A few months ago, I upgraded the sight on my compound bow. The bow, which I bought from someone off the archerytalk.com forums, came with a very basic 3-pin Cobra sight. It had hardly any adjustment capability, aside from just moving the pins up or down. I was also skeptical about the overall life expectancy of the sight, as it was made entirely of plastic. I was beginning to worry about knocking it against a tree and either knocking all the pins out of whack or smashing it entirely. So I decided to use a birthday gift card and buy a new one.
I went with the Sword Apex Hunter. I chose this based off apparent construction quality, adjustment features, and of the level of customer service by Sword I’ve heard on archerytalk.
The Apex Hunter is by no means Sword’s most expensive. In fact, its their second cheapest sight. However, it still has many of the features of higher end sights. This 4-pin sight is available in a few pin sizes: 0.10”, 0.19”, or 0.29”. I went with the 0.19” size. I’m glad I did, which I’ll explain later. The sight itself is 100% T6061 aircraft-grade anodized black aluminum. There is up/down and side-to-side adjustment, as well as individual pin elevation adjustment. The adjustment markings are laser etched and held in place with standard size hex bolts. Sword also offers a quick adjustment conversion kit which converts all these screws into quick lock levers. The aperture is 2 inches across with a white contrast inner ring and a bubble level. The 4 pins come in green, red, and yellow. It contains about 12 inches of wrapped fiber optic thread and is available in right or left handed.
I picked up the Apex Hunter using a gift card for MidwayUSA. Even though I had a gift card, I still would’ve paid the retail price of $69.99 for this sight. I was very impressed with the construction and quality out of the box. I was not too thrilled with the packaging it came in though, which was a very loosely attached plastic clam-shell package. The sight practically fell out while I pulled the package from the shipping box. Although nothing was wrong mechanically or cosmetically, I would recommend Sword get a tighter fit on their packaging. Also, a small instruction manual or detailed installation guide would be useful as well.
Materials & Quality
As I mentioned before, the sight is made entirely of T6061 machined aluminum with a smooth matte anodized finish. All mounted hardware was tight and secured making the sight feel rock solid. The pins showed bright and straight. However, I had one issue with a pin that wound up being a longer ordeal. After using the sight for several weeks, I noticed that my 2nd pin, which was red, was a bit too bright.
I contacted Sword and talked to Brandon, one of the owners, about this. We would up exchanging a few emails and after a few pictures to show him the problem, he explained that it was due to the pin not being clipped and flared close enough to the pin. This was a defect/error in manufacturing. Brandon from Sword told me I could nip the excess and use the heat from a lighter flame to carefully re-flare the thread. Well, I was able to nip and flare it, but I let the flame get to close and ended up burning that pin and the green pin right above it. This made the pin appear dull and not transmit light. I got more help from Brandon and ended up disassembling the sight and running more thread through the pin and re-flaring both pins. This time I did it perfectly and wrote a blog post on Manual of Man explaining it in detail.
Design & Functionality
When I received the sight, I realized that it was built differently than how Sword has it on their website. If you visit the this link and comparing the side-views of the Apex Hunter and Twilight Hunter, you will see a difference in the body of the sight. The Twilight Hunter is a two-piece body, which I believe is what offers it their “3rd axis” adjustment. I could be wrong though. The Apex Hunter is a solid one piece design. My Apex Hunter came with the two-piece body of the Twilight Hunter. However, there is some incongruity between the product photos on Sword’s website of each site versus those on Amazon. Compare the Twilight Hunter on their page versus Amazon’s picture here.
The sight mounted with relative ease on the right side of my riser. Every screw and bolt tightens securely and has some lithium grease to prevent seizing. As I said before, the elevation and windage tick marks are laser etched; however, I wish there was an additional hash mark to denote “which” tick mark you are on. You can see what I’m saying below. I am going to add a straight mark with a silver tip sharpie at some point. This will make sighting in much easier, as it’s easier to note how many ticks up or down you want to move or have moved. The problem is, the clamp action that holds the up/down and side-to-side sliding bars doesn’t move gently. Most of the time, it requires a decent amount of pressure to move it, in which case you move it a whole lot over initially and then have to carefully slide back. This makes it really tough to make minor adjustments, especially when you don’t know exactly where your starting mark was.
In The Field
Once you have the sight dialed in and adjusted, it’s absolutely bullet proof in the field. On my first outing, I bumped it around a lot while scouting a new area and it held zero just fine.The pins gather a lot of light during daytime and dusk/dawn. Sword makes an Twilight Hunter sight that is a step above the Apex Hunter, incorporating an LED light. Sword also sells this LED Light and mounting bracket for the Apex Hunter, which I may pick up in the future. For now, the sight has worked just fine gathering enough light even in very low light ambient conditions.
The white contrast sight picture actually helps out a lot and I hope more and more sight makers incorporate this. Just like using a contrast color for your peep sight, the white aperture border helps the sight window disappear, just like a ghost ring sight on a rifle/shotgun.
Among the things I mentioned in-line with this review, including the fiber optic flaring issue and adjustment marker, one thing you should note if upgrading your sight from a crappy one is that this sight is significantly heavier. Therefore, it may change the balance of your bow as it does hang out farther out front of your bow. Increasing the distance out helps improve accuracy but comes with a price. You may have to adjust or change out your stabilizer, in my case, I removed it entirely. I might actually get a Fuse stabilizer with the Side Blade attachment and send it right, as my bow tends to slightly tilt left due to the weight now.
Manufacturing issue aside, I would recommend this sight to anyone looking to upgrade their bow’s sight but not ready to break the bank on a Spot-Hogg or an HHA. The Sword Apex Hunter has many of the design features and feel of a higher end bow sight, at a reasonable price point. I have complete faith that this sight will hold up for me as the end-user and will likely come with me when I upgrade to a bigger and badder bow. Tight groups.
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