Hunting Bow Review: PSE Stinger Max

The PSE Stinger Max is an affordable, compact hunting bow

One of the things I’ve always admired about PSE Archery is how this tried-and-true bowmaker can create multiple hunting bows to fit a wide range of budgets and shooting styles each year. Over the years, I’ve tested many of the manufacturer’s flagship bows, and I’m always impressed. The company is known for compound bows that provide a healthy blend of speed and comfortable shooting experience. I’ve yet to grip and shoot one of their top-end rigs that wasn’t up to snuff. But the PSE Stinger Max is not a flagship bow. It’s an affordable bow that wears a price tag under $400. I wanted to put the bow through my testing paces and report my findings, so here we go.

PSE Stinger Max Specs

  • FPS: 304-312 
  • Axle-to-Axle: 30 inches 
  • Brace Height: 7 inches
  • Mass Weight: 3.8 pounds 
  • Cam: SS Cam
  • Draw Lengths: 21 1/2 to 30 inches 
  • Peak Draw Weights: 55 and 70 pounds adjustable down 15 limb-bolt turns
  • Color Options: Mossy Oak Country, TrueTimber Strata, Black, Charcoal, Muddy Girl, Purple and White 
  • MSRP: $399.99 bare bow; $479.99 package

Who is the PSE Stinger Max Designed For?

It’s tempting to call this rig a beginner’s bow—and it would be great for a new shooter because of its adjustability and affordability. But, this is also a legitimate hunting bow for any archer who wants to save some money on their hunting equipment. Is this the best compound bow on the market? Decidedly not. It doesn’t offer the same performance or features as flagship models, but it’s also about a third of the price. The PSE Stinger Max is a relatively compact bow that’s a solid choice for new folks looking to get into archery and deer hunting, or for experienced hunters who want to save some cash on their hunting gear.

Man at full draw with compound bow
Testing the PSE Stinger Max. Jace Bauserman

Testing the PSE Stinger Max

As I do with any bow, I put multiple arrows through it before worrying about a perfect tune. The SS Cam was smooth and the draw weight builds quickly. The transition to the bow’s 80 percent letoff is a tad abrupt but not uncomfortable. The draw stop on the cam contacts the bow’s inner cable, which I liked, and the backwall was firm and not at all spongy. I like a backwall with a bit of valley I can pull into, and this bow provided that feel. 

Once at full draw, the bow held impressively well, especially for a short axle-to-axle bow. The SS Cam wasn’t itching to go, and I could settle into my anchor and hold on target comfortably. You will notice some post-shot vibration and a slight hum of noise. It’s important to note that this should be expected from a bow with this adjustability and price tag. Your hand will tickle a little, but the shooting experience, for the most part, proved solid. I don’t anticipate a whitetail ducking the string, and the amount of vibration is nothing a shooter won’t grow accustomed to over time. The bow does have a pair of limb dampeners placed between the split limbs, and the string stop soaks up some post-shot noise and vibration. There are no dampeners or speed nocks on the string.

Fit & Finish

Measuring 30-inches between the axles, my first impression of the bow was it would be easily maneuverable for any shooter. Then, I noticed the weight. Without accessories, the bow tips the scale at just 3.8 pounds—that’s light. Any shooter, even kids, will be able to handle this bow with ease. I’m not a huge fan of lightweight bows, but I appreciate the fact that PSE keeps the needs of every archer in mind.

I was impressed with the stylish black limbs branded with the bow’s name in red, yellow, and white. The riser was cloaked in Mossy Oak, and after a thorough inspection, I detected no digs, nicks, or scratches. It’s a sexy rig with a great visual appeal. 

Immediately, I slid my hand into the grip—a direct-to-riser design with no side plates. The grip on the PSE Stinger Max was inviting, and the narrow throat and flat back fell right into my hand nicely. The grip does angle a tad far under the throat, but we will get to that later.

The Build

I’ve tinkered with my fair share of budget hunting bows, and many have chattery limb pockets and accessory mounting holes that require more than a little elbow grease to get screws started. That was not the case with the Stinger Max. The limb bolts turned easily, and the TRUGLO five-pin sight and QAD UltraRest HDX attached with ease. The bow pressed without issue, and I experienced zero setup problems.

My bow arrived set at 70 pounds of draw weight, but the generous limb screws can be backed out a full 15 revolutions, which means most any shooter can set the Stinger Max to a draw weight that is right for them. I put the bow at a comfortable-to-draw 63.5 pounds and adjusted the cam modules to a draw length of 29 inches. This process is a breeze. Without a bow press, I changed the module on the bottom cam to the 29-inch (see your owner’s manual) letter C setting. I did the same with the cable stop and was set to go. The PSE Stinger Max is a single-cam bow, and the SS Cam allows for draw length setting in half-inch increments between 21 ½ and 30 inches, which is very impressive.

Man tuning his PSE stinger max hunting bow
Tuning the PSE Stinger Max. Jace Bauserman

Tune-Up

With only one cam resting between the bottom split limbs and an idler wheel on top, this bow tuned up with ease that any bow technician would appreciate. There is no cam timing to fret over, and after using my string and arrow level and making a few rest adjustments, I was poking perfect tears through paper in no time. Walk back tuning was easy, and I also performed a bare shaft tune. At a distance of 20 yards, my plain Easton Axis 340 shaft hit right next to my 418-grain fletched Easton Axis 340 shaft. The entire tuning process took less than 20 minutes, and I put the Stinger Max through a top-to-bottom tune. You don’t find this type of tunability in every budget bow on the market. When a bow tunes easy, it builds shooter confidence, and I’ve tuned very few bows (flagships or otherwise) that tuned-up as quickly and as well as the Stinger Max.

This hunting bow is not a speed demon, and it’s not designed to be. Still, set at 66 pounds of draw weight and a draw-length of 29 inches, the rig propelled my arrows at a three-arrow average speed of 272 fps, which produced a kinetic energy rating of 68.66 foot pounds. More than enough to down most any big-game critter you’ll want to chase.

Hunting bow leaning against target with two arrows in the bullseye
The PSE Stinger Max shoots straight all the way to 50 yards. Jace Bauserman

Accuracy

I’m a fan of bows with a little more riser between the axle pins than the PSE Stinger Max provides, and I also prefer a heavier bow. In my experience, a longer axle-to-axle bow with some weight holds better on target than a short, lightweight bow. This was the case with the Stinger Max. While the bow holds well, its short axle-to-axle nature and lightweight build make it a tad shaky in a stiff breeze. At 20 and 30 yards, it wasn’t an issue. At 40 and 50 yards, I still put arrows in the kill zone, but I wasn’t as accurate as I am with some of my longer axle-to-axle bows.

From 20 to 50 yards, this bow put arrows on the mark, and I fired shafts tipped with field points, mechanical heads, and fixed-blade heads. I regularly put three fixed-blade shafts into the 10-ring on a 50-yard deer target in calm winds. My groups widened from distances between 60 and 80 yards, and I didn’t feel nearly as confident with the bow at those longer ranges. The bow’s 7-inch brace ups the forgiveness factor, and overall, I was satisfied with the bow’s accuracy. If you’re a treestand, ground blind, or spot-and-stalk hunter who limits their shots to 50 yards and in, the Stinger Max won’t disappoint.

Man holding a PSE stinger bow back at full draw.
The PSE Stinger Max is an adjustable bow perfect for a new archer. Jace Bauserman

Does the PSE Stinger Max Accomplish Its Mission?

I tip my hat to this bow build. It’s super adjustable in terms of draw weight and length, making it a bow a youngster could grow with and shoot for years and years. This compound bow would also be an excellent choice for the new male or female archer looking to dip their toe in the bowhunting ocean. It doesn’t break the bank, and for a little extra coin, the PSE Stinger Max can be purchased as a hunt-ready package. If I was deer hunting from a ground blind or treestand and knew my shots would be inside 50 yards, I would have no reservations about taking this bow along with me.