The new Viper 430 crossbow from TenPoint Crossbows is a forward-draw crossbow with a narrow profile. Combine the 430-fps arrow speed with several new accuracy-driven modifications, and this crossbow is designed to produce tight groups out to 100 yards.
Our partners at TenPoint announced their full lineup of new 2023 crossbows this week, including a reverse-draw speed demon called the Flatline 460. These new crossbows are all sold as packages, with prices ranging from $1,749.99 up to $3,349.99. The Viper 430 is at the lowest end of that price spectrum, but as proven in my pre-release field test, it’s high on performance for a treestand whitetail hunter.
Viper 430 Crossbow: Initial Field Testing
In my line of work, it’s more the norm than the exception that I get a new hunting product in hand with little time to settle into it before a hunt. The Viper 430 landed on my doorstep midway through my Wisconsin crossbow whitetail season. At the time, I had been carrying the TenPoint Siege RS410 with great success (watch my first hunt with the Siege RS410). “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I’m a big believer in that mantra, but as a professional content producer it’s my job to be nimble and take on the challenge of getting new gear into the field at the drop of a hat. So, less than 24 hours before my biggest whitetail hunt of the year, I set up the Viper 430 during a frigid Minnesota fall evening and made sure it was dialed for the next morning.
If you’re new to shooting crossbows, they can take some getting used to. But once you become familiar with the basic mechanics of any crossbow, it’s much easier to grab a new one and get it ready for action. Within 3 hours, I had my new Viper 430 on the range and shooting lethal groups out to 40 yards. I’m sure the Viper 430 is capable repeatable 100-yard accuracy as advertised, and eventually I’ll get enough time to assess its full potential as a long-range crossbow. In the meantime, I was on a mission to pounce on a target buck that I’d been keeping tabs on for months.
On the morning of November 12, I climbed into a treestand and prepared for an all-day rut hunt. Deer activity was insane from the moment I nocked an arrow on my Viper 430. I caught a glimpse of “The Top Woods 8” at first light, but he didn’t offer a shot. After a nerve-racking couple of hours, the Wisconsin monarch sneaked in behind me on the heels of a hot doe. A classic cat-and-mouse showdown ensued, and eventually the Deer Gods offered me a shot on the cautious old buck. See the full hunt in this episode of Whitetail POSSE.
Standout Features of the Viper 430 Crossbow
You can get into the nitty-gritty tech specs on the Viper 430 crossbow right here, but I’ll share a handful of the features that stood out to me as an avid crossbow hunter.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the “full-length” Viper 430, coming in at 33 inches long. I’d grown accustomed to shooting the ultra-compact, reverse-draw Siege RS410, which is undoubtedly handy for operating in tight quarters. Surprisingly, when I sat down to shoot the Viper 430, I was immediately impressed by how naturally it shouldered and came up to my eye. For most of the big-game season I call myself a rifleman, so the longer profile of the Viper 430 just felt “right.” Combine that feeling with the narrow width (6.5 inches full cocked), and it felt like a nearly perfect blend of balance and maneuverability once I was in my treestand. My target buck came in at an awkward angle, and I was dealing with a tree full of camera gear, but it was still pretty easy to finagle my way into a shooting position with the Viper 430.
Another benefit of a longer crossbow is the ability to keep it at the ready in a vertical position. You don’t always want to be holding your crossbow while you’re hunting. A longer crossbow allows you to rest it in a vertical position with the broadhead facing down, without making contact with the dirt or whatever you’re resting it on. You can’t do this with some shorter crossbows, where the arrow/broadhead goes past the bow hanger/foot stirrup. This might sound like a small consideration, but I can assure you it’s meaningful.
TenPoint built the Viper 430 with “scope struts” for added strength and rigidity, ensuring your zero will be maintained even if the crossbow takes some abuse in the field. The Viper 430 comes with a Rangemaster 100 scope, containing a reticle that’s optimized for long-distance shooting out to 100 yards. It’s a great optic for the Viper 430, but I chose to top mine with a Burris Oracle X—a digital crossbow scope with a built-in rangefinder. Acquire your target, press a button, and an illuminated dot shows you exactly where to aim. The Oracle X saves the extra step of using a handheld rangefinder, and I find that it helps reduce target panic.
Aside from the speed and stability provided by the Viper 430, another major contributor to this crossbow’s accuracy is the S1 trigger. As a two-stage trigger, it allows you to make contact with the trigger in the first stage before settling into the second stage to launch the arrow with a smooth trigger break. Two-stage triggers of this kind are especially helpful when you’re wearing gloves, so you don’t prematurely (unexpectedly) let an arrow fly.
Lastly, as is standard in most TenPoint crossbows, the Viper 430 incorporates the ACUslide cocking and de-cocking system. Loading or unloading your crossbow with the ACUslide requires minimal effort, plus it’s ultra quiet and safe.