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.