Steambow’s M10 Tactical: the new benchmark

Steambow’s flagship repeating crossbow has arrived: The AR-Series M10 Tactical, with its detachable box magazine, is the result of extensive testing, refining, and a desire to produce something truly exceptional. Here you can explore what the M10 Tactical is for, who it's for, and how it works proving, beyond a doubt, that it rewrites the crossbow rulebook, cover to cover.

Improving on what has come before

Steambow’s AR-6 Tactical has been the market leader of the repeating crossbow market pretty much since it was launched. With its multi-shot magazine upper, shoulder stock cocking system, all mounted on a standard frame configuration, it is the cornerstone of the modular approach that has since characterized Steambow. It is also the closest relative of the M10 Tactical.  

The M10 Tactical has several notable advantages over the AR-6 version. First, as the name suggests, is capacity: ten arrows over six. But more important is how that reload is made possible. 

Even in the most skilled hands, matching the reload speed of the M10 on a crossbow fitted with the AR-6 upper magazine is virtually impossible. This is due to the M10’s box magazine design: grip the M10’s empty magazine, pull it out, grab a fresh one, seat it, cock, and shoot. The entire process can be done in some three seconds: more capacity, and less time to reload. That is what you call firepower.

The next improvement relates to draw weight. At 75 lbs of draw weight, the M10 is almost 50% more powerful than the AR-6, as it ships with Steambow’s “Advanced” limb. That is a significant power increase, but at the same time not so great that it would impact  cocking speed. Firing is also smoothed out by using Steambow’s geared tuning trigger that reduces the felt trigger weight significantly, getting you a light, crisp trigger break. 

Likewise, with the high shot counts the crossbow is designed to handle, the wear on the limb and string is also reduced by adding string dampers as part of the modified side plates. The shooting system is rounded off with a safety for that extra level of security. A modified Picatinny rail ahead of the magazine body also lets you fit a red dot sight that puts your eyes perfectly in line, once you have your cheek against the improved buttstock.

Finally, there’s a practical aspect. Steambow’s quick-detach, open frame, and limb block assembly come as standard, meaning that you simply pop a quick-release pin, raise the magazine, then lift out the limb: the crossbow is reduced to two parts in under ten seconds to fit in a drawer or a bag. Done.

What about the competition?

The reality is that, at the time of this blog piece being published, there is no competing product that has anywhere near the specifications of the M10 Tactical. There are some competitor products on the market that sprang up in the wake of the success of Steambow’s AR-6 Stinger II Tactical launch almost 3 years ago.

They sought to emulate the AR-6 upper magazine’s capacity to carry multiple arrows, and the Tactical lower’s carbine dimensions and rapid cocking system, but they lack the AR-series’ modularity. None appear made to the same weapons industry standards that Steambow prides itself on. If they have been poor rivals of the AR-6 Tactical, they fall far short of the M10 Tactical for all the reasons described above.

Who is the M10 Tactical for?

In a nutshell, anyone who wants to have the best repeating crossbow available is a prime candidate for M10 ownership. It gives you the possibility of unmatched shooting capacity and cycling speed in a design that is elegantly simple and very reliable. Meanwhile, it still makes leisurely shooting entirely possible, and enjoyable. But there is another purpose that lies closer to Steambow’s heart. 

Steambow wants archery to be something people can enjoy in new ways. One such way is the nascent sport of dynamic crossbow shooting. Crossbow target shooting, as a sport, does exist but is not very well-known. 

Repeating crossbows, like the M10 Tactical, make bringing crossbow sports to more people far more possible such as veterans of Level 3 IPSC competitions looking for a more affordable, and less noisy way of enjoying marksmanship. Otherwise, people who can’t or don’t want to buy firearms may still want to taste the adrenaline of shooting targets as fast as possible, pitting themselves against others doing the same.

A well-established sport, enjoyed by many, is the best antidote to unnecessary, opportunistic policy making and in the M10 Tactical, the foundations are laid for such a sport to grow.

The devil is in the detail

The M10 Tactical’s design has come about, as many designs do, by looking to improve certain characteristics whilst preserving others. Capacity and reloading speed are two things the M10 does far better. The added safety, tuning trigger, easy storage and transport options, and the greater range of the Advanced limb all make the M10 Tactical a more capable sporting tool than the AR-6. So far, so good.

What the AR-6 Tactical got right from the start was the modular principle at the core of the entire Steambow AR-Series range. And to preserve that, the detachable magazine system had to be seated atop the barrel. This way, any of the Steambow repeating crossbows could carry this new M10 upper design, and function as intended.

But this is not the only benefit. In the case of the AR-6, with a fully loaded magazine, the first arrow would experience more pressure from above, and therefore resistance. This meant a marginally lower arrow speed, which could affect first-shot trajectory. The effect was minimal in the case of most AR-6 Tactical usage. But it could make a difference to your points in a demanding match. 

For this reason, Steambow designed the mouth of the magazine to keep the next arrow ready to drop, whilst minimizing shaft-to-shaft contact with the arrow on the rail. Furthermore, feeding from above ensured that the arrows would always feed onto the same rigid platform from which they fly, giving the shooter greater shot-to-shot consistency. Loading from below would not eliminate the resistance problem, but would destroy the advantage of a consistent launch surface. Those magazines have another trick up their sleeves. 

Anyone who has taken part in shooting matches will know that you need to carry your ammo with you to reload on the move. Steambow took this into account the second they started on the M10 magazine design: the double-stacked loading means those ten arrows sit in a magazine with the perfect dimensions to fit in an M4/AR-15 magazine pouch. That’s relevant since the AR-15 is the most popular platform for IPSC rifle matches and therefore every IPSC gear stockist will have what you need to carry enough for even the longest crossbow course of fire. 

So, there you have it: the M10 Tactical. Every aspect is there for a reason—every detail designed with purpose. It gives you a crossbow with rapid shot cycles with reload speeds to levels never seen before. A crossbow you can adapt and customize to your precise needs. A crossbow that gives you the basis for discovering and evolving a new dimension of sporting archery disciplines. And a crossbow that, at the end of the day, will disappear into a drawer or holdall until it is next needed. To get yours, visit the Steambow shop to see the full range.

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