When Spud Webb was selected in the 1985 NBA Draft Fourth Round by the Detroit Pistons and then quickly released, few thought the 5-foot-6 goaltender had any chance of playing in the same league as Michael Jordan. . He then went on to have a successful 12-year career, including winning the 1986 slam dunk competition, proving that big things can come in small packages.

The Ravin R26 is the Spud Webb of crossbows. At just 26 inches long and 9.25 inches wide at the axles when decocked, the R26 is one of the smallest crossbows on the market, but it packs enough punch to qualify it as one of the best crossbows. for hunting.

Despite its small size, the Ravin R26 crossbow spits 20 inch bolts at an incredible 400 feet per second, making it one of the fastest crossbows on the market. And with every moving part of the bow designed for pinpoint accuracy, it’s a tacking machine that will make you think twice before shooting more than one bolt at the same spot on the target.

Trust me on that last part. I will explain a bit.

Ravin R26 crossbow

The Ravin R26 is fully equipped and ready to hunt.


Ravin R26 Specifications

  • Speed: 400 FPS
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs.
  • Length: 26 “
  • Axle to axle width 5.75 “armed
  • Axle to axle width 9.25 “
  • Power Stroke: 9.5 ”
  • Kinetic energy: 142 ft lbs.
  • Pulling force: 12 lbs.
  • Draw Weight: 340 #
  • Price: $ 2,024.99
Ravin R26 crossbow compact profile.
The compact size of the Ravin R26 is one of its best features.
Ravin crossbows Ravine

Presentation of the Ravin R26

I had heard a lot about the Ravin R26 when it launched in 2019 and quickly won the Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice award as the best new crossbow of the year. When it came time to see if the R26 lived up to its hype, I borrowed one from Lancaster Archery Supply to put it to the test. The rig I borrowed was the standard R26 package which comes fully assembled in the box with an illuminated bezel, six 300-grit bolts plus points, a cocking handle, and a quiver.

The compactness of this Ravin crossbow is what grabs you at first glance. Immediately you think of maneuvering into a ground lampshade or tree stand with ease, which could make this one of the best crossbows for deer hunting. It’s short. It is lean. It weighs 6.5 pounds. Looks like it should be considered a crossbow gun. How can this thing shoot as well as they say?

The Ravin R26 crossbow is an engineering masterpiece. The motor that drives 400 grain bolts (including tips) at 400 fps is the Helicoil cam system. Its unique design allows the cams to rotate 340 degrees when throwing the bolts. Although the bow is only 26 inches in total, it has almost 10 inches of power stroke, as the string at rest rests on the front end of the cams, and the Trac-Trigger firing system pulls the string in. the butt of the butt, well behind the pistol grip. Kudos to Ravin for maximizing the relatively small window available for rope movement.

The cables on either side of each cam coil are kept away from the cams when the arc is fired to keep them perfectly level during the shooting process. This is essential for the precision we have talked about.

Equally important is the frictionless flight system. The only contact points for the Ravin bolts are at the notch receiver and on two rollers on a bracket at the front end of the arch. There is no traditional crossbow rail, which basically eliminates the friction that would otherwise deprive the bolt of speed and could influence accuracy. (The lack of a rail will also do wonders in extending the life of your crossbow string.)

Where I think the Ravin R26 excels is with the Versa-Draw weapon system. Everything is contained in the arch. No need to think about carrying a cocking rope when you go hunting. No cumbersome horseshoe shaped string attached to the butt.

The Trac-Trigger unit is held in place at the end of the stock by a tape wound inside the stock. Press a button to release the block and it slides forward on a rail to capture the twine. Insert the cocking handle into the butt and turn the crank 10 times to fully cock the bow.

It is impossible to over-twist the string as the handle will slide intuitively once the bow is properly cocked. You will feel this slip and you will know your bow is ready to fire.

The Trac-Trigger perfectly captures the rope in one place, shot after shot. Systematically notching your arrow in the same place on the string is essential for the accuracy of the precision.

And speaking of notch the arrow. Ravin bolts use a notch very similar to those used on arrows shot from vertical bows. It doesn’t just rest on the string. It actually snaps onto it. And if you don’t hear or feel that click, your bow won’t fire. Sitting the arrow properly is what deactivates the R26’s anti-dry-shot mechanism.

Arrows in a target
The 80-meter group of the author of Ravin R26.
PJ Reilly PJ Reilly

One minor downside is that Ravin states on all of its packaging materials for its bolts – including bolt packs sold separately – that the bolts each weigh 400 grains. They actually weigh 300 grains, but that weight jumps to 400 when you add 100 grain points. I understand. It’s a bit finicky of me, but I want to know how much the arrows weigh on their own before I add any points, which may or may not weigh 100 grains.

The Ravin R26 shot at 400 FPS.
The R26 shot the advertised 400 FPS.
PJ Reilly

Anyway, the bolts I used really weighed 401 grains WITH dots attached. Firing them with Lancaster Archery Supply’s Custom Chrono machine, I got speeds of 402, 402, and 403 feet per second on three successive shots. As a longtime tester of archery equipment, it’s nice to replicate the speeds the manufacturer advertises with the equipment most people will take in the field.

The Ravin scope supplied with the R26 crossbow kit is intuitive. It has rings to aim for points every 10 yards from 20 to 100 yards. You adjust a dial on the scope based on how fast your crossbow fires, and the sight references are supposed to adjust accordingly. Often this does not happen. With the R26 that I shot, this is the case. Perfectly. (A bonus is that the scope includes lighting, which allows you to see sight references in red or green light – with adjustable brightness – which is especially useful in low-light shots.)

The bow was almost perfectly visible 20 yards from the box, but it shot a little high. After two shots and a few clicks, it was dead. And then I made the mistake of firing a second shot without removing the first bolt from the target. I destroyed it, smashing the notch and snapping off the back end of the arrow. A millimeter to the right, and I would have cased it.

So I took out the bow and shot it 30 yards. The 30-yard ring was right on. At 40 yards, I broke another bolt when it hit a point that had previously broken in my target in the past. Why am I mentioning this? Because at 60 meters I hit the exact same hole and broke another bolt! This test was getting expensive.

Eighty yards is the most I can shoot on my playing field, and I pulled two bolts that both cut a small square of duct tape serving as my target. I did this sitting on a lawn chair with the bow just resting on my knee, just like I was shooting sitting in a tree.

And let me be clear. I am not an exceptionally skilled trigger man. I’m average at best. The Ravin R26’s trigger fires with just over 2 pounds of pulling force. There is no play in there, although there is movement. I would characterize it as a steady motion that moves cleanly under pressure until the arc shoots. I know my shooting skills. This is why I can say the R26 is the tack driver – not me.

The Ravin R26 crossbow fired a quasi-robinhood.
The author almost cased a bolt 20 meters away during the sighting in the R26.
PJ Reilly PJ Reilly

What this Ravin crossbow does well

The Ravin R26 shoots bolts with precision and speed.

It’s that simple. The R26 is a sniping machine that will excel as a hunting crossbow. It’s as if engineers take the time-tested precision arrow delivery mechanisms perfected by vertical bow archers and just spin everything on its side. Remove the rail to eliminate friction, keep the cams level throughout the firing cycle, and notch the arrow in the exact same spot for each shot. This is the recipe for success.

The operation is so simple and the bow is so compact that virtually anyone can cock and shoot this bow regardless of age, strength and / or stature. Obviously, you’ll want to supervise young children, but where other crossbows require significant force and coordination to cock, the R26 is a cinch.

How to disarm your Ravin crossbow.

Where is this Ravin crossbow missing

Ravin R26 is noisy. Besides, is there a crossbow that someone would call “silent?” The strong type comes with the territory when firing a crossbow. The R26, however, also has an audible click, click, click as you wind the crank. You don’t reload without all the deer nearby knowing it.

It is possible to disarm the R26 without pulling it, which is always nice. However, you need to be on your toes when disarming the R26, or you could break your fingers. To disarm the R26, you install the crank and turn slightly forward to press the Trigger-Trac release button, then you have to unwind the crank while holding the button down. If your hand slips off the crank, be careful, as it will spin freely with good force behind it.

It’s expensive. The Ravin R26 package I borrowed sells for around $ 2,000. Of course, there are several crossbows that cost more than that, but I don’t think anyone would call two large “budget friendly”.

Final thoughts on the Ravin R26 crossbow

Personally, I don’t mind paying for quality material if it is actually quality. Often times you are paying for a brand, but the equipment is not quite up to the mark. It is not a problem with the Ravin R26 crossbow. It’s perfectly sized – and powered – for standing / blind hunts in deer antlers or for tying to your backpack while scaling hills in search of elk. And when the time comes to fire the shot you’ve been dreaming of, your confidence will skyrocket knowing you’re looking through the scope of one of the most accurate crossbows money can buy.