Never before have we seen so many new crossbows and new crossbow companies at the annual ATA show. Expanded inclusion of these bows into archery seasons has resulted in a rapid influx of new customers, and while established makers scramble to keep up with demand, new companies are popping up left and right. Here’s a look at eight new models that caught our attention this year.
Barnett Whitetail Hunter Pro
Specs: Weight: 6.4 lb.; Draw weight: 160 lb.; Power stroke: 12.5”; Speed: 380 fps.
The Lowdown: One gratifying trend of the crossbow boom is that makers are recognizing the huge market for moderately priced models, and the Whitetail Hunter is a perfect example. There’s plenty of performance here, at the 380 fps, and with a manageable draw weight and short powerstroke, the bow feels easy to cock. The package includes a 4X32 scope, a side-mount quiver, rope cocker, and a pair of Headhunter arrows; plenty of features for an affordable price.
Who Should Buy: Anyone seeking a solid shooter that delivers a zippy bolt, all for less than half the price of many flagship models.
Excalibur Micro Suppressor
Specs: Weight: 5.4 lb.; Draw weight; 280 lb.; Power stroke: 10.2”; Speed: 343 fps.
The Lowdown: One beef about recurve crossbows is that, while undeniably reliable, they’re flipping loud. The Micro Suppressor goes after that problem with with Excalibur’s new Sound Deadening System (SDS), a system of rubber dampening features that work in sync to reduce vibration and noise. The 280-pound draw weight will make cocking the bow a challenge for some. But with a axle-axle width of 21 inches at full draw, and overall length of just 31 inches, the Micro Suppressor is not just quiet, but also compact and handy for a recurve.
Who Should Buy: The hunter who appreciates the simple, no-fail design of a recurve crossbow, yet wants a light, quiet bow. Perfect for the whitetail woods.
Gearhead X16 Carbon Fiber
Specs: Weight: 4.25 lb.; Draw weight: 90 lb.; Power stroke: 16”; Speed: 340 fps.
The Lowdown: Any crossbow that looks like a prop in a Terminator movie should be packed with technology, and the X16 doesn’t disappoint. The stock consists of parallel carbon-fiber plates, making the X16 lighter than many compound bows—and way lighter than most crossbows. The integrated sound-and vibration-suppression material reduces noise. The X16 also shoots a conventional arrow, held by a Whisker Biscuit rest mounted between the stock plates.
Who Should Buy: The hunter who just as to have the coolest-looking—and lightest—new crossbow on the market, and isn’t afraid to pay extra for it.
Horton Vortec RDX
Specs: Weight: 7.6 lb.; Draw weight: 135 lb.; Power stroke: 15.5”; Speed: 340 fps.
The Lowdown: The Vortec RDX continues Horton’s tradition of building compact, highly maneuverable, reverse-draw, crossbows. At a shade over 7-1/2 pounds, the bow is not exactly ultralight, but with an overall length of 34 inches and a skinny axle-to-axle length of just 9.1 inches at full draw, it is a joy to handle. The Vortec RDX has respectable speed and a very good combo package (including three bolts, a Ten Point scope, and an AcuDraw cocking device) for $200 less than last year’s Storm.
Who Should Buy: The woods hunter who values handling over blazing speed, and likes a bow that’s easy to cock.
Killer Instinct SWAT
Specs: Weight: 6.9 lb.; Draw weight: 165 lb.; Power stroke: 17.5”; Speed 385 fps.
The Lowdown: One of the most innovative new crossbows of the show, KI’s SWAT features a new Double Barrel System that totally conceals the bolt inside a barrel, which not only reduces vibration and noise, but enhances safety. The string also floats friction-free within its own tube, improving accuracy. Just as ingenious is the bow’s Concealed String Technology; here, the string actually cocks nearly at the butt of the stock, then two Compression Levers fold against the string, concealing it and serving as the cheek rest. The result is a long power stroke on a very short (29-inch) bow.
Who Should Buy: The guy who wants a great marriage of maneuverability and performance in one slick-looking, highly innovative package.
Mission MXB Charge
Specs: Weight: 6.9 lb.; Draw weight: 225 lb., Power stroke: 12.75”; Speed: 365 fps.
The Lowdown: The Charge features Mission’s new Smart Guide Slide, which makes drawing and cocking a bow with a 225-pound draw surprisingly easy. Mission has also made the limbs wider than previous models, which should reduce torque and improve accuracy. The stock features length-of-pull and comb adjustments, which allow the Charge to be customized to fit the shooter.
Who Should Buy: Anyone who wants a grow-with-you bow or a family with multiple shooters, as the adjustable stock allows dad, mom, and the kids to shoot this one.
Specs: Weight: 6.9 lb.; Draw weight: 135 lb.; Power stroke: 13”; Speed: 425 fps.
The Lowdown: One of the certified hits of the ATA show, the Ravin pushes the crossbow envelope in several key categories. The first is axle-axle width at full draw; the Ravin measures an anorexic 6 inches, nearly 30 percent slimmer than most reverse-draw models. Also notable is the Frictionless Flight System, which allows the arrow and string to float free above the rail, which should result in improved accuracy and reduced string-and-cable wear. Also, the Versa-Draw cocking system allows de-cocking and still features an anti-dry-fire system, a great feature. Finally, the Ravin is smoking fast despite its modest draw weight and powerstroke.
Who Should Buy: If you’ve got the bucks to hitch your wagon to a rising star in the crossbow world, this one is worth a serious look.
Ten Point Carbon Phantom RCX
Specs: Weight: 6.9 lb.; Draw weight: 160 lb.; Power stroke: 16”; Speed: Up to 385 fps.
The Lowdown: Ten Point is the Big Dog in any crossbow discussion, and the Carbon Phantom is their answer to the light, easy-to-maneuver options of their competitors. Tipping the scales at well below seven pounds, the Carbon Phantom is just 13.3 inches axle-axle and yet it has plenty of power, generating 126 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. For a conventional-draw bow, the Phantom is a near-ideal combination of power and easy handling, and it comes with first-rate accessories.
Who Should Buy: With Ten Point, you know you are getting a top-quality crossbow. The only questions is: Are you willing to pay for it?