By Justin Stakes
United States -(Ammoland.com)- The human species has hunted to survive since long before the start of civilization or the introduction of agricultural farming that began 1,000's of years ago.
The traditional class as an archer dates all the way back to the end of the Stone Age or Paleolithic Era; before the widespread use of firearms began throughout the Classical Antiquity and Medieval Period, when archers were vastly important in hunting and military tactics. The archer's skill was always a decisive moment that would turn the tide of a battle against a massive army of unarmored units.
Homo heidelbergensis were among the first early human species to become big-game hunters around 600,000 to 200,000 years ago, while the Neandertals were among the first to attach Mousterian Lithics to their wooden spears. It’s been nearly 12,000 years since Homo Sapien invented the traditional bow and stone-tipped arrow, as well as other technological advancements such as the atlatl. As we evolved as a species, our weapons became more complex and prevailing in taking our targets down.
The atlatl was a marvelous invention for our gracile and slender bodies, and a notable achievement in regards to big-game hunts for wildlife such as the grandiose mastodon or mammoth. In contrast to hunting in large groups and rushing creatures; such as the stoutly prevailing mammoth, for a chance to take the game down as fast as possible. The atlatl provided the hunter with nearly double the velocity of a spear throw as the linear speed of the spear increases by nearly 90 km/h, using the device from a distance also meant less casualties throughout the course of a hunt.
With such a long history behind the act of hunting, a vast diversity of weapons and traps have been recorded throughout the centuries, but none were as prevalent as the traditional bow or the more modernized and pistol-like version known as a crossbow.
Due to the constant barrage of new products that continue to appear on the market and the prevailing crossbow manufacturers who constantly introduce new models in succession each year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the new hunters and enthusiasts who are interested in a crossbow to make a well-educated decision.
So after researching new and old companies alike, I have concluded with the top 5 crossbows for the year of 2014, the following companies are proven industry leaders along with a newcomer whose crossbows have notable innovations compared to their lesser competitors. Consider this the Ultimate Crossbow Buyer’s Guide for 2014.
Barnett Crossbows started with one man’s dream and passion to hunt, a passion seen every year in Barnett’s newly designed line-up.
Barnett has been persistent in build quality and performance since its inception by building better crossbows every year with response and tweaks to any faults from the previous years’ line of crossbows; making them stronger, better, faster and more powerful than the preceding year.
Barnett’s engineers are pioneers with what they do, developing innovative features for crossbows such as the Commando Self-Cocking Crossbow, the first compound crossbow called the Demon, a patented quick front end detach, and they continue today with a fully integrated crank cocking device for attachment. From its inception over half a century ago, Barnett had persistently continued to improve upon the overall quality and build of every crossbow it has produced.
The Razr is one of Barnett’s new Carbon Lite Crossbows designed for 2014, it features a 43% lighter rise made possible with Barnett’s Patented Carbon Riser Technology, along with finger reminders and a pass-through fore grip for an integrated user experience. It comes complete with custom composite laminated limbs that support a retractable underarm, as well the convenience of a skinning knife incorporated into the crossbow along with an adjustable butt pad and string suppressors.
The Razr features five excellent and unique innovations:
The state-of-the-art Anti Dry Fire Trigger is a unique mechanism that helps protect the shooter from pulling the trigger without an arrow in place. Barnett’s patented Anti Dry Fire Trigger has a spring loaded safety feature that stays in place until the arrow is placed properly, which will then allow the archer to turn the safety off and shoot the bow.
The new Carbon Riser removes virtually 43% of the weight on the front end which in turn effectively shifts the balance point of the crossbow to the shoulder, allowing for a steadier and more accurate shot.
Barnett’s Patented Shoot Thru Riser is designed to lengthen the power stroke of the Razr without the need of assigning the cocking string beyond arms reach. This innovation also allows for an overall increase in speed and energy provided through the riser.
The Razr features a Metal Injected Mold trigger which allows for the tautest quality tolerance available on the market, also accounting for the pleasingly smooth trigger pull at 3.5 pounds
Barnett included integrated mechanics in the stock to provide a much faster and more effective install of the Crank Cocking Device.
Additional Product Features:
- CNC Machined 7/8″ Picatinny Rail
- Axle to Axle – 20”
- Arrow Length/ Grain – 22″/400
- Draw Weight – 185 lbs.
- Ft. lbs. of Energy – 142
- Physical Weight – 6.5 lbs.
- Power Stroke – 16″
- Overall Length – 34.75″
- Velocity (FPS) – 400
- Width Axle-to-Axle – 21.5″
- Price – $1,600.00 MSRP
The full Razr package comes complete with a premium illuminated scope, a rope cocking device, 3 arrow quivers, and 3 22″ Headhunter arrows.
While Excalibur Crossbow might not have the same years of experience as Barnett in the entitlement of a crossbow manufacturer, they make up for it with their experience as crossbow hunters.
Excalibur was started by a group of crossbow hunters who only wanted to build crossbows with priorities geared towards affordability, efficiency, reliability, and most of all accuracy. Its ideas might not come from a set of highly skilled engineers, but rather, Excalibur’s expertise comes from the talented and experienced individuals that make up the team.
Since 1983, Excalibur has produced outstanding crossbows by sticking to the basics of archery with their lightning fast recurve limbs. The bows produced by the company tend to strike faster than most traditional compound bows with a fraction of their noise, weight, or mechanical failures. Together, with the overall composite of parts and aluminum stock developed by Excalibur, its crossbows incline towards weathering an unsurmounted amount of abuse while still functioning accurately and to the full extent of reliability required for a lifetime of hunting.
“With Excalibur, accuracy is more than just a word, it’s a guarantee! We guarantee that each and every bow we produce is capable of shooting groups of 3” or less at 25 yards using broadheads…Target arrows? Better shoot one per target or you’ll be buying more!”
Excalibur’s Mega Matrix 405
Excalibur Crossbows has released four new crossbows in four uniquely diverse styles; the Matrix Mega 405, Matrix 380 Lynx, Matrix 330, and the Matrix 310, designed for the Matrix line-up for the year of 2014.
Hunters looking for a compact powerhouse among crossbows for taming the world’s deadliest game would need to look no further than Excalibur’s Matrix Mega 405. Proving recurves are still quite deadly, the Mega 405 is made for the serious hunter, featuring 200 lb. limbs and an integrated R.E.D System (Recoil Energy Dissipation) along with string suppressors that reduce vibration, noise and shock for a more silent and still shot.
Similar to the other crossbows in Excalibur’s compact Matrix line-up, the Matrix Mega 405 also features a super-premium Matrix String; made with the original high strength bowstring called DynaFLIGHT 97, intended to reduce creeping and increase the overall speed.
A built-in release permits the hunter to uncock an arrow with simplicity, while the Self-contained Guardian Anti-Dry-Fire System structured within the scope mount will catch the crossbow string in order to prevent any accidental firing if the crossbow trigger is ever pulled without an arrow in place.
- Arrow Length – 18″
- Draw weight – 290lbs.
- Finish- Mossy Oak Tree stand
- Minimum Arrow Wt. – 350 gr.
- Physical Weight – 6.2 lbs.
- Power Stroke – 13.87″
- Overall Length – 36.25″
- Stock Style – Ergo-Grip
- Velocity (tested @350 grains) – 405 FPS
- Price – $1,349.99 MSRP
The Matrix Mega 405 comes packaged with a Twilight DLX Scope, 30mm rings, a cheek piece, a quiver capable of holding four arrows with a bracket, four Diablo arrows, four 150-grain field points and a rope-cocking aid.
Parker Compound Bows, Inc.
Originally founded by CEO Robert Errett, Parker Bows was established over 30 years ago in 1984, when the company was formerly known as Nationwide Archery.
The fact that Parker Compound bows, Inc. is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers and producers of compound bows and crossbows is only one indication towards the overall high quality and amazing performance of Parker’s products.
Robert Errett was born in West Virginia, but he initially began his career in archery during the mid-70s; 1975 to be exact, at The Bear Archery Company located in Grayling, Michigan. From there he was an employee for over 10 years, as well as a good friend to the legendary Fred Bear. Fred Bear turned out have a huge impact and influence towards Robert and the manner in which he runs Parkers with attention to quality and customer satisfaction.
As of now, Parker Compound bows are sold in over 1,200 outdoor retail outlets located throughout the United States. Parker’s accessories and gear are also some of the finest in the archery industry, including their highly regarded and reliable High-Grade Carbon Arrows, Patented Capture Nocks, and Patented Rope Cocker; all made in order to keep the customer happy and satisfied for years of enjoyment.
Similar to all of Parker’s compound bows and crossbows, the CenterFire comes assembled with the same high quality and high-tech options that hunters have come to enjoy from crossbows that cost hundreds more.
The CenterFire features an ultra-sleek compact design that makes for an extremely lightweight crossbow with immense power that weighs in at around 8lbs. Along with the compact design and lightweight feel, the CenterFire shoots at lightning fast speeds up to 335 Feet Per Second (FPS). Noise and vibrations are easily canceled out for the ultimate stealth option with Parker’s factory installed Anti-Vibration and Shock System. The CenterFire is engineered with Parker’s advanced Exclusive Synergy Cams to deliver a greater performance and easier cocking by up to 50% when combined with the RED HOT EZ Roller Rope Cocker. A feature that Parker Compound Bows, Inc. embraces in their crossbows since it makes for one of the easiest cocking methods in the archery industry.
Along with Parker’s proprietary Advanced Split Limb technological advancements, the crossbow also features a Classic Monte Carlo Stock with a soft touch finish, full comb, and a Vented Forearm with a Safety Finger Flange. Included in the crossbow package is a Premium RED HOT Optic, Four Arrow Quick Detach Quiver, and four arrows with field point technology.
- Short and Light Weight Design
- Advanced Split Limb Technology
- Full Comb for Solid Cheek Weld
- Thumb-hole Pistol Grip Design
- Vented Forearm with Safety Finger Flange
- Dual String Suppressors
- RED HOT String
- Barrel – Ballistics Polymer
- Draw Weight – 165 lbs.
- Finish – Next “Vista” Camo
- Power Stroke – 12.25″
- Overall Length – 37.50″
- Riser – Machined Aluminum
- String – RED HOT Synthetic
- Weight – 8 lbs.
- Velocity – 335 FPS (Speed with 20″, 400 grain total weight carbon arrow)
- Width Axle-to-Axle – 20.750″
- Outfitter w/3X Multi Reticle Scope – $699.95 MSRP
- Outfitter w/1X Illum MR Scope – $749.95 MSRP
- Outfitter w/3X Illum MR Scope – $749.95 MSRP
- Outfitter w/3X Pin-Point Scope – $799.95 MSRP
- “Perfect Storm” IR Package – $989.95 MSRP
“Perfect Storm” IR Package Includes:
- CenterFire Crossbow
- Illuminated Multi-Reticle Scope
- 6 RED HOT High Velocity Arrows
- 1 RED HOT Roller Rope Cocker
- 3 RED HOT Crosspro 100 Broadheads
- 6 100 gr. match weight field points
- 1 RED HOT Crossbow Sling
- 1 RED HOT Wax and Lube Kit
- 1 RED HOT Soft Crossbow Case
TenPoint CrossBow Technologies
While TenPoint CrossBow Technologies was originally established in 1994 under the name Hunter’s Manufacturing Company Inc., the chairman Richard L. Bednar has been in the archery business since he purchased the family business in 1981.
CEO and President of the company; Richard Bednar, has experienced a lifelong success in archery sports and the manufacturing industry that trails all the way back to his youth at the moment his parents Bill and Edith Bednar founded the Portage Archery center in Suffield, Ohio. His parents’ original outdoor pro shop still operates today as a division of TenPoint CrossBow Technologies and under the name Hunter’s Outlet Archery Center.
As Bednar grew up immersed in his family’s business, his father also taught him to grow as a leading tournament archer, winning a total of three NCAA Championship titles at The University of Akrmas as well as qualifying for the 1976 Olympic Archery Team.
Both Bednar’s retail experience and professional background have continued to foster a strong interest and impact on his appreciation for engineering, bow design, and performance. With most of the advancements made to products coming directly from the input of customers and hunters who love the company. With over 20 years of experience, TenPoint has consistently continued to produce new innovations and improvements to their already stellar line of bows and crossbows, including the procuration of 52 patents of which 19 are currently pending.
TenPoint’s entry level line of crossbows that are now an independently successful brand; Wicked Ridge, was created by his son Philip once he joined the family company after graduating with an MBA from The University of Akron.
TenPoint's Venom Crossbow
In high demand at the moment, TenPoint’s Venom crossbow package is currently out of stock and estimated to ship around August 1st.
The Venom is highly inspired by TenPoint’s Stealth SS and Vapor models that were released for last year’s line-up. The Venom expands upon all the great features from last year’s models while combining the popular FSB Stock and TenPoint’s new 19.9” woven carbon fiber barrel with that of a super-charged version of the XLT bow. This assembly creates a lightweight and ultra-compact design that still delivers an outstanding 372 Frames per Second (FPS) with TenPoint’s Pro Lite Arrows.
Included with the Venom 2014 package is TenPoint’s Range Master Pro Scope which comes mounted on an aluminum 7/8” Fixed Dovetail Mount, the customer’s choice between a ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 cocking device, Instant detach 3-Arrow Quiver, Ambidextrous Side Mount Quiver Bracket, six TenPont Pro Elite Carbon Fiber Arrows with practice points, instructional DVD, TenPoint vehicle window sticker, and the exclusive Bowjax Crossbow Noise Dampening Kit.
- Draw Weight – 185 lbs.
- Power Stroke – 13.5″
- Overall Length – 34.6″
- Velocity – Pro Lite Arrow (370 grain) 372 FPS / 114 FP KE
- Weight – 6.5 lbs.
- Width Axle-to-Axle – (uncocked/cocked) 17.6″ / 13.3″
- Price – $1,719.00 MSRP
Mission Archery by Matthews
Mission Archery is one of the up and coming, new bow manufacturers that has won Outdoor Life’s Great Buy Award for the last three years in a row due to their winning value and performance.
The company has quickly rose in the ranks and maintains a reputation for building bows that have consistently outperformed their price in regards to affordability and quality; an inherent superiority that can been seen throughout all of Mission’s crossbows. A reputation that Mission Archery has continued to live up to from its inception in 2007, a mere 7 years and this company is showing such promise already.
“Our mission is to design bows that hit the sweet spot between performance and price, so you can pursue your archery and bow hunting adventures without going over your budget.”
Based in Sparta, Wisconsin, Mission Archery has been pushing the boundaries between bow design and performance from the start by providing a constant flow of innovations such as their Hyper Adjustability featured for youths and hunters who love the ability to change draw length and weight with simplicity and ease. This feature is placed on Mission’s Craze, Riot, and Menace which gives the shooter an all-around user-friendly experience that is great for beginners, youth hunters, and enthusiasts to ideally grow in experience and strength with their bow.
All of Mission’s high performance products are created by a team consisting mostly of highly skilled hunters and archery enthusiasts. Mission even acknowledges an extremely important value that most companies tend to overlook or ignore, the customer service is provided by an in-house team of customer service technicians that offer no-hassle support to all customers and inquiries.
“Our goal is that when you shoot one of our bows, you’ll feel every ounce of pride, ingenuity and craftsmanship that went into making it.”
Mission created the all-new MXB-400 to offer hunters a combination of incredibly fast draw weight and speeds that deliver a lightweight and comfortably well-balanced design.
A combination of speed, adaptability, weight, and maneuverability that has yet to be seen in the archery industry until now. Like all of Mission’s products in the MXB line-up, the MXB-400 comes packed and assembled in Mission’s very own soft case. Hunters and enthusiasts that are looking to enhance their overall experience with Mission Archery can take complete advantage of their full selection of accessory kits that compliment any Mission crossbow kit.
The MXB-400 features a parallel mounted ALR system; patent pending, with limbs that are extremely firm and durable. This allows adjustments to be made with the ease of simply turning the limb bolts to your desired draw weight. The Adjustable Limb Retention system also makes the replacement of bow strings and cables a breeze without the use of a bow press.
The MXB also utilizes Parker’s unique X-Cam Technology (also Patent Pending) that maximizes a crossbow's performance in order to store a massive amount of energy in quick successions for a smoother draw cycle than most crossbows on the current market.
- Draw Weight – 200 / 175 /150 / 125
- Bowstrings – Zebra Hybrid
- Finish – Lost AT
- Length – 34″
- Power stroke – 14″
- Physical Weight – 6.9lbs (with acc. rail)
- Width – 19.5″
- Velocity – 400+ fps
- Price – $1199 MSRP (CAMO – crossbow only)
- $1299 MSRP (Tactical – crossbow only)
Article by Justin Stakes
Photo Copyright @ J. Stakes Photography
Justin Stakes is a Freelance Photographer and Journalist dealing with a variety of different subjects that interest and inspire his love for the great outdoors and more. Justin is an avid outdoor enthusiast and geek with a photographic style that is a mixture of photojournalism and fine art. He has won three Photo Show Competitions throughout his education and has even been exhibited in the Wignall Museum of Contemporary Art.