The Firearm Blog, as its name suggests, primarily focuses on firearms related topics. Though we occasionally cover knives and industry news, “TFB” writers rarely get the chance to test the latest offerings of the archery industry. Recently Mission Archery, a division of Mathews, sent us the Mission MXB Dagger crossbow for testing. Since many readers enjoy archery, and hunting season has started in the high plains and forests of New Mexico, I was thrilled at the chance to review this product.
[ Steve writes: It was my idea for a “gun guys learns to shoot a crossbow” article. Thanks to Tom for taking on the role as our official Crossbow Newbie ]
Key Specification of the Mission MXB Dagger include:
- Weight: 6.3 pounds
- Speed: “Up to 340 FPS” 3 shots fired through my chronograph read, 357.7, 360.2 359.4 fps.
- Length: 30 inches
- Width: 19.5 inches
- Draw Weight: 220/200/150/125
- Weaver Rail for mounting optics
- Automatic Safety mechanism. Prevents dry firing.
- “WX-cam” Cam that is designed to reduce noise and recoil
- “RS Tread” Aluminum foot hold that the end user uses for cocking. (The Mission MXB Dagger does not utilize a stirrup for cocking)
Having never fired a crossbow before, I was highly motivated to read the owner’s manual. After reading the owner’s manual twice, I laid out all the gear that Mission had sent me for testing. Aside from the crossbow, Mission sent 3 carbon fiber bolts, 1 cocking rope, 1 scope manufactured by Hawke Optics, and Mission’s MX-3 quiver, which mounts directly to the crossbow. The Mission MXB crossbow includes a sturdy nylon case that easily held all of the above accessories. The bolts Mission provided did not include arrow heads. For testing purposes I used 100 grain “Fat Belly Bullet Points” by Allen. The Mission MXB Dagger was shot through a chronograph. Results were 357.7, 360.2 359.4 fps.These speeds surprised me, especially considering that Mission states the MXB Dagger is capable of speeds “up to 340 fps”. At this time I have no explanation why the speed was so high. My chronograph has been compared to other chronographs and the speeds are usually consistent.
Back yard testing
After setting up an archery target in my wooded backyard, I attached a Bushnell TRS-25 to the Weaver rail and spent several hours shooting the Mission MXB Dagger. The Mission MXB Dagger felt very light and compact. Utilizing the fundamentals of shooting, sight picture, sight alignment, trigger control and follow through, I was able to shoot some pretty solid groups at 25 yards. Firing positions included standing, kneeling, and prone. The kneeling position included several courses of fire where I was leaning against a pine tree for stability. One thing to note when shooting around objects such as trees or bushes: it is absolutely imperative that the limbs or the cams of the bow do not make contact with a tree, bush, or other obstacle when firing. Grabbing a shot timer, I ran several timed courses of fire. All courses of fire were shot at 15 yards. For testing I set my shot timer to register sound over 40 decibels. Eye protection was worn at all times during testing.
The first course of fire was a standing drill. At the sound of the beep, the safety was placed in the “off” position by the support hand, the support hand was placed on the forearm of the crossbow, the crossbow was raised, the target was acquired, the trigger finger was placed on the trigger, and the trigger was pressed to the rear. The drill stressed mechanics and general familiarization of the MXB Dagger. The mechanics this drill stressed were sweeping the safety to the “off” position with the support hand and getting the support hand safely to the forearm of the crossbow. Especially important was keeping my finger away from the trigger until my support hand was safely on the forearm. A potential accident would be where the user sweeps the safety to the “off” position then accidentally presses the trigger while the support hand is moving to the forearm. I think there is a potential for a finger to get caught in the bow string. Though I was timing myself, I was not concerned with speed. I use the shot timer as a way to measure economy of motion. Though my times did speed up, my primary concern was safety with speed being secondary. My first time was around 5 seconds. After 20 repetitions of this drill, the drill could be performed around 2 seconds. The most important thing I ingrained in my brain was to not touch the trigger until my support hand was on the forearm and my red dot was on target.
These Mission arrows/bolts feature aluminum “half moon” style nocks. Arrows equipped with aluminum half moon nocks are required for reliable and safe use.
The second drill was inspired by several conversations with friends who are “die hard” antelope hunters. These gentlemen shun firearms in regard to hunting, and enjoy stalking antelope by crawling hundreds of yards on their bellies in order to get in range for an ethical bow shot. Stalking usually involves using natural terrain and vegetation. If the terrain is flat, the hunters will usually zig zag from yucca bush to yucca bush, or thistle to thistle in order to get a shot. Due to tall vegetation a hunter may need to raise their profile to get a good sight picture. Usually this involves the kneeling position. For testing, I set my target 15 yards from a large pine tree and took a kneeling position behind the tree. In the starting position I was not able to see the target. A shot timer was used for this drill. At the sound of the beep, I would slowly “scoot” left or right of the tree until I saw the edges of the target. At this point my support hand flicked the safety to the “off” position and I shouldered the crossbow. I acquired my target, followed by a nice easy squeeze of the trigger. This drill stresses proper manipulation of the mechanical safety, getting the support hand safely to the forearm, trigger control and the most important…spatial awareness where the limbs and cams are in regards to the tree trunk. As previously mentioned you do not want your cam or crossbow limb touching anything when shooting. Though I used a shot timer to start the drill, I wasn’t worried about time…just smooth and proper manipulation of the crossbow. An interesting thing to note…after firing from the kneeling position, I found that I could re-cock the crossbow from the kneeling position. This was made possible by the rubber grips opposite the RS Tread found on the Mission MXB Dagger. I believe a traditional stirrup setup would make reloading from the kneeling position difficult.
Field testing was done at the family ranch. Prior to field testing I removed the Bushnell TRS-25 and mounted the Hawke scope. I zeroed the scope for 50 yards. After installing the Hawke scope, I also attached the MX-3 quiver to the crossbow. Field testing simulated stalking an antelope. I placed my target 100 yards away. I cocked the crossbow using the cocking rope provided by Mission, but did not place an arrow in battery. Using a Spec Ops rifle sling, the Mission MXB was slung behind my back. As soon as I proned out and started stalking in the general direction of the target I realized that the quiver was a terrible idea. The quiver turned a nice compact crossbow to an ungainly, wobbly, snag hazard. Taking the quiver off and placing the arrows in Maratac Extreme SATCOM radio bag, I continued my stalk. Since I was crawling through gramma grass that was about 18 inches tall my form was hidden well, with the exception of the crossbow flopping around on my back. Frustrated I walked back to the truck and grabbed the nylon case the MXB Dagger came in. Tying a length of paracord to the case, I proned out and started my stalk for the third time using the nylon case as an improvised drag bag. Crawling to the target was easy. I was able to get in position and maintain a low profile. After crawling where I could take an ethical shot I simply took the crossbow out of the case, notched an arrow and let fly. Please note that it is not possible to safely cock the Mission MXB from the prone position. As previously mentioned, the crossbow can be cocked in the kneeling position. I spoke with a representative from Mission and they communicated that the Mission MXB Dagger can be kept in the cocked position all day. Aside from stalking antelope, the Mission MXB Dagger would be an awesome companion in a deer stand. For long walks I would prefer a specialty backpack for carry instead of a sling.
After spending a lot of time with the Mission MXB Dagger I came to the following conclusions.
- It is absolutely imperative that you read the owner’s manual. After spending A LOT of time with the Mission MXB Dagger, I think that crossbows are a lot more dangerous to an end user then a rifle.
- You will need to contact Mission if you want to change the weight of pull.
- I preferred a red dot non magnified optic to a scope. I would probably pair the MXB Dagger with a Lucid HD7. The Lucid HD7 has some extremely versatile reticle options. I would zero for 25 yards, and use a big stack of alfalfa with targets to work out my holds at various distances. If I was going to use a magnified optic I would consider the Vortex Spitfire or the Primary Arms 4X Compact Prism Scope.
- I think a hunter could make an extremely ethical 50 yard shot
- I don’t like the MX-3 quiver when it is mounted on the Mission MXB Dagger. It takes a light, compact, sleek weapon and turns it into an ungainly snag hazard. I did like the MX-3 quiver when it was in my pack keeping the bolts in a nice tight package.
- An awesome feature of the MX-3 quiver is that you can secure sharp broadheads when you pack arrows. I would get a specialty backpack for carrying the Mission MXB Dagger long distances.
- The Hawke scope has calibrations for holdovers. The glass on the Hawke was lacking and the outside edge of the image was distorted. As previously mentioned I would prefer a red dot or a fixed 3-4 power scope with a ballistic type reticle.
- An end user would have no problems loading the crossbow kneeling or sitting in a deer blind.
- I wish the top rail was Picatinny/MIL –STD 1913 not Weaver.
- The cocking rope provided by Mission is the life blood of the system. I was not able to cock the crossbow by hand. I tried…really hard. (I was wearing a face shield, heavy welding gloves and a heavy denim jacket for safety reasons. I was mainly worried about the bow string slipping off a cam.) I would probably buy several extra cocking ropes and vacuum pack them. I would stash one in my first aid kit and one in my pack. Worst case scenario….you are in the back country, stranded and starving, and the only thing you have is a quiver with a few arrows and a Mission MXB Dagger… and you lost your cocking rope…you could probably make something out of paracord to cock the crossbow.
- Fun fact about Pronghorn antelope. Pronghorn antelope are often called “goats”. Antelope are part of the Antilocapridae family. Pronghorn antelope’s closest extant relatives are giraffes and okapis from the Giraffoidea family. Pronghorn antelope can run up to 55 miles an hour, a trait that helped them elude the American cheetah, a species that went extinct on this continent roughly ten thousand years ago.
- I have an ongoing shoulder injury from high school wrestling/kick boxing/muay thai/farming/ranching…my shoulder at times does not have full range of motion. I had no problems cocking the Mission MXB Dagger.
The Mission MXB Dagger is a solid, very versatile platform, whether you are sitting in a deer blind, putting the stalk on an antelope, shooting feral hogs with a night vision scope or just practicing the fundamentals of shooting in your backyard. The Mission MXB Dagger would be a great tool for a mobility impaired bow hunter. The Mission MXB Dagger is a lot of fun to shoot and I wish I could have kept it for a few more weeks. State by state Crossbow hunting regulations can be found here.
Thank you Mission for providing The Firearm Blog with a test sample. As always, tips, questions, gripes and humor are welcome in the comments below.
This cap was included in the case with the Mission MXB Dagger. If you want this cap, email me a funny hunting, duty (Law Enforcement, Military), or range trip story and I will send you this cap and a 12 oz bag of Ravens Brew Coffee. Your story doesn’t need to be long, well written, or even grammatically sound…just funny. First person to make me spit coffee on my keyboard wins the hat and some coffee. You have a week starting today. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.