The Barnett King Rat Havoc Slingshot

A Timeless Tool For Work & Play
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The Barnett King Rat Havoc slingshot is lightweight, compact
and powerful. It makes a great addition to any survival loadout.

The humble slingshot is the ideal packable tool for survival and subsistence. It doesn’t require expensive ammunition and can, in a pinch, even shoot rocks. Power comes from your arm and the good ones will fold up to about nothing.

Nobody makes a slingshot like Barnett and their King Rat Havoc model transports the classic millennia-old slingshot into the Information Age. Sleek, powerful, cool, and just oozing with tech, the King Rat Havoc is both fun to shoot and nasty downrange. A little time in the backyard behind one of these puppies will remind you what dragged you into this curious hobby in the first place.

The concept of personal survival in a world gone mad sells a lot of top-quality magazines. Geeks like me settle in comfortably behind our word processors before a roaring fire in the fireplace chugging M&Ms and sipping chocolate milk while waxing poetic about survival situations most dire. Well, here’s what that looks like out in the real world….


The Barnett King Rat Havoc slingshot is a marvel of
high-tech Information Age design.

Slingshots for Survival, Sort Of …

Our hero was a guy named Tim. I flew with him when we were both stationed in Alaska. A genuinely great bloke, Tim would regularly shovel snow for the families left behind when their soldiers were on deployment. Before he went to flight school, Tim was an enlisted soldier with an attack helicopter unit stationed in Germany during the Cold War.

If the Cold War ever went hot, our bases would be pulverized in short order. As such, some rocket surgeon had the great idea to preposition crates of cannon ammo and similar ordnance out in the German hinterlands. This they surrounded by concertina wire with but a single access point. Attack aircraft in action could theoretically just scoot over to these ad-hoc rearm points, top off with bullets and rockets, and keep taking the fight to Ivan. The rub was how to secure all that ordnance out in the sticks when the world was not technically at war.

The solution was to take two Army Privates with M-16 rifles, give them each 20 rounds of ammo, and leave them there in 8-hour shifts to stand watch. Rain or shine, somebody sat out there guarding that junk. These poor shmucks were also responsible for every single one of those 5.56mm rounds on pain of death. It was ghastly duty to be rightfully dreaded. Be all you can be …

To make things worse, they had MREs to eat. Though basically tolerable to humans, the GI-issue meals are apparently like crack cocaine for feral pigs. In short order these massive European swine would wander inside the wire looking for scraps and run the two Privates up on top of the ammo crates. If nothing else, it was just embarrassing. This is when Tim had an epiphany.

He called home and had his mom ship him a proper slingshot. The next time he was on rocket duty, Tim carefully sprinkled his MRE bits around as bait. A modest herd of the hideous beasts showed up in short order, led by a behemoth 400-lb. monster boar.

Tim climbed up on the crates and waited until the big gentleman was right underneath him. Placing the slingshot perhaps half an inch above his massive hairy head, Tim drew back his ball bearing as far as he was able and let fly, catching the creature right between the ears.

All four legs went in four different directions. The big pig finally wobbled to his feet with great difficulty and promptly ran afoul of the concertina wire, squealing like, well, an enraged pig. Tim then opened up on his mates.

A grand time was had by all. Unless you were a pig, in which case it all kind of sucked. All the swine survived, but they were harshly reminded of which animal had the biggest brain. The following day every Private in the unit was on the horn asking for slingshots. There was also not nearly so much griping about the duty roster


Barnett sells .38-caliber steel ball bearings that
perfectly complement their extensive line of slingshots.

Tastes Like Chicken …

I did a couple of military survival schools back in the day. I graduated from each, fit and lean, ready to sally forth and live off the land. In my prime, I would eat anything once. Some of the protein I procured in the wild like arctic grayling and Alaskan ptarmigan was truly fine eating. Some other stuff, however, not so much.

I was an Army helicopter pilot and whenever we flew off base we each carried a survival ruck onboard the aircraft. These rucksacks included cold weather gear, sleeping bags, and similar stuff to help keep body and soul together should we ever be forced down someplace dreadful. I also kept a folding slingshot in mine.

During one particular month-long field exercise, I was wandering about with my slingshot shooting stuff and happened upon a particularly dimwitted ground squirrel. The entire state of Alaska is covered in a patina of the furry little rascals.

I eased up close and terminated the fellow with a well-placed ball bearing. I then cleaned him with my survival knife and jury-rigged a makeshift spit over the Yukon stove in my ops tent. By now a crowd had gathered.

Once the rangy beast seemed adequately toasted, I carved off a chunk and tossed it back. It did not taste at all like chicken. I would more accurately liken it to roasted rat or perhaps a smoked turd, though I obviously had no ready frame of reference for either comparison. The culinary experience was unequivocally horrible. Zero stars. Would not recommend. It was then I fully realized the true extent of my epically poor judgment.

I was going to be out in the woods for quite some while yet, and roasted ground squirrel leaves a mean aftertaste. I ate cocoa beverage powder dry and swished out my pie hole with reconstituted MRE orange drink. Nothing really helped. Suffice to say, it took a minute to get that greasy nasty taste out of my mouth.

Nobody else was stupid enough to follow my lead, and I still had to hump the carcass way outside the company area lest we all be molested in our sleep by inquisitive grizzly bears. All in all, it was a cheap lesson, I suppose. However, it also makes a lovely segue into a discussion of the coolest slingshot in the entire world.


The Barnett King Rat Havoc slingshot weighs about
nothing and folds up into a small handy package.

The Rat Race

Barnett made their name in crossbows. In fact, the words “Barnett Crossbows” just naturally go together much as might Post-It Note, Polaroid Camera, Scotch Tape, and Corrupt Politician. However, Barnett makes lots of other cool stuff as well.

Barnett offers a wide selection of both compound and recurve bows as well as some shockingly advanced slingshots. To a guy inured to the costs of high-end firearms, their products are also very reasonably priced. A top-end compound crossbow will set you back about $700. A really nice mid-range unit is maybe half that. By contrast, the King Rat Havoc slingshot is $25. This wouldn’t buy you a decent box of ammo in many places.

Legit, have you shopped for groceries lately? $25 won’t get you bupkis these days. The Barnett King Rat Havoc slingshot is arguably the best-spent $25 in the entire world.

The Havoc is awash with cool bells and whistles. There is a folding brace with a skeletonized diamond-knurled grip and soft foam wrist pad. Built-in vibration dampeners add smoothness and consistency. Magnum power bands maximize performance, while the brushed leather pouch sports a centering hole for consistency shot-to-shot. The gray and black color scheme also looks cool. I should be above such vapid stuff, but, lamentably, it appears I am not.

There are actually two different sighting systems. A built-in fiber optic rig is an integral part of the grip. There is also a rotating sight affixed to one limb of the device. This clever widget includes three different fiber optic aiming points calibrated for three different ranges. Once you take its measure, the Havoc shoots plenty straight.


Practical Tactical

Barnett will sell you 200 rounds of slingshot ammo for $15. My powder scale tells me each steel ball bearing weighs 54.5 grains. My average for a five-shot string was about 175 feet per second. This gives you a whopping four foot-pounds of energy. By way of comparison, a low-end .22 Short is about 10 times that. However, as any proper ballistician will tell you, the numbers only tell part of the story.

This is not the tool you want if you are trying to bag a record Kodiak brown bear. However, if you just want to put the thump on a ground squirrel, ptarmigan, or bunny at close range, the King Rat Havoc is a fine choice. It would honestly give any sensible human being pause as well should you be pressed into using it for defensive purposes.

I found that I could loft my ball bearings out to about 100 meters. Personally my maximum effective range was about 20 meters. However, my steel shot buried itself so deep into my archery target I couldn’t get it out without tearing the thing up.

Beautifully executed, monotonously effective for its intended purpose, and an undeniable bargain, the Barnett King Rat Havoc slingshot is a critical part of any proper survival loadout.

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