The compound bow market is in an amazing place for 2017 because shooters have a plethora of options to choose from, which better meet the needs of what archers want in a bow. For those looking at the Bear Legend Series 6 (LS-6), shooters are going to be interested in speed. Like everything else, speed generally comes at a price, and for the LS-6, shooters benefitting from 355 feet per second will be sacrificing some brace height with the 5-inch brace height offered on the LS-6, and will also be shooting 70% let-off. Although 70% let-off is fairly common on the target bow side of compound archery, the hunting side has been chasing a recent trend of 80 to even 90% let-off. When shooting the LS-6 next to any of those higher let-off rigs, it is going to be a bit deceiving when considering the overall feel of the draw cycle. With all that being said, shooters wanting speed, which the LS-6 has to offer, those trade offs are already well known and will more than likely be less of a factor than shooters just trying to shoot every bow side by side and choosing what feels the best. For an MSRP of only $899, the LS-6 is a high performance model with a ton to offer shooters wanting a fast shooting hunting bow.
Bear finish options have always been pretty limited in regards to choices. For 2017, Bear offers a total of 4 finishes, none of which are overly impressive. To be a little more competitive with other manufacturers, it would be nice to see some trendier camo options, or even some throwback patterns. The Bear finish options do not look bad, but it would be nice to have a pattern or look that was a bit more attractive. The LS-6 comes in Realtree Xtra, Shadow Black, Coyote Brown, and Olive. All of the finishes seem to be fairly well done, and leave the bow well covered. However, none of them really stand out as being something shooters will have to have.
The riser is going to be pretty polarizing for shooters. Consumers will more than likely have a love/hate relationship with the overall design of the riser. The overall weight of the bow tips the scales at a reasonable 4.2-pounds, and despite a new look, the dual string suppressors at the top and bottom of the riser look pretty characteristic of older Bear models. When looking at the riser, the first thing people will notice is sure to the be bridged design. Bear is not the only company to use a bridged technique to their rigs, which intentionally adds some stability and strength to the riser to prevent against some riser torque as the bow is drawn. The bridge is different in looks that typical though as it sticks out in front of the grip instead of on the string side of the riser. This also creates a carrying handle for shooters to grip their bow when carrying it. The Bear LS-6 has a relatively short brace height as well to get the 355 feet per second rating. With a 5-inch brace height, the bow acts a little differently than a comparable sized bow with a 70inch brace height. Another cool feature of the LS-6 is how Bear decided to add the stabilizer-mounting hole in the bridged portion of the riser. This allows shooters to mount the stabilizer a few inches farther away from the traditional mounting location right under the grip. It is possible shooters typically wanting a 10-inch stabilizer could utilize a shorter 8-inch stabilizer and still achieve the same overall benefit and feel. Another unique design, which has become fairly characteristic of Bear bows, is the dual string stop system at the top and bottom of the riser. Each dampener is outfitted with a rubber string stop system, which works great, and keeps any vibration caused after the shot away from the shooters grip hand. For those that like the look of a more traditional compound bow, the Bear LS-6 has quite a bit going on to give it a slightly different look. The final major change on the LS-6 riser design is the hinge cable guard system. This system features a hinge, which moves backwards with the cables as the bow is drawn. This is a fairly natural path for the cable to want to take, so it does help a bit with torque on the overall system as the bow is drawn. This is Bear's design to create a flex slide or a pivoting cable containment system, and it does seem to work fairly well. This displacement theory helps the cables stay more true to their natural path as the cams make their way to full draw. Even though there are moving parts involved in the hinge guard system, the Bear LS-6 bow still seems to have a pretty silent release.
Perhaps one of the largest changes to the more traditional Bear style of compound bows is the New Narogrip. This is going to be a welcomed addition for many shooters, and for those not wanting to go to a slimmer grip, with a flatter back, the grip is easy to transition into. The new trend of archery grips seems to be moving to a slimmer, more flat back design. As shooters start really plotting arrow patterns and groupings out of their rigs, many notice what is the most comfortable does not always produce the best results. Fortunately, the new Narogrip is comfortable and helps achieve more consistent hand placement shot after shot. The plastic composite grip is a one-piece design, and the screws holding it to the riser do stick out just a bit. Not so much it is uncomfortable, but they are not concealed like others on the market.
Bear's split limb design features what Bear calls the Max Preload Quad Limbs, which are available in two draw weight configurations. The heaviest option is the 55-70-pound version, but shooters wanting a lighter weight option can choose the 45-60-pound model. Adjusting the pivoting movement of the limb pocket is done using a high strength barrel nut. Bear also brands the limbs with some pretty simple limb graphics, which displays the bow name as well as the iconic Bear logo. Carbon Crosslock Limb Pockets keep the limbs in the proper alignment throughout the draw cycle. They are also extremely durable and well built, and which will give shooters piece of mind the bow they bought is built to last. Carbon pockets also help shed off some precious weight to keep the overall mass of the bow a bit lighter.
The cam system of choice for the blazing 355 feet per second is the Bear H17 hybrid cam system. The rotating hybrid cam modules allows for a draw length range of 27-30-inches in half-inch increments. The let-off is a pretty low 70%, but should give shooters enough release off the top draw weight to be comfortable and easy to shoot at full draw. The 70% let off mark is a bit uncommon for hunting bows in 2017. Although a lower let off is typically characteristic of faster shooting bows, the trend of hunting bows in 2017 seems to be towards higher let off models, which has gone as high as 90% for some models. There is nothing wrong with a low let off model, and it is actually preferred by many target archers. However, when shooting the bow side by side with other models featuring a higher let off, it is important to keep in mind the LS-6 is likely outperforming those rigs even though it has more holding weight at the back end. The cams remain pretty large in size, which has been characteristic of Bear models in the past as well. The cam design also allows for minimal nock travel, and is very easy to properly tune.
355 feet per second comes with some compromises, and in the case of the LS-6, there are a few areas. The first of which is a 5-inch brace height. Typically speaking, an inch of brace height roughly equates to 10 feet per second. In other words, if the LS-6 had a 7-inch brace height, the IBO speed rating would likely be 335 feet per second. Some shooters are nervous to dip below the seven-inch brace height bow, while others are comfortable only going down to six-inches. The 5-inch club is a smaller group of archers, but they absolutely know in order to get speed, sometimes brace heights have to be shorter. The next area where speed forces sacrifices to be made is in the let off of the bow. 70% is a fairly low let off for a 2017 hunting bow. That does not mean the LS-6 is difficult to shoot or is hard to hold on target, it just means the holding weight of the bow is going to be more. However, the performance is a bit higher as a result of the lower let off. For comparison purposes, a 70-pound bow with 80% let off would be holding only 14-pounds; whereas a 70-pound bow with 70% let off holds 21-pounds. 7-pounds may not seem like a huge difference, but adding in hunting situations with cold weather, not much movement, bulky clothes, or needing to hold for a long period of time at full draw, shooters start to get a sense of why a higher let off is often more desirable for hunting bows. The final trade off for speed seems to be at the back end of the draw cycle where there is not much of a dwell zone into the valley shooters can creep into. Any type of creep is not ideal in order to get the most accuracy shot after shot. However, if shooters relax at all while at full draw, it is nice to have the bow want to stay at full draw instead of lunging forward jerking the string with it. With all this said, the Bear LS-6 draw smoothly, and holds on target very well. The back wall is solid, but the lack of creep and heavier holding weight may be slightly off putting for some shooters. The peak draw weight seems to come quickly within the draw cycle. With the lower let off, the H17 cams do not dump into the back wall, and actually feels fairly pleasant to draw. After the shot, the arrow is noticeable fast, and the hand shock and noise is pretty tame. The stabilizer-mounting hole being away from the shooters hand as part of the bridged grip area is a cool design, and actually makes the stabilizer feel a bit longer than it actually is. Overall, the LS-6 is a speed bow. It shoots well, but shooters must know what they are getting into.
The Bear LS-6 is going to make a great hunting bow for shooters wanting the highest performance they are able to get. 355 feet per second is no joke, but shooters have to be prepared to make a few compromises along the way to getting the high-performance of a speed bow. For comparison, shooters should shoot rigs that are not set up for the same draw weight, but for the same speed ratings. A 70-pound LS-6 is going to feel much different than a 70-pound comfort bow with 90% let off. However, it is possible for a 60-pound LS-6 to perform close in speed ratings to a 70-pound comfort bow. Shooters should keep that in mind when shooting models back to back. What feels best at 70-pounds, may not make the most sense to shoot. Making sure the speed ratings are the same would really help shooters decide which bow is best for them in the long run.
The Bear brand is an iconic brand founded by what many believe is the father of archery, as we know it today, Fred Bear. The Legend Series takes that a step further incorporating Mr. Bear himself into the branding. Shooters interested in the LS-6 performance are already aware of some compromises needed to achieve such a high performance 355 feet per second. The LS-6, along with 33-inch axel-to-axel frame, 5-inch brace height, and 70% let off gives those chasing speed a lot to consider. It would be nice for Bear to add a few finish options to the mix. It is 2017 after all, and there are a ton of amazing patterns to choose from. The riser design may not be the best looking riser on the market either, but the functioning handle is nice, and the stabilizer mounting hole being away from the shooters hand does make any length stabilizer feel longer than it is. The LS-6 shoots well, holds on target great, and the new grip is a great feeling grip, which also promotes proper hand placement. For $899, the LS-6 is worth a shot for anyone wanting the absolute top in performance. For some shooters, higher performance allows them to cut down the overall draw weight of their bow. Other shooters like to shoot heavier arrows, so they get the most kinetic energy possible, and then others just like to use their top pin out as far as possible. Regardless of the reason why shooters are interested in a high performance bow like the LS-6, archers should have the LS-6 on their radar.