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Best Compact Crossbows, Compounds for Quick, Accurate Hunting

Downsizing has its advantages in the field and these models prove good things come in small packages.

Best Compact Crossbows, Compounds for Quick, Accurate Hunting

The TenPoint Havoc RS440 Xero, which comes with the Garmin Xero X1i laser-rangefinding scope, has an axle-to-axle measurement of just 7 1/2 inches when cocked. (Photo courtesy of TenPoint)

Timing is often critical to getting a shot while bowhunting. Whether hunting with a crossbow or a compound, preparing to shoot typically takes longer than when hunting with firearm.

With a compound, it also requires more movement. These are challenges that bowhunters readily accept and that bow manufacturers seek to help them overcome.


Being able to deftly maneuver a bow is key to capitalizing on a shot opportunity. No matter if the hunt occurs in a treestand or a ground blind, or even in the form of spot-and-stalk, crossbows with narrow widths and compounds with short axle-to-axle lengths shine in tight quarters.


They are easier to carry off the beaten path and guide around brush, branches and vegetation without hang-ups. New technology allows manufacturers to build easy-handling bows that are not only fast, but also accurate and comfortable to shoot.

Here are seven new models that are among the most compact on the market. They might buy you those extra few moments you need to make a shot.

CROSSBOWS

Ravin R500E

GAF-Compact-Bows
Ravin R500E

Ravin promises the R500E will deliver 500 fps with the 400-grain arrows that come with the bow. Unprecedented speed is exciting, but the cocking system is just as impressive. The battery-powered Ravin Electric Drive System allows shooters to cock and decock the crossbow with just a push of a button. This cocking system is detachable and includes a charger, and the R500E can still be cocked manually with Ravin’s VersaDrive System. The R500E has an axle-to-axle spec of just 3.6 inches when cocked. While the overall width of the crossbow is certainly wider than the axle-to-axle figure, it’s still ultra-narrow. The R500E’s 28-inch length also contributes to the compact nature of this crossbow.

  • Axle-to-Axle, Cocked: 3.6"
  • Axle-to-Axle, Uncocked: 7.6"
  • Power Stroke: 15"
  • Length: 28"
  • Weight: 9.9 lbs
  • Speed: 500 fps
  • MSRP: $3,349
  • ravincrossbows.com




Wicked Ridge NXT 400

GAF-Compact-Bows
Wicked Ridge NXT 400

At just six inches wide axle-to-axle when cocked, the NXT 400 is Wicked Ridge’s narrowest crossbow ever. Its XR6 Cams and Vector-Quad cable technology uses four cables instead of two to power 200-pound limbs. The result is a speed of up to 400 fps with 400-grain arrows. Without the foot stirrup, the NXT 400 is 33 inches long and weighs less than 7 1/2 pounds. The NXT 400 package includes an ACUdraw cocking device, TenPoint 3X Pro-View scope, three-arrow quiver, and three Pro Elite 400 carbon arrows with practice points.

  • Axle-to-Axle, Cocked: 6"
  • Axle-to-Axle, Uncocked: 11.3"
  • Power Stroke: 15 1/2"
  • Length: 33"
  • Weight: 7.4 lbs
  • Speed: 400 fps
  • MSRP: $1,099.99
  • wickedridgecrossbows.com

TenPoint Havoc RS440 Xero

GAF-Compact-Bows
TenPoint Havoc RS440 Xero

The TenPoint Havoc RS440 Xero is a top-quality crossbow, but it’s what’s on top of the Havoc that sets it apart. This crossbow ships with the Garmin Xero X1i rangefinding scope. Press a button, and the scope determines the distance to the target then automatically provides an illuminated aiming point based on the range (see “Gear: How It Works,” page 100). The Havoc RS440 includes TenPoint’s ACUslide System, which makes cocking and decocking quiet, safe and nearly effortless. Easy to handle, the Havoc measures less than 27 inches long without the foot stirrup and 28 3/4 inches with the stirrup. The two-stage S1 trigger is silky smooth, and pull weight is a smidge under 3 pounds. The Havoc RS440 is also available with a more conventional EVO-X scope that features a holdover reticle.

  • Axle-to-Axle, Cocked: 7 1/2"
  • Axle-to-Axle, Uncocked: 12.3"
  • Power Stroke: 13 1/2"
  • Length: 26 1/2"
  • Weight: 7 1/2 lbs
  • Speed: 440 fps
  • MSRP: $3,649.99
  • tenpointcrossbows.com

Mission Sub-1 XR

GAF-Compact-Bows
Mission Sub-1 XR

When cocked, the Mission Sub-1 XR measures 9.1 inches axle-to-axle and 13 inches at its widest point. It produces arrow speeds of up to 410 fps. The Sub-1 XR is easy to cock without a cranking device, but a silent Mission RSD Crank is an optional add-on. A speed-compensating Hawke scope is included in the package, along with a quiver and soft case. (The Sub-1 XR can also be purchased without the scope, quiver and arrows for $200 less.) This crossbow is incredibly accurate, thanks in part to a match-grade trigger that breaks crisply at about 3 pounds of pull weight. And if the hunt doesn’t end with a shot, the Sub-1 XR can be decocked easily. It is arguably the safest and easiest crossbow to decock without a crank system.

  • Axle-to-Axle, Cocked: 9.1"
  • Axle-to-Axle, Uncocked: 12 1/2"
  • Power Stroke: 14 5/8"
  • Length: 30 1/2"
  • Weight: 7.6 lbs
  • Speed: 410 fps
  • MSRP: $1,899
  • missioncrossbows.com


COMPOUND BOWS

Mathews V3 27

GAF-Compact-Bows
Mathews V3 27

It’s not often you find a pair of flagship bows, especially with different axle-to-axle lengths, that mirror each other in almost every way. Mathews’ V3 27 and 31 models, however, are the exception to this rule. Both have a brace height of 6 inches and an IBO speed rating of 342 fps. The main difference is the length between the axles. The V3 27 is the company’s most compact bow to date. It, like the V3 31, makes use of Mathews’ Crosscentric cam to permit easy draw-length and draw-weight changes, the new Nano 740 damping system, and redesigned limbs and limb cups to reduce weight.

  • Axle-to-Axle: 27"
  • Brace Height: 6"
  • Let-Off: 80, 85%
  • Draw Weight: 60, 65, 70, 75 lbs
  • Draw Length: 25 to 29.5"
  • Weight: 4.29 lbs
  • Speed: 342 fps
  • MSRP: $1,199
  • mathewsinc.com

Hoyt Carbon RX-5

GAF-Compact-Bows
Hoyt Carbon RX-5

Hoyt heralds its latest carbon incarnation, the RX-5, as its best carbon model to date. The bow is fitted with an all-new HBX Cam that promises smoothness and speed, plus redesigned Limb Shox to minimize vibration and noise. Measuring 30 inches between the axles and having a 6 1/4-inch brace height, the RX-5 can hit speeds up to 342 fps. Other notable features of this 4.4-pound compound include the Integrate Rest Mount, which puts QAD’s Integrate MX drop-away in line with the riser, and a lower stabilizer position. The bow is also offered in an Ultra model with a 34-inch axle-to-axle length and 7-inch brace height.

  • Axle-to-Axle: 30"
  • Brace Height: 6 1/4"
  • Let-Off: 80, 85%
  • Draw Weight: 30 to 80 lbs
  • Draw Length: 25 to 30"
  • Weight: 4.4 lbs
  • Speed: 342 fps
  • MSRP: $1,699
  • hoyt.com

Bowtech Solution SD

GAF-Compact-Bows
Bowtech Solution SD

Optimized for bowhunters with draw lengths of 23 1/2 to 28 1/2 inches, the new Solution SD offers speed and performance in a short-draw compound. Bowtech reports arrow speeds up to 323 fps, and the company builds the Solution SD with its DeadLock Cam System. The Deadlock cams can be moved left or right on the axles by just turning a screw for easy tuning to achieve perfect arrow flight. Deadlock cable containment reduces torque, and Orbit dampeners can be strategically placed on the riser to offset accessory weight while minimizing vibration.

  • Axle-to-Axle: 30"
  • Brace Height: 7"
  • Let-Off: 85, 87%
  • Draw Weight: 50 to 70 lbs
  • Draw Length: 23 1/2 to 28 1/2"
  • Weight: 3.9 lbs
  • Speed: 323 fps
  • MSRP: $1,199
  • bowtecharchery.com

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