Bear Archery Fortus Review – Compound Crossbow

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Bear Archery Fortus Crossbow

Bear Archery Fortus Crossbow

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180 lbs.13.75"350 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"37.5" / 7.8 lbs.

- Inexpensive intermediate-level crossbow
- Fast and powerful
- Compact width makes it easy to maneuver in tree stands or ground blinds

- Stock is far from ergonomic
- Front-heavy (but most traditional crossbows are)
- Sloppy trigger pull
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Welcome to my review of the Bear Archery Fortus crossbow. I’m a big fan of Bear’s bows, so I looked on with keen interest when the company began manufacturing crossbows. The fact that Bear Archery spent two years designing the Fortus impressed me, so I was anxious to see how the x-bow performed. Let’s find out.

What Comes With In the Box?

Bear Archery Fortus Crossbow ReviewObviously, when you buy a crossbow, you want to know what accessories come along with it. When you unbox the Bear Archery Fortus, you should find the following items in the box:

  • The Bear Archery Fortus crossbow
    itself, including riser and stock
  • Assembly hardware and tools
  • Trophy Ridge XF425 Scope
  • 3 Trophy Ridge X-Ray 20″ arrows with field tips
  • Picatinny-mount quiver
  • Rope cocking device
  • Owner’s manual
  • Warranty card

I’ve used the XF425 scope before with good results, but it just doesn’t get along with this crossbow for some reason. More on that later. The rest of the included accessories are excellent quality, and make for a well-rounded package that will get you started in crossbow hunting.

Once you’ve unboxed everything, it’s time to put your new toy together and get shooting.

Is the Fortus Easy to Assemble?

The included owner’s manual gives fantastic direction on assembling your crossbow, so just take your time and be patient as you work through the process. The good news is that it’s really just a matter of guiding the cable savers into the right place, since the riser is already strung for you. Once you’ve got everything assembled and mounted your scope, it’s time to start loosing some arrows.

How Powerful and Accurate is the X-bow?

The Fortus slams arrows into the target at blistering speeds of 350 fps, so you can expect it to deliver at least 95 foot-pounds of kinetic energy into whatever you’re shooting. In terms of my compressed foam target placed 40 yards away, that means knocking the whole kit and caboodle over, slamming the arrow clean through the foam, and delivering the bolt deep into my haybale backstop.

Let me say that I had to test the accuracy of this crossbow with a different scope than the one included, simply because the Trophy Ridge XF425 wouldn’t properly sight in for this crossbow. I actually tried two of the same scope, and neither would allow for enough windage adjustment to get on target. With my Nikon Bolt XR, though, I was able to maintain 1.5″ patterns from 30 yards and 2-inch patterns from 40 yards. With the proper scope, this is a highly accurate tool that lives up to Bear’s name.

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Ballistic Data For The Bear Archery Fortus

Your actual results will vary slightly depending on weather, and significantly with arrow weight change. See our Crossbow Ballistics Guides section for a complete understanding of how we conducted our tests and why this data matters.

Will Hunters Enjoy the Bear Archery Fortus?

When it comes to raw power, the Fortus has it to spare. It’s beefy enough to take on any legal game in North America, including Cape buffalo and grizzly bears. It’s well-suited for hunting from a power and accuracy standpoint, but that’s not all there is to the equation.

The good news is that this crossbow is compact and average weight. It won’t bog you down too much when you’re trekking through the bush, and its 17.625-inch width when fully cocked makes it easily maneuverable in a tree stand or ground blind.

The trouble with the Fortus is the ergonomics of the stock. This x-bow is just downright uncomfortable to hold at a firing position. It’s front-heavy, which is of course to be expected for a traditional crossbow, but it’s also boxy and blocky in the design. The grip is squared off, uncomfortable, and awkward.

How Difficult Is It to Cock?

With a draw weight of 180 pounds, you won’t be pulling this puppy back by hand. Not only is that inadvisable, but it’s unnecessary, because Bear Archery includes a rope cocking device. Using the rope cocker, the x-bow is easy to draw, smooth as butter, with little to no stacking.

What’s the Included Scope Like?

I’ve used the Trophy Ridge XF425 on other crossbows successfully, such as the Bear Archery Bruzer, but it just doesn’t work well with the Fortus. The windage adjustment simply won’t allow for enough change to bring your arrows into the bull’s eye.

See our detailed guide on how to sight-in your crossbow

What Kind of Bolts Should I Buy?

The package includes three Trophy Ridge X-Ray arrows, 20“ bolts with field tips. To really shine in your hunting game, though, I’d recommend a good set of third-party 20” carbon bolts with broadheads, with a total weight of 400 to 425 grain. You can get more information on arrow selection from our guide, and be sure to also check out our article on broadhead recommendations.

How’s the Safety and Design?

I’ve already touched on the lack of ergonomics in the design of this crossbow, but let’s talk about safety. Bear uses their “3 Times Safe” trigger, which means that the safety will always be set when you cock the crossbow, even if it was in Fire when you pulled the string back. There’s also an anti dry-fire mechanism that operates flawlessly.

The trigger is adjustable, but it has some serious issues that you may not like. Basically, it feels like a two-stage trigger, and a sloppy one at that. There’s far too much play before the breaking point, and I was never able to get used to how far the trigger pull was before the arrow was released.

What Kind of Warranty Backs This Crossbow?

Bear Archery covers its crossbows with a limited lifetime warranty for the original owner. Customer service is outstanding, with extremely helpful and knowledgeable personnel ready to answer any questions you might have about your crossbow.

Crossbow Review – Summary

Thanks for reading this review of the Bear Archery Fortus. I’m sure some of you out there might find this to be the perfect crossbow, but it just isn’t there for me. The lack of a comfortable, ergonomic design coupled with the trigger pull and an included scope that won’t sight in puts the Fortus at the bottom of my list of recommendations.

Make sure to check today’s price on the Bear Archery Fortus Crossbow if you’re interested.


Add a Comment
  1. I recently bought this crossbow and loved it for aprroximatelu two shots. For some reason the strings would get caught between the anti dry fire device and the trigger hooks. At first I thought I wasn’t cocking it quick enough but it happend every 3 or four shots. I would then have to have someone manually push down anti dry fire block and let the string down with the rope manually. Needless to say that is a danger. I took it back after the trigger died and seized up. Unfortunately Cabelas did not have another one for me to try. I have owned several bear bows and I was extremely disappointed. I am on a budget so I went with number ten on your list of best value instead, Barnett c6 wildcat. I really wish it had the solid feel of the bear Xbow but reliability and quietness is more imprtant than speed to me.

    1. I just had one where the dry fire failed horribly and I’m going to try and make contact tomorrow since it is a Sunday this is the third year I’ve had this bow shot 2 deer with it the first year never took it out last year and go to make sure it’s sighted in for this year and it dry fired on my wife needless to say I’m pissed

  2. I had the same issue the string when I would pull the trigger the string would get caught into the anti drive fire after this happening three or four times it completely broke the casting ripped the anti drive fire off took it back to rural king they would not exchange me for a new one it will still shoot but no longer has a anti fire mechanism this must be a major defect.

  3. Bought this Bear Crossbow and looking for a crank cocking device to fit it. EZ to cock? Well, I’m not able to cock it yet using the cocking rope. Not a young fellow. 🙁
    Want to shoot it a lot. Suggestions please??

  4. I got this same bow last summer 2016. First thing that happen was the sight on it was blur. Called Bear told them about it had a new one in 3 days. new sight works great. I have shot mine about 200-250 rounds and have had no trouble at all out of it as some of the others have posted trouble with the string hanging on the anti dry fire. as for the sight I got mine sighted in dead 0 with no trouble at all. And I do agree it is nose heavy. But bear has a machined alum head block where some of the others are polymer. so I can stand a little weight for a better built unit. The string on mine was junk did not make 100 shots with it before the sting started coming apart. 60X strings are the stuff. And as far as cocking of the bow yes you have to be a real man when pulling this baby back. At 180# of draw weight this is not your toy crossbow from wal mart. Over all I like mine it shoots great it’s fast but it is noise. With that said I do not hunt with mine I target shoot with it for the most part so sounds are no trouble for me.

  5. Got a bear fortus a few weeks ago and love it. Groups well at 30-50 yards. Haven’t had any problems yet and I hope I never will.

  6. At 66 this is my first crossbow.
    Never liked them but at my age it’s the only thing to stay in the hunt
    Believe the traditional bow hunters should have a few open weeks b4 these ‘rifled’ arrows
    Other than that. This sucked as accurate as they say
    Not pitting the ace just yet but hitting the deck consistently at 30 yards
    and yest the trigger could use an upgrade

  7. Thanks to all for their reviews and comments
    I am a loyal Bear Archery fan (especially being a Michigander from birth)
    With all said I am holding off for Bear to improve on trigger, string, scope, and noise reduction
    Just to many issues at this time

    Thanks again all

  8. Girls play with crossbows too, but like so many others here – has anyone found a crank that will work with this? BassPro Shops was unfortunately no help to me, so I’m hoping someone here can point me in the right direction.

  9. The brushes that keep the bolt tight after setting it I to the rail is badly made. It falls off all the time. Am I putting it on wrong?
    Worse yet I have lost it during a hunt and cannot find a replacement part online
    I might not be calling it the right part
    Can you assist please. Contact me at email address given.

  10. My dad got me this crossbow as a gift last year and I haven’t had any problems as of yet. I’ve mostly just had practice shots when I can (I live in town and unfortunately can’t practice in my backyard) and it fires consistently. We got it from Farm King, and all we got with the crossbow itself was the scope (which I have yet to even attempt to sight in) and the quiver. At 19 years old I don’t need a rope cocking mechanism, though I do prefer to wear gloves so not to tear up my hands too bad. All in all I’ve been really happy with the crossbow.

  11. I purchased my Fortus with the XF425 at the Bear Pro Shop in Gainesville, FL. It sited in easily without any problems. I shot a buck my first morning out with it. The bolt (PileDriver Carbon Express) went clean through (ribs, scapula) and out the other side. I used a Muzzy 100 gr broadhead. It’s easy to cock in the tree stand. I’m now on my second season and had to make minor elevation and windage adjustments. No problem problem grouping 2 to 2.5 inches at 20 and 30 yds. For $243, I didn’t go wrong with this crossbow. I like it better than my buddy’s $1100 crossbow.

  12. I have had mine for 2 years now and not a single problem. Accurate, cocks easy (I am 55) and really fast. Bolts go right through a buck and keep on going another 100 yards or so. Killed many deet already and holding up well. Not my favorite scope but considering the package price, good deal.

  13. This is my third year to hunt with my Fortus. I am well pleased with it. I love its ergonomic stock. I can walk through the woods holding the pistol grip with one hand, bringing it quickly to a shooting position. It is so powerful that arrows often go through the deer. Although I would not advise shooting at such a distance, my best shot killed a buck at 84 yards. (It was a lucky shot with a lot of guesswork, but that demonstrates how powerful it is.) The only problem I have had is that the limb broke. After calling Bear, they fixed it quickly and without charge.

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