nyby Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Onyx Tactical Crossbow.
This report covers:
- The Onyx
- Physical specifications and description
- Who needs it?
- So — who needs it?
- Why you need it
- Opening the box
- The power source — for cocking
- Why CO2?
- Air source safety
- The button
- Final point
Today will be a completely different blog! This time old BB is the student. This is about a crossbow, which I do know a little about, but this crossbow operates differently than any other.
The Onyx Tactical Crossbow is a crossbow like all other premium crossbows, except for one thing. You cock this bow with the push of a button! Yes, this 225-pound draw-weight crossbow that is fully capable of taking big game is cocked with the push of a button. Let’s think about that for a moment.
Crossbows are to archers what rifles are to spear-throwers. They remove most of the skill required for the job and deliver powerful shots that are also accurate out to ranges that even experienced archers cannot achieve. It’s been that way for centuries, and for all of that time the longbow archers have insisted that crossbows are not true bows. I have to agree with them. A longbow is one thing — even when it has modern technology like sights and cams to reduce draw weight — things that weren’t around when this controversy started.
Crossbows are something different. They are more powerful than longbows and, if handled improperly, they can be more dangerous than longbows, though you have to handle both with caution.
The reason people lump them together is they both have bow in the name and they both shoot arrows — though technically the “arrow” fired by a crossbow is called a quarrel or bolt. Longbow arrows were also once called bolts, but the term arrow has taken a firm root with them. I’m not going to get into the history of the crossbow in this report (though that might be a fun one to do, sometime), but you do need to acknowledge their differences, because some of the crossbow operational quirks can maim and even kill you!
The Onyx is a conventional crossbow, except for the pushbutton cocking feature. It has a 225 lb. draw weight and can be cocked manually. To do that you either need to be Superman or to use an aftermarket cocking aid. For this bow I think a cocking windlass is required. Some are made to fit specific crossbows, while others are more universal and will fit a wide range of models.
This is a universal cocking aid/windlass. It attaches to the butt of the crossbow and slowly pulls the bowstring back to the point that it is caught and held by the trigger mechanism (technically a part called the nut). I have no idea if this one fits the Onyx — I simply show it for information.
The Onyx cocks differently. You don’t draw the bowstring back to cock the bow. That was done before this point — the bowstring is already held back. The bowstring is not under much tension when the string is held back — unlike any other crossbow!
What the pneumatic mechanism on the Onyx does is push the bow’s limbs (the two springy arms on either side of the bow) forward to put tension on the bowstring! I remember at the Pyramyd Air Cup this year I became quite excited when a Pyramyd Air technician showing the bow to me put his hand in front of the arrow! It looked to me like the bow was cocked, but as I have just explained — it wasn’t.
Physical specifications and description
The online specs say the Onyx weighs 11 lbs. Without an air tank the test bow weighs 10 lbs. on my balance beam scale, so I think the specs are with the air tank attached. That means the Onyx is heavy for a crossbow.
The bow is 28.5 inches long and just under 11 inches wide when the limbs are collapsed. When the limbs are extended the width is about 34-inches.
The overall color is black, Most of the bow is aluminum and steel; the limbs are some sort of high-tech synthetic and the forearm grip, the pistol grip and the buttstock are synthetic.
The buttstock is an AR type that is adjustable to six positions of length. The pull length varies between 13-3/4-inches and 17-3/4-inches.
The pistol grip is also an AR A2 style. I have no idea whether it will interchange with actual AR grips, but economies of design would dictate that it should. It certainly looks like it would from the outside.
The forearm grip is designed to keep your off hand away from the flight deck and the bowstring. This feature is seen on many crossbows today, because that string can remove digits when the bow fires!
Who needs it?
You are probably asking right now who needs a $1,550 pushbutton crossbow? A good hunting crossbow can be purchased for $250-300. A premium hunting crossbow will cost $1,000 to $2,500. My Sub-1 from Mission Archery now sells for about $1,400, without a sight. I reported on that back in 2018. The Onyx is based on a premium crossbow, but the pneumatic technology they added to give it one-button cocking does increase the cost.
So — who needs it?
Let’s make a list.
• Hunters with physical limitations (handicapped)
• Hunters who cannot cock a crossbow
Wait a minute, BB. I’m young(ish). I’m strong. I don’t need no pushbutton crossbow!
Why you need it
Okay, imagine you are sitting in a tree stand waiting for that prize whitetail buck to come along. Suddenly you see him working his way through the treeline. You count at least 10 points on his antlers at this distance. This is the one you want. He is 90 yards away and walking toward you like an infantry scout on patrol, looking for boobytraps. Now tell me — did you climb up into that high seat this morning with your crossbow already cocked and loaded? And did you sit there with the bow cocked for 2-1/2-hours? Of course not. Your mom didn’t raise no fools!
Well, then, are you going to cock your crossbow now? Sure, you say. I just have to wait to turn the crank slowly and then detach the crank mechanism, load an arrow and get ready to shoot when the deer isn’t looking. Good luck with that! His eyes and ears are sharper than yours and he has lived by his wits all his life. If you had a firearm would you have waited until now to load it?
Or — you could just push the button on the Onyx and be ready silently in a second, because the arrow is already loaded.
Now you understand! This crossbow isn’t for hunting in your daydreams on the couch! This crossbow is for hunting in the real world! Sure it’s heavy, but how bad is that when you are sitting in a blind?
Opening the box
I first looked at the bow in the box it came in and carefully considered everything inside. Had this been a pellet rifle I would have had it out and shot by this time. But the Onyx is something I know very little about.
The Onyx crossbow collapses to less than 11-inches wide for transport.
As the bow comes to you, the quick-release pins that allow the limbs to fold are held in place by a rubber band that also holds the loose bowstring. This picture is as much for me as for you, so I remember to do this after testing the bow. Because I’m keeping that rubber band!