Horton TRT UL review
Got a new Horton TRT Ultralite in July, and I like to hold off on posting product reviews until the honeymoon is over so that I can give an accurate review. Everyone loves their new crossbow at first.
First, the TRT UL is reasonably priced in a crowded market. I bought the one with the red dot scope because I knew I was going to mount my Barska on it, and being a tightwad, I didn't want to pay extra for a scope from Horton that I wouldn't be using.
Assembling the crossbow was simple and straightforward, it uses a single socket head screw to mount the bow and riser to the track. Now that doesn't sound like much support, but the track and riser fit into a very precise socket arrangement that has very close tolerances, and the one bolt [also goes through and secures the stirrup] does a dandy job. Next you mount your scope. The directions supplied are more or less generic to their entire product line and really aren't that helpful IMO.
OK, so now you're ready to sight in, BUT I hope you have your own rope cocker or bought a crank because the TRT UL doesn't come with either and it is almost impossible to cock by hand, not only because of the 175 lb draw, but the scope gets in the way, even if you are strong enough to cock it.
Supplied with the TRT UL are three aluminum 2219 arrows made by Carbon Express fletched with vanes bearing the Horton logo, measuring just under 3". You will also find a quiver and mount; the quiver holds 3 arrows. I did not get good flight out of the provided arrows, but I suspect this was more related to spine than fletching. You will want to get a better grade of arrow, Easton aluminum and carbon shafts worked fine for me. The quiver installs easily and is a snap to remove. It's obvious that the TRT is made of quality materials with quality machining.
I took the TRT UL out to sight it in and the first time I cocked it, I could tell it is wound very tightly. It has to be wound tight to get the advertised 330 fps speed out of a little over 12” of string travel. The trigger breaks well with no travel. The first shot confirmed that it is possibly one of the louder crossbows out there. This is not as big an issue as most people make it out to be, though. You have to keep in mind that no matter how much money you spend to quiet a crossbow, no one has succeeded in quieting one down to where it can’t be heard; they all make noise and every deer you shoot at, no matter what brand your crossbow is and no matter how much stuff you hang on it to quiet it down, the deer is going to hear it. Yet we kill deer with crossbows in spite of their noise issues. Why? Because of the speed and the short distances involved. If you were to ask around among deer hunters who use a rifle, it might surprise you how many times deer hang around for a 2nd shot, and I’ll bet your crossbow is a lot quieter and slower than your deer rifle. Noise isn’t the issue we think it is or make it out to be, the folks who make products to "quiet" crossbows have done their "creating a need" marketing very well.
Now, as to the advertised speed of the crossbow, I don’t own a chronograph so I can’t confirm or deny the claim of 330 fps, but I can tell you it is so fast that I rarely even catch a glimpse of the arrow in flight. That could be more related to my vision than to the speed of the flight, but it is very fast, it’s not likely that many deer will jump this string no matter how noisy it gets or how skittish they are.
Now sadly for some negative stuff. The TRT UL has a track that is milled in such a way that the arrow is only supported at the front and back, the center portion is milled wider and deeper so the arrow doesn’t contact in this area. This is a good thing. But after about 20 or so shots, I noticed the anodize wearing off down in the section of track where the arrow isn’t supposed to have any contact. Doing a paper-tear test showed the shafts, even at very close range were not coming out of the bow straight. Then I noticed that the string at draw, while being held by the claws was not even contacting the rail, but was a good ways off the rail, contacting the underside of the sight bridge. Further inspection showed that the string claws under the pressure of holding the string lean so far forward that it forces the string up off the rail, and pushing down on the string will not make it go down. So when the crossbow is fired, the string travels downward to the rail as it moves forward. I thought that this must be the obvious source of the problem. Also, the safety was hard to push off.
I contacted Horton repair, explained the problem, and was given a return authorization, BUT WAS TOLD I WOULD HAVE TO PAY SHIPPING TO HORTON. I had never heard of this happening before, so I questioned the technician I talked to about it, and was told that was Horton policy.
OK, so I send the bow in [almost $20] and about 3 weeks later received it back. Examination revealed it to be the same crossbow with a new rail. Reassembling the crossbow and cocking it, I noticed the string up off the rail again. Shooting it a few times, I again noticed the wear down in the rail. Thoroughly disgusted, I wrote a letter to Horton including pictures of what I was talking about and letting them know that I had no intentions to pay to return the bow. In a few days, I got a call from the inside general sales manager of Horton telling me they were going to do whatever possible to make me a happy Horton owner. Then I got an email telling me they went over the old repair ticket and had decided to send me a new crossbow, and include some extra arrows, and pay to send my old one back. Which they did.
When I assembled and cocked the replacement, the first thing I noticed was the string up off the rail. I was so disgusted that I was going to take it apart, put it back in the box and sell it. But since it was already cocked, I thought “might as well shoot it”. Well, it turns out I’m glad I did because after a few hundred shots there is no contact down in the rail and without doing the paper-tear test, it appears the arrows are coming out straight and accurate. It shoots as accurate as any crossbow I ever had my hands on, you can’t shoot groups without damage to your arrows.
Apparently, the string being up off the rail doesn’t affect the accuracy as much as I thought, but I can’t help wondering how much better it would be if it were done right. It would not have cost a single penny more in the initial stages of setup machining to design and mill string claws that lean back enough to allow the string to rest on the rail where it belongs. It almost looks like the string would walk up over the claws if it weren’t for contacting the bottom of the sight bridge. It may have no real effect but I know it’s there and it bugs me, and is a negative that could and should be avoided. But as long as sales are strong, this will probably not happen. Too bad too, because the TRT UL could almost be the perfect crossbow. If you ever wreck a new car and the body shop puts it back together so that you can’t see the difference, you still know what happened and it’s never quite the same, at least in YOUR mind. This is what I think about this issue. Maybe I’m just being an old fussbudget, but I would not let an easily-fixed issue like this go on the market bearing my name, but that’s me.
One other thing that could be done better. The aluminum rails [I don’t like composite rails for a number of reasons] are very well-finished, with the sides and top being surface ground. Now this looks very nice, but if you rub your fingernail across it, it will actually file your fingernail, and IMO, the top should be polished to reduce abrasion on the serving.
I also don’t care for the Horton system of adjusting the buttstock length. It’s kind of clunky, and I would rather have a hollow space in the buttstock with a hinged plate so I could put a few small items inside, and I would also like to see an adjustable cheek piece so that when I pull it up, my cheek rests in a position where I am looking directly into the center of my scope. The safety on the new TRT UL pushes off very nicely.
Now, I admit I’m picky when it comes to precision machinery like guns and things, and precision machinery is what today’s crossbows are or should be for the price they demand for them, but overall, I would give the Horton TRT UL a grade of B+ because sadly, there aren’t many “A” grade crossbows made in the USA that some of us can afford, though the TRT UL has the potential to be an “A” grade crossbow with just a little attention to detail. But if you’re looking for a good crossbow in that very competitive price range out there today, the Horton TRT UL is well worth the money, and IMO would have no competitors in that range at all if they would just fix a couple issues. It IS very light, very fast, and hits very hard. And after the way I was treated by Horton customer service, it will be very hard for anyone to stay mad at them if they were to have a problem.
Horton, if you’re listening:
Fix the string claws.
Polish the top of the rail.
Supply a rope cocker.
Scrap the adjustable-length buttstock system.
Make an adjustable cheekpiece.
Never ask a warranty customer to pay for a return for warranty work caused by something done at the assembly plant.
If you would do these things, I can’t even imagine you having any serious competition, unless it would be for the kid who just always has to have the newest and fastest crossbow or newest gadget on the market. All in all, that’s a pretty darn good crossbow you got there, and I'm glad I bought it.
If you look at the pic, 2 of the arrows are Easton, only one of the supplied arrows [CE, bottom arrow] would fly well enough for me, and even that was about 1" away from where the Eastons hit. Yah, I refletched the CE arrows but that wasn't the problem.
Last edited by Jack Pine; 12-12-2011 at 07:29 AM.
Reason: added pix
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