2020 Crossbow Trends: Compact & Quiet

2020 Crossbow Trends: Compact & Quiet
Crossbows no longer remind bowhunters of medieval weaponry. Instead, modern “X-bows” such as this Ravin R29X are sleek, maneuverable and capable of taking big game at remarkable distances.

It is said that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. The archery industry is rife with inventors and engineers continually seeking ways to build better contraptions that help make us more successful. Constantly looking over their shoulders are bean counters more concerned with the market forces of supply and demand. The most successful companies are those that use the latest and greatest in materials, engineering and technology to answer customer complaints and desires. If something works for one company, others are quick to mimic it; thus, we get trends.

I would venture that no segment of the outdoor industry is trendier than archery. As the past few years prove, and this year’s crossbows emphasize, those trends are often driven by customer demand. In this and ensuing columns, we’ll take a closer look at some of these trends.

Addition by Subtraction

If you’ve been a crossbow shooter for any length of time, you probably recall how unwieldy crossbows used to be, what with their long stocks and limbs and heavy weight. Crossbow makers continue to push the envelope in addressing this, with 2020 providing several prime examples.

Just five years ago, the average crossbow width was about 19 inches. By comparison, crossbows in Bear X’s new Constrictor series measure a mere 10 inches when cocked. Barnett’s new Hyperflite EVO 420 is only 9.3 inches across. TenPoint’s new Viper S400 spans just 7.2 inches wide, while its Vapor RS470 measures an ultra-narrow 6.5 inches. Ravin’s new R29X is even narrower at just 6 inches axle to axle. Excalibur even found a way to narrow cocked width down to 20 inches on recurve limbs with its Micro series.


Reducing width was accomplished in several ways, most notably through parallel-/reverse-limb or cam technology. Scorpyd was the first to provide the former, at least on this side of the pond. Others, such as Barnett with its Vengeance, Horton with its RDX and TenPoint with its aforementioned Vapor RS470, followed suit, and with good reason. After all, narrow crossbows are easier to transport and maneuver in tight places than wider ones.


These designs provide several other advantages, too. Compound shooters are already familiar with parallel-limb technology — first introduced by Mathews — and how opposing limbs effectively cancel each other out, significantly reducing shot noise and vibration. These configurations also move weight back toward the shooter, making for a more balanced, and therefore more stable and accurate, shooting platform.

A Little Off the Top

But the industry and the companies’ respective customers weren’t content with merely narrowing crossbows. They also wanted them shorter, and therefore even more maneuverable in tight places such as ground blinds and shooting houses. The average length of a crossbow made in 2015 was about 35 inches. Today’s Barnett Hyperflite EVO 420 is 31.5-32.75 inches long, TenPoint’s Vapor RS470 is 31 inches long and Ravin’s R29X is 29 inches long.

Length reduction was accomplished by several means, including the use of bullpup stocks, a design first introduced by Darton and continued in its Toxin series. Barnett achieved brevity with its Step Thru Riser, which incorporates the foot stirrup into the riser. Companies such as CAM X, CenterPoint and PSE use a collapsible, tactical stock to reduce length and allow for a custom fit — another trend.

Quiet Down!

Noise and vibration have long been knocks (pardon the pun) on crossbows. Counteracting them is a daunting challenge, given the energy that must be stored in an ever-diminishing (at least in size and weight) piece of machinery. In addition to the aforementioned limb configurations, crossbow makers have also added all manner of silencing technologies to their rigs.


Most of the higher-end crossbows, as well as many of the price-point and starter crossbows, have some type of string stop(s) installed to help deaden vibration and noise. Some also offer additional features. Excalibur’s Suppressor series, for example, includes R.E.D.S. Suppressors on the crossbows’ recurve limbs. Darton’s Toxin crossbows feature patented barrel dampeners and Sims LimbSaver Technology. PSE’s Fang platform combines limb dampeners and string silencers.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

First Look: Mathews Vertix Bow

"Petersen's Bowhunting" editor Christian Berg and Mathews design engineer Mark Hayes talk the smooth, quiet and fast shooting qualities of the new flagship Vertix bow from the Wisconsin bowmaker.

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Springtime Turkey Hunt

Kevin Steele and the boys are bowhunting turkeys with the help of some well-placed decoys.

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

Ravin R29X Crossbow – New for 2020

The new Ravin R29X Crossbow includes everything you need for blistering speed (450 FPS!) and deadly downrange accuracy (3-inch group at 100 yards).

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top picks! ATA Show

New Fixed-Blade Broadheads for 2019

Brian Strickland - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new fixed-blade broadheads from the 2019 ATA Show. Check out our top...

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane.

 Good broadhead flight How-To

4 Steps to Perfect Broadhead Flight

Bowhunting Online Staff

Going from field tips to broadheads requires arrow tuning on a higher plane. Good...

We've rounded up the best new compound bows at the 2019 ATA Show. Here are our top picks for the year! ATA Show

Best New Bows for 2019

Tony J. Peterson - January 10, 2019

We've rounded up the best new compound bows at the 2019 ATA Show. Here are our top picks for...

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm! How-To

Summer Scouting Spectacular

Bill Winke - July 17, 2019

Mid-Summer Is Prime Time to Watch Large-Racked Bucks — and Stoke Fall Enthusiasm!

See More Trending Articles

More Crossbows

Since Barnett's beginnings way back in the 1960s, the company has made the industry better through Crossbows

Crossbow Review: Barnett Whitetail Pro

Jon E. Silks - September 10, 2018

Since Barnett's beginnings way back in the 1960s, the company has made the industry better...

We field tested the new TenPoint Stealth NXT. Check out our review to see how the new crossbow performed Crossbows

Gear Review: TenPoint Stealth NXT

Emily Kantner - July 31, 2018

We field tested the new TenPoint Stealth NXT. Check out our review to see how the new crossbow...

Randy Wood introduces new TenPoint Crossbows for 2018 at this year's ATA Show in Crossbows

New TenPoint Crossbows for 2018

Bowhunting Online Staff - January 13, 2018

Randy Wood introduces new TenPoint Crossbows for 2018 at this year's ATA Show in

Mission's SUB-1 XR is even faster and narrower than its predecessor. Crossbows

Crossbow Review: Mission SUB-1 XR

Jon E. Silks - August 19, 2019

Mission's SUB-1 XR is even faster and narrower than its predecessor.

See More Crossbows

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Petersen's Bowhunting subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now