Having hunted and enjoyed some success with TenPoint crossbows over the years, I was eager to compare my subjective impressions with a thorough test of a TenPoint crossbow. The Stealth SS, introduced in 2013, was eclipsed marginally in terms of compactness and weight by the 2014 Shadow Ultra-Lite. At the same time, the Stealth SS marginally eclipses the Shadow Ultra-Lite in speed and remains TenPoint’s lightest and most compact 185-pound crossbow.

Celebrating its 20th year in business, the Ohio-based company has had a long time to establish a distinctive brand. Though both TenPoint and sister company Wicked Ridge offer a wide variety of crossbows covering the spectrum from moderately priced, high-value crossbows to very high-end models, TenPoint’s reputation has been built on top-quality, no-compromise crossbows with some truly innovative, cutting-edge features, some of which are found on every TenPoint model in production.

Recognizable at a glance by the thumbhole stocks and ACUdraw cocking devices, a few other features common to every TenPoint crossbow include the DFI (Dry Fire Inhibitor, which prevents firing the bow when an arrow is not in place), TenPoint’s Powertouch 31⁄2-pound trigger, and the MIM ambidextrous safety.

The FSB Bullpup stock design featured on the Stealth SS (and on several other TenPoint crossbows) positions the action behind the trigger, allowing a shorter and lighter configuration. The Stealth SS also features a durable rubber finger guard inset between the stock and the shooting rail, which suppresses noise and vibration in addition to keeping thumb and fingers safely out of the way. Rubber inserts between the rail and stock additionally reduce noise and vibration.

TenPoint insists that the Stealth SS and other models shoot arrows with TenPoint’s Omni-Nock, which eliminates the possibility of shooting over or under a flat-faced nock, a possibility that is increased by the sharper string angles on many newer crossbows, in addition to reducing any nock orientation issues.

The Stealth SS comes with a 3X Pro-View 2 Scope on a 7⁄8-inch fixed dovetail mount, the choice of an ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking device, detachable three-arrow quiver with an ambidextrous side-mount bracket, a three-pack of 425-grain TenPoint Pro Elite carbon arrows with Omni-Nocks, instructions for the crossbow, the ACUdraw system, the side-mount quiver, and an owner’s instructional DVD. TenPoint’s fit and finish reflects the overall quality of its crossbows, and in Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity or Realtree APG, the Stealth SS is one of the sharper-looking crossbows on the market.

Shooting The Bow

I’m a fan of TenPoint’s ACUdraw system. Like most cocking systems, it makes cocking the crossbow an easy matter for almost any shooter, in any situation. Unlike some others, it facilitates proper (i.e., straight) cocking; this is important because improper cocking is a major source of inaccuracy for crossbows. And also unlike some cocking systems, the necessary components are affixed to the crossbow while staying discretely out of the way, thus they are unlikely to be forgotten or lost. I’ve found them easy to engage or disengage, and when not in use they are tight and do not rattle or shake loose, nor can they be easily pulled away by tree limbs or brush.

The model tested included the ACUdraw system, which includes a built-in crank, as opposed to the ACUdraw 50, which requires pulling the string into firing position in a more conventional manner. As with other cocking ropes, the ACUdraw 50 does reduce the weight pulled by roughly 50 percent. Some shooters prefer the ACUdraw 50 because it is quieter; the ACUdraw clicks as it’s cranked. Because most of us cock our crossbows prior to entering a hunting area or after firing (which more often than not scatters any game in the immediate area anyway), this is not usually an issue. At the same time, many shooters who find the ACUdraw 50 or similar rope cockers difficult to use in a treestand can use the ACUdraw in a treestand without difficulty.

On the other hand, there is no denying that on occasion a hunter might find himself in the position of wanting to load or reload the crossbow with game nearby. It’s a matter of personal preference, although clearly any shooter who finds it difficult or impossible to cock a 185-pound crossbow without the added mechanical advantage of the crank will opt for the ACUdraw and not the ACUdraw 50. Operation is simple, but it is important to read the operating instructions before first-time use, as incorrect use can damage the system or create a safety hazard.

The 3X Pro-View Scope is a reticle-and-dot scope with a vertical reticle and three horizontal reticles. There is a fourth dot below the bottom horizontal reticle. With a little practice it’s easy to use this scope out to 50 or even 60 yards. It’s simple enough to use intuitively with rapid target acquisition and precise enough to shoot very accurately. The reticles and dots can be illuminated in either green or red at five different intensity levels. The switch is easy enough to rotate, but firm enough that it is unlikely to be flipped on unintentionally, such as happens all too often with pin illuminators on vertical bows. If you feel you have no need for artificial illumination, then you never hunt from ground blinds; from the inside of a darkened ground blind, illumination is essential. The lens covers are a nice touch — they provide excellent protection but are clear so the scope can be used with the covers in place.

At 6.8 pounds, the Stealth SS is not a super-light crossbow by current standards, nor is it inordinately heavy. The compact size makes for good balance. What’s more important for me than the weight is whether or not the crossbow is sufficiently well-balanced so that I can shoot it offhand if necessary. This is a crossbow I wouldn’t hesitate to shoot offhand at deer-size game at all but extended ranges.

The Stealth SS is a quiet-shooting crossbow. (I like the ambidextrous safety, but it does have a very audible click.) TenPoint touts its 31⁄2-pound trigger, and justifiably so. It’s light enough without being a hair trigger, crisp and predictably consistent. Almost all crossbows are potentially accurate, but some are easier to shoot with accuracy than are others. I found the Stealth SS to be among the latter.

There are lighter crossbows for those who insist on super-light and even more compact crossbows (though not by a big margin). There are certainly less expensive crossbows for the bargain hunter. Whether there are better crossbows is something every hunter will decide for him or herself. The Stealth SS, though, is an excellent crossbow that is loaded with the kind of innovative, thoughtful features that have earned TenPoint a reputation as a maker of the highest quality crossbows. For the hunter seeking the best, it’s a crossbow that should be high on the list of candidates.

Assembly

Assembly of the Stealth SS is a simple matter of bolting the bow assembly to the stock assembly and installing the foot stirrup. It is virtually intuitive for anyone who has previously assembled a crossbow. The scope comes pre-installed. In any case, instructions are clear and easy to follow. The ACUdraw system is pre-installed as well, and the operating instructions for the ACUdraw are equally clear and simple to follow. The side-mount quiver bracket installation is slightly more complex, and it could benefit from more detailed color photos, or black-and-white photos with higher contrast. The instructional DVD is very good, but does not include assembly instructions for the quiver bracket.

Specifications

Overall Length: 34.4 inches

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

Weight: 6.8 pounds (w/ provided accessories)

Kinetic Energy: 102 ft./lbs. (w/ included Pro Lite 370-grain arrows)

Speed: 352 fps (w/ included Pro Lite 370-grain arrows)

Draw Weight: 185 pounds

Power Stroke: 12.6 inches