Hendricks’ Mission Sub-1 Crossbow Critique

By Daniel James HendricksDecember 24, 20173 Comments

There is not a single modern archer that does not know the name “Mathews Archery, Inc.” As a matter of fact, a very high percentage of those modern archers use a Mathews bow on the tournament trail and in the field in pursuit of the big game animals of the world. One could safely say that Mathews has become the Cadillac of vertical bows and is considered to be a status symbol among many archers. Their reputation for quality, excellence and stellar customer service has been justly earned by years of setting the pace for the rest of the industry.

Although initially Mathews, as a company, was slow to come around to accepting the crossbow as yet another legal avenue of flinging an arrow, they eventually did due to the demand for it from their dealer base. The initial crossbows created by their Mission Archery brand were immediately accepted by the industry and crossbow hunters and they were off and running.

But Matt McPherson decided he did not want to just make acceptable crossbows, he wanted to make exceptional crossbows. So he and his engineering team set to work to create a crossbow that would make a solid statement about their commitment and dedication to the industry. The end result of an 18 month design and production project was a brand new crossbow that Matt McPherson rebranded under Mission Crossbows and christened as the Mission Sub-1.


Ruggedly handsome from stem to stern, the Mission Sub-1 has made a big entry with its fall release.

To introduce the Sub-1 to the industry, Mission invited a dozen or so outdoor writers to their plant in Sparta, Wisconsin to make sure that the launch would be documented by a properly informed group of outdoor journalists. And the best way to do that, they felt, was to bring them to the factory and properly instruct and educate the writers themselves.


Clean lines, adjustable fit, consistent and deadly accuracy…the Mission Sub-1 has it all.

On a bit of a side bar, one of the highlights of this excursion to Sparta to be properly informed about Mission’s new crossbow was the comprehensive tour of the Mathews Archery facilities. Amazing and impressive are the very first words that come to my mind. We were shown the operation from top to bottom, and each of us enjoyed the tour as we were guided through the maze of buildings and departments which make up Mathews Archery, Inc. A huge staff, supported by robotics, the latest technology and thousands of square feet of work space makes for an impressive tour. What astounded me was how clean everything was, a manufacturing plant that I would not be afraid to eat right off the floor in any department I saw.

Once the tour was done, Matt and his staff introduced us to the Sub-1 explaining in great detail the features and benefits as well as describing the creative journey they traveled in designing the Sub-1. It was a morning filled with detailed presentations, videos and ample time for questions from their guest writers. Once that was done, it was off to the range to allow each of us to shoot the crossbow at targets they had set up all the way out to 100 yards. That portion of the conference was filled with a lot of good natured kidding and plenty of relaxed conversation as the crew watched the Sub-1 be run though its paces. Everyone had a good time, especially when they had the Sub-1 in their hands. It was a delightful experience, but I was really looking forward to the arrival of the Sub-1 on my own doorstep so that I could play at my own pace without having to share with a dozen other writers.


It’s kind of hard not to smile and be happy when you are consistently hammering the bullseye with the Sub-1.

The crossbow I received came fully assembled and was ready for the range the moment I pulled it from its shipping carton. There were no surprises as I had already been introduced to the bow in Sparta. The model I had been sent was finished in black, but the Sub-1 is also offered in Under Armour’s Ridge Reaper Forest camouflage. Once a thorough examination was made, I packed everthing up and headed for the range to spend some time getting to know this bow with my hunting partner, Perry Mason.

All my sighting in and testing is done from a shooting bench with a choronograph set up to measure arrow speed on every shot just as the arrow comes off the rail. The initial shots are taken with the arrows that are included with the bow package and then I switch to the arrows that I will be using to hunt with.

Once photos were taken, I quickly and easily removed two of the options that are available for the Sub-1 that came included with my bow. There is a bi-pod that can be attached to the front of the bow and a cocking device that can be attached to the stock if one is in need of assistance to cock the bow. Both Perry and I have no problem with that process, especially given the 80% let-off that kicks in at the end of the cocking procedure. Removing these two options lightened the load and streamlined the bow back to its natural gracefulness.


The optional cocking device attaches easily and quickly and may be left right on the bow if one is in need of assistance to charge their bow.

There are some really neat features that make the Sub-1 a unique entry to the crossbow market as evidenced by the 24 pending patents. Not all are readily visible, but each one contributes to the uniqueness of this spunky little newcomer. One fact that is undeniable, however, is the pleasure its stylish lines bring to the eye.

The bow itself is just 13.8″ axle-to-axle uncocked and 10.7″ when cocked. That is narrow… making this bow easy to handle when plowing through dense undercover or shooting out the window of a blind. It is 30.5″ inches long and weighs a conservative seven and a half pounds assisting in easy maneuvering under any circumstances. But best of all, when it is in your hands, it really feels good.

The first thing I noticed was the pistol grip, which, if you have read my reveiws before, you know it is a personal favorite feature of mine. The grip feels great and assists in the handling of the Sub-1 both on the range and in the field. This particular grip is molded for a comfortable grip and is fully interchangeable with aftermarket AR style grips if you are interested in personalizing your Sub-1.


The molded pistol grip of the Sub-1 is interchangeable with aftermarket AR grips.

The stock on this crossbow is a work of art. It is fully adustable and can be set in six different positions length-wise. The adjustable cheek piece is ambidextrous and can be adjusted up and down a full inch and a quarter. With all of the options available there should be no problem fitting this bow perfectly to your body.

As I stated earlier, we chose to cock the Sub-1 with the cocking rope. In spite of the 200 lb draw weight, the 13.75″ power stroke was easy to span because of the 80% let off. During the cocking process, just as it starts to become a strain on my ailing back, the let off kicks in making the last few inches of the task a breeze.

Once arrows began to be launched, the fun truly began. This bow is enjoyable to shoot and the accuracy that it delivers its load with each shot only enhances the experience. Our average arrow speed reported by the chronograph was 338 fps. That speed was consistent with both the arrows that came with the bow and the LumenArrows that I would be using for hunting. Where we shoot we can easily get out to fifty yards and the Sub-1 performed like a trooper at 20,30,40 and 50 yards. The trigger pull is listed at about 3.4 lbs and once we had adjusted to this trigger’s pull and span, we were releasing arrows consistently and accurately. One of the things that struck both Perry and me was that this little bow is solid as a rock. No loose ends rattling around during the shooting process once the cocking device was removed. The hooks on that device did not anchor solidly and might bring about unwanted noise in the field, but the unit is so easy to attach and take off that this is not really a factor.


There is an optional Bi-pod available for the Mission Sub-1.

The arrow comes off the rail flying straight and true with little or no wobble during its flight. My bow came with the best crossbow scope money can buy. The Hawke XB30 is a scope that allows the shooter to set the speed ring to his or her particular arrow speed, bringing the reticles into perfect allignment creating less chance of error. It has lighted reticles in both green and red and is a perfect match for the Sub-1.

Mission Sub-1-Scope

The Sub-1 is available with the best crossbow scope in the industry… the Hawke XB30.

Another feature that was exposed on the range as we began to shoot was the marked quietness of the bow when the trigger is pulled. Definitely an improvement on most of the competition; it was very noticable. Some of the bows nowdays sound like you are firing a small caliber rifle, but not the Sub-1. It does its very best to be whisper-quiet during the launch process.

The last feature that sets this crossbow apart from the rest is the new patented system that allows one to safely uncock the bow without disengaging the safety, pulling the trigger or shooting an arrow into a target or the ground. When you leave your stand and arrive at your destination, you simply put your cocking rope back on the bow, push a little button by the safety, apply pressure with the rope and the string releases into the hooks allowing you to gently lower it into the uncocked position. Three years in the making, it is a thing of beauty. No more busted arrows because you hit a rock shooting it into the ground and no more carrying a bag target around in the back of your vehicle. This unique little device is a game changer for sure. You just have to see it in action and you will be completely amazed.


The adjustable stock and cheek-piece allows you to customize the Sub-1 to fit your body perfectly.

Sub-1 Specs

Draw Weight 200 lbs,  Power Stroke 13.75”, Arrow Speed 350 fps (400gr Arrow), Physical Weight 7.5 lbs, Length 30.5″, Axle-to-Axle Cocked 10.7″, Axle-to-Axle Un-cocked 13.8″, Trigger Pull 3.4 lbs, Let-Off 80%, Patents Pending 24 (All Specifications Approximate)

The next step in the review process for the Sub-1 will be to take it into the field and see just how it performs under actual hunting conditions. However, I am quite positive that it is going to do just fine and will pass this test with flying colors. It should be another fine crossbow hunting adventure. For more information about the new Mission Sub-1, visit www.missioncrossbows.com.

Daniel James Hendricks
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