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Absolute Xero: Laser-Guided Arrows at Push of Button

Hunting-gear review: An inside look at the most innovative crossbow scope ever conceived.

Absolute Xero: Laser-Guided Arrows at Push of Button

The Garmin Xero X1i laser-rangefinding scope not only determines the distance to the target, but also automatically adjusts the illuminated reticle for the range. (Photo courtesy of TenPoint)

It may sound like science fiction, but crossbow hunters now have the ability to deliver precise, laser-guided arrows to their targets with the push of a button.

The Garmin Xero X1i is a laser-ranging crossbow scope that simultaneously ranges targets and provides a single, illuminated aiming point for an exact hold out to 80 yards.

So, what kind of voodoo does the scope use to pull this off?

For starters, the Xero X1i's laser works differently than those found in other rangefinders. It uses a proprietary process for sending "pulses" of light in a distinct signature to the target. The unit then looks for that same signature to return and produces the readout.

Operating in this manner allows the Xero X1i to employ a smaller beam diameter for precisely hitting targets at longer distances. The laser returns readings on game up to 250 yards away and on reflective targets up to 500 yards away.

Setup is straightforward and rather simple. Instructions are projected on a heads-up display inside the scope when initially turned on, providing a step-by-step guide for dialing-in the scope. The user inputs arrow speed and then follows several calibration steps.

The scope's Steady Aim and Aim Point Level features use real-time aiming information collected by an accelerometer to provide a visible indication in the display of how steady the bow is being held and whether or not it is level.

A flight apex indicator shows the shooter what the maximum height of the arrow’s path will be as it flies toward the ranged target, helping avoid potential obstacles in the flight path. Additionally, an ambient light sensor automatically detects and adjusts the in-scope digital display for optimal viewing in any light conditions. This feature is particularly useful when hunting in ultra-bright and low-light conditions alike.

The Xero X1i is capable of communicating with compatible Garmin GPS devices. With its ability to range out to 500 yards, it can provide invaluable data for stalking to a precise location.

The X1i uses ANT, which is similar to Bluetooth but requires less power and is excellent for sending small packets of data like the range, compass heading and angle, to a compatible watch or handheld device. The user collects GPS positional data via the watch or device, and combines that with the information provided by the scope to generate a waypoint marking the location where a target was ranged.

For instance, a hunter can range the exact spot where a deer entered the woods and hike right to it, or range a point for the next morning's hunt to make it easy to find in the dark. The use cases for this feature are many (following proper safety measures).

The X1i measures 6.2 inches long, 2.6 inches wide and 3.7 inches high, and weighs 1.9 pounds. An integrated mount is compatible with Picatinny and Weaver rails. An included pressure pad can be mounted anywhere on the crossbow's stock and wired to the scope for ranging targets with minimal movement. Windage and elevation dials are located in the base of the scope and feature 1/2-MOA adjustments.


The scope's 3.5X magnification provides a 5-degree field of view. Two AAA lithium cells provide a year's worth of battery life, and the unit features a micro-USB port so it can be plugged into a computer for software updates.

As you might imagine, all of this technology comes at a price. The X1i has an MSRP of $1,799.99, or hunters can get it packaged with a TenPoint crossbow for $3,649.99 to $4,049.99. Those who want to stay on the cutting edge of innovation, though, needn't look further than the Garmin Xero X1i.

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