PSE Phenom SD Review

PSE Phenom SD

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  from $649.99


  • A newly designed deflexed riser
  • 6 total finish options all very well done
  • Suggested retail price of only $699


  • Peak weights only offered in 50 and 60-pounds


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Editors' review

The Phenom is an improved version from the 2016 Phenom target rig. This 2017 rig is an affordable target bow for shooters in the draw length range of 23.5-29-inches. For target shooters fitting the draw range, the Phenom SD is a great shooting bow with a budget conscious price tag of a suggested retail of only $699. It also has a pretty lightweight design for a target bow of 35.5-inches axel-to-axel measurement, weighing in at an even 4-pounds. Archers with sore shoulders wanting a lighter base weight, or those not able to spend over $1000 on a target bow will love everything the Phenom SD has to offer. PSE also chose to offer this bow in a total of six different finish options, each of course look flawless. The Phenom SD does not feature a ton of cutting edge technology from the PSE factory, but it does have some great specifications for target archery, shoots well, and has a very affordable price tag.


PSE offers the Phenom SD is six different dipped colors, each of which making the bow look like the target rig it is. The finishes are done in a matte finish, and include black onyx, platinum, admiral blue, scarlet red, imperial purple, and electric green. These highly sought after target colors give all shooters a little something to choose from, whether they are male or female, young or old. The colors range from flashy to a bit more tame, and all look great. Shooters interested in furthering the customization of their rig can also swap out the standard black color kit from the factory for a variety of other colors to help jazz up the look of their target model. Some shooters enjoy hunting colors, even on their target rigs, and it would be nice to see Mossy Oak as an option on the Phenom SD, but it is not an option for 2017 on this particular model.


The riser of the Phenom SD is the largest notable difference between the 2016 version to the 2017 version. The 2017 aluminum riser gets a deflexed design and some well placed cutouts to keep the weight of the longer axel-to-axel bow to a pretty low number. To start, the deflexed riser is a pretty big deal because it is not something in as high of demand as it has been in the past. The deflexed riser design gives shooters a longer brace height because it places the grip in front of where the limbs and pockets connect to the riser. The brace on the Phenom SD measures in at 7-inches, which is still able to get some solid performance while offering some really great forgiveness. The cutouts are paced in such a place to give the bow the best strength, while keeping the weight of the rig right at an even 4-pounds. Many target bows are close to or over the 5-pound mark, so designing a target model, which is a full pound leaner, is a cool concept. The Phenom SD is a pretty balanced bare bow as well, which means shooters can start adding weight exactly where it is needed. With bows that start a bit top heavy, shooters are required to add weight to off-set how the bow feels before accessories, then has to add weight to account for the accessories. With the Phenom SD, the bow starts off lighter and does not need to be offset from the start. For shooters with shoulder issues, the lighter weight design is going to be very pleasantly received. The string stop system is a rear facing Backstop 4 system, which integrates what PSE has done in the past. The cable containment system is a standard slide on a carbon rod. This technology is a little dated for 2017, but again it performs well and helps keep the overall cost of the bow down a bit as well. Some other Pro Series models feature some riser dampeners integrated from the factory. The Phenom SD does not have this included in the design of the riser for 2017.


The Raptor grip is the style chosen for the PSE Phenom SD. This breaks the trend a bit with PSE using extremely thin flat grips by making this particular grip a bit larger in size. The back of the grip remains flat, but the grip itself gets beefed up to fit better in most shooters hands. The flat back grip is ideal because it allows shooters to get the bow in the proper hand placement from the throat all the way into the palm of the shooters hand without much variance or ability to torque. The repeatable grip caused by having the flat back Raptor grip is sure to increase accuracy and consistency with proper hand placement easier to achieve. The grip is integrated into the rise design, and the rubber side plates have been eliminated. PSE is etched into the side of the grip area, giving the bow a more upper class feel, but the rubber utilized in the past has been removed.


The limbs on the Phenom SD are the standard X-Tech limbs from PSE. The split limbs have powered PSE bows for quite some time, and the durability and longevity of these limbs have been tried for years without fail. The high quality split limbs are an outstanding design, and work with the cams systems to provide a larger string angle and a more comfortable placement on the shooters face at full draw. PSE is only offering the Phenom SD in maximum draw weights of 40 or 50-pounds, which could be a big deal for shooters used to heavier weights. It is hard to believe PSE is not offering at least 60-pound limbs for the 2017 Phenom SD, but for an indoor rig shooters may not want something with a lot of draw weight anyways. Forgoing 70-pound limbs could be more easily justified than 60 and 70-pound limbs though.The limb pockets are similar in how they function to the high end Supra target rig. However, the Phenom SD pockets are made from plastic, which could give some shooters some apprehension. Those nervous about the material used on the limb pockets should have nothing to worry about though. PSE has used similar pockets on the Mainline Series for a few years without any major issues. It also helps keep the cost of the Phenom SD at a much lower price point than the high-end target models they offer.

Eccentric System

The SD cam system is in the driver's seat for the Phenom SD. The speed rating for the maximum draw length of 29-inches clocks out at 310 feet per second. These mini Drive cams allow for an draw length adjustment ranging from 23.5-29-inches. For shorter draw shooters, the shrunken cam system provides the same great characteristics of the hybrid Drive Cam system with better-optimized features for shorter draw lengths. Rotating the well-labeled rotating module to the proper draw length is easily done on the SD cam system. The top wheel does not feature any adjustment since the string just rolls along the two-track wheel. The 75% let-off is a pretty good choice for many target shooters, and the single cable stop back wall has a hard, but not too hard feeling at the back end of the draw.

Draw Cycle/Shootability

The SD cam is optimized for shorter draw lengths in order to enhance the overall performance of the bow. The Drive Cam is a pretty popular cam system, and the smaller version is no different. The cam system gets the best of both worlds as a hybrid system, combining the smoothness of a single cam and the enhanced performance of a dual cam bow. Timing of the cams is all but eliminated as well because the bottom cam simply uses the top to roll against. The cams do not have to be in sync with each other, which can make it an easier tuning rig also.At rest, the bow balances tremendously well. The lightweight 4-pound base is easy to build off of, and gives shooters less to hold on target at the end of the day. When drawing the Phenom SD, the cams transition nicely, roll over smoothly, and pulls well into the back wall aided by the single cable stop. For those used to a higher let-off cam system, the 75% may take some getting used to. However, it was not long ago when 75% was the industry standard for let-off. Many target shooters like holding the higher poundage at the back end because it allows them to pull and have a little better form. The valley is very generous as well, and feels like it will go on forever. There is not much of a need to let down or pause during the draw cycle for target shooters, but doing either is easily done with the smooth SD cams. After the shot, the bow wants to find the target again, which makes it a nice shooting rig. There is a little feedback felt in the shooter's hand, but nothing worth fussing too much about. The arrow speeds are pretty slow, but again, with known distance on the line indoors, speed does not matter as much as it may in hunting situations or on the 3D course. Overall, this rig feels and shoots like a much more expensive target bow.

Usage Scenarios

The Phenom SD is a target bow for shorter draw length shooters. This bow will also appeal to shooters needing a lighter bare bow to help with some sore shoulders, or those just getting started with target archery. With the smaller draw length range in combination with the lower poundage limbs, youth and women shooters should be drawn to the Phenom SD bow as well. Target archery is a rather large commitment with the majority of accessories being different than what many use for hunting rigs. The price of the Phenom SD will allow shooters to help alleviate some of the cost of outfitting an entirely new bow by lowering the bare bow cost a bit.


The Phenom SD should appeal to a lot of shooters on the market for a target bow. Shooters with a limited budget, weaker shoulders, or short draw folks should really give this bow an honest look. It lacks some of the technology PSE has to offer for 2017, but nothing about the bow feels like a budget bow, and it shoots very well. From a specification stand point, the Phenom SD is comparable to many high end models, and the $699 price tag gives shooters just starting out in the target archery game a lot of room to add the necessary accessories to be competitive. It would be nice to see a heavier limb choice, but 50-pound limbs on an indoor bow will do just fine. Overall, the deflexed riser Phenom SD is a solid performing bow at a great price. Shooters wanting to get a lighter weight target bow, those just getting started in the target world, or those not able to afford a target bow over $1000 should be stoked to have such a wonderful option available for only $699.

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