Crossbow Report: Excalibur Twinstrike
Back in 2008, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mr. Bill Troubridge, who, at the time, was the founder and CEO of Excalibur Crossbows. It was a very enlightening interview and corresponding with Mr. Troubridge was like sitting around a campfire and exchanging stories with an old friend. For those of you who aren’t aware, Excalibur Crossbows began in a pig barn in Ontario, Canada. From its humble beginnings, Excalibur rose to become one of the five most popular crossbow brands in the world. Over the past decade, there’s a been an occasional shakeup among those top five, but Excalibur still clearly holds one of those spots and the following from its Canadian constituents is almost cult-like in my opinion.
In 2014, Excalibur Crossbows was acquired by Bowtech. Since that time, there have been a few management changes with the company but the one constant has been for the “recurve-design” manufacturer to try to remain relevant and competitive with lightning-fast, compact compound-crossbow manufacturers. That is not an easy task but it is something Excalibur has been able to accomplish with its micro and takedown models. Last December, when I received an invitation from Excalibur to be part of the launch event for its new crossbow, I was more than intrigued with what it would be offering in 2021. However, after receiving all of the materials from its virtual product launch, I had more questions than answers.
In January, Excalibur introduced the new TwinStrike with DualFire technology: the first crossbow designed to feature the ability to fire two arrows in milliseconds. According to the press release, the new TwinStrike provides two arrows locked and loaded for double the confidence and double the opportunity. As hunters, we all know things can happen. Arrows can deflect off branches, animals can jump the shots or we can just flat-out misjudge the yardage and miss. The TwinStrike provides the opportunity to have a second shot and that second opportunity comes without the need to reload and possibly miss the opportunity.
“As hunters first, we at Excalibur want to ensure that our fellow hunters have every opportunity possible to be successful,” Excalibur Director of Marketing Jeff Suiter said. “This goes beyond the ability to have a second arrow if things go wrong. The TwinStrike is also perfect for scenarios where you may have two shot opportunities at once.”
Out Of The Box
The Excalibur TwinStrike is neatly packaged, sheathed and shipped in durable cardboard. The crossbow has a four-bolt assembly that attaches the dual riser to the double rail system. The foot stirrup and string-dampening systems are already attached to the riser, so complete setup from start to finish takes only minutes. The scope rings are already attached and positioned on the scope, which simply needs to be secured to the scope rail. Available in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country, this ready-to-hunt package includes the Charger EXT crank system, four new Quill 16.5-inch carbon crossbow arrows, a four-arrow quiver, an Overwatch illuminated scope and dual integrated string-stop systems.
The TwinStrike features a 14-1/8 inch over/under shoot-through rail that incorporates a narrow quad limb and dual string system powered by a 358-pound draw weight. Much like the barrel of an over/under shotgun, the rails sit directly on top of each other and house individual trigger latches with double triggers. The top and bottom triggers (arrows) can be fired individually or simultaneously. The finish and ergonomics were superb from my view. The incorporated wide foregrip makes it impossible to accidentally get your hand above either of the flight decks and its rubber-molded inlays not only give it a quality look but are positioned in all of the right places to maximize your ability to comfortably handle and grip the crossbow. The rubber-combed skeletonized stock is already pre-drilled to accommodate the Charger EXT crank system and the ambidextrous safety is positioned perfectly for ease of access. Two additional, smaller features that may be overlooked at first glance but are clear signs of Excalibur’s commitment to detail and quality are the brace-height adjustment marks on the front of both the TwinStrike’s rails to easily monitor string variances and the bubble level that’s built in under the back of the scope to assist in avoiding the canting of the crossbow during the shot.
“The TwinStrike provides the opportunity to have a second shot and that second opportunity comes without the need to reload and possibly miss the opportunity.”
The TwinStrike features the company’s DualFire Technology engineered to accurately fire two shots with tight grouping at any distance. The two-trigger platform has double independent match-grade frictionless triggers, with the front trigger firing the top rail and the back trigger firing the bottom rail. Both triggers are equipped with Excalibur’s CeaseFire technology to ensure the crossbow will not fire unless an arrow is loaded. This technology works in conjunction with Excalibur’s new-for-2021 Rhino Nock. The crossbow’s overall length is just more than 33 inches and its cocked width is just more than 21 inches.
The new Overwatch illuminated scope, included in the crossbow package, features multi-coated lenses with multi-plex circled reticles from 20-100 yards with 2x-5x magnification. The waterproof, shockproof and fogproof 30-millimeter tube has an adjustable speed dial ranging from 300 -475 fps (feet per second). The package is rounded out with four 350-grain 16.5-inch Quill arrows capped with Excalibur Rhino Nocks and the new Rebolt four-arrow quiver.
Specs And Performance
I always stress the difference between the advertised specs of an individual crossbow and its actual “hunt setup” specs. Most of the time, manufacturers market barebow specs, which can be misleading. In extremely rare cases, the advertised weight and speed of the crossbow are actually its true weight and speed when set up in full hunt dress. Because of this, a side-by-side comparison test was completed against the crossbow’s marketed specs. The Excalibur TwinStrike’s advertised weight without accessories is 7.7 pounds. My comparison weight with the crossbow set up in full hunt dress with scope, quiver bracket, quiver and arrows was 9.9 pounds.
The 16.5-inch Excalibur Quill carbon crossbow arrows are marketed at 350 grains. The arrows included in my test package averaged 355 grains with a 16.7 percent FOC (Front of Center). Ten shots from both rails were put through a chronograph, with the fastest and slowest recorded speeds eliminated from the equation and the average speed being calculated from the remaining eight shots. The TwinStrike consistently shot 360 fps from the top rail and 359 fps from the bottom rail.
My trigger-pull analysis data is comprised the same way as my feet-per-second data. Ten shots were gauged, with the highest and lowest numbers being removed from the equation; the remaining eight shots were calculated to achieve the average. There is absolutely no creep with either of the TwinStrike’s triggers. With a very solid wall and no creep as you apply pressure, both triggers break cleanly and crisply. Factory specs list the TwinStrike as having both triggers at a 4.0-pound pull. My comparison testing produced a 4.6-pound trigger pull from the front (top rail) trigger and a 4.4-pound trigger pull from the back (bottom rail) trigger.
Shooting The Twinstrike
Once you have the TwinStrike in your hands, I believe you’ll quickly realize it’s unlike any other crossbow that you’ve ever handled. With its 358-pound draw weight, I was able to comfortably hand-cock the bow with a standard rope cocker 10 times before tiring. I then switched to the package-included Charger EXT crank system. Verbatim from the TwinStrike’s owner’s manual, these are the cocking instructions when using the crank:
- Install mounting bracket by placing each half on either side of stock over the two holes near the butt plate. Orientation is indicated with L (Left) or R (Right) and Up or Down for proper placement. Bracket should be tight; do not over-tighten or you could strip the threads.
- Slide Charger EXT onto bracket and push firmly down. You will hear an audible “click” when properly engaged. Verify proper installation by pulling up on the crank.
- Remove crank handle by pressing the release lever and pull straight out of the socket. Push release catch forward to the “Release” position, allowing the two hooks to pull away from the crank. Note: Rope and hooks are under return tension.
- Place the left crank hook onto the upper crossbow string, making sure the hook is secured tightly against the left side of the mainframe.
- Run the crank rope around the string groove (located on the stock below bubble level) and down the right side of the mainframe and hook onto the upper string. Confirm both hooks are tight against the mainframe.
- Push the release catch back into the “Push to Cock” position. Insert crank handle into Fail-Safe-Strap and secure strap on wrist. Install crank handle into the Charger EXT handle socket (there will be an audible click when engaged).
- Move safety down into the “Fire” position. The safety must be in the Fire position to engage the string catch when cocking. Begin loading the crossbow by turning the handle in a clockwise direction until the string is caught by the string catch. Stop cranking when you hear an audible “click.” Visually inspect the string is locked into the trigger catch.
- Once you have confirmed that the trigger catch has captured the crossbow string, immediately place the safety onto “Safe” by moving it into the up position.
- Once you have confirmed that the trigger catch has captured the crossbow string, apply slight forward pressure on the crank handle; push the release latch forward into the “Release” position, allowing the two hooks to disengage from the string.
- Remove the crank handle by pressing the release lever and pull the handle straight out of the socket. Remove the Charger EXT crank from the stock.
There are a few things that one must be cognizant of when following these cocking instructions. The dual triggers are tied into the single ambidextrous safety and that safety must be in the “Fire” position when the crossbow is cocked. Then the safety must be manually engaged to the “Safe” position after you cock both of the strings. Per Excalibur’s instructions, always cock the top string first and never load an arrow until both strings are in the cocked position and the safety is placed into the “Safe” position. The Charger EXT crank weighs an additional 1.1 pounds, so always remove it before a hunt to keep the bow weight to a minimum. If no arrows are fired after a hunt, the TwinStrike can be decocked using the Charger EXT crank.
For accuracy testing, I shot five groups of three arrows at 30 yards off a bench rest and then repeated the process at 40 and 50 yards. At 30 yards and beyond, the top rail consistently held 1-1/2-inch groups. The bottom rail grouped just as tightly but was consistently 1-5/8 of an inch lower on the bull in reference to the sighted-in top rail. At 50 yards, the six-shot grouping from both rails was 2-1/4 inches. I then switched to off-hand shooting and began sending broadheads downrange at those same distances. Surprisingly, with the TwinStrike’s dual riser and limb system, the crossbow is not front-end-heavy at all and balances very well in the hand. There is some overall weight to the crossbow, but this actually helps with its shootability.
The Overwatch scope features red/green illumination with multi-plex circled reticles from 20-100 yards with 2x-5x magnification and an adjustable speed dial ranging from 300 -475 fps, as mentioned earlier. The glass is clear and although the circled reticles are on the smaller side, they are very precise. Obtaining the proper eye relief and a clear field of view was not a problem. The Overwatch is a decent package-included scope; not many will find the need for an optics upgrade.
Loading two arrows onto the same crossbow with broadheads affixed took a little getting used to. We’ve been trained to keep our hands and fingers away from the business end of arrows when there’s a broadhead attached; the TwinStrike offers double the danger. Because of this, it’s imperative that once both of the strings are in the cocked position and the safety is engaged, the bottom arrow is loaded first. This reduces the risk of the user getting cut by the top arrow. Broadhead choice is an individual preference and the TwinStrike was not broadhead-finicky at normal shooting distances. However, I would probably opt for a high-quality mechanical broadhead for the added safety of the enclosed blades. Decibel level readings recorded the TwinStrike to be louder than its forwarddraw counterparts shooting in the 360 fps range.
I think an arrow upgrade would enhance the overall performance of the TwinStrike. I would recommend getting away from just loading the arrow randomly through the shoot-through rail and settle into a spineindexed arrow with a cock vane for more consistency when loading and shooting. This change alone will tighten up the TwinStrike’s downrange arrow accuracy. Lighted nocks are not yet available for the TwinStrike, so the aftermarket purchases of a sling and broadheads are all that’s needed to get you in the woods. Excalibur offers a full line of accessories that can be found on its website.
The Bottom Line
Only time will tell whether a two-shot crossbow is something that the masses will embrace or reject but I truly believe that Excalibur Crossbows has created something very unique that the industry has never seen before. With an MSRP of $2,222.22, it may not be on everyone’s radar, but for those looking to try something different or for a crossbow that offers two shots, the Excalibur TwinStrike is more than likely the answer to your prayers. For additional information, go to excaliburcrossbow.com
By Todd Bromley