The Airbow: Legitimate Hunting Tool or Costly Toy?
Russ Chastain 06.26.17
The Benjamin Pioneer Airbow is described by Crosman, the company which manufactures it, as “the fastest, most unique hybrid hunting weapon available.” (Personally, I prefer to say “hunting tool” rather than “weapon.”)
Basically, it’s a rifle-shaped thing which shoots an arrow propelled by compressed air. That’s a full-length arrow, not the shorter crossbow arrows sometimes referred to as bolts, and they claim it’ll sling ’em out there at 450 FPS.
In some ways it looks like a rifle, in other ways it resembles a crossbow, but without those aggravating limbs which always get in the way.
Once the Airbow is charged with air, they say it can shoot 8 arrows in about the same amount of time it takes to fire 3 arrows from a crossbow. Perhaps best of all, the pressure is regulated and they say all 8 of those shots will shoot their recommended (and included) 375-grain arrows at 450 FPS. That arrow weight includes a 100-grain field tip.
The standard package includes just 3 arrows with field tips, but if you pony up full retail ($999!) at Crosman.com, you’ll get a total of 9 arrows. It also comes with a sling and quiver, and a 6x40mm adjustable-objective scope calibrated for the Airbow with “aiming points out to 75 yards.”
They say their arrows are the best thing ever (of course), and you do have to use special arrows:
Nano ceramic Victory ICE™ coating for increased speed, greater penetration and easier retrieval. Benjamin Airbow arrows are 375 grain (includes 100gr field tip), hand-fletched helical vanes and feature a unique spine alignment for top level performance.
There’s a lever at the top rear of the stock for cocking and decocking the Airbow. Sure does look easier than working a crossbow.
This thing operates on 3,000 PSI of air pressure. I’m pretty sure my shop compressor isn’t going to handle that. So unless you have a SERIOUS compressor, you’ll want to get yourself a 15″ high-pressure air tank ($430) or hand pump ($190).
With the hand pump, you’re looking at 250-300 strokes to fill the Airbow when it arrives brand-new. I’ve used a similar pump before, and I can testify that it ain’t easy. After firing 8-10 shots, pressure will drop to about 2,000 PSI. From there, you’re looking at 100-125 pumps to get your Airbow back up to working pressure.
If you opt for the high-pressure air tank, you’ll have to get it filled at a scuba shop or shell out even more dough for a special compressor.
- Pre-Charged Pneumatic (PCP) Airbow
- Powered by 3000 psi of compressed air
- Integrated pressure regulator delivers 8 consistent shots at 450 FPS
- Bullpup configuration, short 33.5” overall length
- Ambidextrous top cocking bolt
- BONUS: Realtree AP camo decals included
- Comes with 3 custom arrows with field tips, 6×40 mm scope, sling and quiver
- 160 fpe with 375 gr arrows @ 450 FPS
- Length: 33.5 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- MSRP: $999
I see a number of advantages over crossbows, but some downsides as well. Mainly these: I can cock and fire my crossbow an infinite number of times for practice using nothing more than a cocking rope; the Airbow requires a ton of pumping or expensive tanks filled at a special shop.
Then there’s the fact that it’s not approved for archery hunting for deer in most states–yet. As with the crossbow, it will take some time to overcome the hurdles of bias from other hunters and become approved by game commissions.
It looks to be better than a bow or crossbow in terms of ease of use, arrow speed, arrow stability, and consistency/repeatability of shots, and my father taught me to use the most efficient hunting tool available whenever possible.
If money weren’t an issue and it was legal to use for archery hunting whitetails where I hunt, I would very likely hop on the Airbow train. Would you?