Only a few years ago, seeing the new crossbows was something of an afterthought compared to checking out the flagship vertical bows at the ATA Show. Not anymore. With crossbow sales—and hunting opportunities—ever on the rise, innovative x-bows certainly command as much attention at this show as any other category of gear. Here’s a look at some of the top new models we got to shoot.
Excalibur has been making utterly reliable and virtually indestructible recurve bows for years, but the Assassin is their most exciting offering to date. I’ve tested several Excalibur bows, and cocking them has been—to put it kindly—a chore. The new Charger Cranking System eliminates that complaint; an ambidextrous handle (with a wrist strap that makes it nearly impossible for the crank to slip from your hand) detaches from the stock and cocks—and de-cocks—the bow in complete silence. The new Tru-Fit stock allows adjustment in both length and comb for a perfect fit, and the two-stage Pro-Shot trigger broke very nicely. Sure the technologic jumps made by the wheel-bow companies are impressive, but in terms of no-nonsense improvements on a great hunting bow, the Assassin was probably my favorite at ATA.
Specs: Speed: 360 fps, Weight: 7.7 lbs. ($1,699, excaliburcrossbow.com)
Ravin R20 Sniper
Ravin set the ATA afire in their show debut last year (and won our annual crossbow test going away), and the new R20 offers improvements on that original model. The redesigned stock sports a more comfortable grip and cheek piece. The safety, which was a push-in button last year, is now a crisper, more intuitive toggle on the side of the receiver. Those are fairly minor tweaks on an already awesome bow, so if you need some real gew-gaws, upgrade your R20 to the Sniper version, which features a “Jack Plate” adjustable elevation scope mount that allows MOA angle adjustments that theoretically lets you shoot a bolt accurately out to 200 yards. The Sniper Package also includes a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8X24 scope that’s really sharp and offers 11 illumination levels. Sure it ain’t cheap, but it’s undeniably cool.
Specs: Power stroke: 13”, Speed: 430 fps, Physical weight: 7.1 lbs. ( $2,549, ravincrossbows.com)
I’m always happy when I shoot a true speed bow that doesn’t make me feel like I’m steering a muscle car, and the Fixation impressed me a bunch. The new XP Cam™ has enough valley to make for a fairly pleasant draw cycle, while still delivering an extremely fast arrow. The Fixation’s redesigned riser features stronger limb pockets, a rear stabilizer mount, and a beefier profile that doesn’t look like it should balance as well as it does. While I’m no fashionista, lots of shooters want a cool-looking bow that reflects their personality; Obsession knows this and delivers with multiple camo patterns and string colors that allow shooters to get a bow that matches their individual tastes, and that's pretty cool.
Specs: Axle-axle: 32.25”, Brace height: 6”, Weight: 4.5 lbs., IBO: 354 fps ($999, obsessionbows.com)
When Prime decided to build their shortest bow ever and still use Centergy™ technology—which achieves better bow balance by centering the bow’s grip—they had to do some major redesigns. The first and most notable is the Logic's split limbs, a first for Prime. The second was the widest set of parallel cams the Michigan-based company has ever built (and that’s saying something). Finally, Prime designed a new platform for the whole setup; the new Swerve™ riser sports a unique curve that’s meant to keep the top and bottom parts of the riser working in unison. As a fairly short bow, it's no surprise that the Logic stacks a bit more on the draw and rolls over a little harder than past Primes, but totally manageable, and all the other great shooting qualities you expect from this brand are there: good valley, solid wall and dead in the hand.
Specs: Axle-axle: 31”, Brace height: 7”, Weight: 4.3 lbs., IBO: 330 fps. (($1,099, G5prime.com)