With more states allowing crossbows, this could be a banner year for those who make, sell and shoot crossbows.
Many crossbow manufacturers have been doing yeoman's work in recent years, applying the latest technology to build better, faster, quieter and more user-friendly bows. With much of the groundwork laid, several manufacturers adopted an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy this year, opting to modify or merge existing models to provide more options without sacrificing features and quality.
Others, whether trying to catch up with or get ahead of the competition, are introducing entirely new and different models. And there's a spate of new companies joining the group with some great new crossbow models of their own.
With both supply and demand up, dealers may face the biggest challenge in deciding which models and how many to stock. Then again, hunters have to decide which model best suits their needs; and you'll have plenty of options to choose from.
Barnett | Ghost 360
The Ghost 360
features a compact design for hunting out of a stand or a blind, CarbonLite Riser and more of the same premium Barnett bow components found on previous Ghost models.
Barnett | Raptor FX
Acknowledging the retention and recruitment aspect, the Raptor FX
is an ideal fit for young or smaller-framed adult hunters. It still offers many of the same features as Barnett's other premium bows, like a 5-1 safety system and trigger system, and boasts speeds up to 330 fps.
An adjustable cheek piece and butt stock allow the shooter to make easy adjustments as he or she grows. For the hunters in training, the Barnett Recruit
similarly fills the gap between the youth and adult hunter by also offering enough adjustment to grow with the hunter.
Barnett | RAZR
Barnett covered both ends of the spectrum, revising existing models and adding several new ones to their line this year. Topping the list is the RAZR
— initially released in 2013, but with a few design adjustments for 2014. Brainchild of Barnett Crossbows VP and director, David Barnett, the RAZR is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced crossbows on the market.
To build it, he paired a full carbon stock with Barnett's proprietary Carbonlite Riser Technology, for drastically reduced weight, while its titanium side torque plates ensure strength. A reverse cam system allows for increased speed and power stroke without extending overall length, and a retractable underarm support adds counterbalance stability to the rear.
A redesigned quiver encapsulates broadheads to protect them and the hunter; and the quiver runs parallel to the stock rather than the limbs, keeping it out of the way while making arrows more accessible. The RAZR also has several cool bonus features, including a skinning knife magnetically attached to the bottom side of the stock and an extra set of strings and cables stored in the underside of the foregrip. And for hunters shooting smaller diameter arrows, the RAZR comes with a second set of flight tracks.
Carbon Express | Intercept AXON
The Intercept was actually released late last year, after our 2013 round-up, and has been slightly revised for 2014. In building what is now the Intercept AXON
, Carbon Express incorporated both the versatility and black-gun, tactical look of an AR platform into a flat bow. Instead of finding a bow that fits, you can find one you like and make it fit you.
A 15-inch picatinny rail running nearly the length of the barrel allows you to find the right position for proper eye relief and field of view regardless of what type, size or style of optic you select — not to mention the ability to attach all sorts of accessories.
A six-position AR-style butt stock and eight-position picatinny stock rail allow you to adjust length of pull from 13-19 inches for a custom fit and easy adjustment under varying field conditions. Underneath the barrel is a nine-inch Picatinny foregrip rail offering ample adjustability for more accessories like the forward hand-grip that, like the pistol grip, folds away for for storage and transport.
The Intercept AXON kit comes with three Maxima Blue Streak 20-inch crossbolts; rope cocker; quick-detach three-arrow quiver with side bracket; rail lubricant; three practice points and a 4x32 glass-etched reticle lighted scope. The Intercept Supercoil, meanwhile, has many of the same customizable fit and performance features in a more lightweight version.
Darton | Viper SS
The Viper SS
features Darton's Trackless Barrel, designed for less arrow friction and increased speed and mounted on a redesigned tactical stock. With a manageable draw weight of 170 lbs. and smooth power pull, there is little need for a cocking aid. The Viper SS is also equipped with an integrated riser/string suppressor system and patented barrel dampener to help cut back on noise and shock vibration.
Darton | Viper Xtreme
Successor to the Viper SS, the Viper Xtreme
features Darton's Trackless Barrel, designed for less arrow friction and increased speed and mounted on a redesigned tactical stock. Its positive limb alignment system provides greater accuracy.
Safety and accuracy are also enhanced by an improved 3-pound trigger design with less travel, a newly designed anti dry fire (ADF) safety and a rifle-style safety mounted on the barrel for left- or right-handed shooters, which helps you hold on the shot without having to move.
There's also a patented string catch, designed for better release of the bowstring and a more accurate shot. Finally, the Viper Xtreme is equipped with an integrated riser/string suppressor system and patented barrel dampener to reduce noise and vibration.
Empire | Beowulf
Empire enters the crossbow world with four new models this year. Both the Beowulf
and Dragon are quad-limb bows featuring Radical CNC machined cams, precision scope mount and trigger assembly, ADF, ambidextrous auto-safety, integrated full barrel Picatinny rail, adjustable picatinny mount foregrip and lightweight synthetic stock and barrel. The Beowulf comes with a side-mounted Claw lever latch QD quiver on a picatinny mount with three carbon arrows.
Empire | Dragon
Empire enters the crossbow world with four new models this year. Both the Beowulf and Dragon
are quad-limb bows featuring Radical CNC machined cams, precision scope mount and trigger assembly, ADF, ambidextrous auto-safety, integrated full barrel Picatinny rail, adjustable picatinny mount foregrip and lightweight synthetic stock and barrel. The Dragon has a perpendicular mounted Claw quiver and comes with three aluminum arrows.
Empire | Recon
The Terminator and Recon
are 'œGull-Wing' recurve bows with brass string roller seats and scope mount, rail and safety features and accessories similar to the Dragon. The Recon also features a tactical foregrip. Both bows include a 4x32 Multi-Range scope, rope cocker and hex keys.
Empire | Terminator
and Recon are 'œGull-Wing' recurve bows with brass string roller seats and scope mount, rail and safety features and accessories similar to the Dragon. Both bows include a 4x32 Multi-Range scope, rope cocker and hex keys.
Excalibur | Matrix 330
At the other end of the spectrum, the new Matrix 330
offers an option for hunters seeking a lightweight, compact, smooth-cocking and easily-carried crossbow. It offers many of the same features as 2013's Matrix 355 and Matrix 380 crossbows, including the Compact Recurve Technology design.
However, its mere 11.3-inch power stroke makes it even easier to cock. Despite its astonishingly light 5.1 pounds, the 220-pound draw weight and 11.3-inch power stroke deliver arrow speeds of 330 fps.
Mission | MXB-Dagger
Pushing the 'œsmaller is better' concept even further is the MXB-Dagger
. At just 30 inches, with a power-stroke of just 10 inches and a physical weight of only 6.3 lbs, the Dagger is Mission's lightest, most compact crossbow. What it lacks in size it more than makes up for in features.
All-new perimeter-weighted WX-Cams reduce recoil and noise. An RS Tread riser eliminates the extra weight and bulk of a foot stirrup. ALRS limb technology provides adjustability from 100-160 pounds of draw weight and a BIAS (Bridged Integrated Accuracy Support) Rail improves accuracy. Comes assembled in a Mission soft-case.
Mission | MXB-320
For folks who believe good things come in small packages, the MXB-320
is a slightly scaled down version of last year's MXB-360.
As with its predecessor, its slotted rail and riser doubles as a foot hold to reduce weight and bulk and improve balance. By simply adjusting the limb bolts, you can boost the draw weight from 100 to 180 pounds, achieving up to 320 fps. And you can change strings and cables without a bow press.
All bows are assembled and tested before shipping and each is packed in a customized Mission soft case, built specifically to fit the MXB-320, with added storage for accessories. Mission also offers accessory packages at four different price levels that include an MX-3 Quiver, three customized Mission crossbow arrows and a Hawke scope of your choice.
The standard model comes in Lost Camo AT. The upgraded Tactical version features a sleek carbon finish and a 6-inch accessory rail for lights, bi-pod or other enhancements.
Parker | CenterFire
features Parker's proprietary split-limb technology, firing arrows at 335 fps. Weighing in at 8 pounds, it's evenly balanced and ultra-compact for easy transport in the field.
The elevated comb (cheek rest) is styled with a classic Monte Carlo look for those who prefer the appearance and feel of their favorite hunting rifle. The stock also features a vented forearm, safety finger flange, thumb hole and a textured pistol grip. The bow also comes equipped with string suppressors to reduce the noise and vibration.
The CenterFire includes a four-arrow quick-detach quiver and four arrows with field points, and is available in four optics packages: 3x32 Multi-Reticle Scope; Illuminated 1X Multi-Reticle Scope; Illuminated 3x32 Multi-Reticle Scope; or Pin Point Scope 3X. For the hunter who wants a complete package with all accessories included, the CenterFire is offered in the Perfect Storm Package.
PSE | Enigma
With its high quality aluminum parts and plastic injection moldings, the Enigma
is light yet sturdy. It comes with PSE proprietary X Tech limbs and high performance cams, features a picatinny rail for mounting accessories and adjustable stock, and is available in Mossy Oak Infinity and PSE Skull Works camo.
Package includes: 4x32 scope, sling, quiver, four 22-inch carbon arrows with field points, rope cocker and rail lube wax. The Toxic offers a great value for the budget-conscious hunter.
PSE | Smoke
is based on a radical new tactical design with a sleek profile built for exceptional speed and accuracy. It features a picatinny rail, five-position folding ergonomic front tactical foregrip, flashlight, adjustable AR style stock, embroidered sling and front mounted quiver.
A short bow with a long powerstroke, the Smoke delivers a 425-grain bolt at 330 fps with over 102 foot pounds of kinetic energy. The package includes: 4x32 scope with four reticle lines, sling, four-arrow quiver, four 20-inch carbon arrows with field points, cocking rope, wax Stick Rail lube and flashlight.
PSE | TAC Elite
Most folks are familiar with the basics of the long-range PSE TAC by now. The new TAC Elite
includes all the revolutionary features and benefits of the PSE TAC Ordnance — like incredibly strong X-Tech limbs, an extremely compact platform, high-performance twin-cam power plant, rail-less design and conventional style release. It also comes with a TAC case, scope, bipod and three TAC arrows.
Scorpyd | Ventilator 125
While technically not a 'œnew' bow, Jim Kempf has turned his attention to the Ventilator 125
this year to emphasize the value of a light draw weight, and added a few modifications as well.
The Ventilator uses a Solid Limb Platform (SLP) for its compact, reverse limb configuration with Barnsdale limbs, resulting in an axle-to-axle width of only 19 1/2 inches relaxed, and a mere 12 3/4 inches when cocked.
Like previous models, it features a unique folding stock for easier transport and cocking — even in a seated position. The Ventilator's vented barrel and lightweight forged riser help hold the weight below 8 pounds, while its generous 18 3/4-inch power stroke produces more kinetic energy with less draw weight and less noise. Package options include two styles of Hawke scopes.
Southern Crossbow | Rebel 350
A newcomer to our review, Southern Crossbow is introducing the Rebel 350
, a combination of tactical weapon features, a modern crossbow structure and an ergonomic design. Its compound levering system; composite, split limb design; sturdy fore-grip and 155-pound draw weight offer exceptional power and durability.
With a picatinny rail on the bottom and a Weaver rail on top, users can apply a variety of accessories. The Rebel 350 includes: a 4x32 crossbow scope, a foot stirrup, four field tip arrows, a quick detach quiver, a sling, string wax and safety glasses.
TenPoint | Shadow Ultra-Light
The Shadow Ultra-Lite
, meanwhile, is TenPoint's answer to a growing consumer preference for more compact, lighter and quieter crossbows. Built in the footprint of 2013's Stealth SS, the Shadow Ultra-Lite's primary innovation is a new combination lightweight 19.6-inch carbon-injected polymer barrel and 5 1/2-ounce trigger housing embedded in the FSB stock with strategically placed cutoutsm, which combine to dramatically reduce bow weight.
And like the Venom, its barrel floats on rubber inserts and dual-purpose rubber safety wings to reduce noise and vibration. It also utilizes TenPoint's XLT bow assembly with tactical jet-black 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs, MRX cams, D-75 string and cables, and a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup.
The Shadow Ultra-Lite also features TenPoint's patented DFI (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor) and a patented, 3 1/2-pound bullpup version of its PowerTouch trigger. It comes fitted with either TenPoint's ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking mechanism and the 3X Pro-View 2 scope. The Shadow Ultra-Lite sells only as a complete package that includes three aluminum arrows with Omni Nocks, quiver and Ambidextrous Side-Mount Quiver Bracket.
1,099 (with ACUdraw)
TenPoint | Venom
blends both new and existing technology to expand the use of its carbon fiber barrel design in a new, lightweight and compact high-performance model. Inspired by last year's Vapor and Stealth, the Venom features TenPoint's popular FSB (Functionally Superior Bullpup) stock and a new, shorter 19.9-inch version of its super-light, patented, woven carbon fiber barrel, fitted with a 4-inch bullpup version of TenPoint's patented 3 1/2-pound PowerTouch trigger.
Configured with optimal comb-height and length-of-pull, the FSB butt stock uses cutouts to reduce weight and improve balance. Its embedded carbon fiber barrel rests on rubber inserts and dual-purpose rubber safety wings to reduce noise and vibration and keep the shooter's fore-grip hand safely below the flight deck.
The bow assembly features TenPoint's popular XLT riser equipped with 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs powered by the company's new HE2 (Hybrid Eccentric 2) cams and new DynaFLIGHT 97 string and cables with a hard yoke system. Like all TenPoints, the Venom also features patented DFI (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor).
Equipped with the ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50, TenPoint's patented cocking units and the RangeMaster Pro scope, the Venom is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity. The model sells only as a complete package that includes six Pro Elite carbon arrows with Omni-Nocks, quiver, Ambidextrous Side-Mount Quiver Bracket, and Bowjax limb, stirrup, barrel, and retention spring dampeners.
1,619 (with ACUdraw)
Velocity Archery | Raven
is a very new bow that flew into our lineup at the last minute. This bird has a heavier draw weight than Velocity's Defiant and is billed to hit speeds of 350 fps. It comes with the basics as well as a 4x32 scope, sling, carbon arrows and is dipped in Realtree Xtra.
Winchester | Steed SS
high-positioned padded cheek piece and strategically designed foregrip make for a well-balanced, comfortable shooting platform. The narrow 17 1/2-inch axle-to-axle width also makes it very maneuverable in the tight quarters of a ground blind or tree stand.
An ambidextrous safety, anti dry fire system and caliper jaws retaining the bow string prevent firing until you're ready to pull the Ultra-Match trigger. Then, Limbsavers, mounted between the composite split limbs, paired with string speedsters and dual carbon rod Sudden-Stop string dampeners, reduce shot noise and vibration.
Excalibur | Matrix Mega 405
The new Matrix Mega 405
packs a combination of power, high-speed and flat-shooting performance. Weighing a mere 6.2 pounds with a 13.8-inch power stroke, its 290-pound draw weight and Excalibur's Compact Recurve Technology — rated at 60 percent stronger than previous limbs — combine to produce arrow speeds exceeding 405 fps. Still, it can be hand-cocked with Excalibur's efficient T-Handle Crossbow Cocking Rope.
The Ergo Grip stock provides stable, in-close and well-balanced control for precision shooting. The 405 also features Excalibur's Quad-Loc riser that contains each limb on four sides for accuracy and consistency.
The Matrix Mega 405's integrated R.E.D.S. (Recoil Energy Dissipation System) string suppressors reduce vibration, noise and shock while its super-premium Matrix bowstring is made of BCY Dynaflight 97 to reduce creep and increase speed. A self-contained Guardian ADF System is housed in the scope mount and catches the crossbow string to prevent dry-firing, and a built-in release allows easy uncocking so you don't have to fire an arrow to end the hunt.
It comes as a package with a Twilight scope and 30mm rings, a cheekpiece, four-arrow quiver with bracket, four Diablo arrows, four 150-grain field points and a rope-cocking aid, but is also available as a bow only for those wishing to customize their accessories.
Carbon Express | Covert CX-3
For hunters looking for power and precision in a compact, lightweight design, there's the Covert CX-3
. New to the Covert series, it offers a new, compact, lightweight tactical stock design with a machined aluminum riser, aluminum rail and carbon-infused limbs. Its multi-position forearm adjusts to accommodate different shooting styles for a more personalized fit.
Meanwhile, the 9-inch picatinny rail system provides multi-position adjustability for the 4x32 lighted scope with red/green illumination. The Covert CX-3 kit comes with three Mayhem 20-inch crossbolts; rope cocker; quick detach 3 arrow quiver with side bracket; and other accessories.
Killer Instinct | KI 350
Brand new, Killer Instinct
enters the market with a pair of new bows, each with a tactical design and state-of-the-art technology. A precision aluminum CNC extruded and CNC refined aluminum alloy flight barrel provides smooth, accurate arrow flight while precision CNC cams are engineered for maximum speed and increased kinetic energy.
The all-metal bullpup trigger and ambidextrous safety utilize reliable trigger technology for confidence and a smooth trigger while an integrated ADF mechanism prevents accidental discharge. KI uses proprietary compression molded limb (CML) technology, a process that utilizes high pressure to bond thousands of woven ribbons uni-directionally for increased strength and durability.
Killer Instinct | KI 365
Both the KI 350 and KI 365
feature a fully-adjustable Picatinny rail forearm grip and come as a ready-to-shoot package with Illuminated Pro-Grade glass reticle scope, three 20-inch carbon arrows, tactical side-mount quiver, rope cocker and rail lube. The 365 also features Deadening string suppressors.