Cross Over to High-End Crossbows

Top-end crossbows can tap a new revenue stream without going full-tilt into the archery business.

Cross Over to High-End Crossbows

Crossbows provide a nice compliment to your firearms business. Without getting too deep into bow setups and custom work, or stretching too far from your core focus, you can reach into the market and draw customers who would have otherwise taken their business elsewhere.  

One of the beauties of the crossbow is newcomers can get a capable setup for just a few hundred dollars. But those starter kits are as readily available at big box outdoors stores as they are reputable archery shops. Instead, you might try focusing on the higher end 

If you want to draw crossbow enthusiasts into your store, you might start with the three models featured here.

Gearhead X16 Tactical

MSRP: $1,549 (X16 Tactical crossbow only) 

There’s much to like about Gearhead’s X16 series of crossbows, which include the X16 Tactical and X16 Target models. Lightweight at just 6.25 pounds, compact at just 35 inches overall and only 14.75 inches in width when cocked, the X16 Tactical is sturdy, solid, weatherproof and ready for the range right out of the box. 

The X16 is thoughtfully designed for safe shooting with its extra-wide finger flange, adjustable five-position foregrip and unique arrow suspension system, which raises the arrow completely off the rail when cocked and loaded. The nock sits in the anti-dryfire trigger mechanism and is raised above the rail by a dependable Whisker Biscuit arrow rest that is pre-set and centered at the factory. 

The current model X16 also features a completely new trigger assembly that, upon cocking, automatically places the trigger on “safe” with an audible click. It can be cocked with a rope or by hand, since it’s designed with a comparatively low draw weight of 75 to 125 pounds of pull. 

The X16 is designed for use with 400-spine, 24-inch arrows weighing at least 300 grains including a field tip or broadhead. Arrows of this length and size are not readily available so it’s a good idea to stock extras for your customers. 

On the range, I sighted the X16 for dead on at 20 yards. The optional Hawke 1.5-5x scope is calibrated in five 10-yard increments, which means when zeroed at 20 yards my arrows were falling into the bull’s-eye with pleasing regularity at 30, 40, 50 and 60 yards — ideal for most deer, bear, hog and turkey hunting situations. 

I fired multiple arrows at various distances throughout the day from early morning to late evening with consistent results. The X16 functioned well throughout the process and produced pinpoint, killing shots from 10 yards to 60 yards. It also performed on the roving range. I wouldn’t hesitate to use it on live game out to the maximum scope setting, although I like to wait for shots at closer range. 

The X16 turned out to be well-balanced, lightweight and compact, perfect for still-hunting in typical whitetail habitat. I tried the Hawke scope with green and red illumination, as well as with the illumination turned off and had no trouble finding my targets or putting my arrows where I wanted them. 

All things considered, the X16 Tactical is an excellent crossbow for hunting and is designed to provide a lifetime of accurate shooting. It is lightweight, compact and sturdy, easy to cock and safe to shoot. With careful handling and routine maintenance, the X16 should certainly provide many years of dependable service. 

·      Quick breakdown feature for travel

·      Well-balanced and lightweight for still-hunting

·      Extra-wide finger flange and adjustable five-position foregrip

·      Completely new trigger assembly


MSRP: $2,099 

For many years, FeraDyne’s Carbon Express were moderately priced and had a solid reputation for dependability and accuracy; that tradition continues today with the company’s Rocky Mountain RM-405 ($379.99) and RM-415 ($399.99) crossbow packages. But to satisfy the desires of hunters who demand elite performance, FeraDyne has introduced AXE Crossbows.

Compact at only 30.5 inches in length and only 11.5 inches wide axle to axle when ready to fire, the AXE AX440 comes fully assembled except for the scope, which easily attaches to the Picatinny rail using two wrench-friendly nuts. The scope rings can be tightened using the provided Allen wrench. 

The AX440 features an integral, user-friendly crank cocking system that also de-cocks the crossbow at the end of a hunt. The full-control crank handle is turned clockwise to cock the crossbow, counter-clockwise to de-cock. No buttons to push and no levers to switch. The crank can be stopped or continued from any position along the guide rail and remains attached to the crossbow at all times. 

The stock of the AX440 is different in that it eliminates the rail concept and utilizes dual carbon guide rods along the entire length of the stock. The shoot-through riser and tunable roller rest on the bow’s front end create a free-floating arrow system that minimizes contact, friction and torque over the entire flight path. The end result is more arrow speed, accuracy and longevity. 

Another great feature of the AX440 is its rock-solid integral quiver, which keeps three arrows tucked safely and conveniently below the limbs. 

The AX440 comes equipped with an illuminated, multi-reticle scope designed specifically for this crossbow. It provides a wide field of view with red/green-dot reticles that are sharp and clear even at the 100-yard setting. 

The AX440 package includes the crossbow, scope, integral quiver and three AXE Micro 19 micro-diameter (.166 inside) arrows fitted with aluminum nocks that click into place to ensure proper loading every time. 

Shooters are sure to be surprised and impressed by the AX440’s arrow speed and accuracy. Off the bench, it was phenomenal. I had it dead-on at 20 yards in three shots, then began shooting at 30, 40 and 50 yards. I couldn’t fire more than one arrow per bull’s-eye without risking expensive Robin Hoods at every distance. I continued to shoot in 10-yard increments all the way out to 100 yards per the manufacturer’s recommendation if only to prove that the crossbow was capable of delivering hunt-quality accuracy as advertised. It did. 

As might be expected of a crossbow costing more than $2,000, there is little to be disappointed in regarding the AX440’s design, function or accuracy. This is a high-end, top-quality bow and performed as such throughout my testing process. 

The 5-year, original-owner warranty covers all parts except strings, cables, flight rails, trigger slide box and cosmetic blemishes. With proper care and maintenance this is the last crossbow you should ever own. 

·      Easy cocking and loading with adjustable foot holder

·      Proprietary AXE Micro 19 arrows performed flawlessly

·      Shot fist-sized groups at maximum range.

·      No additional lubrication required between shots


TenPoint Nitro 505

MSRP:  $3,049.99/moss green; $3,149.99/Veil Alpine Camo 

Let’s get right to the point: With an arrow speed of 505 fps and 227 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, the Nitro 505 is the fastest crossbow on the market and the most powerful crossbow ever built by TenPoint. 

Having tested, used and reviewed TenPoint products for the better part of 20 years, I had nothing less than high expectations when my sample unit arrived. 

The Nitro 505’s reverse-draw design is not all about bells and whistles as much as it is about form, function and accuracy. Featuring a wonderfully balanced reverse-draw platform, the Nitro 505 is equipped with a newly designed RX8 Cam System, a two-stage, zero-creep S1 Trigger that delivers a consistent and crisp 3.5-pound pull, plus one of the easiest cocking and de-cocking systems currently available. 

TenPoint’s proven, field-tested, proprietary ACUslide cocking mechanism requires only 5 pounds of force to operate — a fraction of the effort required on most other crossbows. The ACUslide provides consistently smooth and safe cocking and equally easy de-cocking by merely backwinding the integral handle. 

In testing, the Nitro 505 functioned and performed flawlessly, about what you’d expect from a top-end crossbow designed by one of the most experienced manufacturers in the business. Everything in or on the crossbow operated just as designed. After several 100-arrow daily shooting sessions over the course of a week, I found the trigger pull still set right at 3.5 pounds; the de-cocking system was still tight and smooth and, importantly, the cocking handle remained locked tightly in its slot under the stock. Keeping track of that cocking handle is important because the unit has a 300-pound draw weight, which means hand-cocking is not an option. 

The unit is short (just over 30 inches), balanced and easy to handle from the bench, on the ground, in a blind or from a treestand. I could find nothing to complain about when cocking, loading and shooting from any platform at any angle. 

While the Nitro 505’s base model MSRP of $3,049.99 (moss green stock; black scope) may seem steep compared to many other “base model” crossbows, there is something to be said about top-of-the-line components, workmanship, design, accuracy and function. 

The Nitro 505 crossbow hunting package includes an EVO-X Marksman Elite variable speed scope with external adjustment turrets, integral ACUslide cocking and de-cocking system, six EVO-X AlphaNock CenterPunch Premium carbon crossbow arrows (.001-inch straightness), an ambidextrous QD six-arrow quiver, and TenPoint’s integrated noise-dampening string stop system. 

In final analysis, TenPoint’s Nitro 505 is all the crossbow your customers will ever need. I have many crossbows that are 20 years old and still in top operating condition. None of them were made to the quality standards that are obvious in the Nitro 505. 

·      Zeroes in quickly off the bench

·      Easy to cock and load

·      Balanced and easy to handle

·      Factory-mounted and pre-sighted scope



Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.