Best New Crossbows for 2018

2018’s crop of new crossbows offer speed, safety, stability and more.

new crossbows 2018

TenPoint Nitro X

TenPoint (330-628-9245; www.tenpointcrossbows.com) touts the new Nitro X as the “fastest, smallest crossbow ever produced.” At its heart is a reverse-draw design, along with a number of cutting-edge technologies of the kind that put TenPoint on the map. For instance, there’s the new Vector Quad cable design, which employs four cables for added stability, zero cam lean and maximum tenability. The RX7 Cams offer maximum rotation, and TenPoint’s Sling-Shot technology boosts speed to a sizzling 440 fps. The riser is CNC-machined 7075-T6 aluminum with a Tri-Lock limb pocket system for the highest degree of stability and accuracy. The barrel is black anodized Tac-Lite aluminum to keep weight down. The trigger is set at 3.5 pounds, and naturally the Nitro X features TenPoint’s Dry-Fire Inhibitor and nylon-filament retention brushes. It’s a tad over 30 inches in length, is 7 inches wide and cranks out 440 fps. A Standard package includes the ACUdraw Pro, RangeMaster Pro Scope, six-pack of Evo-X CenterPunch premium carbon bolts, integrated string stop system and a quiver, while an Elite package includes the ACUdraw Pro, Evo-X Marksman Scope, TenPoint STAG Hard Crossbow Case, six-pack of Evo-X CenterPunch premium carbon bolts, integrated string stop system and a quiver. Standard package retails at $2,000, Elite at $2,200.

TenPoint Shadow NXT

Does TenPoint (330-628-9245; www.tenpointcrossbows.com) produce anything but premium crossbows? We’re gonna say no, but TenPoint’s “most bang for the buck” offering for 2018 is the new Shadow NXT. It employs much of the same 2018 technology as the flagship Nitro X, including the Vector Quad cable design, the Tri-Lock pocket system and maximum rotation cams (in this case XR6 Cams), as well as tried-and-true TenPoint design elements such as the 3.5-pound trigger, nylon retention brushes, Dry-Fire Inhibitor and ACUDraw cocking options. With TenPoint’s bullpup stock design, it’s an even more compact 6.5 inches wide and 32.2 inches long (minus the foot stirrup), and it weighs in at a very comfortable 7 pounds. Top speed is a very respectable 380 fps. The Shadow NXT package includes an illuminated 3x Pro-View 2 scope, a cocking device, three Pro Elite carbon bolts, integrated string stop system and a quiver. The Shadow NXT is double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo and, like all TenPoint crossbows, is made in the U.S.A. The Shadow NXT sells for $1,100 with Rope Sled, $1,200 with ACUdraw 50 SLED or $1,300 with ACUdraw.

Mission Crossbows SUB-1

I’ve always been partial to Mission (608-269-2728; www.missionarchery.com) crossbows, and why not? They’re reasonably light, they adjust for a perfect fit and they’ve got a modular, industrial-techno kind of look that appeals to a lot of shooters, myself included. Mission managed to garner a lot of buzz at the ATA Show for its new SUB-1. Driving it is the new Sync-X Cams, synced for improved accuracy, among other things — improved accuracy as in minute-of-angle, I-thought-only-firearms-could-shoot-one-inch-groups-at-100-yards kind of accuracy.

A new 3.4-pound trigger no doubt contributes to that feat and also generated some buzz. Also new: a de-cocking button for safe and easy de-cocking after the hunt. The SUB-1 weighs in a 7.5 pounds, is 10.7 inches wide cocked and measures 30.25 inches long. Top speed is 350 fps with a 400-grain bolt. Finished in Black or Ridge Reaper Forest, the SUB-1 retails for $1,499.

Barnett Predator

One of six new Barnett (800-237-4507; www.barnettcrossbows.com) crossbows for 2018, the Predator is billed as “the fastest and most powerful crossbow Barnett’s ever made.” Fortunately, that’s not all the Predator has to offer, given that there is no shortage of fast crossbows on the market these days. Built around a CNC-machined flight track and cams, with a Carbonlite step-though riser, the Predator offers excellent balance for its mass weight of 7.6 pounds. For offhand shooting, the RUCS (Retractable Underarm Counter-Balance Support) offers additional stability and accuracy. Other nice features include four Picatinny rails for customizing with accessories, a very smooth 3-pound trigger system and Barnett’s Soft-Lok floating-bristle arrow-retaining system. Top speed is a more-than-respectable 340 fps (with 380-grain arrow). Dimensions are 37.125 by 19.75 inches. The Predator comes complete with a premium 1.5-5×32 illuminated scope, rope cocker, side-mount quiver, two 22-inch Headhunter bolts and lubewax. Retail price for the Predator is $1,400.

Barnett TS390

Flagships may get most of the buzz, but they’re rarely top sellers. That honor usually goes to a model shooters perceive as offering good quality at a great price — models like the new Barnett (800-237-4507; www.barnettcrossbows.com) TS390. Like the flagship, it’s built around a CNC-machined aluminum flight track and offers the better balance and ease of cocking provided by a step-through riser. It too has a silky-smooth, zero-creep 3-pound trigger and Soft-Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer. Mass weight is the same at 7.6 pounds, and in terms of dimensions, the TS390 is slightly more compact at 36.25 by 18.875 inches. So, what’s the difference? It shoots at 390 fps instead of 430. (Most shooters suspect the deer won’t know the difference; we think they’re right.)

Another difference: three Picatinny rails instead of four. (So how many accessories do you want to hang on your crossbow?) And one other difference: the TS390 offers a telescoping stock covering a range of 2.75 inches for a custom fit. The package comes with the same accessories, though the scope is 4×32 instead of 1.5-5×32. Biggest difference, though, is the price. The TS390 sells for a value-packed $700.

Excalibur Assassin

There’s something to be said for recurve crossbows, and the folks who say it best are at Excalibur (800-463-1817; www.excaliburcrossbow.com). No timing or tuning issues, for instance. No cam lean. Fewer parts to work loose or to need lubricating, cleaning or maintenance. Recurve bows are known for bombproof durability. In fact, there has really only been one knock against recurve bows, and that is that they can be more difficult to cock. Enter Excalibur’s new Assassin, with the all-new Charger cranking system, a silent, integrated crank aid that allows the Assassin to produce a top speed of 360 fps with 12 pounds of force. (In other words, it’s virtually effortless.) The 2018 Assassin also boasts a new, two-stage match-grade trigger system and the kind of consistent accuracy that compound crossbows struggle to achieve. And while recurve crossbows are naturally quieter, a new 10-point sound-dampening system makes the term “quiet crossbow” a reality. The Tru-Fit stock offers tool-free adjustability for a perfect fit. At 7.7 pounds it’s a comfortable carry, with a length of 30 to 33 inches and a width (cocked) of 21 inches. A sharp-looking crossbow in Realtree Edge Camo, it comes with a Tact Zone scope and a hard case for $1,699.

Parker Hammer325

Parker Bows (540-337-5426; www.parkerbows.com) has always been about solid, reliable performance and good value. Parker’s new Hammer325 is a case in point. A machined-aluminum riser with Parker’s split-limb technology and micro-lite limb pockets keeps the weight to a very comfortable 7 pounds. A pistol grip enhances the maneuverability of the Hammer325, which is 20.25 inches axle to axle and 36.75 inches long. Top speed is (you guessed it) a very respectable 325 fps, and Parker’s AVS (anti-vibration and shock) system keeps noise and vibration low.

It comes with a four-arrow Quick Detach Quiver and four bolts, and it offers a choice of four premium optic packages, including a Multi-Reticle Scope, an illuminated 3X Multi-Reticle Scope, a 3X Pinpoint Scope and a Variable Illuminated MR Scope. Nicely finished in Kryptek Highlander Camo and proudly made in the U.S.A. with Parker’s Lifetime Warranty, the Hammer325 is a lot of crossbow for prices starting at $550.

Carbon Express Piledriver 390

New from Carbon Express (800-241-4833; www.carbonexpresscrossbow.com) for 2018 is a fast, slick-looking little crossbow dubbed the Piledriver 390. If you suspect it launches bolts at a very crisp 390 fps, you are right. It features a fully adjustable foregrip and buttstock, which is important only if you want a crossbow that fits you perfectly. Total length ranges from 35.5 to 37.5 inches, with a width when cocked of 14.5 inches and an easy-to-carry weight of 7.2 pounds. Limbs are durable and compression-molded, and of course the Piledriver 390 features Carbon Express’s anti-dry-fire technology. It comes as a ready-to-hunt package with a Quiet Crank cocking wrench, a quick-detach three-arrow quiver, three Piledriver 20-inch crossbolts with field points, rail lube and 4×32 Deluxe Scope. For a retail price of $400 the Piledriver 390 is a killer, literally and figuratively.

Scorpyd Aculeus

Scorpyd (319-538-8540; www.scorpyd.com) is all but synonymous with a reverse-draw design. It’s also famous for one of the best, if not the best, triggers in the industry. For 2018 Scorpyd introduces the newest incarnation of Aculeus, featuring an even better trigger in the Kempf TEC SEER-LOC adjustable trigger. Five years in development, the Kempf TEC SEER-LOC adjustable trigger is described by Scorpyd founder Jim Kempf as “[shooting] like a sniper rifle.” Boasting less than 2.5 pounds of pull, the new trigger features a two-position trigger pull, allowing precise control of travel. Built around a 6061-T6 riser and machined 6061-T6 barrel, trigger box, cams and foot stirrup, the Aculeus is fully anodized and utilizes titanium fasteners. Mass weight is 7.5 pounds, but the superior balance of the reverse-draw design makes it feel even lighter. It’s a highly maneuverable 12 7/8 inches wide when cocked, with a length of 34.5 inches (not including butt pad). It features a 1911-style grip, a LimbSaver butt pad and an optional ACU cocking mechanism. With a Hawke 1.5-5×32 illuminated scope, quiver and 12 bolts, the Aculeus offers draw-weight options of 110, 135, 160 or 180 pounds, the latter producing a top speed of 460 fps. Suggested retail price is $1,900.

Darton Toxin 125 SS

Among the newer offerings in Darton’s (989-728-9511; www.dartonarchery.com) Toxin Series is the 125 SS. Darton makes no bones about the goal here: to blend the light weight of last year’s successful Toxin 100 with the superior performance of the Toxin 135. Add laminated limbs, a new cam design and Darton’s Trackless Composite Barrel to the lightweight stock of the Toxin 100, and the result is a comfortable 6.8-pound crossbow that gets a 400-grain arrow from here to there at a sizzling 350 fps. Thanks to a unique Darton design that runs a metal bar down the center, the Toxin 125 SS offers enhanced stability and low vibration despite its high speed-to-weight ratio. A bullpup stock makes for a great fit, and at 31.75 inches long (17 inches axle to axle), it’s maneuverable in a treestand and perfect in a ground blind. It comes with dual string suppressors to reduce noise and is easy to cock. It’s available in Highlander Camo, and the crossbow is offered alone for a wallet-pleasing $800, or with any of several package options at higher cost.

Cam X A4

“Unique” is an overused (and often incorrectly used) adjective. But if there’s a cam design anything like Cam X’s (888-226-3979; www.camxcrossbows.com) inboard cam system, we haven’t seen it. (And we pretty much see them all.) Placing the cams inside the limbs protects them and makes for a more durable design while in effect making the crossbow more compact. The design also makes for what Cam X refers to as a “gentle stop” at the end of the shot cycle. That translates to less noise and vibration without sacrificing speed. Speaking of which, the A4 generates 370 fps. It’s 35 inches long and weighs 7.5 pounds. It comes with an outstanding fully coated, parallax-free, fog-, water- and shock-proof ARC 370 4 X 32 illuminated scope factory sighted for out-of-the-box accuracy and designed exclusively for the A4. An oversized stirrup is a nice design feature as well. The A4 comes in Black, Realtree Xtra and Mossy Oak Treestand. The base package includes the scope with Weaver-style steel scope rings, a four-arrow quiver, a cocking sled and four matched bolts. Other packages are available as options, but suggested retail price for the base package A4 is $1,150.

Wicked Ridge Invader X4

Some hunters might find it objectionable that Wicked Ridge (330-628-9245; www.wickedridgecrossbows.com) produces high-quality crossbows at a lower price by borrowing cutting-edge technology from sister company TenPoint. Others are all too happy to take advantage of the savings — and they are going to like the Invader X4. This newest model in the popular Invader Series is lighter, more compact and 30 fps faster than its previous incarnation — as in a featherweight 6.3 pounds, 36.5 inches long by 15 inches wide and 360 fps.

Boasting an all-new stock design, riser and machined-aluminum limb pockets, the X4 features all the technology shooters have come to associate with TenPoint, including the ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking device, smooth and crisp 3.5-pound trigger, Picatinny accessory rail, and, for safety, TenPoint’s Dry-Fire-Inhibitor, fully enclosed trigger, and elongated safety wings. Made in the U.S.A. and double-dip fluid imaged in Mossy Oak’s Break-Up Country camo, the X4 comes complete with a TenPoint Multi-Line Scope, three bolts and a quiver, all for $560 (with ACUdraw 50, or $660 with ACUdraw).

Ravin Crossbows R20 Sniper

Ravin’s (www.ravincrossbows.com) debut at last year’s ATA Show pretty much sucked all the air out of the room, and why not? A crossbow that’s 6 inches wide, launches a 400-grain arrow at 430 fps and claims 3-inch groups at 100 yards right out of the box merits attention. For this year the Ravin R20 offers several improvements, including a new and more comfortable stock, a better safety and a Sniper package with a premium Vortex scope that affixes to an adjustable elevation mount for ranges from 20 to 200 yards, in addition to a riser level and premium bolts.

Ravin’s Helicoil technology is at its heart, with frictionless flight system that floats the arrow above the rail for accuracy and increased string and cable life, a foolproof Trac-Trigger firing system that consistently grasps the precise center of the string, and an ambidextrous Versa-Draw cocking design that requires only 12 pounds of force. It’s one great-looking crossbow in either Sniper Predator Camo or Sniper Gunmetal Grey. For those who want only the biggest boat in the marina, this one sells for $2,540.

Killer Instinct Ripper 415

Killer Instinct’s (810-626-3026; www.killercrossbows.com) Ripper 425 looks like it sounds: aggressive. Lean, angular and tricked out in Chaos Camo, it offers more than just a sizzling 415 fps top speed. Like a crisp, clean 3.5-pound trigger break, for one, and 1-inch accuracy to 80 yards for another. It features a CNC-machined riser, a fully adjustable stock and foregrip, string and limb suppressors, and a Lumix IR-W 4×32 illuminated scope. Width is 14.25 inches cocked, with a total length of 35 to 36.5 inches and a pleasing carry weight of 6.9 pounds. The Ripper 415 Pro Package also includes three Killer Tech bolts, a five-bolt quiver and quiver mount, a rope cocker, and a stick of rail lube. Did we mention it’s one great-looking crossbow? With a lifetime warranty, the Ripper 415 is a lot of crossbow at $380.

Gearhead X16 Tactical Carbon Fiber Crossbow

Gearhead (608-370-8016; www.gearheadarchery.com) describes its crossbows as works of art. They do grab your attention, and they’re certainly interesting. The frame of the X16 Tactical Carbon Fiber Crossbow is skeletal and super light at 5.25 pounds. That’s interesting enough, but it’s also a take-down design that comes apart for maximum packability and can be assembled in the field with no loss of accuracy. Among other Gearhead innovations are free-floating integrated sound suppression, feather up technology that reduces cable wear and cam lean while enhancing accuracy, and the fact that the crossbow requires no foot stirrup or rope cocker and can be cocked easily in a treestand or while sitting down. Length is 35 inches, and width when cocked is 14.75 inches. The trigger pull is an amazing 2.1 pounds, and top speed is 350 fps. Hardware is oxide-coated stainless steel. It’s super quiet and comes with a custom pack. Aluminum and non-tactical versions are available, but the X16 Tactical Carbon Fiber Crossbow is available in draw weights of 75, 90 and 125 pounds, and retails for $2,299.

CenterPoint Sniper Elite Whisper

For 2018, CenterPoint Archery (800-724-7486; www.crosman.com) built on the success of its best-selling Sniper crossbow, introducing a bow that offers incredible performance and extreme value. The new Sniper Elite Whisper, like the original Sniper, spits bolts downrange at 370 fps. But this impressive new incarnation also offers CenterPoint’s Whisper Silencing System, a package that includes integrated string suppressors and silencers for a (what else?) whisper-quiet shot. Also included in the package is a CenterPoint 4×32 scope, adjustable foregrip with oversized finger guards and fully adjustable AR-style butt stock to provide for a comfortable, customized fit. This feature-rich crossbow is available for around $300. CenterPoint also makes an optional patent-pending mechanical cocking aid that works with both the original Sniper and the Sniper Elite Whisper.