Friday, 24 February 2023

How I chose my latest compound bow. Man Kung Mirage Compound Bow

 




Man Kung Mirage Compound Bow




Maybe I was being too cryptic in that text in a recent You Tube post. 


What I was trying to say, was really based upon general conversations (texts) in archery forums regarding bows manufactured in China or Taiwan as being absolute crap.


Recently, I read a lot of these, and without exception everyone who was slagging them, had either never heard of the brand that was in the topic /thread and or never shot one or even held one in their hands. 


I have to say that this is a common behaviour observed for ALL forums, the high frequency of people NOT reading the topic/thread properly and then proceeding to give their (unasked for, opinions based not upon personal experiences but rather total conjecture). 


They further went on to write them (Man Kung) off simply because they were MIC and therefore must be garbage. Actually they are manufactured in Taiwan and in my experience the Taiwanese definitely associate with being Taiwanese and NOT Chinese). And these forum warriors simply said that only USA made bows could be any good, so don't waste your time.


 There is no doubt about it, USA made bows are great. When I see made in the USA, I pretty much know I can depend upon it, at least that is my personal experience.

 


So what about bows made in China** and Taiwan**???




Maybe back in the early eighties bows made in China or Taiwan were crap for sure but I think stuff has changed a lot. (Historically speaking the Chinese were shooting bows while we were all running around naked LOL-


But seriously, I started off with Bear bows (like as in Fred bear LOL) so, you will know exactly how long ago that was when you could still buy a bow branded Fred Bear LOL!

 

Recently, within the last couple of years I thought I’d get something new and visited my local bow shop (he stocks all the major USA brands) and he also had some brands I was completely unfamiliar with.

Those brands were Sanlida, (a Chinese bow manufacturer) and EK (supposedly European but made in Taiwan. 




I asked him about Man Kung because I knew they had been around making bows since the mid eighties. He doesn’t sell Man Kung bows (made in Taiwan) stuff (not because he thought they were crap but because he thought they were too heavy although he did admit in recent years they are much better and went on to say that he doesn’t import them because it’s possible to buy them online cheaper from an OS distributor and it’s not worth it for him (ok a profit thing).

 

At the time I bought a Sanlida because it was similar specs to the equivalent Bear he had but a third of the price! And also the Sanlida had bearings in the cam axles whereas the Bear only used bushes. (the warranty was less for the Sanlida-more on this later). I should say the Bear featured a much better string and cable system (as in just thicker)-so maybe these would take a little more abuse whilst out hunting. (don't forget warranties generally never cover strings and cables). I weighed up this price difference with the need to purchase a lot of carbon arrows, hunting heads, bow quiver, and a new release (it came with a sight and stabilizer and bow sling).

 (I removed the sight because I prefer to shoot instinctively).




Anyway, now to the recent present, I looked at a fully CNC machine EK but it came completely bare bones, ie riser, limbs, string and cable and that was it. No D loop, no stabilizer, no arrow rest, no sights etc and by the time one would custom fit all of these things, I’d be able to buy a non-CNC riser (a cast one) from Bear as a package with everything ready to shoot. Plus, it was a 3 part CNC riser (bolted together) which I was not keen on and to make up my mind, it was uncomfortable to hold (way way off balance without the stabilizer- which surprised me) and had many proprietary damping systems within the riser, things which would be difficult to replace, should they be lost or damaged. I think many USA made bows also do this too*

 

So, I kept looking around and was in a local gun shop and saw they had these Man Kung Bows, I remembered the name from my early days of archery and asked if I could check some of them out. The prices were comparable to Bear bows (but without any thing except the bare bow!).

 

When I got home I searched the internet and found a place selling these Man Kung bows, did a lot more research (independent You Tubers , some in Europe and New Zealand  but mostly Russia-couldn’t find any in Oz because we are a bit Bear, PSE and Hoyt centric here LOL!)



 

Anyway, the long short of it was that the specs of this (Man Kung Mirage 70lb compound) looked good on all fronts and it does appear they have lifted their game with making quality bows (at least the one I bought). I think at the end of the day, the key thing to a good bow are the limbs. Because these are the things which need to undergo multiple elastic deformations without some sort of failure and in this case the weakest link to any bow are the cables and string and the limbs. Cables and string can be destroyed in a blink of any eye with careless handling, risers are more than strong enough to sustain the huge forces generated when a bow is drawn however, it is the limbs which must be able to undergo multiple flexures at all draw weights without failure. So, if bow manufacturers quote a certain warranty, then it probably, unless specifically stated, refers to how often (all things being equal) the bow can be drawn (based upon some sort of average shooting frequency) before some sort of plastic (or worse) deformation occurs at the limbs.

 



In this case with this Man Kung Bow the warranty period is 2 years. Bear warranty their limbs for 5 years, 100% replacement (one does pay for this as warranties are never for free-I worked for a large USA company and they drilled that into our heads LOL). Bear also warranty their risers and cams for the lifetime of the bow (original owner only of course).

 

 

Risers (for compounds) are all made the same way, either cast or CNC-ed, and basically made by machines so they can be churned out identical to one another and all should be more than strong enough.



BCT



* it is foolish to decrease the mass (of the riser) to a point where vibration has to be dealt with by all sorts of funky dampening systems, that are passed off with slick marketing talk and advertising.



** I'm referring only to well established bow manufacturers , not some no name companies.

 

Extrema Ratio Misericordia Desert (Stone washed)

Totally tactical, military end use. Exactly the same blade as the blackened version.

Finger ring with glass breaker.

Hard rigid scabbard, knife can be released by part of the hand pressing upon the black lever (pommel up, guard facing towards centre of the body). I'm sure it's personal choice here.


 Nothing to say really. Maybe this knife suits your professional needs? Relatively easy to extract, it can only enter the scabbard with the blade facing away from the release lever.

Plastic clips to secure the knife to Pouch Attachment Ladder system (PALs webbing).




Thursday, 23 February 2023

Extrema Ratio S-THIL

 Extrema Ratio S-THIL



Extrema Ratio S-THIL, a new product, clearly aimed (no pun intended) towards a combat/defence market.

The spine is 5mm at it's widest part which corresponds to part of the upper side as shown above. This is  the region where an operator's forefinger could comfortably rest. The remainder of what constitutes the handle/grip has been milled to a minimum and thus this knife is better used with gloved hands, as without gloves, it is uncomfortable to hold tightly due to the lower profile where they have milled out their somewhat signature fuller.


It is housed within a super slim molded scabbard.Despite there being a molded frictional locking system, it is very weak in terms of knife retention and this blade will not remain inside of scabbard unless the retaining strap is in effect. The design of the scabbard is such that the knife can be inserted either blade towards user or away and the knife will still be held securely. Once this strap is undone there is little to no force requited to remove the knife from the scabbard. This is clearly a rapid deployment weapon.



The business end is clearly a spear point with a false upper edge. The design only enables the knife to be held securely with the cutting edge facing down, as it is uncomfortable to hold with this edge upwards due to the thumb resting upon the thinned out ridge of the fuller. I have not spoken to the designer however, I believe this to be done on purpose so as to be able to orientate the blade in total darkness or near total darkness.


It goes without saying this looks to me to be designed as a last ditch throwing knife??? We'll see. Coming soon to the channel.








Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Man Kung Archery Mirage 70lb. Compound Bow

 Man Kung Archery 

滿弓

Image (Google Earth)

Man Kung Archery has been around since the late 1980's. A Taiwanese company, located in Taichung City Taiwan.  I first heard about them when they produced a take down recurve bow in the mid eighties. At the time the archery world was dominated by the likes of Fred Bear, (I owned two Bear bows, a compound (2 eccentric wheels) and a Fred Bear Recurve)  later to become Bear Archery . Fred Bear had developed the take down recurve way back just before 1964, so  take down bows were nothing new.


Just quickly, What do these Chinese characters mean?

滿弓 (a direct translation means "full bow), the second character is for archery. The full line of archery equipment in other words.

Way back then in the 80's there were many negative connotations about products being manufactured in Taiwan (regardless of bows but in general) or later to be referred to as the "ROC" and that somehow they must be of lower quality. 

Nowadays nothing could be more from the truth with Taiwan being one of the major centres for high tech  manufacturing. In fact I wouldn't even be able to write this article without my computer whose parts have originated in Taiwan, if not, the entire computer (a Mac however, the same can be found for PC's).

Today Man Kung produces world renown crossbows, compound bows and recurves along with various other archery accessories, just as their company name suggests, the full range.

State of the art CNC factory equipment



CNC machined cams offers the repeatability in manufacturing and better strength due to better metal homogeneity compared to casting of cams. Higher tolerances can also be achieved by machined parts. (Image kindly supplied by Mirito Outdoor BV)

and dedicated craftspeople, (regardless of how good ones CNC mills are, are totally dependent upon how good the one who programs it!).

(Image kindly supplied by Mirito Outdoor BV)


they are producing bows with competitive parts and price point. They offer a 2 year warranty on their bows.

So at a quick glance how does a Taiwanese manufactured compound bow stack up against an American made counterpart? In the case of the Mirage model, we see CNC machined cams as standard. 


The packaging was sturdy and no flimsy cardboard box. All the necessary information is on the outside of the box.





30" axel to axel the Man Kung Mirage compound bow, 

Specs at a glance: (taken from the web site of Mirito BV)

  • Draw weight: adjustable from 15 to 70 LBS
  • Let-off: 70 to 80%
  • Draw length: adjustable from 48,3 to 78,7 cm (19 to 31 inch)
  • Velocity: 300 FPS - 91 m/s (at 70 LBS)
  • Weight: 1860 grams
  • Length: 76,2 cm
  • Thread of sight mount: 3/16 UNC
  • Thread of arrow rest mount: 5/16 UNF
  • Thread of stabilizer mount: 5/16 UNF
  • Fiberglass limbs
  • Aluminium riser
  • 2 years manufacturer's warranty
  • This product might not be allowed in your country, please check the laws and regulations
  • Suitable for archers aged 16 or over
  • Right-handed model (hold the bow with the left hand and pull the string with the right hand)
  • Including whisker biscuit arrow rest
  • Including sight with 3 fluorescent pins
  • Including peep sight
  • Including d-loop
  • Including release
  • Including stabilizer
  • Including quiver
  • Including sling
  • Including 4 Man Kung 30 inch carbon bow arrows

Straight out of the box the bow I was really impressed and now I'm going to tell you why:

Let's start with the included accessories (in the purchase price of the Man Kung Mirage).


Included is a quality woven paracord-like cord and leather bow sling withy a thick brass insert (the insert is to prevent the stabiliser nut from damaging the leather part of the sling. This latter part is a nice touch as they could have used some cheap bit of steel.

The Mirage also features a fully adjustable dampening system. (Do not over tighten the bolts because these contact a fibreglass rod).


All the serving, whether on the peep sight as shown above or along the string was very well finished off with no lose or frayed ends.

Of course it goes without saying there is an instruction booklet. I'd say if you were a complete beginner and had never held a bow in your life BUT were technical savvy, then this booklet would suffice for all bow maintenance except string and bus cable replacement. However, the draw length can be changed without the need for a bow press.  For the non- technical savvy, I'd suggest it be taken to a competent bow shop technician to set it up for you (like for any bow and or gun).


Note too that the Man Kung Mirage bow came wound up at it's maximum setting of 70lbs draw weight. It is imperative, that one carefully follow in the instructions to correctly adjust the draw weight. 

The included arrow quiver is a typical hunting style quiver made from Carbon tubes (much like arrow shafts) and very strong looking plastic. In fact it looks like my other bow hunting quiver and looks to be of very good design and well made. All the bolts are of the allen socket head type and non-reflective.


Slight disadvantage, it can only hold 4 arrows (but if you are hunting than you only need one LOL!). Plus the foam insert is easily damaged by a field points; ok this can be easily changed out.


Socket head bolts on all fittings.

The necessary hardware to install the bow quiver, bracket, bolts and Allen drivers.

Next the included release. Well made, properly stitched made from thick cow hide and synthetic webbing  and Velcro, with Aluminium parts. There is no fine adjustment of the release.

This release may or may not be suitable for your own ergonomics. (It doesn't suit mine so well).

A typical rubber stabiliser is also included.

A full set of allen key are also included in the package, so basically there is nothing to buy in order to start shooting as soon as one adjusts the appropriate draw weight.

Don't loose your tools if you live in Europe because all of the fixtures are US based standard threads! Ok, it is possible to obtain a US 1/8th " etc allen keys within Europe and Australia?NZ for example but it can be difficult if out hunting away from any major city, so yeah, don't loose them if in those countries or regions.

What about the quality of the string and the cables? Well they look to be of better quality (if I have to be honest) than my Sanlida equivalent (the ManKung Bow was more expensive though).

The "D-loop" also appears to have been well-made (totally necessary obviously). All the serving is neat and tidy.

Both cams are CNC machined and so are the draw length modules.

The "shiny" part is the draw length module. No bow press is needed to adjust the draw length and it is very simply to do. Loosen both nuts but ONLY remove the outer bolt as the inner bolt's function is to keep the cam aligned properly. Do NOT over tighten as this is a hardened steel bolt into an aluminium thread! I use mail polish to secure the bolts, its cheaper than loctite and you are less likely to make a mistake with using the wrong thread locker because the wrong one could be a permanent fixture! So son't use thread locker to do this. Out of good archery skills one should always check that the draw length modules (no matter what the bow brand) are secure before shooting.


Camouflage Patterning via hydro dipping

The camouflage patterning on the riser appears to have applied very well and they are using a camouflage pattern which is from "God's Country" patented camouflage pattern, licensed to Liquid Print  who manufacture the hydro drip formulation from the USA . It is a hydro dip film technology.



The camouflage pattern is excellent even against this dead grass.

Towards Spring weather conditions the riser blends in well.

The riser is almost invisible against this birch tree.


The Man Kung Mirage compound bow also came with 4 carbon fibre arrows as standard sporting field points.  Also at the time of writing I  purchased this bow (directly from  Mirto Outdoor B.V. located in the Netherlands)  at a very good 14% discount on the retail price of 314 Euros.


One of the supplied carbon arrows (the one with vanes). The glue has been neatly applied to the vanes.


The limb bolts are not simply tapped into the riser but inserted into a metal tube (barrel nut) running crosswise within the riser. This method will always provide  more long term security as the limb bolt will screw into steel and not aluminium which over time adjusting draw weights could damage (unlikely) the thread.

Limb bolts are inserted into steel "barrel nuts" within the aluminium riser. The fit and finish (tolerances) here appear to be very good. This technique of placing the limb bolts is usually only seen on high end compound bows (because it is cheaper for a manufacturer to simply tap the riser). Plus on high poundage bows (the Man Kung Mirage is 70lb bow) there will be a very high force placed upon a threaded riser. One last point here, for a bow which advertises several draw weights, it is a better choice to use a barrel nut so as to preserve the riser integrity, if there will be various people using the bow.


The bow comes with a quality whisker biscuit


There is a molded plastic insert on the grip (see below), (The grip looks and feels very good and definitely not cheap) so this bow is not so uncomfortable right out of the box whereas I found that many bows require some sort of customisation on the grip. I'll see how it goes for me when I go to shoot this thing (I have actually already shot it) but just out of the box it appears comfy. (I did briefly hold one in my paws in a shop prior to making a decision to purchase). This plastic insert has been bolted onto the riser and not press fit or glued. (My Bear was glued on! and came off in hot weather- actually, it didn't come off but rather shifted and I had to re-affix it with epoxy resin.

How about the business end? ie the limbs themselves? 

Limb manufacture is the key to any good bow. The number of flexures the limbs can undertake, without fatigue, glass filament design, all are key to the manufacturing of quality limbs. This is something not many are talking about in detail.


Suffice it say compression moulding, ie under high pressures and temperatures are used to polymerise the fibreglass limbs. So with little to few manufactures talking about their techniques, Gordon is an exception) and why they would be superior over others, an indication to the end user is the warranty period. For example: the warranty period for this particular Man kung bow I'm reviewing here, the Mirage is 2 years. This would be calculated upon how many time the limbs could be flexed at their maximum poundage (ie in this case 70lbs)  without failure. 

It can only be generalised as one may never shoot the bow at 70lb but at a much lower draw weight of say 50lbs. Bows, like rifles can be easily damaged if treated poorly: ie dragged through the undergrowth (allowing sticks and rocks to damage string and or bow cables*); dirt allowed to enter bushing/ axel bearings and or threads; exposure to salt water (sweat perspiration) or other corrosive substances, excessive heat like from carelessly being placed inside of a car during hot weather resulting in serious damage to the limbs; etc. As a bow hunter of many years I would say the easiest part to damage is one's string and or cables.*In fact gone are the days where the cables were actually that-steel cables, whose very nature could take some light abuse when stalking through the undergrowth! Not so with todays bow designs and the necessity to to require complex equipment such as a bow press in order to simply replace a string, something which could be done in a matter of minutes in the field with my old Bear compound bow! Whilst this bow in question shot no where near as fast (it featured eccentric aluminium wheels) as cam bows of today, it did get me many animals from small to medium sized game over the years and in a trouble free way with maybe 3-4 string changes on it over a period of ten years of regular hunting trips.

For the Man Kung Mirage, Man Kung, recommend a string change and cable  after 5000 shots or 12 months use . So in real terms, let's say you shot once every weekend and let loose say 40 arrows (10 X 4 arrow shoots), that equates to 125 weeks of shooting. You work it out but it all depends upon how diligent one is waxing their strings and cables and if you have been careless and have damaged the string and or cables.

The camouflage. Firstly as  bow hunter of many years I would definitely say that camouflage on the bow makes a difference bow hunting. Secondly, I'd say making sure to use a bow which is not very reflective or rather one where there is simply no shiny parts. Now upon saying this I would never recommend using pressurised spray paint to camouflage your own bow. In fact I'm certain this would void your warranty for the following reason: There are organic solvents to which the paints/pigments are kept in solution and these solvents could have a detrimental effect upon the fibre glass limbs, as epoxy resins are NOT resistant to chemical attack from organic solvents and in fact epoxy resins can be dissolved by many common  organic solvents. The application of such solvents could substantially weaken your limbs to the point of increasing the chance to mechanic failure.

In the past one could buy "bow sleeves", camouflaged material which was like a big "Sock" and in some case called bow socks, in order to stop the glare from a shiny resin surface. 

The reality was that any decrease in arrow speed as a result of adding a minuscule amount of weight and or air drag to the movement of the limbs is negligible in terms of the skill required to bag your game. How to I know this? Well I've managed to bag lots of game with a compound bow using home made "socks". Never once did they stop or hinder my shot. It's one thing to spray paint or "rattle can" a rifle because it is made of metal and wood but another thing to apply organic solvents to fibre glass finishes, this includes carbon fibre libs too.

So this brings me to the point of this ManKung bow, the Mirage (plus several others in their line up); they are offered in both non-camouflaged and camouflaged versions. The camouflage is only applied to the riser. So if your are buying to hunt, then simply get the camouflaged version, it's that simple. ManKung are using the patented "God's country" camouflage USA design.


ManKung products are distributed globally by Mirito Outdoor B.V., located in the Netherlands. They use DPD and although I've only purchased one bow from them via n international route, delivery was somewhat slow and the tracking inaccurate. This is of course no fault of Mirito Outdoor B.V. but rather DPD, something to maybe bear in mind and applies for any courier service.




Update:


The Mirage compound bow manufactured by Man Kung shoots vibration free and smoothly. Video field reviews to come shortly on the channel.


See here:



Please note:
This bow has a high let off, so basically you need to be prepared for this when backing iff if yu don't shoot, otherwise you'll blow an arm muscles or 2 LOL.