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Stryker Strykezone 380 Review

Stryker Strykezone 380 Review

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.

Easy Setup

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.

Lighten Up

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.

Recommended


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.

Supreme Safety

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.

Specifications:

  • 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

Cajun Hornet LITE Arrow

Long known for producing an entire line of topnotch bowfishing equipment, Cajun Archery is now part of the Bear Archery and Trophy Ridge family. Consequently, you can assume there are good things in the future for Cajun. For right now, they still make everything you need to hit the water, with their Hornet LITE arrow giving youths a chance to outshoot their older bowfishing counterparts. The Hornet LITE weighs 600 grains, which is nearly half the weight of traditional bowfishing arrows. This aids low-poundage shooters in penetration and accuracy. The Hornet LITE is 28" long and specifically designed for setups with draw weights of 40 lbs. or less.

Price: $5 (bare), 15 (complete)

Innerloc Grapple Points

Quality bowfishing reels are important, but they are useless without the right arrows and points. Enter the Grapple Points from Innerloc Broadheads. Available in a 2 Barb, 3 Barb, and 3 Barb Gator option, Innerloc has got heads for every bowfishing situation. Designed to reduce planing and increase penetration, Grapple Points open to a full 2.75" to ensure that no matter how fierce the fight, any fish you impale will end up in the boat.

Price: $14-17

RPM NOS Point

Another quality offering in the point category comes your way from RPM Bowfishing. Their NOS Point is a wicked stainless-steel point that features twin serrated gripper barbs to cut down on lost fish. If you spend any time shooting around rocky shorelines or bowfishing spawning suckers on smaller interior rivers while they pile into the rapids, you'll appreciate the NOS's hardened bullet tip, because it resists deformation and stays true even after serious abuse.

Price: $10

Rhinehart Carp Target

Anyone who has spent any time shooting into the water understands that it's easy to miss. Light refraction and the sheer challenge of knowing just how low to aim cause plenty of on-the-water whiffs. If you're interested in cutting down on the misses though, check out the Carp from Rinehart Targets. Designed to be shot at steep angles and simulate a true 50-lb. bottom-feeder, the Carp is perfect for diehard bowfishermen.

Price: $200

Wiley X Saint

Naturally, none of these products matter if you can't see into the water. Over the years I've spent a lot of time and money trying to find polarized sunglasses that cut surface glare and give me the chance to arrow more fish. Through that process I've ended up relying heavily on Wiley X eyewear. Their new Saint is available in their Changeable Series, which gives you the ability to customize lenses.

Personally, I prefer the Polarized Smoke Green lenses when I'm bowfishing. After stepping on a pair and crunching them into oblivion, I now opt to store them in the hard zipper case when I'm not wearing them. Aside from looking cool and functioning well, each Saint meets high-velocity and high-mass-impact safety standards to offer eye protection — something everyone on your boat should have.

Price: $75-130

Quick Draw Bowfishing Arrow Rest

Quick Draw Outdoor Gear also makes a full-containment bowfishing rest that will enhance a day on the water. Their Quick Draw Bowfishing Arrow Rest is designed for shooters of all skill levels. To aid in quick reloading, which is something that is sure to be appreciated during periods of frenzied fish-shooting activity, each Quick Draw has a rubber gate that allows you to quickly slip your arrow into place and fire away. The Quick Draw is available in silver or pink.

Price: $45

PSE Wave

A great package from PSE Archery contains all you need to kill everything from common carp to stingrays and even alligators. The new-for-2013 Wave is a 32", 3.4-lb. bow with up to 30" of draw length. Its 6.5" brace height and 40-lb. draw weight make it the perfect option for all-day, or all-night shooting. Each kit contains an AMS reel, PSE Snapshot rest, and two bowfishing arrows.

Price: $380

Muzzy Xtreme Duty Reel

If you've already got a suitable bowfishing bow, then it would be wise to check out the new Xtreme Duty Bowfishing Reel from Muzzy. The Xtreme is built for bowfishing, which is evident from the extra-large spool, stainless-steel hood and pushbutton cap, and automotive disk drag. To accommodate left or right-handed shooters, each Xtreme is convertible for either preference of retrieve.

Price: $53

Bohning Carp-ivore Rest

An often-overlooked aspect of rigging up for bowfishing season involves rests. I prefer to bowfish with traditional bows most of the time, so I end up shooting off of the shelf. However, this spring, when I opt for a compound, it will be outfitted with the new Carp-ivore Bowfishing Rest from Bohning Archery. The Carp-ivore combines a capture rest with a roller rest, utilizing the best of both styles. Additionally, each Carp-ivore can be mounted for left and right-handed shooters and features vertical and horizontal adjustment for fine-tuning.

Price: $50

AMS Bowfishing Retriever Pro

In the realm of bowfishing reels, I'd be remiss if I didn't cover AMS Bowfishing's Retriever Pro. This reel, along with earlier versions of it, have accounted for a lot of dead fish over the years. Unlike other bowfishing reels, the Retriever Pro is built to release line without the push of a button, meaning to quickly retrieve line it's necessary to engage the reel. Each Retriever Pro comes standard with 200-lb. Hi-Vis Dacron line, two AMS Safety Slide Kits, and replacement nocks for your arrows.

Price: $90




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