Setting Sights on Innovation: Garmin Xero A1i Pro Review


The Garmin Xero A1i Pro is the most technologically advanced bow sight ever created. It’s an uncanny leap in archery gear.

I’m always curious what new advancements are going to hit the hunting market and how they may or may not fit into my gear list, especially if it has to do with bowhunting.

For the most part, the progression in the archery/bowhunting space has really been minor year after year. That was until the Garmin Xero came out back in 2018. It was a massive leap in innovation and honestly something that many bowhunters dreamed about having for quite a long time. It’s the first reliable auto-ranging bow sight of our time and a sight that many have come to love.

While the original Xero A1 and A1i were good, the revamped Xero A1i Pro is great.

Garmin Xero A1i Pro: Overview

The new Garmin Xero A1i Pro is everything that the previous version was and more.

This is an auto-ranging digital bow sight made with the intention of delivering unparalleled accuracy when you need it most. It has a small readout at the top of the housing that displays the range to the target, degree of angle, and battery life.

This is also where one can navigate through the menu and customize settings as they see fit.

(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

Inside the housing, LED pins (red or green) are visible in either fixed mode or single-pin mode. Your bubble level is located at the bottom of the housing and an on/off button — along with others for menu navigation — are located on the top of the sight itself.

Garmin Xero A1i Pro - Range Button
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

From the sight, there is a cord that runs down to the grip of your bow. At the end of this cord is your ranging button. This is taped onto the front of the grip. With a simple press of this button, the A1i Pro will range whatever the reticle is pointed at and display the exact pin for that range inside of the housing.

It’s pretty amazing.

And for Hoyt users, there is also the A1i Pro Hoyt edition that is Picatinny rail compatible.

Features

Micro Adjust

Xero A1i Pro - Micro Adjusting
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

One of the major differences in this new Garmin sight is the ability to micro-adjust everything. You can micro-adjust windage and elevation, of course, but you can also adjust the overall pitch of the sight. This ensures that the sight housing is perfectly set up for your eye.

Micro adjustability is a huge improvement and makes setting up the sight leaps and bounds easier than older models.

By the way, this sight walks you through the setup process step by step.

Auto Pin Calibration

Xero A1i Pro - Auto Pin Calibration
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

Sighting in a Garmin Xero A1i Pro takes less than 10 minutes, and it’s all because of the Auto Pin Calibration feature. Based on your arrow speed, arrow diameter, draw length, and even distance from sight to grip, it will auto your pins out to a personalized calculate max yardage.

Basically, you’ll sight in your first pin followed by sighting in a pin for the farthest distance you’re comfortable shooting. After the sight walks you through that process — and it literally walks you through it — you’re done.

Time to go hunting.

Dynamic Level

If the Dynamic Level feature is turned on while at full draw, you’ll have two extra pins that will pop up if you’re canting (tilting) your bow too much. For a right-hand shooter, if they’re tilted too much to the right, the bottom dot will blink.

If tilted to the left, the top dot will blink. When you’re level, the dots will go away. This helps eliminate canting and, in turn, it improves consistency and accuracy.

Xero A1i Pro - Quick Detach
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

Many of us are traveling bowhunters. Between the dovetail and the quick detach plug, a hunter can take off their sight, put their bow in a hard case for protection, and simply reattach it when in camp.

Everything will be as it was, and you’ll be ready to hunt.

Other Cool Features

A few other features to mention are XD mode and the ability to pair this sight with your Garmin GPS. XD mode is basically long-range mode. This is what enables you to shoot out to 100 yards plus. You do have to adjust the elevation of the whole sight, but it literally tells you exactly how many clicks to go, which means you can put things back to normal after the fact.

Along with that, this sight can be paired with a GPS. Your GPS will pinpoint exactly where you ranged with the Xero. This means that if you shot a deer, you’d have a waypoint for right where you ranged.

This is a nifty feature and one that could be beneficial in recovering an animal.

My Experience With the Garmin Xero A1i Pro

Testing the Xero A1i Pro
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

Overall, my personal experience with the A1i Pro has been largely positive. There was a slight learning curve, but that’s to be expected. Once it was set up, I’ve gotta admit, this thing was fun to use and wicked accurate. Like, scary accurate.

It didn’t matter what distance I was standing. As long as I was within my max yardage, which was 87 yards, I almost didn’t even have to look at the range reading. I’d just anchor in and focus on making a good shot.

Hunting with the Garmin Xero A1i Pro
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

I was in fact able to take this sight out on a bear hunt with me in Arizona for a few days. One of my main worries was battery life. This hunt was one that I spent an immense time sitting in ground blinds. With that being said, I didn’t want to have to turn the sight on should a bear appear. So, I left it on. In 5 days of hunting, the battery level didn’t drop an ounce. That was impressive.

I wasn’t able to shoot a bear on this trip, but with the accuracy this sight provided, I walked into the field ultimate with confidence. I knew I was going to hit the exact hair I’d be aiming at.

So, that was another positive for me. Confidence is everything in bowhunting.

What’s Wrong

We’ve gotta touch on the snowy side of the hill here a bit. While the A1i Pro is an incredible feat in archery technology, it does have its downfalls.

The biggest for me was the worry that it all of a sudden wouldn’t work. This is a computer, after all. There was one time at the range when it decided it didn’t want to range for me. With bowhunting opportunities so hard to come by, this presents some worry.

Testing the Garmin Xero A1i Pro
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

And because of the absence of pins, if this decides to not work, you’re 100% out of the game. This is cause for concern, especially when talking about things like backpack hunting where what you’ve got is what you’ve got.

Lastly, another thing many are going to lose their minds over is the price. The Garmin A1i Pro is gonna set you back $1299. That number is enough to make one choke on their breakfast and will 100% limit the number of bowhunters that will use the sight.

Another thing to keep in mind is that these sights aren’t legal everywhere. In the majority of the US, it’s perfectly fine, but it’s your responsibility to make sure the Xero is legal where you plan to hunt.

Garmin Xero A1i Pro: End Note

Testing: Xero A1i Pro
(Photo/Josh Kirchner)

When the rubber meets the road, there is no denying that Garmin has done something outstanding here. The sight is just plain cool technology. And while it’s not for everyone, I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon, because it will undoubtedly appeal to a lot of people.

I expect Garmin to keep building on this innovative platform they’ve created and in turn, it will make bowhunters more accurate than ever. Who knows, in 30 years, this very well may be the standard in bow sights. Time will tell.

While I don’t know what the future holds, I do know this. The Garmin Xero A1i Pro is going to destroy many X’s and fill many freezers. You can bank on that.

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