1. MATHEWS TRIAX
$1,099 • mathewsinc.com
Hunters want long axle-to-axle bows these days, right? Wait— that’s changed again, already? True enough, 33- to 35-inchers had their days of dominance in our annual test of flagship compound bows, and there are still some very good ones on the market. They’re just not as good as this trim little Triax, which is just 28 inches axle to axle and has earned Best of the Best honors this season. The Triax looks similar to the Halon, which won the same title in 2016, and to the Halon 32, which took second in last year’s test. But this latest model is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. Mathews shaved away some of the weight and bulk of the previous Halons, which was a complaint from some testers. But that’s not all to like in this bow. It’s quieter than anything we’ve ever tested and almost totally free of vibration— and that’s not just because the pro staffer of the week told us so; we verified it in sound chambers during a grueling test with the staff of Stress Engineering.
Though short, the Triax is as easy to settle and hold on target as many longer bows. And set to IBO specs, it proved plenty fast on our chronograph, at 330 fps. It was also among the most accurate and forgiving bows in the 2018 lineup. It’s late September as I write this, and I’ve been hunting with this bow for a few weeks now. It’s the shortest bow I’ve ever taken afield, and it’s just unbelievably handy in a treestand or ground blind. The other day, I shot a doe through both lungs with it, and by golly, she fell over quick too. A week later, another doe made the mistake of peering up at my stand and stomping her hoof at 25 yards. At the shot, she ran about 40 yards and then tipped over. “Good juju” isn’t listed in the specs of any bow I’ve seen, but this one seems to have it.
2. TENPOINT STEALTH NXT $1,499 • tenpointcrossbows.com
There are three key things most people want in a new crossbow: speed, accuracy, and nimble handling. That’s why those categories are double-weighted in our annual test of flagship crossbows. But we evaluate trigger pull, fit and finish, cocking effort, safety, and value too. This year, after a couple of targets were shot out, many bolts were broken, and all the scores were tallied, TenPoint’s Stealth NXT was the walkaway Best of the Best winner in the crossbow category. It’s just 6 inches wide axle to axle when cocked and weighs 7.3 pounds without accessories. It handles nicely, and we clocked the supplied 449-grain bolts at 392 fps. The bow’s average 3-shot group at 30 yards from a rest measured 1.06 inches.
Year in and year out, TenPoint produces some of the best crossbows on the market, and the same goes for its accessories, from the scope and bolts to cocking devices and cases. With the Elite accessories package (one of several available), the Stealth NXT carries a final
MSRP only a buck shy of $1,500. I sold my first pickup truck—a four-wheel-drive that was running like a top—for less money than that. But compared to the price of the other high-end crossbow competition, it’s a solid buy.