Some hunters demand the best equipment available, regardless of the cost. Maybe they can easily afford it, or maybe they need to save. Part of me wishes to be that kind of hunter. But I bet my hard-earned dollar that the majority of us love a good deal; we buy used trucks with low mileage so that someone else can take the hit when they are driving it off the lot. For me it’s the same with hunting gear, which is why I love the Wicked Ridge NXT 400.

At the moment i’m watching TenPoint as the manufacturer of the most advanced crossbow on the planet. Its Havoc RS440 with its built-in Garmin optics is the pinnacle of crossbow technology, but it’ll set you back around $ 4,000. I’m about to share a little secret with you: The company’s sister brand from Ohio, Wicked Ridge, basically sells TenPoint models from a few years ago that have been rebranded and priced. They are still of great quality, shoot very well and have newer technology, but not the most recent technology. And they cost $ 1,000 to $ 2,000 less. The Wicked Ridge NXT 400 is one such model. A few years ago, a surprisingly similar crossbow called the TenPoint NXT Stealth was sold for around $ 1,600.

Wicked Ridge NXT 400 Specifications

  • Speed: 400 fps with 450 grain arrow
  • Riser: machined aluminum
  • Stock: polymer
  • Trigger: 4 lbs 8 ounces
  • Length: 33 inches
  • Axle to axle width: 6 inches
  • Power stroke: 12.5 inches
  • Weight: 7.4 pounds bare; 9.3 pounds ready to shoot
  • Accessories: 3 arrows, crank, quiver, 3x illuminated scope
  • Accuracy (as tested): 1.5 inch group at 30 meters with 150 grain heads
  • MSRP: $ 1,099

Presentation and characteristics of Wicked Ridge NXT 400

At the heart of the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 is an eccentric system the company calls Vector Quad. Four cables, rather than two, are anchored by the machined aluminum riser, then wrap around a steel fulcrum pinned to the barrel before attaching to the top and bottom of the two cams. It sounds complicated, but what it does is simple: it pulls the limbs considerably inward towards the barrel to charge them, making the arc as narrow as possible when cocked, while simultaneously dampening the risk of cam tilting due to equal pressure above and below each. cam. This ensures constant movement of the notch for improved accuracy potential.

The width – which is the most critical measurement of a crossbow, as wide bows are very lanky to hunt – is 6 inches axle to axle when cocked, or, more importantly, 9 inches at its most. large total width. This places the five narrowest crossbows available, and possibly the narrowest at its price point.

A camouflage crossbow mounted in a hunting shade
The NXT 400 is arguably the narrowest crossbow at its price point. Jeff johnston

Speed

The NXT 400 is supposed to provide a 22-inch bolt at 400 fps, and my chronograph confirmed this. The 450-grain bolt (including a 100-grain broadhead) delivered 159 ft-lbs. kinetic energy. I have chronographed it with the 100 grain broadhead just to confirm Wicked Ridge’s claims, but I suggest shooting with a 125 grain broadhead, or better yet, a 150 grain broadhead for five reasons. : this calms the arc. There is less vibration and speed of the strings, which increases the life of the strings and limbs. Heavier heads are often more precise. Penetration is significantly increased. Finally, heavier heads are built more sturdily and therefore have a better chance of resisting damage and performing ideally on impact.

Components

The NXT 400 features an aluminum barrel supported by a molded polymer frame. Its fire control system is fully TenPoint, with a brush-style arrow holder, reversible ambidextrous safety, and an anti-dry-fire system that I tested when I accidentally shot dry with the bow; It saved my butt.

Most importantly, the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 packs a world-class crossbow trigger. It breaks cleanly at 3.1 pounds, which would have been a pipe dream just a few years ago. Such a trigger is a huge plus for accuracy, as rock solid tracking is vitally important on a crossbow.

Draft system

The draw systems are probably where you will find the most disparity between the flagship TenPoint crossbows and the Wicked Ridge models. Ten Point’s Havoc RS features a sled style cocking system that can be used to cock or disarm the bow. The NXT 400, however, features the ACU draw system that was on most TenPoint crossbows several years ago. It’s sufficient and indeed easy to use – a huge improvement over bows from 5 years ago – but it’s not the latest pulling technology available. To use it, all you have to do is remove the barrel guide from its support, push the lever to pull it on the scope and attach it to the string. Then insert the cocking handle into the crankshaft and crank. It only requires around 12 pounds of force, so anyone from kids to grandmothers can cock and therefore shoot this bow. A handy crank holder is molded into the stock, making this crucial item hard to lose.

Wicked Ridge NXT 400: high-end performance, affordable price
Let’s take a closer look at the NXT 400’s draft system. Jeff johnston

NXT 400 review

To test the NXT 400, I set out to answer the key questions a hunter wants to know when buying a new crossbow: What is the speed? How much does it weigh? Is it noisy? How accurate is the crossbow?

I started the tests by checking the speed. The NXT 400 fired at 400 fps with a 450 grain bolt, according to my state-of-the-art Lab Radar Doppler Chronograph.

Fully rigged and ready to fire with a scope and ACUdraw, the NXT 400 weighed a little more than what is stated on the spec sheet, just over 9 pounds. It’s quite long at 33 inches without its unnecessary caliper, but it’s very narrow, which is the key dimension.

To determine how well the crossbow shoots, I used a decibelmeter. It recorded 106 on my decibel meter, which puts it in the average sound range of the crossbows I’ve tested. Over the years, I have tested the silence of dozens of crossbows by placing an inexpensive six-inch decibel meter below the tip of the cocked arrow. While the reading may not be 100 percent accurate in terms of decibels, it is useful for comparing the volume of the crossbow. As a general rule of thumb, the faster the crossbows, the louder they are and the faster the NXT.

When filming from a Caldwell plumb sleigh, I recorded 1.9 inch groups on a windy day at 30 yards with 100 grain field points. I shot it again with less wind and 150 grain heads, and recorded 1.5 inch bands. This translates to 3 inches at 60 yards (assuming conditions are similar) with enough energy to easily cross a deer.

What the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 does best

One thing I’ve always noticed about TenPoint crossbows is something that’s hard to quantify in testing, but easy to feel when you shoot one: the overall build quality. The TenPoint and Wicked Ridge crossbows are both well made. They feel sturdy, quiet, and withstand heavy shots and abuse during regular crossbow hunting. It is obvious that American workers took pride in making this bow. Out of the box the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 shot very close to the target 20 yards when I installed the scope. This suggests that someone took the time to zero it and test it before it shipped. And I love how narrow and easy to wear this bow is.

The worst things the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 does

The NXT 400 isn’t the worst in any performance category, but if it has one weakness it’s probably in its accuracy and noise level. Its precision and sound are sufficient, but in the middle of the pack compared to crossbows costing as much or more. Second, like most crossbows that come with a rifle scope, the scope is shoddy with poor anti-reflective coatings and choppy finger settings that are sometimes difficult to turn. Owners should consider upgrading the scope to a higher quality model.

The result

If you are looking for the best hunting crossbow for the money right now – maybe not the one with all the latest tech, but one that will let you kill deer for seasons and save you money in the process. – I highly recommend the NXT 400 from Wicked Ridge.