Crossbow Report: Wicked Ridge NXT 400
In 1994 Rick Bednar launched Hunter’s Manufacturing which would change its trade name to TenPoint Crossbow Technologies just a few years later. The vision for the company was to become a world class manufacturer of products that would be recognized as the industry standard for safety, accuracy, precision engineering, durability, performance and power. Under Rick’s direction, TenPoint secured its first patents in 1995 and hasn’t looked back. Since then, the company has secured 94 additional U.S. and 2 Canadian patents with several more patents currently pending. No other company in the industry has such a record of technological achievement.
In 2008, Rick’s oldest son, Phil, joined the company after graduating with an MBA from the University of Akron. Since that time, Phil has served as both the Assistant Director and Director of Marketing, leading up to his current position as Executive Vice President of Sales & Marketing. One of Phil’s most significant contributions to the company has been the creation and cultivation of the Wicked Ridge Crossbow brand, an easy-to-manufacture entry-level line of crossbows that – while simple in designare nevertheless as durable, accurate, and dependable as their high-end TenPoint predecessors with the same company backing and customer support.
Wicked Ridge Crossbows were introduced in 2010 as a value-priced second brand in the TenPoint Family.
At that time, the opening price point for entry level crossbows was approximately $400.00. The new Wicked Ridge brand was destined to take some of that market share and profitability due to TenPoint’s strong quality reputation and retailer relationships. Wicked Ridge Crossbows has since grown into an independently successful crossbow brand offering several models at various price points with many of TenPoint’s innovations and features crossing over to the Wicked Ridge line.
Out Of The Box
The Wicked Ridge NXT 400 is shipped in a well packaged plastic shell encased in durable cardboard. The crossbow comes fully assembled with the exception of the scope and bow hanger. The scope rings are already attached and positioned on the scope which simply needs to be secured to the scope rail. Two set screws attach the bow hanger to the front of the bow for complete assembly in only a few minutes. Available in Peak Camo, this ready to hunt package includes 3 Pro Elite carbon arrows with practice points, 3-arrow instant detach quiver, TenPoint’s 3X Pro-View scope and TenPoint’s patented built in ACUdraw cocking system.
The NXT 400 is the narrowest and most accurate Wicked Ridge crossbow made to date. Fueled by XR6-Cams and featuring Vector-Quad cable technology, this maximum rotation cam system powers the assembly’s 200-pound duel flex limbs producing speeds in excess of 400 FPS. At the crossbow assembly’s foundation is a lightweight CNC machined aluminum riser featuring 70/75 aircraft grade aluminum and the company’s Tri-Lock pocket system that ensures perfect alignment between the pocket and limbs for increased accuracy. The crossbow assembly is mounted to a lightweight 21.5-inch machined aluminum barrel, which dramatically reduces noise, weight, and vibration. It is fitted with the company’s auto-engaging safety T-5 trigger housed in a lightweight machined aluminum trigger box.
It’s fitted with a nylon-filament arrow retention brush that improves arrow grip and alignment to further reduce noise and vibration. Like all Wicked Ridge models, the trigger assembly is equipped with a DFI (Dry-Fire-Inhibitor). An integrated string stop system is also included that fits into the end of the barrel to reduce noise and vibration. The NXT 400 embeds its barrel and trigger assembly in the company’s lightweight Functionally Superior Bullpup stock. Molded from PolyOne OnForce, the high-tech stock is built with optimal comb-height and length-of-pull and uses strategically placed cutouts in the butt stock to reduce weight. Like all Wicked Ridge models, this model is equipped with dual-purpose safety wings to reduce noise and vibration as well as helping to keep the shooter’s foregrip hand safely below the flight deck. This ultra-narrow, 6-inch wide (cocked) crossbow is 33-inches in length and sports a 15.5-inch power stroke which produces 142-foot pounds of kinetic energy.
The NXT 400 is topped off with the lightweight 8.5- inch aluminum tube 3X Pro-View scope which features 3 crosshairs and four dots calibrated for 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-yards (fourth dot is free-standing, just below the 40-yard crosshair) and fully coated 3x optics. Available with nonilluminated black dots or one of two rheostat controlled illuminated, colored dots (red or green). Rounding out the package are the three included Pro Elite 400 20-inch carbon crossbow arrows fletched slightly offset and fitted with a 61-grain aluminum insert, 3.5″ Bohning X Vanes and TenPoint’s white Alpha-Nock and receiver for quick lighted nock installation. The Pro Elite shafts are inspected for straightness to within .003 and hand-sorted for weight tolerance to within 2-grains per dozen.
Specs & Performence
I always stress the difference between the advertised specs of an individual crossbow and its actual “hunt setup” specs. Most of the time manufacturers market bare bow specs which can be misleading. In extremely rare cases, the advertised weight and speed of the crossbow are actually its true weight and speed when set up in full hunt dress. Because of this a side-by-side comparison test is completed against the crossbow’s marketed specs. The Wicked Ridge NXT 400’s advertised weight without accessories is 7.4 pounds. My comparison weight with the crossbow set up in full hunt dress with scope, quiver bracket, quiver and arrows is 10.2 pounds.
The Pro Elite 400 carbon crossbow arrows are marketed at 400 grains. The arrows included in my test package all weighed in at 404 grains. Ten shots were put through a chronograph with the fastest and slowest recorded speeds eliminated from the equation and the average speed being calculated from the remaining eight shots. The Wicked Ridge NXT 400 consistently shot 406 FPS. Kudos to Wicked Ridge for not only reaching their advertised 400 FPS speed, but for exceeding it.
My trigger pull analysis data is comprised the same way as my feet-per-second data. Ten shots are gauged with the highest and lowest numbers being removed from the equation; the remaining eight shots are calculated to achieve the average. Factory specs list the NXT 400 as having a 3.5-pound trigger pull. My comparison testing produced exactly the same results with a 3.5-pound trigger pull.
Shooting The NXT 400
All TenPoint and Wicked Ridge crossbows are built on a safety-first platform. This begins with their autoengaging trigger which automatically moves the safety into the “safe” position when the crossbow is cocked and their Dry-Fire-Inhibitor which makes it impossible for the crossbow to fire without an arrow nocked. The ergonomics of their crossbow designs and additional safety features make it nearly impossible to accidentally cause oneself bodily harm if you’re operating the crossbow in a responsible manner.
The patented ACUdraw is a very user-friendly and practical cocking device which allows you to consistently and effortlessly cock the crossbow exactly the same time after time which increases accuracy. Fully integrated into the stock, it reduces draw weight to about 5-pounds and allows hunters of all ages and physical abilities to cock the crossbow with little effort. We have field tested the ACUdraw on many different models of crossbows over the years and have yet to have a single failure.
For accuracy testing, I shot five groups of three arrows at 30 yards off a bench rest and then repeated the process at 40 and 50 yards. The NXT 400 consistently held 2.5-inch groups at these distances. I then began sending broadheads down range at these same distances. 400 FPS is generally where we start to see the tipping point when shooting fixed blade broadheads. The Wicked Ridge NXT 400 once again proved this theory. The majority of top brand mechanicals had the same POI as the field points. Top brand fixed blade heads either had the same POI or grouped very tightly. The NXT 400 is not broadhead finicky. My decibel level readings recorded it to be slightly louder than wider forward-draw crossbows that are shooting 400 FPS.
Although the NXT 400 is new technology injected into the 2021 Wicked Ridge lineup, the NXT platform has been perfected by TenPoint over multiple years. The narrow limb technology is tried and true and has proven itself in the field time after time. The Wicked Ridge NXT 400 is unlike its value-priced predecessors and is a stand alone cut no corners crossbow that’s certain to please with its performance. A sling and broadhead purchase are all that’s necessary to enjoy time afield with the NXT 400.
The Bottom Line
Wicked Ridge Crossbows continue to thread the needle between performance features and affordability. The NXT 400 is by far their most technologically advanced and highest performing crossbow to date. Backed by TenPoint’s reputation in the industry and their customer support system, the Wicked Ridge NXT 400 is destined to become a fan favorite and a crossbow that will last and perform for a lifetime. MSRP: $1,099.00 For additional information about the NXT 400 and to view the full line of Wicked Ridge accessories go to: wickedridgecrossbows.com
By Todd Bromley