Bow Report: TenPoint Shadow NXT

The compact TenPoint Shadow NXT isn’t the company’s most expensive crossbow, but it delivers tremendous dependability, speed and accuracy.

TenPoint Shadow NXT

Last time I reported on a TenPoint Crossbow Technologies, I suggested that TenPoint had ridden the exploding popularity of crossbow hunting to become a major player in the industry. That’s not quite a fair statement, given that TenPoint not only rode that exploding popularity, but had a big share in producing it. They did that in part by raising the bar in terms of very accurate, high-quality crossbows featuring innovative design features that demanding hunters were willing to pay a little more for, or in some cases, a lot more for.

The Shadow NXT clearly represents an attempt to produce a more moderately priced product that doesn’t tarnish TenPoint’s reputation for producing innovative, high-quality crossbows. It shares with TenPoint’s other crossbows some tried-and-true (not to mention very popular) design features that TenPoint refers to as Core Features, including the AccuDraw options, TenPoint’s 3.5-pound trigger, the Dry-Fire Inhibitor, and the quiet, auto-engaging safety. The quad split limbs, the stock design, and the picatinny rail scope mount will all be familiar to TenPoint aficionados as well.

TenPoint Shadow NXT

A lack of cutting-edge technology is frequently the difference between the high-end, flagship bow and its less-expensive counterpart in the line-up, but the Shadow NXT boasts, in addition to a super-narrow width of 6.5-inches axle-to-axle, the same maximum rotation XR6 cam system, CNC machined aluminum riser, Dual Flex Limbs, Tri-Lock Pocket System and Vector Quad Cable system found on TenPoint’s flagship Stealth NXT. This undeniably innovative cable system design features four (as opposed to the customary two) cables. Instead of passing beneath the barrel, they’re taken up on grooves around the cam axles, pass through turnbuckles on either side of the barrel and attach to the riser. This design virtually eliminates cam lean while reducing friction for better speed and reduced cable wear. At the same time, the cams are synched for perfect timing.

Commonsense dictates that, despite all these similarities and features in common, something must be sacrificed to achieve the cost savings. There are a few differences between the flagship Stealth and the Shadow, some of which no doubt contribute to a savings in cost. The Shadow features a carbon-infused polymer barrel, as opposed to the aluminum barrel featured on the Stealth.

The stocks differ, too. The Stealth offers an adjustable CR2 carbon-infused stock, while the Shadow offers TenPoint’s FSB bullpup stock. The Shadow comes with TenPoint’s 3X Pro-View 3 illuminated scope, while the Stealth comes with the Rangemaster Pro scope boasting illumination and a speed dial for fine-tuning at longer ranges. Also notable, the Shadow comes with three TenPoint Pro Elite bolts at 435 grains, while the Stealth comes with three EVO-X CenterPunch bolts at 445 grains. Other minor differences include the Shadow’s axle-to-axle width is a-half-inch wider than that of the Stealth, while the Shadow is slightly lighter at an even 7 pounds, as opposed to 7.3 pounds in the Stealth.

TenPoint Shadow NXT
The TenPoint Shadow NXT measures only 6.5 inches axle to axle when ready to fire.

TenPoint is often noted for its excellent fit and finish, and there were no machining marks or other visible imperfections on the test bow. Fit and finish on the Shadow NXT is comparable to that of any TenPoint offering, and in fact it’s hard to imagine better fit and finish on any crossbow.

TenPoint Shadow NXT Packaging and Assembly

Not a lot to say here, as the Shadow NXT comes all but fully assembled. Take it out of the box, attach the foot stirrup, snap the ACUdraw crank in place, mount the scope, and you’re done. I would add that assembly instructions suggested aligning the rear scope bell with the rear of the dovetail mount for optimum eye-relief, but in my case the scope needed to be mounted considerably forward of that point. In any case, total assembly (minus mounting of the quiver, which I never do) took less than 15 minutes.

Tenpoint’s Core Features have served them well, enabling them to include tried-and-true design features into every crossbow while at the same time allowing for innovations in materials, cam and limb designs and other areas. A case in point is TenPoint’s ACUdraw, which came on the test model and is among the better cocking devices on the market in terms of ease of use as well as integration into the crossbow itself in a way that minimizes the possibility of lost or misplaced parts. The 3.5-pound trigger and the DFI are welcome and familiar features as well to anyone who has used a TenPoint crossbow in recent years.

TenPoint Shadow NXT

At 7 pounds, the Shadow NXT does not qualify as a truly lightweight crossbow by current standards, but the limb/cam configuration does tend to move the balance point back, making for a comfortable hold in the firing position. Whether or not I would confidently shoot a crossbow offhand at a game animal is something I ask myself when testing any crossbow, and the answer in this case is … yes. Lack of stock adjustability may be a factor for some shooters. For my 6-foot frame, this was not an issue with this crossbow. I shouldered it easily and held it comfortably and steadily on target.

The only upgrade I would consider for the Shadow NXT might be the slightly heavier EVO-X CenterPunch bolts, though the supplied Pro Elite bolts were satisfyingly accurate. TenPoint’s Rick Bednar claims that, for the money, you can’t find the same combination of width, speed and durability. The crossbow industry has become increasingly competitive in recent years, but certainly the TenPoint Shadow NXT is a strong contender for that title.

For more information, visit www.tenpointcrossbows.com.

TenPoint Shadow NXT