Hottest New Crossbows for 2017
We pick the most promising new crossbows from this year’s Archery Trade Association show
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?