Fans of the Horton line of hunting crossbows will be pleased to find that the brand is back in business after being acquired by TenPoint Technologies of Mogadore, Ohio, in 2013. The new Horton line lives up to the manufacturer’s history of affordable, quality, accurate crossbows with the introduction of the new Legend Ultra-Lite. Weighing in at 6.8 pounds with a draw weight of 175 pounds, this new Legend is 35.5 inches long and just over 18 inches wide axle to axle when cocked. Its 12.9-inch power stroke sends 20-inch arrows weighing 400 grains downrange at 330 fps with 97 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy.
The Legend UL comes equipped with a factory-mounted 4×32 multi-line scope sighted in at 20 yards. Crosshairs are set in 10-yard increments and include an additional lower “+” crosshair set for 50 yards at the 20-yard zero setting.
The Legend’s lightweight, 19.63-inch carbon-injected polymer barrel is fitted with a machined aluminum trigger box. The trigger box houses a 2 ½-inch bullpup version of the company’s 3 1/2-pound T3 trigger, Dry-Fire-Inhibitor, and trigger safety.
As is usually the case with TenPoint products (including the Wicked Ridge line), the Legend UL was quick and easy to assemble. One bolt attaches the limbs to the rail, two set screws bind the stirrup in place and four Phillips-head screws complete the process by attaching the quiver mount to the rail. Hunters should pause a moment to consider how they intend to carry the crossbow en route to the stand or blind (upward or downward, left or right shoulder) and then proceed accordingly. I carry my bow with the limbs up over my right shoulder, so the quiver is mounted on the right side of the barrel for overall ease of carry.
Most tools are included with the crossbow package, but the purchaser will have to come up with a Phillips screwdriver and one 5/32 Allen wrench for removal of the original sling stud and quiver screws and installation of the newly designed quiver bracket (which includes an integrated sling stud).
It takes longer to describe the assembly process than it does to complete the job. I had my Legend UL ready for the range 15 minutes after taking it out of the box, and that includes scrounging around the tool shed for the proper Allen wrench.
The Legend UL fit me just fine out of the box and needed no additional adjustments. However, shooters with long arms and necks will find the Legend’s adjustable cheek piece and stock to be valuable features. I don’t mind creeping up on a scope when shooting low-recoil arms, and hunters who treat their riflescopes like microscopes don’t have to worry about eyebrow damage when shooting the Legend UL in its out-of-the-box configuration.
Mechanically, the Legend UL lives up to the old Horton standards. Cocking is smooth and quick using the ACUdraw 50 integrated cocking rope, which retracts nicely into its stock-mounted unit between shots. The ACUdraw system is a great innovation and is available on most Horton, TenPoint and Wicked Ridge bows. It is definitely more convenient during long sessions at the range and eliminates having to remember where I put the cocking rope when I’m ready to head out to the stand.
I am a big fan of lightweight, short, well-balanced crossbows for hunting, and the Legend UL is a huge improvement over its predecessor. At 6.8 well-balanced pounds, the Legend UL is easy to carry for still-hunting or stalking purposes.
Ease of assembly, balance and light weight are great features in any crossbow, but as always, the real value of a hunting crossbow is revealed at the range. Not only must the crossbow perform flawlessly from a mechanical standpoint, but it must also place its arrows on target with minimal variation even after long periods of cocked-and-loaded inactivity.
It was fortunate that my test Legend UL showed up the day after we had 2 additional feet of snow over an existing 3 feet of wind-drifted powder with temperatures near zero during the day. I’ve left cocked and loaded crossbows in blistering 100-degree heat all day but never had the chance to put a crossbow through its paces when wind chills were near minus 20. Years ago I tested some crossbows made of composite material in below-zero conditions and had the stock shatter in a dozen places at the shot, so I was interested to see how the Legend UL would do in worse-than-miserable winter conditions.
After shoveling out the bench and 20-yard target (a chore in itself!), I put the Legend UL through its paces. Unlike most crossbow manufacturers, Horton installs and test-fires its scopes in the factory. I’ve seen the process and it is a laser-guided wonder, so when I sat down to fire the first arrow I expected it to be more or less dead center at 20 yards.
Happily, that first shaft struck the bull’s-eye less than half an inch from my point of aim, certainly good enough for big game at that distance. However, I know these high-end crossbows can do better, so I made my adjustments and shot again. This time the arrow struck dead center on a 2-inch circle, and the next 50 arrows did the same. Suffice it to say that the Legend UL was not only field-ready on assembly, but it also held its zero during nearly two hours of test firing in bitter cold and wind. I gave up before the crossbow showed any signs of slack or erratic arrow placement.
The next session was spent shooting at 30, 40 and 50 yards just to test the Legend’s performance at longer range. When I took the time to wait for the relentless wind to die down, my arrows struck dead on at all distances. There were a couple of fliers on the 50-yard Block target, which was to be expected and is precisely why I do not recommend shooting at game at more than 40 yards. The slightest gust of wind can send an arrow inches off target, more than enough to severely injure a whitetail that, at shorter range, would have been dead on its feet. Too many long-range attempts with a crossbow go awry even under the best of conditions, so the age-old archer’s advice — get closer — holds true even when hunting with a modern high-tech crossbow.
I have hunted with crossbows from September through January for the better part of 20 years and have met and mastered most of the inherent quirks and bugaboos associated with the sport. What I like about the Legend UL is its light weight and mechanical dependability. If I can get hole-in-one accuracy in frigid February conditions, I should have no trouble connecting the dots come September or October.
One of the greatest crossbow improvements (and this applies to all of the TenPoint/Wicked Ridge/Horton products) is the solid quiver mount and lock attachment. This keeps the quiver from jiggling in its mount and keeps the unit where it belongs while traveling to and from stands and blinds and while perched 20-plus feet in the air over a trail. Most of the company’s quiver designs include a quiet, soft rubber quiver hanger that keeps the quiver out of sight and quietly in reserve until needed.
I also like that the instructions and owner’s manual include clear, color images outlining the entire assembly process — a big improvement over the vague and sometimes confusing instructions that accompany some crossbows.
Complaints? Other than my usual lament that a $700-plus crossbow doesn’t come standard with a sling or case (even a soft case would be better than nothing!), I found nothing lacking in the new Horton Legend Ultra-Lite. In fact, the new model Horton will likely end up being my go-to crossbow this season, which means my 15-year-old Legend will likely end up on the hand-me-down rack.
The Horton Legend UL package includes the crossbow in Mossy Oak’s Treestand pattern, three Omni-Nock 300-grain arrows with field points, quick-detach quiver, multi-line scope and buyer’s choice of no cocking system, ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 integral cocking systems. MSRP is $699.99-$899.99 depending on choice of cocking system.