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!

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.

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.

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?


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.

Umarex Air Javelin airbow: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Umarex Air JavelinThe Air Javelin from Umarex.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • More to test
  • What are the holes for?
  • Remove the old 88-gram cartridge
  • Lots of gas!
  • Install the adaptor
  • Cock the gun!
  • Don’t do as BB does!
  • Adjust the dot sight up
  • Discussion
  • Summary

Today I shoot the Umarex Air Javelin with a dot sight optic. My UTG Reflex Micro  Dot was mounted elsewhere so I mounted a Tasco Pro Point red dot sight. 

Air Javelin dot sight
The Air Javelin accepted the Tasco Pro Point without a problem.

More to test

I didn’t tell you this but I asked Umarex to send me a 12-gram CO2 adapter so I could test the AJ with 12-gram cartridges. Some readers had asked about that possibility and since Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry the adapter, I went straight to Umarex.

Air Javelin 12-gram adapter
Several Umarex airguns including the Air Javelin use this adapter that switches the power source from 88/90-gram CO2 cartridges to 12-gram cartridges.

Let’s look at how it works. One end has an end cap that unscrews to accept the two 12-gram cartridges. The other end is treaded to screw into whatever airgun you install it on.

Air Javelin adapter description
The adapter has an end cap (arrow) that comes off to insert the CO2 cartridges, and threads on the other end to screw into the airgun. The holes are for moving the end cap when pressure holds it tight.

The two cartridges go into the adapter nose to nose. The piercing end of the first cartridge goes in first and the piercing end (small flat end) of the second cartridge is left up at the top, where the pin in the cap can pierce it. There is a spring-loaded winding tab on the cap. The spring holds the tab flat against the cap until you need it.

Air Javelin adapter cap off
The adapter cap has been unscrewed.

No directions for use came with the adaptor but it is pretty easy to figure out. I unscrewed the end cap piercing screw as far as it would go before dropping two cartridges inside. And I dropped in 5 drops of Crosman Pellgunoil before inserting the first cartridge. Then I put more Pellgunoil on the tip of the second cartridge.

Air Javelin cap screw
Here you see the cap screw (bottom) unscrewed as far as it will go.

What are the holes for?

If you ask what the holes in the sides of the end cap are for you haven’t yet encountered a gas gun with so much pressure that it wouldn’t let go of the end cap. This used to be a real problem in the 1950s and ’60s when improper o-ring material would swell from the gas and no let go of the end cap for hours after the gun was empty. With modern materials there is no more problem, unless the gas pressure inside the adapter is still high. This is not a large problem; it’s more of a convenience.

As you can see, I unscrew the piercing screw on the end cap as far as it will go, then screw the end cap down as far as it will go. Now I pick up the spring-loaded tab and start screwing the piercing screw in. That one screw is piercing both cartridges. It pushes the bottom cartridge down on the internal piercing pin inside the adapter as well as screwing in the piercing pin in the end cap. So I run it in as far as it will go. I heard no gas escape when I did this, but just to make certain the piercing pins were out of the way of the gas, I unscrewed the tab about a turn.

Remove the old 88-gram cartridge

Before the adaptor could be installed I first had to remove the previous 88-gram CO2 cartridge that was in the AJ. I didn’t know for sure but I calculated there were around 20 shots on it. We learned in Part 1 that the AJ has up to 30 good shots on one 88-gram cartridge. The last shots will send arrows out at just under 200 f.p.s. while the first shots have them going over 300 f.p.s. I will have more to tell you and show you later in this report, but for now you need to know that I was removing a cartridge that had a good 10 shots remaining inside. I had to do it to get a shot count from the two 12-gram CO2 cartridges in the adapter I’m about to install.

Lots of gas!

I will say this. Once you slowly unscrew the CO2 cartridge it comes to a point when the remaining gas is no longer sealed and starts hissing out. That lasted a long time — several minutes at least. I also dry-fired the AJ about 10 times as it was loosing gas to speed up the process. In the end the last gas hissed out and the old cartridge could be removed. The gun was now ready for the adapter.

Install the adaptor

The adaptor just screws into the gun where the CO2 tank was. Remember I put Pellgunoil inside when the cartridges were pierced, so that gets blown into the AJ to get on all the internal seals. BUT…!

Cock the gun!

Umarex tells you not to cock the gun when installing a new cartridge and I expect they also mean this adaptor. That is obviously a safety issue. But the adaptor holds two 12-gram cartridges that have limited gas. So I screwed the adaptor in, and when the hissing began I cocked the AJ and stopped it instantly.

Air Javelin adapter in
The adaptor fits in the AJ just like an 88-gram CO2 cartridge. This photo was very important later in the test!

Don’t do as BB does!

This is an object lesson. Some of you think I am modest, but the truth is — I am often that bad example your mother warned you not to follow! I set up the target bag in my back yard about 10 meters from the shooting bench. Yes that’s pretty far but I hadn’t shot the AJ in two months and my last recollection was one of great accuracy. It really was accurate last time — what could go wrong? I held the red dot in the center of the target that was taped to the bag and fired the first arrow. But I couldn’t tell where it went. It wasn’t anywhere on the bag! Oh, oh!

I looked in the grass all around and under the bag for signs of the arrow and then in the wooden fence between my property and my neighbors. Nothing. So I dragged the bag back to 5 meters and shot again. This is where I should have placed the bag to begin with.

Adjust the dot sight up

This time the arrow hit the bag, just below the bottom of the target paper. My previous shot had been taken at twice the distance, so the lost arrow is definitely somewhere in my lawn at something less than 10 meters. I searched for another 10 minutes for that first arrow with no luck. Umarex had only sent me three arrows with the AJ, and now I was down to just two. I adjusted the elevation up considerably and shot again.

Shot three hit a half-inch or less from shot two. It was on the bag but still below the target paper. From the looks of it (it was on an angle in the bag), it may well have hit the back of the second arrow— something I would discover in a little bit. Now I knew I was on the target so I cranked in a whole lot more elevation and moved the bag out to 15 meters.

Then I let fly with shot number four. This time the arrow hit the bottom of the 6-ring, almost touching the bullseye at 6 o’clock. Wow! I pulled the arrow out and moved the target bag out to 20 meters.

That shot had looked so good that I fired my second shot (number five on the CO2 adaptor). It hit the target about 3/4-inches below the last one. I needed to watch out or I would Robin Hood my two remaining arrows.

The last test in Part 3 demonstrated that the AJ is very accurate at this distance, so I felt confident it would not be a problem. However — remember that arrow that may have been hit in the back? I knew that I would nail the target in line with the center of the target and with luck I’d be inside the bull. No such luck! This time I heard a sickening sound of the arrow hitting the fence behind the bag. I have never missed the bag before this shot and was surprised I missed it this time. I found the arrow that had gone 4 feet wide to the left and was halfway through the fence.

When I pulled that arrow out of the fence I examined it to see why it had gone so wide. Right away I saw it. The end of the arrow is blown out on one side. I think I did hit the back of this arrow earlier and now I was rewarded with a wild shot. When I enlarged the pictures of all three arrows that was taken before the test started I saw that none were damaged this way. That is what I meant by that earlier picture being so fortuitous.

Air Javelin arrow end
The end of the AJ arrow that went so wide at 20 yards was broken out on one side — causing the arrow to veer to the side as it came off the end of the air tube. This arrow was probably hit in the rear on shot number three.

Air Javelin arrows
I enhanced this earlier photo to show there was no damage to any of the three arrows at the start of this test.

For safety’s sake I moved the target bag back to 15 meters and fired my one remaining arrow three more times — shots 7, 8 and 9. Shot 7 hit the target at the bottom center of the largest ring in the white. I had to pull the arrow to shoot shot 8 and it hit the target about 3/4-inches below and to the right of shot 7. On this shot I noticed a lot of time between the shot and the arrow hitting the bag.

Air Javelin arrows shot 8
Shot 8 at 15 meters hit below and to the right of shot 7. I could hear that this arrow was slower.

I pulled the arrow and fired one more time. This time there was a definite slowing of the arrow and it hit at the bottom of the paper, a little more than an inch below shot 8.

Air Javelin arrows shot 9
Shot 9 hit the target a little more than an inch below shot 8.


Based on this test I can say that two 12-gram CO2 cartridges give you about 8 good shots. They are not all the same speed, but I believe they all fall within the velocity spread of the 30 good shots you get from an 88-gram cartridge. Analyzing the costs tells me you get 8 good shots for about $1.00 with two 12-gram cartridges, and 30 good shots for about $8.00 with one 88-gram cartridge. The advantage of the adapter is shots that cost less. The advantage of the 88-gram cartridge is a lot more shots per cartridge. The velocity of the shots is the same because CO2 varies its pressure due to temperature. Volume is not a factor in pressure.There is no easy way to increase or decrease that pressure — certainly not one that’s available to the field.

The second thing I would tell you is to always examine your arrows just before loading them. I didn’t and only through a fortunate photograph was I able to determine that an arrow had been damaged during this test. A damaged arrow flies erratically and is too risky to shoot.

One last comment is that I need to jack up the rear of the dot sight for the next test. I had to apply too much elevation to get the arrows near to the aim point.


I’m still very impressed by the Air Javelin. Even with the challenges of today’s test, which in retrospect were all mine, the AJ held its own. When it is given half a chance it places its arrows close together at the distances I have been testing.

The CO2 adapter performs as well as many expected. I was surprised by the number of good shots we got in today’s test. And it is very easy to set up and use.

Hopefully we will see the AJ at least once more, and this time with more arrows and no sighting problems.

Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sen-X AR-6
Sen_X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

  • The goal
  • Do AR-6 arrows need to be fletched?
  • The big problem
  • Nockless arrows
  • What happened
  • Summary

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.

The goal

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.

AR-6 bench
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.

Tom shoots Sub-1
At the SHOT Show I shot the Sub-1 on a bipod and it shot great.

Martin Sub-1
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.

making a bowstring
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.

AR-6 bowstring
The AR-6 bowstring winding at the center has come unraveled. Now you can see those individual strings.

Nockless arrows

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.

AR-6 arrow
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.

AR-6 medieval crossbow blots
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.

What happened

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.

Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier-

Sen-X AR-6
Sen_X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow.

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

  • Sights
  • Dot sight
  • Vibration
  • Safety
  • Hunting limb
  • Sight-in
  • Group
  • Damage to one arrow
  • Stopped at this point
  • Observations
  • Fletching
  • Next test
  • Summary

Wow! It has taken me a looooong time to return to the Sen-X AR-6 Tactical Arrow Repeating Crossbow. Most of the reason for the delay was the weather that never quite cooperated, but when I tried to do a test at the end of February the problem became something else altogether.


In Part 2 I showed you that the sights on the bow are primitive. There is a front post, but in the rear there is nothing to align it with except the silver spring latch on the magazine cover. There is a red laser built into the AR-6, but it cannot be seen in daylight beyond about 10 feet. With just those crude sights I managed to shoot the bow fairly well, but I wondered what better sights would do.

Dot sight

The sight I selected for the AR-6 was the UTG Reflex Micro dot. Pyramyd Air sells the red one but I have a green one that I use because a green dot is easier for me to see. The crossbow has a Picatinny rail on the front where this sight fits easily. I picked this sight for its small size. It seems to be made for this crossbow. I thought to have it sighted in within a few shots.

The UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight is perfectly sized to fit the AR-6 crossbow.

I sighted-in the dot sight at about 12-15 feet. Once the dot was doing well there I backed up to 10 meters and shot a magazine’s worth of confirmation shots. Then I backed up to what I now know is 18 meters.

At 18 meters the crossbow hit fairly well on the point of aim. Two arrows went together pretty close. But on the third shot I missed the arrow stop/bag altogether — something I had not done in all my previous testing of three crossbows, plus an Air Venturi Wing Shot air shotgun firing Air Venturi Air Bolts. All of that put over 200 shots into that bag! I heard the AR-6 arrow hit the fence behind the bag. It did not stick in the cedar wood of the fence slat, but bounced off and landed on the lawn. When I examined the arrow I could see it had bent from the force of the impact.

The metal shaft of the arrow bent from impact.

How could I have missed a target that had seemed so easy so many times before? Was the dot sight loose? I grabbed it and shook it and it was still mounted solid. But the bow limb wasn’t! It wobbled and slid in its slot, which it’s not supposed to do. If you recall in Part 1 I told you that I had to assemble the AR-6 before I could shoot it . The bow limb (what many would call the bow) had to be secured to the bow deck with a large Allen screw.

A large Allen screw holds the bow limb tight to the bow deck.

This fault came up suddenly and unexpectedly, though I imagine there were signs beforehand, if I had been looking for them. But now the bow limb was moving around like I knew it wasn’t supposed to and I remembered there being some steel shims in front of and behind the limb where the Allen screw contacted. I found the shims on the ground where I was shooting.


The AR-6 is a completely mechanical contrivance. Every time it fires the bow limb springs forward as far as the bowstring will permit and then stops suddenly, sending vibration throughout the entire assembly. I did not appreciate that. I know that spring piston airguns vibrate, but crossbows vibrate, too. And they need the same attention to tightening their screws as do springers — especially this large one that holds the bow limb in place.

At first I was concerned that I might not get the limb back into perfect alignment. Then I remembered that I had assembled it only a few weeks before and the process is very straightforward. There are marks and guidelines on the limb and the deck to assist you.


A bigger concern for me was safety. I had never missed the arrow bag/trap before, in spite of testing numerous crossbows and arrow shooters. Two people I allowed to shoot my Sub-1 crossbow and the Wing Shot had missed the bag, but I found out afterward that neither of them understood how they should be aiming them. It’s funny how they won’t tell you beforehand that they don’t understand what you have told them to do, but after the shot goes bad they open up!

Now, I was the one who wondered whether I knew how to shoot the thing. Sure I got it together again and it seemed tight, but I had also done that before, when I assembled it out of the box the first time. Oh, woe is me! And then the hunting limb arrived from Pyramyd Air!

Hunting limb

The hunting limb increases the power of the AR-6 to about 12 foot-pounds. That doesn’t sound like much until you consider that the target limb I am testing produces a little over 8 foot pounds (8.31 foot-pounds, according to the description on the website). Then you realize the hunting limb boosts the power by almost 50 percent. Here I am languishing in fear of the target bow and there is still a more powerful bow to test. Buck up, BB. Time to get with it!

Well, weather and equipment issues slowed me down again until last Friday. Then I got a perfect day to shoot and took full advantage of it.


I sighted-in the dot sight again, since I had to remount the bow limb. Again I shot from 12-15 feet, then 10 meters and finally from the same 18 meters as before. When I was finished the bow was shooting to the point of aim at 18 meters.

I had used the same arrows for all earlier shooting, as well as sighting-in this time. The fletching on those arrows was pretty much gone.

The same arrows, shot perhaps 15-20 times each, had lost much of their fletching.

So, I decided to use 4 new arrows to shoot at 18 meters. Would they shoot to the same place as the arrows I used for sight-in? Only one way to find out! Watch the video.


Three arrows went into 2.552-inches at 18 meters. The fourth arrow opened the group to 3.827-inches. All of this was shot offhand, as you saw in the video.

Damage to one arrow

The arrows sank deep into the target bag. The first shot went in beyond the beginning of the fletching and peeled back both synthetic “feathers” of either side of the arrow. I think there are now so many holes in the target bag that the smaller AR-6 arrows have an easier time sinking in.

AR-6-fletching damaged
This new arrow sank into the target bag deep enough to peel back the synthetic fletching on the first shot.

Stopped at this point

I ended the test at this point. Though the film shows only the final 4 shots, I shot about 15 other times to get the crossbow sighted in. At this point in this series I have made several observations.


The new arrows shot to a lower point than the ones with damaged fletching. I need to correct the dot sight to account for that.

The fletching on the arrows is subject to damage from penetrating the target bag too deeply. I now have many straight arrow shafts that are in need of repair. I will also look for ways to mitigate the damage, if possible.

The new arrows hit lower on target than the old arrows with damaged fletching. This is possibly because the full fletching creates higher drag on each arrow. I should shoot this bow again and adjust for the new arrows.

After 19 shots the Allen screw is still tight and the bow limb is still locked in place. I need to continue to check that from now on.


The word fletching means feathers, which were used on arrows in times past to create high drag and spin. The synthetic fletchings found on the AR-6 are called vanes and are sold by many places, along with the glue to hold them to the arrow shaft. This is something I need to research so I can repair my damaged arrows. I will tell you about it as I go.

Next test

I plan to shoot the bow again with fresh new arrows and adjust the dot sight to hit with them. I believe I can shoot 5 arrows offhand into a group smaller than three inches from 18 meters. That will be the completion of my sight-in with the dot sight.

After that I plan to switch the bow limb to the hunting limb that also came with a new bowstring. Then I will run the same tests that I have with this bow limb, except I will start with the dot sight mounted.


I did discover that my AR-6  works fine with 5 arrows or less in the magazine, but if I load a 6th arrow that it is supposed to work with, it malfunctions. That was probably my fault, because I accidentally bent the magazine spring that holds the arrows down and feeds them, when I closed the mag cover with the spring not inside. I could probably fix it but I don’t mind using it as is, and it does work just fine with 5 arrows.

The AR-6 crossbow pistol is a blast to shoot. It is to crossbows what the Diana 27 is the pellet rifles. There are many that are more powerful, but none that are more fun. I don’t think it has to justify itself by being a hunting arm. Can’t something exist just for the fun of shooting?

2020 SHOT Show Day Four

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Range Days at the 2020 SHOT Show
2020 Shot Show Day One
2020 Shot Show Day Two
2020 Shot Show Day Three

This report covers:

  • Here we go again
  • Crosman
  • Ravin R29Xcrossbow
  • 1077 FreeStyle
  • Air Arms
  • Diana’s modular platform
  • Gamo
  • New JSB Knock Out
  • Elsewhere at the show
  • Summary

Here we go again

I said I would return to finish reporting on the 2020 SHOT Show and today is the day. The 2020 SHOT Show was the best one I have ever seen for good reasons. From my perspective, most airgun companies brought out a whole boatload of new products. I talked to several vendors in booths who told me they thought there were fewer people in the aisles, but each of them had more money they were willing to spend. I’m talking about placing orders for the whole year’s worth of goods, because that is what this commercial trade show is about. It’s not for the public, though they do attend. It’s for the stores that want to tie down their business for the coming year and also for vendors who are always looking for new customers.

We have a lot to look at so let’s get started. There is no particular order to today.


I saw three PCPs in the Benjamin side of the Crosman booth that they are importing from Turkey — the Cayden, Akela and the Kratos. The Cayden is a .22-caliber 12-shot repeater that cocks via a sidelever. It fills to 3,000 psi and gets up to 60 shots per fill They say it will get up to 1,000 f.p.s. in .22. The stock is Turkish walnut and the suggested retail is $600.

The Akela is a 12-shot .22-caliber bullpup repeater that also cocks with a sidelever. It’s long for a bullpup and again the velocity is supposed to be 1,000 f.p.s. Same 3000 fill and 60 shots. The stock is Turkish walnut. The price will be $650.

The Kratos another conventional repeating PCP that will be offered in both .22 and .25. It holds 12 shots in .22 and 10 in .25. Velocities are 1,000 f.p.s. in .22 and 900 f.p.s. in .25. The fill is to 3000 and they say 60 shots. The price will be $700.


The Benjamin Cayden is a beautiful new PCP with a Turkish walnut stock.


The Benjamin Akela (top and Kratos are two more new PCPs from Crosman.

BB Akela
The bullpup Akela is large and stunning to look at.

What does BB think? Well, he’s a little overwhelmed right now. Even if I never write another historical article this year there probably isn’t time to test every new airgun. But these three intrigue me. Talk among yourselves and I will listen.

Ravin R29Xcrossbow

Matt Hedberg of Velocity Outdoor showed me the Ravin R29X crossbow. It’s one of the slimmest crossbows on the market, at just 7-1/2- inches uncocked. This year it shoots bolts at up to 450 f.p.s. and it has earned the reputation of being one of the most accurate crossbows on the market.

What I like best is the silent windlass that’s built unto the right side of the butt. You can cock it quietly while sitting in a high seat or blind.

I have no business looking at crossbows for an airgun blog, but what can I say? I am fascinated!

Matt holds the new Ravin R29X. The windlass connection is the circle to the left and above the name.

1077 FreeStyle

The Crosman 1077 we all know so well has been given a facelift. The new rifle is called the FreeStyle and features a three-tone color styling, a new beefy buttplate and a magazine design. Functionality remains the same as always, which is a good thing.


The Crosman 1077 FreeStyle has a new look for an old friend.

Air Arms

I enjoy visiting the Air Arms booth because they make airguns I never need to make excuses for. This year the news is big. They are finally finished with three years of testing and modifications on their new XTi-50 field target rifle that is postured for World Field Target Federation open class competition. It is bang-on, at just under 12 foot-pounds to both meet the WFTF rules and also to be legal as an unregistered air rifle in its United Kingdom homeland. When last I shot field target I shot a PCP and I can see the incredible value in this one. It would raise the score of even a duffer like me, I’m sure!

Air Arms XTi-50
I’m sure we will hear a lot about the new Air Arms XT1-50.

All of the many adjustments have convenient locks to make them ever-so-easy to change, and when you are in a match that is a blessing. You don’t have time to fiddle with Allen keys. An offhand shot follows a sitting shot by one lane and only a few minutes of time. You need to be ready.

I could spend an entire blog on this one rifle, but I’ll focus on just one feature. Up front there is a built-in level that swings to the side when needed and back for storage. I don’t know why it has taken this long to appear.

Air Arms XTi-50 level
Air Arms has put a retractable level (arrow) on the XT1-50. Why doesn’t every manufacturer do that?

Best of all, the retail price is slated to be just $2,500 retail. I know that is a lot of money, but for this level of quality and performance it really isn’t. It’s like saying that new Corvette sells for $30,000. I think the competition needs to be concerned!

Diana’s modular platform

Okay, several of you (RidgeRunner) keyed in on this before I was ready to report it. Diana has redesigned their popular model 34 breakbarrel, yet again. But this time the changes were large and noticeable. They call it their Easy Modular System (EMS). I’ll start with the elephant in the room — barrel alignment! Yes, sports fans, Diana has finally seen that barrel droop is not a good thing, and they give you the ability to adjust it out with shims. Please forgive the photo that follows, but they put everything inside a plexiglass case and photography is quite difficult!

Diana shims
Here you can see two of the redesigned Diana 34 features. The cocking link is now articulated and Diana  provides shims to adjust the barrel droop.

Besides the droop issue they have made the barrel changeable and threaded the muzzle with a silencer-friendly 1/2-inch by 20 UNF thread. The sights are also changeable. Better still, the rifle can be converted to a gas piston, if desired. Wow — it’s almost as though they know what we want!


I went to the Gamo booth twice, but this year was a repeat of all the years past, except for last year. There were Gamo reps in the booth, but they were busy in small clatches, talking to each other and showing no interest in telling me anything. Joe Syring, the VP of sales who was so helpful at last year’s show, was nowhere to be seen.

I looked at all the guns on display and decided they were re-skins of their past airguns. Some, like the Swarm Bone Collector with its wood stock, were attractive, but I saw nothing that was really new. It may have been there, but I didn’t see it.

New JSB Knock Out

On the last day I stopped by the Predator International booth and saw the new JSB Knock Out hollowpoint that had just arrived. It’s a hollowpoint solid heavyweight lead-free pellet that’s sized at 5.49mm for easier loading. It’s tin, which is harder than lead, so you don’t want to push it through a lot of deep rifling. It’s made for very powerful air rifles like the AirForce Condor that also has a leade in the breech to allow chambering solid pellets. I want to test it for you.

The new JSB Knock Out pellets are nice and shiny. They won’t be inexpensive, but let’s hope their performance is worth it.

Elsewhere at the show

Yes, there were a lot of other airguns at the show that I didn’t cover. I did in years past, but I got tired of these upstart companies coming and going without ever bringing their products to market. Heck — the big guys do enough of that. We sure don’t need to waste time with the wannabees! So, go ahead and get goofy over that new Russian Akula if you want; I will wait to see if it ever becomes real.


The 2020 SHOT Show is over. It was the best show, out of the 22-23 shows I have attended. What made it good were all the new products. The companies that are forging ahead are listening to their customers and applying what they hear.

The firearms side of the house can lament the “Trump slump” (a falloff in gun sales because the US social and political environments have stabilized) all they want — it hasn’t crossed over into the airgun community. I did hear a lot of comments to the effect that airgun companies are “runnin’ and gunnin'” just to stay abreast of the marketplace, but that’s just life. Alice learned all about it from the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass.

I am looking forward to a watershed year for airguns.

Sub-1 crossbow: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Sub-1 crossbow
Sub-1 crossbow.

Part 1

This report covers:

  • Airgun shows
  • Crossbows
  • A lot to learn
  • Read the manual
  • Lightbulb!
  • Just like an airgun
  • Fire
  • Confidence
  • Shot 2
  • Shot 3
  • Arrow management
  • Summary

I am not writing a history report today, because there are too many things on my backlog. Not all of these reports are about airguns, as you can see by today’s title, but they are all pertainent to the subject at hand. This one more than most!

Airgun shows

First, here is a list of the airgun show dates that I know about.

Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show April 14

Malvern Airgun Extravaganza — Arkansas — April 27 & 28 (For more information email [email protected])

Gene Curtis Memorial Fun Shoot and Airgun Show — This one is not well publicized. It’s at the Tri-County Expo Center in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas May 18-20. I have no phone number or email address link yet.

Texas Airgun Show Saturday, June 23, followed by a field target shoot on Sunday, June 24.

Midwest Airgun Show June 30

Baldwinsville Airgun Show –New York — July (For more information email [email protected])

Kalamazoo Airgun Show August 19

Pyramyd Air Cup September 21-23

North Carolina Airgun Show October 19 & 20


Back when I decided to write about sharpening straight razors to experience what a new airgunner must feel like, I should have chosen crossbows, instead. The Sub-1 was thrust upon me when the editor of Firearms News asked me for a feature after seeing my report from the SHOT Show. He was intrigued by a crossbow that can put three arrows into less than an inch at 100 yards, as I’m sure most shooters would be.

A lot to learn

Because I am an American man, I was born with the full knowledge of firearms in my DNA. That’s a joke, for all of you who just arrived on Earth. But don’t most men act that way?

Crossbows, on the other hand, are mysterious and arcane. No one is born knowing how they work. You hold this lethal weapon in your hands and, if you make a mistake, it could be disastrous! The same is true of firearms, but as I said, American males are born knowing how to handle them.

Read the manual

First I read the manual that came with the bow. I prayed there would be no jargon inside, and thankfully there was none. I learned that the crossbow has to be lubricated every 5-10 shots and, since no lube came with the bow, a trip to the archery store was next.

The very helpful salesman told me that not only does the launch rail (I’m learning the jargon) need to be lubed, the bowstring also needs to be waxed for longer life. These powerful crossbows wear out their bowstrings pretty fast, so you do what you can to prolong their life.

lube kit
The lube kit I bought consists of these three appetizing items — String Snot, Rail Snot and a general purpose oil called Got Snot? Yum!

I then lubed the rail and waxed the string, following the directions on the package. The oil is for the bearings and pivot points that all seemed fine. Then it was time to shoot. But there were still some questions. For instance — how do you boresight a crossbow? What lines up with what? The crossbow had come to me with the scope attached, which I hoped meant it was already on target, but I wasn’t about to shoot it until I knew it would be safe.

This crossbow is normally sold without the scope installed — just like most air rifles that come with scopes. The company set this one up for me because I’m reviewing it. But if it came with the scope not mounted, what do you do?


Then it dawned on me! We don’t boresight airguns, either. We mount the scope and shoot them, hoping to hit somewhere inside a safe backstop. How can we make certain that we will? By getting very close to the backstop for the first shot.

I had an arrow stop I had purchased for testing the Seneca Wing Shot II air shotgun with Air Venturi Air Bolts, and we know that its velocity with arrows is close to 600 f.p.s., so the same arrow stop should work fine for a crossbow that’s rated at 340-350 f.p.s.

I went out into the small backyard of my very suburban home and set the arrow stop bag on the ground. Then I backed up 15 feet. It was time to cock the bow and load an arrow. I had cocked it once at the SHOT Show, where it felt easy enough. But remember, I had been challenged by the prowess of a 13-year-old girl. Or at least that is what the clever salesman made me believe. Now, however, I was alone in my backyard with no one to tutor me. What if I did something wrong?

Just like an airgun

And that’s when it hit me. This must be what a new airgunner feels like when he has to cock and shoot that brand new airgun all by himself. Forget straight razors — this is something I can relate to!

I had read the manual, so I did what it said, plus what I had remembered doing at SHOT. Lo and behold — it worked! In fact it was easy. And my question about what happens to the cocking aid rope and handles after the bow is cocked was answered. It becomes loose and useless after the bow is cocked, so you remove it! Time to load an arrow.

Again drawing on the wellspring of knowledge that’s found in the manual, I placed an arrow on the launch rail with the white fletch down between the split rails and slid it all the way back until it contacted the bowstring. The nock (the metal thingy on the back of the arrow that sometimes grabs the bowstring, but not in this case) is shaped like a half moon. It fits around the cocked bowstring without locking onto it.


There was no turning back now! Standing just 15 feet from the bag I shouldered the bow like a rifle, released the automatic safety (it comes on every time the bow is cocked) sighted on the center of the bag and gently squeezed the trigger. The shot went off before I was ready. Did I shoot through the fence? Was the neighbor’s dog still alive?

Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles — I hit what I was aiming at!!!!! I was so thankful that the crossbow was apparently sighted-in. I took a picture to show you.

Sub-1 shot 1
I was aiming at the 9-ball in the center of the bag. I’d call that a hit!

The crossbow recoils about like a magnum spring rifle — quick and light. There is no vibration whatsoever. It’s a solid feel. Also, the Sub-1 is one of the quieter crossbows on the market, which hunters appreciate, because game doesn’t usually move when it releases.


At this point my confidence soared! The arrow was deep in the bag but came out easily. I threaded the cocking aid rope onto the bow the way the manual said and cocked the bow again.

Sub-1 cocked
I’m holding the bow at full draw, which takes only 20-40 lbs. This is easy!

The bow is very easy to cock. Just grab the cocking assist handles and stand up. As the bow draws back it does pass a spot of maximum resistance, but that spot comes at a place where most people will have the greatest strength and mechanical advantage. In other words, the designers thought it through!

Shot 2

Shot one had been offhand from 15 feet. For shot 2 I backed up to 15 yards, which is three times as far, but still pretty close. This time I sat on the ground and assumed a good AAFTA field target sitting position. Shot two went to the dead center of the aim point! Whaaaat?

Sub-1 shot 2
Shot 2 went exactly where I aimed! This is addictive.

Shot 3

By now I was an expert — a legend in my own mind! So I backed up as far as my tiny yard permits, a trifle over 20 yards. Shot three went into the same hole as shot one.

Sub-1 shot 3
Shot 3.

Arrow management

I hope it is obvious that I could not and should not have fired three different arrows at the target without extracting them as I went. I would have ruined two or three arrows that way. The Sub-1 is so accurate that you have to watch what you do. We airgunners shoot our two-cent pellets at targets and look at the holes they make. Archers shoot $10-20 arrows at targets and hope that one of them doesn’t hit any of the others. The Sub-1 got its name by putting three arrows into less than one inch at 100 yards. At closer distances they are all going to stack! You have to be careful if you don’t want to ruin a lot of expensive arrows. And there is more.

Mission Archery told me that archers number their arrows so they can watch the flight patterns of each one. I wrote numbers on the white fletching with a Sharpie (an indelible felt-tipped pen). Arrow number three may always land to the left of arrows one and two, but it may also always go to the same place. If you know that you can compensate when you aim and get it to hit where the others hit. That is one of the secrets behind the one-inch group.


So far this experience has been a good one. I think the Sub-1 is the TX200 Mark III of the crossbow world. Through sheer luck I started at the top of the food chain. It will be hard for me now to work with anything less than a Sub-1. My personal Barnett RC 150 that I have never shot will now look like a poor cousin.

Will I buy the bow I’m testing? Even with a writer’s discount, it is not inexpensive. But having used it I find that I want to continue using it. It’s like eating peanuts. Drive a Cadillac for a day and you won’t want anything less.

I can now shoot in my backyard and nobody is the wiser. Decisions, decisions!