Assessment: Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Crossbow

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All through historical past, the archer has been handled as a superior warrior, as his appreciable coaching, bodily power, and experience on the environment friendly operation of a standard bow and arrow started when he was younger and lasted most of his profession as a warrior. He was envied, lionized, and celebrated by many historical cultures — not simply anybody may very well be an archer. Then, there’s the crossbow.

Developed a lot later than the bow and arrow — across the seventh century B.C. in China — and “rediscovered” by Western cultures 300 years later, the hand held crossbow expertise derived from the gastraphetes, a “stomach shooter” utilized by the Greeks. As a substitute of the string being pulled again like later medieval crossbows, a mechanism was pushed down by the load of the consumer’s physique. This and later crossbows outpaced the bow and arrow as a formidable weapon as a result of it required little or no coaching and fewer ability to function. It meant that a mean warrior might function a crossbow effectively and precisely in comparison with the extremely skilled archer.

Above: The Stinger II crossbow is a light-weight and compact weapon that gives a number of enjoyable on the vary in addition to effectiveness within the subject or within the dwelling. 

Pictures by Natalie Value

The Steambow AR-6 Stinger II

Steambow is an Austrian firm that shaped from a bunch of enthusiastic crossbow shooters who had a want to produce innovative crossbows for like-minded shooters. They partnered with numerous corporations within the automotive, aerospace, and weapons trade to assist with the design and manufacture, and from the efforts of a staff of engineers and testers, it took two years to excellent the AR-6 Stinger II. It’s an ultralight repeating pistol-style crossbow with a fast price of fireplace, a cushty and adjustable inventory, and a bunch of equipment to assist in taking pictures and enhance individuality.

The weapon arrives in a field unassembled, and though some would possibly see that as a chore, we see it as a chance to discover the features of the components that make up a crossbow. Placing it collectively helps you higher perceive the mechanical components of their components of the entire. Pulling it from its Styrofoam packaging, the carbon fiber and glass laminate limb feels easy and powerful. The components match with none guesses, and the entire thing could be assembled simply. The instruments (Allen wrench, screws, and nuts) are equipped. One downside is that the directions don’t embrace a sketch, displaying the varied components and terminology, which might be useful to a novice.

Above: Most of the parts are hardened plastic, together with the set off, though there’s a skinny rubber coating on the grip that makes it extra snug.

It got here with two strings (one is a spare) and a stringing assist to put in them. The journal, foregrip, and rifle inventory got here collectively simply, however we didn’t initially discover the elective laser sight (bought individually). It required pulling aside the deck, which meant taking aside all the factor, so we skipped it. Our expertise with the crossbow didn’t depend on the accuracy of the laser however the high quality of the weapon itself.

Steambow AR-6 Stinger II

MSRP: $280


Crossbow Execs and Cons

One of many largest benefits of a crossbow over different arrow-based weapons is that when the crossbow is cocked with a bolt on the prepared, it requires no additional vitality from the consumer to keep up the readiness of the weapon. A longbow can have a draw weight of about 50 to 80 kilos, which should be maintained all through the aiming and firing course of, whereas a crossbow can have a a lot larger draw weight — as much as 200 kilos — giving it the next velocity. That is particularly good for individuals with disabilities or younger shooters who don’t have quite a lot of higher arm power. With a mechanical draw and a locked-in string, all one must do is pull the set off.

Above: The adjustable inventory permits for different-sized individuals to get probably the most out of the Stinger II, whereas eradicating it altogether supplies a extra compact configuration. 

Crossbows are versatile and really correct. They are often mixed with telescopic sights and laser sights for extra ease of use; to not point out the rifle inventory provides to the soundness of the weapon when aiming. One can use a crossbow in any place, versus merely standing or kneeling with a typical bow.

As a trade-off for these advantages, crossbows are heavy, since they want extra engineering and materials to deal with the heavier weight of the draw string. Crossbows are bulkier, making them unwieldy in tight conditions. This will hamper a fast draw.

Above: There are three choices for bolts. Six blue coaching bolts are included (140 grain), however you can too buy broadhead looking bolts and black Bodkin bolts (160 grain). 

They’re additionally noisy. The draw mechanism has a definite clatter to it, and the preliminary pull of the set off unleashes a pointy clank that may spook prey earlier than the bolt has an opportunity to strike. In conditions the place stealth is a should, a crossbow will betray you.

In case you obtained off a shot however missed, odds are good you’re not going to get one other probability at it, since crossbows have an extended reload time in comparison with conventional bows. With a standard bow, a talented archer can nock one other arrow with one hand and with out ever taking his intention away from the goal. With a crossbow, nevertheless, the consumer should take down the weapon, load a bolt, pull again the string till it locks, and re-aim. This takes two fingers and a while.

Above: We misplaced a few bolts throughout our vary time, together with one burying itself so deeply within the foam goal that the top popped off, leaving us with an aluminum fletched straw. 

On the Vary

One of many advantages of the Stinger II is that it’s light-weight. Tipping the scales at a mere 2.6 kilos, it debunks the critics of crossbows who declare they’re often chubby. One other benefit is that it’s straightforward to cock, and with {a magazine} full of six bolts, you possibly can simply have six steel-tipped daggers flying downrange in underneath 20 seconds.

Above: The underside Picatinny rail can maintain a wide range of objects. Sadly, it doesn’t do an excellent job retaining the included foregrip. 

One generally held downside to working a crossbow is that the cocking mechanism is often too robust for regular individuals who don’t have arms like Daryl from The Strolling Useless. Often, they make use of a cocking instrument that should be saved helpful, or you need to use your ft as an anchor. The Stinger II, nevertheless, employs a simple cocking methodology. After activating a thumb launch lever on the entrance of the rifle inventory, the entire unit can bend in half, forcing a pair of chrome arms to seize the string and pull it again into the retention notch simply above the set off. When this occurs, a brand new bolt falls into place and is able to hearth. Intention, pull the set off, pores and skin it, and hearth up the range. It’s that straightforward, nevertheless it’s an odd movement that requires some observe to execute easily and shortly.

Above: The chrome arms are the enterprise finish of the cocking mechanism that grabs the string and pulls it again towards the retention notch. 

There’s some give and take right here, although. The limbs included within the instance we reviewed got here with 55 kilos of rigidity, so it didn’t require quite a lot of power to cock the crossbow. There’s a 90-pound choice, which might be rather more troublesome to get the string into the retention notch. Steambow means that the 55-pound limbs produce a projectile pace of 180 ft per second, whereas the 90-pound limbs enhance that velocity to 220 ft per second, a rise of about 18 p.c.

Keep on Goal

Above: Six bolts loaded and able to go. If in all the joy of the second you lose rely, a fast look will reassure you of what number of bolts stay. 

With the usual limbs, we went to the vary (aka the yard) to check the accuracy and penetration of the Stinger II. Steambow equipped a pair dozen bolts (goal, broadheads, and Bodkins). The equipment got here with a foam goal about 20 inches sq. that we set “down vary” roughly 50 ft away.

Beginning nearer, at 20 ft, hitting the goal was completely no drawback. After dialing within the sight and adjusting our taking pictures model to the marginally jerky set off, we have been capable of obtain a pleasant grouping, as every bolt buried itself about midway into the goal. Pushing again to the 50-foot line, our groupings turned haphazard and the drop price elevated considerably.

Above: The fiber-optic entrance sight could be supplemented with many choices: a laser sight that comes with into the physique of the crossbow, a crimson dot sight, and/or a scope (which might be overkill). 

For the reason that pace of the bolt is just about 180 ft per second, we misplaced about 12 inches of drop by the point the bolt reached the 50-foot goal. So, you’ll battle to keep up a stable grouping at this distance. That doesn’t imply we didn’t penetrate what we have been taking pictures at. For instance, at 75 ft, a bolt missed the goal fully (we tried hip firing with not such nice outcomes) and bored itself into the sod behind the goal at such a depth that the bolt has but to be discovered. The remainder of the rounds simply penetrated the dense foam goal.

Above: Constructed from onerous plastic, the buttstock is snug and because of the textured floor, gained’t ever slip off your shoulder. Nonetheless, since there’s zero recoil from this crossbow and it’s so gentle, we have been by no means involved about slippage. 

One difficulty we struggled with was getting an correct intention by utilizing the fiber-optic entrance sight with the push tab for the journal launch button, which appears clumsy. The physique of the crossbow additionally tends to dam a number of the goal earlier than the consumer can get a stable view. It may very well be argued that mounting a crimson dot (Steambow sells one as an choice) would enhance one’s view of the goal, however at a complicated vary, would it not make you extra correct? Maybe not.

Because of the sluggish pace, you possibly can watch the bolt’s trajectory because it hits the goal. The extra we shot, the simpler and extra pure the cocking mechanism turned, to the purpose the place it began to circulation right into a pure motion.

Above: This tab releases the journal cowl for reloading, and doubles because the rear sight.


General, it is a formidable weapon. Its distinctive design is simple to make use of, has nearly zero upkeep, and is so easy it may be mastered by anybody. Nonetheless, there have been a few issues. Though it’s light-weight, a few of the parts really feel cheaply made and poorly hooked up. This results in the weapon rattling when moved, and that may result in unneeded noise when making an attempt to get the leap on some nervous prey.

Above: Your groupings could differ relying on distance, ability, persistence, and reloading pace. This was at 50 ft. 

The foregrip is fabricated from a hardened plastic and as a substitute of it being hooked up to the underside Picatinny rail with a horizontal retaining screw — as equipment often are — a plastic “screw” (extra of a nub) is tightened from the underside of the grip and pushed in between the rail slots. Since this piece is pretty integral within the cocking course of (it supplies quite a lot of leverage), having it hooked up this manner is disconcerting. With out it, cocking the weapon turns into very troublesome, so tightening it down sufficiently is necessary.

Above: A bolt contained in the journal rides on high of the string whereas it’s pulled again into place earlier than firing. One fiddly factor we seen is that generally the fletching of the primary bolt dropped in will face down, impeding the string, till we attain in to straighten it. 

Wrapping Up

Above: Taking pictures the crossbow is as straightforward as taking pictures some other shouldered weapon because of the AR-style buttstock and foregrip. 

The press launch that got here with the crossbow claimed this is a perfect instrument for dwelling protection, pest management, and small recreation looking. We’re undecided how efficient it will be for dwelling protection; though we will’t think about a bolt having the identical effectiveness as a 12-gauge, I’m positive a pair, accurately positioned into important organs, would completely dissuade any would-be burglar. As for a rat invading your attic or a rabbit wanted for the following meal, there’s little question the Stinger II would knock it off its ft at 50 ft or so.

Because it’s light-weight and straightforward for anybody to make use of — even with little or no prior information of weapons past a fast security lesson — the Stinger II is a good weapon to maintain helpful and is a delightfully enjoyable shooter as nicely.

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