December 14, 2021
By Christian Berg
TenPoint today unveiled its new-for-2022 Nitro 505, the fastest crossbow in company history and one that sets a new industry standard with an advertised speed of 505 feet per second with 400-grain bolts. In addition to being wickedly fast, the Nitro 505 packs plenty of bone-crushing power with an advertised 227 foot-pounds of kinetic energy — more than enough to power through even the toughest big-game animals.
While the Nitro 505 will certainly make headlines for upping the ante in the crossbow industry’s ongoing speed race, it also packs a plethora of additional high-end features and the excellent overall quality TenPoint shooters have come to expect. Let’s dive in and learn what makes this new rocket roar.
So, How Fast Is It?
The obvious place to begin our discussion of the Nitro 505 is with its speed. TenPoint has made a bold claim that the Nitro 505 is the fastest crossbow ever built, and the chronograph readings I logged back that claim pretty convincingly.
Using a 20-inch, 400-grain TenPoint Pro Elite bolt, I recorded speed measurements of 515, 514 and 514 feet per second (fps) using a Caldwell Ballistic Precision G2 Chronograph on my backyard range. That’s a three-shot average nearly 10 fps faster than TenPoint’s claimed speed of 505 fps! And when I calculated the kinetic energy at those speeds, I came up with 235 foot-pounds, or eight more than TenPoint’s claim.
While my chronograph indicates the Nitro 505 meets or exceeds its advertised speed rating, it is also important to note that TenPoint doesn’t ship its new speed demon with 400-grain bolts. Instead, it packages the Nitro 505 with its 20-inch, EVO-X CenterPunch bolts that weigh 455 grains with the included 100-grain fieldpoints. TenPoint told me this was done because the CenterPunch bolts are straighter than the Pro Elites (±.001-inch vs. ±.003-inch) and because internal testing showed the CenterPunch bolts provided the best all-around performance out of the rig.
In testing at my local pro shop using a Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital Chronograph, the Nitro 505 produced an average speed of 494 fps with the 455-grain CenterPunch bolts. Although this is roughly 20 fps slower than recorded with the 400-grain Pro Elite bolts, kinetic energy was actually 5 percent greater (due to the increased mass weight) at 247 foot-pounds.
In either case, when accounting for bolt weight those results make the Nitro 505 the fastest crossbow I have ever shot and the fastest on the market today. From a bowhunting perspective, the amount of speed and energy produced by the Nitro 505 is mind boggling, regardless of whether you choose to shoot the 400-grain or 455-grain bolts. As a practical matter, it is unlikely the small differences in speed and kinetic energy between the two setups will make any difference in terms of your success in the field.
Built for Speed
So, we know the Nitro 505 is fast — and that’s no accident! This crossbow is, quite literally, built for speed. TenPoint says it is the most tested model in company history, with more than 25,000 shots invested in its development.
At first glance, the Nitro 505 is similar to 2021’s Havoc RS440, as both bows feature a reverse-draw bow assembly that places the center of mass above the shooter’s hands to provide excellent overall balance and maneuverability. However, while the configuration of the bows is similar, there are significant differences that help the Nitro 505 shoot 60-plus fps faster than its predecessor. Most notably, the Nitro 505 features a 17-inch power stroke that is 3.5 inches longer than the Havoc’s and 300-pound draw weight split limbs that are 30 pounds heavier than the Havoc’s. At the shot, the bolt is guided by a new, 20-inch MICRO-TRAC fluted aluminum barrel that reduces overall surface area by 50 percent for decreased friction and dramatically longer string life.
The Nitro 505 also features the new RX8 Cam system that rotates an industry-leading 404 degrees — more than a full revolution — during the draw cycle to maximize energy storage. TenPoint also employs its Vector-Quad cable system featuring a pair of cables (top and bottom) on each cam to eliminate cam lean and maximize shooting accuracy and consistency.
While building a crossbow capable of shooting 505 feet per second is one thing, TenPoint said it was equally concerned about building one that can do it safely and reliably, shot after shot. To that end, TenPoint paid meticulous attention to every component in the Nitro 505 and made several significant changes specifically for this model. For example, TenPoint increased the strand count of the Nitro 505’s string and cables for added strength to withstand the extreme draw forces, deepened the grooves on the RX8 Cams to cradle the string and cables more securely and developed a new HP aluminum bushing to strengthen the back end of compatible CenterPunch and Pro Elite bolts. TenPoint requires that only bolts with the HP bushings be shot from the Nitro 505.
Easy Does It!
As I mentioned at the outset, incredible speed isn’t the only thing that makes the Nitro 505 an outstanding crossbow, and you can put TenPoint’s ACUslide at the top of the list. Offering safe and silent cocking and de-cocking, the ACUslide was revolutionary when first introduced by TenPoint two years ago and remains a top selling point of TenPoint crossbows today.
Using a cocking handle that nests conveniently in the buttstock when not in use, the ACUslide moves the entire trigger box down the barrel to the resting string, automatically engaging the safety when locked onto the bowstring and then allowing the bow to be cocked into the shooting position simply by turning the cocking handle. In the Nitro 505’s case, the ACUslide reduces the 300-pound physical draw weight of the limbs to a mere 5 pounds of cranking effort, thanks to a telescoping feature on the cocking handle that extends its length to 7.5 inches for maximum leverage.
In addition to making cocking and de-cocking very easy, the process is very safe thanks to a heavy-duty, internal braking mechanism that holds the cocking handle and bowstring in place should you stop at any point during the cocking or de-cocking process. This eliminates any possibility for the bowstring to “get away” while cranking, which could potentially damage the crossbow or cause personal injury. In another nod to safety, TenPoint upgraded the strap that connects the ACUslide mechanism to the trigger box to a Dyneema material with a 2,000-pound breaking strength — twice as strong as previous versions of the strap.
Lastly, but of great important to bowhunters, the ACUslide crank mechanism is virtually silent, with none of the clicking sound found on previous generations of ratchet-style cocking mechanisms.
At the Range
The Nitro 505’s speed is awesome, but hardly the only feature that makes for an impressive overall shooting experience. As mentioned previously, the reverse-draw configuration of the bow places the unit’s center of mass right in the middle, providing excellent balance when shouldered and eliminating that front-end heavy feeling found on many traditionally configured crossbows.
The bow portion of the Nitro 505 is connected to a two-piece, TECH-X stock featuring numerous cutouts that help keep weight to a minimum. The foregrip provides a comfortable way to control the front of the unit while incorporating safety wings at the top to keep your fingers safely out of harm’s way, while the pistol grip for your shooting hand lets you securely hold the rear of the crossbow. The buttstock and cheek piece offer a comfortable interface for your shoulder and for your face while looking through the included EVO-X Marksman Elite Precision Scope that is calibrated for the speed of the Nitro 505 and features aiming points from 20-100 yards, in 10-yard increments, with your choice of red or green illumination with adjustable intensity.
Meanwhile, TenPoint’s two-stage, S1 trigger provides a firm back wall and crisp break with an advertised pull weight of 3.5 pounds. In addition to the aforementioned auto-engaging safety, the trigger is equipped with TenPoint’s DFI (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor) that prevents the string from being released if a bolt is not properly loaded.
On the range, I found the Nitro 505 extremely accurate, easily placing bolts in the bull’s-eye while shooting off-hand from 20 and 30 yards. That said, I believe the ability to shoot off a rest is the biggest advantage a crossbow offers over a vertical bow. Combining the Nitro 505’s unmatched speed and subsequently flatted bolt trajectory with a stable shooting platform makes this rig absolutely deadly even at relatively long bowhunting distances such as 50 and 60 yards. Accurate target shooting out to 100 yards is relatively easy with the Nitro 505, though attempting such long-range shots while bowhunting is ill advised.
TenPoint includes a pair of integrated string stops in front of the shooting rail on the Nitro 505 to combat shot vibration and noise. In terms of shot vibration, I honestly felt next to nothing. And while I didn’t have equipment available to measure shot noise, I wouldn’t describe the Nitro 505’s report as anything out of the ordinary when compared to other high-speed crossbows on the market.
The Nitro 505 isn’t the smallest or lightest crossbow on the market but is quite compact relative to its performance. The crossbow measures 30.7 inches long, not including the foot stirrup, and measures 6.5 inches wide between the axles when cocked and 12.5 inches wide between the axles at rest.
TenPoint advertises the weight of the Nitro 505 at just under 8 pounds without accessories installed. Since it is unlikely anyone will hunt with a Nitro 505 without the accessories, I used a handheld digital scale to weigh the crossbow fully outfitted with all accessories — including the cocking handle, scope, quiver and six bolts — and came in at 11.3 pounds.
What’s In the Box?
Like all TenPoint crossbows, the Nitro 505 is built at the company’s factory in Mogadore, Ohio, and sold only as a complete package that includes: the Nitro 505 crossbow with ACUslide and integrated string stops; EVO-X Marksman Elite Precision Scope; six 20-inch EVO-X CenterPunch premium carbon bolts (455 grains) with ±.001-inch straightness; and six-bolt Tech Quiver. You can choose the crossbow and scope finished in Veil Alpine camouflage at a retail price of $3,099.99 or the crossbow in Moss Green finish with Black scope for $2,999.99.
The Bottom Line
You don’t need a Lamborghini to drive to the beach, but wouldn’t it be fun to get there with some serious speed and stunning style? Similarly, you don’t need a 505 foot-per-second crossbow to take hunting, but who wouldn’t want to carry one afield? The Nitro 505 is the hot, new, super-tuned sportscar in the showroom, and it will be difficult for any serious crossbow enthusiast to take one for a test drive and come away unimpressed.
From the excellent build quality and super easy-to-use ACUslide cocking mechanism to great accuracy and carefully crafted components designed to safely and reliably handle the bow’s incredible speed and power, TenPoint did its homework on the Nitro 505 and aced the assignment. Whether you intend to hunt backyard whitetails or pursue dangerous game in Africa, this is a crossbow that’s up for the challenge — and will be for years to come.
Much like that Lamborghini I mentioned, the Nitro 505 won’t come cheap. And at more than 11 pounds fully outfitted, there are significantly lighter options for those who put a premium on minimizing the weight of their gear. None of them, however, will match the Nitro 505’s speed and power — or make you look as cool while putting it to good use.