The BC Raptor R ($699; is one of, if not the, most compact and maneuverable hunting crossbow I’ve ever shot. The axle-to-axle length is a mere 10 inches when the bow is cocked and the overall length is just 31.5 inches (although the buttstock can be extended). At 6.5 pounds, the Raptor is quite light for a crossbow, and thanks to the reverse-draw design, which puts the riser farther back, it is particularly well-ballaced—as opposed to having that front-heavy feel common to most models. This design also allows for a fairly long (14-inch) powerstroke, which in turns makes for pretty good speed (330 fps) given the bow’s overall length.

Hits: Let’s just come right out and say it: Most crossbows are clubs. This is anything but. This is the kind of bow I want to pull up into my treestand, and it’s even better suited to a ground blind or for spot-and-stalk hunting. In addition to all the advantages listed above, the reverse-draw design makes for relatively little vibration and noise.

Misses: The trigger has some creep, for sure, but breaks fairly cleanly. It’s not superfast, at 330 fps, but I’ll gladly give up some speed for this kind of handling, especially in the whitetail woods where long shots are not that common.

What Else You Should Know: The Raptor R comes as a package, including a quick-detach quiver, three bolts, and an illuminated 4×32 Multi Reticle Scope.