Menu

Bow Report: Darton DS-3800

Darton’s original Pro 3800 is a bow I hunted with extensively in 2010. I’ve watched with interest since then to see where Rex Darlington and his team would go with this model, dubbed the DS-3800 since 2011. On the one hand, manufacturers cannot afford to rest on their laurels in a highly competitive environment. On the other hand, there is something to be said for not messing with success.

The “DS” is an acronym for DualSync, a reference to Darton’s hybrid cam system. The original Pro 3800 featured the same basic design, but the name was changed to DS-3800 presumably to highlight that design, which essentially slaves the cams to one another to reduce or eliminate the problems traditionally associated with the timing of two-cam bows and thereby achieve smoother shooting, less noise, level nock travel, and increased forgiveness. At the same time, the harness is split at either end to minimize torque and reduce stress on cams and limbs.

Darton DS-3800Draw length is module-specific in half-inch increments, and modules can be changed easily without use of a press. Standard nominal letoff is 80 percent, but back tension shooters or those who want to qualify without asterisks for Pope & Young can reduce letoff to 65 percent with plastic extensions to the module that come standard with the bow.

Since the introduction of the original Pro 3800, though the basic specifications remain the same, the design has been slightly but significantly modified, and various features have been tweaked. In 2011, for instance, the cam grooves were made slightly deeper to reduce string oscillation and allow for the removal of the string suppressor that was mounted on the cable guard rod. A second string suppressor, extending back from the stabilizer mount, was retained. A more noticeable change was the Progressive Torque Reduction Rod, in which the cable guard rod is curved inward. As the arrow is drawn, the cables move in toward the arrow and the vertical center of the bow (thus inducing less torque), providing minimum clearance at full draw, then moving back outward as the arrow is released to provide adequate clearance for fletching. Since then, the limb pockets have been strengthened and cutouts in the riser have been changed slightly to save weight.

Arguably the most important change is Darton’s 3 Axis Center Pull Technology. The grip was lowered slightly, allowing the arrow to be centered on all three axes of the riser relative to the string and the cams. The question is whether centering the arrow on the vertical and horizontal axes, as opposed to centering the grip, will increase efficiency and make tuning easier. A case can be made either way.

A couple of more minor changes include a reference line on the shelf to assist in achieving center shot, and a Soft Touch finish on the riser and limb pockets.

A not new, but welcome feature is the hash marks on the cams, another simple, but very useful tool allowing any shooter to determine at a glance that the cams are properly oriented, also revealing any creep in string or cables. I applied white paint to the hash marks on my Pro 3800 to make them more visible. Many manufacturers use holes in the cam for a similar purpose; these work reasonably well, but the hash marks are more precise.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Darton is extremely picky about its premium strings and cables, insisting that after-market strings often result in a decrease of performance of their bows. Back-up or replacement strings made to Darton’s strict specifications are available from the company or through dealers.

Shooting The Bow

Frequently, when I set up a bow on the Hooter Shooter it tends to tilt back from the top as it is drawn, and I have to make adjustments to compensate. In the case of the DS-3800 no such adjustment was necessary, and the bow remained level without adjustments the first time it was drawn. Conceivably this is because of the 3 Axis centering.

To tune the bow I aligned the arrow with the Berger holes, using levels to square the arrow at 90 degrees, then lined it up on the horizontal axis using the reference line on the shelf, and found that I was getting excellent arrow flight. I later switched to G5 Montec practice broadheads and they flew nicely, and with one very minor adjustment grouped with field points.

After setting up, tuning, and sighting in a bow, I like to stand behind it to see if the string aligns with the arrow and the sight pins. I have shot more than a few excellent bows for which that is not the case, but when it happens it suggests to me that the design of the bow and any torque-reducing features it employs are working. On this bow, for me, the string does indeed line up perfectly with the arrow and the sight pins when the bow is tuned and sighted in.

Each Darton bow comes with two grips, allowing the owner to pick between Darton’s Custom Molded VibraGrip or a skinnier, slicker grip consisting of ABS material. Both consist of side plates that fit on either side of the riser. I prefer narrow and slick as a general rule, but many hunters will prefer the slightly wider and softer, more textured feel of the VibraGrip.

Fortunately, Rex Darlington and his team modified this bow without detracting from the characteristics that made the original Pro 3800 a great bow. The feel is very much the same on the DS-3800 as on the Pro 3800. The DuoSynch cam is an extremely efficient, yet smooth hybrid cam system with a fairly aggressive, but easy-on-the-shoulder turn-over. The bow pops forward in the hand at the shot, but with a stabilizer mounted there is no significant hand shock or vibration. In the trade-off between speed and smooth, shock-free shooting, the Darton DS-3800 sacrifices very little on either end of the spectrum. At an IBO speed nudging 350 fps this is a speed bow by any standard. Despite that, it’s ice-cream smooth and pleasant to shoot.

Darton DS-3800

DARTON DS-3800 SPECS

Letoff:...................................... 80%

Brace Height:....................... 6 inches

Weight:.................................... 4.1 pounds

Axle-To-Axle Length:...... 33 13⁄16 inches

Speed:....................................... 345-350 fps

Draw lengths:....................... 25 to 30 inches, module-specific in half-inch increments.

Draw weights:...................... 40, 50, 60, 70 pounds.

Options:.................................. Next Vista, Shadow Black, Limited Edition, Target Red, Muddy Girl finishes. ABS or VibraGrip (both included with bow).

Suggested Retail:.............. $950

OBJECTIVE TESTS (30 Inches Draw)

Peak Hold*:............................ 70 pounds

Weight, Full Draw*:.......... 15.5 pounds

Arrow Weight:..................... 385 grains.............. 500 grains

Arrow @70 Pounds*:....... 327 fps .................. 291 fps

Arrow @60 Pounds*:....... 306 fps................... 272 fps

K.E. @70 Pounds*:............ 91.43 ft. lbs.......... 94.04 ft. lbs.

K.E. @60 Pounds*:............ 80.07 ft. lbs.......... 82.16 ft. lbs.

Sound Level @60 Pounds:................................ 54.1 dBA            44.2 dBA 

*Rounded to nearest half-pound.


The Outdoor Shopper LogoThe Outdoor Shopper Special

LEGEND STEEL CERIUM FIRE STARTER SET FOR TWO: BUY NOW

Standard for viral promotion through share features.

Comments powered by Disqus