If you’re ready to invest in the ultimate hunting crossbow, look no further than TenPoint’s all-new Havoc RS440

by Rob Reaser

I was stuck. I mean STUCK.

Every deer hunter—especially vertical bow and crossbow hunters—knows what “being stuck” means. Your weapon is up and ready to take the shot. The deer is super close. There is little to no cover between you and your target. Any subtle move, any hint of noise, any minor shift in wind direction and the game is over.

I was stuck for over half an hour, sitting on hard-baked Oklahoma clay with my crossbow up and barely a wisp of cedar branches between me and two deer feeding 20 yards away. The silence was crypt-like, with only the odd cardinal shuffling in the crispy leaves to prove I’d not gone deaf.

Normally, I would not have put myself through such misery for so long, but an hour earlier, I had spotted a shooter buck on the ridge above me and knew it would be following the doe and four-point in front of me. Their target was the small plot of winter wheat below my makeshift brush blind.

First, the doe arrived, feeding on the hair-like shoots of bright green leaves bursting up through the compact, ochre-hued soil. Ten minutes later, the fork-horn rolled onto the scene, doubling the ears, noses, and eyeballs that could spoil my ambush.

Hunched on the ground with the bottom of the crossbow grip balanced on my knee, I waited. Hips began to hurt. My left leg went numb. I kept my breathing slow and steady while ignoring the infuriating itches that inevitably arise to torment the locked-down hunter. Fifteen minutes passed. Twenty. Twenty-five. Thirty.

The doe sauntered off, but the four-point continued to graze.

That bigger buck was out there, somewhere, although I was beginning to think it may have wandered into another draw and my physical anguish would be for naught.

Legal shooting light had now ticked down to a couple of minutes and I was already pondering how I would dress for the crisp, twenty-some degree hunt the next morning.

And then I heard the snaps and crunches as something big worked its way through the dry brush.

With the TenPoint Havoc RS440 still patiently balanced on my knee, I eased my eye behind the scope. He was a “racked buck,” but it was too dark to count points. The body and spread were big enough, and with the time quickly winding down on our hunt, I intended to bring this boy home. From 65 to 20 yards, he closed the gap.

Earlier, I had turned on the EVO-X Marksman Elite scope’s illuminated reticle, so I had a clean, precise point-of-aim as soon as the buck turned for a slightly quartering-to shot. A deep, steadying breath and a slow squeeze of the crisp, two-stage S1 trigger sealed the deal. The arrow punched through the vitals and stuck in the ground, the nock glowing brightly in the thick dusk as the buck crashed past me in its death flight.

This was my fourth sit with the new Havoc RS440—a fresh crossbow developed by TenPoint that brings together the latest in crossbow design and engineering, as well as serious innovation for which the company is well known. Although I prefer not to feel the last-minute pressure when I’m on a test-and-evaluation hunt like this, being able to take the Havoc on three previous sits in different stand locations and shooting scenarios proved beneficial as it gave me the opportunity to experience the many benefits intelligently integrated into this exceptional package.

The Safest Crossbows on the Market

The Havoc RS440 and its companion Siege RS410 follow the launch of TenPoint’s premium line of ACUslide-series crossbows introduced in early 2020. The ACUslide system answered the call for a silent and safe means of unloading (or de-cocking) a crossbow (check out the above video to see how it works).

I’ve been using TenPoint’s 2020 Vengent S440 with the ACUslide for much of this hunting season and, quite honestly, can’t imagine wanting to go back to the old method of shooting a crossbow to unload it at the end of the day. It’s a remarkable system that allows you to silently and safely cock and de-cock the crossbow and stop cranking at any point along the way without fear of the cable slipping, the crank spinning wildly out of control, or dry firing the crossbow.

While the ACUslide is a welcome system integrated into the new-for-2021 Havoc RS440, that is only one of many features that distinguish this top-tier crossbow from its TenPoint stablemates and the crossbow segment at large.

Ergonomics, Pt. 1: Compact and Balanced

Crossbows deliver many advantages to the hunter when compared to vertical bows. Each have their place, of course, and I enjoy hunting with both. Where the crossbow shines is its cocked-and-loaded operation and its familiar stock and trigger foundation—both of which improve accuracy and expand hunting opportunities for most outdoor enthusiasts. Part of that foundation advantage is the ability to stay in the ready position for much longer than when shooting a vertical bow, which must be drawn and held at full draw. Still, most crossbows can only be held at the ready for a short amount of time due to overall weight and the inherent forward-weight bias.

The Havoc RS440 eliminates much of this struggle thanks to its compact dimensions and reverse-draw limb configuration. This crossbow is a remarkably short 26.5 inches in length (not counting the abbreviated stirrup) and a scant 7.5 inches wide, axle-to-axle, when cocked. By virtue of those diminutive dimensions alone, the Havoc delivers a significant reduction in forward pitch and left/right roll than longer and wider crossbows. This means less effort is required to hold the Havoc in the shooting position when you are waiting for an animal to come into range or when holding out for the perfect shot opportunity.

Further contributing to the compact design and overall balance is the reverse-draw limb configuration. This goes for any reverse-draw crossbow, but it is especially pronounced in a compact design like the Havoc. The riser is made of lightweight 7075-T6 CNC-machined aluminum alloy and is set well back on the stock, just forward of the trigger guard. This reverse-draw/deep set-back configuration places most of the crossbow’s mass closer to the shooter and behind the support hand foregrip, making the crossbow easier to hold and easier to maneuver. Off-hand shots are also much easier to take thanks to the exceptional balance.

Also assisting the rear weight bias and ease of hold is the Havoc’s short and slender flight rail. TenPoint calls the fluted aluminum flight rail MICRO-TRAC. And while the rail’s light weight is an absolute benefit, more important is the 50-percent reduction in flight deck surface compared to conventional crossbows. The radiused profile of the MICRO-TRAC rail means less surface area for the string to pass over compared to a flat surface track, reducing energy-robbing friction during arrow launch while increasing string life to over 1,000 shots—an industry high mark.

Ergonomics, Pt. 2: All-New Stock

Development of the all-new compact platform required TenPoint engineers to craft a fresh foundation rather than simply trimming down an existing stock system. To that end, the skunkworks crew produced the TEC-TACTICAL stock.

This is a glass-filled polypropylene stock that exhibits a remarkably high strength-to-weight ratio, allowing it to manage all that energy in a tight crossbow configuration without sacrificing shooter comfort.

The first thing I noticed when shouldering the Havoc for the first time, aside from the exquisite weight balance, was the short length-of-pull. From the end of the buttstock to the trigger shoe face, the Havoc’s length-of-pull measures 13.5 inches at its shortest position. That’s not actually short but is right in line with the average rifle stock LOP. Although 13.5 inches is a bit shorter than what I am used to in a crossbow, the fit was spot on and delivered a comfortable shoulder and proper eye alignment with the optic (more on that in a moment). The buttstock can, however, be adjusted for up to a one inch longer LOP to fit shooters with a longer reach.

Moving on, the grip is nicely contoured and angled just right for an ergonomic reach with the trigger finger. Finger grooving in the grip ensures solid contact and provides that subtle firing hand support that further reduces holding effort and fatigue when waiting for the shot.

One aspect of TenPoint crossbows that has always appealed to me is the company’s approach to a “unitized” or “monolithic-style” stock platform. From the buttstock to the forend, TenPoint stocks have the look, feel, and function of one-piece units. This is in stark contrast to almost all competing crossbow platforms on the market today that feature stocks, grips, and foregrips that are not a unitized assembly but rather “bolted together.” Perhaps it is a subjective thing on my part, but a unitized stock just feels more solid and seems to perform more quietly than stock “assemblies.” From an accuracy standpoint, a unitized platform also makes sense. As with a rifle that has been bedded and features rock-solid engagement between the stock and the barreled action, the more rigid the crossbow platform the better the chance for downrange accuracy. When it comes to a solid foundation, the Havoc has no equal.

Speed and Accuracy

TenPoint has always set a high bar with crossbow accuracy, and the company’s engineers are acutely aware how tolerance stacking in a complex system like a crossbow can lead to frustrating downrange performance—a little off here and a little off there can add up to “exponential offness” by the time the arrow leaves the flight rail. That’s why the company takes a hard look at every component in the crossbow system to reduce tolerance stacking issues…right down to the profile of the Alpha Nock groove design the company recently developed and now includes on all their arrows.

The Havoc limb system begins with the DUAL FLEX limbs secured in the proprietary TRI-LOCK limb pockets—an arrangement intended to deliver perfect alignment of the limbs. To the limbs are attached RX-7 cams that are actuated by TenPoint’s Vector Quad cable configuration. Working in unison, the system eliminates cam lean and ensures straight arrow travel across the flight rail with optimal mechanical efficiency.

The Havoc delivers a launch speed of 440 fps and 172 ft/lbs of energy. That is a true 440 fps rating based on the included 400-grain arrows. It’s quite a punch for such a diminutive crossbow, but one that’s achieved courtesy of a 13.5-inch powerstroke. The stretched out powerstroke allows for a lower draw weight, which means high energy transfer to the arrow while minimizing noise and vibration. Further quieting the Havoc are dual string dampeners.

Speaking of arrows, TenPoint has introduced their new 16-inch EVO-X CenterPunch 16 carbon model for exclusive use with the compact Havoc and Siege platform. With the short overall length of these bows, standard-size 20-inch arrows make little sense due to the excessive overhang. Although short, the CenterPunch 16s, when fitted with the popular 100-grain broadheads, still hit the 400-grain mark, so kinetic energy and penetration are on par with conventional-size crossbow hunting shafts.

Optics Options

In November 2020, TenPoint introduced the Vapor RS470 XERO—the industry’s first crossbow to feature Garmin’s XERO X1i rangefinding scope. The Havoc RS440 XERO takes that technology one step further by integrating the XERO into the chassis system. Before we go there, a quick overview of the Garmin XERO is in order.

One of the challenges for new hunters or hunters who transition from a rifle to a crossbow is range estimation. Crossbows like the Havoc offer tremendously flat arrow trajectories when compared to vertical bows, however, even with a top-speed model, elevation drop between standard 10-yard range increments must be considered. Arrow drop between 20 and 30 yards, for example, can be a difference of three or four inches…maybe more, depending on your arrow weight. Thus, accurate ranging is critical for the ethical hunter.

The traditional method of range estimation is to use a laser rangefinder. It gets the job done, but it’s also a two-handed operation (one hand to work the rangefinder and the other to hold the crossbow). When a deer is coming into your stand, that can be a lot of work and create movement that may get you busted. The Garmin XERO solves this problem handily.

Integral to the XERO is a laser rangefinder that, with the push of a button, can range game out to 250 yards. That’s pretty cool by itself, but it gets better. When the XERO ranges the target, it automatically provides the firing solution by presenting a single, illuminated aim point. This aim point automatically factors in arrow drop for the ranged distance, ensuring synchronized point-of-aim, point-of-impact. Range estimation via guessing or a handheld rangefinder is a thing of the past, as is gap shooting (adjusting reticle holdover or holdunder when the target is between established distances). Whether you hunt from a ground or in a tree, this is a HUGE benefit because it simplifies the shooting sequence and eliminates the guesswork. Check out the video below to see how it works…

 Where the new XERO-equipped Havoc RS440 differs from the Vapor RS470 is that the rangefinding optic is built into the system. TenPoint engineers worked with the folks at Garmin to integrate the XERO into the TEC-TACTICAL stock. Rather than relying on an external pressure switch mounted outside of the stock, the pressure switch and lead wire is mounted in the stock.

The switch is a flush-mount button located just behind the trigger guard, allowing the shooter to activate the XERO’s ranging function with the index or middle finger without losing grip or upsetting the shooting position. This is extremely beneficial when a deer or other animal is coming in and you can’t afford to lose your hold or make any movement that could alert game to your position.

One design concession to the XERO optic is an elevated cheek piece. Because the XERO sits a good bit higher above the “bore line” than a standard scope, TenPoint’s designers added an elevated cheek riser atop the buttstock. With this soft, rubber riser installed, the Havoc delivers a comfortably positioned cheek weld that puts the eye right in line with the optic.

For those who prefer their crossbows with a more traditional, “analog” optic, TenPoint also offers the Havoc RS440 with their all-new EVO-X Marksman Elite scope. Based on TenPoint’s original EVO-X Marksman scope, the Marksman Elite expands the platform’s performance in a couple of areas.

First, the speed adjustment of the Marksman Elite goes to 500 fps (versus 450 fps for the Marksman) to accommodate the faster crossbow speeds. Second, the Marksman Elite boasts a new reticle design. Rather than the standard crosshair (like the Marksman) or red dot reticles, the Marksman Elite features alternating crosshair and circle aim points. What this does quite effectively is mentally clean up the sight picture for the shooter. From my experience, this arrangement subtly guides you (perhaps on a subconscious level) to think about the correct range/aimpoint and it more effectively visually distinguishes between the aim points when compared to an all-crosshair or an all-dot reticle system.

No doubt, this unique reticle design will be perceived differently by each shooter, but for me, it’s a refreshing change that helps keep my attention focused on the correct aiming point.

The “Package”

As with all TenPoint crossbows, the Havoc RS440 comes complete and ready to roll. In addition to the aforementioned ACUslide cocking system and either the XERO X1i rangefinding scope or the EVO-X Marksman Elite scope, the Havoc package includes six of the new EVO-X CenterPunch 16 (16-inch) carbon arrows featuring a straightness of .001 inches, TenPoint’s 6-arrow bow-mounted quiver, a string stop dampening system, and the stock and limbs dipped in Veil Alpine camo or Graphite Gray.

The Siege RS410

As you can imagine, the Havoc RS440, sporting the XERO X1i scope, is a premium bow at an understandably premium price ($3,599.99 MSRP). For those who want the benefits of TenPoint’s new compact platform but can’t quite swing the Havoc’s price tag, take heart. The Siege RS410 has you covered.

The Siege RS410 is dimensionally identical and fundamentally the same as the Havoc, yet the cost hits a more comfortable spot for most hunters at $1,699.99 when dressed in Graphite Gray. Prefer camo? The Veil Alpine dip will only add another $100.

The two key differences between the Siege and the Havoc are the speed and optic. A slightly altered limb configuration puts the Siege at 410 fps with a 400-grain arrow versus the Havoc’s 440 fps. The other difference is the scope. The Siege sports TenPoint’s popular and proven RangeMaster PRO variable-power optic. If you are on a budget, the Siege RS410 is certainly a great option that can be upgraded with the XERO rangefinding scope down the road when finances allow it.

Crossbows enjoyed a major popularity explosion in 2020 due largely to folks looking to broaden their hunting options in the face of potential food supply chain issues and the near wipeout of retail firearm ammunition caused by the numerous social and economic factors visited upon us. The upward trend of crossbow sales, however, has been going on for several years as more states expand crossbow hunting opportunities. While TenPoint’s new Havoc RS440 and Siege RS410 sit at the vanguard of the crossbow market, we anticipate performance and innovation to continue the steady march forward.

TenPoint Havoc RS440 Specifications

  • Length (w/o stirrup): 26.5 inches
  • Width, Axle-to-Axle (un-cocked/cocked): 12.3 inches / 7.5 inches
  • Power Stroke: 13.5 inches
  • Weight (w/o accessories): 7.5 pounds
  • Speed/KE (CenterPunch 16 Carbon Arrow, 400 grains): 440 fps/172 fp ke
  • Draw Style: reverse-draw
  • Trigger: TenPoint S1, 3.5-lb. pull weight, two-stage
  • Safe De-Cocking: ACUslide
  • Optic: Garmin ZERO X1i or EVO-X Marksman Elite Scope, speed-adjustable

TenPoint Siege RS410 Specifications

  • Length (w/o stirrup): 26.5 inches
  • Width, Axle-to-Axle (un-cocked/cocked): 12.3 inches / 7.5 inches
  • Power Stroke: 13.5 inches
  • Weight (w/o accessories): 7.5 pounds
  • Speed/KE (CenterPunch 16 Carbon Arrow, 400 grains): 410 fps / 149 fp ke
  • Draw Style: reverse-draw
  • Trigger: TenPoint S1, 3.5-lb. pull weight, two-stage
  • Safe De-Cocking: ACUslide
  • Optic: TenPoint RangeMaster PRO, speed-adjustable

Shoot On Editor-in-Chief Rob Reaser is a lifelong outdoorsman, former magazine editor, columnist, and contributing editor to numerous national publications in the automotive and outdoor segments. He has also authored and co-authored several DIY gun building books. His shooting and hunting passions cover everything from traditional archery and big-game bowhunting to the latest in handguns, rifles, and reloading. Rob has a troublesome habit of pulling guns and things apart to see how they work; occasionally, he manages to get them back together...

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