Package & Features
The Sniper Lite is the newest of Mission’s crossbows, bringing the current lineup to five MXB crossbows. These include the MXB-320, -360 and -400, the numbers corresponding to top speeds, and the Dagger, which we reported on last year and which has a published top speed of 340 fps. Speed apart, all differ slightly in some features and specifications, but even a quick glance reveals that all share a similar overall design and have some important technologies in common. The shooting rails appear to be the same, and all feature an adjustable stock. This is a nice feature, and it complements the light weight and excellent balance of the entire MXB series. Some adjustable crossbows tend to be loose and rattle, but the MXB crossbows lock solidly into position and are solid and quiet. The foregrip is wide and rubberized, making it comfortable and warm to the touch, while the flared finger guards make it all but impossible to shoot with fingers or thumb in a dangerous position.
The absence of a stirrup distinguishes the Mission crossbows from others and offers the advantage of reducing weight overall while simultaneously shifting the balance point to the rear. Putting the limbs closer to the ground while cocking the crossbow also means a shorter, easier draw to cock it, since cocking becomes progressively more difficult as the arms pull farther back. There is a secure place to insert a foot on either side of the barrel just inside the limbs, and durable rubber bumpers outside the limb pockets protect the limbs when the crossbow is positioned against the ground for cocking.
Mission’s ALRS (Adjustable Limb Retention System) is a fancy designation for the kind of limb bolts found almost universally on compound vertical bows. This allows adjustment of draw weight, but what’s probably more important for most crossbow shooters is that it allows changing, maintaining, or re-serving strings and cables without the need for a press. (Mission recommends not reducing draw weight on the Sniper Lite, but the advantage of changing strings without pressing the crossbow remains.)
An adjustable rail is positioned for a scope; the various models come with different Hawke scopes. In the case of the Sniper Lite, the scope is a basic model with three horizontal reticles and removable see-through lens caps.
The cocking rope (provided) loops under the stock, as opposed to the more common configuration in which it loops over top of the stock, beneath and slightly behind the sights or scope mount. The idea is to keep the cocking rope down against the rail as it is drawn, which helps to keep it centered. (Non-centered cocking is a common source of inaccuracy.)
Less visible is the BIAS Rail trigger and scope-mount system. This is an integrated system that ensures positive scope-to-rail alignment for consistent accuracy and durability and contributes to the overall rigidity of the shooting platform.
So what’s new and different about the Sniper Lite? As the name suggests, the weight sets it apart. At 5.96 pounds, it is light by any measure, and a full ¼-pound lighter than Mission’s next-lightest crossbow, which is the Dagger at 6.3 pounds. It is compact, but no more so than others in Mission’s lineup. The peak weight of 150 pounds makes it easier to cock and distinguishes it from others in the line with the exception of the MXB-320, which offers a range from 180 pounds all the way down to 100 pounds. The Sniper Lite’s top speed of 310 fps makes it somewhat slower, at least in comparison to the top speeds of the others. The SynCam that drives it is a new cam designed to achieve super smoothness and easy cocking while still reaching respectable speeds.
The Sniper Lite comes in any color you want as long as you want black. (There is a carbon-like finish on the limbs, along with an understated white logo, and the small knob around which the cocking rope is looped is blaze orange.) Fit and finish were excellent on the test model.
Shooting The Bow
You might decide there are more important qualities or that you prefer the advantages of a heavier crossbow, but it is hard not to grin when you pick up a really light crossbow. I grinned.
This crossbow is, as advertised, easy to cock. What I really like about the cocking system though is the way the rope is looped under, as opposed to over, the stock. It is easier than you think, especially in low light or when hurrying to cock the crossbow for a follow-up shot, to loop the rope where it doesn’t belong or to let it slip down onto the scope housing or the scope itself. That can be bad news. It’s difficult to miss the right spot with Mission’s system. Also, difficulty keeping the rope centered on the string usually occurs because the rope tends to lift up and away from the shooting rail. The placement of Mission’s cocking rope under the stock tends to angle the rope slightly so that pressure is exerted down on the shooting rail during the cocking process, which does help keep it centered.
For this report crossbows are tested shot off a bench, but I always do some shooting offhand. Because of its light weight and great balance, the MXB-Sniper Lite is a great crossbow for shooting offhand. The adjustable stock is a factor in shooting offhand as well. It’s hard to hold a crossbow steady – even a very light one – if it doesn’t fit well.
The Sniper Lite is quiet, surprisingly so given the lack of weight. The trigger is smooth and crisp. Though light weight is often cited as a source of inaccuracy, using the supplied bolts I had no difficulty shooting good groups out to 40 yards, which is as far as I tested.
It’s hard to argue with light, well-balanced, quiet, adjustable and accurate. I feel compelled to at least find some nitpicks, but can come up with only one: The grip is not uncomfortable, but it is squared off and could be a little more ergonomic. Overall, the MXB-Sniper Lite is an excellent crossbow at any price; considering the $599 price tag, it’s also a great value.
No assembly required, just mount the scope, adjust the stock to the desired length and go shoot.
Overall Length: 32.75 inches
Axle-To-Axle Width: 20.5 inches (uncocked)
Weight: 5.96 pounds
Kinetic Energy: N/A
Speed: 310 fps
Draw Weight: 150 pounds
Power Stroke: 14 inches