Skyrocketing interest in crossbow hunting has created tremendous demand from new crossbow hunters. Meanwhile, discriminating veterans are looking for features like sleeker, lighter, faster, more maneuverable and more powerful bows.
And believe it or not, there's even a market for zombie crossbows and dangerous game. Whatever your preference, chances are there's a perfect crossbow out there just for you.
As a result, crossbow manufacturers are increasingly challenged with providing an adequate supply of all of the above. Time will tell if they can make enough bows, but if this year's selection is any indication, they certainly seem to be on track in terms of technology. Check out our roundup of the best crossbows right now.
Stryker StrykeZone 380
The StrykeZone 380
has a molded rear stock with generous cheek piece and slotted handle pistol grip, a machined aluminum barrel and riser, Octane string and cables and a KillSwitch trigger rated at less than 3 pounds of pull with under .015 inch of travel.
The StrykeZone also has an Auto-Flip magnetic safety that clicks on when the arrow receiver is lifted or the bow is cocked, and is engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the arrow is removed. There's also a double barred Cease-Fire safety plug insert that slides into place locking the jaws and immobilizing the trigger and reactivating the Auto-Flip safety until you remove it and are ready to shoot.
And new for 2013, it's available in a Black Ops finish. The GameOver package includes: five 385-grain matched Stryker arrows, a five-arrow quick detach quiver, multi-reticle scope, detachable shoulder sling, cocking aid and string stops.
Scorpyd Ventilator 80
Scorpyd Ventilator 80
crossbow was made with the increasing number of women, children and older hunters showing an interest in crossbow hunting in mind. Its 80-pound draw weight makes it easy for almost any hunter to cock, but with a whopping 75 pounds of kinetic energy and speeds up to 310 fps it still has plenty of knock-down power.
The compact size makes it easy to maneuver in a tree-stand or the tight quarters of a ground blind. The Ventilator 80 comes with a folding stock for easier cocking in the seated position, and is lighter, thanks to a vented barrel and forged riser.
Like all Scorpyd crossbows, the Ventilator 80 comes with reverse-draw Barnsdale limbs, which have a generous power stroke of 18 3/4 inches to produce more kinetic energy with less draw weight. It comes with a 3-pound trigger and can be purchased with a Hawke 1 1/2-5 MAP or a Hawke 1 1/2-5 SR scope and is available in Black or Realtree Hardwoods.
Kodabow Bravo Zulu
The 200-pound Kodabow Bravo Zulu
utilizes a proprietary 'dual limb ' recurve design allowing easy string change in the field in minutes using a destringing aid — supplied with every bow. The cocking rope precisely aligns the bowstring with the trigger group using an adapter that fits into the AR-15 style rear stock for a smooth, frictionless pull.
They also use AR-15 components for grips, stock and rear buffer tube, giving the bow a solid, rugged feel. Limbs are available in select Mossy Oak patterns, Desert Digital Camo or a Black Night Weave pattern. Bows are equipped with Hawke illuminated 3x32 optics and a range of accessories including bipods, alternate grips, slings, quivers, mechanical cranking systems and Kodabow Magnum .338 arrows.
Excalibur Matrix 380
Excalibur's Matrix 380
is a shining example of addition by subtraction. Excalibur shaved off 6 inches of width, 4 inches of length and a full pound of weight compared to previous models while boosting speed to a whopping 380 fps and 112 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. In addition to being the first compact recurve crossbow, the 5.9-pound Matrix 380 is loaded with revolutionary performance enhancements.
Reduced length (35.63 inches) is due in part to the new, compact Ergo Grip stock, which provides better balance and ergonomic design features such as a thumbhole, pistol grip, finger guards on the forend and warm, soft, non-slip rubber grip inserts. A Quad-Loc riser contains the new PowerLoad Iimbs — touted to be 60 percent stronger than previous versions — on four sides for added consistency and accuracy. Improved geometry means reduced friction and wear on the BCY Dynaflight 97 string for increased speed and efficiency and reduced creep.
Integrated, adjustable R.E.D.S. (Recoil Energy Dissipation System) string suppressors reduce vibration, noise and shock. A self-contained Guardian AntiDry Eire System, housed in the scope mount, catches the string, preventing the crossbow from firing if triggered without a bolt in place.
And a built-in release allows you to easily de-cock so you do not have to fire a shot at the end of the day. The Matrix 380 Xtra is dressed in Realtree Xtra camo while the MatrixBlackout has a tactical all-black finish. Each is outfitted with a Tact-Zone scope, a cheek piece, a four-bolt quiver, four Diablo bolts with 150-grain field points and a rope cocking aid. The Matrix 355 offers lighter poundage alternative in a similar configuration, with fewer options. The barrel and riser are anodized rather than full camo, and lack string suppressors.
The new reverse-draw configuration of the Barnett Vengeance
moves the limb pockets closer to the trigger assembly and faces the limbs forward, shifting the center of gravity closer to the shooter's body to reduce front-end weight.
Meanwhile, a CarbonLite riser assembly reduces overall weight without compromising strength or accuracy. Decorated in a carbon fiber finish or high-definition camouflage, the Vengeance is available as a complete package with quick-detach quiver, three 22-inch arrows and an illuminated 3x32 multi-reticle scope.
Brainchild of David Barnett himself, the Barnett RAZR
is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced crossbows on the market. To build it, he paired the industry's first full carbon stock with Barnett's proprietary Carbonlite Riser Technology (CRT), 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 to keep it out of the way while making arrows more accessible.
The RAZR also has several cool bonus features, including a skinning knife that is magnetically attached to the bottom side of the stock and an extra set of strings and cables stored in the nderside of the foregrip. And for hunters shooting smaller diameter (faster) arrows, the RAZR comes with a second set of flight tracks.
Arrow Precision Inferno Firestorm II
The Inferno Firestorm II
's compression molded limbs, CNC-machined aluminum cam system and aircraft-grade risers will shoot a blazing 375 feet per second. And that is accomplished with an easy draw weight of only 165 pounds and an ultra-light trigger needing only 2.4 pounds of pull.
The Next Vista Soft Touch Microprint Camouflage adds comfort, grip and style, and like all Inferno crossbows, the Firestorm II comes packed with standard features like a 4x32 illuminated (red and green) scope, padded shoulder sling, four 20-inch carbon bolts with 100-grain practice points, rope cocking device, quick-detach quiver, open sight and even safety goggles.
For the Darton Viper
, the company incorporated the best features of previous models, like larger axles and oversized sealed Quad Ball Bearings in Darton's dynamic DualSync cams; wider, stronger laminated split limbs built for more stress combined with a compact front riser; and Tactical Stock.
They also added a new Soft Touch finish for quiet and comfort, and a Trackless barrel that contacts the arrow only at the nock end and at the front end to reduce friction and string wear. Rated at 340 FPS, the Viper comes equipped with integrated string suppressors coming off the riser along with Darton's new patent pending Barrel Dampener to help minimize vibration.
Carbon Express X-Force 350
The Carbon Express X-Force 350
has many new design features, not the least of which is a tactical lightweight composite stock with a one-piece ergonomic profile for improved comfort and accuracy.
It also features an adjustable forearm on a Picatinny rail with over 5 inches of travel for customized fit, a durable cast riser with rubber-coated foot stirrup, heavy-duty compression-molded limbs, a trigger box safety system for smooth, consistent performance, and SilenTech coating for stealth and performance. The X-Force 350 comes with Carbon Express PileDriver 20-inch crossbolts and multi-reticle scope.
The folks at Mission Archery were very secretive about their premier entry in the crossbow category, the Mission MXB-360
. Now that we have seen it, we know it's a great-shooting crossbow. It has a slotted rail and a riser that doubles as a foot hold, and that helps reduce weight and bulk and improve balance.
By simply adjusting the limb bolts (see the story on Page 24) you can boost the draw weight from 100 to 160 pounds, achieving up to 360 fps. And you can change strings and cables without a bowpress. All bows are assembled and tested before shipping and each is packed in a customized Mission soft case. Mission also offers accessory packages at three different price levels that include an MX-3 Quiver, three customized Mission crossbow arrows and a Hawke scope of your choice.
The Parker BlackHawk
features proprietary advanced split limb technology with an integrated Fulcrum Pocket System that make it a unique crossbow. It is compact, yet still capable of speeds over 320 fps.
The Bull-Pup trigger and ergonomic textured pistol grip make maneuvers in tight quarters easy, and at 6 1/2 pounds it's ultra-lightweight and optimally balanced. The BlackHawk features Parker's EZ pull system and comes with a quick-detach quiver and four arrows with field points. It's available in three optics packages.
The Parker StingRay
is ideal for both freshwater and saltwater bowfishing. It's compact and lightweight at 7 1/2 pounds, and is easy to maneuver, aim and shoot on the water. The StingRay features an adjustable draw weight range from 100-125 pounds, so it can be customized to your particular quarry. Draw-weight adjustment can be made without tools, a bow press or additional parts.
The StingRay package includes your choice of an open sight or a 1X illuminated multi-reticle scope, AMS Retriever Pro Bowfishing Reel, bowfishing arrow with Muzzy Gator Getter Point and mounting hardware, 25 yards of 200-pound high-visibility braided Dacron line and an integrated arrow quiver. It is appropriately decorated in Fishouflage Camo, and like all Parker crossbows features the EZ Pull System to reduce cocking effort by over 50 percent when using a Red Hot EZ Roller Rope Cocker.
Carbon Express Intercept
Carbon Express combined two of the latest trends, crossbows and a tactical black-gun look and design, into one unit with their new Carbon Express Intercept
. The primary purpose of the Intercept's features is customization. Unlike other crossbows, you make it fit you.
A 15-inch Picatinny rail running nearly the length of the barrel allows the shooter to find the right position for proper eye relief and field of view regardless of what type, size or style of optic you select. Underneath the barrel there's an eight-position Picatinny stock rail that allows you to adjust length of pull from 13-19 inches for a custom fit on the adjustable, six-position AR-style butt stock, which also has a collapsible feature for storage and transport.
Yet another 9-inch Picatinny foregrip rail leaves ample adjustability for the forestock and folding foregrip. And the three rails and other connection points will accommodate most military or commercial spec parts and accessories for virtually unlimited customization.
Wicked Ridge Invader HP
The Invader HP from Wicked Ridge
features the ACU-52 integrated rope-cocking system, rope cocker and dry-fire inhibitor technology to prevent the crossbow from firing without an arrow. With a cored semi-skeletal stock and CNC-machined riser and pockets, the Invader HP is a lightweight yet durable crossbow. Wicked Ridge's patented Powertouch trigger provides one of the lightest pulls in the industry at just 3.5 pounds. The Invader HP comes with either a Red-Dot scope (standard package) or a 3x Multi-Line scope (premium package).
Velocity Archery Armageddon
The Velocity Archery Armageddon
has a Combat Black finish on a Dual-Cam frame for a tactical look and feel, yet is well suited for the traditional crossbow hunter. It has an AR look and feel to the skeletonized stock. It's rated for speeds up to 350 fps with over 110 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, weighs under 8 pounds and comes with a 4x32 red/green adjustable intensity scope, Oscill-X energy reduction pads and rubber recoil pad and a four-bolt quiver.
The ultra-compact TenPoint Vapor
features a newly designed 165-pound, 360 fps PLT (Parallel Limb Technology) bow assembly, fitted with 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs, new HE (Hybrid Eccentric) cams and custom fabricated Viper X 8190G string and cables for dramatically reduced recoil and noise.
It measures a sleek 12.6-inches axle-to-axle when cocked and an intricately webbed and lightweight, machined aluminum riser is optimized for weight reduction and strength. A re-engineered stock assembly features a new FSB (Functionally Superior Bullpup) stock — with strategically placed cutouts for reduced weight and improved balance and an ergonomic design configured with optimal comb height and length of pull — and a 22 1/2-inch version of the company's wrapped carbon fiber barrel fitted with a 4-inch bullpup version of their patented PowerTouch trigger.
The Vapor is equipped with TenPoint's new SDS String Dampening System and the barrel is embedded in the stock with rubber inserts and dual-purpose rubber safety wings to further reduce noise and vibration and help keep the shooter's fore-grip hand safely below the flight deck. The package includes arrows, quiver, Side-Mount Quiver Bracket, soft case, the new SDS (String Dampening System), and Bowjax limb, stirrup, and retention spring dampeners.
TenPoint Tactical XLT
As the name implies, TenPoint Crossbow's Tactical XLT
also gives a 'black gun ' look to one of their latest high performance flat bows. Features include their super-compact (13.5 inches, axle-to-axle, when cocked) XLT (Xtreme Limb Technology) bow assembly, a newly designed aircraft grade, fluted aluminum barrel (for reduced weight and improved strength and balance) bedded in TenPoint's rugged, clear-coated tactical-black stock, tactical black 11-inch IsoTaper Limbs equipped with MRX cams, and D-75 string and cables. With a 185-pound draw weight, the Tactical XLT shoots 352 fps with TenPoint's Pro Lite carbon arrow.
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