Parker ThunderHawk Review (In-Field) – Compound Crossbow

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Parker ThunderHawk

Parker ThunderHawk

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160 lbs.11.5"320 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"34.3" / 6 lbs. 14 ozs.
Pros:
- Accurate
- Available as a Complete Kit, Including Broad Heads
- Easy to Cock
- Good Value

Cons:
- Must use Parker or Red Hot Arrows only
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Also Recommended:Best Parker Crossbows

Parker ThunderHawk Package Contents

The Parker ThunderHawk comes available in one of two packages. The first is the Outfitter Package which includes:

  • A choice of 1x or 3x illuminated or non-illuminated multi-reticle scope
  • 4 Parker arrows with 100-grain field points
  • A quick detach 4-arrow quiver

The second package available is the Perfect Storm package. This package includes:

  • A multi-reticle illuminated scope
  • 6 Red Hot high-velocity arrows
  • 6 100-grain field points
  • 3 Red Hot Crosspro broadheads
  • A Red Hot roller rope cocker
  • A Red Hot sling
  • A soft case
  • Lube and wax

We found the inclusion of both a soft case as well as broadheads really makes this a truly “complete” kit.

Parker ThunderHawk2First Impressions: Design, Safety, Comfort and Accuracy

Parker has brought forth a number of great features and incorporated them into a crossbow with a very realistic price point. The machined aluminum riser combines with the ballistic polymer barrel to give a very solid, yet lightweight, shooting platform. Parker has also included their zero-creep G2 bullpup trigger to make this a great overall performer.
As you look at the foregrip, you will notice how it is actually a pass-through grip, allow the shooter to place their forward hand around the grip, while still having flanges above to ensure fingers and thumbs remain out of the string path.

Speaking of safety, we like the auto-engaging safety as well as their anti-dry-fire system that makes it virtually impossible to dry fire the ThunderHawk. We were pleased to note that for 2015, the ThunderHawk now comes with the dual string stops as standard equipment, making this year’s ThunderHawk much quieter.

Kinetic Energy of the ThunderHawk

The ThunderHawk is not going to be the most powerful crossbow out there, but then again, you need to look at what you plan to hunt to determine your power needs. If all you are going to chase is something the size of a deer, do you really need the knockdown power of an RPG? Once that arrow passes through, there is only so much energy that can be imparted on the target. The ThunderHawk fires a 400-grain projectile at around 320 fps. That translates to about 91 ft. lbs. of energy at the muzzle. This is going to be plenty of punch for most animals you are going to want to hunt.

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Ballistic Data For The Parker ThunderHawk

Your actual results will vary slightly depending on weather, and significantly with arrow weight change. See our Crossbow Ballistics Guides section for a complete understanding of how we conducted our tests and why this data matters.

Hunting with the ThunderHawk

The ThunderHawk was absolutely awesome in terms of accuracy. Placing multiple arrows within the dimensions of a deer heart at 40 yards was no effort whatsoever. The trigger gave a very smooth release and there was very little snap to scare your quarry. We really like the fact that on the Perfect Storm package, Parker not only gives you the upgraded arrows, but also gives you 3 hunting broadheads. That really takes a lot of the guesswork out of things for the average hunter. This is not a crossbow we would be wanting to take long-range shots with, but anything 40 yards or less would be a very comfortable shot.

One important note about hunting with the ThunderHawk is to pay close attention to your hunting environment. The arrow sticks pretty far off the end of the barrel with only the stirrup protruding farther (and only about an inch or so at that). If you don’t pay attention, you may find yourself catching branches or your ground blind on the arrow’s broadhead as it sits on the rail.

How Quiet is the ThunderHawk

The ThunderHawk really benefits from the inclusion of the Anti-Vibration and Shock (AVS) system. The dual string stops go a long way towards cutting string vibration. Also, given the lower speed of the ThunderHawk, it is going to be quieter by default. Given the split-limb design, the use of some aftermarket limb dampeners as well additional string dampeners might be a smart choice if you really want to get stealthy.

Cocking the ThunderHawk

Parker ThunderHawk3The ThunderHawk utilizes what Parker calls the Exclusive Synergy Cams to assist in cocking. These cams are designed to work with the Red Hot EZ Roller rope cocker to reduce felt draw weight by well over 50%. We can tell you that this really does work…cocking the ThunderHawk was not difficult at all. The short power stroke also makes cocking a little easier as you don’t have to lift as high.

Quality of the Optics

The included illuminated multi-reticle scope works very well in a variety of shooting scenarios. The Red Hot series seems to be of good quality and remained zeroed for the duration of our testing. Once sighted in we found it to work well at ranges all the way out to 50 yards, although our comfort range was around 40 yards. For the price of this combo, it should serve you well both at the range and in the field.

See our detailed guide on how to sight-in your crossbow

What Arrows to use with the ThunderHawk

Parker ThunderHawk4The ThunderHawk comes standard with three 20” Parker arrows. If you go with the Perfect Storm package, you get 6 Red Hot high-velocity arrows that really do work very well with the ThunderHawk. Keep in mind that the 20” arrow sticks pretty far off the end of the barrel, so you could possibly experiment with an 18” arrow, but the recommendation from Parker is to stay with 20”. No matter what arrow you use, you MUST use the Parker inserts, which are full-capture nocks. Half-moon or flat nocks will not work and you run the risk of an arrow slipping with a resulting dry fire.

You can also learn more about crossbow arrows and take a look at our broadhead recommendations

Overall Thoughts

The Parker ThunderHawk is great ‘middle of the road’ crossbow. We don’t use that term in a disparaging way, it more refers to the speed as well as to the price point. Frankly, you get a lot of features for a crossbow in the mid-range price arena. This is not a crossbow you are going to be buying to show off how flashy a new toy you have, but this is certainly one that is going to perform well and offer you a comfortable and light-weight hunting tool. Take a look at
today's amazon.com price on this crossbow
and check out our top 10 crossbows rankings for more.

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