Top Hunting Crossbows For 2012

July 29, 2012

We all know that 2011 was an exciting year for crossbow hunters, but 2012 is shaping up to be even better as innovative manufacturers continue to put more of what hunters want in every product they design. The focus continues to be on light weight, maximum arrow speed and user safety with well-balanced, short-limbed, slim-profile bows that are ideal for still-hunting as well as comfortable to use in blinds, tree stands and other confined spaces.

As more states pass laws allowing crossbows for hunting, the market will continue to expand to accommodate the needs of hunters who are ready to complement their traditional and compound bows, or make the switch altogether. Many long-time archers who try their hand at hunting with a quality crossbow never go back — crossbows are that accurate, dependable and easy to use effectively. Plus, this year they are better than ever.

Here’s a look at what’s new in crossbow technology as we look forward to the 2012 hunting season.

TenPoint Carbon Elite XLT

TenPoint Crossbow Technologies married the woven carbon fiber barrel technology from last year’s revolutionary Carbon Fusion CLS to its growing lineup of streamlined XLT (Xtreme Limb Technology) crossbows to create the new Carbon Elite XLT. Fastest and lightest of the popular XLT group, the Carbon Elite XLT’s bow assembly measures 13 ½ inches axle to axle when cocked — slim enough for still-hunting through standing corn.

The riser comes with a detachable, lightweight, coated aluminum foot stirrup. Its 11-inch IsoTaper limbs are double laminated for improved strength and durability and are equipped with TenPoint’s new MRX cams, as well as D-75 string and cables. Combined, these design features produce a 185-pound draw weight that propels TenPoint’s new Pro Lite™ carbon arrows at a blistering 352 fps.

TenPoint’s ultra-light wrapped carbon fiber barrel was created in response to the market’s demand for a lighter and quieter crossbow with a “second shot” capability. The barrel, fitted with threaded aluminum rivet nuts, “floats” inside the stock to further reduce noise and vibration. The XLT also features an extruded aluminum trigger mount fitted securely inside the rear of the barrel cavity. In addition, the XLT’s flight deck has an extremely low coefficient of friction that is designed to increase string life. Thanks to its lightweight carbon barrel and compact XLT configuration, the XLT weighs in at a well-balanced 6 pounds, 14 ounces.

The Carbon Elite XLT also features TenPoint’s patented DFI (dry-fire inhibitor), clean 3 1/2-pound patented PowerTouch trigger and patented GripSafety.

Equipped with the ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50, TenPoint’s patented cocking units, and the RangeMaster Pro variable-power scope, the Carbon Elite XLT is double-dipped in Mossy Oak’s popular Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern.

The Elite XLT is sold only as a complete package that includes a soft case, carbon arrows, silencer kit and quiver. MSRP: $1,699 with ACUdraw, or $1,599 with ACUdraw 50. More information at www.tenpointcrossbows.com.

Wicked Ridge Raider CLS

Two years after introducing the Warrior and Invader lineup of accurate, high-quality entry-level crossbows, Wicked Ridge Crossbows has decided to step up its game with the new high-performance Raider CLS.

The Raider features an economically executed variation of parent company TenPoint’s powerful Compact Limb System (CLS) bow assembly. Unlike TenPoint’s one-piece CLS riser and foot stirrup, however, the Raider is designed with a detachable, lightweight coated aluminum foot stirrup. Its 12-inch IsoTaper Limbs are fitted with MR cams and ultra-strong D-75 string and cables. Together, these features create a smooth-handling, high-performance crossbow that drives a 20-inch arrow at 330 fps with 101.6 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy.

With its new CLS bow assembly and injection-molded composite semi-skeletal Verton stock and ACRA-ANGLE barrel assembly, the Raider weighs in at 7 pounds. In addition, the stock is fitted with a safety-engineered winged fore-grip designed to keep the shooter’s fingers below the rail in any shooting situation.

The Raider CLS comes equipped with a TenPoint 3x Multi-Line Scope and, like all Wicked Ridge models, features TenPoint’s patented DFI™ (dry-fire-inhibitor) and patented 3 ½-pound PowerTouch trigger. Equipped with the patented ACU-52 cocking system, the Raider CLS is double-dipped in Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Infinity® camo pattern.

MSRP: $799. More information at www.wickedridgecrossbows.com.

Horton Fury

The new Horton Fury is an expansion of the company’s innovative patented reverse-limb technology. Precision CNC-machined cams and advanced laminated limbs optimize arrow speed, while integrated stumper arms maximize the hunter’s ability to move through corn, brush and saplings.

At 35 ¼ inches long with a 15 3/8-inch power stroke, the Fury has a draw weight of 160 pounds and delivers a 20-inch arrow at 360 fps. The bow also features a custom fit over-molded interchangeable half-inch recoil pad and the company’s super-strong Viper-X string assembly.

Horton’s Fury package includes a RDT cocking sled, a 4x32 Mult-A-Range crosshair scope, a five-arrow quiver and three Horton 20-inch arrows. MSRP: $899. More information at www.hortonarchery.com.

Stryker StrykeZone

Stryker Crossbows is continuing with its StrykeZone line of crossbows that were introduced late in 2011. Driving arrows at 380 feet per second, the StrykeZone 380 is the fastest member of the high-performance StrykeZone collection.

Stryker’s unique piston design allows the trigger pull to be independent of the bow’s holding weight. Combined with a double sear, this ensures an ultralight trigger pull. The double jaw string capture protects the trigger mechanism from the elements, promising a clean release in any weather, according to Sam Coalson, company spokesman, who said the KillSwitch trigger has less than 3 pounds of pull and a fraction of an inch of travel.

The StrykeZone 380 comes equipped with Octane string and cables and precision-engineered cams. The bow measures 19 3/16 inches axle to axle with a 15 ½-inch power stroke. Draw weight is 160 pounds, generating 123 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy.

The Stryker line includes the Auto-Flip magnetic safety that clicks into the safe position every time the bow is cocked and is engineered to click back into safe mode if the crossbow is dropped or the bolt is removed. The Cease-Fire safety plug is a double barred insert that slides into place, locking the jaws and immobilizing the trigger until the shooter removes it.

The StrykeZone 380 is available in Mossy Oak Treestand or Optifade Forest.

The Stryker 380 GameOver package includes five 385-grain matched Stryker arrows, five-arrow quick detach quiver, 4X multi-reticle scope, detachable sling, cocking aid and string stops. MSRP: $799. More information at www.strykerxbow.com.

Barnett Ghost 400 Carbonlite

The Ghost 400 Carbonlite is the flagship crossbow of the Barnett line, boasting arrow speeds of 400-plus fps. This bow features Barnett’s proprietary new Carbon Riser Technology (CRT) and is by far the lightest and strongest in its class. Barnett has the only patent-protected ultralight, super-strong carbon riser available for crossbows, with an incredible 5-to-1 safety factor.

The Ghost 400 assures smooth shooting due to the CNC machined aluminum flight track and its sharp 3 ½-pound trigger pull. Additionally, the Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) trigger assures the safest shooting experience possible. The Ghost 400 is also equipped with Barnett’s over-molded laminated limb technology, or AVI (Anti-Vibration Isolation), which reduces noise and vibration up to 30 percent. Barnett’s Crosswire string and cable system come standard on the Ghost 400, as does Barnett’s proprietary Cable Armor, which increases the longevity of the string and cables.

The Barnett Ghost 400 is 38 inches long and weighs 8 pounds. Limb width is 24 inches axle to axle. The Ghost 400 package includes three 22-inch custom carbon arrows by Easton, Barnett’s new Talon crossbow sling, the New Carbon Cross three-arrow quiver with hip attachment, a rope-cocking device and Barnett’s premium 4X paper-sighted illuminated scope. MSRP: $999. More information at www.barnettcrossbows.com.

Carbon Express Covert SLS

Carbon Express has expanded its premier crossbow line with the addition of the Covert SLS, a slim-profile crossbow that allows for easy maneuvering in ground blinds and tree stands.

The Covert SLS is lightweight and well balanced, featuring a green anodized flight rail, proven carbon-infused limbs on a mini-parallel CNC machined riser and premium string and cables to deliver accurate shots in the tightest of spaces. With a draw weight rated at 185 pounds and a power stroke of just 13 inches, the SLS sends a 20-inch arrow downrange at 355 fps with 119 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy. The SLS also features a Picatinny mounting system, complete with adjustable forearm and mounting grip, providing the ultimate combination of adjustability for any shooting style in a wide variety of hunting environments.

The Covert SLS package includes a quick-detachable three-arrow quiver, three Maxima Hunter 20-inch arrows, a deluxe lighted scope with red/green illuminations for varying light conditions, rail lubricant and practice points. MSRP: $599.99. More information at www.carbonexpressarrows.com.

Parker Tornado F4

Parker Bows’ newest offering for 2012 is the Tornado F4. Inspired by the highly successful Tornado — the company’s best-selling crossbow three years in a row — the Tornado F4 is a hunting crossbow designed for precision accuracy and high performance. The Tornado F4 features the all new proprietary Advanced Split Limb Technology with integrated Fulcrum Pocket System that drives a 20-inch arrow at 340 fps. At 8 pounds, the Tornado F4 is nicely balanced for a steady sight picture. The F4 also features dual string suppressors to reduce noise and vibration. Parker’s EZ Pull System reduces cocking effort by more than 50 percent and has been engineered into each crossbow in the company’s 2012 lineup. When paired with the EZ Roller rope cocker, this system makes Parker crossbows among the easiest to cock in the industry.

The Tornado F4 package includes a four-arrow quick-detach quiver and four arrows with field points. The F4 is available in three optics packages: a 3x32 Multi-Reticle scope, an illuminated 3x32 Multi-Reticle scope or the new 3X Pin Point Scope.

The Tornado F4 is backed by Parker’s Lifetime Warranty. MSRP: $799.95. More information at www.parkerbows.com.

Darton Serpent LTD II

Darton’s newest offering for 2012 is the Serpent LTD II. With a draw weight of 180 pounds and a power stroke of only 13 inches, the Serpent drives a 400-grain arrow downrange at 355 fps, making it one of the fastest bows in its class.

The Serpent measures 35 ½ inches overall with an axle-to-axle width of 19 ½ inches. Trigger pull is 3 pounds, and overall weight is 8.8 pounds. MSRP: $899. More information: www.dartonarchery.com.

Maximus ERGO

The Maximus ERGO crossbow is one of the smallest bows on the market at just 29 7/8 inches long (from buttplate to stirrup). The ERGO is 15 ¼ inches from axle to axle when cocked. Available in 175- or 150-pound pull, the ERGO boasts arrow speeds of 330 and 315 fps, respectively.

Features of the ERGO include an elevated comb and unique under-mounted stirrup and forward hand grip to help keep fingers well away from the string and rail. The ERGO also has a Picatinny-type sight bridge, ambidextrous safety and Maximus’ patented anti dry-fire mechanism. Also unique to the ERGO line is a side-mounted quiver that lays parallel to the stock and barrel. The ERGO comes equipped with a 3x32 Multi-Reticle scope. Additional scopes (including an illuminated reticle model) are also available.

The standard ERGO package includes a crossbow, scope (rings and mount), flip-up scope caps, quiver, three 20-inch carbon arrows, field points, rope cocker and transferable lifetime warranty. MSRP: $799 ($749 for the 150-pound model). More information at www.maximuscrossbows.com.