The lightest crossbow in Mission’s line is also among the company’s least expensive, but there are plenty of features packed into its design. Take the Bridged Integrated Accuracy Support (BIAS) rail for example. A series of bridges that span the centerline of the aluminum BIAS rail add rigidity to the barrel (stiff crossbow barrels, like stiff rifle barrels, tend to be more accurate). Other keys to tight groups include the nock-centering SyncCam system and torque-reducing Smart Guide cable slide. The L-shaped buttstock enables length-of-pull adjustment. Mission’s Riser Step Tread replaces the traditional foot stirrup, making it easier to hold the crossbow under a boot when cocking.
•Speed:310 fps • Draw Weight: 150 lbs. • Weight: 5.96 lbs. • Length: 32.75"-34" • Width (Axle to Axle): 20.5" • Package Includes: Hawke XB-1 1.5X-5X-32mm SR scope with illuminated reticle, scope rings, 3 carbon arrows, MX-3 quiver and mount, cocking rope, zippered soft case • MSRP: $998 (XB Pro package, tested); $798 (XB Basic)
Barnett is nothing short of an icon in the crossbow industry. Its recurve-style Commando introduced more than 50 years ago and featured in several Hollywood action flicks remains the object of supreme stealth many people associate with the term crossbow. Nonetheless, the composite quad limbs and cam system of the compact Raptor FX make the Commando seem like a Cub Scout. The pass-through foregrip integral to the synthetic stock provides a solid—and safe—place to anchor the support hand, while the adjustable buttpad allows length of pull to extend from 13.5-14.5 inches. Recesses in the rear of the buttstock accept Barnett’s Crank Cocking Device (sold separately), which reduces the tension required to cock the Raptor FX to just 17 pounds.
The Enforcer makes up for dimensions that are a bit on the long and heavy side with an extended, yet comparatively slim, foregrip that aids stability when the crossbow is shouldered. Large-framed hunters will appreciate the extra reach the foregrip provides, while those of normal build will find holding the foregrip toward the rear to be just as comfortable. Parker’s factory-tuned Anti-Vibration and Shock System includes dual string suppressors to dampen noise and resonance following the shot, making the Enforcer quiet in the woods and a pleasure to fire during practice. Bonus: The Enforcer comes with four arrows, rather than the standard three, which end in half-moon “capture” nocks for positive string engagement. Notably absent from the package, though, is a rope cocker.
• Speed:315 fps • Draw Weight: 160 lbs. • Weight: 7 lbs. • Length: 36.75" • Width (Axle to Axle): 20.25" • Package Includes: Red Hot 3X-32mm scope with illuminated reticle, scope rings, 4 carbon arrows with 100-gr. field points, quiver and mount • MSRP: $549.95
Having an angular buttstock and separate pistol grip, the Fang slims some of the bulk that generally characterizes crossbows with thumbhole-style stocks. Its ergonomics are excellent, although some shooters may find the 16.5-inch length of pull too long. The position of the foregrip is adjustable, and there’s enough room on the bottom rail to move the foregrip much closer to the riser than on other crossbows to allow a more open shooting stance. Hefty limbs and aggressive cams produce higher velocities than most crossbows in the same price class, and the Fang is one of only two models in this roundup that come with stops to absorb string vibration and noise. There’s a lot of value here for the money.
Unlike some lower-priced crossbows that have cast risers, the Invader G3 features a CNC-machined aluminum riser and limb pockets that theoretically increase strength and lend precision to the limb interface. It’s arguably quicker to cock the Invader G3 than any other crossbow reviewed here, simply because it comes with a self-retracting ACU-52 rope-cocking system integrated into the buttstock. It won’t be left in the truck or wiggle its way to the bottom of a pack when needed most. The beveled outer edges of the barrel keep the hooks of the cocking device evenly aligned so the string remains centered throughout the draw—a factor in accuracy—and Wicked Ridge’s automatically engaging dry-fire inhibitor is among the industry’s best.wickedridgecrossbows.com
• Speed:330 fps • Draw Weight: 165 lbs. • Weight: 6.6 lbs. • Length: 37.75" • Width (Axle to Axle):22.75" • Package Includes: TenPoint 3X-32mm scope, scope rings, 3 carbon arrows with 100-gr. field points, quiver and mount, ACU-52 cocking system • MSRP: $569
Cabela’s partners with Barnett to offer the Vindicator (similar to the manufacturer’s Brotherhood model) and throws in some nice accessories—like a scope with an illuminated reticle and a sling—that add value. The Vindicator has an aluminum barrel instead of one milled into the same piece of composite that forms the stock. Aluminum barrels can hold tighter tolerances during their manufacture than composite barrels, resulting in a more precise and consistent arrow track. The Vindicator’s wide foot stirrup (also a feature of the Barnett Raptor FX) is covered in a soft, flexible material to deaden noise and vibration, and the rubbery panel on the pistol grip feels great in the hand whether it’s 85 degrees in South Carolina or 25 in Michigan.
• Speed:350 fps • Draw Weight: 160 lbs. • Weight: 7 lbs. • Length: 35.75" • Width (Axle to Axle): 19.5" • Package Includes: 3X-32mm scope with illuminated reticle, scope rings, 3 carbon arrows with 100-gr. field points, quiver and mount, cocking rope, sling • MSRP: $549.99
In Wisconsin, it was 105. Oklahoma, 91. Pennsylvania, 39. These were the number of days during the 2014 season that crossbow hunters could take to the woods for whitetails while rifle hunters had to sit at home.
Based on comparing statewide archery and firearm seasons, these numbers could be the ticket to your filling more tags. Almost 30 states now permit the use of crossbows during the entire, or at least some part of, archery season (not counting those states that allow crossbows for physically challenged or senior hunters). More are considering crossbows for future seasons. Instead of waiting to unlimber your Remington or Ruger, perhaps it’s time you spent the fall stretching a string.
Today’s hunter-friendly crossbows are priced so attractively that you almost can’t afford to miss out. Many fully outfitted crossbows cost less than a bare rifle, and essentially they buy you more time in the woods. Here are six that will up your odds this season. All you need to add are broadheads—most come with field points for practice—and more vacation days to your schedule.