Last fall, Stryker sent me a StrykeZone 380 for evaluation. Unfortunately, after setting it up for an Alabama deer hunt I got a little sidetracked and wasn’t able to finish with field testing. But the opportunity finally presented itself this spring on a Nebraska turkey hunt.
Out of the box assembly of the Stryker StrykeZone 380 is fairly easy, the most complicated part being setting the cables in the cable slide. A single Allen screw holds the riser on the machined aluminum barrel. Attach the stirrup and quiver base and you’re good to go. I did find it a minor inconvenience that disassembling for transport required removal of both the stirrup and quiver block in order to turn the riser bolt with a standard-sized Allen wrench. It could have been accomplished with a longer wrench, but I didn’t have one.
At 34 ¾ inches long, the StrykeZone 380 is on the shorter end of the current crossbow crop. And even that figure is a bit misleading, since more than four inches of overall length is stirrup. Much of that abbreviation is accomplished via a shorter stock—about two inches shorter than average—which has both advantages and disadvantages.
The StrykeZone 380 comes with a compact, multi-reticle scope that should meet the needs of the average hunter. Not being average, I first attempted to swap it out for a Leupold Crossbones scope, which is two inches longer than the Stryker optic. However, the shorter stock did not allow for sufficient eye relief. I then popped on a Trijicon XB2 (a much shorter optic) and had ample eye relief. And to my pleasant surprise, it took only about six shots to zero the scope.
Sized Right for Hunting
While I found the shorter, molded rear stock a tad awkward on the range, I had quite the opposite impression in the field. It may be just personal preference, but I find most rifle, shotgun and crossbow stocks a bit too long for actual hunting conditions, especially when wearing bulky clothes or in the crouched position typical of turkey hunting.
The StrykeZone 380’s stock length was ideal for sitting in a turkey blind. The generous cheek piece and fixed, slotted-handle pistol grip made for a secure and quite comfortable fit. I also didn’t truly appreciate the forestock until I was in the field. It provided a secure hand grip as well as a solid base to set on shooting sticks while still providing ample clearance for strings and cables.
The StrykeZone 380 is rated at 380 fps and 123 foot-pounds of energy shooting a Stryker (Gold Tip Laser IV) bolt with a 100-grain tip (total weight right around 400 grains). Switching to a 22-inch Victory VooDoo bolt, I gained more than an inch in elevation at 20 yards, even though the VooDoo weighs 40 grains more than the factory bolt. My first shot blew through a tom at 12 yards and sailed another 60 yards before sticking firmly into the ground.
One of the traditional knocks on crossbows is their stiff, sloppy triggers. The StrykeZone’s KillSwitch trigger is a rifle-like three pounds with a scant .015-inch of travel, which definitely contributes to accuracy.
At 6.9 pounds, the StrykeZone is definitely on the lighter side for a compound flat bow. That, along with its compact design, makes for more comfortable transport and use in the field. This would be a great still-hunting crossbow and much easier to shoot off-hand if you had to.
The downside to a lighter rig is less mass to absorb shock and noise. Noise is a very subjective rating, so take mine for what it’s worth. I’d put the StrykeZone on the quieter side of average and found the addition of a couple limb dampeners made a noticeable reduction in shot noise. As for shock, you do feel a bit of a jump at the shot but it didn’t seem to diminish accuracy on the range and I never even noticed it in the field.
Safety is always an important factor with crossbows, and Stryker built several safety features into the StrykeZone 380. For starters, there’s an Auto-Flip magnetic safety that clicks on every time the bolt receiver is lifted or the bow is cocked; and it’s engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the bolt is removed. There’s also a removable, double-barred Cease-Fire safety plug that locks the jaws, immobilizes the trigger and reactivates the Auto-Flip safety until you remove it and are ready to shoot. The StrykeZone’s safety switch is about the smoothest and definitely the quietest I’ve ever experienced on a crossbow, something you’ll appreciate in close-quarters hunting situations.
I did find one knock, and something to be aware of that I believe is at least partly a consequence of the shorter buttstock. When drawing back with a standard rope cocker, the string hooks occasionally pop up onto the top of the rail, requiring you to let down and start over. Once I was aware of this, I simply applied a little more pressure down on the rail. When I handed the crossbow to another shooter and asked him to draw, he experienced the same thing, which unfortunately resulted in breaking the bolt-retention tang.
The StrykeZone 380 features Octane string and cables and the same rugged limbs and precision-engineered cams that Stryker/BowTech shooters are accustomed to. It’s available in Mossy Oak Treestand and a Black Ops finish. The GameOver package includes: five 385-grain bolts, five-bolt quick-detach quiver, multi-reticle scope, detachable shoulder sling, cocking aid and string stops.
- Draw Weight: 160 pounds
- Power Stroke: 15 1/2 inches
- Speed: 380 fps (with 400 grain bolt)
- Kinetic Energy: 123 foot-pounds
- Length: 34 3/4 inches
- Width: 19.2 inches at rest, 15.4 inches when cocked
- Trigger Pull: 3 pounds
- MSRP: $749
<h2>Arrow Precision Firestorm II</h2>The Inferno Firestorm II from <a href="http://www.arrow-precision.com/Arrow_outdoors.html" target="_blank">Arrow Precision</a> has a relatively modest crossbow draw weight at 165 pounds, yet it will still shoot a blazing 375 fps thanks to its compression-molded limbs, CNC-machined aluminum cam system and aircraft-grade aluminum risers. <p> The ultralight trigger requires only 2.4 pounds of pull, while Next Vista soft touch microprint camouflage adds comfort, grip and style. The Firestorm II weighs 8.2 pounds and measures 40 1⁄2 inches long. <p> Like all Inferno crossbows, the Firestorm II comes packed with standard features such as a 4x32 illuminated (red and green) scope, padded shoulder sling, four 20-inch carbon bolts with 100-grain practice points, rope cocking device, quick-detach quiver and safety goggles. <p> MSRP: $649.99