Crossbow Review: Barnett Whitetail Pro STR

According to Barnett, the Whitetail Pro is an ideal crossbow for full-sized hunters thanks to its adjustable stock and Picatinny rail scope mounting system.
Crossbow Review: Barnett Whitetail Pro STR

Barnett has been a perennial leader in hunting-type crossbows for more than 50 years. Always dependable and accurate, the Barnett line has passed my tests with flying colors.

I was eager to see and shoot the new Whitetail Pro STR (Step Through Riser). Once reserved for Barnett’s high-performance models, a total of seven Barnett crossbows are being built on the proven STR platform for 2018. The innovative design creates improved balance by effectively shifting weight from the riser to the stock for enhanced stability and accuracy. It also allows for two additional inches of draw length, which results in increased power and speed without the need to lengthen or widen the limbs. In addition, I was able to cock and load the crossbow while wearing my widest cold-season hunting boots.

According to Barnett, the Whitetail Pro is ideal for full-sized hunters thanks to its adjustable stock and Picatinny rail scope mounting system. The same feature also makes the crossbow ideal for hunters of the short-armed variety. I like to get up close and tight with my crossbow scopes, and the Whitetail Pro lets me do just that. There is no appreciable recoil felt when shooting any crossbow so there’s no harm in putting eyebrows to eyepiece when necessary to make the shot.

The Whitetail Pro STR features Barnett’s TriggerTech trigger system – known for its smooth, crisp and safe crossbow trigger. Frictionless Release Technology employs a unique, free-floating roller between the trigger and sear, boosting accuracy through an incredibly smooth and light 3-pound trigger pull with zero creep. Additionally, nock sensors and ADF (anti-dry fire) keep a spring-loaded safety bar in place until the arrow is properly seated, protecting the user and the bow from accidental dry fire.

The new Whitetail Pro STR combines a manageable 187-pound draw weight with a 16.375-inch power stroke to sling arrows at 400 feet per second with an impressive 140 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy. Other unique performance features of the new Whitetail Pro STR include string stops to cut vibration and sound, Barnett’s self-adjusting Soft-Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, plus two Picatinny rails for the scope and forward-mounted accessories.

Best of all, the simple installation of a single bolt is all that’s required to take this powerful, high-performance hunting tool from the box to the field.

Each Whitetail Pro STR comes complete and ready to shoot with a 4x32 multi-reticle illuminated scope and crank-cocking capability, a pair of 22-inch Headhunter arrows, streamlined sidemount quiver and lubrication wax. Barnett’s proprietary TRUBark HD camo covers almost every element of the Whitetail Pro STR from the stock to the limbs and riser. All of this is available for a suggested MSRP of $599.99, making this unit a real standout among today’s crossbows.

As always, it is highly recommended that new users of Barnett crossbow products read and heed the accompanying owner’s manual. Included are basic assembly and operating instructions but also a long list of cautions and recommendations that, if ignored, may void the warranty. Chief among these are warnings about dry-firing, de-cocking and arrow selection. Also, Barnett does not recommend cocking its crossbows while in elevated treestands, purely for safety reasons. Study the owner’s manual carefully before assembling and shooting any new crossbow. There are always new or innovative changes in assembly and use that should be considered before firing that first shot.

As noted, only one bolt is required to attach the limbs to the stock, and all necessary Allen wrenches are provided. The scope comes pre-mounted so all I had to do was attach the quiver mount and I was ready for bench testing.

Cocking the Whitetail Pro STR is a breeze thanks to the integral cocking system, which includes a stock-mounted cocking sled and crank handle. With the safety in the fire position, attach the cocking sled to the string hooks down and begin cranking until the safety locks into the safe position. Return the sled to its holder and remove the crank handle. Using the built-in cranking system reduces cocking effort to just 17 pounds – a 10-year-old can do it.

Cocking the crossbow with speed and efficiency took some practice but by the end of the session I could cock the Whitetail Pro STR nearly as fast as I could with a basic rope cocker. Crossbows were never designed for speedy follow-up shots, so I focused more on improving my technique than worrying about how long it took me to cock and reload. Barnett-branded rope cocking devices will also work with this crossbow. It may be a good idea to keep one in reserve just in case.

By the way, Barnett recommends that its crossbows not be left cocked for more than four hours. For testing purposes, I left the Whitetail Pro STR cocked outdoors (in a blizzard, no less) for two days and it showed no signs of stress on its limbs, string or cable system. In fact, in over 25 years of crossbow hunting I have kept my crossbows cocked and loaded all day while in a blind or in a tree stand without mishap. However, for warranty purposes it is always best to abide by the manufacturer’s recommendations.

The 4x32 multi-reticle scope includes seven potentially useful reticles, making the crossbow accurate out to 80 yards. This is acceptable for range use, but for hunting purposes, only the first three dot-reticles should be used. As is the case with most factory-mounted scopes, my test unit was only 2 inches high at 20 yards with the first shot. A quick adjustment in elevation had me dead center at that distance, and when I moved back to 30 and then 40 yards, no additional adjustments were required.

For testing purposes, I did shoot the crossbow at 10-yard increments out to 80 yards and found, as expected, that accuracy fell off considerably beyond 40 yards. Additional adjustments for windage and elevation were necessary, enough that, back at 20 yards, my arrows struck well out of the bull’s-eye. My assessment is that, like other crossbows, the Whitetail Pro STR can be a killer at 20 yards or at 80 yards, but not both. Sight in for the most likely distance you will shoot where you hunt and proceed accordingly.

I cocked, loaded and fired the Whitetail Pro STR successfully from three different kinds of blinds (brush, cloth and wood) and had no trouble hitting targets set at 20, 30 and 40 yards. I followed Barnett’s instructions as far as not cocking the crossbow while in a tree stand, instead cocking it while on the ground and then raising it to the stand using a rope. Assuming that the first shot goes true and is a fatal hit, there really is no reason to cock the crossbow while still in a treestand. I can wait till I get to the ground to cock and load the unit.

On the roving range, the Whitetail Pro STR performed well at targets set from 10 to 40 yards. The crossbow’s 12½-inch axle-to-axle width was definitely appreciated while negotiating clinging branches and twigs along the trail.

The crossbow was well-balanced and comfortable to carry while simulating typical still-hunting situations. Granted, it was mid-March and there was a foot of snow on the ground with no leaves to contend with, but the Whitetail Pro was dead-on accurate at all distances where every target was clear and fully exposed. Part of still-hunting is waiting for a clean shot, so seasonal shifts should not have any effect in that regard.

I was impressed by the speed and accuracy of the 22-inch arrows provided by Barnett. Traveling at a relatively high 400 fps, the arrows arrived at the target with a solid thunk. Because Barnett’s warranty specifically advises against using other weight, length or composition arrows, I refrained from running a few 20-inchers down the rail. Past experience has shown that the shorter arrows will work just as well on crossbows that are designed to accommodate them. At issue is the additional length and width inherent in the broadheads being used.

I could find nothing to complain regarding about the crossbow’s form and function. Even the color is an appealing TruBark HD camo that fits most early-season October and November woodland patterns. I especially like the over-sized pass-through foregrip, which makes holding and firing the crossbow a breeze, even with extra-large, winter-type gloves.

As always, I wonder why Barnett does not include a carrying sling as part of the package – the most beautiful crossbow is still an awkward item to carry en route to the stand or blind. And, if I had to nit-pick, I’d prefer to have five, rather than two, 22-inch arrows included, primarily because the longer shafts are not as easy to find in rural archery shops.

Overall, Barnett’s new line of Whitetail Pro crossbows are ideal for any whitetail hunter. Sturdy, dependable, accurate and weather resistant, the Pro STR will get the job done in all situations without breaking the bank.

For more information on Barnett’s full line of crossbows and accessories, log onto

Spec Sheet

Manufacturer: Barnett 

Model: Whitetail Pro STR

Draw weight: 187 pounds

Power stroke: 16¼ inches

Arrow length: 20 inches

Trigger pull: 3 pounds, zero creep, dry-fire inhibitor.

Sights: 4x32 multi-reticle scope provided.

Cocking device: Integral cocking system with crank.

Overall length: 36½ inches

Axle-to-axle length: 12½ inches (cocked)

Weight: 6.9 pounds

Other features: Stainless steel components; Soft-Lok floating bristle arrow retainer; machined aluminum flight track; Picatinny rail; string dampeners; pass-through grip.

MSRP: $599.99

For Safety's Sake: Barnett's Pass-Through Foregrip

One might not consider the pass-through foregrip design of Barnett’s Whitetail Pro STR crossbow to be an important feature, but recent litigation have put more than one crossbow manufacturer through the wringer because of injuries sustained to the hands and fingers of careless shooters.

Every crossbow I have reviewed over the past 20 years has included multiple warnings about hand placement while shooting, plus some sort of integral safety design, and yet every year hunters are severely injured when the string strikes one or more elevated fingers on its way down the rail. In fact, a close friend lost the tips of three fingers last fall while shooting his crossbow. He “forgot” to keep his fingers below the rail, and it cost him dearly in pain and doctor visits.

Barnett’s pass-through design allows shooters to instinctively wrap their fingers around the foregrip with no danger of contact by the string. In addition, Barnett has added two extra-wide, ventilated flanges above the foregrip that help keep even the longest fingers from straying into the line of fire.

I fired more than 150 arrows from blinds and treestands and while still-hunting with my Whitetail Pro STR and had no issues with finger-string contact or calamity. Certainly, hunters should exercise caution and forethought when shooting any crossbow, but Barnett’s pass-through foregrip makes carrying and shooting its Whitetail Hunter line of crossbows easier and safer.


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