by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Sen_X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.
This report covers:
- The goal
- Do AR-6 arrows need to be fletched?
- The big problem
- Nockless arrows
- What happened
Today is an important report for a couple reasons. Neither of them is good, but both are important for you to learn something about this Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.
Today I did two things you aren’t supposed to do with a crossbow. One is for sure the wrong thing. I’m not sure about the other thing, but I will present it and let you be the judge.
I’m calling this part the goal rather than the test. I will address the test, but since I did not finish it I will instead tell you what I wanted to do.
I wanted to sight in the AR-6 with the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight today. So I went about it like I would an airgun, and that may have been one of my mistakes.
This photo is posed, but this is how I shot the AR-6 for this test. I think you should not do this, for the reasons I will explain below.
You see, when I benchrest an airgun, I use a sandbag to stabilize it. Either the gun is rested directly on the bag or else my hands or arms are. Both ways give some stability to the airgun — be it a rifle or a pistol.
I don’t think the AR-6 should be rested that way! The reason boils down to velocity. A crossbow shoots at a very low velocity compared to an airgun. And this one, the AR-6, is particularly slow.
I have shot my Sub-1 crossbow with a sandbag rest and had no problem, however there were two things that were very different. First, the Sub-1 shoots at 335 f.p.s., while the AR-6 shoots at 220 f.p.s. Any movement that is made while the arrow is still in the launcher affects the flight of the arrow. It does the same for the Sub-1, however, look closely at how I have to hold the AR-6 in the photo above. I have the forward vertical grip in my off hand. Now, compare that to how the Sub-1 is held.
At the SHOT Show I shot the Sub-1 on a bipod and it shot great.
Martin Rutterford of RAW fame shoots the Sub-1 off a bag rest. You can’t see it but his left hand is under the forearm of the bow.
I’m not making excuses for why I shot the way I did today. In fact, I’m not even sure than it had any affect of the shooting. I’m just saying that this was the first time I had rested my off hand on a sandbag while shooting the AR-6 and things did not go as planned.
Do AR-6 arrows need to be fletched?
I told you last time that some of the fletching was coming off my AR-6 arrows. Several readers asked me whether AR-6 arrows even need to be fletched. I was given a link to an article in which an archer describes shooting arrows without fletching.
Then I got an email from Pyramyd Air president, Val Gamerman, telling me he had been told that the fletching on the AR-6 arrows is more for looks than for accuracy. In other words, he had heard the same thing that several readers were telling me.
So another of my goals today was to shoot several arrows without fletching, to see if they were accurate. But none of that is the lesson I learned today.
The big problem
I made one big mistake today, and this one is for real. There is no doubt. When I started shooting I noticed that the string that’s wrapped around the center of bowstring had come loose and was starting to unravel. But I wanted to shoot this test so much that I just continued with it. Allow me to explain why that was the wrong decision.
The AR-6 bowstring is not a single string. It is a bundle of loose strings that are looped so they are all of similar length. In the center of this loop the two bundles of strings have another string wrapped tightly around them so they come together into a single strand that is approximately as thick as the end of the arrow. Let me show you.
This graphic from Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, The Crossbow, illustrates how a crossbow string is made. See the wrapping of string around the middle that made it a single string.
That illustration from Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, The Crossbow, published in 1903, illustrates the way crossbow strings are made. The AR-6 bowstring is made in the identical way.
Now look at what I saw on the AR-6. The middle string wrapping had frayed and come undone. That meant all the bowstrings were now loose. The photo I am showing here is after shooting the bow about 10 more times, so the fraying is more noticeable.
The AR-6 bowstring winding at the center has come unraveled. Now you can see those individual strings.
The arrows for the AR-6 have no nocks. That is quite common for crossbow quarrels, bolts or arrows (all the same thing). The way they work, a wide nock that stays in the plane of the bowstring when it is loosed works just as well as a forked nock, because the bowstring moves along the bow deck with downward pressure on it. That keeps it aligned with the plane of the bow deck and the butt of the arrow throughout its travel.
The AR-6 arrows have no forked nock to grab the bowstring. The string is the same size as the end of the arrow and it remains aligned with the arrow throughout its movement as it pushes the arrow down the bow deck.
Again from the book, The Crossbow, a medieval bolt. As you can see, the nock is a solid piece of brass that is as wide as the wrapped bowstring.
So — what happens when the arrow is pushed by a conglomeration of loose strings instead of a solid string that is as large as the butt of the arrow? The strings that are no longer solid but are now loose to flow and move slip underneath the arrow, jamming it up inside the crossbow magazine and wedging themselves underneath. The arrow never leaves the bow. And this upward string pressure bends the arrow. The bend is slight, but it ends the life for that arrow. I ruined three arrows this way!
You might ask why I ruined three arrows and didn’t stop after the first one. The answer is — I didn’t get it right away. I didn’t understand what was happening until it happened the third time in exactly the same way.
Some of you readers give me way too much credit for knowing things. I have to tell you that a lot of what I have learned I learned in just this way — the hard way! That is why I don’t lecture you or act like I’m so knowledgeable. Because I am always awaiting my next hard-earned lesson. Oh, the tales I could tell!
I am not done with this series. I have placed two new bowstrings on order, but they are backordered here in the U.S. right now. I may even take a crack at repairing this bowstring with dental floss. But that’s an aside. I will do something else to keep this series going. I will attach the hunting limb and bowstring, so I can continue to shoot the AR-6 We aren’t done yet.
54 thoughts on “Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow: Part 4”
Is there a stick of bowstring wax included in the package? I’ve been watching some YouTube videos where I’ve heard you have to apply the wax to the bowstring every so often allegedly to keep it from fraying. Hope it is still backyard friendly when you install that hunting limb.
I have been waxing the string and lubing the rails consistently.
The honesty in your reports is very refreshing, if only the main stream media could catch on to this concept I think the world would be much the better. Just saying.
“The honesty in your reports is very refreshing”
Mike, I totally agree; that’s one of the things I love about this blog. =>
“…if only the main stream media could catch on to this concept…”
Hahaha! Yes, that would be refreshing, but sadly, I do not see that happening. When I was a kid, newspapers mostly reported the facts, and let us make up our own minds about the meanings behind those facts. Today, however, the Main Stream Media (MSM) is generally very negative toward guns (airguns as well as firearms); to the MSM, those of us who read this blog are not as smart as they (the media elites) are; hence, they see it as their job to spin all gun-related news in such a way that we gun-loving Neanderthals will realize the “error of our ways” and become more “enlightened” like them, all the while not realizing that (in my opinion) they are examples of Romans 1:22, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”
I note that none of my guns has ever attacked anyone; they just quietly sit around, awaiting their turn at the next plinking session. =>
The thing is I had been clearing some news feeds and just came away shaking my head at the lack of honesty, then I read this blog and it was so refreshing.
In retrospect I should have said; “The honesty in your reports is very refreshing, if only the people of the world could catch on to this concept I think we would be much the better for it.”
You know just to leave the politics out of it, oh well, too late to edit now.
On your guns never attacking anyone, my guns, knives, saws, pitchforks and tools of all sorts do indeed share a very non violent nature and are never attacking anyone.
Guess they are just the good law-abiding tools that live here.
Yes, Mike ! Whether our guns are used to procure food, to shoot targets, or for just plain plinking fun, they are just tools; they are just inanimate objects; and left to themselves, they harm no one…
…I wish more people got that. =>
Simple minds look for simple solutions, yea ban the guns, guns are bad.
No, ban the bad folks they are the problem. I will not go off on the rant that I would like to but I am sure you get the drift.
I will just say this, by definition criminals ignore laws.
“I will just say this, by definition criminals ignore laws.”
Mike, I get your drift, and I’m with you 100% on that statement! =>
Yes sir. It should be clear to all.
You got it! If guns are ever banned, only criminals will have access to them. Why make gun laws that criminals won’t abide by anyway? If guns are ever banned, it will make criminals out of all of us.
I hope they are not banned, that would be big trouble.
Here I was going to compliment you on keeping “Covid-19 Fatigue” out of your blog. It seems to have affected the other forums that I view, and now yours too….
Couldn’t you just use a piece of leather tightly wrapped around the loose strings to keep them all together?
I think string is best for this because it fits better than anything and, believe it or not, does wear better, though that’s hard to see today.
I have re-read the blog a couple times and fail to see where I refer to Covid-19. I’m just curious. Please enlighten me.
I don’t see how this report has a COVID-19 Fatigue vibe in it. B.B. is reporting like he always does. As it happens and how it happened. Shooting the crossbow with a frayed serving to me is not a sign of fatigue. B.B. is not primarily an archer, he’s an airgunner. How was he supposed to know that if the serving on the bowstring is frayed he should have stopped to repair it already? This the first time I have heard of a string fraying while a new crossbow is being tested. His previous articles using bows did not have this problem so the the question in my mind is why did this occur in this sample? Has this unit been tested by somebody else? Is there something in the repeating mechanism or trigger that accelerated the fraying of the bowstring? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂
The bowstring can be repaired. The serving cannot be replaced by a patch of leather. To my knowledge Dacron string/thread is used tightly wound around the bowstring.
See the comment posted at 12:49am. B.B. has been great!
Sorry, I failed to refresh my browser which led to me missing B.B.’s responses.
Thank you. I was thinking dental floss, but I have lots of Dacron string from my field targets!
Take care as Dacron will stretch. I learned that from kiting.
Even so. What’s the bother with mentioning the COVID-19.
It is what It is right now.
As it goes read what you want to know about and over look what your not interested in. I wonder if a evangelist would say something like that.
Probably more like 007s style ;^)
Live & Let Die!
You are most fortunate to have not learned the lesson of what happens when a crossbow string breaks. Your fortune could be due to the low power of this bow.
I learned a hard lesson when the string on my Barnett started to fray. It was not anywhere near what you show in your picture. As I started to take a shot, the string parted. The bolt started forward, the string parted, the limbs slammed out, the cable went mad. It is really quite exciting to have something like that happen in front of your face.
I was most fortunate not to be injured and did not crack or break the limbs. By replacing the string I was back up and running again. I also paid much closer attention to the condition of the string. As to the fate of the bolt, it went sailing with a slight upward and to the right trajectory and imbedded itself in a pine tree about eight feet off the ground. It is still there I believe.
Closer attention is what I need to pay!
Another thought. Most crossbows have rails that have “sharp” edges. With the string being pulled down on that edge, it will without a doubt “cut” the string sooner or later. Maybe that issue could be reduced if that edge was more rounded? Hmmm.
As I take the bow apart I’ll look for sharp edges.
The outside wrapping of string is called the serving..It is there just for this reason,to take the wear and be replaced. As long as the main body of string isn’t damaged it can be saved. Reserving this string with some reinforced string shouldn’t take over 5 minutes. For this I’d probably use bowfishing line because of it’s durability. As long as it didn’t make the string too thick.
With a “serving” repair,…. how are the ends of the string secured/tied/etc.? It has been awhile,…. but in fishing line,.. there was something called “spider wire” that was supposed to very tuff. That was years ago though.
Last week I made a wooden crossbow from scratch. For the bow string I used some Spiderwire fishing line that I’ve had for many years. So far the string is working perfectly. There are tons of youtube videos on how to make a Flemish Twist bow string.
Sounds good and glad it is working. I used to fish a lot years ago and that “spider wire” was just getting hot. No telling what they have for line choices now.
Line twist tip,…. if twisted/coiled,…. use a good ball bearing swivel on the end of the line, tie it to something solid (like a fence post, car, etc.),….let out a bunch of line and “pump” the rod about 20 times. The twist goes away (basically untwist itself).
Back to your old Boy Scout days ,finish the same way you would a rope by whipping it. I know I know some of you are laughing but that is what it’s called. Look it up.
Us Old Salts do the same!
Old saying: How do you avoid making bad decisions? Answer: Experience!
How do you get experience? Answer: Making bad decisions!
Hopefully, we do learn from our errors and grow wiser. Most of us learn by trial and error. Occasionally we are blessed to find a generous mentor or a good resource. B.B. has been my long distance mentor for the last few years. I do appreciate the intellectual honesty, revealing the errors complete with photos.
We are BB! Anybody can go get a motorcycle, and go ride it. You will have a much better chance of living a long
life if you take the rider safety class first tho. Same with this blog, since my shooting experiences are limited, it’s easy to learn something.
And I know I have been lucky because the .22 pellet that went though my hand
didnt hit any ligaments or bone or tendon or anything else because of mishandeling a way too hairtrigger pistol, and that was a mild 20 ft/lbs tune.
Wow! What a fortunate situation for you!
I know an airgun dealer who attempted to “catch” a pellet fireds from a slow rifle and had to have it surgically removed from his hand.
People just don’t realize how easy a pellet will poke through flesh.
I know this sounds wasteful right now but it paints a picture.
Take a thawed out (bone in) chicken breast and put it out at 50 yards and shoot at it with a round nose pellet with the gun making 12 fpe and see what happens. I already know. Would like to hear what people think would happen. All I can say is never underestimate something. You’ll probably end up with a surprise.
See what happens to it when a 350 grain .58cal hits it at 650FPS…CHICKEN FRIED!
ALSO, most PCP don’t even need to be loaded to send you to the ER if you put your hand out in front and she goes off!
Respect the muzzle end ALWAYS!
If I shoot my .25 Condor SS at that chicken breast it would pop like someone popping a balloon when it hits. The back side would be all tore up. Not just a little hole poking through.
And yes beware of a pcp muzzle blast for sure. Sometimes when a horse fly gets in the breezeway I’ll take my Maximus and put the muzzle a few inches away from it and blast it. It’s well done after that. And yes we all know about safety. ••• Make sure the gun is not loaded with a pellet first •••
Tangent alert! I had noticed my 1377 short carbine, after some night ratting, when I discharged the loaded pellet to empty the gun, sounded weak. That was after sitting for maybe 30 minutes after putting 8 pumpd ino it. So, next day, I first, verified zero, and pumped 8 pumps into it, and took a shot at a heavy duty tin can, at a small bullseye I drew on the can. Dead centered it, and it penetrated one side of the can and dented the back. Next, I put 8 pumps into th gun again, but set it down for 30 minutes. Took a shot at another bull on another can. This shot only left a dent in the can, and struck about an inch and a half low, and sounded weak.
Someone at the Gateway To Airguns forum, suggested an alchohol flush of the pumping/pressure tube. Took a syringe, and a bit of rubbing alchohol into the tube. Used a bit too much, so drained some back out. Then pumped a couple times and fired into a rag to work it through. Back to my shooting area. Zero’d it with some Gamo Match wadcutters, and took a shot at a can. Dead center and penetrated on side, and dented the rer side of the fan. Put 8 pumps into the 1377 again, and set it aside, this time for an hour. Back to the bench and shot at a can. Shot sounded normal, dead centered the small bull, and penetrated one side and dented the rear side.
Seems to have fixed the problem. I would not have known I jhad a problem target shooting, because the gun never sits pressurized for more than maye a minute.
Anyone ever tried this alchohol flush on multi-umpers? Looks like it saved me a rebuild at least for now.i
Ethanol or Methanol? Don’t be wasting the good stuff!
If you keep a Multipump well lubricated it will blow the snot out of the compression chamber before you need to do a washout. If that Washout doesn’t work a Nylon stocking (pantyhose will work too) on a properly sized dowel. Cleans out the compression chamber end wall. Tim at Mac1 sold his Secret Sauce to keep the sludge problem from happening…B.B. uses Pelgunoil…must have something to do with his moniker, Lol! Just keep it lubed especially if you let it sit unshot for weeks…LUBE it then shoot it. Remember to store it always with one or two pumps.
Isopropyl alchohol. I use a 30 weight nondetergent oil, a few drops at the start of each shooting session. I am a fan of multi-pumpers.
Never tried that. Usually I’ll just lube the piston up with some silicone oil and pump it up and shoot. Usually that does the trick for me.
Is it me or does B.B. need a “modesty” skirt on his shooting bench?
Now that you brought it up,…………… 😉
Hey,…. I figured that BB is still kind of new to all this video/selfie stuff,….. so I cut him some slack. None the less,… always good to see the “BB Man” in action.
(Actually) wearing a skirt???,….. or did you mean one for the table? 🙂
We’re all adults here anyhow!
I had been going back to closely look at the fraying and noticed the possibly worn paint on the X bowdeck edge and flipped to far up!
The serious part is that it looks like more than the Serving is frayed… I’d be installing a new bowstring.
Im certain B.B. will inspect everything closely and tell us what he finds. Wonder if this is a one off problem?
I hope it is a one off problem. Must have been made on a Monday or Friday. Joerg Sprave designed the magazine and he conducted a “torture” test on the big brother of the Sen-X AR-6 (Viper) which is marketed as the Adder in Germany. He mentions that the manufacturer recommends waxing the string every 5 shots (didn’t know that these things required that much care and feeding) and then proceeds to do 90 consecutive shots without maintenance. The string did not fray but did need waxing at that point. youtube.com/watch?v=XbcoEmnqmqQ
I went to the Austrian Steambow site.
To see if the care and maintenance lost something in translation.
They have one of the best translations human provided technical translations I have seen in some time!
Interesting stuff and great site!
Fortunately, it’s not a big deal.
B.B.’s shorts or X bowstring? %^)
I’m with you on either…
Isopropyl alchohol. I use a 30 weight nondetergent oil, a few drops at the start of each shooting session. I am a fan of multi-pumpers.