounted longbow limbs on the metal riser. Even though I said it was more traditional the bow looks extremely space aged, the riser is finished with a baked on powder coat which gives it a non-gloss finish which is very hard wearing, in fact even though this bow was 6 months old it looked totally brand new. The riser is very thin, if anything a little too thin for my liking but it felt good in the hand and during the shot, it is cut to centre but the arrow shelf is not very wide to keep in with the over all look and feel of the bow.
The limbs require special attention as this is what sets this bow apart from most others out there, especially the normal custom bows you might have seen in the past. As I mentioned the bow has longbow limbs, they have reflex/deflex but once strung form a D shape, this is rather unusual as the fashion is for more of a hybrid style these days, however Black Swan do offer a half way house between longbow and recurve limbs which many bowyers do not. The limbs are very thin, normally this would be a problem as there is not enough material doing the work but these limbs are different, the back of the limb is carbon and looks very good indeed, the core on this bow is action maple. The real difference however is the use of ceramic as the belly material, ceramic is used in some of the high end target competition bows but I personally don't know of any other "traditional" bowyer using it. These three components are bonded with a high strength carbon based epoxy which is exclusive to Black Swan bows. This unique combination makes for stunning performance and during testing the bow was as fast as anything we had shot in the past.
The proof of this techno pudding however is in the shooting and that's exactly what I did with it once it was in my hands. I gave it a good test using a combination of carbon, ali and wood arrows out in the test woods. The draw is super smooth, honestly unlike anything I have shot before, the bow is 45# but it feels nothing like as much as that to hold and was almost effortless to shoot. It always takes a while to get used to a new bow but it wasn't long before the arrows were going exactly where they needed to be, right in the middle. As this bow is very different to pretty much anything else the shooting experience was equally unique, yet again putting your finger on exactly what it was is difficult but it seemed as if shooting the Black Swan was the most natural experience I have had, almost as if the bow was an extension of myself in some way.
Features & Design
Futuristic is the word, looks like it is made out of mars rock giving it a space age feel.
Simply stunning, up there with the best bows in the world. The Hybrid limbs giving the longbow feel with recurve like performance
Value for Money
Not cheap at $950 but worth every penny.
A bow with a reputation which it richly deserves, simply brilliant.