Parker CenterFire XXTreme

By Jeff Johnston

Parker’s latest crossbow is called the Parker CenterFire XXTreme. It’s a 170-pound draw weight crossbow that’s 34.25-inches long, 7.6 pounds in overall weight (with the scope) and fires an arrow at 350 fps thanks to aggressive cams and a 14.125-inch powerstroke. It’s rather compact at 20.75-inches axle-to-axle un-cocked and 18.5-inches cocked with a 13½ inch length of pull. Parker is committed to building no-gimmick, solid crossbows that shoot supremely accurately, and are extremely quiet, safe, powerful and inexpensive. You’d be hard pressed to find a better crossbow for the money.

Parker is known for its beefy, machined risers that provide a solid foundation for the entire bow, including its limbs and limb pockets, barrel and eccentrics. Parker is willing to add a few ounces to its overall weight in exchange for such a riser. The XXTreme is no exception, and you can see that in its performance—namely its quietness and accuracy. 

That’s because the XXTreme’s riser, which is about 13/16th inches wide at its thickest, provides an anchor-like platform for attaching the CenterFire’s laminated split limbs. Its limb pockets are serious pieces of metal that anchor the limb ends and serve as a pivot point to provide a fulcrum for leverage. Behind the limbs, two sound dampeners accept the string’s excess energy and dissipate sound waves that would otherwise lead to excess noise. All told, it’s as solid as risers come these days, and no doubt a big reason why the bow is so quiet. The CenterFire XXTreme registered around a 93 on my informal sound meter while shooting outside, which is right up there with the best I’ve ever tested. This is a testament to the XXTreme’s overall solidness. 

Two giant “inverted” cams are oriented upside down so the string is further from the fire control system. This simple, yet ingenious way of mounting the cams on the bow elongates the powerstroke by about 4 inches—or the width of the cams—by merely flipping them over. As a result of the lengthened powerstroke, the bow’s speed is increased tremendously. All this comes without extra cost. It’s simply an advantage. 

Parker has one of the best-feeling finishes in all of the bow, crossbow or even rifle industries. Its polymer chassis is coated in a thin film of rubbery plastic that feels soft and slightly sticky to the touch. It’s warmer in cold weather, and much quieter when it brushes by sticks and treestand seats while in the woods.

The CenterFire XXTreme’s fire control system is solid. A molded polymer retention finger keeps the arrow on the barrel while Parker’s noted anti-dryfire device prevents the string from being released when an arrow is not loaded and the trigger is pulled with the safety on fire. This crossbow’s trigger is made of metal, and it’s lighter than most. It broke at 4 pounds, 6 ounces.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Parker crossbows, other than the machined aluminum riser and soft-touch stock, is the safety. It’s located on the rear of the receiver, so it’s naturally ambidextrous. I call it a “lightswitch-style” safety because that’s exactly what it looks and feels like. It’s also marked and labeled appropriately so there can be no mistake: Up (red) is fire, while down (green) is safe. It’s automatic, quiet, simple and one of the best. 

Another aspect I really like about Parker crossbows is their roller-style rope cocker that significantly decreases friction while using two pulleys to reduce the strength required to cock the bow. I consider Parker’s roller rope cocker the gold standard for rope cockers. Parker also includes it with the purchase of the CenterFire XXTreme, instead of charging extra for it.

Overall, the CenterFire XXTreme gets very high marks for all performance traits, including accuracy (it measured 1.2 inch groups at 30 yards) quietness and robustness. It’s built like a tank. A small sticker on the limb indicated that my test bow had been “Custom Built By B. Snyder.” It’s apparent that this fellow took pride in making, assembling then testing the bow, as the excellent illuminated reticle Hawke 1.5x-5x-32mm scope had been boresighted at the factory and was only 1-inch off zero right out of the box.

And then there is the feature that makes this crossbow very attractive: For the aforementioned type of premium-type of performance, consumers will pay two or three times less than top-end bows with all the bells and whistles—bells and whistles they don’t really need for hammering a deer or a bear. So, for around $800, consumers get the bow, the best-in-class roller rope cocker, four Parker Hunter arrows, a Hawke optic that’s legit and a bow-mounted quick detach quiver. Plus they get a lifetime warranty for a crossbow that should never need it.

The CenterPoint XXtreme follows Parker’s longstanding tradition of building high-performance, solid crossbows for hunters right here in America. 

Learn more at Parker Bows’ website