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Predator II Recurve - DARTON Archery
by Lou Minanesi

Traditional archery is thriving once again.  Both former traditional shooters and novices alike are now joining those hardcore enthusiasts who never abandoned their "sticks and strings" during the compound revolution.  Recurves and longbows are commonplace at most summer 3D shoots and more and more hunters are returning to the roots of bow hunting each fall.  This recent upsurge in the popularity of traditional archery coupled with more effective ways of advertising has led to a dramatic increase in the availability of traditional archery equipment, especially bows.

Some newcomers to the world of traditional archery may be tempted to rush out and order one of the new brands of "custom" bows from individual bowyers.  However, these are often simply mill-run bows of a stipulated length, weight, and (maybe) wood placed into a small-scale production schedule.  These bows tend to be expensive, require a long waiting period to receive and in the end are frequently no more "customized" than their off-the-rack counterparts. Fortunately, quality traditional equipment is readily available at affordable prices from several major manufacturers. 

DARTON Archery's Predator Traditional Archery is one of several manufacturers that offer traditional bows.  Unlike some however, Predator traditional bows are constructed at the DARTON plant and not by overseas jobbers.  These high quality bows are designed by Traditional Bowyer, Ron Pittsley using the finest, time proven materials and techniques.  Each one is expertly finished by hand.

The result is a bow that is clearly comparable to the more expensive so-called "custom" offerings of others.  This review spotlights their Predator II recurve.

Characteristics of the Bow Design

The handles or Riser of the Predator bows are constructed primarily from Bubinga and impregnated maple but other wood combinations (like red elm and gray maple) are available.  Handsome white inlays separate these colorful woods.  The handle section of the 60-inch test bow measured approximately 18 inches.  The sight window measured 4 inches and was inset approximately 1 inch from the outside plane of the handle. The 5/8-inch arrow shelf was arced adequately for off-the-shelf shooting, and pre-cut self-adhesive pads were ready to install,  came with the bow. 

The takedown joints on the Predator bow were sturdy and functional. Two 1/4-inch alignment pins prevent torque between the limbs and the handle section.  The limbs are secured with 5/16 18 NC bolts that pass through metal bushings placed in each limb into brass anchors set in the handle.  The joints are padded with composite gaskets that prevent rubbing between the limbs, bushings and handle.  Besides protecting the wood and fiberglass on the bow from abrasion, these cushions also tend to eliminate noise.  Finally, brass anchors for a quiver mount are set into the bow handle.

Limbs and String
The limbs on the Predator bow are made from a double maple core laminated between layers of glass.  The limbs have a maximum width of 1 11/16 inches at their bases and narrow uniformly toward the tips.  The limbs on the test bow were approximately 3/16 inch thick at their midpoint.  An additional layer of wood and two layers of glass are added to reinforce the tips.  The Flemish twist string on the test bow was fashioned from black and white Fast-Flight (20-strand) with a braided Fast-Flight center serving.  A set of rubber whisker-type String Silencers were included with the bow as was a Bow Stringer.

Testing was designed to duplicate the performance the average consumer would get from a similar bow.  No special modifications or improvements were made to the bow before testing.

Tests were made 'off-the-shelf ' so the included rest and side pad were fitted to the bow. All nocking point adjustments were made using a single metal nock.  The bow was tested at standard A.M.O. conditions of 60-pound peak draw weight and 30 inches draw length (28 1/4 inches from the pivot or low point of the grip).

Two arrows of recommended spine were used in the testing.  The heavier arrow was the 540-grain standard required by A.M.O. test procedures (9 grains per pound of draw).  The lighter, 300-grain arrow was used to compare performance at I.B.O. minimum weight restrictions (5 grains per pound of draw).  All arrows were shot across the center of the chronograph sensors at a constant height of 5 inches.  The Predator II produced a mean velocity of 190.8 feet per second over the ten shots with the 540-grain arrow, and yielded a mean velocity of 234.4 feet per second for ten shots with the 300-grain arrow. 

Measured velocities varied only 2 feet per during the two tests.  The maximum speed recorded for the 300-grain arrow was 236 feet per second.  These chronograph means must be adjusted for recurves due to the increase in draw weight achieved between 28 inches (factory peak measure point) and 30 inches of draw length (A.M.O. test point).  The adjustment factor used for this test was 60/65 (or 0.92).  Therefore, the adjusted means velocities were 175.5 feet per second for the 540-grain arrow and 216.0 feet per second for the 300-grain arrow. 

Final Notes
The Note Sheet below contains summary information from the evaluation.  Remember that all performance data comes from a bow shot at a draw length of 30 inches.  Archers with longer draw lengths will realize more speed from a similar bow, whereas those with shorter draw lengths will see less speed from the same model.  How much performance is lost in shorter draw lengths depends on the design of the bow.  It is always in your best interest to test shoot bows that are correctly set up for you, to decide what bow best suits your needs.

Note Sheet - Predator II Recurve
Manufacturer ... Darton Archery
Model ... Predator II
Handle Style ... Deflex/Recurve/Takedown
Handle Construction ... Bubinga and other Hardwoods
Limb Style ... Recurve
Limb Construction ... Double Maple Core and Glass Laminates 
String Material ... Fast-Flight (20 strand, Flemish Twist)
Finish ... Clear Epoxy Resin (other finishes including camouflage also are available)
Bow Mass Weight as Received ... 2 pounds 13 ounces
Bow Mass Weight as Tested  ... 2 pounds 14 ounces
Overall Length of Test Bow ... 60.00 inches (58 inches also available)
Peak Rated Draw Length ... 28.00 inches
A.M.O. Test Draw Length ... 30.00 inches
Brace Height (as tested) ... 6.25 inches
Power Stroke ... 22.00 inches
Peak Draw Weight at 28 inches ... 58 pounds
Holding Weight at A.M.O. Draw ... 65 pounds
A.M.O. Adjustment Factor ... 0.92
Speed with 540 gr. Arrow ... 190.8 fps
A.M.O. Adjusted 540 gr. Speed ... 175.5 fps
Speed with 300 gr. Arrow ... 234.4 fps
A.M.O. Adjusted 300 gr. Speed ... 216.0 fps
Suggested Retail Price ... $539

The Predator II is extremely well made, attractive, fun to shoot and well balanced.  The grip on the bow is comfortable and the draw is smooth.  I test shot the bow with a variety of wood and aluminum arrows and found the bow to be very quiet even without String Silencers installed.  The Predator II is definitely worth a look if you are in the market for a traditional bow.

DARTON products can be viewed on-line at www.dartonarchery.com, or if you are interested in testing the Predator II, contact your local DARTON dealer.  Dealers are listed on the website or you can call DARTON at (517) 728-4231 for the location of a dealer near you.

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