In the recent years, we have seen a trend in crossbow designs to lean towards the tactical look that many black rifles have. I believe that Horton Manufacturer started this trend of with the reverse limbed bow the Recon. Later we saw Parker, PSE, Kodabow, and TenPoint follow suit offering blacked out versions of tactical looking crossbows. Carbon Express will have a bow this summer with tactical styling. So what’s with the tactical look when dealing with crossbows? And why are they so popular even though they don’t offer any advantage in the deer woods?
I think the main reason these tactical looking bows are popular is because of the influx of gun hunters that are now hunting with crossbows. This new group of what I call “crossover” hunters are gun guys, that have never bowhunted before, but can now take advantage of longer bow seasons with the use of crossbows during the archery seasons of many states. Because these gun hunters are already accustom to the tactical look, it’s only natural for manufacturers to offer them a tactical looking bow.
Another reason it makes sense to offer a tactical looking x-bow to hunters if you are a manufacturer is it’s cheaper. With todays camouflage companies really turning into global marketing companies, offering a specific brand of camouflage on a bow can cost a manufacturer in licensing fee’s. This extra cost either comes out of profit margin, or in most cases is past on to us as consumers. Being the tactical look is primarily black, it doesn't cost anymore in licensing fees to offer these models.
But are these tactical crossbows really tactical? Well, not really. Most of them just have a black paint job. Some of them do offer picatinny rails for bolting accessories too, however, weight is always a concern for most crossbow hunters, so I don’t know why you would want to add too much more weight to your bow with accessories you may never need or use. And the leader of all tactical looking crossbows, the PSE Tac15, quite frankly is one of the least tactful bows when it comes to hunting. While it does look cool, and has some impressive performance characteristics, it just isn’t an everyday hunter for most people due to its size, weight, and cocking limitations.
So how long will the tactical trend last? Only time knows. Every year another state or two allows the use of crossbows for hunting. Many of the hunters that take advantage of there new found freedom of choice in bowhunting equipment are crossover gun hunters. So until we reach the point where every state allows the crossbow, and markets become mature, I don’t see the trend stopping anytime soon. As a matter of fact, I look for it to increase. For now, the tactical looking crossbow is here to stay. Maybe in the future if they become lighter, and quieter, they may actually become tactical. But for now, looks sell. And newbie x-bow hunters are liking the tactical look.