Parker Lightning Review

Parker Lightning

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Pros

  • Lightweight at 3.45 lb
  • Very affordable with an MSRP of $299
  • More adjustable than most compounds of similar nature
  • USA Quality

Cons

  • Slow IBO speed
  • Cam system could be improved

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Editors' review

Parker's reputation as a USA-based high quality compound bow and crossbow manufacturer has grown steadily since their foundation in 1984, and they are on track to keep progressing forward as time continues and new bows hit their lineup. This progress is definitely noticeable with the Lightning, as it is an impressive bow for the price, considering its adjustability, features, and USA-made quality.

Finish

The Lightning is available in three quality finishes- Next G1 "Vista", Muddy Girl Pink, and Black. These colors suit the needs of archers of all kind, and are all matched with black anodized limb pockets, cams, cable rod, and string stop mount. Also equipped are all black Parker factory strings, which are rated with high longevity.

Riser

While keeping the weight minimal at 3.45 lbs, Parker designed the riser of the Lightning to be mostly solid, featuring a minimal 5 cutouts in the riser. By doing this, the riser is of a smaller platform, and can be fully machined in the USA, a definite fact where Parker stands out from many other companies. The riser creates a bow platform that has an ATA measurement of 30" and a 7" brace height, both very nice for the younger archer or one looking to take this compound to the treestand.

Limbs

The Lightning features lightly pre-stressed split limbs held by the Fulcrum Pocket System to give the compound a solid shooting platform and easy to adjust draw weight system with a simple turn of an allen wrench. Although not extremely adjustable compared to other models (see below), the 30lbs of adjustment from 30-60lbs is a definite improvement over other bows in this category; allowing younger archers to shoot the same compound as they grow in strength.

Grip

Parker Bows has stuck with the two piece walnut finish grip for the Lightning. Although not providing much resistance to cold hands for those archers who shoot in cold conditions, it is a comfortable and slim design that only helps the archer find and hold a consistent grip throughout the entire draw cycle. Another nice feature is the preinstalled paracord wrist sling- it is installed through the riser and is held in place with a set screw to prevent the need of a stabilizer.

Eccentric System

The Lightning features Parker's High Performance Lightning Cams, a dual cam design that has been in the lineup previously. Although adjustable, with a range of Draw Length being 19-29" in half inch increments, it is designed with a fairly low 70% letoff, so the archer is naturally holding back more weight at full draw. Although some shooters are used to this, it can become somewhat of a nuisance when shooting multiple times in a row. Similarly, the bow is rated with an IBO of 310 fps at 70lbs and 30", however this compound is only capable of reaching 60lb and 29" weight and length settings that only reduce the realistic IBO further. All things considered, from the perspective of being used as a youth bow, it is a very solid cam system once tuned and will provide consistent performance throughout its adjustment range to grow with a younger archer.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The draw cycle on the Lightning is fairly standard when compared to other dual cam setups, with a smooth, easy to pull start, eventually building up poundage and slowly dropping down to the final letoff weight at full draw. It is a very smooth cycle with this bow for all settings of draw weight and length. Due to the cams stopping at the string and the low percentage of letoff, it is a soft back wall, and is not the easiest to hold back without it wanting to jump out of your hands, however this is manageable by keeping the draw weight at, or under the value the archer is comfortable with drawing back consistently. There is definitely no lack in accuracy in the performance of this compound, however at the bare bow level, there is a noticeable amount of post-shot vibration, likely due to the design angle of the limbs and lack of vibration reducing silencers equipped on the bow. The adjustable string stop is the only silencer featured from the factory, but it is both easy and fairly inexpensive to install aftermarket silencers in the limbs, on the cable rod, and on the string to achieve a quieter shot.

Comparison

BowParker LightningDiamond Infinite Edge
Version 20162015
PictureParker LightningDiamond Infinite Edge
Brace Height7 "7 "
AtA Length30 "31 "
Draw Length19 " - 29 "13 " - 30 "
Draw Weight30 lbs - 60 lbs5 lbs - 70 lbs
IBO Speed310 fps310 fps
Weight3.45 lbs3.1 lbs
Let-Off70% 75%
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Compared to a similar competitor, the Diamond Infinite Edge, both models have pros and cons for the prospective archer. The Infinite Edge has a larger draw weight range of 5-70lbs, longer ATA at 31", larger draw length range of 13-30", and higher percentage letoff at 75%. Also, the Infinite Edge is about a third of a pound lighter at 3.1lbs. However, both models feature the same brace height and IBO measurements, and the Lightning is designed towards the older archer spectrum, whereas the Infinite Edge excels at the lower draw weight settings. The Lightning also features split limbs and the fact that it is built in the USA. Overall, both models are great for under $400 fully setup, and it will boil down to the personal preference of the archer to pick out a favorite between the two.

Usage Scenarios

The smaller stature, slower specs, and easy to pull cam system, it is noticeably designed for beginning archers looking to hit the range and become skilled in the sport, but is fully capable of being used for bowhunting for those who practice adequately and feel comfortable with their setup.

Summary

Parker Bows continues to put out a solid lineup of bows for archers of all shapes and sizes, and the Lightning produced for this year in no exception. With a 30lb draw weight range, 10" of draw length adjustment without any need for a press, and a smooth dual cam setup, individuals looking to get into the sport wouldn't be able to go wrong with this setup, especially for a price of $299 bare bow or $349 full setup with Parker's Outfitter package. Although the bow itself is no speed demon, there are many other attributes like the low overall weight that make up for it in the long run. Any archer would not be disappointed with this setup as a short term learning compound or a bow to last for years, as honored by Parker's lifetime warranty.

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