Designed with the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) philosophy, Excalibur recurve-style crossbows are uncomplicated in design. Everything has a purpose, and those features that don't are eliminated.
The pinnacle of Excalibur's crossbow line, the Equinox is claimed to achieve 350 fps using a 350-grain, 20-inch-long bolt. An Easton Professional chronograph verified the claim, and then some, averaging 351 fps for 10 consecutive shots with a heavier 366.4-grain bolt. Attaining this velocity with recurve-style limbs requires them to be longer and stouter than those of conventional compound crossbows. Tip to tip the Equinox measures 36 inches, making it less maneuverable than more compact limb designs-one of the few disadvantages of recurve-style limbs. Although it weighs less than compound crossbows, its draw weight is 225 pounds, or roughly 40 pounds more than most compound models offering similar performance levels; however, using the rope-cocking aid or "Crankaroo" makes drawing relatively easy, as well as aligning the string consistently for optimal accuracy.
In addition to its simplicity, there are fewer moving parts and no timing issues to affect accuracy. Disassembly for storage or transport is fast and easy. Maintenance is also simple; the string can be replaced in seconds with the aid of a simple rope stringer. The Equinox's design also allows the shooter to de-cock the crossbow by hand. Dissipator pads in the limb pockets help reduce noise and vibration. Nevertheless, it must be stated that the Equinox was the loudest crossbow we tested.
The Equinox features a well-designed, ambidextrous, synthetic thumbhole stock with an extra-thick fore-end and a high comb-perfect for using an optic. The stock and limbs, and-new for 2009-the barrel, feature the Realtree AP HD Kolorfusion finish. To make cocking and holding the crossbow easier, the Equinox was designed with a shorter, 38.4-inch overall length; however, there's still a 16.5-inch powerstroke. The crossbow weighs only 9 pounds (with optic and quiver), even with an anodized aluminum mainframe and riser. When used with a sling-by means of the attached swivel studs-it is easy to carry.
The Equinox's trigger is reportedly factory pre-set at 3 pounds; a Lyman Electronic Digital Trigger Pull Gauge reported an average of 3 pounds, 6.8 ounces with minimal creep. The sole safety is manual in operation, requiring the user to actively engage it after cocking. According to Excalibur personnel, the manual design is stronger and safer than automatic designs. Come to think of it, it's no different than a firearm. After loading a firearm, the first thing a shooter does is engage the safety.
Excalibur's "Lite Stuff" package contains everything necessary to get started. A particularly nice item is the Excalibur's four-bolt quiver, which is easily removed when desired and mounts parallel to the mainframe for rapid access to bolts. With the "Vari-Zone" Multi-Range Scope, you simply dial in the bow's velocity on the traditional magnification band, sight in and the marks will correspond at various ranges. It's simple, and accurate. Other items in the package include four FireBolt bolts with field points and rope cocking aid, among other things.
At the range, the Excalibur Equinox performed admirably. The average for three consecutive, three-shot groups, using the "Vari-Zone" scope at 40 yards from a Caldwell Lead Sled (for consistency), measured 1.69 inches. Incredible, to say the least.