Cabelas Instinct Lancer Review (In-Field) – Compound Crossbow

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Cabelas Instinct Lancer

Cabelas Instinct Lancer

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155 lbs.15.625"395 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"34.75" / 6 lbs. 9 ozs.
- Ultra Fast
- Light Weight
- Super Hard Hitting
- Match-Grade Trigger

- Expensive
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Cabela’s Instinct Lancer Crossbow Package Contents

Cabelas Instinct Lancer2The Cabela’s Instinct Lancer Crossbow comes with just about everything you need to start shooting. In the package, you get the crossbow, three 395-grain matched Octane bolts, an Octane Thug Decocker bolt, a 5-bolt detachable quiver, a multireticle scope, a rope cocking aid and string stops.

Kinetic Energy of the Instinct Lancer

Cabela’s has really brought forth some power with the Instinct Lancer, and it is quite amazing considering its modest 155-lb. draw weight. The Instinct Lancer sends out 395-grain projectiles at an absolutely sizzling 395 fps. That is not a typo, a 155-lb. draw weight crossbow shooting at 395 feet per second! This translates to an incredible muzzle energy of almost 137 ft. lbs. This means you could literally shoot out to 60 yards and still be hitting with 118 ft. lbs. of force. Impressive energy to say the least.

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Design, Safety, Comfort and Accuracy

The Instinct Lancer is designed to be very light and very maneuverable. It features split limbs with an advanced cam design to enhance speed. The detachable quiver is actually adjustable to assist in balancing the crossbow for more accurate shots; and accurate the Lancer is…we have spoken to some of our shooters who have seen 4” groups at ranges well in excess of 50 yards.

The Instinct Lancer features an oversize handguard to ensure fingers and thumbs stay out of the string path and an oversize foot stirrup means even a thick hunting boot should fit without issue. The match-grade Stryke-Lite trigger has a super crisp 3-lb. break with very little travel. There are dual safeties on the Instinct Lancer: the Auto-flip safety and Cease Fire loading system.

The Auto-flip safety engages anytime the crossbow is cocked or when an arrow is removed while the crossbow is cocked. The Cease Fire system is essentially a double-barreled insert that slides in and immobilizes the trigger until you remove it. These two features team up to really enhance the safety of the Instinct Lancer.

Ballistic Data For The Cabelas Instinct Lancer

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.

Hunting with the Instinct Lancer

Cabelas Instinct LancerCabela’s Instinct Lancer is ready for just about anything you might want to hunt. Looking for a few dinosaur steaks? If you can find one you can probably bring it down with this crossbow. The power of the Instinct Lancer is amazing so you may be seeing pass throughs in animals you never thought that possible on.
The Octane arrows are good in quality, but you might really want to evaluate something with a very thick shaft if you are going to chase some of the thicker-skinned game out there. Hitting a thick-skinned animal with that kind of speed is going to really push your arrows to the limit.

A nice feature of this package is the inclusion of the Octane Thug decocking arrow. This arrow has a head designed for non-penetration as well as a piston to absorb the force of shooting it into the ground at the end of a hunting trip. This allows you to safely decock the crossbow without risking damage to one of your hunting arrows or broadheads.

How Quiet is the Instinct Lancer

The Instinct Lancer is not the quietest crossbow we have tested, but then again most crossbows are not known for their stealth when shooting. The Lancer would benefit from suppressors on the string, as well as in the split limbs. The included string stops do help with vibration and sound, we are just always on the lookout for ways to further quiet our hunting toys!

Cocking the Instinct Lancer

Cabelas Instinct Lancer3The Instinct Lancer was actually a pleasant surprise in terms of ease of cocking. We were a bit hesitant given such a long power stroke, but the modest 155 lb. draw weight was not bad at all. The included rope cocking aid made a big difference, as most do, by cutting the felt draw about 50%. A really nice feature is the oversize foot stirrup. You could be wearing some pretty big boots and still have no problems getting your foot in there!

Quality of the Optics

Cabela’s includes a 4x32mm scope with multiple aim points with the package. The scope will certainly work well with the crossbow but we would really like to have seen this as an illuminated reticle to finish off this beast of a package. Given the extreme speed of the Lancer Instinct, you might also take a look at a multi-power scope to really take advantage of the long-range capabilities generated by the high speed.

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

What Arrows to use with the Cabela’s Instinct Lancer

Cabelas Instinct Lancer4The Octane arrows provided by Cabela’s are matched and designed to be used with a 100-grain point. These supplied arrows should do the job on just about anything out there and are a good starting point. The Lancer uses a 20” shaft, so should you go for a thicker spine, make sure you are getting the correct length. Keep in mind what you intend to shoot to ensure you are using the correct spine given the high speed of the Lancer.

You can also learn more about crossbow arrows and take a look at our broadhead recommendations

Overall Thoughts

Cabela’s Instinct Lancer offers an incredible speed for such a modest draw weight. The light weight and minimal dimensions translates to a crossbow that should be very portable in the field, and one that won’t have you tired of carrying it when the time comes for a shot. The power generated by the lightning fast speed means you can not only take bigger game, but can do so at much greater ranges.

Just keep in mind that greater ranges means greater responsibility in terms of practice to ensure proper shot placement as well as ability to recover your quarry. All in all, this is a well-balanced crossbow that has shown itself to be very accurate. The price is not one for folks at entry level, but from we have seen, if your pockets are deep enough, this is certainly one that is worth a second, and even a third look. Take a look at and check out our top 10 crossbows rankings for more.

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