Crossbows on African Safari – TenPoint, Mission, Excalibur, and Gearhead face a gauntlet of hunting challenge. Here’s how they performed.
By Joe Byers- The Crossbow Guy
An African safari is a grueling test for a crossbow. It must endure 20 or more hours of constant vibration in the hold of an airplane, jiggling that attempts to loosen every screw and attachment. Next, who knows what torchers anti-hunting baggage carriers will inflict. Once in Africa, the bow and scope deal with clouds of dust that chafe moving parts like sandpaper. Finally, there are very few archery dealers in Africa. If something breaks… you are screwed!
TenPoint 505 My personal choice for the 2022 safari was the fastest production crossbow in the USA. Although the advertised launch speed is 505, mine tested at 512, a blistering speed that delivers arrows in a flash, literally with a lighted nock. To my mind, TenPoint Acuslide is the best cocking and releasing systems in the industry. The bow cocks with a crank that nests into the handle so you can’t forget it and un-cocks with the push of a button, allowing for an easy release of tension at the end of the hunt. You cock the bow on “fire”, and you know that it’s fully cocked when you hear the safety click on.
The Nitro 505 comes with two rangefinding scopes, Burris and Garmin, but I stayed with the standard scope which is the best I’ve tested. It’s tactical-style turrets adjust easily with no tools needed. The scope is bright, speed adjustable to accommodate heavier arrows, and has an illuminated reticle in red or green.
A Powerful Punch
The 505 delivers arrows with more than 225 ft-pounds of kinetic energy which means they penetrate extremely well. In that famous line from “Jaws,” “You are gonna need a bigger target.”
Fortunately, I took a Morrell Back-to-Back target, and it was an arrow saver. The outfitter had several targets that were functional for compound bows, but not the deep penetration of the 505.
As an example, I shot with a fellow hunter using a Cape buffalo set-up with 75-pound draw, 850-grain arrows and a razor sharp broadhead designed for deep penetration on Black Death. We shot the same target at 30 yards and the 505 doubled his rigs penetration.
We arrived in camp at midnight so our first morning was coffee, a light breakfast, and checking scopes for zeros. Despite 20 hours in airplanes and 4 hours of road travel, my scope moved just three clicks. I also experimented with a Final Rest clasping tripod which greatly enhanced accuracy while shooting from the standing position. After two arrows, I was exactly on target and by shooting the Morrell target endwise, I ruined no arrows in practice.
The first challenge to accuracy and performance came on a baboon, of all creatures. These crop-robbing pests are prolific and fooling the alfa male is very difficult. Normally, they spot the tiniest of movement and are much more wary than plains game animals. However, one paused at 40 yards, offering a broadside shot and I zapped it through both shoulders. The monster monkey went down in seconds and the Sevr Robust did its job.
The next day, a mature impala ram gave me an opportunity at 25 yards. Although I’ve hunted in Africa more than 25 times, I still get excited and aimed with my 20-yard reticle. Thanks to the extreme speed of the 505, that mental error did not cause a problem and the miniscule difference in drop delivered a lethal shot.
The Case for a Case
I test crossbows regularly and have no problem mixing brands with soft bow cases. As a natural born cheap-skate I use what ever gets the job done. However, I paid the $150 for the 505 and it was a wise investment. Often the bow was stacked in the back of a UTV where it received constant jostling and would have been immersed in dust without the case. It looks great and fits the profile of the 505 without bulk and the enclosed back-pack straps are ideal for hiking into the back country.
In summary, the 505 is one bad-ass crossbow that delivers speed and impact as advertised. Rassie Erasmus of Louwlardus Safaris was our outfitter and when handling the bow, said “I need a bow like this for my Cape buffalo hunts.” A crossbow capable of downing “Black Death” is the ultimate compliment.