Field Evaluation – Gateway Rayzr Feathers

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By Keith Dunlap – Senior Field Evaluator

Gor over 50 years, Gateway Feathers has been a leader in the manufacture and distribution of quality archery feathers of all sizes and styles. Their production process includes washing, dying, drying, grinding the quills, die cutting, quality control and packaging the feathers they sell. Gateway products are made from feathers hand selected from turkeys raised in the United States.  The feathers they produce for archery come from the very end of the turkey’s wings. These are called primary flight feathers or pointer feathers, and they provide top quality arrow flight.  Gateway offers a wide range of colors, sizes and shapes.

The product I evaluated, the Rayzr 2″ feather, is available in Tre and Barred patterns in various colors.  Click here for the website revealing the colors and patterns offered by Gateway.  The 2″ Rayzr feathers are a modified shield cut feather available in right or left wing.  Because of the design, this feather is designed for the modern bowhunter and modern equipment.  Gateway boasts that the Rayzr feathers are made with “Whisper Quiet Technology”, and if you want to watch and listen to some in flight, click here to check out a YouTube video of the Rayzr in flight.  Let’s dig in and see what the Rayzr feather has to offer the modern bowhunter.

The new 2″ Rayzr from Gateway,shown in Barred Yellow …
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and Tre Yellow

Initial Inspection:
The Rayzr feathers arrived in nice packaging that protects the feathers from damage during transit.  I received four colors: white, barred yellow, barred orange, and barred white.  I reviewed the information about Gateway posted to their website, and inspected the feathers for any obvious defects and for consistency.

I found no visible defects and all Rayzr feathers were consistent in size, shape and quality. The base of each feather was consistent in surface and the feathers arrived ready to apply using a standard fletching clamp.

Each package included 50 Rayzr 2″ feathers, and installation instructions that were sufficient for fletching my arrows.  With feathers, you need to be aware of right versus left wing applications prior to fletching your arrow.

The Rayzrs now come in an attractive package that protects the feathers (previously came in a zip-lock bag).

A word about left or right wing feathers, Do not mix left and right feathers on a single arrow. One advantage to using right wing fletch is field points will tighten on impact with the target. If you’re using left wing fletch, waxing the threads of your field points will prevent them from loosening.  To identify left vs. right wing feathers, follow these simple guidelines provided by Gateway:

Grasp the feather by its smooth, evenly ground base. Upon inspection, the “lip” on the base is on the rough side of your feather. Hold the feather so the rough side is facing away from you. Pull the feather web apart. Turn the feather, so when you stroke the webbing from the top down, the webbing comes apart. The direction the webbing is pointing, either left or right, is the wing of your feather. If the feather you are trying to identify is already on an arrow, hold the arrow and look down the nock end. If the base “lip” is on the left side of the webbing the feather is a right wing. Vise versa for left wing.

Once you’ve determined the wing direction, you can fletch your arrow shafts easily with a standard jig.  In my case, I had right winged feathers, which I fletched onto Gold Tip arrow shafts using a straight clamp and a 4 degree offset in my jig.  The feathers were very easy to attach to the shafts, and I was ready to shoot in no time.

Another consideration with fletching with feathers is forward of center (FOC) of your arrows.  Your arrow has a balancing point.  On a bare arrow with no nock, point or inserts, the balancing point will be in the center of the shaft.  On a completed arrow the more forward of middle the balancing point, the more stable and consistent your arrow flight will be.  When you add a field point or broadhead, you move the balance point from the center of the arrow forward.  Because feathers are much lighter, using them rather than plastic vanes allows you to move your balance point FOC on your finished arrow.

Finally, you should consider waterproofing feathers to prevent them from becoming water-logged and heavy in wet weather. First, you should only apply powder to fletched arrows. Place the powder in a zip lock bag. Shake the powder onto the feathers and work it into the web of the feather using your thumb and forefinger. Shake off any excess powder. Expect the powder to last for an entire tournament with target arrows and the hunting season with hunting arrows.

I installed the Rayzr 2″ on Gold Tip XT Hunter 5575 shafts – 4 degree right offset(356 grains of total arrow weight with Rayzr 2″ feathers).

Testing:
I proceeded to test the Rayzr feathers using my Bear Truth 2 compound bowhunting rig, outfitted with a DropZone fall away rest and Whisper Lite peep site.  Testing the feathers was fairly simple.  I evaluated the Rayzrs for accuracy, noise level, and durability.

I shot three arrow sets from distances of 15, 20, and 30 yards.  I repeated this test until I had shot 30 arrows from each distance.  I know what to expect from my arrows fletched with plastic vanes, and I was impressed with the accuracy with which I shot using these Rayzr feathers.  When compared with my average groupings using the same shafts with 2″ plastic vanes, my arrow groups tightened an average of ¼ inch overall using the Rayzrs.

Comparing noise level with the Rayzrs versus a popular 2″ plastic vanes (same shafts, same bow), the arrows fletched with the 2″ Rayzrs seemed quieter to me.  This is rather subjective, but I took enough shots and solicited the help of one of my sons to listen for the difference, that I feel confident in saying that the feathers were an improvement over plastic vanes for noise reduction during the flight of the arrows.

As far as durability is concerned, after using the same three arrows fletched with Rayzr feathers for a total of 90 shots, the feathers held up very well and none of them needed to be replaced at the end of my evaluation.  There is a certain forgiveness with feathers that you don’t get with plastic vanes when they are dinged by arrows hitting each other shot after shot into the same area of the target.  They tend to bounce back into place rather than cut and slice each other.

I installed the Rayzr 2″ on Gold Tip XT Hunter 5575 shafts – 4 degree right offset(356 grains of total arrow weight with Rayzr 2″ feathers).

Conclusion:
Until now, I have used feathers strictly with my traditional bow equipment, opting for plastic vanes with my modern bowhunting tackle.  The 2″ Rayzr feathers from Gateway give me good reason to switch from plastic to feathers for hunting situations with my compound and carbon shafts.  They are light, quiet, and improve my accuracy.  Enough said!

Specifications as Tested

  •     Overall size: 2 inches long x ½ inch high
  •     Weight: 4 grains for 3 Rayzr feathers
  •     Main body material: turkey feathers
  •     Finish/Camo Pattern: various available
  •     Retail Price: $18.82 for 50 count package

Pros:  Affordable, super light weight, improved FOC/accuracy, quiet flight.
Cons:  Need to waterproof them at the beginning of the hunting season, in case of wet weather.

To see the full line of their products, visit the website: Gateway Feathers

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