What is it?

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

  • Is it real?
  • How far?
  • Some assembly required
  • How does it work?
  • Fletched arrows?
  • No sale!
  • A secret
  • Dense styrofoam
  • Velocity, cocking effort, trigger pull?
  • Summary

Well, what’s it going to be today? What sort of craziness has BB Pelletier dreamed up for you?

Some of you call me the Great Enabler. Maybe I am, but I’m not alone in that. Some of you say stuff that enables me, too. I don’t know where it was, or even if it was on this blog, but sometime in the past few months I became aware of the toothpick crossbow. That’s right — a tiny crossbow that shoots toothpicks instead of arrows or bolts.

Is it real?

I didn’t believe it, so I went on eBay and entered the search term “toothpick crossbow.” Sure enough, several toothpick crossbows came up, along with a number of Victorinox Swiss Army knives. Some research turned up that the crossbow is an official or quasi-official stamp of quality for Swiss-made products. Victorinox stopped using it in 2005, but several of my larger knives have the mark. It looks something like an umbrella and many people call it that.

Victorinox mark
The crossbow that many people call an umbrella, and the Swiss cross are marks of quality.

Anyway, back to the toothpick crossbow. They do exist, and today I’m going to show you one. I bought the cheapest one I could find, which sold for $4.67 with free shipping. It came from China, so I don’t think there was even any tax. I don’t plan on keeping it for long, but I was curious and I thought you might be, too. There are some priced as high as $39.00 and there is even one that’s a 5-shot repeater, selling for $44.99!

But I bought cheap, because this doesn’t seem like something I’m going to pursue for long. However — what can a toothpick crossbow do? Inquiring minds want to know.

How far?

For starters I wondered how far this thing would shoot. I think many of us were surprised when reader minuteofsomething showed us a blowgun that would shoot spaghetti through a soda can and even hit a target that looked to me like it was 15-18-feet away. I imagine the crossbow we are looking at today will go about one-third as far, but I plan to test that to see.

Some assembly required

It took 10-12 days for the “kit” to arrive and it came in a mailer envelope, because, let’s face it, this thing is small. There were no instructions — not even a small page of pictograph drawings. So I figured this thing was a cinch to assemble.

crossbow kit
Everything you are about to see came like this. They even include a tiny Phillips screwdriver for assembly of the one screw.

crossbow parts
These are all the parts of the toothpick crossbow, plus the small screwdriver and a package of toothpicks.

And as it turned out, the crossbow went together easily. The two limbs are used together to give more push. About 3-4 minutes and — Ta-Da!

CROSSBOW ASSEMBLED
Ta-Da! The crossbow is assembled and loaded.

crossbow hand
Yep — this crossbow is tiny!

How does it work?

The Sharpshooter rubber band guns had me shooting at targets 8 feet away and they made very little noise. This thing wants to shoot even closer and is completely silent!

I set up a one-inch thick Taverner dartboard at three feet and fired an “arrow” at it. To my surprise, the arrow hit the target and stuck in it! And there are no sounds that my hearing-aided ears could detect! If I tried to test the sound with my sound meter all we would get is the ambient noise in my office. The arrow didn’t hit where I aimed, but aiming with this thing is more of a suggestive word than it is descriptive.

crossbow target
The toothpick crossbow actually stuck a toothpick in a thick dart board at three feet!

I shot a couple more toothpicks at the target and they bounced off. From what I can see I don’t think they are striking the target square. The one that did stick sort of shows that. But maybe there’s something that can be done.

Fletched arrows?

I have a supply of party toothpicks that are used to serve food. They have colorful plastic streamers on one end.

fletched arrows
These colorful party toothpicks have plastic streamers on one end that might act as fletching.

No sale!

I would love to tell you that the party toothpicks were just the ticket and boy, what a clever guy am I, but it didn’t work that way. The plastic dragged in the mechanism and the toothpick dribbled out of the crossbow with no force.

A secret

I discovered that there is a small bump on the launching deck that stops the arrow as it is inserted into the crossbow. If I stop pushing it in at that point instead of driving it all the way back to the string, the crossbow gains a lot of velocity.

bump
That tiny bump in the launching deck of the crossbow stops the toothpick some distance from the string. This seems to increase velocity.

With the right target might this thing might stick at 10-15 feet? The dartboard is just too dense to stop the arrow reliably. But a flattened target made of duct seal might just do the trick. Or…

Dense Styrofoam

I also have several sheets of dense Styrofoam that I thought would work well — and they did! The arrows stick in 2/3 of the time. Now I have to work on aiming. Gotta admit that I never shot farther than three feet.

styrofoam
The camera angle was pointing downward, so the toothpicks aren’t quite as slanted as they appear, but they all did hit and stick on an angle.

Velocity, cocking effort, trigger pull?

I’m not doing any of these tests. My guess is the velocity is between 60 and 80 f.p.s. This is a toy and none of these tests make any sense.

Because this is a toy, don’t expect it to last. I unstring the bow after each use, but the limbs have already started taking a set. This is a novelty at best. Yes, it will shoot the toothpick 20 feet or more, but there is no hope for accuracy at that distance. There are probably better examples of these, because, like I said, I bought the cheapest one I could find. But even with the best one, what have you got?

Summary

I got this thing just to show you what’s out there. It was fun playing with it, but now it’s time to focus on the airguns that are, after all, the main theme of this blog.

94 thoughts on “What is it?

  1. I have seen this toothpick crossbows before (online) and always wondered what they’re capable of. That looks like a heavy duty steel cable for the crossbow string? All in all, the string and limbs look rather heavy to be efficient at propelling that light toothpick. With a bit of weight at the front, the toothpicks would probably fly straight for a short distance without needing fletching, although it would have been satisfying to see the party picks work. It just goes to show it’s hard to beat the motive power of air behind a mini marshmallow inside a PVC pipe!



    • Shootski,

      Why, of course they are banned in China. One by itself is nothing, but imagine millions of Chinese armed with these toothpick crossbows staging an assault on the Communist Politburo. A revolution in the making.

      REMEMBER TIANAMIN SQUARE!

      Besides, “You’ll put your eye out kid”.


  2. I have seen these advertised before, and wondered what they were capable of, now I know..

    Somewhere, someone of us will buy one, and use his sons or grandsons Batman doll in a photo shooot…

    But in Massachusetts, the 5 shot model will be banned unless they reduce the magazine capacity to 3 bolts, and make it produced with a red tip on the end..

    Ian.


  3. BB,

    Thank you for that fine review. Just what I needed for a Monday! 😉

    Cool concept. I could see people “hot rodding” this with new leaf spring materials and new string material. Too bad the springs are already taking a set. I see them eventually breaking at the series of holes in the center. The draw string is probably the most impressive piece of the kit as it is quite substantial.

    I like the front eye guide and the hold down leaf,.. both nice features. It was interesting that the fps/fpe increased with a gap between the toothpick and the drawstring VS contacting the string.

    Hey,.. at least it worked and now we know! 🙂

    Chris



      • Deck,

        Well,.. perhaps. Not sure how that works on a cross-bow though,… as which way is deep(er)?

        In fact,.. this might be considered to be more of a (catapult) platform in that the toothpick is (impacted) rather than being driven by a string. Whereas,.. a cross bow has the arrow nock in the string from the start and is not “impacted” or whacked.

        Or,.. perhaps this a revolutionary hybrid??? Perhaps BB will weigh in a settle this quandary?

        Chris


      • Deck
        BB said it made more velocity by (not) seating the tooth pick all the way back. He said to stop at the little bump before the string.

        To me that means not seated deep.


    • Chris
      I just said below to BB that im getting ready to order 2 of them. One to leave alone and one to mod.

      Im going to order it off of Amazon. I got a $750 bonus at work this year and a $100 gift card from Amazon. So going to use the card to order the toothpick crossbow and also they have a combo that has the fly shooting gun and the bug asalt with a container of bug asalt ammo (a can of salt labeled with the bug asalt logo).

      So yes that’s how I got my semi auto Marauder was with my work bonus.


      • GF1,

        Good for you on getting a couple and getting the nice bonus. Looking forwards to you getting them and modding the one up a bit. Hank had a good idea on a replacement string somewhere in the comments today.

        Some steel banding might be good for the bow. That stuff is super springy and resist bending pretty well,.. if you have ever played with any. Too much pressure might break the sear though, so be careful.

        Good luck on getting them soon. Shipping is ALL messed up now for a lot of people. No reason or logic to much of it.

        Chris


        • Chris
          Yep was happy about the bonus from work no doubt.

          And only ordered one of the toothpick crossbows. The only place I found one in the US was in California that was in stock. And it should only take about 4 days to get it. The other places was the end of January to the first week of February. Could of ordered a couple from them but didn’t feel like waiting to get them.

          And I seen that some mini double barrel shotguns showed up on the search too that shot toothpicks. Almost got one of those too but I didn’t.


  4. BB,

    Did you put the flat edge of the arms up or down? They should be up to reduce downward pressure on the string and reduce friction.

    This thing is awesome! I MUST RESIST!

    I will post a pic of one of my Christmas presents shortly.





  5. B.B.,

    I bought one of these a half dozen years ago in a fully assembled form. It looks very cool, just like yours, but unlike yours, mine doesn’t shoot. The toothpick yaws so much that even if it did have enough power to shoot the toothpick more than four feet, it would strike the target with its tip perhaps once out of 20 shots.

    I’m envious. ;^)

    Michael


  6. BB.

    Fun stuff!! Thanks for sharing!

    You would get much better performance from your crossbow if you replaced the heavy wire “string” with some non-stretch fishing line (like Dacron or Dyneema).

    I like archery and enjoy making things including miniature bows and crossbows. Bamboo is my material of choice for the miniatures but I usually use ironwood, elm or maple for my 1/4 scale bows.

    I remember making my first miniature bow when I was in my early teens. It was a 10 inch bow made from a pair of chopsticks that shot arrows made from bit of a bamboo curtain tipped with needles and fletched with pigeon feathers. Unlike your toothpick crossbow, the miniatures (easily) have a 10 meter effective range and can hold 1 inch groups at that distance.

    1/4 scale bows are great for practicing making bows and for testing different designs and materials. They are quick to make and don’t require a lot of material. A nice clear full size (6 foot) bow stave is not common, finding a straight grained 2 foot piece is pretty easy. Shish-kabob bamboo skewers arrows tipped with knapped flint points or (bandsaw blade) broadheads are deadly shot from a 10-12 pound pull 1/4 scale bow – these are definitely NOT toys as I have taken quite a few squirrels and rabbits with them.

    As I said, fun stuff! You just “enabled” me! Now I have to make a couple of bows 🙂 I have a package of skewers and lots of bow wood, might try buckthorn as well. Think I am going to run out of winter before I am done my indoor projects LOL!

    Hank


  7. I’ve ordered quite a few pocketknives, flashlights, and other gizmos from Chinese vendors like Gearbest, Banggood, and Aliexpress. It amazes me how they can offer such low prices, and especially how they can offer free international shipping.
    Using USPS for domestic shipping, a one ounce 1st Class package will require postage of $4.20. It’s my understanding that by treaty, China Post packages coming to the US are delivered for $1.00. This makes it possible for Chinese merchants to sell their amazingly low priced gizmos even more easily. And, it certainly does not seem to be good economics for the Post Office.
    That said, you probably need to carefully select those toothpicks. Get out the calipers. Here’s a pair for $4, free shipping. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32785335755.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.2e107bf6Z1HiN1&algo_pvid=11b8b8d4-d031-4fad-ac39-adac221c8a7b&algo_expid=11b8b8d4-d031-4fad-ac39-adac221c8a7b-0&btsid=0b0a556b16091650242256556e4ab9&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_



  8. BB
    Is the stock on your toothpick crossbow plastic or metal.

    I got the one that is all stainless steel including the bow arms. It was $15 total with free shipping.

    I was reading some of the descriptions of the different ones listed for sale and it seems that the lower cost ones have plastic stocks and regular steel arms. The best I can tell anyway.

    I don’t mind paying a little more if it is a bit stronger hopefully. Maybe might holdup a bit better. ???



    • Shootski,

      While there is only one truth,.. what truth? Who’s version of it? What version of it? When confronted with the truth, deny it? Anyone that should care or is in a position to do anything,.. seems to have little to no interest.

      I could go on. For this to get this far,… I am not sure that we as a country are not (already) past the tipping point.

      To put a fine focus on things,.. Warnock down in Georgia is on video stating,.. “God bless America???,… NO!!!!,…. God **** America”. Latest polls are showing him with a 1% lead,.. for whatever that is worth. Really? That is embraced and supported by the American people? From the church pulpit no less.

      Yes,.. I do hope (and pray) the truth comes out and justice is served. I would bet (against) it myself,.. very sad to say. If ever done, it would be akin to cleaning out a giant manure pit and smell just as bad.

      Chris


      • Chris USA,

        The most Reverend Warnock, like Reverend Wright of Obama fame, views America’s past and present very negatively.
        If this type of thing is allowed by the electorate to prevail we are well down the path to being a Banana Republic.

        Keep your powder dry!

        May God Bless America in her time of dire need!

        shootski


    • Shootski

      Dykstra,, isn’t he the guy that does voice overs for Disney animated movies?

      And I think you will find that TRUTH,, is just theory that hasn’t been disproven,, yet. Seems like everybody has their own, nowadays. I think about stuff like this,, late at night,, after a few single malts.

      Chris USA,,,, politics is a poor way to keep friends on open forums like this. Just a theory.


      • Edlee,

        Actually the Greg Dykstra I quoted is the President of https://primalrights.com/ a company of, by, and for shooters. My post was in reaction to all the theorizing in posts above about Toothpick Crossbows.

        “And I think you will find that TRUTH,, is just theory that hasn’t been disproven,, yet.”
        Perhaps in your World.
        NOT in the one I have occupied for just days shy of Seventy two years. My World kills off Grey Area Thinkers as quickly as they try to disprove the TRUTH learned through the experience, blood, sweat, and tears of those that blazed the path before them. No armchair theorizers they!

        DOERS

        shootski

        PS: if you want to respond to Chris please do so directly since he may or may not know you have thoughts for him…and that is the truth!


        • Shootski,

          “My post was in reaction to all the theorizing in posts above about Toothpick Crossbows.”

          Awwwwe,… come on. Theorizing is half the fun of it. I am sure all of the major inventors have dabbled in the art,… no? 😉 Toss in a few brews,.. some quick sketches on a napkin,….

          I think we do pretty good here with the armchair engineering. Things get bounced around all weekend,… people go in the ditch,… people get pulled out of the ditch,.. and we all come away with knowing more than what we knew before.

          I enjoy it!

          Chris

          P.S.,… You should be more clear next time on the subtle meanings of your post next time. I saw “truth” and saw red right off. Precarious times we find ourselves in.


          • Chris USA,

            “I am sure all of the major inventors have dabbled in the art,… no? Toss in a few brews,.. some quick sketches on a napkin,….”

            TOTALLY! But my intent was tongue-in-cheek for the Toothpick Crossbow blog.

            The reply to my original post’s perverted meaning was what changed all that; you will notice I immediately understood your point. The recent presumed victory by elements that do not comprehend the value of LIBERTY that the Founding Fathers hoped would govern People of these United States’ forever. That future of individual LIBERTY is lost on those who would turn to Socialism, Marxist Theories (Proven FALSE by much pain, suffering, and death…on the alter of bloody experience) for quick solutions to the ancient systems flaws that still remain to be overcome by LIBERTY. What many also don’t understand is that those conditions of sevitude were foisted on us all by those that had held all Americans as colonial vassals. Unfortunately there are many among us who know nothing of the condition of the common man (woman) prior to the enlightened (but not perfect) experiment of the Founding Fathers.

            Sadly those folks will listen to Charlatans that will lead them down the path back to servitude for government elite’s. Just as before the Declaration of (our) Independence.

            shootski


      • Edlee,

        Point taken. No matter the side or view,.. yours should be counted and so should mine. Simple as that. No (funny business) in the middle. Past that,.. I am all good.

        Chris


  9. When I was a kid we made long bows and recurve bows out of Bobby pins and arrows out of toothpicks with fletching and needle tips. They worked ok. I think the Bobby pins came in a couple of sizes the larger ones worked best.


    • Don,

      We used to make “whipper snappers” as kids. Bend them into a gift bow sort of shape and set the sear. Pushing on either loop would trip the sear and the one arm would inflict a severe stinging pain. Nothing to mess with. The bigger the Bobby pins, the better,… or worse, if you were on the receiving end.

      Chris



  10. Folks,

    I just returned from sending my AV 46M back for repairs. It was shooting nearly 100 fps below spec. based on using the same pellets as B.B.’s testing.

    As soon as I got home I received this message:

    ************************

    Re: Product notice – Air Venturi AV-46M Match Air Pistol

    Dear Airgunner,

    This notice is sent to you on behalf of Air Venturi. Thank you for your recent purchase of our AV-46M Match Air Pistol.
    We have recently discovered that the pistols are set to shoot at a lower velocity and were not tuned to our specs before leaving the warehouse. Unfortunately, this adjustment is not something that can be easily done at home, so we are sending you a prepaid FedEx label. We will tune your gun as soon as we get it and promptly send your pistol right back to you.
    Please accept our sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.
    Please contact Air Venturi with any further questions.

    Thank you,
    Ellyse
    Customer Support Liaison
    *******************************

    Not sure how many went out that way or why they were detuned. I would like to know how they did it. Based on my testing it was probably either an increase in head space or a restriction in the air transport from the valve. In any case it will be good to get it fixed. It was so anemic I had to seat some pellets to get them to shoot.

    Don



    • Don,

      Likely it was the “head space” between piston seal and end of chamber, creating less pressure in the chamber. With the old Izzy’s there was instructions in the manual to adjust that space.


      • RR,

        I would say you are correct. I tried to compare the pumping force between the AV and IZH 46M’s and believe the AV was easier to pump. It is hard to tell though because the maximum pumping effort does not match the maximum pump pressure at the end of the pump.

        I will say that while pumping the AV gun the effort to cock the gun and open the bolt at the end of the pump was much harder and rough than on my IZH. It may be the IZH is just broke in.

        Don



      • B.B.,

        Glad you got one that was not detuned. That would have gave the gun a bad start for sure.

        When I finally got a chance to test mine for velocity with and without pellet seating mine would not even shoot some pellets without seating them. Good thing you enabled me to get a chronograph or I would have pulled out my last few hairs on my head trying to figure it out.

        Don


    • Benji-Don,

      I had one in my inbox today also. I haven’t had a pellet not launch. I will get out the LabRadar and do some tests to see if mine is slow or okay like B.B.s since mine is the next up SN; but only after i get the HVAC system sorted :^( The original Heater ran for 40+ years with about 78% efficiency…the multiple new ones since have gone up in efficiency to nearly a claimed 97%…unless i factor in the replacement costs…then they are still only 80% efficient at best for $$$$ in my bank account!

      I will let you know what I find out on my AV-46M MV.

      shootski



    • MMCM13,

      That is a superb price for one of those, most especially when you consider most places were originally selling those for $800-900. At that price it is a good deal. If I had the money, I would snatch up one of those myself.


  11. While we are speaking of airguns and Pyramyds, PA has the black synthetic Walther Parrus for half price, If anyone is interested. Price is only good for today.

    BB, is there a plastic swizzle stick/olive pick that has a fletching shaped grip on one end??

    Half


  12. GF1,

    Thanks for askin’. They haven’t gotten any worse and I’ll settle for that right now. Only 3 more days of 2020. Lets hope it gets better everywhere in 2021.

    Half


  13. Want a little more distance? Get a $5 or less plastic spring powered airsoft pistol. Just wrap a little tape around the toothpicks near the front ( trial and error for distance ) to fill the 6mm barrel and slide it down the barrel. Magnum power !
    We used to wrap a little tape around a stick match and stick a straight pin in the tip and blow it out of a straw. Mini- Blow gun.
    Decided not to get the AV46M. It’s discount proof or should I say already incorporated into the price. Glad I held off. Have not totally decided against it yet. Want to see how it holds up over a little time.



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