The Affordable Carbon Express X-Force 400 Offers Ample Performance

By Jon Teater 

Photos courtesy of Carbon Express and Jon Teater

 

Carbon Express is a well-known leader in arrow technology.

A few years back, this Michigan-based company introduced a line of crossbows. Did Carbon Express  hit the mark with this product as it has with arrows? Unequivocally, yes.The company’s innovative approach, as it relates to arrows, has transitioned well to its most recent line of crossbows. For example, Carbon Express has added a new member to its X-Force line: the X-Force 400. This product has an intriguing stock, which is a core element of the company’s crossbow line. Furthermore, the crossbow’s sleek curves and soft touch will have archers enjoying, holding and shooting for hours on end.

Initial Impressions

 At first glance, you will notice that the crossbow’s overall length, or what I like to call, “butt to strut,” is shorter than most.

The crossbow is approximately 3 to 4 inches shorter than most competitors’ products. The reduction in overall length occurs because of the shortened rail. Crossbow dimension can be a critical aspect of shooting success, particularly in the treestand or ground blind.

A close-up of the scope from two angles.

When you pick up the X-Force 400, you will notice that its one-piece composite stock is coated in a soft, rubbery finish that is known as SilenTech. The coating is embossed with “Mossy Oak Break Up” camouflage. Archers will enjoy this look, especially in the woods.

The aluminum rail is covered with this same material, providing a low-friction surface for projectile travel. The SilenTech coating provides the added benefit of vibration-dampening, aside from its nice feel.

Another feature that is simple, yet effective, and damps vibration is the rubber-coated stirrup, which is also considered a safety attribute. Archers can be susceptible to slipping on a bare metal stirrup; this concern is ameliorated, since the coating provides adequate surface friction.

In addition to the components that were already mentioned is the riser (prod) and limbs. Both components are coated in a material similar to undercoating on automobiles that helps deaden the sound as the crossbow is fired.

All in all, these features create a likeability factor that will make it difficult for archers to overlook the X-Force 400.

A close-up of the scope from two angles.

Field Test Time

With the use of a cocking aid, the X-Force 400’s draw weight is reduced by 50 percent. The ease of draw is noticeable with the use of this device and the combination of the shorter powerstroke, which is fewer than 11 ½ inches.

Carbon Express offers a cocking winch that fits into slots in the rear of the stock; this option provides an easier method to drawing the crossbow. As the crossbow reaches full draw, the safety is automatically engaged. Carbon Express has designed an anti-dry fire mechanism that requires a projectile to be loaded into the crossbow for the safety to be moved to the “fire” position.

With the crossbow at full draw and pointed downrange, I focused on the shooting features. The one-piece stock with thumbhole cutout establishes ample comfort and positive hand alignment with the trigger. As I squeezed the trigger, I could not ignore the position of my hand at the forearm: My hand gripped the forearm tightly but was eased with the softened finish and ribbed contours. Moreover, my thumb was positioned comfortably on the side of the forearm, between the top of the ribs and flange—ideal for safety and crossbow control.

The forearm is mounted to the crossbow through a picatinny rail. This rail allows for various accessories to be added, which increases the product’s adjustability rating and also allows the archer to add the perfect component for shooting. By turning a few bolts, the forearm can be fine-tuned to any location.

The trigger requires approximately 6 pounds of peak force to discharge the holding mechanism and release the string. As the string imparts energy to the projectile, the retention spring directs downward pressure on the bolt. The distance that the retention spring acts on the bolt is short, but it is necessary to control the erratic change that occurs as the string acts on the bolt.

The retention spring is adjustable to the various projectile dimensions—a unique design feature. It may seem to be a small detail, but a good retention spring can go a long way, when it comes to accurate shooting.

As it pertains to bolts, Carbon Express recommends that the archer utilizes projectiles with moon nocks. It is important to consider how uniform pressure on the projectile and consistent nock indexing will help create identical projectile propulsion during the shot. Paying attention to the minute details of shooting will result in increased precision downrange.

As the X-Force 400 propels the projectile, the forward motion of the limbs and subsequent components create forward “recoil.” The movement is manageable and completely normal, as compared to other products.

The full story is in the Crossbows Fall 2011 issue.

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