Field Test: Excalibur Micro Suppressor Crossbow Package

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posted on November 8, 2017
excaliburmicrosuppressor_lead.jpg

We put the Micro Suppressor crossbow through the wringer. How’d it do? Read on.

Few names in crossbows are as recognizable as is Excalibur. Since 1983, the company has manufactured distinctive, recurve-style bows built on the premise that simplicity and durability trump frills. No arguing here. Capturing the attention and purse strings of consumers, the Micro 335, which debuted in 2015, set a new precedent for power and performance from a compact platform. The Micro 355 then usurped that position. For 2017, Excalibur Crossbows further improved the Micro 355 and, in the process, designated it the Micro Suppressor.

Science of Sound ... and Success
Sound is a form of energy caused by vibration through mediums. Moreover, the greater the energy of the sound wave (and thus amplitude), the louder—or more intense—the sound. Not unlike other crossbows, the Suppressor produces considerable vibration during firing. And why shouldn’t it? The recurve-style limbs, which provide an at-rest, tip-to-tip length of 24¾”, have a draw weight of 280 lbs. Thanks to their stoutness, a 16½”, 350-gr. bolt can reach 343 f.p.s. with a 10.2” power stroke. Moreover, the 5.4-lb. crossbow has an overall length of only 31”.

To reduce vibration (and thus sound) on the Micro Suppressor, Excalibur created the Sound Deadening System. Included in the system are: an over-molded, rubberized foot stirrup and hold-down spring, as well as Ex-Shox, String Stars, and Recoil Anti-Vibration System (R.A.V.S.) silencers. Does it work? You bet! When shooting the Suppressor side-by-side with a 335, the difference in sound is dramatic. A sound level meter wasn’t necessary to confirm the finding, either; fellow archers at the range noted the vast discrepancy between the two models.

As with the Micro 355, the Suppressor features a compact, skeletonized, Realtree Xtra-clad, bull-pup-style stock with bilateral cheekpiece, rubber inserts in the pistol grip and fore-end, and an oversize trigger guard and finger guards. With the support hand properly positioned, placing one’s digits in the path of the sting would be difficult. Finger grooves on the pistol grip and ribs on the fore-end are a nice addition to further enhance purchase.

The sample Micro Suppressor’s single-stage trigger broke at 2 lbs., 15.8 ozs., and it exhibited slight creep. Overall, it was good trigger for a crossbow. For safety, the Micro Suppressor is equipped with a two-position manual safety and the Guardian Anti-Dry-Fire System. Concerning the latter, discharge is prevented unless a bolt is fully loaded, thereby inhibiting a bow-destroying dry fire.

A nice addition to the Micro Suppressor is an aluminum, three-sided Picatinny rail that attaches to the barrel forward of the fore-end. In addition to a trio of Picatinny rails sections to which accessories can be affixed, there’s a steel sling swivel stud than complements the integral one on the butt of the stock. Accompanying the crossbow is the three-bolt X-Hanger quiver, which is manufactured from lightweight carbon and is quickly and easily detached.

For sighting, the Micro Suppressor comes with an illuminated—red and green—Tact-Zone scope with 30-mm aluminum rings. By matching the crossbow’s actual velocity with your bolt/tip combination (confirmed with a chronograph) with that on the magnification band, you’ll having aiming points from 20 to 60 yds. The see-through, flip-up scope covers protect the lenses from rain and debris. Rounding out the package are three, flat-nock Quill bolts with 150-gr. field points and a rope-cocking aid.

Notes from the Range
Achieving high velocities from a compact crossbow with recurve-style limbs requires a hefty draw weight. At 280 lbs., the Suppressor’s draw weight is among the weightiest in the Excalibur lineup and across the entire industry. The provided rope-cocking aid reduces the draw burden by about 50 percent, but even that might not be enough for hunters with compromised strength, such as youth, elders, and those individuals with certain medical conditions. Fortunately, Excalibur Crossbows has the solution; the company’s C2 Crank Cocking Aid quickly attaches to the butt and drastically reduces the effort to cock the crossbow. According to the company, the cocking effort (handle force) on the C2 would be about 11 lbs. Additionally, the C2 ensures consistent string alignment, which is critical to attaining top-notch accuracy. I used the C2 throughout the testing phase.

To evaluate the Micro Suppressor’s accuracy, I shot three consecutive, three-shot groups from a sandbag rest at 30 and 40 yds. using the provided bolts with both 100- and 150-gr. tips affixed to them. The mean weight for the former was 352.5 grs., while that for the latter was 401.7 grs.

With the 100-gr. tip in place, at the closer distance the Micro Suppressor averaged 1.94”, while at 40 yds. that average increased to 2.55”. The heavier field point yielded slightly better averages; at 30 yds. the average was 1.57”, and at 40 yds. it was 2.30”. A single three-shot group was fired at 40 yds. using 22”-long Carbon Express Pile Driver bolts (with 100-gr. tips for an average weight of 485.9 grs.), and they produced a group measuring 1.78”. The Suppressor is, quite obviously, accurate enough for all big-game hunting tasks. According to a Competition Electronics chronograph, the average velocity with the 100-gr. tip was 331 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was 3. When equipped with a 150-gr. point, the velocity and standard deviation were 318 f.p.s. and 0 (less than 1, not truly zero), respectively. Once dialed in (with the actual velocity), hits out to 60 yds. were relatively easy.

In the hands, the Micro Suppressor is light and agile and, when combined with its small footprint, creates an ideal crossbow to use in tight quarters, such as a treestand, tripod stand, or smallish ground blind. It’ll make transport easier, too. Moreover, given the crossbow’s 5.4-lb. heft, it’s also easy to hold at-the-ready for extended periods—a boon to turkey hunters sans a ground blind. And, should you need to replace the string, thanks to the bow’s recurve limbs, it can be done without the aid of a bow press. The suggested retail price for the package is $1,299.99.

In sum, the Micro Suppressor offers hunters a small and quiet, yet powerful, crossbow that excels in a range of environs and situations for an equally diverse range of quarry. Come to think of it, what else could you want?

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