Carbon Express Covert CX3 SL Review – Compound Crossbow

ModelDraw WeightStrokeVelocitySuggested Arrow LengthCrossbow Length / Weight
Carbon Express Covert CX3 SL

Carbon Express Covert CX3 SL

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185 lbs.13"355 FPS

Crossbow Academy: ballistics, sighting, tuning
20"34.25" / 8.1 lbs.
- Deluxe scope is high quality
- Great quality included arrows
- Lightweight, fast, and powerful

- Heavier than average
Small Game Hunting?yes2
Deer, Elk Hunting?yes2
Moose, Bear Hunting?yes2
Target Shooting?yes2
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Also Recommended:Best Carbon Express Crossbows

Putting it Together

cx3_2The first thing I noticed when I unboxed the CX-3 SL was the foot stirrup: it’s different from just about every other foot stirrup I’ve seen. More on that in a moment. Assembling this crossbow was quite easy, and I was ready to shoot within 10 minutes. Attach the cable slide, install the riser onto the stock, and then attach the quiver and scope. That’s all, and you’re ready to go.

When you attach the foot stirrup, it may seem like it’s going on the wrong way. This is intentional, because the foot stirrup is designed for you to stand on the stirrup instead of putting your foot through it. This yields a much more stable foot stirrup, since you don’t have to worry about your boot slipping out of the stirrup when you draw the string back to cock the crossbow.

Accuracy And Power

The CX-3 SL delivers its arrows to the target at 355 fps, with 119 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy using 425 grain arrows. This is powerful enough to knock most target blocks over, and drive the arrow in all the way to the vane or beyond. Make sure you prop your target block up well, or you’ll be picking up your target after every shot. I’d recommend using a really strong target block, too, unless you like running the risk of damaging your arrows by pulling them out the back of your target block.

Sighting in the CX-3 SL took mere moments, since it was almost sighted in right out of the box. When I tested the accuracy, I was pretty impressed. My groupings from 25 yards were less than half an inch, and I was able to maintain 1” groupings from 50 yards. Stepping back beyond the technical range of the scope to 75 yards, I could hold a pattern of around 1-1/2” with ease.

Use our arrow ballistics calculator for more valuable information.

Ballistic Data For The Carbon Express Covert CX-3 SL

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 Carbon Express Covert CX-3 SL?

cx3_1With its bull-pup stock, narrow cocked width, and adjustable fore grip, the CX-3 SL is perfectly suited to treestand and ground blind hunting. You can easily adjust your grip to accommodate bulky clothing, and the compact design makes it easy to maneuver inside a stand or blind. It is, however, a bit on the heavy side at 8.3 pounds, so it might not be so enjoyable if you are a stalk and shoot hunter. Then again, I did not find the weight unbearable at all when I was turkey hunting stalk and shoot style.

The crossbow is powerful enough and accurate enough to take on just about anything you might want, from the smallest rabbit to the largest moose or Cape buffalo. I haven’t had too many opportunities to hunt with this crossbow yet, since it just came out in August 2014, but I have gotten in a few rounds of fall turkey hunting and early archery season for deer, and the crossbow has served me well. On my last deer hunt with the CX-3 SL, I spotted a ten-point buck about 40 yards out from my deer stand, and took a careful bead on him. My shot went clean through his chest, puncturing both lungs and leaving him with mere seconds to live before he collapsed and died.

Cocking The CX-3 SL

This crossbow has a draw weight of 185 pounds, so you probably won’t be drawing the string by hand. CX includes a rope cocking device, which is always a good idea to use even if it doesn’t come with the crossbow. With a rope cocking device, not only is the pull dramatically reduced, but you’re assured of a pull that is even and consistent across the entire length of the string.

The machined aluminum alloy cams rotate well, and the draw is nice and smooth all the time. The anti-dry fire mechanism and safety engage perfectly for each shot, keeping you safe and sound until you’re ready to take your shot.

The Crossbow Scope

cx3_3This x-bow comes with a scope that is better than any I’ve ever seen included with a crossbow. The reticles are actually etched into the glass, and the scope is illuminated with either red or green light for varying light conditions. The scope sights in quickly and easily, and has held zero for two months now without any problems. Your target will be crisp, clear, and full of contrast during daylight hours, and the light gathering capability of the scope is good enough for excellent usage during low-light conditions as well. You could hardly ask for a better scope, in my opinion.

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


Carbon Express delivers the Covert CX-3 SL with 3 20” Mayhem arrows, which are almost as good as my Firebolt arrows. These arrows are advanced carbon arrows, with excellent speed, accuracy, and penetration. If you do want to switch to different arrows, you can feel free to use any 20” arrows at least 425-grain or more.

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

Safety and Design

This x-bow features a tactical stock design with a bull-pup trigger, with the all-metal trigger mechanism 4” forward compared to conventional crossbows. The trigger pull is smooth and has an excellent break point, and the crossbow is very quiet when you fire it.

The Picatinny mounting system runs the entire length of the barrel, allowing you to adjust the folding fore grip to the position that best suits you. I find this a great boon, since I can adjust my grip for the clothes I’m wearing, allowing me a comfortable grip no matter if I’m wearing a lightweight jacket or heavy winter coat.

The anti-dry fire mechanism and safety, as stated earlier, work perfectly and flawlessly, engaging exactly when they’re supposed to.


Carbon Express covers all of their crossbows with a 5-year warranty, and their customer service staff are friendly and helpful. If you have a problem with your crossbow, you can be sure of getting fantastic care from Carbon Express.

What Crossbow Case Fits the Carbon Express Covert CX3 SL?

This Carbon crossbow fits into the Carbon Express Deluxe Case which sells for about $65. It is a good soft case, but will not work with big scopes. For a big scope and a cheaper price check out the soft Allen Company case.

Crossbow Review – Summary

Thanks for reading our crossbow review. The Carbon Express Covert CX-3 SL is a fantastic bow, with very few negatives. I’d strongly recommend this crossbow for any hunter or target shooter.
Take a look at today's price on this crossbow and check out our top 10 crossbows rankings for more.

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