Browning has a 140-year history of creating quality hunting gear. This includes firearms, muzzleloaders, bows and now crossbows. As one might expect, the new Browning OneSixTwo crossbow is definitely on the cutting edge of horizontal bow innovation. For example, no other crossbow I’ve reviewed in the last 20 years has shipped fully assembled and packed in a hard, fitted case — and that’s just the beginning.
I’m admittedly old school and made sure all the necessary bolts and screws were fully tightened. A full complement of necessary wrenches is provided for annual maintenance purposes, but the Browning was ready for the range right out of the box. That included the factory-installed scope and quiver mount.

Even the hard plastic carrying case is something to rave about. Fully padded and equipped with heavy-duty Velcro tie-down straps, there’s no question the sturdy-fitted case will protect the crossbow, arrows and accessories even during rough air travel.

As always — and perhaps more than ever — a complete read-through of the Browning OnSixTwo’s owner’s manual is in order. A crossbow is a crossbow, but the Browning has some innovative new features that require a thorough understanding before attempting to cock and shoot the OneSixTwo.

From our April issue

The most innovative aspect of the Browning 162 is in its integral crank-style cocking system. All the components of the cocker are built into the crossbow so there is no need to search for or store cocking ropes or handles. Everything necessary to cock the crossbow is contained in or under the stock.

Browning’s unique cocking system takes some getting used to, but after a few shots the procedure becomes much easier and faster to perform. Haste and impatience are a bad combination when working with any crossbow, so users are cautioned to read the manual and become familiar with the crossbow’s features and function before heading out for some serious shooting or hunting.

Plenty of thought was put into the OneSixTwo’s cocking system. For example, a push-button trap door in the cheekpiece conceals the cocking mechanism. Also, the cocking handle is designed to fit into a reversible port. It may be tightened manually to avoid noisy rattling while carrying or hunting. All cocking device components fit snugly in place with no slop or slack. A shooter who uses the OneSixTwo exclusively for range shooting or hunting should have no trouble getting used to the cocking system, its parts or operation.

One caution for shooters is there are two settings on the cocking device that are important to remember. One is the “free spool” setting, which allows the cocking cables to be extended toward the string so the hooks may be attached. At this point the setting is switched to the “cocking” mode, which allows the string to be hand-cranked into the trigger mechanism. Browning strongly recommends against using the free spool setting to decock the crossbow because doing so can cause “catastrophic damage” to the bow and its user. It’s just as easy (and far less dangerous) to de-cock the crossbow by firing an arrow into a bale of hay or some other soft target at the end of the day.

Also, Browning does not recommend leaving the OneSixTwo cocked and loaded for more than four hours at a time. This is standard procedure among crossbow manufacturers, although the reality is that most of the crossbows I’ve reviewed for Whitetail Journal were left cocked, often for weeks at a time, simply as a test feature. None have every failed my test, even when conducted in extremes of heat and cold. However, it’s always a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s warranty advice. De-cocking the OneSixTwo every four hours means you may have to cock the crossbow two or even three times a day. That is far less of a hassle than having to replace the crossbow due to limb or string damage should the unit accidentally dry-fire due to a mechanical failure.

One excellent and unusual feature of the OneSixTwo is that it comes with a factory-installed scope. The Cross 1.5-5X scope comes in red or green illumination with eight brightness settings. It’s standard operating procedure to hunt with the scope set at the lowest possible setting, and the Cross makes it a snap to find the proper setting with a quick turn of the adjustment knob.

The scope features a combination of circle and dot reticles set at 10-yard increments from 20 to 70 yards. Also, the scope includes an arrow speed setting so that the proper arrow speed may be dialed in at various distances. For testing purposes, I fired three-shot groups at all distances per the scope manufacturer’s instructions. I was pleased to find all arrows fell into a “kill zone” of about 6 inches at 70 yards, although I do not recommend taking shots at live game at that distance. At 20, 30 and 40 yards, my groups were dangerously close to the dreaded Robin Hood. In fact, I shot at separate targets and 20 and 30 yards because arrow damage was all but guaranteed at the shorter distances. A shooter who takes the time to match arrows and tips by weight may well be able to ruin his arrows at 70 yards, but to what purpose? In most cases I’ll shoot one arrow per bull’s-eye and strive for dead-center hits at all distances. It stands to reason that accuracy will diminish at 50, 60 or 70 yards. But under ideal conditions (no wind, clear skies and a solid rest) there’s no doubt that the OneSixTwo can kill a mature whitetail at those extreme distances.

Although the OneSixTwo is comparatively slow to cock using the integral cranking system it is possible to use Browning’s cocking rope to speed up the process. This may be useful while target shooting or roving but for hunting it’s rarely necessary to rush through the cocking process. No matter how fast you load a crossbow you have only one shot available and if the first arrow is on target there is rarely a need for a fast follow-up shot. With a good hit any deer will be down and out in short order. With a bad hit the wounded animal will be long gone before the crossbow can be cocked and a second arrow placed in the loaded position.

The OneSixTwo performed admirably on the walking course, with no accuracy or mechanical issues during three sessions of 20 targets each. When I did my part by holding steady and aiming precisely, the Browning did its job consistently at all ranges and at all angles. There’s no doubt that any whitetail within 50 yards of a blind or tree stand will be in serious trouble with the OneSixTwo.

Browning does not recommend the OneSixTwo be used for stalking. This is only because the company prefers customers hunt from a stationary position, such as a blind or tree stand. Experienced hunters (most of whom have passed a mandatory hunter safety course) know that safety is all important while hunting with any bow or firearm. If the basic rules are followed (safety on, your finger off the trigger and pointing the crossbow in a safe direction at all times) the OneSixTwo should be a suitable choice for short stalks on unsuspecting whitetails.

Try as I might, I could not find a single feature of the OneSixTwo to complain about. The crossbow is compact, lightweight and well-balanced, plus it is loaded with unique features that any crossbow enthusiast will find appealing. The hard case is a great addition to the package. The scope and quiver being factory mounted saved some real time during the assembly process. It remains to be seen how the integral cocking device stands up under real hunting conditions, but during the test process I found nothing to be concerned about. Judicious use of the (provided) string wax as recommended in the owner’s manual should keep the OneSixTwo in first-class working order for years after purchase.

The Browning OneSixTwo crossbow package includes the crossbow with factory-mounted scope, custom case, adjustable quiver mount installed, three 22-inch arrows, Comfort Ledge palm rest, Browning Soft Sound string suppressors and left- and right-side Picatinny rails generally sells for $1,400. For more information about the OneSixTwo, Browning’s ZeroSeven series of crossbows or any other crossbows made by Browning, log onto www.browningcrossbows.com.