November 18, 2020
TenPoint Crossbow Technologies recently introduced its all-new Vapor RS470 XERO crossbow. The flagship Vapor RS470 XERO is factory-equipped with the new Garmin XERO X1i, an electro-optic based crossbow scope with built-in laser range finder. When offered an opportunity to put it through its paces on a recent deer hunt in Ohio, well, I jumped at the chance.
The Vapor RS470 XERO is a reverse-draw platform, one which has become the benchmark of high-performance crossbow design of late. Reverse-draw crossbows have several advantages, most notably extended power strokes, short limbs and physical compactness.
The Vapor RS470 XERO is uber-compact, measuring just 31 inches in length and taping a mere 6 ½ inches axle-to-axle (cocked). It's dramatically long 17" power stroke generates thundering arrow speeds of up to 470 feet-per-second, and an unimaginable 191 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Simple put, this bow delivers unequalled performance in today's marketplace.
An onboard cocking system, one which is housed internal to the stock, is as slick as you'll find—offering testament to TenPoint's commitment to engineering excellence. Marketed as the ACUSLIDE Cocking and De-cocking System, the unit allows the user to both cock and uncock the crossbow silently, and more importantly—very safely. The cocking crank stores neatly on the stock when not in use, and extends to deliver increased cranking power.
The Vapor RS470 XERO is an ergonomic delight with a raised comb on the stock for that perfect cheek-weld. The two-stage trigger (roller sear system) is the best you'll find on a crossbow. The first stage clears effortlessly, with the second stage tripping cleanly with a distinct crispness found only on high-end performance hunting rifles.
Commitment to quality is evident throughout the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO build. The CNC machining on the aluminum components is top-notch and the injection-molded parts, perfect. The TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO comes with everything you need to hunt, from a backpack soft case, to arrows, quiver and even broadheads.
ENTER THE GARMIN XERO X1i
Garmin entered the digital range finding scope market several years ago with the introduction of their XERO X1, a wildly popular scope designed for compound bows. They've now entered into the crossbow market with their all-new XERO X1i sight.
The XERO X1i is built on an all-aluminum, CNC-machined chassis, one which is overtly stout and capable of withstanding the roughest of use while in the field. The nitrogen-filled optic offers a clear view of your target, with a plethora of data points digitally displayed inside.
The multi-colored data displayed include aim points, compass, horizontal level gauge, string counter, roll at shot, impulse duration and flight apex. When looking through the scope the data is available, much like a heads-up display on an automobile dashboard. Data is displayed both very clearly and is easy to read.
With 3.5x magnification, the XERO X1i brings targets close without overmagnifying them. The unit installs with two Allen screws and the provided Allen wrench. Mounting is fast and simple, as the scope needs no leveling or aligning.
An over-sized eye relief ring offers quick adjustment, bringing targets into the sharpest focus no matter your visual acuity. Aggressive knurling on the focus ring makes cold-weather adjustment with gloves a cinch.
The unit is accurate to within +/- 0.1 yards, and capable of ranging out to 250 yards. While capable of ranging at such long distances, archers should remain diligent when choosing shots and never exceed their effective range.
Setting up the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO is simple, taking me about 20 minutes to get dialed-in and on-target. All the XERO X1i set-up instructions are provided inside the scope, on the heads-up display. To calibrate the scope to your bow you merely set a 20-yard aim point. That is, you shoot 20 yards and set the scope's aimpoint for that distance.
Traditional windage and elevation turrets are external to the scope and adjust without fuss. Once adjustments have been made and you're dialed-in, both turrets are locked into place with an ingenious locking knob.
With the 20-yard "pin" (aka: aim point) set, you enter the bow's speed in feet-per-second (FPS). The XERO X1i's auto-calibration feature uses the bow's speed and its algorithms to calculate the remaining aim points out to 80 yards (increased ranges can be calibrated, if desired). That's it.
Of course, you'll want to shoot out to longer distances—beyond the 20-yard aim point—to verify you're dialed-in at longer target yardages (i.e., 30, 40, etc.).
The unit operates off of a remote, hard-wired pressure switch. Alternatively, there is a ranging button on the scope, but I recommend using the pressure switch, as this makes the set-up very natural when ranging and aiming under duress (i.e., an animal standing in front of you).
The pressure switch is mounted on the crossbow via double-back tape, close to the trigger guard and within easy reach of the shooter's trigger finger. This pressure switch turns the unit on and once the scope is on target, ranges the distance and seamlessly adjusts the aim point.
Other notable scope features include a steady aim and aim-point level which helps archers steady their shots. Using real-time aiming information, the scope aim point helps archers of all skill levels shoot more accurately by avoiding premature trigger pull when struck by a case of buck fever. This is accomplished through a visual indication that the bow is steady, on level and ready to shoot.
A flight apex indicator offers the shooter a visual indication of the maximum height of the arrow as it flies toward the ranged target. This helps the archer predict any obstacles in the flight path on longer shots and avoid them.
Additionally, an ambient light sensor automatically detects and adjusts the in-scope digital display for optimal viewing in any light conditions. This feature is excellent when hunting in both brightly-lit and low-light conditions.
As mentioned earlier, on my recent Ohio whitetail hunt, I was able to thoroughly run the Vapor RS470 XERO through the paces and wring it out in real-world conditions. Hunting mostly from ground blinds, I appreciated the compactness of the Vapor RS470 XERO. At first blush, when cocked, the bow looks oddly alien-like as its reverse draw limbs fold tightly into the bow's chassis. However, the beauty of that slenderness cannot be overstated.
The ability to move freely around in those ground blinds without tripping over a large profile crossbow was much appreciated. When it came time to aim and shoot, the bow maneuvered easily in the narrow blind confines.
While hunting, I shouldered the crossbow often, ranging various targets around my varied treestands and ground blinds. I did this to get used to the operation of the Garmin XERO X1i; making sure when the opportunity came to put a deer in it, nothing was left to chance.
On the second to the last day, I was hunting from a ground blind overlooking a greenfield that hadn't taken due to drought. The spot had plenty of does frequenting a feeder nearby, so I figured it would be a good place to intercept a buck checking does as we were several days deep into the rut.
Sure enough, that morning a great buck popped out of the woods. I centered the XERO X1i on him and ranged him at 105 yards. Of course, this was too far to shoot. He then disappeared back into the woods.
Several seconds later he popped back out. This time, my Garmin displayed 78 yards. He then quickly disappeared again into the thick brush. The next time he popped out he was at 83 and began trotting directly at me. As he did, I put the XERO X1i on him and started ranging him. 70, 60, 40, 30, 20 and then 5 yards. At 5 yards, he was directly in front of me and his trot had morphed into a gallop.
I let out a loud yelp to try and stop him—which it did. I immediately tripped the trigger and double lunged him. Luckily—and I say that sincerely—I had the XERO X1i mounted to the blistering fast Vapor RS470 XERO.
The scope's ability to make instantaneous distance calculations allowed me to make an ethical shot without any guessing. With a traditional crossbow scope, I would have been making distances calculations in my head and shooting a pin that would not have existed (i.e., 5 yards). Or worse yet, shooting reticle gaps.
Or, alternatively, if I had been using a traditional hand-held rangefinder, I would have been busy fumbling back and forth from rangefinder to bow, making adjustments and distances calculations on a trotting whitetail.
Crossbow hunting has become wildly popular as most states now allow their use during archery seasons. The Achilles heel for every horizontal hunter is judging distances, much like that for compound archers. Misjudging target animal distances with archery gear always leads to missed, or worse yet, wounded animals.
The new TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO offers archers an innovative crossbow and sighting system which works synergistically to deliver unconscionable arrow speed and accuracy while removing any guesswork when ranging targets.
The scope's software also makes real-time adjustments for elevation. This is especially important when hunting elevated in treestands, or when putting on a spot-and-stalk over hilly terrain when uphill or downhill shots are common.
At an MSRP of $4,049, the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO isn't for the faint of heart. However, for those archers in search of simply the best-of-the-best horizontal hunting system, the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO is for you.
After giving the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO a thorough field test—one which included plenty of range time and in-the-field testing—I'm confident the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO is well worth the asking price, as it will make any avid horizontal enthusiast a decisively better hunter.
For more information on the TenPoint Vapor RS470 XERO visit its website. For more information on the Garmin XERO 1Xi ($1,399 when sold separately) visit Garmin at garmin.com, facebook.com/garmin, twitter.com/garminnews, instagram.com/garminoutdoor or youtube.com/garmin