New for 2016, Browning Crossbows enters the crossbow market with two new bows in their lineup. The 161 and the 162. The first time I had a chance to view these new crossbows was at the 2016 ATA show. My first impression of the new Browning crossbows was that they had a fresh clean look that stood out to me over many of the other crossbows on the market, they had a solid feel in my hands and at the same time balanced very well and they were comfortable to hold and shoulder. After shooting them at the the Browning shooting booth, I couldn’t wait to get one so I could really spend some time shooting it and share my thoughts with the Crossbow Nation members.
I was lucky enough to receive one of the first 161 crossbows from Browning to do this review with. As I opened the case and removed the crossbow, I immediately had the same feelings I did when I first saw it at the ATA show. The Browning 161 crossbow is an all black bow with gold lettering on the limbs, a black and gold string, of course the well known gold Browning trigger. It has a really cool looking honeycomb design in the butt stock which is also incorporated into the rubber molded guards that prevent your thumb or fingers from going above the rail of the crossbow into the path of the strings. Also in the stock is a built in compartment that stores the optional Browning crank cocking device. Both the pistol grip and the fore grip areas of the stock have rubber inlays that feel really good in your hands. They are also rubber coated to cut down on noise and vibration is the foot stirrup. Another feature on the Browning 161 crossbow that caught my eye right away that some may over look is the sight bridge. The sight bridge is machined out of aluminum and has a bridged design much like you would find on a truss for a house. This design provides a solid platform for one to mount an optic. It also houses the arrow retainer which is a spring loaded and retracts up into the sight bridge when an arrow is loaded. Another nice feature found Browning 161 crossbow is a section of picatinny rail between the fore grip and the riser which allows you to mount your quiver and any other accessory you may want to add.
The Browning 161 crossbow comes as a package. Included in the package is a Cross brand scope with lighted reticle. This is a 4x32 scope that is also illuminated with both red or green dots and has various levels of brightness. The package also contains a quick detachable 3 arrow quiver that mounts on either side of the crossbow using the picatinny rail for left or right handed shooters and 3 - 22” long premium Browning arrows accented with Black and God fletchings with gold moon nocks. The supplied rope cocking aid has an innovative design that rides down the rail of the crossbow in grooves machined into the barrel which prevent the hooks from jumping over the rail and at the same time guaranteeing a constant cocking of the crossbow every time.
The trigger on the Browning 161 crossbow is really good. No, not because its gold. Because Browing crossbows incorporate a Trigger Tech trigger which are known in the crossbow industry for their “Frictionless Release Technology”. The trigger has zero creep and Browning claims it is set at only 3 pounds of pull. I did not measure the triggers pull weight, but I can tell you that there is zero creep or preload and the trigger does break very cleanly. It is an absolute pleasure to shoot. What is really awesome about the Trigger Tech trigger that the Browning line of crossbows have is that it has an anti dry fire mechanism built into it that does not even let you put the safety into the fire positions unless an arrows is loaded into the crossbow and seated all the way back against the string.
The 161 crossbow shoots arrows 350 feet per second. It does this with only 135 pound draw weight laminated custom limbs mounted to a magnesium riser. A power stroke measuring in at 14.625” is used to generate that kind of speed with that little of poundage. However, the crossbow is still relatively easy to cock with the rope cocking aid. The 161 measures in at 36.75” long and 19.875” wide when uncocked. It weighs in at 7.2 pounds. And as I mention before this crossbow balances very well in your hands even when the quiver is attached and has the 3 arrows in it.
Shooting the Browning 161 crossbow is a lot of fun. Because of it’s lighter draw weight and non aggressive cam design, the crossbow is a smooth shooter with very little vibration or noise. The string suppressors along with the rubber finger guards and grip inlays also do a great job of keeping this crossbow on the quite side. I found the Browning 161 to be very accurate not even attempting to shoot the same spot twice. The Trigger Tech trigger makes for a clean trigger break that will actually surprise you when it goes off. To find all of these attributes on a crossbow that shoots 350 feet per second is really amazing. I really liked this crossbow when I first saw it at the ATA show in January. I like it even more now that I’ve gotten the chance to shoot it for a couple of weeks.
Watch the video review of the Browning 161 Crossbow below: