Field Evaluation - Barnett Predator Crossbow By Jon E. SIlks
Feb 2, 2010 - 6:48:48 AM
Barnett is one of the most recognized names in the crossbow manufacturing arena and with good reason. They have been making hunting rigs for more than 50 years and have sold over 1 million units worldwide! The company strives to continuously improve, reacting to the changing needs of their customers through innovation.
Their latest creation, the Predator, is loaded with features like an adjustable cheek plate, adjustable rear stock plate, Anti Vibration Isolator (AVI) limb covering technology, dual Whiplash cams, shoot-through stirrup and Realtree's AP Camo finish among others.
Some Assembly Required
When your predator arrives it will require some bolt and screw turning to get it ready for the range/field. The 'bow" part of the crossbow is not attached to the stock. A few minutes and a single steel hex-head bolt bring the two major pieces together. The stock portion of the crossbow has a protruding steel insert that accepts a pocket in the bow riser perfectly aligning the two. Follow the instruction manual for proper placement of the cables in the shooting rail slot. A single screw attached the quiver-mounting bracket and a couple of small hex-head screws attach the scope to the scope rail. (On the web at Barnett Outdoors)
The polymer material stock unit is home to the thumbhole pistol grip, trigger mechanism, adjustable cheek plate, shooting rail, oversized forearm grip, safety mechanism, scope, scope mount and adjustable rear stock plate. The units Realtree AP finish is applied through a water transfer dipping process.
The test crossbow came with Barnett's 4x32MM Crossbow Scope, which features graduated crosshairs for 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards. A standard mounting rail and scope mounts make mounting quick and easy.
Silks Outdoors Note: The Barnett crossbow scope presents a clear field of view and the crosshairs are crisp. I recommend adjusting the stock butt plate and cheek plate until the scope is clear as soon as you bring it to your shoulder. Frequent practice will help with this process.
Adjustability of the cheek plate is achieved via two male/female screw components. Each reach through the entire width of the stock and cheek plate and both oversized heads are slotted for easy screwdriver access. A few quick twists loosen the screws, which connect through elongated slots in the stock (see picture), allowing the front and/or back of the cheek plate to be moved up or down for a total span of approximately one inch.
The stock butt plate is adjusted by loosening two small setscrews on the stock and rotating a threaded thumb wheel. Total adjustment range is approximately one inch. Once the butt plate is in the desired position the setscrews must be tightened again to eliminate wobble in the loose plate.
Silks Outdoors Note: Since I have never owned a gun with adjustable cheek or butt plates it was surprising to me how much of a difference they could make in the shooting experience. It took me a while to get it all just right but when finished the Predator fit me like a glove. When I pull up with it now the scope is right there and it is clear, the trigger is in the right place and the whole package seems to be balanced correctly.
Although Barnett points to only one safety mechanism on their Predator I see two distinct safety features. The actual automatically engaged trigger safety and the oversized forearm grip. When I think of the possible dangers that are presented with a crossbow there are three that come to mind; 1) Accidental discharge with arrow intact, 2) Accidental discharge with no arrow intact (dry fire), and 3) discharge with shooter's fingers above the flight path (path traveled by the string along the shooting rail). From what I can see Barnett has dealt with two of the three, one more than the other though.
The automatically engaged trigger safety prevents firing the bow before it is intended. When the crossbow is cocked the trigger safety automatically engages and must be pushed forward in order to fire. That takes care of #1 (unless, of course, the safety is accidentally pushed forward). There does not appear to be a mechanism that prevents dry firing so #2 is not addressed. If someone cocks the bow, forgets to load an arrow and fires the bow there could be safety issues. An oversized forearm grip addresses #3 to some extent by preventing the shooter's fingers from reaching the flight path. Still, a shooter with unusually large hands or a shooter who is using a bench or sand bags for stability could easily position their hand on the side of the grip and have their thumb extending above the flight path.
Silks Outdoors Note: Although there are two safety features and plenty of written warnings I would still like to see additional mechanisms that keep the shooters hand below the flight deck and requires an arrow to be loaded before the crossbow can be fired.
Barnett's thumbhole stock/pistol grip is ergonomically molded for comfort with a well-rounded throat and contoured finger grooves. This stock configuration allows the shooter to have increased control over the crossbow during shooting situations.
Silks Outdoors Note: The thumbhole stock is one of my favorite features on the Predator. It gives me a sense of control.
The front of the stock unit is actually split, which creates a top half and bottom half. This split starts at the very front of the rail and reaches back approximately 6.5". The purpose of the split is to allow a space for the "bow" cables to move. The top of the shooting rail where the string passes over is coated with a special material to reduce friction. Barnett adds a small strip of Teflon tape to the inside of the split rail to reduce wear to the cables. The shooting rail is an integral part of the stock unit made of the same material and processes.
The machined trigger mechanism is advertised to have a 3.5# pull weight. It emerges from the stock with a little over one inch exposed for the shooter's trigger finger. The hidden portion of the trigger reaches approximately half way into the depth of the stock where it rotates around a pin. Just below (closer to the exposed portion of the trigger) the pin there is a bar attached to the trigger - we will call it the trigger bar. As the trigger is pulled and rotates on the pin the trigger bar, which reaches back approximately five inches to the release mechanism under the scope mount, moves backward. The rear of the bar attaches to the release block, which is spring loaded.
Now, as the crossbow is cocked the string is pushed through/past the spring loaded string retainer. The retainer's top portion is forced back and is locked in place when its lower portion catches on a metal bar that protrudes from the release block. The string is now caught in that position. When the release block is moved backward it actually rotates on a pin. The attached metal bar rotates slightly moving it out of the way of the string retainer and the shot is initiated. The trigger safety is a simple blocking mechanism that will not allow the release block and bar to rotate out of the way of the string retainer.
Silks Outdoors Note: The trigger assembly is easily removed and cleaned once the scope and mount are out of the way. It only requires the removal of two small screws.
Barnett's bow portion of the Predator has four basic components: riser/body, limbs, limb pockets and eccentrics.
The Magnesium riser body is formed through a Hot Chamber Die process and includes Barnett's patented Shoot-Through Foot Stirrup. The "bow" and stock unit are connected with a single bolt - see section above entitled "Some Assembly Required". A rubber piece is attached to the riser at its most forward surface, as this is the surface that rests on the ground during the cocking process. At its widest point the riser has two shallow beds that accept the unit's split limbs. They work together with the limb pockets to control and harness the Predator's limbs.
Limb pockets are constructed of high tensile steel, which is covered with an aesthetic molded plastic. Pockets capture approximately 1.75" of the limb's end and are used to attach them to the riser body. A limb bolt passes through a large washer, through the limb pocket, between the limbs and into the riser body. The 175-pound draw weight is non-adjustable. Barnett's AVI (Anti Vibration Isolation) technology is found on all four limb sections. This technology encapsulates the entire limb in a proprietary vibration and noise damping material. Underneath, the actual limb is manufactured with Gordon Composite materials and Barnsdale over-laminate. Limbs measure approximately 13 inches in length.
Silks Outdoors Note: The AVI technology gives the Predator a unique look and the performance appears to be effective, as this is one of the quieter crossbows I have tested.
Barnett's Predator is powered by their Whiplash Dual Cam system. The inertia driven Whiplash cams are CNC machined from aluminum and ride on sealed bearings for a smoother, more efficient shot. Barnett uses BCY DynaFlight 97 for their string, which is made of a strong Dyneema material. The 26-strand string measures 38.5 inches in length.
Cocking Mechanism: Barnett includes a standard rope cocking mechanism with the Predator. You will need to adjust the length of the rope to match the Predator setup, as they are too long right out of the box. To make the adjustment simply pull the knotted section of the rope out of the handle and re-tie a new knot further down the rope. Basically, you want the handles close to the string when you start to pull. Barnett also has a Predator Crank Cocking device available as well, which has a maximum wind tension of 16 pounds.
Silks Outdoors Note: The rope cocking device is very simple to use and requires little effort in my opinion. Just make sure the rope length is right for the bow you are drawing or you will struggle.
Quick Detach Quiver
4 ea. 22" arrows
Quick Detach Quiver
4 ea. 22" arrows
Rope cocking device
Choice of Premium Red Dot Scope or 4x32 Multi Reticle Scope
All of my reviews start with a quality check as soon as a product is removed from the package. From top to bottom I go over each item with the proverbial fine-tooth comb looking for evidence of workmanship, fit, finish and good mechanics. I found a couple small blemishes in the molding process, however, neither were obvious and certainly will have no effect on product performance. In performing the overall review I had the Predator down to its most basic components and back together again twice. All of the screws and mechanical components operated without any issues.
The following tests were conducted on the Barnett Predator: Speed, Maneuverability in a treestand, and effect of incorrect cocking. The Predator was tested in an "as-is" condition right out of the box.
Silks Outdoors Note: The Predator is an extremely fast bow. Ordinary targets cannot handle the arrows so choose your targets wisely. Also, you may want to remove and re-attach the inserts with fresh adhesive as all four of the test arrow inserts pulled out in dense foam targets.
Speed was measured with an Easton Professional Chronograph with an infrared lighting system and confirmed with an Oehler M35 Chronograph. See chart.
Velocity Test Results 395 Gr Arrow 415 Gr Arrow 440 Gr Arrow 475 Gr Arrow
Shot # 1 389.2 381.8 374.9 362.2
Shot # 2 389.5 382 374.6 362.1
Shot # 3 389.5 381.9 374.8 362.5
Shot # 4 389.4 381.7 374.8 362.3
Shot # 5 389.1 382.2 374.7 362.4
5 Shot Total 1946.7 1909.6 1873.8 1811.5
Average Velocity 389.34 381.92 374.76 362.2
Maneuverability is affected by various factors such as width, length, mass weight and product features. The Predator weights 9 pounds, which sounds heavy to someone who is accustomed to carrying a typical compound bow or stick bow. It is still a little heavier as compared to the average crossbow, which according to my research typically range between 6 and 8 pounds. The Predator's length is 38.5" and its overall width is approximately 24".
When cocked that width drops to slightly under 20", which comes into play when sitting in a ground blind or treestand. While testing I shot the Predator at various angles from both a treestand and ground blind. The few times the bow did contact the treestand accidentally the sound was muffled by the AVI limb coating - nice bonus! In all I would say that as far as crossbows are concerned the Predator has average maneuverability.
Using a rope cocking device opens the door for inconsistent string position through differing pressures and angles applied when pulling the string back to full draw. To test the effects of this possibility I tried to cock the Predator with one of the string fixtures further away from the shooting rail than the other by pulling harder on one side than the other, etc. I was unable to detect any appreciable differences in accuracy no matter how I cocked the crossbow. There are most likely instances when the accuracy would be compromised; however, I think the shooter would have to be extremely negligent in their attempt to cock it.
Considering the retail price of $689 it is hard to beat this bow! Other bows that compare in speed do not generally come anywhere close in price. As far as crossbows are concerned the Barnett Predator is a smart choice for those looking for top-notch performance with a reasonable price tag. Not only is it fast, it is also easily customized for individual shooters with its adjustable cheek and butt plates. As I said earlier in the review I would only ask for additional safety features to come standard on the Predator. Another feature I thought made a big difference was the thumbhole stock. A pistol grip just feels good!
Draw weight: 175#
Axle-to-axle length: 21-11/16"
Mass Weight: 9 lbs.
Eccentrics: Dual Whiplash Cams
Advertised speed: 375 fps
Advertised kinetic energy: 133 foot pounds
Power stroke: 16"
Available finish: Realtree's AP
Riser: Hot Chamber Die Cast Magnesium
Limb pockets: ¾ Capture high tensile steel/molded plastic
Limbs: Gordon Core/Barnsdale Laminate with AVI Technology