Andreas Phillip is impressed by a brand new button with some unique features
Even though the button is an enormously important part of most recurve bows, the range of options available is not huge. The upper price range is dominated by the long-established Beiter button, as used by the majority of elite recurve archers – with a few boutique options available, such as the Wifler button reviewed in Bow 142.
The middle range is dominated by the Shibuya DX and buttons from bow manufacturers such as Spigarelli and Fivics. The cheapest options include Cartel, Avalon or Decut. At around €104, the new Zniper button is competing at least on price with the very top of the range.
The Zniper arrow rest, with a compound-style vertical drop-down mechanism, caused a sensation among barebow archers worldwide. The highly configurable barebow tab that appeared some time ago was also well received. It’s not surprising that behind the company is the successful barebower Michael Meyer, who, among other things, won team gold at the 2019 European Championships. His stated aim is not only to bring another product to the market, but to enhance existing concepts with fresh ideas.
The Zniper Zextant is available in four different lengths, so the right button can be found for pretty much any combination of centre section and arrow rest. The small version is designed for an installation depth of 19mm-23mm, the medium for 22mm-26mm, the large for 25mm-29mm and an extra large for 28mm-32mm. In addition, two spacers with a thickness of 1mm and 2mm are included so, in case of doubt, you are best off choosing the larger variant.
The button is well packed in a small box and the accessories are neatly stowed in small bags; there is also a leaflet with a QR code that can be used to download the instructions as a PDF.
The first impression is good – the Zextant looks great and appears high quality, made entirely of metal apart from the pin. In addition to the pre-assembled button, all the necessary tools for assembling and adjusting the Zextant are provided in the form of a clamping tool and an Allen key with 1.5mm or 2mm.
Three different springs are included in the delivery: soft, medium and hard, with the soft spring pre-installed. Two replacement pins are included, which is a good idea as button pins wear out over time.
All spare parts can be reordered individually. This applies to all the individual parts of the button and all the screws too. So if the Zextant no longer fits due to a change of centre part and/or arrow rest, you don’t have to order a completely new one; you simply change the screw-in body and button pin to get the new, correct installation depth.
The button is made of stainless steel and 6061 aluminium, and is finished with a titanium-coloured anodising, which, by the way, matches my grey Gillo GT centrepiece perfectly. At the moment, the Zextant is only available in this one colour, but I wouldn’t be surprised if other colour variants were added to the portfolio at some point, if there is sufficient demand.
During assembly, it becomes clear that the Zextant is different from other commercially available buttons. Normally, the work begins with the assembly and buttons have to be mounted so that the centre shot fits. Anyone who has done this before knows that it can be quite a fiddly job. Loosening again and again, screwing in, unscrewing, until at some point you find the sweet spot.
That can be a real pain, especially since you don’t have any real clues as to whether you need to make one, two or three more turns. On the Zextant, the centre-shot position is not adjusted by changing the screw-in depth. Instead, there is an adjusting wheel mechanism that even has a distinctive ratchet. With this, you basically ‘push’ the entire button mechanism, which is located in a sleeve, further in or out, completely independently of the screw-in body.
Thus, it is not only child’s play to adjust the centre shot, but you even have the possibility to try out different button positions in a detailed and comparable way, without having to loosen the button and change the screw-in depth again and again. For archers who frequently deal with tuning, or shoot with different arrows depending on the competition and season, this is ingenious.
Of course, there is also a lock for the final adjustment. Once you have adjusted everything the way you want it, you simply loosen a grub screw, which effectively decouples the adjusting wheel from the rest and allows it to rotate freely, without changing the screw-in depth. Then you can turn the adjusting wheel all the way to the base body, tighten the screw again, and your centre-shot setting is virtually set in stone.
The adjustment of the spring pressure for fine-tuning is done via an adjustment drum with a printed scale, as we are used to from Beiter. As you would expect, the spring pressure can be adjusted as finely.
Accordingly, the installation of the Zextant in the practical test turned out to be an incredibly quick job. Screw in the button, provisionally set the centre shot via the adjusting wheel, shoot some test shots, a little readjustment here and there and you’re done – all without having to loosen the button even once. Lock it in place, then do a few more passes along with a ‘mountain test’ for the correct spring pressure, and you’re done.
I also liked the certainty of the setting wheel and setting drum. The clicks are ‘crisp’ enough that the risk of accidentally adjusting something is very low, not to mention the locking options. The button pin is pleasantly smooth and does not rub against the sleeve. In addition, the tolerances are obviously tight enough that the pin does not wobble in its holder in the slightest.
With the Zextant, Michael Meyer has delivered a button that is not only well manufactured. The idea of adjusting the centre shot via a wheel with a comprehensible grid – instead of eternal screwing in and out in uncertainty – is genuinely brilliant. Recurve and barebow archers who often have to fine-tune their arrows – for example by changing arrows in different disciplines – will appreciate the clever mechanism, especially as it offers the possibility of making comprehensible comparisons between different settings.
With the best will in the world, we could not find anything that speaks against the Zniper Zextant, especially since the workmanship and scope of delivery are also on a high level. At around €100, it’s certainly not cheap but, for advanced archers, appears to be worth every cent.