Samick Sage Review 2: Fast Flight String

Posted: January 7, 2012 in Archery, Articles, Videos

After getting a handle on the way the Samick Sage shot with its stock, dacron string, I felt that it was time to install the high performance string that I had purchased with it. The string is a Flemish twist, 18 strand Fast Flight Plus string from 3Rivers Archery. I purchased the 58″ length, and that has proven to be the proper length for the bow, although the manufacturer recommends the 59″. I found that he shorter string gave me plenty of room to twist the string up, but didn’t require such a large number of twists as a longer string would, in order to get the brace height where I wanted it to be. I tied on a nocking point with dental floss, as has been my recent habit, and off I went.

More below the break:

Cosmetics and Initial Setup:

The FF+ string came in a nice looking bronze and black twist. It was clearly a bit thinner than the stock string, even with a few additional strands. I installed it with around 8 or 10 twists initially. This gave me a brace height of around 7 1/3 inches initially, and I left the bow sitting that way for a time. Initial string stretch put the BH down to around 7″, so I twisted another few turns in, until I got back to a little shy of 7 1/2. This was around where I had been shooting the other string, as that was about the extent of where I could reasonably twist it. The string did not seem to stretch any after this initial settling. I suspect that this stretching is more the process of the twist settling in, rather than the material doing anything.

Initial shooting revealed that the thickness of the string caused somewhat loose nock fit, specifically on the GT style 5/16 nocks. It was not a huge issue, but some might wish to build up the serving slightly to give a firmer nock fit. At this brace height, the bow was fairly noisy with the lighter carbon arrows, though much of that calmed down with the heavy aluminum arrows, which continued to shoot well and smoothly.

Early chronograph testing proved that the fast flight string was doing its work, as the speeds at all arrow weights went up considerably (more than ten feet per second). I didn’t succumb to hip-hooray or shout from the rooftops, as I knew that the bow had some brace height tuning still to do, and I had not silenced the string in any way. The test was not apples-to-apples. Still, a good sign.

Tuning and Silencing:

After it became clear that the string had settled, and wasn’t likely to stretch any more, I began working toward a quiet, smooth state of tune. I ended up with a brace height of 8 1/8″, and installed nylon string silencers of the same sort as I had used with the stock string. This proved to be good shooting combination, and so that is where I will leave the bow for the time being.

I found myself wondering if my nylon cord string silencers were much heavier than commercially available types. I weighed one of the nylon type I was making, and found it to weigh 34 grains. That, interestingly enough, is exactly what I observed the “cat whisker” silencers to weigh. Beaver fur proved to be much lighter, with a small twist of that weighing only 12 grains. I suspect that many people use larger swaths of fur than the one I was weighing, however, so that might be a bad number on my part.

In any case, I awaited a day when I could set up the chronograph and see what the results would be. The bow had quieted significantly, even with the light arrows, which were frankly not fun to shoot until the silencing efforts were made.

Performance:

Here’s the observed performance of the three arrow weights I have been testing with. All arrows were tested with at least a dozen arrow through the chronograph, with high and low results thrown out. It was snowing and 32 degrees at the time.

Easton Carbon Storm, 378 grains:  178 fps (from 165 with dacron)

GT Pro Hunter, 423 grains: 166 fps (from 152 with dacron)

Easton Legacy, 511 grains:  154 fps (from 145 with dacron)

As you see above, the increase in speed ranged from 9 to 14 feet per second, which I feel is a significant improvement, especially considering the small expense and simple upgrade.  At the highest arrow weight, kinetic energy went from 23.8 to 26.9, for just over three additional foot-pounds of energy.  By my calculations, this is an increase of 13%. Nothing to sneeze at.

I believe that the bow is actually quieter at all arrow weights now than with the stock string. I took the opportunity (as you can with the video above) to look at the shot cycle in slow motion. I was quite pleased with the lack of residual string oscillation as the arrow launched. The bow is shooting well, and doing so with a fairly broad range of arrow weights and spines, which I like. In general, the bow is slightly less touchy about my imperfect form with this string, and is shooting faster and sweeter than ever.

The thinner string will call into question your method for protecting your fingers. If you use a thin glove or tab, you may be able to feel the string better with a string of this type. Maybe too well. It’s possible that a slightly more protective glove or tab will be required. I found that I was able to shoot comfortably with the 3Rivers “Dura Glove”, but the string seemed to hasten the end of an older glove’s middle finger stall, which had been starting to wear out already. I have tried fixing its scarred surface with duct tape, as I often do, but I don’t know if that’ll last long. That’s not the string’s fault. Just know that it isn’t as big and fat as the 16 strand dacron string you may be used to.

In addition to finger protection, you may find that the string doesn’t hold your arrows quite as firmly. If this is an issue, I can vouch for the “S” nocks from Easton, the 5/16″ nocks from Boehning, and the glue-ons from Easton to still work fine with this string. The only ones that were very loose were the 5/16ths GT nocks. A little extra serving would take care of that, anyway, so it’s not that big a deal.

After coming in from the snow today, I felt that it was probably wise to wax the string. It came to me very well waxed, and the string took the additional wax well and happily. Overall, I’m sold.

Recommendations:

The Sage has shown itself to be a very well made, well thought out bow. The handle is comfortable, the riser solid, the limbs smooth to my draw and reasonably fast, and the fit and finish quite good for a bow of its humble price tag.

The bow is not going to be the fastest thing anyone’s ever seen, nor will it make people’s hearts pine for its indescribable beauty. What it will do is give anyone a good shooting, rugged, effective little bow. I’ve shot it in the snow, I’ve used it when the weather was in the twenties, and I’ve put a lot of shots through it, and it hasn’t done a thing wrong. I’ve only had to tighten the limb bolts once, and even then, they had crept out less than a quarter of a turn.

The addition of the fast flight string, to me, puts the bow over into a higher caliber. More speed, more power, and no downside that I could detect. If one factors in the price of the string, the bow is still very inexpensive, far less than $200. I would heartily recommend the Sage, and the fast flight string, to anyone who wanted a bow for the following purposes:

  1. Getting started in traditional archery
  2. An all-weather bow for those bad days
  3. A back-up (or primary) hunting bow
  4. A “knock around” bow for throwing in the trunk when you go camping or to the country
  5. A light draw bow for working on your form (with 25-35 pound limbs)
  6. A “step up” bow for getting used to pulling heavier draw weights (with 55-60 pound limbs)
  7. Your “do everything” bow (perhaps with a few limb weights for all occasions)

Thanks for reading this review, and I hope that it gives you some good information going forward.

Cheers,

Patrick

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Comments
  1. Bob Tracy says:

    The effect of the snow falling in the video was quite nice. I see that you’re crowding a lot of arrows into a pretty small area there.

  2. Victor Mansella says:

    Excellent. How much does that string cost? Also, what is the music behind the video?

  3. Bob,

    Thanks. I promise it’s not all movie magic (grin).

    Victor,

    The string costs about $15 at 3Rivers Archery. The generalized range for fast flight strings in Flemish Twist style is between there and $20 through most big retailers. It’s possible to pay more for custom work, where you pick the colors and they do some prep or include silencers, but I don’t know if it’s warranted for most shooters. The music is Tord Gustavsen Trio from their CD “The Ground”, which I highly recommend if you like trio acoustic jazz.

    Cheers,

    Patrick

  4. Victor Mansella says:

    grazi!

  5. phoynix says:

    Can you take the limbs off anc check for damage from the screws.. my limbs are getting badly chipped from the screws holding the pockets in, I tried screwing them in more and could only do so a few turns.

    Im wondering if you are suffering the same damage I am or if my Samick Sage is bad.

    • Phoynix,

      I have had the limbs off, and found no damage. Since the recording of the videos, I took the time to put some of the soft element of Velcro inside my limb pockets to assure that the shots were quiet and that the limb and bow were going to have as little vibration as possible. I don’t know if it changed the sound of the bow at all, but it’s a little peace of mind. My bow is still shooting well. If you’re getting damage in the limb pockets, I’d take it to a pro to see what can be done. It could be dangerous over the long haul, if untreated.

      Good luck,

      Patrick

  6. InspGadgt says:

    My understanding is the Sammick Sage and Polaris are similar constructions and should not use the fast flight string as they are not reinforced properly for them. Are you seeing any fracturing long term with this string? I’m on my 2nd string now with my Polaris in less than 2 months and am really getting tired of the strings stretching out too much too fast already. My original string is twisted so tight now it nearly knots just to get an 8″ brace height…and my new string has lost 1/2″ brace height in the first day of use.

    • Insp,

      The Polaris does not have reinforced limb tips, and thus should not be used with low-stretch string materials. The Sage, however, has phenolic-resin reinforced limb tips, and does fine with the fast flight string. I haven’t seen any signs of cracking on my Sage. I should note, however, that I’ve gotten a new hybrid longbow since then, and tend to use it in favor of the Sage. Thanks for the question, and have a good day.

      Patrick

  7. Landon Lovel says:

    I blew up my riser. My friends has signs of something starting. Brace heights are within specs. Just now, we remain skeptical about the Sage. Time to see if 3-rivers stands behind their products.

    • Landon,

      I’m sorry to hear that you had a riser fail. I know that can be scary when it occurs. I haven’t had any issues with my Sage, but I have many bows, and it doesn’t get into the rotation as much since I’ve been using the Omega Raptor, built by Keegan McCabe as my light bow. I hope that your friend’s bow is okay, and that 3Rivers stands by the product. I’ve always had good experiences with 3Rivers in the past, but I have not had to return anything yet.

      Cheers,

      Patrick

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