July 29, 2013
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
lightweight (6.8 pounds) and remarkably quiet Vapor employs a novel design platform for TenPoint, focused on speed and maneuverability.
The ultra-compact Vapor features TenPoint's new 165-pound, 360 fps PLT (Parallel Limb Technology) bow assembly, fitted with 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs, new HE (Hybrid Eccentric) cams and custom fabricated Viper X 8190G string and cables for dramatically reduced recoil and noise.
It measures just12.6-inches wide axle-to-axle when cocked, and an intricately webbed and lightweight, machined aluminum riser is optimized for weight reduction and strength. A new bullpup stock features strategically placed cutouts for reduced weight and improved balance, along with optimal comb height and length of pull.
The Vapor also features TenPoint's wrapped carbon fiber barrel and PowerTouch trigger. The integrated SDS String Dampening System, along with rubber inserts between the barrel and stock and dual-purpose rubber safety wings, keep noise and vibration to a minimum.
The Vapor comes complete as a package that includes bolts, quiver, soft case and ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking system.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery=25],899
The new reverse-draw configuration of Barnett's
Vengeance moves the limb pockets closer to the trigger assembly and faces the limbs forward, shifting the center of gravity closer to the shooter's body to reduce front-end weight.
Meanwhile, a CarbonLite riser assembly reduces overall weight to 7.9 pounds without compromising strength or accuracy.
This compact unit measures 34€‰1„4 inches long and 24 inches wide while boasting an 18-inch power stroke, 140-pound draw weight and speed rating of 365 fps. Decorated in a carbon-fiber finish or high-definition camouflage, the Vengeance is available through retailers as a complete package with quick-detach quiver, three 22-inch bolts and an illuminated 3x32 multi-reticle scope.
Carbon Express X-Force 350
The X-Force 350 from Carbon Express
has many new design features, not the least of which is a tactical, lightweight composite stock with a one-piece, ergonomic profile for improved comfort and accuracy.
It also features an adjustable forearm on a Picatinny rail with more than five inches of travel for customized fit, a durable cast riser with rubber-coated foot stirrup, heavy-duty compression-molded limbs, a trigger box safety system for smooth, consistent performance and SilenTech coating for stealth and performance in the field.
The X-Force 350 weighs 7.6 pounds, has a 165-pound draw weight, 12-inch power stroke and 300 fps speed rating. It comes with Carbon Express PileDriver 20-inch crossbolts with moon nocks and a 4x32 multi-reticle scope.
Mission Archery MXB-360
, a division of Mathews, is jumping into the fast-growing crossbow market in 2013 with the all-new MXB-360. As the name implies, this sleek, tactically inspired crossbow has a speed rating of 360 fps with a 160-pound draw weight and 14-inch power stroke.
The MXB-360 is relatively light among crossbows at 6.55 pounds and fairly compact at 35 inches long and 19€‰1„2 inches wide. A slotted rail and a riser that doubles as a foot stirrup helps reduce weight and improve balance.
Draw weight can be reduced to as little as 100 pounds simply by adjusting the limb bolts. You can also change the string and cables without a bow press.
The MXB-360 is finished in Lost AT camo and comes with a customized Mission soft case with added storage for accessories. Mission also offers optional accessory packages that include an MX-3 Quiver, three customized Mission crossbow bolts and a Hawke scope of your choice.
PSE TAC Elite
completely redesigned its TAC series of AR-platform crossbows for 2013 to be more accurate, more efficient and more durable.
The all-new TAC Elite comes complete with a fully adjustable stock and crisp trigger assembly. The TAC Elite features PSE's incredibly strong X-Tech limbs in an extremely compact platform that measures 41€‰1„2 inches long and 22 inches wide.
The 9-pound crossbow offers a high-performance, twin-cam design that generates bolt speeds up to 405 fps with a 150-pound draw weight and 17€‰1„4-inch power stroke.
The TAC Elite is available only in black and comes standard as a package that includes a case, scope, bipod and three bolts.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery=25],499.99
's new, 80-pound draw weight Ventilator crossbow is a scaled down version of the original designed with the increasing number of women, youth and senior hunters in mind.
At just 80 pounds, this crossbow is extremely easy for almost any hunter to cock, but with 75 foot-pounds of kinetic energy and speeds up to 310 fps, it still has plenty of knock-down power.
The compact size (35€‰3„4 inches long, 19€‰1„2 inches wide) makes it easy to maneuver in a treestand or the tight quarters of a ground blind. The Ventilator 80 comes with a folding stock for easier cocking in the seated position and weighs just 7.8 pounds thanks to a vented barrel and forged riser.
Like all Scorpyd crossbows, the Ventilator 80 comes with reverse-draw Barnsdale limbs, which have a generous power stroke of 18€‰3„4 inches to produce more kinetic energy with less draw weight.
It comes with a 3-pound trigger and your choice of Hawke optic.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery=25],349
Stryker Strykezone 380
New for 2013, Stryker
's popular StrykeZone 380 is available in the tactically inspired Black Ops finish. The StrykeZone 380 has a 160-pound draw weight, 15€‰1„2-inch power stroke and a speed rating of 380 fps.
It features a molded rear stock with generous cheek piece and fixed, slotted handle pistol grip, a machined aluminum barrel and riser, Octane string and cables and a KillSwitch trigger rated at less than 3 pounds of pull with less than .015-inch of travel.
The StrykeZone also features an Auto-Flip magnetic safety that clicks on every time the receiver is lifted or the bow is cocked, and is engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the bolt is removed.
There's also a double barred Cease-Fire safety plug insert that slides into place, locking the jaws and immobilizing the trigger until you remove it and are ready to shoot. The StrykeZone 380 comes with the GameOver package that includes five bolts, quiver, multi-reticle scope, shoulder sling, cocking aid and string stops.
's StingRay crossbow is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater bowfishing. Compact and lightweight (7.5 pounds), it's easy to maneuver, aim and shoot on the water.
The StingRay features an adjustable draw-weight range from 100-125 pounds, so it can be customized to your particular quarry; and draw-weight adjustment can be made without tools, a bow press or additional parts.
The StingRay package includes your choice of an open sight or a non-magnified, illuminated multi-reticle scope, AMS Retriever Pro bowfishing reel, bowfishing arrow with Muzzy Gator Getter Point and mounting hardware, 25 yards of 200-pound, high-visibility braided Dacron line and an integrated arrow quiver. The StingRay is appropriately decorated in Fishouflage Camo.
Arrow Precision Firestorm II
The Inferno Firestorm II from Arrow Precision
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.
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.
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.
Excalibur Matrix 380 Xtra
's new Matrix 380 Xtra is a shining example of addition by subtraction. Excalibur shaved off six inches of width, four inches of length and a full pound of weight compared to previous models while boosting speed to a whopping 380 fps and 112.3 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.
In addition to being the first compact recurve crossbow, the 5.9-pound Matrix 380 Xtra is loaded with revolutionary performance enhancements. Reduced length (35.63 inches) is due in part to the new, compact Ergo Grip stock, which provides better balance and ergonomic design features such as a thumbhole, pistol grip, finger guards on the fore-end and warm, soft, non-slip rubber grip inserts.
A Quad-Loc riser contains each of the new PowerLoad limbs — touted to be 60 percent stronger than previous versions — on four sides for added consistency and accuracy. Improved geometry means reduced friction and wear on the BCY Dynaflight 97 string for increased speed and efficiency and reduced creep.
Integrated, adjustable R.E.D.S. (Recoil Energy Dissipation System) string suppressors reduce vibration, noise and shock. A self-contained Guardian Anti-Dry Fire System, housed in the scope mount, catches the string, preventing the crossbow from firing if triggered without a bolt in place.
And a built-in release allows you to easily de-cock so you do not have to fire a shot at the end of the day. The Matrix 380 Xtra is dressed in Realtree Xtra camouflage and outfitted with a Tact-Zone scope, a cheek piece, a four-bolt quiver, four Diablo bolts with 150-grain fieldpoints and a rope cocking aid.
MSRP: [imo-slideshow gallery=25],099.99