Air Venturi Air Bolt: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Air Venturi Air Bolts
Air Venturi Air Bolts turn a .50 caliber big bore into an air bow.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Power!
  • Broadheads
  • Velocity
  • Accuracy
  • Penetration
  • More to come

Today we take our second look at the Air Bolt from Air Venturi. I may not have written much about it, but I have been demonstrating it to the public and shooting it much more, since the last report. Today’s look will be comprehensive, because I’m writing a feature article for Firearm News. This will be the material gathered from that testing.

Go back and read Part 1 to learn more about the Air Bolt. It’s an air bow system that you can own without buying a separate arrow launcher. If you already own certain .50 caliber big bores like the Sam Yang Dragon Claw 500cc rifle and the Wing Shot air shotgun, all you need are the arrows, or bolts as they are properly called. Instead of spending $900, you spend $120 for 6 bolts and you’re in business. And that’s not all!

Power!

The Air Bolt is powerful! Where a Benjamin Pioneer air bow launches a 375-grain arrow at up to 450 f.p.s., the Air Bolt pushes a 430-grain bolt at 500 f.p.s. Not that you need that much power, because the Pioneer is already much more powerful than any crossbow commonly available. The best crossbows are topping out at around 425 f.p.s. with lighter bolts, so either of these air bows trump them right now. But the Air Bolt is fastest and is even more powerful than the Pioneer, which means flatter shooting over longer distance.

I’m not going to just quote numbers from a website. I have actual data to show. First, let’s look at the weight of the bolt with a standard target tip.

Air Venturi Air Bolt scale target tip
An Air Bolt with a target tip weighs 429.9 grains. That’s pretty close to 430!

Broadheads

But wait, say the archers. These are target tips that aren’t meant for game. Won’t a hunting broadhead add a lot more weight to the bolt?

Actually, no. I bought 4 broadheads to test on the bolts and they weigh 100 grains, nominally. They have mechanical blades that are pointed forward and open as the arrow penetrates the target. That allows them to partially fit in the muzzle of the rifle. They cut a swath 1.5 inches wide as they penetrate, creating huge blood loss. Best of all, they weigh just a couple grains more than the target points.

Air Venturi Air Bolt scale broadhead
An Air Bolt with a broadhead weighs just 3 grains more than a target tip!

I bought Matthews Grim Reaper broadheads, and a pack of 4 was just $30. These are vicious tips that fly with their blades folded forward and open like switchblades when they contact the target. They cut in 3 directions with razor-sharp blades that you had best respect when loading! Remember — the Air Bolt is loaded from the muzzle! I will discuss loading the broadheads later.

Air Venturi Air Bolt broadhead
These broadhead points have 3 razor-sharp blades pointed forward that fold out and back when the arrow penetrates a target. They cut a swath 1.5 inches wide for maximum blood loss.

broadhead open
Ouch! Three razor-sharp blades deploy as the broadhead penetrates the target.

Velocity

Let’s get serious. You know how much the arrows weigh, now let’s look at velocity when fired on high power, which is the Dragon Claw bolt pulled all the way back. This first string is fired with all target tips, from a fill to 3000 psi.

Shot…………………………..Velocity (f.p.s.)
1……………………………………492
2……………………………………465
3……………………………………474
4……………………………………482
5……………………………………467
6……………………………………479
7……………………………………454

I stopped after the seventh shot — not because the velocity was too low but because I wanted to test other things. However, in the field I would limit my shots to 5 per fill, just to be safe. This is still a big bore air rifle and even though it does get a lot of shots per fill there is no reason top abuse that. It affects accuracy, as I will now show.

I refilled the rifle to shoot again and noted that 7 shots had dropped the reservoir pressure from 3,000 psi to about 2,300 psi. That is a rough estimate because the day was so bright that reading the gauge was difficult.

Accuracy

I shot at 35 yards using the red dot sight that is sighted-in. I sighted-in at 25 yards, so I know the arrow will drop about 6 inches in the additional 10 yards. It becomes a simple task to aim over the desired point of impact. Let me show you.

Air Venturi Air Bolt shot 1
First shot from 35 yards using the top of the dartboard (at the number 20) as the aim point.

As you see, the first shot hit close to the center of the target. But what is just as important is where shot number 2 hits. Let’s see.

Air Venturi Air Bolt shot 2
Shot number 2 from 35 yards using the same aim point landed less than an inch from shot one.

Now we see that the first two shots hit pretty close to each other. So I continued shooting.

Air Venturi Air Bolt 5 shots
Shot number 3 was close to the first 2, then the group started opening. Shot number 5 is the one that’s up and to the right. The first 4 would have all struck the heart/lung area of a deer. The first three would have gone almost exactly where they were aimed.

Penetration

Here is something I have heard from a lot of air bow users. The arrows penetrate the targets so deep that they get ruined upon extraction. And when I used an excelsior bale to stop a Stealth arrow launcher, that was true. I have seen those flimsy 12-inch thick arrow bags that are built for sub-300 f.p.s. bows that don’t work, either.

But I bought the baddest arrow stop my local archery store had. It’s a 19-inch cube that’s rated to stop arrows going 400 f.p.s. It was only $71, and because I am going to be testing other air bows in the future, it was a business expense.

My arrow stop stops the Air Bolts with target points in about 13 inches of penetration. Let’s look.

Air Venturi Air Bolt penetration
I grabbed the arrow where it stuck out of the bag and pulled it straight out. What’s in front of my hand is how much arrow was in the bag.

More to come

I’m going to stop her, but there is a lot more to come. I’ll show you the performance of the broadhead in the bag, plus give you its velocity. I’ll talk about some practical issues of owning and using air bows. I’ll also tell you about the benefits and drawbacks of owning a crossbow. And I will try to address any questions you may have in the interim.

23 thoughts on “Air Venturi Air Bolt: Part 2

  1. BB,

    Those broad heads are going to tear up the face of that target. Experience with archery machanical broad heads indicate that a good quality Duck tape does wonders for repairing the face of the bag.

    You need to get PA to start stocking that bag!

    Jim


  2. UHHHHHH! Just the sight of those tips make me shudder. I used to own compound bows until my body said I was not going to shoot them anymore. I had tips similar to those. They are EVIL!

    I am certain it will take some very serious persuasion to convince most states to allow the use of an “air bow” during archery season, however once the accuracy and dependability of such a rig is demonstrated and understood, it should be allowed during regular season or perhaps muzzle loading season. Who knows? With the decline of hunting in general, they may open it up.


  3. BB,

    I find it interesting that the group climbed instead of decending. Am I correct in my assumption that partial valve lock is the reason for such in that as the pressure reached the valve’s optimum operating pressure, the velocity of the bolts increased? Or perhaps the optimum flight speed of the bolts was reached with the decline in pressure?


  4. Just a note on safety for everyone.

    If you are using broadheads you need to invest in a broadhead wrench (under $10).
    They will prevent an accidental slip from resulting in stitches as well as providing a good handle with which to push the bolt in.


  5. B.B.,

    Nice report. The power is amazing. On the power, Vana2 mentioned that arrows are measured in (pound foot energy) as opposed to the (foot pounds of energy) that we are all familiar with. Fpe works for me, but maybe some archery smart folks could shed some light on that.

    In Part 1, I mentioned F.O.C. (Front of Center) in the comments and you said that you would check it. Did you happen to? The simple process was outlined in the comment in Part 1.

    It is amazing that broad head only weighs 3 grains more. That thing is just flat out wicked.

    Chris


  6. Just a couple of comments on taking game with broadheads for the people who have no bow hunting experience.

    Before I started bow hunting whitetails (30 + years ago) I had a discussion with a surgeon about hitting a live target with a “flying collection of razorblades”.

    He explained that the deer would feel an impact from the hit but the wound area would be instantly numbed because the nerve paths were cut before the ouch could be registered in the brain. Apparently, pain sensors are (mostly) present in the skin, with some in the muscle tissue and few (if any) in the internal organs. If you have ever cut yourself on a very sharp edge you likely noticed the blood before you felt any sensation of pain.

    I’ve seen evidence of this many times in the field when I shot right thru deer (broadside double lung hit) and had them just stand there for a couple of moments before they lay down and expired. Think that many deer run because they are spooked by the hunter or the noise of the shot, my home made bows are moderate power (50-55 pounds) and very quiet shooting with the heavier shafts I prefer.

    My main concern with this new technology is that like crossbows it is too easy for someone to pick one up and with a bit of practice be able to hit a deer. Hitting a deer is not enough to humanly dispatch it – you have to hit vital organs! Archery is a surgical technique – you only have one shot to do it right – you have to know what you are doing.

    A word of advice if I may… keep your shots to under 20 yards and don’t shoot at a deer that is aware of you. Deer hunting is not like target practicing on a stationary target – they can move extremely fast and shooting at longer ranges will result in a poor hit and likely a lost deer.

    How fast can they move? A friend took a shot at a young whitetail buck with a 300fps crossbow bolt at 25 yards. The deer was facing to the left when he shot, when he recovered the deer he saw that the arrow had hit on the right side – the deer had turned 180 degrees around in the time the arrow took to cover the 25 yards.

    Just my nickel (we no longer have cents in Canada).

    Hank


  7. I can see these airbows taking a bite out of the crossbow market the more they become legalized for hunting throughout the states. I’ve had three crossbows- two excaliburs and a tenpoint, before I gave up on them. I was never able to get fully comfortable with their use. To me, these airbows seem like they’d be a bit safer in that there’s less to worry about versus a crossbow.


  8. That answers my question about what target you shoot to preserve your arrows. But we’ll see how long it lasts. They have targets like that at my archery range, and they were torn up pretty quickly. The range took to repairing them with large pieces of burlap. However, these absorbed the force of the arrows so well that they have been bouncing off! That’s another reason I am thinking of a 100 lb. warbow. I’ll have to review the cocking mechanism of this gun. If it requires force to insert the arrow down the muzzle, you could be asking for a major injury. Perhaps a pair of chain mail gloves might help. Overall, it’s an interesting mechanism, but I’m having a little difficulty appreciating it. I suppose that it confuses my sense of tradition the same way as an inline muzzleloader with a scope.

    mildot52, Alexander Hamilton’s government bank was controversial but it was purely internal with no foreign involvement. The nation would not have stood for any. Among the Founding Fathers, he favored a more centralized government, so they had their differences. But without him there would be no Constitution or country.

    ChrisUSA, you have to roll with the ups and downs. The experience of sticking my knives perfectly every time is a distant memory. However, things have recovered somewhat by throwing with intention and follow-through. I don’t have a lot of time for this, so I’m going to turn this into an experiment on how little you can do in a continuous way and still make progress. Ten throws sprinkled throughout the day is not much. But that’s 70 throws a week, over 300 a month, over 3000 a year. The body has to improve. I’m modeling this partly on B.B.’s set-up when he returned from Germany where he could fire an air rifle at a can 50 yards away. If that’s not bliss, I don’t know what is.

    Matt61


  9. B.B.,

    Just saw the latest edition of American Air Gunner. Overall better. Nice to see Joe B. That dude is a nut on the phone! 😉 Still got Rossi shootin’ up the warehouse, 2x,…. not sure I care for that. He did do a nice job on teaching the wife on working her way up to a 9mm,…. from a bb pistol. Nice “round table” too. New air gunners was the topic. Overall, looking good.

    Just putting in my “2 cent” review,……. 🙂 Chris


  10. BB,

    “Power!” ???

    Ai-yi-yi. You are falling into the magnumitis trap you have warned so many others of!.

    Broadheads rely on massive hemorrhaging to kill. It takes surprisingly little energy to get a complete pass through on any North American game animal (short of a grizzly); about 50-55fpe should do it. Once you have had a pass through — you’re done, that’s all the cutting you can do. 220 fpe is serious silliness; critters don’t go from “dead” to “deader”.

    I know this will amaze you, but most any compound bow launching a 300 grain arrow at 270 fps will also bury about 1/2 the stick in a foam target (“We’re arrows – its what we do.”). The performance of these bolts is likely hindered by the huge collet behind the tip. That much frontal surface will really put the brakes on.

    The accuracy of these things is passable — but frankly, at 40 yards, I’m pretty disappointed to miss a 4″ dot with my (non-rested) compound bow. What this gizmo gives a pass on is practiced skill. I don’t know that that’s good.

    BTW — no real archer would be surprised that a common field point weighs the same as a field-run broadhead. 100 grn absolutely dominates as the “standard”, with the next most common, 125 grn, picking up dribs and drabs.


  11. Well, guys, I’m still in shock. You know that recurring dream that we all have where we go to a yard sale and there’s a TX 200 for sale for $85. Well, this afternoon, I walked into a pawn shop to look at a scope that I’d been eyeing for a while. The scope was a dud but I walked out of there with a Beeman R1 for $85. I’m still in shock. I saw it from a distance, thought it was a Mendoza by the ribbed muzzle break at the end. Walked over, picked it up, looked at the receiver “Beeman, San Rafael, CA 177 cal.” I broke it open, barrel seal looked OK. The gun felt solid so I walked over and laid it on the counter and said, “I’d like to buy this.”

    Got it home and immediately put up the plywood backstop with my homemade pellet something or other. Put a pellet in it, aimed it at my pellet trap, pulled the Record trigger….UNBELIEVABLE…best trigger I’ve ever pulled outside of a $2000 PCP. The gun is big but it doesn’t feel heavy. It’s a BEAST to cock though. It’s managed to vibrate the muzzle break off the end revealing a dovetail grove. It has a plate just in front of the barrel joint that looks like it’s covering an attachment for a rear sight. That’s vibrated loose too. I wondering if some of the R1’s had provision for iron sights?

    I’ve shot the pellets I have on hand: Gamo Tomahawks, Stoeger (H&N) X Power 10.19 gr, and CPHP 7.9’s at my 7 yard indoor range….so far it likes the CPHP’s the best. I probably put 40 shots through it and my wrist and my shoulder are a little sore. I think it’s probably too much gun for me but I like the size and weight and it fits me really well. Wonder if you can down tune a R1 into the 13-14 fpe range so it’s a little more civilized. Do the San Rafael markings mean anything or do all the R1’s have them? Don’t have time to do any research because I have homework to do tonight. I’m still in shock!!!

    Brent


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