I remember being amazed by a 350 fps crossbow that shot groups at a hole 30 yards away. These days, even low budget crossbows will. Crossbows have come a long way in just a few years, to the point where one of the most anticipated models of 2021 – the Excalibur TwinStrike – will fire two bolts, back to back, as fast as you can aim and pull the trigger.
Is this thing a gadget? Better for zombies than deer? A double-barreled abomination to tilt the seasons everywhere? Or the most useful hunting innovation to hit the flagship crossbow market for years? I’ll answer all of that, but first, let’s review the state of the crossbow market, and more specifically where Excalibur recurves fits.
The breakneck pace of crossbow innovation
Buyers’ expectations for flagship crossbows changed around 2017 with the launch of the Ravin R15. Crossbow makers suddenly realized that some hunters were willing to spend as much on an X-bow (and sometimes more) than on a custom rifle – that is, if the bow could deliver on its promises of high-end performance. In the Ravin’s case, the promise was an accuracy of 100 meters; he delivered and he changed everything.
Since then, a handful of very high-end models have entered a race to deliver the goods in terms of performance, innovation and purity. Wow factor. Last year, TenPoint released a 470 fps crossbow paired with a Garmin remote sight that, when programmed, provided automatic aiming solutions up to 200 meters. This year, Ravin touted a 500 fps crossbow equipped with an electronic cocking device, although it appears that this model suffered from production issues that have so far kept the new bow off the shelves. some stores.
I watched the competition unfold while doing some flagship crossbow reviews for Field & Flow over the past eight years. So far, classic Excalibur models haven’t quite worked with top performing dogs. This is partly because our test is difficult on the classics. Because they rely solely on flexing the limbs to generate power, these crossbows are more difficult to cock and are both bulkier and louder. They all shoot on lightweight bolts (around 350 grit, finished), making them relatively anemic when it comes to horsepower.
Yet test results don’t always tell the whole story when it comes to their usefulness as hunting tools. I’ve seen just about every type of malfunction you can imagine with a crossbow, but few with an Excalibur recurve. I have hunted with them a lot, and they are reliable, well-built boobies. Even if they forgo some performance, their simple and useful design has real advantages in the field.
How does the Excalibur TwinStrike work?
Ironically, it’s this simple design that makes the TwinStrike possible. It’s called a repeater, but it’s not technically correct. The TwinStrike is really two compact crossbows built on a single frame. There are two sets of limbs, two ropes, two barrels, two triggers and two triggers. Each must be cocked and fired individually. The only parts the two arches share – which I can see anyway – are the butt, safety, and reach. It’s ingenious in a simple “Why haven’t I thought about it?” Sort of. I’m not an engineer, but I don’t see how a two-shot compound crossbow could be built within the confines of a practical hunting set. It is the recurve design of the Excalibur that makes this possible.
The TwinStrike’s arms are short, narrow, and thick, reminiscent of the company’s compact Micro crossbow series. The stock, also like the Micro series, is skeletonized for weight reduction. Although the TwinStrike does not have the bulky profile of the full-size Assassin series, it is nevertheless a large crossbow. Fully equipped with accessories, including a quiver filled with arrows and the Charger EXT cocking device, my test model weighed 11 pounds 12 ounces. You can, of course, get rid of the quiver and the cocking device is meant to be removed. That done, the weight dropped to 9 pounds, 10 ounces. But it’s still quite heavy.
How does the Excalibur TwinStrike perform?
In my testing, the TwinStrike performed exactly as advertised – and even a little better. I approached parts of the test as if I was shooting two different crossbows. The top barrel of my test model averaged 360.5 fps through my chronograph, and it had a 4 pound, 11 ounce trigger that was crisp and shattered like glass. The lower barrel was better, however, averaging 364.5 fps, and with a lighter trigger than a pound at 3 pounds 2 ounces.
The bow comes with a 30mm OverWatch scope that has an illuminated reticle that is graduated up to 100 meters. – tuned my zero to 20 and 40 meters. At each range, the bottom arrow reaches less than 2 inches below the top arrow, which Excalibur says it should do. Ultimately, you can aim at a male’s heart and hit it with either barrel. Regarding the accuracy of each gun, the upper groups of a 7/8 inch shot and the lower group of 1 inch at 30 yards.
One complaint I have about some flagship crossbows is that they cannot be physically armed without using a built-in crank cocking device. These devices have proven to be reliable. Yet in the woods, things are breaking.
The Charger EXT device included with the TwinStrike certainly makes it easier to cock the bow (up to about 12 pounds of effort). It’s a smooth system, but it also comes off. For a laugh, I also plugged a standard rope cocking aid into the TwinStrike, and I was able to cock it just fine. It takes a good yank and growl to do it, but I like the idea of having a back-up method for cocking the bow. The TwinStrike can also be disarmed without firing, using an included disarming tool and the Charger EXT.
What are the disadvantages of the Excalibur TwinStrike?
As mentioned, the TwinStrike is a bit heavy. In addition, the loading of the barrels must be done in the correct order for safety reasons. The TwinStrike features CeaseFire technology, which is a dry fire stop device that prevents the bow from firing unless an arrow is in place, the safety is off, and the trigger is pressed. It’s pretty standard.
But, again, the TwinStrike is really two crossbows, and they share a safety mechanism. Once you have cocked one cannon, the security must remain off to arm the other cannon. The correct procedure is as follows: cock the upper barrel, then the lower. Then engage security. Then load an arrow into the lower barrel, followed by the top. It’s not complicated, but if you do something out of order or miss a step, like engaging safety, you could end up with your hand over a broad-tipped arrow in a loaded crossbow. Even if you avoid this, without precisely following these steps, it is difficult to continue charging the arc without putting your fingers between a rail and a string at some point.
Maybe you are a crossbow veteran and think you are immune to rookie mistakes. But the other day my buddy Hugh, who has been hunting with crossbows for 20 years and selling them in his sporting goods store, cut off two of his fingers while shooting a male moose. Mistakes happen in the heat of the moment. For this reason, I think a three-position safety for independent use of the two guns would be a good upgrade for the next generation of TwinStrike.
What are the biggest advantages of the Excalibur TwinStrike?
What sets the TwinStrike apart, of course, is its second shot. And from the practical point of view of hunting, this is a big problem.
Like other Excaliburs, the TwinStrike shoots short, light arrows (it is designed for use with 16.5 inch Rhino Nock bolts which have an updated notch design, compared to older style Excalibur arrows. ). Including a 100-grain field point, the bolts weigh 352 grains, generating approximately 100 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. Crushing power is a big selling point with crossbows, and this one doesn’t. Many more compact compound bows will shoot harder and more flat.
But, having actually killed a lot of stuff with crossbows, I can tell you that they will all blow into the shoulders of a moose or whatever 40 yards away. And they go all group 100 meters from a good rest, if your scope is adjusted accordingly with your rangefinder. Inside 50 yards, where you should limit your shots on the field anyway, the TwinStrike’s ability to fire a quick second shot easily outweighs the speed advantage of its competitors.
The TwinStrike costs around $ 2,000, which is certainly not cheap but still lower than some competitors. When it comes to flagship crossbows, this is actually one of the best deals around right now. Maybe the best.
Would this be a good choice for a zombie movie? Oh damn, yeah. Is it an abomination to bow? Absolutely, but no more than any other over-the-top crossbow on the market. I don’t really like shooting long distance at anything, with anything. But give me a second shot for when the first one doesn’t go as planned – or better yet, for when that second deer or pig is right there looking confused – and I’ll take it every time.
- Note – Some states may change their equipment regulations due to the TwinStrike. Make sure to check and see that this crossbow is legal in your state before purchasing.