Xero X1i Crossbow Scope: Q&A with Crossbow Magazine

In 2018 the archery world was changed forever when Garmin launched the Xero® A1 bow sight.

In 2019 the trapshooting world was changed forever when Garmin launched the Xero® S1 trapshooting trainer.

Today the crossbow world is shifting with the Garmin Xero® X1i Crossbow Scope, a leap forward in crossbow aiming technology. The electro-optic-based crossbow scope offers a built-in laser range finder that offers the most advanced crossbow aiming platform on the market.

crossbow scope by Garmin

Built from a rugged aluminum housing, Xero X1i provides state-of-the-art scope features for a revolutionary interactive aiming experience with an easy-to-use setup process.

We’re very proud of Xero X1i as an opportunity to help hunters be more efficient and effective. We’re confident Xero X1i is going to revolutionize the crossbow scope market. We’re hopeful with its easy setup and precision accuracy that Xero X1i is going to keep existing hunters in the field longer and bring new hunters into the woods faster.  

But … we’re biased. Xero X1i is our product. We’ve worked for years on it, and countless hours have gone into making this crossbow scope what it is today, which is simply, the most advanced crossbow scope on the market.

So, we want to offer you an unbiased opinion of Xero X1i from a crossbow expert: Eugene (Gene) Schang, the field editor of Crossbow Magazine.

Schang has been testing and hunting with Xero X1i for the past month, and we gathered his thoughts on the experience below. His full review is on YouTube.

Garmin: Out of the box, what were your impressions of the X1i? 

Schang: Right out of the box I was shocked at how compact the X1i was. I was expecting a much longer and wider optic. The X1i is actually shorter than a typical compact crossbow scope. By utilizing a Porro prism design, the laser was kept under the objective lens without compromising the cheek weld at the ocular end. Excellent engineering to keep the weight centered over the scope base and to the rear of the crossbow. The X1i is very pleasing to the eye for sure. 

G: What are your thoughts on setup? Is it user-friendly and/or will the average individual feel comfortable navigating the set-up process?

S: This is an area I was concerned about as I am far from a tech guy. I have used other electro-optics in the past, and their user interface was challenging at times. That concern was erased after just the first few steps of the set-up process with the X1i. If you can answer yes and no to basic questions and follow simple diagrams, setting up the X1i is a breeze. It’s pretty impressive how the X1i manages to offer so much with so little input from the user. 

G: Was there anything that surprised you about X1i once you started using it? If so, what was it?

S: Yes. I was surprised by the amount of feedback the X1i offers the shooter while target shooting and hunting. Ultimately, the goal of every hunter is to become better at their sport. The X1i is one of those rare products that actually makes you a more accurate shooter and a more efficient hunter. Not only does it accomplish that, but the X1i also assists crossbow enthusiasts with their maintenance routines such as string and cable care.  

G: Steady Aim and Aim Point Level – do you think the average individual will benefit from using? If so, why? Do you enjoy them?

S: Most definitely! As far as level goes, many crossbow folks do not realize how important having the rail perfectly level during a shot is to achieving better accuracy. This is even more important on the very narrow crossbows these days. Previously, it was easy to see if the wide limbs of older crossbows were tilted. On today’s bows, this is hard to visualize without some sort of aid. The X1i does this seamlessly by way of three different digital level options that provide instant feedback in a way that does not clutter up the display. The Steady Aim feature is something all hunters can benefit from. I often do a lot of my hunting without the aid of a rest. The X1i provides me with a training tool that has helped me tighten up my groups while shooting offhand.  

crossbow scope

G: This is Garmin’s first optics-based product. What were your thoughts regarding optics quality?

S: I was very pleased to see Garmin go with an optical-based platform instead of a digital format. Not only does this result in extremely long battery life, but also the clarity of a good optical platform is hard to beat. Plus, that is what hunters are used to. A scope is no good if it doesn’t perform well in low light situations. These are the times when game movement peaks. I was happy to see the quality of the optical glass Garmin is utilizing with the X1i. Compared to my other crossbow specific scopes, the X1i holds its own in that department. Oftentimes, eclipsing some of my old standbys.  

G: Why does a hunter need different “bolt profiles?” 

S: I shoot three different arrow and broadhead combinations. One is a traditional deer-sized arrow of 400 grains. When I hunt bear, I shoot a 545-grain combination. For turkey, I screw on a dedicated turkey broadhead. All three have different flight characteristics. By allowing different profiles to be stored, a hunter can sight in each of their combinations and store them separately in the X1i. Switching from deer to bear is as simple as swapping out the arrows and selecting the saved profile. This saves a lot of time and wear and tear on your equipment.  

G: Do you think the weight is going to be an issue on this unit or do you think it will balance the bow better? Welcome your thoughts here.

S: I don’t see the weight of the X1i as that much of an issue because of the engineering. The weight is perfectly centered over the receiver of the crossbow and due to its short length, the weight is not out over the rail, which is not a great place to add weight on front-heavy crossbows. Crossbows are getting lighter every year. But lighter weight generally increases vibration and noise. The weight and balance of the X1i on a modern crossbow is ideal.  

G: What is your favorite feature that was unavailable prior to X1i? 

S: The obvious answer here is an optical scope with self-contained laser range finding capabilities that provides a precise aiming point to the exact yard as far out of the field of view will allow. On fast crossbows, that will be well over 100 yards. This is something that I and many others were anxiously waiting for.  

G: How has it impacted your personal hunting experience/process so far? 

S: I can now carry less gear with me into the woods as the need for a handheld rangefinder is no longer necessary, and it allows me to focus on hunting as I don’t have to continually range landmarks around my stand. I was fortunate to be able to take a nice doe recently at 28 yards. She came in quietly from my left and looked right at me. Knowing something wasn’t quite right, she kept alert and focused on my position as she fed. Not having to raise a rangefinder to get a range was a huge advantage in that situation.  

G: What feature/aspect do you look forward to testing further with Xero X1i? 

S: There is no doubt that I will be exploring more with the arrow profiles. The X1i is making me a better long-range shot. Having a precise aiming point along with the level and steady aim indicators provides so many tools to start really working on some new arrow, vane and broadhead combinations. So many of the variables are reduced with the X1i that it makes this opportunity one I will explore much more in the future.  

G: Have you had previous hunts that would have turned out differently had you had this scope?

S: I can think of quite a few that would most likely turned out differently. I have been picked off many times while trying to get ranges, and I have missed animals high or low after guessing on ranges. The doe I harvested recently is a great example of this. This advantage is huge. No more gap shooting and no more ranging at the moment of truth.  

G: What is one thing that people should know about Xero X1i that we haven’t already discussed?

S: How intuitive the X1i is. I would liken it to almost artificial intelligence. The user/device interface is so seamless it almost knows what information you desire at the moment. Push the ranging button in full sunlight and the X1i knows to increase the brightness of the display without you doing a thing. Tilt your crossbow too far and the X1i tries to make sure you realize it by the red colors on the tilt display. The best thing is it does all of this on its own. Everybody benefits from the novice to the seasoned professional hunter.  

NOTICE: Some jurisdictions regulate or prohibit the use of electronic bow sights for hunting. Always know and obey all state hunting regulations before using this device.