One could say that all modern crossbows are the same and one crossbow is as good as another. But, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” and Mathews’ new Mission MXB Sniper Lite contains some of the best, most useful niceties in the industry.
When a new crossbow package includes a fitted soft case, I have to wonder what other goodies I’ll find in the box, and the Sniper Lite had more than a few surprises. For one thing, the Sniper Lite comes fully assembled, which means no fooling with limbs, string guards, stirrups, bolts, wrenches and other basics. Two screws attach the solid metal quiver mount and two more attach the excellent Hawke scope. The Sniper Lite can easily be made ready for the field while sitting on the tailgate before heading into the woods, a definite plus from a busy hunter’s point of view.
The basic MXB crossbow frame includes an accessory rail mount, sling swivels, soft-touch forearm, pistol grip and finger guard, integral foot treads (meaning no stirrup) and an adjustable butt stock. Tall or long-armed shooters might need to add a butt plate extension or after-market recoil pad for additional length.
Limbs and stock are matte black and, as the Sniper Lite model name suggests, the unit weighs in at less than 6 pounds — fully 2 pounds lighter than many competing models.
Because there is no stirrup (standard on most other crossbows) the Sniper Lite is compact and handy at just 32.75 inches, the perfect choice for one-man blinds or small, confined tree stands. And, with two foot treads built in, it’s easy to re-cock the crossbow for a second shot even while seated in an elevated stand or on the ground.
At just 20 inches wide overall, the Sniper Lite is also quick and easy to maneuver within a blind or 16 feet up a tree. Certainly a hunter would want to do some judicious pruning to avoid entanglements, but that’s routine for any upward-bound bowhunter.
I cheered when I saw a case was included with the crossbow, but I was even more enthusiastic about the Hawke 1.5-5×32 red-green illuminated compact scope, which is made and meant for crossbow use. Two Allen screws attach the scope mounts to the rail, and to save time the mounts come fitted to the scope from the factory.
The Hawke scope is actually designed for crossbow use with reticles set at 10-yard increments for use from 20 to 60 yards. As always, I hesitate to recommend shooting at deer or other game beyond 40 yards for a variety of practical reasons, but I did test the Sniper Lite at 60 yards and found it accurate enough to kill a paper plate at that distance. I would not attempt such shots in woods or thick cover but in a windless, open field scenario the option is certainly there.
As if that weren’t enough cause for celebration, the Hawke scope also comes fitted with two tight-fitting, flip-up clear lens covers. Considering that some of the best deer hunting occurs during periods of rain, fog or snow, those scope caps are worth their weight in gold, especially for one who’s prone to leaving such accessories at camp or in the truck.
All of Mission’s MXB crossbow models contain a feature not found on any other modern crossbow, i.e., the PCC cocking anchor is located behind and below the receiver. The cocking rope must be attached to the PCC anchor and then, with hooks up, attached to the string as usual. When fully cocked the trigger is protected by an anti-dry fire mechanism that will not allow release of the trigger unless an arrow is firmly seated in the mechanism.
As always, it’s critical for end users of any crossbow first take the time to read (and heed) the owner’s manual and all associated cautions and warnings. This is particularly important in the case of any Mission MXB crossbow because some models function only using 20-inch arrows while the Sniper Lite and others require the use of 22- or 24-inch arrows. A 20-inch arrow with broadhead attached will not lay flat on the Sniper Lite’s rail and therefore would be extremely dangerous to shoot.
In this era of 400-plus fps arrow speeds, one might think the Sniper Lite is a tad slow at 310 fps, but I can assure you no whitetail buck, bear, elk or hog is going to outrun it. In practice, if the shooter can put a “slow” arrow where it belongs a pass-through is all but guaranteed. A whitetail buck at typical woods distances is not going to notice the difference between 310 and 400 fps. In fact, I would prefer crossbow manufacturers focus on providing more useful accessories for hunters (additional arrows, cases or slings, for example) rather than faster arrow speeds.
Using the provided 22-inch arrows and rail lube (every five to 10 shots as recommended by the manufacturer), there was little difficulty getting the MXB Sniper Lite on target at 20 yards. Arrow drop at 10-yard increments was as predicted by Mission, and there was no need to make additional scope adjustments out to 40 yards. At 50 and 60 yards (generally beyond the practical limit for crossbows), the Sniper Lite was suitably accurate for big game. Most noticeable with the 22-inch arrows was how long the shaft took to get there at the longer distances. Remember, any fps rating means at the “muzzle,” not 40+ yards downrange.
Working with a variety of broadhead designs produced the expected results. Folding mechanicals were slightly more accurate than open-blade configurations, although even the widest blades were “good enough” to take out a big deer-sized target.
On the roving course the MXB Sniper Lite was nothing short of outstanding thanks entirely to its abbreviated length and lightweight frame. Targets set from 10 to 40 yards out received lethal hits from every angle. For review purposes I set out on the course after sunset just to test the limits of the red-green illuminated reticles and enjoyed the same level of accuracy as I did in midday sunshine.
Most crossbow manufacturers that provide illuminated scopes wisely advise using the lowest possible light settings simply because the brighter the reticle the more the target is obscured, especially something big, dark and slow-moving like a trophy whitetail buck after sunset. I do have white- or light-colored “kill zones” on most of my targets for practice purposes, but the bear, hog and larger buck targets are naturally dark colored. The red and green reticles appeared clear, sharp and bright when viewed through the twilight woods in low light, and I have no doubt the MXB Sniper Lite will perform equally well under similarly murky natural conditions.
Mechanically, the Sniper Lite performed without a hitch over 100-plus shots, made even easier by the fact that the provided cocking rope came installed, cut to length and ready to cock and load. I kept the rail lubed as noted in the owner’s manual and found no sign of string or serving wear during the test period. Overall I could find nothing to complain about after a week of aggressive testing with Mission’s MXB Sniper Lite, other than they wouldn’t let me keep it!
The MXB Sniper Lite package includes the crossbow, three 22-inch arrows, soft case, cocking rope, 1.5x5x32 illuminated scope, QD quiver and rail lube. MSRP is $849 with the Basic, $949 with the Hunter and $1049 with the Pro Accessory Kits; all include a limited lifetime warranty. For more information, log onto www.missioncrossbows.com.