Steambow’s AR-6 Stinger II Compact: Size isn’t everything.
The Compact was the second Stinger II model to be launched. The nature and quality of our limb design made for impressive performance from relatively light draw weights. This made it clear that even lighter limbs could still deliver substantial energy on target and, with that, the Compact became a serious concept: It was now realistic to have a genuine pistol-configuration crossbow that is not simply a form of entertainment.
The next version
Although far from heavy or bulky, the Tactical has a buttstock. A smaller pistol grip crossbow without one was interesting: but that would have taken us back to the AR-6 Stinger I that the Tactical had superseded in every way but size. The key was a reworked cocking system that would complement a smaller design.
This is where the AR-6 rapid-cocking ethos favored a straight-pull design, rather than a pivot-based system. This gave rise to the AR-6 Stinger II Compact repeating crossbow as it exists today: lighter limbs that still store and release serious energy, a revised cocking system to complement these limbs and a crossbow that is easier and faster to operate. The finishing touch was marrying all those features to the now-iconic 6-shot magazine.
So where does the Compact shine brighter than its larger cousin?
In a word, speed.
Speed of handling and speed of operation. With less force needed and less movement involved, cocking the Compact is very quick, with the added benefit of not needing lots of practice or muscle memory in order to do it with the sights still on your target. Your shooting may be fast, but it will always be faster if you don’t need to reacquire your target with every shot. (Cocking the Tactical while keeping it shouldered for faster target acquisition is possible but requires practice to do well.) Added to the mix is the simple agility of the shorter frame. Shooting two handed, strong-handed or weak-handed are all possible, while the Tactical remains a two-handed affair.
Meanwhile, everything forward of the pistol grip is exactly the same as the Tactical. The same sights, the same lengths of picatinny rail both top and bottom and the same space for fitting side-mounted accessories on the magazine are still available. This means you retain the same options in terms of aiming and lighting as well as a choice of auxiliary attachments such as a rail-mounted K1 knife or a quiver to carry a speed loader.
Agility by design
The Compact is very maneuverable. With only the limbs as a possible means of snagging and the absence of the buttstock, moving from one location or stance to another is easy. This might be important to you if you’re enjoying dynamic shooting drills or challenges but it certainly has advantages in graver situations that you’d rather not find yourself in.
Being under a mere 800g (1.8 lbs) means the Compact is not hard to hold at arm’s (seems more natural to me) length. It is also perfectly feasible to rest the lower rail on a steady surface, provided there is nothing to interfere with the movement of the limbs during decompression. Finally, the ranges best suited to the Compact mean that making hits that count is perfectly doable.
And if power remains a concern, two things should be noted. In penetration tests the Compact’s 35 lb CQ limbs still managed significant results: significant enough to be a viable deterrent and weapon. The other point is the cocking system can handle the heavier, 55 lb Tactical limbs. The only trade-off is that cocking may be a bit slower with the added resistance.
Out of sight, but not out of mind
Finally, there is the very real consideration of convenience. It is small and so easy to store. And, if you choose to equip your Compact with the quick-detach limbs upgrade-kit and the limb-block, you could very easily have a crossbow you can assemble and load in under 30 seconds that could still fit in a desk drawer.
The Compact may be dismissed by some for its lower power output, but it can definitely do things other pistol crossbows can only dream of. And if those things are important to you, you should really take a closer look at the Compact and all the accessories compatible with it. To do that, just visit our webshop and see what catches your eye.