Crossbows are, however, incorporating more and more features that were once firearm-specific.
Bows and guns fall into two separate categories and always have. However, as shoulder-mounted crossbows gain both state-legality and market-share popularity, the apples-and-elephants line between bows and firearms narrows a bit. Gone are the days of heavy, gritty, creepy, slap-me bow triggers and awkward open pin sights. Accuracy and range are supplanting dual-cam and let-off as archery buzzwords.
Here are five crafty ways crossbow manufacturers are borrowing a page from firearms design manuals to make their tools more appealing to a hungry gun audience.
One of the biggest advancements in the crossbow market over the last few years has been the trigger. For years, it was once acceptable for bows to sport creepy, gritty, 7 pound-plus friction-driven triggers. Then somebody realized the importance rifle shooters place on crisp, light triggers and the impact a quality trigger can have on accuracy.
After trigger time with all of the major crossbow manufacturers, three stood apart from the rest: Carbon Express Intercept line, Scorpyd’s 2014-15 models, and the Killer Instinct Machine. The CE Intercept Supercoil breaks at 3.4#. The Scorpyd is high quality in all aspects of construction and innovation, though their triggers stood out in both test models, breaking between 2.9 – 3.4 pounds, crisp and clean. The best of the bunch was a surprise from Killer Instinct with the guaranteed 2# frictionless Trigger Tech trigger on their new-for-2015 Machine crossbow.
2. Adjustable furniture
Crossbow companies tore the page right out of the book of AR-rifle design when it comes to crossbow furniture. There are collapsible buttstocks and adjustable, interchangeable pistol grips, storage in the grips, and customizable forends. If that’s not enough, the furniture come in every camo and dip pattern of which you can think. For instance, the Carbon Express Intercept Axon actually uses a multi-position AR buttstock, as do bows from Kodabow, Southern Crossbow, and Parker. Likewise, Killer Instinct’s Machine wears the industry’s first side-folder. Both Carbon Express and Killer Instinct utilize AR-pistol grips that can be interchanged with any AR-grip of the user’s choosing. Both also feature fully adjustable forends that ride on a picatinny rail.
3. Picatinny rails
Speaking of picatinny rails, gun owners are so accustomed to seeing these tactical rails on everything these days, they barely blink an eye. But who’d ever think picatinny rails would find their way onto bows? Crossbow manufacturers are including top rails and bottom, front and back. The Carbon Express Intercept Axon is the first crossbow to feature a long picatinny rail running the entire length of the barrel. The variety of tactical rails not only provide multiple scope mounting positions, but also allow for lights or backup sights on the top, adjustable handguards and bipods underneath, and even buttstocks that adjust along the lower rear rails. So much for “gray-is-the-new-black”; now, customizable is the new everything.