Carbon Express refers to it as “a military AR-style design,” and the Carbon Express Interceptor series crossbows do indeed look remarkably like an AR. Of the two crossbows in the series, we opted to test the Intercept Axon; the Interceptor Supercoil is very similar, but with fewer features to reduce weight.

It’s important to note that the Intercept Axon doesn’t just look like an AR, but offers many of the same customizable features. A Picatinny system runs almost the length of the barrel on top, and there are two others underneath: in front of and behind the trigger assembly. These accommodate a variety of military and aftermarket commercial AR parts allowing for customization as well as complete adjustability of the stock, quiver, grip, and forearm to achieve perfect fit. The stock, for instance, is micro-adjustable with no fewer than six positions to allow a perfect length of pull. The foregrip also offers six different positions. Some key portions of the Intercept Axon are coated with SilenTech Coating, which Carbon Express describes as a “rubber-like exterior finish.” The coating reduces noise and vibration, and can add some comfort in handling the crossbow. It’s also warmer than metal in cold weather.

Despite the short overall length, the Intercept Axon offers a 13.5-inch power stroke, providing an impressive top published speed of 360+ fps from the 175 pounds of draw weight.

The riser is CNC machined and limbs are carbon-infused. Though the adjustable foregrip itself tends to keep fingers in a safe position, there is a finger guard flange providing additional protection, an important feature for shooters who prefer to keep the foregrip folded. At 13.5 inches wide cocked, with a length of about 31 inches (with the stock at its shortest position), the Intercept Axon is very compact.

Maximum adjustability and customization are welcome features; a much simpler but also welcome feature exists in the form of cavities in the grips and stocks that can hold tags, extra strings and cables, or even tools such as small flashlights, knives, hex sets, fire starters, and so forth. The cap on the foregrip cavity has a spring to secure items that might otherwise rattle and make noise.

The Intercept Axon comes standard with a roper cocker, quick-detach 3-arrow quiver and side bracket, three Maxima Blue Streak 20-inch crossbolts, rail lube, three practice points, and a 4×32 illuminated scope.

Essentially, it’s a black gun, which prompts me not to expect a great deal in terms of fit & finish; after all, black guns are supposed to be ugly. In fact, the looks of the Intercept Axon grew on me as I played with it, and on closer inspection fit & finish is excellent with no discernible flaws. The understated logo and the carbon-infused limbs contrast subtly with the solid black rail, stock, and grips.

Shooting The Crossbow

The Intercept Axon comes with a cocking rope that is just the right length and works very well. The compact stirrup looks good and possibly saves some weight; I found it easy enough to use in warm weather on a range, but it did occur to me that with heavy boots on, or in a treestand, the small stirrup size might make cocking a little tricky. In a similar vein, the Picatinny rail that runs above the shooting rail, effectively for its entire length, can require a little more than the usual dexterity. I’m sure with use loading becomes second nature, though it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the desire to reload quickly could make this an issue. (Then again, a case can be made that loading a crossbow should always be done deliberately and never in haste.)

Crossbow scopes seem to keep getting better, and certainly the scope that comes standard with the Intercept Axon is a good one. It’s a ballistic-type system with four horizontal hairs at the center of which are circles decreasing in size from top (closer range) to bottom. The lines are good and crisp, and of course there’s a focus adjustment. It’s a fixed 4×32 focal length, which is just fine in my opinion for crossbow shooting, and it can offer some advantages in terms of weight and simplicity. It offers a choice of red and green illumination for low light or shooting from darkened ground blinds. Copy that is visible at the bottom of the lens without obstructing vision reminds the shooter to keep fingers below the shooting rail. I like that, since I don’t think we can get too many reminders to that effect. The lens caps fit well and work well, though they are not translucent and so must be flipped open to shoot. They make an audible “snick” when flipped open.

I’m not a big AR fan, but the total range of adjustability on this crossbow is a nice feature. Anyone who has done a lot of wingshooting or rifle shooting is accustomed to finding a comfortable length of pull and forearm position, especially critical for good offhand shooting. Too many crossbow shooters adjust their shooting form to a crossbow that doesn’t fit them well; in the case of a fully adjustable crossbow like the Intercept Axon, the crossbow can easily be modified to fit the shooter, and not the other way around.

Shooting the Intercept Axon with precise accuracy required only a few shots to sight in the scope. The trigger is nice—3.5 pounds, very little travel, and a nice crisp breakover. At the shot, vibration is not an issue. The Intercept Axon is a little louder than some crossbows—then again, it’s a little faster than most of those same crossbows, and I did not find it inordinately loud for a crossbow. Any crossbow shooter who is a fan of ARs will probably love this crossbow. And because it won over a non-AR fan like me, I suspect it will appeal to a wide range of crossbow shooters. Its compact dimensions, high speed, and super range of adjustability should make the Intercept Axon a winner for Carbon Express.

Specs:

Overall Length: 30.25 inches

Axle-To-Axle width: 13.5 inches (cocked)

Weight: 8.3 pounds

Kinetic Energy: 122 ft. lbs.

Speed: 360+ fps

Draw Weight: 175 pounds

Power Stroke:  13.5 inches

Objective Tests

(at 220 Pounds Draw)

Bolt Weight Speed @ Launch Speed @ 20 Yards K.E. @ Launch K.E. @ 20 Yards Sound Level
 390 grains
356 fps  351 fps 109.78 ft. lbs. 106.72 ft. lbs.
95.1 dBA
450 grains 338 fps  334 fps 114.18 ft. lbs. 111.5 ft. lbs. 93.5 dBA