New Crossbows for 2020

This year’s crossbows are wildly fast and more maneuverable than ever.

New Crossbows for 2020

Not so long ago, most hunters — me included — used adjectives like fast, quiet, accurate and vibration-free to describe 2010’s then-innovative crossbows. Make a trip to your local pro shop and test-shoot a few 2020 crossbows. It will redefine those 10-year-old adjectives.

There was nothing wrong with crossbows built in 2010; they’ll continue taking down game, as they have been for the last decade, without any problems. However, we can’t deny how far crossbows have advanced in the previous 10 years. In this piece, we’ll review the newest models. But first, let’s discuss several common denominators you can expect from many of 2020’s new crossbows.

High-end models are wildly fast, with many torching bolts out at nearly 500 fps. Even value-priced models are reaching 400 fps and up, which was unheard of even several years ago. Despite the higher velocities, though, modern crossbows are far quieter than 10-year-old models thanks to beyond-parallel limb designs, which were first featured on upright compound bows.

While we’re on the limb topic, crossbows are now inconceivably compact. For example, back in 2010, most crossbow shooters would’ve called you foolish if you’d said that one day crossbows would have axle-to-axle widths of only 6 inches. Well, it’s no joke. Many manufacturers now offer such ultra-tight axle-to-axle widths. Compact crossbows are particularly beneficial when shooting from tight spaces — think enclosed blinds. Finally, most crossbows are no longer “boat anchors.” Most are now comparable in mass weight to a typical deer rifle — easy to maneuver and fire.

Before I give away too many details, let’s review 2020’s red-hot new crossbows.

 

Axe Crossbows

It’s a new era in crossbows with the launch of Axe, a new brand under the FeraDyne Outdoors umbrella. Fresh out of the gate is the AX 405, which features reverse limbs to lengthen the power stroke on the ultra-short 27.75-inch platform, unveiling a hard-hitting 405-fps delivery.

The reverse-limb configuration also optimizes balance, and the 9.5-pound mass weight makes carrying the crossbow easy. An adjustable stock and cheek comb provide positive fitment for most shooters, and a two-rod rail system reduces bolt contact for truer departure. MSRP: $1,499.99. Contact: www.feradyne.com/ax405/

 

Barnett

Pushing the speed envelope is Barnett’s HyperFlite EVO 420 (below), which punishes at 420 fps. The all-new riser-mounted cam increases cam action while managing recoil and vibrations. Cam lean is also eliminated, resulting in more energy transfer to the bolt with cleaner departure. A free-floating design minimizes bolt contact. A high-end TriggerTech Trigger comes standard and features a sweet, 3-pound pull — say goodbye to flinching. The HyperFlite EVO 420 package includes a quiver, three HyperFlite bolts, integrated CCD (crank cocking device) and lube wax.

Crafted with a magnesium riser and flaunting Strike Camo is Barnett’s Explorer XP400. It sends a 380-grain bolt downrange at a sizzling 400 fps. The adjustable cheek rest and buttstock provide a custom fit for every shooter. The pass-through foregrip keeps phalanges beneath the string path, and three Picatinny rails allow accessory installation. Pre-installed string silencers and an Anti-Dry-Fire Trigger System add the finishing touches. MSRP: $1,599.99, HyperFlite EVO 420; $449.99, Explorer XP400. Contact: www.barnettcrossbows.com

 

Bear X

The moderately priced Constrictor-Stoke features maneuverable limb dimensions for easy handling — 10 inches when drawn and 14 inches at rest. A 190-pound draw weight unleashes a punishing 410-fps velocity. An anti-dry-fire mechanism prioritizes safety, while a tactical buttstock and cheekpiece adjust to shooter preference. The RTH (Ready to Hunt) Package includes a sling, quiver, cocking rope, rail lube/string wax, illuminated scope, three Bear X TrueX bolts. That’s an excellent value for a rig with a $599.99 MSRP.

How does 400 fps for $349.99 sound? Bear X’s Intense CD brings the heat with a 12.7-inch power stroke but also includes an RTH Package that comprises a scope, cocking rope, 4-arrow quiver, three Bear X TrueX arrows and rail lube/string wax. A skeletonized stock with an integrated and ergonomic grip provides maneuverability and outstanding comfort so you can effortlessly zero in on that big buck. MSRP: $599.99, Constrictor-Stoke (above); $349.99, Intense CD. Contact: www.beararchery.com


CenterPoint Archery

According to the CenterPoint product engineer working in the ATA 2020 shooting lanes, the CP400 has an improved cocking sled from 2019, which results in longer server and string life. One interesting feature on the CP400 is the foot stirrup, which folds down at a 90 degree angle. In this position, the stirrup can be used to balance the bow vertically on the ground, and it serves as a shooting platform (i.e. attached bipod) when shooting from a bench.

When cocked, the CP400 is only 6 inches wide. The bow utilizes licensed HeliCoil technology (think Ravin Crossbows), features a custom-designed riser and CNC-machined cam system, and has an adjustable stock so the CP400 will fit any bowhunter. The crossbow’s forearm is flat and wide, making it ideal for the yokes on most monopods, bipods and tripods. MSRP: $799.99 Contact: www.centerpointarchery.com

 

Excalibur

Excalibur’s crossbows are distinguishable by their simplistic recurve-style limbs. Fewer moving parts reduces maintenance and the possibility of malfunction, and that instills peace of mind. At only 7.9 pounds, the Assassin 400 is easy to tote. It unleashes 400 fps, the product of a High-Output Express Limbs and a 15-inch power stroke.

A two-stage rifle-grade trigger allows for a surprise shot, and the integrated Charger crank makes cocking the crossbow easy. The adjustable stock and a complete accessory package round out the Assassin 400. MSRP: $1,799.99. Contact: www.excaliburcrossbow.com

 

Gearhead

Gearhead Archery’s X16 Carbon Crossbow weighs only 4.5 pounds. Don’t be fooled, though. The X16 features a bridged, two-piece stock with pillars throughout to bring forth benchmark strength and dependability.

A 3.10-pound trigger pull improves the shot-execution cycle, creating a surprise shot. Speeds reach up to 350 fps, delivering a flat trajectory. A pistol grip exudes comfort, and the crossbow shoots bolts with traditional nocks. What’s more, it can be fired thousands of times on one string and cable set. The X16 is one of the market’s quietest crossbows. MSRP: $2,199. Contact: www.gearheadarchery.com

 

Killer Instinct

The ultra-compact SWAT XP has an overall length of 27 inches and is optimally balanced for best-in-class accuracy. Despite its smallish platform, it touts a 415-fps rating.

Outfitted with a pistol grip for unmatched stability and control, the SWAT XP features an integrated Broadhead Cage, which protects the broadhead from contacting brush during the heat of the battle. Killer Instinct includes the DSC (Dead Silent Crank) and Lumix Speed Ring 1.5-5x32mm IR-E Scope. The Accutac Barrel System provides 360-degree bolt containment and manages oscillation. Dual string stops and limb dampeners add the finishing touches. MSRP: $999.99. Contact: www.killercrossbows.com


Masters Outdoors Manufacturing

The affordable Viking FX1 recurve crossbow from Masters Outdoors Manufacturing comes decked out and ready to hunt right out of the box. It features KO Shooting Gear Vibrapole touchpoint and Vibrawave technology to disperse vibration for a smoother shooting experience. It also has a KO adjustable stock and ergonomic KO foregrip with removable thumb guard for a custom fit.

The FX1-45 version is fitted with a KO 45 pistol grip for a closer shooting stance. The Viking FX1 has a 175-pound draw and launches arrows at 240 fps. The package comes with a quick detach quiver, four carbon arrows with field points, 4x32mm scope, two-point shoulder sling and rope cocking device. It has an ambidextrous auto safety and a large boot-style foot stirrup. MSRP: $209.99. Contact: www.mastersoutdoors.com

 

Mission

Mission is known for ultra-accurate crossbows, and the SUB-1 XR is no exception. Benchmark Fire Control technology features a match-grade 3-pound trigger, an easy-load arrow retention arm and a de-cocking button.

The fully synced cam system eradicates lateral nock travel, and the CNC-machined rail eliminates vertical nock travel. The product? Unparalleled accuracy. Easily adjust the length of pull with six different butt positions and enjoy the control and stability of the AR-style grip. From concept to completion, Mission’s crossbows are 100% Wisconsin made.

MSRP: $1,699.99. Contact: www.missioncrossbows.com

 

PSE

The tactical USA-made Warhammer was designed entirely by PSE’s engineers. It can launch a 400-grain bolt at 400 fps, producing a walloping 142 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.

On cue with the market’s tiny narrow-limb trend, the Warhammer, when cocked, measures 6.125 inches between the axles. A pistol grip provides a comfortable and ergonomic fit and feel, and a 7.6-pound mass weight makes the Warhammer comparable to carrying a deer rifle. The advanced foot stirrup can double as a shooting rest when firing from a bench. Two finishes — black or True Timber Strata — round out PSE’s newest crossbow. MSRP: $1,499.99. Contact: www.psearchery.com/crossbows/

 

Ravin

Ravin’s R29X, which measures only 29 inches long and weighs merely 6.75 pounds, is an impressive crossbow. Don’t be fooled by its diminutive appearance, though, as it launches bolts at more than 450 fps.

When cocked, the axle-to-axle width is only 6 inches, meaning little clearance is needed to pull off a difficult shot. The all-new Silent Cocking System means you can prepare for to shoot without spooking game. The Frictionless Flight System floats the bolt with only nock and point-end contact. HeliCoil Technology balances the cams and provides 340 degrees of rotation to maximize energy. MSRP: $2,649.99. Contact: www.ravincrossbows.com

 

TenPoint

An industry-leading 17-inch power stroke — thanks to the Reverse Draw Advantage — is why TenPoint’s Vapor RS470 (below) shoots up to 470 fps and unleashes up to 191 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.

It features TenPoint’s new ACUslide cocking and de-cocking device. The skeletonized TEC-X Stock shaves half a pound off the overall mass weight, and the two-stage S1 Trigger featuring a roller-sear system promotes surprise shots. The Micro-Trac barrel reduces string contact by 50%, which substantially minimizes string wear. All of this is packed into a minute 6.5-inch axle-to-axle width. Included are a sling, scope, quiver, broadheads, hard case, bubble level and one dozen bolts (six include lighted nocks).

The Viper S400 is TenPoint’s shortest forward-draw crossbow yet, and it’s no slouch at 400 fps. The straightforward package includes a scope, quiver and three bolts. Available in Veil or Graphite finishes, the Viper S400 shares many of the Vapor RS470’s features, including the TECH-X Stock, S1 Trigger system, Micro-Trac Barrel and ACUslide for silent, safe cocking and de-cocking. A 7.2-inch axle-to-axle width makes the Viper S400 highly maneuverable within tight confines. MSRP: $2,949.99, Vapor RS470; $1,549.99, Viper S400. Contact: www.tenpointcrossbows.com

 

Wicked Ridge

Not everyone has $1,000 or more to spend on a crossbow. Wicked Ridge’s American-made Rampage 360 is the solution. A built-in ACUdraw 50 cocking device reduces cocking effort by 50 percent. Machined 4S Cams power the crossbow and unleash a velocity of up to 360 fps. The stock combines the best of both strength and reduced weight via glass-filled polypropylene, and the integrated and ergonomic grip provides control and comfort. Included are a TenPoint scope and quiver, and a clean 3.5-pound trigger completes the ensemble. Decorated in NEW PEAK Camo, the Rampage 360 delivers unbeatable value.

Turn up the heat with the Invader 400 (above). The fully integrated foregrip features elongated safety wings to protect fingers. Accessories can be added via the Picatinny rail. It weighs an incredibly light 6 pounds and includes the ACUdraw 50 (upgrade to the ACUdraw for $100), TenPoint 3x scope, three Alpha-Nock bolts and a quiver. 5S cams create a blistering 400-fps velocity, and WRX double-laminated limbs fit securely in machined-aluminum limb pockets. The ultra-crisp 3.5-pound trigger is likely the best trigger you’ll find on any of the market’s value-priced crossbows. MSRP: $459.99, Rampage 360; $569.99, Invader 400. Contact: www.wickedridgecrossbows.com

 

Sidebar: Crossbow Range: How Far Is Too Far?

In skilled hands and fired from a bench rest, many of today’s high-end crossbows can hit the mark at 100 yards every single time in calm conditions and with the appropriate scope. This accuracy suggests that it’s OK to attempt the shot when hunting, right? Wrong! Hunting automatically involves challenges we can’t perfectly replicate from a bench rest, rendering the 100-yard shot irrefutably unethical. We cannot dismiss or excuse irresponsible shots.

To that end, what is the maximum distance at which a shot can still be considered ethical? There’s no one-size-fits-all number, so I’ll provide some metrics you can use to determine your effective hunting range.

  1. Individual skills vary. Are you barely proficient with your crossbow at 50 yards, or are you so accurate that you can’t shoot arrow groups because you’ll smash arrows together? 
  2. Wind affects flight. If you spend enough time practicing in windy conditions to understand bolt drift relative to wind speed, then moderately windy conditions shouldn’t scare you when you home in on the kill zone at reasonable ranges.
  3. Angle matters. If the animal is quartering steeply away, you have a small target to aim for between the leg and the rump. At 20-30 yards, this isn’t a problem, but the margin for error decreases at 40-60 yards.
  4. Study animal alertness. I once shot at a doe 40 yards away with a compound bow, and it was already running away when the arrow struck the dirt right behind where it had been standing. Crossbows are much faster than the bow I was shooting at the time, but I’d bet one of my teeth that a 450-fps crossbow wouldn’t have yielded a double-lung hit in that scenario. Likely, I would’ve missed or hit the deer marginally. Bottom line: be smart with shot distance if the animal is alert.
  5. Hunting intensifies the situation. When practicing, you’re shooting at a target that’s going nowhere. In contrast, a big buck you’ve been hunting all season could frazzle your nerves, thus affecting steadiness and mental awareness. I mean, you’ve waited all season for this fleeting opportunity. It’s entirely different than shooting at a stationary target. Even if you can hit the mark every time at 80 yards in your backyard, don’t automatically think you should attempt that shot in the field.
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