A Crossbow That Thinks It’s a Rifle
By Will Dabbs, MD
The year was 52 BC and 50,000 Roman legionaries laid siege to the beleaguered city of Alesia. Facing four times their number under the command of a charismatic Gallic general named Vercingetorix, the Roman legions huddled within their encircling defensive works, facing threats from both inside and outside the city.
The Gauls had numbers and they enjoyed the morale advantage coming from fighting for home, family and freedom. However, the Roman legions were under the command of one Gaius Julius Caesar, and one of his principal lieutenants was Marcus Antonius. History calls him Marc Antony. When the killing was done it was generalship and technology overcoming brute force.
The Versa-Draw system charges the R9 via a detchable crank handle.
One of the several wonder weapons helping win the day for the legions was the ballista. The ballista used the power of wrapped animal sinew to propel a large spear profound distances. This fearsome engine of war was ultimately scaled down to become the man-portable crossbow.
Mastering the English longbow took a lifetime of training and practice. The strength and skill necessary to produce war-worthy archers mandated a cultural investment. By contrast, conscript soldiers could wield the medieval crossbow effectively. These same user-friendly attributes make the Ravin R9 a uniquely formidable weapon today.
Crossbows of various flavors clutter the landscape at your typical outdoors store. What makes the Ravin R9 so fundamentally different is its aggressive application of Information Age engineering and technology. The R9 takes crossbow accuracy, power and performance into realms previously known only to firearms.
You can tell at a glance the Ravin R9 is fundamentally different from traditional crossbows. The R9’s patented HeliCoil technology allows the prods of the bow to be arrayed parallel to the weapon’s axis rather than perpendicular as is the case with traditional crossbows. This gives the R9 an unprecedented 6″ axle-to-axle width making the bow both unnaturally powerful and remarkably compact.
A cam-driven design with helical grooves turn through a full 340 degrees allowing compound leverage to produce blistering velocities. The inspired frictionless flight system suspends both the string and the bolt above the rail for unprecedented accuracy. The Trac-Trigger cocking system is one of the most inspired mechanical contrivances I’ve encountered since engineering school.
Sundry guards reliably keep your fingers away from the scary bits during the firing sequence.
Yes, that bow “string” can nip a finger right off if you’re reckless!
Information Age Innovation
This American-made product is unique in the marketplace. The layout is comfortable and effective, while the robust camouflage finish speaks to its capacity to hunt. All that pales, however, to the extraordinary Trac-Trigger and Versa-Draw.
The Trac-Trigger is a moveable trigger module sliding along the top rail of the R9. To charge the bow, you press a release button allowing the trigger module to slide forward until it snaps around the bowstring. This module is connected to the internal ratcheting Versa-Draw system via a heavy connecting strap. Once the trigger module is engaged you use the attached crank to winch the trigger module into its firing state. The Versa-Draw system requires no more than a 10-pound winching force to ultimately manage an absolutely unholy draw weight. Once thusly cocked the Trac-Trigger requires a paltry 2-pound pressure to release. Precision rifles wish they had such a divine target trigger. The Versa-Draw system allows the R9 to be safely and easily de-cocked as well.
The cocking crank is held in place with a rare earth magnet. This appendage stows underneath the bow alongside a quiver containing three spare bolts. It takes me maybe 30 seconds to reload.
Ravin’s HeliCoil technology allows the prods to be oriented parallel rather than perpendicular to
the axis of the weapon, contributing to the ultra-powerful design.
My standard archery target doesn’t even slow the bolts down. Plan on either stacking a pair of targets back to back or digging your bolts out of your backstop. The included crossbow optic is meticulously calibrated for the bow’s performance and makes range estimations and holdovers simple and easy. Dial in the velocity of your bolts and the optic compensates accordingly.
The R9 is breathtakingly powerful. There is a generous guard to keep your fingers out of the string. Put your digits in the wrong spot and this monster of a crossbow will snip them cleanly off.
The company claims 3″ groups at 100 yards and my testing bore that out. Firing from a rest in low-wind conditions the R9 really does deliver rifle-like performance, quieter than any suppressed firearm. The entire rig weighs a paltry 6.9 pounds and pushes a 400-gr. bolt to 390 feet per second.
I’ve squeezed triggers for fun and money for half a century and I’ve never run anything quite like this. My heart flutters over black rifles and combat handguns just as much as that of the next rabid gun nerd, but the R9 was indeed a fresh experience. Sleek, powerful, accurate, and cool — the Ravin R9 redefines the crossbow.