Each year crossbow manufacturers continue to innovate, improving and enhancing their products to make them easier to assemble, safer to use and more amenable to the needs of hunters. Stryker’s new Solution LS is a perfect example of how a good product can be made better with a little bit of selective tweaking.

For starters, assembly of the Solution LS is quick and simple, requiring only a Phillips-head screwdriver and a 9/64 Allen wrench. Three stout screws are used to attach the camo stock to the rail. A separate plastic grip shield (optional but highly recommended) is attached during assembly using the same screws. This is where Stryker’s tweaking begins. Formerly, the assembly screws were all the same length, but the rear-most screw was a just a thread-length too long and could interfere with the trigger mechanism. The new assembly system includes a shorter rear screw, solving the problem. It was an easy matter to back off on the rear screw to resolve the trigger issues, but it’s much more satisfying to be able to tighten that last screw snugly into the rail. Call it peace of mind, but the new version is definitely preferable.

Stirrup installation was a breeze using four hex-head screws that were quick and easy to install. Oddly, there were no instructions for attaching the quiver mount to the bottom of the rail, but the mount can only be attached one way and the average third-grader can figure out how to do it.

I find it easier to tighten all screws one at a time rather than loosely assembling a crossbow and then going back to cinch everything down, but it’s always a good idea to check scope, stirrup and stock screws before each shooting session. Crossbows by their very nature put a lot of stress on their various parts, and loose connections can affect accuracy over time.

The 3×32 four-dot reticle scope was also easy to install using hex-head screws throughout. I found it easier to loosen the integral mount and ring screws first and then make my Picatinny rail mounting and scope-centering adjustments as I went along. Total time for assembly from parts layout to completion was less than five minutes.

Cocking the Solution LS is typical of most crossbows in that the safety must be “on” or the string will not lock into the trigger mechanism. The safety is automatically engaged when the crossbow is fully and properly cocked. While most crossbow safety devices are dependable and reliable (still a “mechanism” and therefore subject to failure), Stryker goes the extra mile by providing a Cease-Fire safety pin (actually two pins), which can be inserted into the safety ports from either side of the rail. The Cease-Fire pin is a great idea and definitely provides the shooter with extra confidence, but the pin is a separate piece and therefore subject to loss or misplacement. Owners of the Solution LS will likely make handling and storing the pin an instinctive priority, although the crossbow can be cocked and fired safely without it.

The Stryker line is one of the few which require that the cocking rope be placed over the butt pad in order to cock the crossbow. Previous models had smooth butt pads that sometimes made cocking difficult on cold or wet days, but Stryker came up with a perfect “solution” for the Solution LS by incorporating a cocking rope groove into the butt pad. This simple design change makes it much easier and faster to cock and load the crossbow, even in a treestand or blind.

Also, in a crossbow world where trigger pulls are sometimes daunting — admittedly for safety reasons — I’m happy to report that the Solution LS comes equipped with a trigger pull of just under 3 pounds and .015-inch of travel. At first the substantially reduced trigger pull comes as a surprise, but as any sniper will attest, a hair trigger is great once you get used to it. I am a fan of light triggers simply because I want the crossbow to fire when I pull the trigger, not a few milliseconds later. The Solution LS has a trigger pull that is similar to most of my favorite long-range varmint rifles, and I find that to be an appealing feature in a hunting crossbow.

The Solution LS is equipped with factory-installed string stops, which also act as a sound muffler. I have found that with arrows traveling in excess of 350 fps, there’s not much value in sound-muffling systems, because at that speed the arrows will be into, through and stuck in the ground beyond the biggest buck before he ever hears any limb recoil. In fact, the last several deer I’ve shot with crossbows actually stood there and contemplated the bloody arrow beside them for several seconds after the shot. With the Solution LS’s 390 fps rating, it’s “thunk-chunk” . . . and about that quickly, causing me to wonder if sound-deadening gear is even necessary in the world of crossbows.

Because the Solution LS does not come with a factory-installed scope I begin sighting in at 10 yards. Of course (and it’s never happened) if I can’t hit the initial target at 10 yards, I’ll move closer till I get something that tells me where to start making elevation or windage adjustments.

Fortunately, the LS was off only a few clicks to the left, so I moved back to 20 yards and ran through the process. After two adjustments I was forced to shoot only one 385-grain field-tipped arrow per bull’s-eye or risk “Robin Hoods” on every target.

I normally run 100 arrows through a test crossbow before I start to see accuracy fall off due to arrow failure, lack of proper lubrication of the rail, loose fittings or some other fault. I was well into my second round (arrow number 225 to be precise) before I developed accuracy issues. That arrow struck high and to the right in my Block target, but because it arrived without fletching I assumed lack of arrow stability was the culprit, not some defect in the crossbow. I dug out a fresh batch of unfired arrows and was immediately back on target.

This is an important point for crossbow shooters to consider if they begin to develop accuracy issues in an otherwise functional crossbow. Arrows take a beating on every shot, and being the weakest link in the accuracy chain, they are most likely to suffer nock failure, fletching loss or even a minor shaft bending or twisting. Every crossbow manufacturer recommends inspecting each arrow for defects before it is loaded and strongly recommends discarding faulty arrows immediately. I tend to use my aged arrows as “unloaders,” firing them into the ground at the end of a hunt just to discharge the crossbow, but any arrow that is split, frayed or otherwise damaged should never be fired —  and every manufacturer will expressly void their warranty if this advice is ignored.

Because it was a cool day and I had the time, I fired more than 300 arrows through the Solution LS nonstop. Of course, I lubed the rail, cable slide and string per Stryker’s recommendations and kept the trigger mechanism free of debris, which enabled me to fire arrow after arrow without a hitch. The trigger stayed true to its advertised 3-pound pull, and let-off remained at .015-inch throughout the bench-testing phase.

I am a big fan of hunting crossbows and always take my test units into the woods for what I call the “carry test.” Truth be told, many crossbows are big, clunky and poorly balanced for serious still-hunting, and I encourage all manufacturers to trim the fat so a hunter who doesn’t want to sit in a stand or blind for a week can get out and comfortably hunt on foot. The Solution LS weighs less than many of my favorite deer rifles, and at 35 ½-inches, it’s short enough to maneuver through brush and saplings even in early fall. Axle-to-axle length is just over 19 inches, which also helps when heading into places where big whitetails lurk.

My woods trail features a different target and shot angle every 20 yards or so. The Solution LS turned out to be light, fast and maneuverable, and every target was a “kill,” thanks in large part to the crossbow’s ultra-light trigger pull and nicely balanced limb-to-rail configuration. Suffice it to say that the Solution LS is not going back to the factory just yet. I’m planning on taking it on my next deer-hunting trip, where, I’m certain, it will more than stand up to hunting in harsh, late-season conditions.

Complaints? Nothing about the Solution LS or its design would keep me from buying one. As usual, I would prefer that manufacturers include a case and sling with a crossbow valued at $1,000. Of course, accessory packages and aftermarket options are available to rectify all of these issues. Hunters can certainly add accessories after making a crossbow purchase just as they do with rifles, bows, boats, ATVs and other equipment.

Also, the scope supplied with the Solution LS does not include a lighted reticle, which would be a big help during low-light situations. Because the Solution LS design includes a Picatinny sight rail, this minor issue can also be solved by purchasing an aftermarket scope of the shooter’s choice.

The Stryker Solution LS package includes the crossbow, five 385-grain Stryker arrows with field points, five-arrow quick-detach camo quiver, multi-reticle scope, rope cocking aid and string stops. MSRP is $999.99.