By Mark Fike
Crossbows are legal in most states for hunting these days which has opened up a whole new avenue for hunters to get afield in search of game for their freezer and sometimes for their wall. Over the past 20 years, crossbows have improved by leaps and bounds.
My first crossbow, which I still use for hunting, was a rather new design when I purchased it back in 2006. That crossbow I can literally cock with my hands and it does the job. A lot of deer have gone into my freezer as a result of using that crossbow.
However, it is big, heavy and very uncomfortable to carry. It is also very wide and looks like something from four hundred years ago in comparison to the ones we have now. It is also loud when it goes off which means that on longer shots I have to factor in that the deer may instinctively duck.
Unfortunately with the improvements in crossbows, the prices have shot up to levels that are well out of my blue-collar price range. While a crossbow in the $300-$400 range would be nice, I have found that those crossbows are not what I want to carry into the woods all season long and depend on filling my freezer with.
I have seen crossbows that are nearly $3,000. There is no way I can justify, nor do I want a crossbow that costs me that much. For that reason and others I will detail below, I decided to test the BearX Constrictor Crossbow. The price point is in the $500 -$600 range and the crossbow is new for 2020.
I received the crossbow late summer and took less than 15 minutes to assemble it right out of the box. I noticed several things right away about the crossbow. First of all, the quiver can mount on the left or right side on top where the arrows/bolts are easily accessible.
Second, the stock is adjustable in length and the comb too! I shorten it when sitting on the ground so I can snug up to it when hiding in the bushes to ambush a deer.
The uncocked width is 14 inches. Cocked it is only 10 inches. That is very narrow and makes it so easy to carry in the woods through brush and shoot in those conditions too! I love the size of it. My old crossbow was a bit unwieldy to carry and shoot in tight quarters. This one is not. I take the quiver off easily when in my stand or blind too.
The 4×32 scope that comes on it can be illuminated if the hunter chooses. I did not use it much until the twilight period and found on the lowest setting it was a big help. With my glasses I really benefited from using it. I shot the crossbow out to 50 yards and I think the scope worked great at that distance and all the shots I took closer. I suspect I would have no problems at even greater ranges as well.
The speed and power of this crossbow is unreal. The 410 fps speed is blistering. The power really surprised me. I had to get a new target to shoot at because my older 3D target could not handle the power and the arrows were going right through it and messing up the fletching. I would definitely recommend making sure you have a target made for crossbows and make sure it is not worn out.
On the range, the crossbow was hands down the most accurate crossbow I have ever shot. I had to shoot one arrow at a time. The hole I put in the target was amazing. One big hole with more than two months of shooting. I think I had only three arrows vary from the point of impact over that time and I am at fault for those. I knew when I tripped the trigger I was off target a little.
My shooting took place at ranges from 12 yards to 50. I feel I could have gone further but saw no need to given that I was hunting at ranges up to 40 yards only. I have absolutely no hesitation using this crossbow at any reasonable range. The biggest thing I found is to know the point of impact (POI) of each crosshair/bubble in the scope and know how to judge range or use a rangefinder.
Cocking the crossbow takes a little more effort than I was used to because of the power of the limbs. The cocking rope is a big help and it is doable for sure. I found the single hook to take some getting used to since I was used to having two hooks.
The easiest way to cock the crossbow is to pull the rope until the handles are up against the hook and then loop the rope over the back of the receiver where it goes. Then let the rope fall over and around the scope before putting the hook on the string. It takes some getting used to or it did for me. I think a two hook system would be easier.
When I went to shoot the crossbow, I found that the safety switch was a bit small. I kept having to literally look at it to find it. When I shot a deer with it I had to glance down too. If the switch were a little bigger I think it would be better. The location is fine. It is just small, particularly if you are wearing gloves like I was one morning.
I shot the crossbow in 90 degree temps down to 38 degrees and it remained consistent. I even left it cocked for eight hours at a time a few times when hunting. I never had any issues. The point of impact remained the same. This remained true even after the break in time when the string undoubtedly stretched.
Okay, so those are the facts and observations from shooting the crossbow on the range.
So how did it hold up in the woods? I found it to be just as easy or possibly easier to carry through thick woods due to how narrow it is. That was great. The sling it comes with was helpful when I was gathering my gear, etc. I even carried it on the open trail by the sling.
The crossbow is very quiet despite its power too. Combine that with the speed of the arrows and I don’t think too many deer will be ducking the string.
When I finally got a shot at deer it was broadside at under 20 yards. I sent the arrow and I heard it crack bone very audibly. I found the arrow on the other side of the deer about 20 yards past where it was standing. What is surprising to me about that was that I was holding a little right of where I should have and that put the arrow through BOTH shoulders. In other words, the arrow pierced both shoulder blades and kept going without any issues. The power of this crossbow is amazing.
The quick specs:
Speed 410 feet per second
Uncocked width 14”
Cocked width 10”
Draw weight 190 pounds
Extendable stock/adjustable comb
Anti-dry fire mechanism
The guard on the forearm is very helpful to keep your fingers intact. The stock extends and collapses as needed. Be careful when shifting that it does not make noise if a deer is nearby. The scope is really good and the arrows fly true every time. This is the most accurate crossbow I have used in my lifetime. The narrow size and design make it great for tight quarters and shooting in brush too.
The crossbow is plenty powerful enough to hunt anything up to elk size I think with confidence. For the money, you get a crossbow that will serve well for a number of years. It appears to be well made and dependable for putting meat in the freezer.
As I stated above, I would prefer a larger safety switch but other than that I would certainly recommend this crossbow to anyone needing to upgrade or simply purchase their first crossbow. It comes with three bolts, sling, scope, quiver, cocking rope and instructions.
Right out of the box, you have something you can be in the woods with in less than two hours to include some sight in and practice time. I give it a big thumbs up as a meat-getting tool and you could even just enjoy shooting it on a 3D course.