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Crossbow Spotlight- Gearhead X16 Tactical

Gearhead X16 Tactical-

Many shooters transition from compound bows to crossbows for a variety of reasons. Some welcome the horizontal format while others wish they could still use their vertical gear. If you are in this latter camp, check out the Gearhead Tactical X16 as it embraces more elements of vertical archery than any other crossbow.

 “Wow, that bow is light,”

Exclaimed John Salvatore when I handed him the Gearhead crossbow for the first time. We were headed for Africa and John wanted to update his launch capacity. I suggested the X16 for its unique benefits, less weight just one of them.
The bow was topped with a Hawk scope with illuminated reticles, so we headed to my backyard shooting range to test the bow and see how Salvatore liked it.

Unique Features-

Erector sets were the Lego blocks of the late 20th century and if you are a boomer, you will recognize the unique structure of the X16 immediately. This design is the hallmark of the Gearhead brand and their compounds and crossbow have similar construction.

The X16 shoots compound bow arrows that snap into a trigger box and launch through a Whisker Biscuit rest. You read that correctly, this crossbow uses one of the most popular compound rests and shoots regular compound arrows.

In addition, the bow comes standard with a Triggertech trigger which is the best in the industry, in my humble opinion. Trigger function is one of the most critical elements of crossbow accuracy and this premium upgrade makes a difference.

The X16 is a “takedown” crossbow.

The stock and limb sections separate creating two parts that fit securely in a padded case making it one of the best designs for the traveling archer. Salvatore packed his dissembled crossbow in a suitcase along with his hunting clothes and flew one bag to South Africa.

Bumping Penetration 

Due to its unique design, the 75-pound draw weight of the X16 can be cocked with bare hands or a cocking rope. Normally, using a cocking rope provides more consistent accuracy, yet it’s great to know that forgetting your cocking rope doesn’t end the hunt.

The X16 is rated at 330 fps and launches with amazing quietness. Compared to traditional crossbow decibels, the difference is significant. To increase penetration, I wondered if using Easton Axis 5mm shafts would increase penetration as occurs with compound bows.

Although the X16 shoots traditional arrows matched for its 75-pound launch, the shafts must be re-fletched with a greater distance from the nock to access the trigger box. I began testing the Axis arrows and WOW! much greater penetration in my bag target.

To the Hunt

Arriving in camp, after 24 hours of travel, everyone tested their equipment, and the X16 had the advantage of flying in a padded case designed for travel. Salvatore’s first shot was dead on, and no adjustments were necessary.

We hunted with Louwlardus Safaris which is primarily a bowhunting property in South Africa. We watched water holes from well-constructed blinds and hunters used a tripod rest to enhance accuracy when launching through small shooting windows.

John used Rage crossbow heads and Axis arrows, taking three animals with three well-placed shots. I was with him when a mature Nyala bull came to drink. He put the reticle on its shoulder and made a perfect shot.

Three animals with three arrows-

A perfect score. Additionally, one day he forgot his cocking rope, but cocked his bow with his hands and didn’t have to waste the day.  If you are in the market for a new bow, especially if you travel, the Gearhead X16 Tactical deserves a look. It has the accuracy of a crossbow with many traditional archery elements. Check them out at


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