I’m a Browning fan not due to its iconic logo—although it’s certainly a cool one—but rather its tradition of making great products for hunters. From guns to camping and fishing gear, clothing, and recently ammo, it’s a brand that has worked for me without fail. Now Browning enters another market with a new line of crossbows, the ZeroSeven series. Initially two models are available, the OneSixOne and OneSixTwo (named for the year 2016 and the model number). I hunted with the higher-end model, the OneSixTwo, and am pleased to report that it lives up to its Browning name.
Underneath the flashy, Cynergy-esk lines (yes, this crossbow has an appearance that’s as radical as the company’s wild-looking over/under) is a compound crossbow with a 145-pound draw weight and a 363-square-inch “cross-box.” This is a term I’ve coined for the bow’s maximum width, while cocked, multiplied by its overall length and divided by two. It’s the geometric formula for finding the area of a kite shape and is a practical measurement of the crossbow’s total footprint.
The OneSixTwo is smaller than average, and this is a good thing, because crossbows are typically cumbersome in the woods. Browning addressed that issue while not negating performance. The OneSixTwo employs a power stroke of nearly 15 inches to drive 400-grain arrows an advertised 370 fps. I was skeptical until my chronograph clocked it at 371.3 fps, producing 122 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. This is incredible considering the less-than-normal draw weight. So how’d they do it? A long power stroke combined with aggressive cams and 12.5-inch split limbs, that’s how.
Perhaps most significantly, however, are two surprising qualities that normally aren’t seen in such a powerful design: First, the OneSixTwo is one of the most accurate crossbows I’ve ever tested, turning in .92-inch groups at 30 yards. Secondly, it’s among the top three quietest crossbows I’ve ever shot, measuring 95 decibels during my informal sound-meter test. (Average is around 100 decibels.)
The sound factor is very important to hunting and indicative of a solidly built crossbow. With that much energy being converted from potential to kinetic and transferred to the arrow in a fraction of a second, anything that’s loose or flexible will be revealed in the form of vibration and noise. The OneSixTwo’s forged aluminum riser, machined aluminum barrel and stainless steel fire-control system, all supported by a precision-engineered frame with vibration-mitigation devices like string stoppers, combined with a lower-than-usual draw weight are big reasons for its quietness. Another is its mass. At 8 pounds before accessories it’s not a lightweight. But if that’s the price for being quiet, I’ll take it.
Performance aside, Browning (the bow is actually made by Barnett and arguably represents that company’s finest work) has introduced several features on the OneSixTwo that are industry firsts, not gimmicks. For example, it has a cocking track system that both makes the bow easier to cock and enhances accuracy by ensuring the string is held in the same place every time so that the nocking point doesn’t travel horizontally during the power stroke. This also facilitates perfect cam timing. A nodule on each cocking hook rides in a machined track on either side of the barrel, assuring consistent cocking.
A crank cocking device hidden in the buttstock’s hinged comb compartment reduces the 145-pound draw weight to 17 pounds. The handle is quick and easy to install and remove via a push button.
Another noteworthy feature involves safety. Of course the OneSixTwo has integral finger-protecting fore-end wings, but the anti-dry-fire system is unique because it contains a secondary pronged clip that prevents the bow from firing if the arrow isn’t seated properly.
Finally, this unit’s trigger is a vast improvement over those found in most crossbows. It’s made by TriggerTech and has absolutely zero creep. Unfortunately, I wish it were a little lighter in pull weight. While the company touts it at 3 pounds, my test unit measured 5.3.
After sighting in the bow out to 50 yards with its provided scope, my groups were so good that I shot to 80 yards—with a Gravedigger broadhead installed—before taking it hunting. A crossbow is the perfect archery tool for a Texas ground blind, because you can rest it on sticks and shoot when the animal presents the perfect shot. This time the animal was an in-velvet axis deer, which happens to be the finest red meat on the planet. As much as I like Browning’s logo and its new crossbow, I’m a bigger fan of steaks. Now I have both.