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Horton brand, I bought one on ebay 4-5 years ago for $125 and its still killing deer... 0 problems
 

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I can't recommend a "cheap" crossbow but I can tell you that Parker Bows builds a good one. They're made in Mint Springs, Viginia and when you call them, a real live human being answers the phone. That person can be the company president or someone who builds bows and just happened to be walking by the ringing telephone. They're a bunch of good old boys who like to hunt with bows.

I bought a Terminator 150 in 2007 but only hunted with it last year. It put three deer down quickly and I couldn't ask for more - except that it take up less space in my treestand, so I bought a new Tornado HP 165 two weeks ago that has more parallel limbs so it is narrower. Its arrow speed is advertised at 330fps and my chronograph tells me that is accurate.

How well regarded are Parker crossbows? I paid $468 during an end-of-the-season sale for my Terminator 150 and sold it in one day for $425.

The big concern I had when I was buying my first crossbow was the trigger. There is a lot of tension on the piece holding the bowstring back, so most crossbows have ugly trigger pulls. If the trigger on any rifle-like device is hateful, the accuracy usually is not what it could be. Parker triggers feel like a good hunting rifle trigger and have a four-pound pull weight.

Their crossbows are significantly lighter than many of the other "better" crossbows. Finally, while no crossbow is as quiet as a vertical bow, Parkers don't have the loud "clang" of a lot of them.

Again, cheap - no. Good - yes.

Ed
 

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Been shooting a Horton Legend 150# crossbow for the past 8 years, with no problems. I kill 2 deer per year, it's never failed me. I keep my shots 35 yards and under, and use 100 grain NAP Spitfire mechanical broadheads. At 30 yards I can hold a 3" group, and with above broadhead will shoot straight thru the adverage 160-70 lb. buck standing broadside. You should be able to pick up a Horton package deal, new for $300-$350. I like a scope rather than the red dot sight. No need to get caught up in the "need more speed" mentality. 275 FPS is plenty fast enough. Practice and more practice is yout most important thing. The crossbow bolt shoots in `a slight arc from 10 to 30 yards. Just learn what your bow will do at different yardage and don't push the yardage.
 

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I got a Fred Bear F 340 several years ago which wasn't too expensive. There was a recall on the safety / trigger system; I sent it back and it was returned OK after it was checked etc. It shoots fine for an inexpensive model.

My neighbor is a retired precision machinist and is a stickler for details. He has a 200# Horton which has killed a number of deer. I bought mine after I saw the bucks he dropped with his. Bolts go clean through them at 25 yds. When he buys bolts he takes them home and weighs them to make sure they're in spec.. I don't recall the brand, they're good ones, but he returned some and they were replaced. The dealer sent them back for replacement. Were supposed to be within +- 3 grams (?) Worth checking when you buy your bolts.

I liked the Excalibur, but I considered the larger size to possibly be a limiting factor. They are supposed to be very quiet.

JT
 

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When I was buying my first crossbow, which was on sale because it was a 150-pound bow when 175s were all that everyone wanted, I called the manufacturers of the two brands I had narrowed my choice to. Both told me the same thing - that all you gain from higher draw weights is very slightly flatter trajectory, a hair more bone-breaking ability, increased bow noise and more rapid wear on strings, cables and the other moving parts. The employee with whom I spoke at Parker in 2007 told me that none of their employees used a 175. I spoke with a Parker rep two weeks ago and he told me that he had migrated to a 165 because the arrow speed of their Tornado 165 with its inverted cams and more parallel limbs was significantly higher than the 150s were (330fps vs. 285fps) while the draw weight was only increased by 15 pounds.

But as technology has proven, higher draw weight doesn't always mean higher arrow speed. The current Outdoor Life magazine has a test of the top 10 crossbows for 2010 and the draw weight-to-arrow speed ratio is not parallel. The Horton Vision with a 175-pound draw yielded 304fps arrow speeds while the Parker Tornado 165 yielded 330fps with the same weight arrow. By comparison, the Carbon Express Covert, with a 200-pound(!) draw weight produced only 12fps more arrow speed than the Parker, again with the same arrow weight.

By the way, the crossbow industry is migrating away from the term "bolt" and most now refer to their projectiles as "arrows" in their 2010 catalogs and that's the term that Outdoor Life used.

Ed
 

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Turkey: I don't think a 200# draw would be too fast, but what your going to spend on a crank (about 100 bucks usually) could be put toward a new crossbow. I, personally, like a bow that I can draw and set by hand. As mentioned before, more power means more string wear, more noise, etc. You MUST keep the string waxed and the rail lubed if you are to expect string life. I assume your new to crossbow shooting, so let me leave you with these tips. Practice often and learn the arrow drop. Keep your hunting shots 35 yards and under with a basic broadside shot at the animal. Use ultra sharp broadheads on deer and use them once, or change/sharpen the blades after the kill. And this last tip, you'll only do once even if you forget the first time. During practice or in the excitment of the moment, NEVER lay your thumb up on or along the arrow rail. When the string hits your thumb it's about equal as a sledge hammer hitting it. Words will spew from your mouth that you never thought possible. Your eyes will water, and snot will flow freely from your nose. If your thumb is still attached, there will be blood, lots of blood and the pain, well nuff said. Just don't do it. Hope you get set up, good hunting.
 
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