Premium Optics for Today’s Crossbows

With top-of-the-line crossbows rivaling custom rifle cost, it is time for superior optics to match what these bows offer.

Premium Optics for Today’s Crossbows

The new technologies going into modern crossbows is astounding. In 2011, TenPoint introduced the Carbon Xtra CLS crossbow, sporting a new woven carbon fiber barrel fitted with 12-inch limbs. The 185-pound bow shot 345 fps, generated 111 foot-pounds of kinetic energy and was considered big news. A decade later, crossbow manufacturers stay focused on research and development, developing new bows that look like they belong on the set of a science fiction movie.

Fast forward 10 years and TenPoint introduced the Havoc RS440. Excalibur announced the first crossbow to shoot two arrows, dubbed the TwinStrike. Ravin presented the R500E shooting 500 fps, and the list goes on. Crossbows are smaller, lighter, more comfortable to cock and hold, but more lethal in every sense of the word. The blistering speed, compact designs, and ease of use have taken crossbows to a new level. The repeatable and consistent performance is noticeable.

Until recently, the biggest hindrance to horizontal bows was the optics. Crossbow scopes prevented the users from obtaining or seeing the technological advantages required to keep up with modern crossbows. High-end, modern crossbows are consistent, reliable and extremely accurate. As with any hunting discipline, the accessories are often as essential as the primary tool to fully realize all the advantages.

It would be impossible to appreciate the qualities of a custom-made, long-range rifle without using an optic to keep up with the firearm. Even the sights for vertical bows offer superior qualities to capitalize on a bow’s performance factors fully.

Zeiss was one of the first companies to offer premium optics for a crossbow. The Terra XB75 provides excellent light transmission, clarity, and anti-reflective coatings. Looking through the Zeiss optic provides a clear understanding of the difference a high-quality optic makes. The XB75 allows a crossbow to be sighted in at 20 yards. Adjusting the speed indicator on the scope to match your bow’s speed (in feet per second) would align a 30-yard target with the 30-yard crosshair. A series of small, stacked crosshairs and dots could then be calibrated for accuracy. The XB75 remains a great option.

Zeiss may have led the charge in changing opinions on crossbow scopes in 2015, and other manufacturers were watching. Different reticle configurations have been used with the speed dial to make accurate shots to 60 yards and beyond.

There is a plethora of new optics for crossbows in 2021, offering more options and quality. With top-of-the-line crossbows rivaling custom rifle cost, it is time for superior optics to match what these bows offer. There are options, so make sure to look at features and decide if it is time for an upgrade.

 

Outstanding Optics

It may sound like science fiction, but crossbow hunters can now enjoy laser-guided, precision arrow placement. The Garmin Xero X1i laser ranging crossbow scope will range targets and provide a single, illuminated aiming point for an exact hold and downrange accuracy. However, the scope goes well beyond ranging a target and providing an aiming point. The X1i can show how stable the shooter is and whether the bow is level. The optic will show objects in the arrow’s path and calibrate the arrow trajectory with the onboard processor. The device can communicate with other Garmin products to provide GPS locations of where an animal was standing. MSRP for the Garmin Xero X1i is $1,799.99. A similar product was introduced to vertical bowhunters several years ago, and the technology is finally available for crossbows.

The Garmin Xero X1i laser rangefinding scope indicates exact range to the target, plus whether the bow is level. It will also show objects in the arrow’s path.
The Garmin Xero X1i laser rangefinding scope indicates exact range to the target, plus whether the bow is level. It will also show objects in the arrow’s path.

Garmin was not the only optic company working on hi-tech crossbow optics. Burris introduced the Oracle X Rangefinding Crossbow Scope featuring 2-7x variable zoom, waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof components. The Oracle X has a built-in laser rangefinder, which is activated employing the wireless remote and can be placed anywhere on the crossbow or the range button on the scope. The scope displays the target distance and exact aiming point, factoring in your shot’s angle when the rangefinder is activated. The aiming point will also change to stay accurate at any magnification. The Oracle X will start at $899.

The Halo Optics HyperX laser rangefinding scope uses similar features to the Oracle X. It is value-priced with an MSRP of $499. The scope uses an integrated laser rangefinder in a 4x32 scope.  When you range the distance to the target, the unit gives an accurate, illuminated drop reticle for your point of aim. A single finger press activates a wireless remote mounted to the stock. The reticle automatically adjusts for elevation. The speed can be adjusted for crossbows in settings for accuracy, making it functional for various models.

The 4x32 HyperX laser rangefinding scope from Halo Optics is value-priced with an MSRP of $499.
The 4x32 HyperX laser rangefinding scope from Halo Optics is value-priced with an MSRP of $499.

Do not overlook the standard-design crossbow scopes but pay attention to glass, reticles and quality changes. TenPoint introduced EVO-X Marksman Elite. One glance through the optic shows obvious clarity and brightness. The unit features a variable speed and arrow drop-compensation setting for crossbows that shoot between 300 and 500 FPS. Its advanced configuration, consisting of three illuminated (red or green) duplex crosshairs calibrated at 20-, 40-, and 60-yards, two illuminated (red or green) dots at 30- and 50-yards, and four non-illuminated chevrons at 70-, 80-, 90-, and 100-yards, makes it easier to identify range markers. The EVO-X Marksman Elite is built on a 30mm aluminum tube, featuring an etched glass reticle and fully multi-coated 2-8x optics, with an increased field-of-view. The maximum calibrated shooting distance is 100 yards. Prices range from $449 to $499.

The 2-8x TenPoint EVO-X Marksman Elite crossbow scope can be set for crossbows shooting 300 to 500 fps. Its fully multi-coated glass and illuminated reticle perform very well in low light.
The 2-8x TenPoint EVO-X Marksman Elite crossbow scope can be set for crossbows shooting 300 to 500 fps. Its fully multi-coated glass and illuminated reticle perform very well in low light.

Huskemaw Optics is well known for long-range shooting products in the firearms world. The company jumped into the crossbow realm with the Crossfield 4x40 Crossbow Scope, which features a calibrated yardage turret to match the high-speed crossbow at extended ranges. The special glass with high-density multi-coated lenses provides excellent light-gathering capabilities for bright, sharp images. The rugged aluminum construction makes it durable, shockproof, fog-proof, and waterproof in the most challenging conditions. The illuminated center dot in both red and green can be adjusted for intensity. The turret-based system has a zero stop ring, custom single stack turret for the 2MOA version, or a custom dual-stack turret for the 1MOA version. MSRP $394.99

The Huskemaw Optics Crossfield 4x40 crossbow scope provides a bright image and features an adjustable illuminated center dot in both red and green.
The Huskemaw Optics Crossfield 4x40 crossbow scope provides a bright image and features an adjustable illuminated center dot in both red and green.

The best part about all of the high-tech optic advancements for crossbows is that they can work with existing modern bow models. A Picatinny or Weaver mount makes it easy to add a new optic to a speedy crossbow already in your arsenal. Seeing a target clearly is paramount to success, and seeing is believing when it comes to optics. Go to a local archery shop and see the difference for yourself. Look through the different scopes and ask to walk into a back room and turn off the lights. Turn on the illuminated reticle and step outside to see how easy it is to see under bright conditions.

The most challenging question crossbow enthusiasts must answer is whether to embrace electronics and take the time to utilize all it has to offer. Watch for specific temperature ranges for operation, battery life, and peruse the product manual before making any decisions. Budget is always a consideration, and the price of different optics can reach the range of a new crossbow. 

Watch for the major crossbow manufacturer partnerships with different optic companies to consider a new bow and scope. Barnett, Excalibur, Mission, Ravin and TenPoint are but a few examples of bow companies offering new, improved optics packages.

Reducing movement while hunting is always a consideration. Not having to use a handheld rangefinder could be a significant advantage. Weigh the options between turrets, speed dials, batteries, Bluetooth, and other components of optics. Most have outstanding warranties, which is essential when durability has not yet been put to the test.

Famous gun writer Jack O’Connor once said the most significant advancement in the hunting world was developing a magnifying scope. Jack’s words are likely true today, no matter what type of hunting is discussed. When one adds magnification benefits, light gathering capabilities, fiber optics, clarity, accuracy, consistency, and other premium sights and scopes, it equals significant change. The advancements allow hunters to benefit from improvements with bows, crossbows and firearms.

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