Part 1: The standard limb range

This blog is an overview of the rationale behind the chosen limb weights available with each of Steambow’s boxed and ready-to-ship AR-Series repeating crossbows. The AR-Series is Steambow’s range of modular crossbows, and, for those who aren’t familiar with them, here’s a brief introduction before moving on to their limb choices.

There are essentially two configurations based on the same frame. The frame is the grip, barrel, and limb-mounting system. To that is added either a shoulder stock with a lever-action cocking system or a straight-pull cocking system and the complete unit is then called a “lower”. One lower will lead to a short carbine configuration whereas the other will be a pistol if combined with an upper.

Those different “upper” parts are now added to the lower. These can be the now-iconic AR-6 integral magazine, the latest M10 detachable box magazine upper, or the Survival scope rail. In that order, these uppers, mounted to the carbine-sized, shoulder-stocked frame, will give you the AR–6 Tactical, the M10 Tactical, and the scope-compatible Survival

And with that you have three of the carbine-size crossbows that Steambow ships out, boxed with everything needed to start shooting. The fourth variant is called the AR-6 Compact, which is the result of the AR-6 upper magazine mounted onto the pistol-configured straight-pull lower.

Across these four crossbows are three of the six limb weights that Steambow offers, and it is these first three that are the subject of this blog. In the interests of clarity, especially if archery is new to you, that limb weight means limb draw-weight: the amount of energy stored in the limbs once they are cocked and ready to fire. As a general rule, the higher the draw weight, the faster the arrow and the more powerful the bow. 

With that explained, we can start with the AR-6 Compact, which comes equipped with the “CQ” limb that has a draw weight of 35 lbs. The AR-6 Tactical  ship with the standard 55-lb limb, and the M10 has been married to one of Steambow’s more recent limb releases: the 75-lb “Advanced.” Now, we can look at why.


Confidence-inspiring for all levels

The AR-6 Compact’s CQ limb was especially developed for this pistol-configured crossbow. The Compact is about speed, maneuverability, and ease of use. The straight pull cocking system delivers that: a practiced shooter can put all six arrows on target in four seconds. As always, in all things engineering, there is a trade-off: the straight pull cocking method does not give the shooter the mechanical advantage of the lever-action shoulder stock in the Tactical. 

So, a higher draw weight would have significantly slowed down the Compact’s operation and would have put it outside the comfort zone of less physically strong users. Given that Steambow is all about producing equipment with practical use in mind, a design that makes it hard for a significant portion of the population to use it would have been a fail in that respect.

In any case, the AR-6 compact still delivers excellent performance, making target practice and firearms handling safety drills perfectly possible indoors or out, thanks to its size and the reduced risk of overpenetration in the event of missing the target (see our other blog about shooting indoors).

Another benefit for some jurisdictions is the low muzzle energy of below 7.5 joules which makes the 35 lbs. limbs unrestricted in most countries with an energy limit on crossbows.

All-round performance

The AR-6 Tactical comes with Steambow’s original limb weight: the standard 55-lb limb. The same goal of providing real-world practicality is once more at play. Although 60% more powerful than the CQ limb, cocking remains very manageable for any adult thanks to the folding motion of the cocking system that delivers the leverage needed to ease the strain.

That means that anyone who wants a crossbow that you shoot from the shoulder should be able to operate these crossbows right out of the box. Meanwhile, those extra 20 lbs of draw give you greater shooting distances and a greater choice from Steambow’s range of arrows, with most available in both light and heavy versions.

The increased kinetic energy also means that, beyond target shooting, either of these can be applied to such uses as deterrence or pest control if local laws allow. While the AR-6 Compact could work in these contexts, the 35-lb CQ limb might not be ideal if not paired with exceptionally sharp blades and awesome shot placement.

Competitive edge

As most will know, Steambow is known for the repeating crossbow—a weapon with multiple shots readily available. The soon-to-be-released M10 Tactical is the pinnacle of this category as it combines the tried and tested Tactical cocking system with a detachable box magazine arrow feed where each magazine holds up to 10 arrows and takes a few seconds to replace. 

These aspects alone already highlight the M10’s potential for dynamic, competitive shooting. Competitive shooting is there to challenge the shooter and test their abilities. That means that accuracy at both close and longer ranges should be part of their skills. And shooting at longer ranges requires greater energy. At the same time, the power should not be so great that only a trained athlete can operate the crossbow. This balance of power and usability is exactly what the “Advanced” limb delivers.

Mix and match to suit your needs

As pointed out at the beginning of this blog, this is a look at these first three standard equipment limbs. Also, as pointed out above, Steambow’s crossbows are modular. So, even without going into the details of the other limbs available, it is worth noting that a Compact owner can easily fit the Standard or Advanced limbs, assuming they have the strength needed to cock it.

Likewise, the owner of a Tactical frame can fit the CQ limb if they want an ultra-easy, low-stress bit of gear for all-day shooting and an absolutely minimum in parts wear. All such exchanges become even easier if you use Steambow Quick Detach frame conversion. Note that the M10 comes with this Quick Detach frame as standard, making it a truly excellent value and performance package. 

In order to learn about the other, more powerful offerings in Steambow’s limb range, follow us on Facebook or Instagram and get an alert the next time we post.

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