Crossbow Pistol Buyers Guide

 

Background info: Crossbow pistols are frequently sold at flea markets and army surplus stores from $15 to $40. Despite being sold under multiple brand names, the vast majority of them are made by the same company, Man Kung of Taiwan. With a few exceptions, Taiwanese crossbows are well made and offer reasonable accuracy under 25 yards. Chinese crossbow pistols are generally much lower quality and should be avoided.

 

Manual Cocking Crossbow pistols

IMAGE MODEL type of prod approximate measured draw weight (7.5" draw length) measured muzzle velocity Description Recommended?

CF-111

Mk 50 A1/5PL

Spark

50lb metal 47lb 155 fps

Plastic frame, metal 50lb prod. Typical comes with 5 ABS plastic bolts.

I typically consider this model worthless junk. They break right away and frequently fire when you disengage the safety.

If you replace the plastic bolt clip with a metal one, and file the edge where the bow string rests to rough it up, so the string doesn't accidentally slide off, then this model isn't that bad.
Only for spare parts.
  25lb metal 42lb 175 fps

This is a Chinese knock off of an older model of CF-111. They are sold as 25lb crossbows but have identical prods to the 50lb CF-111.

This model is irredeemable junk. The only positive side is that it has metal sights, and the metal prod is fairly strong. The rest of the parts are worthless.

Only for spare parts.
Mk 80A1 80lb fiberglass 44lb 180 fps This is essentially the same crossbow as the CF-111 except it has an 80lb fiberglass prod and a metal stirrup. It suffers all the same reliability and durability problems of the CF-111. Only for spare parts.
Mk80M 80lb fiberglass 44lb 180 fps

This is the all metal version of the CF-111. This one is actually worth owning.

The MK80M can be distinguished from the MK80A1 by the screw hole in the grip. The metal version has plastic grips while the plastic one has solid grips.

My only real complaint with this model is that you have to engage the safety before you can load a bolt. This model has metal sights and a metal bolt clip which are compatible with the CF-111, in the event you wanted to make a decent, light weight crossbow pistol.

Yes
  80lb fiberglass 40lb   This is the Chinese made copy of the Mk80M. It's actually not that bad for a Chinese knock off. 99% of the parts are compatible with the original model. The only real difference is that it says china on the left grip, and some models are rougher around the edges. Yes
Mk80-A3 80lb fiberglass 44lb 180 fps

I really don't have any complaints with the Mk80-A3. It has an ambidextrous safety, a 5 shot bolt holder on the frame, and ergonomic grips.

This model has replaced the Mk80M. A 50lb variant is also available.

Yes

 

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Self Cocking Crossbow Pistols

IMAGE MODEL type of prod approximate measured draw weight (8" draw length) measured muzzle velocity Description Recommended?

CF-101

MK80-A4AL

 

80lb fiberglass 50lb 195 fps

The Cobra Crossbow pistol was originally sold as the Barnett Commando Crossbow pistol.

The Cobra is actually a very solid design, I find the brass accents ascetically pleasing, while it is very accurate and durable.

My only complaints are that the sights are plastic and the rear sight wobbles a bit.

Yes

FX-II

NcStar 90lb crossbow

90lb fiberglass compound     This is the most "made in china" version of anything I've ever encountered. On paper, it is a vastly improved version of the cobra crossbow pistol. Its a 90lb compound bow in place of an 80lb recurve, the safety is mounted to the grip, it has a real trigger mechanism in place of the simple one on the cobra, yet quality control is so bad it broke less than 24 hour out of the box. With some slight modification this mode can be converted to an 80 lb or 150 lb recurve bow. No

DX-70

MK80-A4PL

80lb fiberglass 50lb 195 fps This is the plastic version of the Cobra crossbow, made by the same company in Taiwan. Unlike the plastic version of the MK80, this one still uses metal for all the important parts so it maintains the durability and reliability of the standard Cobra but is much cheaper. Yes

SAS-80W

Prophecy

Tomcat

80lb fiberglass 50lb 195 fps

The Prophecy/Tomcat is the newest version of the Cobra crossbow pistol. The self cocking mechanism is identical, however the new version has improved sights, a weaver rail in place of a 3/8 dove tail, an improved string, and improved bolts.

Optional variants include black grips, faux wood grips, vertical grip, and red dot sight. PSE also sells a Zombie hunter variant.

I consider this the top of the line of crossbow pistols currently being sold.

Yes
  80lb fiberglass 50lb 195 fps The "silent strike" appears to be a re branded version of the Mk80-A4PL at first, but it is actually an improved model. It comes with the improved sights of the Prophecy, as well as the improved string and bolts.

The frame also differs slightly in that it has a V notch behind the prod, meaning that there could potentially be a 50lb metal prod variant on the market soon. I have tried using a metal prod in it, but the tips break 90% of the time. the muzzle velocity jumps to 215 FPS when a metal prod is used though.
Yes

 

these are diffrent types of crossbow bolts, some are plastic and metal, some are plastic with metal tips, some are metal with rubber fins.

 

Accessories: Bolts

There are essentially 5 types of bolts on the market. Chinese made PVC plastic bolts, which are junk. Taiwanese ABS plastic bolts, which are OK but the tips come off sometimes. There are Taiwanese and Chinese metal bolts with plastic fins, I avoid these because the break even easier than solid plastic ones. Then there are solid aluminum with rubber fletching which are the most durable. I consider the ABS plastic ones the best value as they cost $5 for 12 and they break before loosing accuracy, whereas the solid metal ones will loose accuracy long before they become serviceable.

 

Accessories: Strings

The String is always the weak point of a crossbow pistol. The serving (wrapping in string) is generally not that well done on both the Chinese and Taiwanese strings. I have included a tutorial on how you can make your own strings or skip several steps and just redo the serving the factory string.

 

Increasing Performance

There are two ways you can increase the power and accuracy of a crossbow pistol. To increase accuracy and add about 10 FPS to the velocity, use a homemade spectra string like the one I show how to in this tutorial. To increase the power of a Cobra crossbow, you can double up the fiberglass prods in increase draw weight.

 

 

 

 

Marking Backing String Draw Velocity Notes
Cobra Systems   factory 50 lbs 190 FPS unmodified crossbow
Cobra Systems   spectra 50 lbs 200 FPS  
Mini Crossbow   factory 55 lbs 200 FPS  
Mini Crossbow   spectra 55 lbs 220 FPS  
Mini Crossbow +3" spectra 60 lbs 240 FPS  
Mini Crossbow +5" spectra 70 lbs 255 FPS  
Mini Crossbow +7" spectra 80 lbs 265 FPS  
Mini Crossbow +9" spectra 95 lbs 280 FPS maximum recommended
Mini Crossbow +11" spectra 100lbs 285 FPS difficult to cock

 

 

Experiment: Are crossbow pistols dangerous toys or real weapons?

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES.