October 29, 2012
Throughout the years there have been universal disadvantages to crossbows that apply to each model in some way — they're too heavy, too bulky to maneuver in tight quarters, too difficult to consistently load or too loud to shoot. With advances in technology and a keen eye for innovation, however, manufacturers like TenPoint have mostly laid those complaints to rest.
New this year, TenPoint's Turbo XLT II captures all their most important design features, helping make it a compact, lightweight, easy-to-load and insanely quiet crossbow. Yeah, that and it delivers an impressive 345 feet per second on 180 pounds of draw weight, making it a devastating force out to 50 yards. What's not to love about that?
Putting It All Together
One of the most impressive things TenPoint has done, in my estimation, is take a number of ingenious design solutions and put them together into one package at an affordable price. While companies like Apple make you agonize about the features you either won't have until next year or have to sell your child to afford via upgrade, TenPoint leaves you feeling like you got all you wanted and more.
For right at $1,000 you get the bow, a 3x Pro-View illuminated scope, three arrows with field points, a detachable quiver and built-in ACUdraw loading system, not to mention a handful of other innovative features. Many experiences with package or combo deals have left me wary that I'm getting something cheap, but definitely not in this case. With a great local archery shop to get me set up, I was able to get everything assembled, dialed-in on paper (the bows come sighted-in from the factory) and walk out the door in about 40 minutes, ready for a whitetail hunt the next day.
I was originally leery about about TenPoint's claim that bows come sighted-in, but I was extremely impressed by the immediate accuracy of the XLT when I got it out of the box. After three shots and a few turns of a knob, it was dead center at 30 yards.
When I did make it afield with Matt and Kellen from Outdoor Instincts in Kentucky, it proved to be every bit the lightweight crossbow advertised, gracing the scales right at seven pounds (without accessories). The stock features TenPoint's Fusion Lite material, which is lighter than what came on the original model and also more durable. The Turbo XLT II also comes with a Realtree APG finish, which looks sharp and holds up well in the elements. It features an ergonomic cut-out pistol grip, which felt amazing in hand, while the three-and-a-half-pound trigger — which is standard for TenPoint — was dreamy.
The stock also has a nice fat, textured grip for your steadying hand, which is designed to keep your fingers low and out of the way of the string as it releases. TenPoint includes an optional clear safety shield, which snaps on to keep your fingers from getting lobbed off. Like any male, I decided not to use it and fortunately had no issues.
The other immensely important safety feature on the Turbo XLT II is the patented Dry-Fire-Inhibitor, which keeps the bow from firing when no arrow is loaded. This prevents the kind of dry-fire incident that would in many cases destroy the limbs or string on a crossbow.
Standing Out in the Crowd
Every year brings something bigger and better, no matter what industry you're in. What you've got to have is something to set you apart from the rest, which is what TenPoint has done with the Turbo XLT II. What stood out the most to me was the compact size, the Pro-View scope, and ACUdraw loading system — a trio of features that make the Turbo XLT II one of the most effective and enjoyable crossbows on the market.
One of the biggest issues with the old school crossbows was how wide they were from tip to tip on the limbs. It's not very easy in a blind or tree stand — heck, behind any obstruction whatsoever — to maneuver a bow that's got 35 inches of horizontal width. And that's where the Turbo XLT II excels, with limbs just 17 inches from tip to tip. It makes life that much easier when you have an extra foot-and-a-half of space to operate your bow — especially in a stand or blind where space is a huge factor.
Second, the Turbo XLT II comes with a 3x Pro-View illuminated scope which has five brightness settings for either green or red dots. Because light differs throughout the day, the Pro-View scope allows you to select the brightness and color of your dots with the turn of a dial — an extremely cool and useful tool that is adjustable for user preference and lighting conditions. I liked this feature especially in low light when I could increase the brightness of the dots, creating a sharper contrast between the darkened landscape and my center dot.
And finally, the ACUdraw loading system, which features a hand crank and ratcheting mechanism that makes light work out of the 180-pound draw. The hand crank stows away nicely into the stock, and was unnoticeable when operating the bow. I practiced cranking the string back two times and was more than comfortable with it. It's easy and uncomplicated, and it beats the heck out of wrenching your back trying to cock the bow.
Making a Little Noise
My one complaint here is that the ratcheting system is somewhat noisy (the way a mechanic's ratchet sounds when turning), and so is the safety. Although most of the time you're loading your bow at the truck, if you do want to discreetly re-cock with a deer in earshot, it's nearly impossible. I did figure out, however, that if you are able to hold the "engage/disengage" switch while you crank, it kills the ratcheting noise almost entirely — a task that's not easy 30 feet off the ground in a stand.
As for the loud safety, I had a doe broadside at 20 yards when I switched the safety off and even I was startled by how loud the clicking noise was. The doe was clearly alarmed, as her head shot straight up in the air and looked in my direction. Fortunately it did not affect the shot, but it was an issue no less. The solution for this, according to TenPoint, is to adjust the tension on the safety and to push in on the pin while releasing.
- Incredibly accurate
- Lightweight and compact
- Key features: ACUdraw system, Pro-View illuminated scope
- Smooth trigger
- Ergonomic stock
- Noise from safety releasing
- Noise from ACUdraw system cranking