Martin Chameleon Carbon Review

Martin Chameleon Carbon

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  • One of the least expensive carbon compounds at $399
  • Extremely lightweight at 3.6 pounds
  • Renovated builtin grip area
  • Features new adjustable limbactuated draw stops


  • Slower IBO speed

Editors' review

Martin Archery has hit a home run with their 2017 lineup of compound bows, thanks to both high performance, as well as budget options to suit the needs of archers of all around the country. Replacing their previous Stratos CR is the new Chameleon, with a redesigned riser, upgraded aesthetics, and the bulletproof platform that's featured with all of their models. Continuing the highly adjustable carbon compound trend, this bow does it all at under 4lbs fully equipped. From 70 lbs of draw weight adjustment to 13" of draw length adjustability, the Chameleon does the opposite of blending into the market of highly adjustable compounds.


Although available in only two finish options, Mossy Oak Infinity and Black Flame, both options are of a high quality finish on the mostly carbon construction with no visible seams or blemishes. It is a hard, non-dampening finish with no softness to the touch, and sounds like the arrow or the release hitting the riser are especially noticeable due to its carbon makeup. All hardware and eccentrics are anodized matte black, and the cable rod and string stop are matched to keep bright colors or accents to a minimum when in the woods. Similarly, the included strings are straight black.


The Chameleon is designed around the same riser featured on the Stratos CR except for one major implementation- the complete renovation of the built-in grip area. With a new increasingly rounded profile and redesigned sideplates to match, this bow feels much more like its flagship counterparts, melting into the contour of the hand. With an average 7" brace height and a short 31.5" axle-to-axle measurement, it is designed to be very nimble in the hand, as well as in a treestand or ground blind. Similarly, the Chameleon is built with a basic cable rod and cable slide, rubberized string stop, external stabilizer mount, and minimal, yet strong limb pockets.


Martin's Stackforce split limbs are tested and proved to withstand a claimed 100,000 draw cycles and multiple dry fires before reaching the consumer, and very few issues are seen with the overall limb and pocket integrity to disagree with that statement. Adjustable from 0 to 70 lbs, the draw weight decreases progressively by lowering the draw length from the max 30" by a factor of 5lbs. For example, this bow, set at 27", would have a max draw weight of roughly 55lbs, and can be adjusted at least 15lbs down by backing out the limb bolts. Likewise, at its shortest draw length setting of 17" produces a max draw weight of roughly 15lbs, and can be decreased to next to no weight for the smallest of archers to comfortably and safely shoot. However, with a couple of allen wrenches, the same compound can be adjusted to 30" and 70lbs to completely be capable of taking down large game with an arrow velocity of close to 300 fps. As an additional feature, Martin's NoPress technology allows for the bow to be worked on without a bow press by reducing the draw weight to nothing.


As aforementioned, the grip has been reformed, transforming what was a blocky and rectangular gripping experience to a design with much more of a rounded profile not only for comfortability, but for ease of finding center shot before completing the draw cycle. With stick on side plates, the shooter isn't gripping all carbon, but even so, there is minimal vibration dampening or insulating nature to the built in grip and side plate combination.

Eccentric System

Martin's Chameleon comes equipped with a very unique cam system; it not only features a full 70lbs of draw weight adjustment and 13" of draw length adjustment through a rotating module, but retains a reasonable IBO of 310 fps at the max draw length and weight. With the rotating module, not all draw length and weight combinations are available- as you decrease the draw length by an inch, the maximum draw weight decreases by roughly 5lbs. Another bonus is the externally adjustable limb actuated draw stop, allowing the shooter to adjust the 75% factory letoff to meet the needs for different situations. Overall, it is a very easy to work on and tune, multi-adjustable cam system, and even though it only reaches a max IBO of 310 fps, it is still very acceptable to hunt and shoot with, it just limits the max shot distance and increases the spacing between sight pins.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The featured MaxAdapt dual cam design is without a doubt, a very nice cam system that focuses more on adjustability than high performance, however it draws similarly to bows with a price tag more than double that that of the Chameleon. With the added solid limb actuated draw stop, the back wall is solid, and the pull is fluid, peaking about 2/3 into the draw. This is a huge improvement over the previous model, as the solid back wall is key for minimizing creep at full draw, allowing the archer to focus on other parts of the draw cycle, such as the anchor point, surprise release, or breathing. This compound can be expected to shoot very consistently with the correct arrow setup and tune, and only adds to the versatility of this setup. Lastly, it can be noted that due to the lightweight construction, the Chameleon can benefit with weight placement in the form of a weighted stabilizer, an offset bar, and accessories to further enhance the shot sequence.

Silencing Package

The Chameleon does not come equipped with any dampeners aside from the solitary string stop. Due to the carbon construction, that aspect creates a hollow noise from the riser at every shot, and this is the same with most carbon compounds on the market today. Noting this, this bow can largely benefit from a pair of limb dampeners, cable stop rod silencers, a dampening stabilizer, and/or string silencers to deaden the shot noise and post-shot vibration levels. Although unnecessary, this makes the shooting experience significantly better, and minimally impacts arrow velocity and overall setup weight.


BowBear Cruzer
Version 2018
PictureBear Cruzer
Brace Height6.5 "
AtA Length32 "
Draw Length12 " - 30 "
Draw Weight5 lbs - 70 lbs
IBO Speed310 fps
Weight3.6 lbs
Where to buy
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Compared to the similarly spec'd Bear Cruzer, the Chameleon offers similar performance characteristics, but differs when an archer factors in the carbon riser, press- abolishing adjustability, and the larger brace height. Similarly, it features a slightly longer brace height, shorter axle-to-axle measurement, and more draw weight adjustment, however the Cruzer has 4" extra of draw length adjustment and a smaller footprint for younger archers. Both models have a 3.6lb bare bow weight, features a preset 75% let-off, and put out a rated arrow velocity of 310 fps. For the same $399 retail price, there are many good features with either compound, and they would both easily suit the needs of any prospective archer.

Usage Scenarios

Designed with adjustability and versatility in mind, the Chameleon not only is capable of performing well in the hands of archers young to old, but capable of performing to the requirements of hunting, target, and 3d applications. With the 31.5" axle-to-axle measurement, it is both maneuverable in the field and tree stand, but stable enough to keep peep distance small. Likewise, the full carbon riser construction is a huge upgrade, a characteristic of bows twice or three times as expensive on the market. While this compound is not particularly suited towards any branch of the sport, its sheer adjustability allows for many uses, from the field to the range.


Continuing their market-leading use of carbon in price-point compound models, Martin Archery has hit the jackpot with their redesigned ultra-light, adjustable platform, beginning with the Stratos and evolving into the Chameleon. Other than the somewhat sluggish IBO, there is no feature of this bow that is to be un-liked, and the upgrades like the movable, limb-actuated draw stop and redesigned grip are huge improvements, easily noticeable right away when looking at both models side-by-side. For less than $400, this bow is worth a serious look at any prospective archer's local dealer- but be warned, it does the complete opposite of blending in to its environment.

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