My son's buddy bought an older Barnett and had the string break on the third shot. I know that you just never know when buying used equipment. Some crossbows are equiped with triggers that make it impossible to dry fire, to answer one of your questions. Tenpoint has a great reputation but are still pricey even bought used. Excaliber is a well known long time crossbow company but, is also a recurve design which I don't personally like. That doesn't mean squat.......I'm no expert. I have a newer Barnett and really like it so far. Hopefully it lasts a long time but who knows. I have heard the older Barnetts are not so reliable. Besides my son's buddy, I have a friend that had trigger issues with a Barnett Predator made in 08. Parker and Horton have good reps although some of the Hortons are made in China and that dog doesn't hunt with me.
Guns have only two enemies, rust and politicians!
Deer are amazing creatures....so please don't burn the sauteed onions and I'll pass on the steak sauce, thank you.