Assessment: Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Crossbow

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 conventional 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 could possibly 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 talent to function. It meant that a median 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 numerous enjoyable on the vary in addition to effectiveness within the area or within the residence. 

Pictures by Natalie Worth

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 provide modern crossbows for like-minded shooters. They partnered with numerous firms 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 fireside, a snug and adjustable inventory, and a number of equipment to assist in taking pictures and improve individuality.

The weapon arrives in a field unassembled, and though some may see that as a chore, we see it as a chance to discover the capabilities of the elements that make up a crossbow. Placing it collectively helps you higher perceive the mechanical components of their elements of the entire. Pulling it from its Styrofoam packaging, the carbon fiber and glass laminate limb feels clean and robust. The elements 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, exhibiting the assorted elements and terminology, which might be useful to a novice.

Above: Lots 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 help to put in them. The journal, foregrip, and rifle inventory got here collectively simply, however we didn’t initially discover the optionally available 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 Professionals 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 power 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 have to 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 a better velocity. That is particularly good for folks with disabilities or younger shooters who don’t have a substantial amount 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 folks to get probably the most out of the Stinger II, whereas eradicating it altogether gives 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 normal 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 could hamper a fast draw.

Above: There are three choices for bolts. Six blue coaching bolts are included (140 grain), however you may also buy broadhead searching 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 acquired off a shot however missed, odds are good you’re not going to get one other likelihood at it, since crossbows have an extended reload time in comparison with conventional bows. With a conventional 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, nonetheless, the consumer should take down the weapon, load a bolt, pull again the string till it locks, and re-aim. This takes two palms 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 pinnacle 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 normally obese. One other benefit is that it’s simple to cock, and with {a magazine} crammed with six bolts, you may simply have six steel-tipped daggers flying downrange in below 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 normally too powerful for regular individuals who don’t have arms like Daryl from The Strolling Useless. Often, they make use of a cocking instrument that have to be stored helpful, or you need to use your ft as an anchor. The Stinger II, nonetheless, 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 fireplace. Purpose, pull the set off, pores and skin it, and fireplace up the range. It’s that simple, but it surely’s a wierd movement that requires some follow 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 stress, so it didn’t require a substantial amount 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 velocity of 180 ft per second, whereas the 90-pound limbs improve 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 thrill of the second you lose depend, 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 type to the marginally jerky set off, we had 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 pink dot sight, and/or a scope (which might be overkill). 

Because the velocity of the bolt is barely 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 wrestle to keep up a strong grouping at this distance. That doesn’t imply we didn’t penetrate what we had been taking pictures at. For instance, at 75 ft, a bolt missed the goal utterly (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: Comprised of arduous plastic, the buttstock is snug and because of the textured floor, received’t ever slip off your shoulder. Nevertheless, since there’s zero recoil from this crossbow and it’s so mild, we had been by no means involved about slippage. 

One concern we struggled with was getting an correct intention through the use of 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 numerous the goal earlier than the consumer can get a strong view. It could possibly be argued that mounting a pink dot (Steambow sells one as an choice) would improve one’s view of the goal, however at a sophisticated vary, wouldn’t it make you extra correct? Maybe not.

Due to the gradual velocity, you may watch the bolt’s trajectory because it hits the goal. The extra we shot, the better and extra pure the cocking mechanism turned, to the purpose the place it began to circulate right into a pure motion.

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


Total, this can be a formidable weapon. Its distinctive design is simple to make use of, has just about zero upkeep, and is so easy it may be mastered by anybody. Nevertheless, there have been a few considerations. Though it’s light-weight, a number of the parts really feel cheaply made and poorly connected. 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 range relying on distance, talent, endurance, and reloading velocity. This was at 50 ft. 

The foregrip is made from a hardened plastic and as a substitute of it being connected to the underside Picatinny rail with a horizontal retaining screw — as equipment normally 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 gives a substantial amount of leverage), having it connected 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 simple as taking pictures another shouldered weapon due to the AR-style buttstock and foregrip. 

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

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

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