Buying a new crossbow can be a daunting challenge, especially if it’s your first one.
by Bob Humphrey
Buying a new crossbow can be a daunting challenge, especially if it's your first one. There's almost no limit to what you could spend, but do you want to break the bank only to find out it's "not for you" or you wish you'd gone a different route? On the other hand, this might be the one and only crossbow you'll ever buy. You look at it as a long-term investment, so you want something that will suit your needs for years to come.
The good news is that you're in the majority. Crossbow makers realize where the highest demand is right now and are building and selling more affordable models. Even better news is that they can do so without sacrificing quality. Thanks to advancements in technology, crossbows have gone the way of compound bows and computers in that quality is increasing almost exponentially while cost remains relatively stable. What follows is a quick run-down of what 2010 has to offer in the way of affordable new crossbows.
Barnett has combined their optimum crossbow features with a sleek, progressive design in a more compact ergonomic frame to create the Bonecrusher. An all-new aluminum flight rail enhances accuracy while also extending string life. The patented shoot-through foot stirrup offers increased power (129 ft./lbs.) and speed (365 fps) by extending the power stroke to 15 inches while allowing for a more compact fit and a perfect balance. Meanwhile, Barnsdale laminated limbs and over-molding with AVI technology reduce noise up to 30 percent while shutting down unwanted vibration and limb tension. The Bonecrusher also features a new 3.5 pound MIM, ADF trigger system and high-tech composite stock that allows for the integration of a crank cocking device. It ships standard with a new illuminated three-dot magnified scope that allows you to have the illumination of a red dot sight with the efficiency and accuracy of a multi-reticle scope. Suggested retail price - $599.99; www.barnettcrossbows.com
Crosman Archery started building hunting crossbows two years ago with one stated objective: "To be the performance-to-value leader," said marketing director Scott Alread. Their first attempts, the Teton and Bristol, were widely regarded as the best in their price point. Not wanting to rest on its laurels, Barnett moved forward this year not just with a new bow but with an entire new division, CenterPoint Hunting and Outdoors. Headlining this effort is the brand-new Centerpoint Hex. Sporting a tactical look with its all-black, all-weather stock, the HEX features a 150-lb. peak draw weight that will push arrows to an impressive 300 fps. Up front is CenterPoint's proven quad limb system with custom strings and cables, while the rear sports a red or green illuminated, three-dot CenterPoint optic and smooth Lightning Touch trigger system. Suggested retail price - $349.99, www.crosman.com/archery
For 2010, Darton morphed its award-winning Blazer into the new Phazer - but it's much more than just a name change. Most noteworthy is a precision-machined, hard-anodized aluminum barrel with Teflon-impregnated arrow track for more consistent arrow flight and tighter groups. Darton also added a new dry-fire-prevention mechanism for added safety. The Phazer still retains many of its predecessor's great features, like matched EFLEX Quad limbs and efficient alloy energy cams, CNC-machined aircraft-grade aluminum front riser, synthetic Power Yoke cables and a rugged trigger mechanism with controlled sensitivity and a smooth pull. At 165 lbs. peak draw weight, its 15½-inch power stroke will launch a 425-grain arrow at 345 fps. It's available in Realtree Hardwoods Green HD and comes with an adjustable butt plate for a custom fit. Suggested retail price - $630.99; www.dartonarchery.com
The Axiom is a high-performance crossbow designed specifically to fulfill the needs of the first-time crossbow enthusiast without sacrificing quality, durability, performance or accuracy. The newest addition to their industry-leading recurve technology is the Axiom, which features a compact, lightweight frame. Its 14½-inch power stroke and 175-lb. draw weight will produce speeds in excess of 305 fps. The Axiom Kit comes with everything you need to get started, including Excalibur's Axiom multiplex crossbow scope with mounting rings and base for multi-range accuracy, four aluminum arrows with field points and a four-arrow quiver and mounting bracket. Suggested retail price - $549.99; www.excaliburcrossbow.com
The new TRT Ultra-Lite Express offers savings on weight, price and vibration. Its unique skeletonized riser is forged from a solid billet of military-grade 7075 aluminum to reduce both weight and noise. Plus, dual integrated stumper arms with SIMS Navcom string stoppers capture the string to eliminate "twang." Meanwhile, asymmetric limbs eliminate cam lean and aid in smooth cocking and parallel nock travel for increased accuracy. Couple this with the new high speed reverse-cam design that adds an additional inch and a half to the power stroke and you have a bow that delivers exceptional speed - 330 fps - for an ultralight crossbow. A patent pending removable butt pad allows the shooter to customize the length of pull from 13- to 14-inches. The fore-end of the TRT is also fully adjustable to fit a wide range of shooters. Also, overmolding in the grip, fore-end and cheek piece provide a racy new look and improve the handling of the bow in wet conditions. It comes in Realtree HD All Purpose Green. Suggested retail price - $645.00; www.crossbow.com PSE
The Copperhead is full of high-end features at an entry-level price point. It has a comfortable thumbhole grip, film-dipped camouflage stock with ambidextrous safety lever and an adjustable fore-end to custom fit the shooter. Up front is a fully coated foot stirrup and two-point limb-bolt locking system. In between is an anodized machined aluminum barrel. Its 150-lb. peak weight and 10½-inch power stroke will propel a 17-inch 2216 Viper Bolt at 260-265 fps. It comes with a crosshair-style rear peep sight and a front sight with two brass pins, but also features a 7/8-inch slotted rail that will accept most scope rings. The Copperhead is available in a complete package with a six-arrow quick-detach quiver, black padded shoulder strap sling, four crossbow bolts with 100-grain field points, and safety glasses. Suggested retail price - $249.99; www.pse-archery.com
The new Turbo XLT incorporates TenPoint's popular Compact Limb System (CLS) - found on Phantom and Defender models - combined with new Xtreme Limb Technology (XLT) for an even more compact, yet no less powerful bow assembly. The Turbo XLT design has a lighter riser, more acutely angled limb pockets and is fitted with 11-inch rather than 12-inch ISO Taper limbs. It also comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup rather than the one-piece CLS riser and foot stirrup. Combining the lightweight riser and foot stirrup with shorter limbs (just 13½ inches from axle to axle when cocked), along with a lightweight molded Vertron stock and barrel assembly allows the crossbow to weigh in at a very comfortable 7 lbs., 11 oz.
However, with a 180-lb. draw weight, this sleek and maneuverable power plant delivers a relatively heavy 420-grain arrow at 315 fps, generating 92.5 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy. The Turbo XLT is fitted with high-performance MR Cams and Ultra-Cam string and cables with tunable yokes. Like all TenPoint models, the Turbo XLT also features TenPoint's patented DFI (dry-fire inhibitor) and highly-regarded 3½-lb. Power Touch 10 trigger. Equipped with either the ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 - TenPoint's patented automated cocking units - the Turbo XLT is finished in Mossy Oak's new Break Up Infinity. Suggested retail prices - $999 with ACUdraw and $899 with ACUdraw 50; www.tenpointcrossbows.com