The Bear Marshal is a budget friendly model offered to the masses at a wide range of sporting goods stores for 2016. The single cam design brings out a smooth draw cycle combined with 320 feet per second speed. Although that is a bit slow by current standards, it is still hard hitting enough to perform well on North American big game animals. The Marshal is a nice compact hunting bow measuring at 31 1/8-inches axel to axel, which is nice for shooters hunting in tight locations or ground blinds with limited space. The Marshal also features a 6 3/4-inch brace height for a decently forgiving measurement. The value of this $499 bare bow really shines when shooters utilize the Ready to Hunt package available straight from the factory for only an additional $100. Other than some slower speeds, it is very tough to find anything wrong with the Marshal considering its fantastic value and quality all backed by a founding archery company in Bear. Shooters will be positively shocked for what the Marshal offers for under $500.
Ready To Hunt (RTH) Package
The Marshal has some significant value as a bare bow in regards to what it offers. However, when the RTH package is considered, the value raises even more. These accessories are not the top of the line accessories, and do not have all of the micro adjustment some accessories offer, but for only $100, shooters will be completely ready to go shooting with the exception of arrows and a release. The package includes all Trophy Ridge accessories including: a Whisker Biscuit rest, a quiver, stabilizer and sling, four-pin sight, peep, and nocking loop. For shooters just getting started, or not wanting to get too involved with selecting accessories from the hundreds available, the $100 spent on the RTH package is well worth it. Of course, shooters can also purchase the Threat without any installed accessories and outfit it however they decide as well.
Bear has done a nice job offering some popular finish options along with some more non-traditional options as well. Generally, budget friendly bows are limited with finish options available, but the Marshal has a full range of choices matching some of their more expensive models. Shooters wanting to stay with the typical camo will really enjoy the Realtree X-tra offering available. In addition to Realtree, Bear has also decided to offer the Threat in Sand, Olive, Shadow, and Orange finishes. Each of the patterns features black limbs, and the Bear Archery Products and Marshal logos. The risers are dipped well, and the finish really does look nice no matter which option is chosen.
The Bear Marshal has a little shorter aluminum riser with the total axel-to-axel measurement being just a touch over 31-inches total. The machined cut outs are a bit more tame looking than the higher end flagship models with the Threat's rounder edges, but the bow still looks pretty mean. The riser does have the shape and design overall as the rest of the Bear lineup, most notably with the dual string stops. These areas of the riser are extended in thickness and have the dampening rods sticking towards the string for cancelling out the noise and vibration caused from firing the Threat. These rods have a little adjustment to them for shooters that want to tinker a bit, but they work well keeping the bow noise down where the come right out of the box. The rubber used seems to be fairly durable as well, so they should stop noise and vibration and not tear from overuse very quickly. The cable slide system is an old school cable rod and cable slide system, but this tried and true technology should not scare anyone away. Bear flagship models have a little different design to help reduce more lateral riser torque, but this bow will still function and shoot perfectly given the older cable slide system. There is also a front mounting stabilizer hole for the installed stabilizer to mount to, or an after market one.
The Marshal grip is directly integrated into the riser. There are some simple side plates installed on each side, but other than displaying the Bear logo, they do not really have much of a purpose in regards to feel or function. The grip is on the skinny side, but it does feel nice in hand even for those with bigger mitts. If a shooter is coming from a larger grip, it may take some adjustment to get the new Bear grip figured out, but the rounded edges and slim feel is a nice design. One major downside of a riser-integrated grip relates to the material the grip is made of. Aluminum is a pretty cold material to be holding on to in cold weather hunting conditions. Although the fit and feel are nice, it will be chillier than a rubber or wooden grip.
Bear is keeping with the Quad Limb, split limb design for the Marshal. Shooters can choose between the 50-60 configuration or the 60-70-pound models. The limbs are black regardless of the riser finish, and have a Bear Archery logo as well as the Marshal block lettering logo. The limb pockets are functional, and keep the limbs and riser in a secure place, but there is not a whole lot of Earth shattering technology involved in doing so. There are no dampeners installed out of the box, but they are inexpensive to buy and easily installed at home if shooters want to add those later.
The S7 cam system is a single cam with a rotating module adjustment system. The rotating module adjusts in half-inch increments from 23-30-inches, and can be adjusted without using a bow press. Simply remove the screws, rotate the module to the proper setting, and tighten the screws back into place. Performance wise, the S7 cams produce IBO rated speeds up to 320 feet per second with 80% let off. For single cam smoothness, this is not too shabby, and when companied with a 6 3/4-inch brace height, shooters will be pleasantly pleased with how well the bow shoots are performs.
Single cams have not been getting as much love as they used to, and that is in part because of the ability for hybrid and dual cam systems to generally gain a little on the performance side while still maintaining a smooth drawing experience. However, there is something about the simplicity of a single cam bow. The S7 cam system is easily adjusted without the need for special tools or a bow press, which is a nice feature, even for shooters not used to tweaking on their rigs a whole lot. The S7 cam starts out easy as the weight increases gradually throughout the cycle before hitting peak weight. The weight is never difficult, and the gradual increase helps the pulling weight feel less than it really is. The back wall is pretty solid, but with no stop on the topside, it may not be as firm as some shooters prefer. It does hold well down range though, and the back wall has a nice feel to it while pulling through the shot. The arrow is not blazing fast, but 320 feet per second is still a fairly decent number, and will be effective enough for any North American big game animal with the proper setup. After the shot, the bow tilts just a bit, but the noise and vibration are hardly noticeable. Shooters have to be aware of the sharper string angle caused by shooting a shorter axel-to-axel bow. This may make it difficult for shooters to find the proper anchor point at the corner of the mouth and tip of the nose. For shooters at the longer draw lengths, it may also put the peep too far away from the shooter's eye potentially causing some issues when aiming as well. Those wanting a short bow are generally aware of these slight inconveniences, but it is something to keep in mind, especially for those at the longer end of the draw length range.
The Marshal is a hunting bow, more specifically a designed compact hunting bow. Some shooters at the lower end of the draw length may find the Marshal as a nice all around do it all bow, but for most shooters, the Marshal will be a dedicated hunting model.
The Marshal looks and feels like a typical Bear bow with the S& single cam system. Aside from the price, and the slightly lower performance in regards to kinetic energy and speed, the Marshal could very well be a top of the line model. It is important to note that with a 31 1/8- inch axel-to-axel measurement, some shooters are going to find the Marshal a bit on the small side in regards to being a little too compact, especially as the shooters get closer to the peak draw length offered on the S7 cam system. Those wanting a smaller axel-to-axel model though will love the single cam smoothness added to this designed hunting bow. For $499, it really is hard to find anything wrong with the Marshal and how it performs.