February 25, 2014
By Bob Humphrey
Regardless of whether you are a fan of black (tactical) weapons, you have to admit they have certain advantages, not the least of which is versatility. While several compound and crossbow makers have adopted the black, tactical look to acknowledge increased consumer interest, Carbon Express has embraced it largely because of that versatility.
In fact, that's the concept behind what the company is calling its new I-Crossbow line, and its first representative, the Intercept. It provides a precision platform with amazing adjustability designed to help you shoot better. No longer do you have to adapt to your crossbow. Now, you can make it fit you, regardless of your body size, shooting style or hunting situation.
Riding the Rails
The foundation of the Intercept's versatility is a whopping 29 inches of Picatinny rail, allowing you to customize various sections of the bow (top, forearm and stock) to your preference.
Most crossbows provide roughly six inches of rail above the riser on which to mount your optic. That's enough in most, but not all, cases. I encountered two instances in the last year when I was unable to mount my preferred optic on other models. In one case, I couldn't achieve acceptable eye relief. In another, the fixed-distance rings wouldn't line up with the rail slot spacing.
The Intercept has a generous 15 inches of top rail, running nearly the length of the barrel. With that, shooters should be able to find the right position for proper eye relief and field of view with virtually any optic, whether it be AR-style mechanical sights, a conventional scope for daytime hunting or night-vision optics for predators and hogs.
It also allows for a second bolt-retention spring toward the front of the rail. Yes, the friction might cost you a foot or two per second, but I'm willing to trade that for a more secure grip. It doesn't happen often, but occasionally maneuvering into awkward positions can cause the front end of the bolt to flop around. That won't happen on the Intercept.
Under the barrel/riser, you'll find another four-inch, eight-position rail, to which you attach the six-position AR-style butt stock. The combination of rail and stock allows for length-of-pull adjustment from 13-19.5 inches, providing a comfortable, custom fit for anyone from the smallest youth to tallest adult. The butt stock and pistol grip are also collapsible for storage and transport.
Last but not least is a nine-inch foregrip rail, which allows you to find the most comfortable, ergonomic position. The foregrip itself also has multiple positions, including vertical, two 45-degree angles (forward and back) or folded away for storage and carry.
If you're really into tactical stuff, the three rails and other connection points will accommodate most military or mil-spec parts and accessories, as well as the quick-detach three-bolt quiver. You can even replace the butt stock and pistol grip with your favorite, if you have one.
The Intercept has a few other neat features worth mentioning. I particularly liked the angled, low-profile design of the compact foot stirrup. First, it reduces overall bow length — better for small-framed shooters. Second, the angle and lower position of the rope cocking slot make the bow lean into the shooter when drawing. This affords a little extra leverage and more importantly, reduces the chances of the draw mechanism slipping up over the arrow retention spring.
The Intercept's stock tube and both grips have internal storage for carrying tools, extra strings, tags or licenses. And accuracy is enhanced by the rifle-like, 3.5-pound trigger.
The Intercept comes with a 4x32 Crossbow Pro 5-Step Lighted Scope. Crosshairs and red and green illuminated circles maximize sight visibility under varying light conditions, and the reticle is graduated for ranges from 20-50 yards. The scope comes with flip-open lens caps and one-inch, quick-detach rings.
In the Field
Despite its tactical form and function, the Intercept is a hunting crossbow. Perhaps more appealing to the hunter is the Intercept's compact design (13.5 inches axle-to-axle when cocked and 30.25-36.75 inches long, depending on stock adjustment), making it ideal for tight spots such as treestands and ground blinds.
The Intercept's carbon-infused, fiberglass limbs and high-performance cams, combined with a 13.5-inch power stroke and 175-pound draw weight, propel lightweight Carbon Express Maxima Blue Streak bolts at speeds in excess of 360 fps, with
kinetic energy of 122 foot-pounds. To explain that in practical terms, my bolt blew through two targets at 15 yards and buried almost completely in the dirt.
There is a cost for all that power. Without fancy, technical noise-measuring equipment, I'd rate the Intercept on the higher side of average in terms of shot noise. And though I wouldn't call it recoil, you will feel a little jump at the shot. However, it is not enough to affect accuracy if you're holding properly.
Black guns, and now black bows, are the latest crossover trend from tactical to practical field use. However, the Intercept is more than just a trend follower. Its convertible design is a trendsetter, allowing any shooter to make it fit in terms of both form and function. It also offers top-of-the-line components and parts for a precise, reliable shooting platform.
Manufacturer: Carbon Express, 800-241-4833
Draw Weight: 175 pounds
Power Stroke: 13.5 inches
Speed: 360 fps
Kinetic Energy: 122 foot-pounds
Length: 30.25-35 inches, depending on stock setting
Width: 17 inches at rest, 13.5 inches when cocked
Weight: 8.3 pounds (not including scope, quiver, bolts and foregrip)
Trigger Pull: 3.5 pounds
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