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Field Evaluation - Barnett Wildcat Crossbow
By Keith Dunlap
Jan 11, 2010 - 11:19:48 AM

Barnett Outdoors has been producing quality crossbows for over 50 years.  In fact, they boast having sold over one million crossbows during their company history.  Barnett engineers were pioneers in developing the most desired features in a hunting crossbow.  They began with inventions such as the Commando "Self-Cocking" Crossbow and the first compound crossbow, the "Demon".  Barnett engineers have carried on with the patented "Quick Detach Front End" and they continue with new developments like the fully integrated crank-cocking device attachment.  The Wildcat C5 is built on this same Barnett tradition. 

The Wildcat C5 features a lightweight GAM™ composite stock, thumbhole grip, vented quad limbs and the "Veloci-Speed" high energy wheel assembly.  This crossbow also has a revolutionary crank attachment built right into the stock. This allows for easy installation of the optional crank cocking device while maintaining a sleek, low profile look and feel. The Wildcat C5 is available in a stealthy matte black finish or in a concealing camouflage.  The Wildcat C5 is available through retailers as a crossbow only, a crossbow kit with quick detach quiver and four 20" arrows or as a complete package with crossbow, quick detach quiver, four 20" arrows and choice of either Premium Red Dot Scope or 4x32 Multi-reticle Scope.

In this evaluation, I'll review the features and put this crossbow to the test.

Wildcat C5 Crossbow from Barnett Outdoors.

I received the Wildcat C5 crossbow package from Barnett.  Included in the box were the crossbow; quick-detach quiver; four 20" arrows; 125 grain field tips for the arrows; the multi-reticle scope; and complete instructions for assembly and use.

Upon initial inspection of the Wildcat C5 crossbow, I found no visible defects in material or workmanship.  All parts fit together perfectly, nothing was loose, and the crossbow was mechanically sound.  The Wildcat C5 is one of Barnett's entry level crossbows, and the quality was above average for the price.

Shown here in the camo pattern.

The instructions included with the Wildcat C5 were sufficient for me to set it up and use it, even if I were new to crossbows.  This crossbow is simplistic and easy to use.  The fact that it weighs only 5.9 lbs makes it ideal for the newbie to crossbow hunting.  The only parts that needed to be assembled were the bow limb assembly to the stock; the foot stirrup; the quiver and the scope.  Setup was easy and took approximately 15 minutes from start to finish.
Barnett recommends applying some wax to the string, center serving, cables and the flight track area from the string to the trigger area.  This prevents premature wear on these parts.  Time to fire the Wildcat C5 for the first time!  I shot the crossbow several times initially to sight in the scope from 10 yards.  I adjusted for both windage and elevation until I was satisfied with the results.  Next up…a more thorough evaluation of the Wildcat C5 abilities.

The scope included in the accessory package has 5 elevation markings.

The operation of shooting a crossbow involves some basic sequential steps.  They are:
1.    Ensure safety is on
2.    Cocking the string using the foot stirrup or optional crank cocking device
       a.    Factory marks should be positioned equally on either side of the flight track
3.    Loading the arrow (bolt)
       a.    Odd color fletch placed in flight groove and concave nock is parallel to the string
4.    KEEP FINGERS CLEAR OF THE FLIGHT TRACK, and below the stock fore end (not doing so can be very painful)
5.    Slide safety forward to the off position
6.    Pull the trigger (not rocket science)

 To begin my testing of the Wildcat C5, I sighted in at 10 yards, using the top crosshairs on the multi-reticle scope.  I did not use a rest of any sort during this phase of my testing, as I was more concerned, at this point, with the feel of the crossbow while shooting into my Block 4x4 Pro target.  I found it easy to cock the string without the use of a device.  Compound crossbows are normally easier to cock by hand than recurve models.  I should note that if you happen to cock the string off to one side of center or the other, this could dramatically affect the accuracy of your shot.  There are marks on the string that should be centered on the flight track when the crossbow is cocked and ready to fire.  Cocking aids can help to eliminate this problem by applying even pressure to the string during the cocking process.

Once I was familiar shooting the Wildcat C5, I continued shooting at various distances and from various positions (sitting, prone, standing, etc).  I enjoyed shooting this crossbow.  It was very comfortable to hold offhanded, but I did find that the 4.5 lb. trigger pull was a bit more than I am used to.  I found the location of the quiver and arrows to be convenient and quick to detach and place another arrow for the next shot.  The stock was comfortable against my cheek and the weight of the crossbow was noticeably lighter in comparison to other crossbows I have shot.

The next phase of my evaluation included testing for shot accuracy.  This test is subjective to my abilities as a crossbow shooter, which is novice at best, so the results here are relative.  I used a bench rest for this test to steady the Wildcat C5 in order to measure consistent results.  I repeatedly shot groups of three arrows from various distances using the multi-reticle scope (see figure 3 above).  I was satisfied with the accuracy I experienced with this crossbow.  I was able to consistently group three arrows into a 2 inch orange dot from distances out to 30 yards.  At 40+ yards, my groupings opened up a bit, but still sufficient to put an efficient killing shot on an animal from that distance.

My comparison for noise from the Wildcat C5 is based primarily upon my compound bow experience…so take it for what it's worth.  I found the Wildcat C5 to be a bit noisier than most compound bows on the market today, but this is generally accepted by crossbow hunters.  In comparison with other crossbows I've shot, the Wildcat C5 is average for noise and vibration.  The advertised speed of the Wildcat C5 is 320 fps, and this can compensate for some of the ducking you might experience when you shoot something with a bit more noise at an animal that is prone to ducking when the shot is taken.  There are vibration-eliminating items on the market today which can be added to the limbs to reduce the vibration noise during the shot.  Some options may cause speed deterioration, so weigh the cost vs. benefit for these options.  

The Wildcat C5 is compact and light weight.

The Wildcat C5 crossbow from Barnett is a quality crossbow at a super valued price point.  I like the look and feel of this crossbow, and being light in weight is a real plus to the crossbow hunter.

  •     Weight: 5.9 lbs
  •     Length: 35.5"
  •     Width: 26.75"
  •     String Length: 37"
  •     Trigger pull:  4.5 lbs
  •     Draw Weight: 150 lbs
  •     Energy: 114 foot pounds
  •     Power Stroke: 13"
  •     FPS: 320 fps
  •     Main body material: GAM™ Composite Stock, Magnesium riser
  •     Limbs: vented quad limb type
  •     Finish/Camo Pattern: Camo or Black finish   
  •     Retail Price: $349.99 with accessory package
  •     Warranty: 1 year limited  

Pros:  affordable, quality, light weight, comfortable to shoot
Cons:  heavier trigger pull, upgrade to Barnett Quad, Revolution, or Predator models for faster speeds

To see the full line of Barnett products, visit their website: Barnett Crossbows


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