PSE Phenom DC Review

PSE Phenom DC

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  from $524.99


  • Long frame bow for a stable platform at 36-inches axel to axel
  • MSRP of $699
  • Can easily be used for any style of archery


  • Only offered in 60-pound maximum limbs
  • Not offered in factory camo
  • May not be a super popular bow, so finding one on the shelves to shoot may be tough


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Editors' review

The PSE Phenom DC is a relatively inexpensive target bow, which may cause some skepticism in regards to how it performs. However, this mainline series PSE bow can be compared to target bows double its price. With an MSRP of only $699, shooters interested in a lower price point on a target bow should take a hard look at the 2016 Phenom DC from PSE. The long framed 36-inch axel-to-axel rig may even be a choice for some shooters wanting something a bit longer for hunting as well. Having a fully capable, do it all bow for only $699 is a steal on the market today. With a 7 1/4 - inch brace height, the Phenom DC is still producing decent speeds up to 328 feet per second as well. As with any purchase, the Phenom DC has some things the buyer needs to consider. First, the draw weight peaks at 60-pounds. For those wanting a target only bow, this may be fine, but some wanting more draw weight will not have the option from the factory on the Phenom DC. The DC is also not offered in a camo pattern either. Of course this can be done after purchasing the bow, but shooters will not have the option of grabbing one of the shelf that way. Finally, the Phenom DC is geared toward a smaller market than many bows, so it may be tough to find a DC sitting on the shelf of a shop so a shooter could try one out. These considerations really have nothing to do with its shootability, but some things to consider if looking into the PSE Phenom DC for 2016.


PSE is marketing the Phenom DC as a budget friendly target or 3D bow, and as such, the finish options offered are desired by target shooters. Although the DC could also make a nice hunting bow for shooters wanting something with a longer frame, camo would have to be a custom option on the Phenom DC. Like other PSE bows, the finish is applied by dipping the riser. Shooters can choose between black, blue, and red for the finished color. The blue and red colors are target colors, so they have a bit of a shine to the finished look. All three of these choices will be completed with black limbs.


On a bow with an axel-to-axel measurement of 36-inches, one of the first things shooters are sure to notice is the riser. For the Phenom DC, the riser is an aluminum alloy cut to look like other 2016 PSE risers. Surprisingly enough, the overall weight of the bow is still that magical 4-pound mark. Although this is a bit light for target archery, it offers a lot of options for adding stabilizers and countering some weights based on shooters personal preferences. The bow balances pretty well at full draw without weights, which is great news because shooters will not have to add a ton of weight to make the bow balanced. Instead, they can add weight where they want it, which makes setting the bow up with stabilizers and additional weight a bit easier. PSE engineers decided to stick with the tried and true cable slide system on the Phenom DC. This should not be a shock considering all PSE mainline bows are outfitted with a cable slide system, but some shooters may prefer a moving system like PSE offers on some mainline bows. For target archery, it may not matter as much, but for those shooters wanting a roller or flexible slide, the Phenom DC may not work. The Backstop 3 is the string stop system of choice used to help silence the bow and deaden some vibrations. There are some built in adjustments, but many shooters will be fine with the factory stop location. On such a long bow, the string stop is not able to deaden the entire vibration caused by the shot alone, but it does a nice job minimizing some of them. With added weight and accessories, the bow vibration is hardly noticed.


The B.E.S.T. Raptor grip is the chosen grip for the Phenom DC. This grip is a bit larger in hand when compared to some others PSE offers. Although it is larger in comparison to some other PSE bows, the Raptor is still rather slim, and fits nicely in the proper position on the bow. The idea behind the slimmer feel is to make it harder for the bow to be torqued based on varying grip and still have a repeatable hand placement. The grip is integrated into the riser design, and features a rubber insert on each side of the grip. The rubber adds a bit in regards to the overall comfort of the handle, but does not add much to the function or design. Shooters wanting to change out the rubber for another color can do so. Black and Red inserts will more than likely be the colors on the DC straight off the shelves though. Many target shooters like to fashion their own grips out of tape, and the slimmer starting point makes this easier for shooters to do.


The PSE X-Tech limbs are featured on the Phenom DC, which gives it a characteristic PSE look perhaps more than anything else. The X-Tech limbs are highly pre-stressed at rest, which makes the bow very aggressive looking. Maximum draw weights are available in 40, 50, and 60-pounds. It is a bit disappointing for 70-pound limbs to not be offered, but for a target bow, many shooters will not be pulling that heavy anyways. The limb bolts are 11 turn bolts, which means shooters should be able to get more than 10-pounds of adjustment below the maximum setting, but many shooters still prefer shooting a fully maxed out bow. The limbs also feature some limb dampeners as well, which can be changed out for another color or aftermarket set.

Eccentric System

The Phenom DC has a fully adjustable DC cam system with a large range of draw length from 27.5-33-inches. Each half-inch increment change can be made by removing the draw module screws, moving the draw stop module to its new position, and tightening it back down into the proper position marked on the cam. Since the DC cam is a hybrid system, shooters will only need to adjust the bottom cam module and cable stop system. The DC cam combined with the Phenom package flings arrows a reasonable 328 feet per second with 75% let off as well. The hybrid cam system has some benefits of being similar to a single cam in some ways, and similar to a dual cam in others. There is less to worry about in regards to timing with the hybrid system, because the top cam is basically a single cam system functioning just slightly differently. For shooters looking at a target bow in this price point, it may be nice to know you will not need to constantly tweak to keep the two cams timed synced together. The larger wheel on the top helps out with how the bow feels as it rolls over, but nothing is tied to the top cam in regards to timing. That does not mean it will always be perfectly tuned, but it should be less finicky.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The DC cam has the draw characteristics of a single cam bow for the most part, which is fairly smooth, with easy transitions. The DC cam is a true do it all feel in regards to shooting like a target bow or a hunting bow. The DC cams are not only used on the Phenom, and PSE has outfitted some hunting bows with the same system, so it can do well in the timber as well as the range. After getting the bow to full draw, it has a fairly firm back wall, but not as solid as some with a dual limb stop system added. The string angle is great considering the larger cam size in addition to the long axel-to-axel length and the highly pre-stressed limbs. The cam weight stacks up a bit on the front end, but is super smooth through the draw cycle and into the valley. The 75% let off is fairly standard, and feels nice at the back end as well. After the shot, there is a bit of noise and some felt vibration. Bare bow, the Phenom DC top wants to rock back towards the shooter a bit, but that all changes with some added stabilizer weight. Holding on target is pretty easy as well thanks to the larger platform of the Phenom DC and the overall weight of the bow before accessories are added. The pin float is fairly minimal, and the bow seems to want to sit on target without having to aim much at all.

Usage Scenarios

The Phenom DC is a nice do it all bow, if shooters are interested in a longer axel to axel bow for hunting purposes. Although 36-inches is not super long compared to older models or longbows, by current hunting bow standards, that length is pretty long. For shooters wanting a longer bow, this one could really perform well. It will lose a bit of kinetic energy without the ability to max out at 70-pounds, but it is an option for someone wanting to shoot no more than 60. The Phenom DC will preform the best on the line or as a 3D bow, but the ability to have it do everything at a reasonable MSRP is truly a positive selling point.


PSE has introduced the Phenom DC for two specific types of shooters wanting a new bow. Longer draw archers that want a larger framed bow, and shooters interested in getting started with target archery on a bit of a budget. Target archery is expensive to get into, and will more than likely require a different sight than shooters use for hunting, a different rest, longer stabilizers and weight and perhaps an addition of a side or back bar, different arrows, and more than likely a different release. All of those accessories require some experimentation to get set properly, and it can get fairly pricey. PSE knows this, and producing a budget friendly bow with the Phenom DC is a perfect idea. For an MSRP of $699, the Phenom DC is literally half the price of some other target bows on the market for 2016. Consider how well the Phenom DC shoots, how easily it tunes, and its ability to be used for any style of archery and PSE clearly has a winning design worth a test shot. The Phenom DC is a heck of a deal, and will allow many shooters to get into target archery for a relatively small price point and still be competitive.

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