This is the second installment of my take on the top hunting crossbows for 2012. They have been listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in the order in which I think they should be ranked, beginning with Part I of this series.
PSE Crossfire: PSE founder Pete Shepley is one of archery’s legendary innovators, and the all-new PSE Crossfire will wow you with its high-performance at a low price. The front end is made entirely at the company’s Tucson, Ariz., facility, where engineers have been tinkering with crossbows for years. The bow features a 150-pound draw weight and sends arrows off at 320 fps. It weighs 8.4 pounds, and features a thumbhole stock, machined aluminum barrel and anti-dry fire mechanism and is finished in Mossy Oak Treestand camo. The package comes complete with choice of crossbow scope, three arrows, six-arrow quiver and cocking rope. MSRP: $399.99
Scorpyd Ventilator: The Ventilator features a unique folding stock, making cocking easier when seated in a tree stand or ground blind. It also measures just 12 ¾-inches wide when cocked, so it is easy to maneuver in the field. It also features reverse-draw Barnsdale limbs, 18 ¾-inch power stroke and a vented barrel. Its lightweight forged riser helps hold overall weight right at 7.9 pounds. It is available in a couple of different draw weights up to 165 pounds, and can produce raw arrow speeds of up to 400 fps. MSRP: $1,349
Sportsman’s Outdoor Strategies Slayer: Best known for the Walker’s Game Ear, Bob Walker is now in the crossbow business, with five models in the company’s Slayer line. Model numbers correspond to the bow’s draw weights—90, 150, 175, 200 and 225 pounds, with arrow speeds of 175, 270, 285, 305 and 350 fps, respectively. The bows feature recurve limbs, and the S.O.S. foldable hand GRIP and Posi-Grip Coating help provide enhanced control and balance while reducing noise and vibration. One cool feature is that the front grip enhances shooter safety by positioning the hand and fingers well below the string path. It also has a spot to attach a shooting pod for accuracy. Slayer crossbows come with a 4x32 scope or 3-dot optical sight, cocking rope, stringer, four arrows and field tips and quiver. MSRP: $469 to 595
TenPoint Carbon Elite XT: That’s right, many of today’s top crossbows incorporate carbon fiber technology to reduce weight and increase performance. The Carbon Elite XT is an improvement over 2011’s revolutionary Carbon Fusion CLS. This year’s model weighs a scant 6 pounds, 14 ounces, has 185 pound draw weight and an advertised arrow speed of 348 fps. It measures a compact 13 ½ inches axle-to-axle when cocked, making it easy to maneuver both in a tree stand and ground blind. The wrapped carbon fiber barrel has been fitted with threaded aluminum rivet nuts that float inside the stock, which reduces noise and vibration at the shot. Other highlights include D-75 bowstring, 11-inch double-laminated IsoTaper limbs, new MRX cams, TenPoint's patented DFI (dry fire inhibitor), 3 ½-pound PowerTouch trigger and Mossy Oak Infinity camo finish. It is sold only as a package that comes with a soft case, carbon arrows, bow quiver, RangeMaster Pro scope and silencer kit, and comes complete with ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking unit. MSRP: $1,699
Wicked Ridge Raider CLS: Since Wicked Ridge is owned by TenPoint, you’d expect its bows to feature some of the hot stuff its parent company incorporates into its own crossbows—and it does. The new Raider CLS features an economical version of the TenPoint Compact Limb System (CLS), 12-inch IsoTaper limbs with MR cams and D-75 bowstring. Taken together with the 185-pound draw weight, it all adds up to a raw arrow speed of about 330 fps in a package that weighs right at 7 pounds. Other features include TenPoint’s 3X Multi-Line scope, DFI (dry fire inhibitor), 3 ½-pound Power Touch trigger and ACU-52 cocking mechanism. It comes with a Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity finish on the injection-molded Verton stock. MSRP: $799
Winchester Archery Blaze: The mid-priced Blaze features a compact 18-inch axle-to-axle size for ease of maneuver, yet sends arrows off at 325 fps. It features caliper jaws for consistent string release, ambidextrous safety and anti-dry fire mechanism. It also has split limbs, Ultra Match trigger and AST-X two-track cam system. Included with the package are limb dampeners, string speedsters, crossbow scope and dual carbon rod Sudden Stop string dampening system. MSRP: $799.99