The Survival Series pt 3: Pimped or plain. You decide

With many accessories and upgrades, the AR-6 Stinger II Survival is as serious as you want: fun and games or getting back to civilization in one piece.

The Survival is Steambow’s outlier in the AR-6 Stinger II line up as it ships without the 6-shot magazine that is the hallmark of the Tactical and Compact. That is no coincidence: it was designed for a very different purpose. Its purpose is for a situation that rarely becomes a reality, but if it does you’ll be glad you’d planned ahead and given yourself the best chance possible. Survival is the name of the game.

We have considered the fact that what you value in a survival tool may differ from someone else. To that end, modularity and the means to upgrade from good performance to great are available. Indeed, both help set Steambow apart from many other brands out there. The Survival is simply another example of that design philosophy in action.

For a full look at what you get with the Survival there is already a dedicated blog post here. In case a full read is not on the cards, here is a summary: The Survival comes with blue training arrows and 55 lb limb on a shoulder-stocked frame that allows you to to cock the crossbow easily.

The two largest differences from the other Stingers are that the magazine is absent, replaced instead with a more classic crossbow safety and a scope rail which also houses an adjustable front sight, and that the tools needed to assemble the crossbow (and adjust the sights – possibly, we find this very practical) are integrated into its design. This second difference means you can put it together and take it apart with nothing more than the crossbow itself, making it easy to stow and carry.

But what if you don’t want to stop at the entry level package? What else can you fit?

The answer to that could be a very long one, but let’s assume that you want to maximize its potential as a bug-out or bushcraft survival tool rather than anything else and go from there. Let’s also split this into the following categories: performance, reliability, convenience and personalisation, although there will be ample crossover between them.


The easiest way to improve performance is to increase power and accuracy. For power, the obvious choice is to move up to the 90 lb Pro limb; it will deliver velocities of 220 fps (67 m/s), depending on the arrow used.

Next is improving how you access that power. For this the tuning trigger shines. Combine the two, you will have a small, yet powerful crossbow that gives you superb control and feel at the trigger.

The top rail allows for a scope or red dot to further improve your aiming and accuracy, especially at longer ranges.


You could be excused for thinking this section is redundant since the Stinger II’s are pretty rock-solid if you avoid school-boy errors. But, if we’re honest, school-boy errors do happen. When they do, one of the common victims are the limb tips. If they go, you are basically crossbowless so here are three solutions.

The first is to never use your crossbow at all but where’s the fun in that? The second is to buy a stack of spare polymer limb tips but that is one more thing to carry or even lose.

The third (and smartest) option is to buy our near-indestructible aluminum limb tips. Buy those once, and you’ll never need to buy any ever again.


Crossbows do many things very well, but packing away neatly and discreetly is not one of them.

In this sense, we have really set a new standard in making crossbows manageable. We pioneered the folding PowerUnit for the Excalibur hunting crossbows and brought out the quick-detach range of parts for the AR-6 Stinger II.

The quick-detach frame, which allows for the use of our quick-detach limb blocks, allows you to seat the limb/string assembly in the cut-out frame. Secured with an available thumb-screw, the limb requires no tools and fitting it in its place probably takes you little more than 10 seconds.

Along the same logic, given that the Survival does not depend on the rapid cocking system to perform at its best, the quick-detach buttstock is also something you might want to consider, especially if compact storage is something you value. It allows you to reduce the Survival to half its original length in a mere 2 or 3 seconds.

In a comfortable 20 seconds, your crossbow can be in 3 parts, ready to be packed side by side with minimum fuss.


The Survival comes with the generous full-length picatinny rail running from the stirrup all the way to the trigger guard. That gives you space to mount either a foregrip, the new K1 knife in its sheath, or perhaps a speedloader or tactical light. You can also buy color kits to make your Survival either vibrant or muted: easy to find in the undergrowth, or hard to spot from your vantage point.

In this respect, your imagination is the greatest limit to what you can do to your Survival.

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