Crossbow Review: Mission Sub-1 XR

The Mission Sub-1 XR meets all the requirements of the serious crossbow hunter or shooter. It is well-balanced, solidly built and supremely accurate.

Crossbow Review: Mission Sub-1 XR

It has been quite some time since my last Mission crossbow review, so I was especially pleased to find the company’s latest model show up on my porch in time for the May/June 2021 issue of Archery Business.

From a hunter’s point of view, the new Mission Sub-1 XR (Extended Range) crossbow is a leader in modern technology and innovation. The company claims that the bow is capable of 1-inch groups at 100 yards, and if that wasn’t enough, the Sub-1 XR offers everything the avid crossbow fan dreams about, including a Hawke 1.5-5x illuminated scope specifically designed for crossbow shooting; an adjustable stock and comb; de-cocking button; lightweight, compact design; and crisp, match-grade trigger.

The Sub-1 XR basic package includes the crossbow, illuminated scope, three 100% carbon shaft arrows, QD quiver, cocking rope, rail lube, and a custom-designed soft case (see sidebar).

The bow comes fully assembled except that the scope must be mounted by the end user, which is a positive feature for finicky shooters. Suggested MSRP for the basic package is $1,899.98. Price for bow only is $1,699.99 (black or Realtree Edge).

Optional accessories include Mission’s proprietary RSD (Removable Silent Draw) hand-crank cocking device ($189.99), hard case ($349), sling and other gear. Contact www.missioncrossbows.com for more information.

Mission Crossbows Technology and Features

Design features include a CNC-machined aluminum stock and rail, a fully synced “Sync X” cam system, and an adjustable limb retention system that allows shooters to customize their draw weight to fit any shooter’s abilities. The Sub-1 XR also boasts an over-molded foregrip for positive control under any weather conditions, along with short, wide limbs that are superior in torsional rigidity and stress distribution, producing more consistent accuracy while providing ease-of-carry through typically dense whitetail cover.

Another great design concept is Mission’s ambidextrous, compression-style quiver mount, which screws solidly into the frame. The quiver comes off and goes back on with a quick twist of the wrist. There is no play or rattle in the system, a definite plus for still-hunters. The quiver also has an oversized hole that serves as a convenient hanger large enough to fit over a branch or hook when hunting from a treestand.  

Mission’s attention to detail is outstanding. For example, all shooters will appreciate Mission’s color-coded rope cocker. The right-side handle is orange while the left side is black, eliminating follow-up fumbling in a high-stress moment when a second shot is presented. In addition, the string hooks are clearly marked “Up” so there’s no confusion about hook placement during long sessions at the range.

Mission’s unique 19-inch arrows feature aluminum nocks, not plastic or composites, an important detail when shooting dozens, if not hundreds, of shots at the test range. Plastic nocks crack, split, fall out or disintegrate over time, but aluminum nocks stay put and can take the repeated stress of continuous shooting.

I especially like that the Sub-1 XR uses 19-inch, 250-grain arrows with a half-moon nock. These days, specialty proprietary arrows are all the rage among manufacturers, but in many cases these warranty-prohibitive shafts are difficult to find and invariably more expensive than traditional, standard crossbow arrows. Archery shops carry some brands’ products but not all, making it a challenge to find certain products in a pinch. Hog hunters, for example, can go through a dozen or more arrows on a week-long trip, creating a resupply issue if a specific arrow configuration isn’t available locally. The Sub-1 XR handles standard 20-inch arrows with ease, and I thank Mission engineers for it.

On the Range

Successful hunting begins at the range, and the Sub-1 XR is more than up to the task with a Hawke scope that includes reticles calibrated and marked for distances ranging from 20 to 100 yards. In my opinion, no other scope on the market makes reticle selection so easy for shooters of any age or level of experience.

Naturally, with a claim of “sub-1 accuracy at 100 yards,” I had no choice but to put the XR to the test. Mission doesn’t recommend or promote shooting a crossbow at game at long range (nor do I). In fact, 40 yards is my personal limit simply because my quarry, whatever species it may be, deserves it. However, anything goes on the target range, so I was determined to find out for myself just how accurate the Sub-1 XR really is.

Mounting the Hawke scope was rudimentary – two knurled screws duly positioned and tightened was all it took. I started out shooting at 20 yards and needed only a few clicks of windage and elevation to put the bow on target.

Taking the manufacturer’s advice, I fired one arrow per bull’s-eye and, out to 50 yards, discovered that my arrows were dead-on and centered – there was simply no room for a second arrow in the 10-ring.

I continued shooting at 60, 70 and 80 yards with similar results. For test purposes, I set up with sandbags at the shoulder and a bipod attached to the front sling swivel, which provided me with a rock-solid hold at all distances. A loose 100-grain field tip (my fault) put me in the 8-ring at 90 yards. On the manufacturer’s advice and personal experience, I tightened my field tips, lightly waxed the XR’s rail and snuggled into the pile of sandbags for the 100-yard finale.

I was blessed with a bright, clear, wind-free morning for shooting, and my arrows flew straight and true. At 100 yards I fired consecutive 1-inch groups of three arrows, the majority of which fell into or dangerously close to dead center. In the world of crossbows this isn’t just excellent accuracy for any crossbow, it is phenomenal, especially in a world where 3-inch groups at 100 yards is considered acceptable for most production line centerfire deer rifles.

Of course, I still had to take the Sub-1 XR to my roving range for walking shots at random distances on targets including hay bales, silhouettes, foam blocks and Styrofoam “animals.”

The Sub-1 XR was nicely balanced, lightweight and quick to load. The scope was a great help in deciding which reticle to use because each crosshair is clearly numbered from 20 to 100 yards – a huge benefit to hunters who use a laser rangefinder and then place their arrows with precision.

Thanks to its compact size and integral stirrup design, the Sub-1 XR was quick and easy to cock and load while on the move, a real plus for hog hunters, for example, who occasionally find themselves surrounded by multiple targets, or for deer hunters who need to get off a quick second shot.

Another positive aspect of the Sub-1 XR is that Mission offers its RSD (Removable Silent Draw) crank cocking system for an additional $189.99; it reduces the operator cocking effort by 25 times. The unit is separate from the crossbow, but attaches quickly and easily to the underside of the stock. It uses a floating rope-pull system that ensures equal tension is applied to each side of the bowstring. Best of all, the RSD system is completely silent, an added advantage to shooters sitting in treestands or hunting from ground blinds.

Finally, the only complaint I can come up with is that Mission does not include a carrying sling with any of its crossbows. For all their innovative technology, today’s crossbows are still awkward, bulky and unwieldy especially when being transported over rough terrain to a blind or treestand, most certainly while dragging a deer or other game out of the woods. However, Mission does offer a sling as an accessory purchase, which is well worth the $25 asking price.

Bottom line: Mission’s Sub-1 XR meets all the requirements of the serious crossbow hunter or shooter. It is well-balanced, solidly built and supremely accurate. This is a bow that should last a lifetime and, in fact, Mission guarantees it as such. In other words, the Sub-1 XR could be the last hunting crossbow you’ll ever have to buy.

For more information, videos and a complete catalog of Mission crossbows and related products, log onto www.missioncrossbows.com.

 

Published Specs

  • Manufacturer: Mission Crossbows (a division of Mathews)
  • Model: Sub-1 XR (Extended Range)
  • Draw weight: 250 pounds (adjustable) with 80-percent let-off
  • Power stroke: 14.6 inches
  • Arrow length: 19 inches; 100-percent carbon; QD quiver included
  • Arrow speed: 410 fps
  • Trigger: Two-stage, match grade; 3-pounds pull; dry-fire inhibitor w/de-cocking button
  • Sights: Hawke 1.5-5x red/green illuminated scope with flip-up caps provided
  • Cocking device: Cocking rope provided                      
  • Length:  30.5 inches
  • Weight:  7.6 pounds
  • Axle-to-axle width: 9.1 inches cocked, 12.5 inches uncocked
  • Finish: Black or Realtree Edge camo     
  • Other features: Integral level for more accurate, long-range shooting; length-of-pull adjustments and 1.25 inches of comb adjustment; contoured pistol grip; de-cocking button for safe de-cocking without pulling the trigger or shooting an arrow; machined stock and rail eliminates vertical nock travel; designed for sub 1-inch accuracy at 100 yards; lifetime warranty.
  • MSRP:  $1,699 bow only; $1,899.98 package

Sidebar: Mission Soft Case (Included)

When deer hunters purchase a crossbow priced at $1,000 or more, it only makes sense to consider a protective case for transporting and storing the bow and its accessories. It is never a good idea to place an unprotected crossbow on the back seat, in the bed of the truck, or on top of a pile of gear because one minor mishap during the drive could easily damage the crossbow and ruin the trip of a lifetime.

For convenience and in an effort to keep all associated gear in one place, a crossbow case is always the best option. Fortunately, Mission has taken this into account and supplies a padded soft case with all of its crossbow offerings. This isn’t a cheap zippered bag provided as an afterthought; instead, it’s a padded, custom-fitted case with zippered accessory pockets designed to hold a cocking rope, string wax, rail lube, quiver, spare arrows, small tools, rangefinder and other important necessities.

The Mission soft case is an effective solution for traveling with a crossbow because everything one needs can be kept in one place, making it easier to maintain and shoot the crossbow while driving to and from the range or distant hunting destinations.

For more information on Mission’s line of crossbows, soft and hard cases and related accessories, visit www.missioncrossbows.com.

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