September 10, 2018
By Jon E. Silks
Since Barnett's beginnings way back in the 1960s, the company has made the industry better through many innovative and beneficial firsts. Their lineup is built to serve all looking to join the experience, regardless of size, ability or budget. They hit their stride when producing affordable crossbows such as our test rig — the Whitetail Pro.
The Whitetail Pro is home to many features, including the company's TriggerTech trigger with Frictionless Release Technology for a crisp shot. The injection-molded fiberglass stock, coupled with a lightweight composite riser, keep the mass weight to only 6.9 pounds. Gordon Composite split limbs and a set of dual cams power the budget-friendly Whitetail Pro to speeds of 400 fps with a 380-grain bolt.
A bow is traditionally thought of as some version of a vertical device that has at minimum a riser, limbs and a string. Crossbows can be thought of in much the same way as they incorporate a "bow" as part of their overall mechanism. Just like vertical bows, some are simple and some are complex, but the main difference is they are typically much smaller and oriented horizontally. The Whitetail Pro builds the bow on a patented Step-Through Riser (STR) that eliminates the typical foot/boot stirrup designed for the cocking process and instead configures the riser to perform the same task. Rubber bumpers on the STR protect it when placed on the ground during the cocking action.
The low mass weight of the riser shifts the balance point of the rig rearward toward the shooter, resulting in greater control and overall balance. A proprietary composite fiberglass material is used to manufacture the riser and is said to be super lightweight and have inherent vibration-reduction characteristics.
Barnett outfits the rig with limbs made of industry standard Gordon Composite material. Limbs are split, with each piece measuring 11 inches long and .75-inch wide for a total combined width of 2.25 inches. Limbs are laminated front and back for enhanced stiffness and durability. Edges are powder armor coated to protect against damage. Limbs are controlled and aligned to the riser by a limb pocket system that uses a machined aluminum top cap and limb beds built into the riser.
Working with the split limbs, a set of dual cams generates speeds reaching 400 fps using a 380-grain bolt. Cams are black anodized and ride on steel axles and sealed bearings. Barnett uses BCY D97 for both string and cables. Rubber string dampers attached to the riser are designed to quickly deaden string vibration and noise at the shot.
Serving as the base for the entire rig and spanning from the butt plate to the riser is Barnett's one-piece stock/forearm unit. Most of the shooter's interface points are tied to the unibody stock. Your shoulder is cradled by a comfortable butt plate, which is made with Barnett's rubber-like blend of Anti Vibration Isolation (AVI) thermoplastic elastomer material. Your head is positioned for the shot as your cheek lies on the cheek pad while your trigger hand grips the pistol grip — both wrapped with the same soft touch AVI material. The pass-through foregrip offers excellent control and is contoured to provide comfort. A set of generously sized finger reminders above the foregrip are designed to keep the shooter's fingers/thumb below the flight deck. A short section of Picatinny-style rail located under the stock near the riser connection can be used to connect a variety of accessories.
A mounting receptacle at the rear of the stock is designed to accept an optional crank-cocking mechanism.
Barnett's TriggerTech was born out of a missed opportunity on a buck caused by an old-style trigger. The first prototype was created in 2012. Using Frictionless Release Technology driven by a free-floating roller between the sear and the trigger, the system is designed to produce a smoother, lighter, 3-pound trigger with zero creep. When the bow is drawn, both the trigger safety and anti-dry fire mechanism automatically engage. These mechanisms are housed in the trigger box, which is seated in a pocket at the back of Barnett's black anodized aluminum flight rail. A scope mounting rail and Soft-Lok Bristle bolt retainer are also located on the trigger box assembly.
What's in the box? A 4x32 illuminated scope, two 22-inch bolts, rope cocking device and 3-bolt quiver.
Barnett's Whitetail Pro is built to perform beyond its budget-friendly price tag of $599. It has more than sufficient speed to get the job done as it zips 500-grain bolts down range at speeds a compound is lucky to achieve. It has a trigger that tested at only 3.16 pounds and is the same model found on bows with much higher price tags. The bow is a little long, so maneuverability may be difficult in some situations. However, it is relatively lightweight and well-balanced on the shooter's foregrip hand. I removed the crank-cocking aid, as it proved more difficult than Barnett's rope-cocking aid, which easily got the job done — and fast.