July 07, 2023
Excalibur is one of the original, highly respected businesses in the crossbow game, or as my kids might say, they are an OG! Excalibur is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and has built its extremely solid reputation by manufacturing durable, no-nonsense recurve crossbows that fill a niche in the market — crossbows without cams.
Despite the somewhat old-school nature of its recurve design, Excalibur has refined its unique platform many times over the decades and continues to incorporate a host of new-age technologies.
Among several models in the company's Assassin Series is the new-for-2023 Assassin Extreme, featuring Excalibur’s integrated Charger Crank system, Micro High-Output Express limbs, super-compact riser and a stock unit that is home to a contoured pistol grip, flared foregrip, raised cheek piece and bolt-on butt plate. Safety wings, manual trigger safety and an anti-dry fire mechanism work to ensure safety, while the R.E.D.S. suppressors aim to tame the shot.
Control, Comfort, Connection
Excalibur’s stock unit serves as the shooter/bow interface and is critical to the overall comfort, fit and control of the crossbow. To that end, the Assassin Extreme is outfitted with an integrated stock that includes a pistol grip and flared foregrip that offer excellent control while the shape, contours and rubber inlays add comfort. Built-in safety wings above the foregrip help keep the shooter’s fingers below the flight deck and out of harm’s way, while the fixed-position, raised cheek piece situates the shooter’s face/eye for optimal scope alignment.
A bolt-on butt stock sets the length of pull (distance from butt plate to trigger) and offers ribbing for stability and control. It also works with the core stock to accommodate and facilitate the integrated Charger Crank. This ambidextrous crank is silent, whether cocking or de-cocking, and requires only 12 pounds of force to fully cock the bow. When starting to cock the bow, there is a manually engaged braking system that allows the user to stop at any point during the cocking process without the crank handle spinning freely. Excalibur does include a safety strap for the crank handle, since the handle can spin freely during the de-cocking procedure. The crank handle is removable and can be stored on either side of the stock. A key advantage of the Charger Crank is the consistency it delivers to the string’s cocked position and string alignment shot after shot, resulting in enhanced accuracy. The molded polymer stock unit is available in two finish options: Flat Dark Earth or Realtree Excape camouflage.
The Assassin Extreme’s shooting platform starts with a black anodized aluminum rail that connects the bow to the stock, while also housing the floating trigger box and scope mount. A release allows the shooter to move the trigger box down the rail until it meets and engages the string with an audible click. The manual trigger safety can be engaged at that point. As the Charger is cranked, the trigger box moves back up the rail and into the docking station, making an audible click when it locks in place at full draw. When a compatible bolt is properly loaded, it disengages the anti-dry fire mechanism, allowing the crossbow to be fired once the ambidextrous trigger safety is also moved to the fire position.
To de-cock, you position the crank, add a little pressure, release the internal brake system and then unlock the floating trigger housing. It is important to be ready when you do so, as there will be instant force on the crank handle, which is why you should always use the safety strap.
A bolt-retention device, which applies consistent pressure to the bolt, is bolted to the top of the trigger box. Excalibur’s Pro Shot, 2-Stage Trigger was designed to mirror the feel and performance of match-grade rifle triggers. The Pro Shot features an adjustable, lightweight pull (advertised at 3 pounds) and crisp break.
The bow portion of the Assassin Extreme features a minimalistic, black anodized aluminum riser that is attached to the rail with a single bolt. A dished-out area of the riser in line with the flight path allows broadheads to be drawn into the structure. A set of the Company’s R.E.D.S. Suppressors are threaded directly into the riser and use rubber tips to engage the string when the bow is fired to significantly reduce shock and vibration. A large, rubber-wrapped and contoured foot stirrup is attached to the front of the riser.
Limb pockets are built directly into the riser and work with the limb bolt to manage and position each of the recurve-style Micro High-Output Express limbs. The 12.5-inch limbs are built with continuous, uncut carbon glass fibers through a layup process for enhanced energy storage and power output. Limbs are completed with Excalibur’s indestructible Armor Tips. The BCY DynaFlight 97 string is 26.125 inches long.
What’s in the Box?
The Assassin Extreme comes as a complete kit that includes the crossbow with integrated Charger Crank system and R.E.D.S. String Suppressors; 4-bolt quiver; four 16.5-inch Quill bolts with 100-grain fieldpoints; Tact-100 illuminated scope with mounting rings; and owner’s manual.
A few things jumped out at us while testing the Assassin Extreme, starting with the overall look and form factor. Despite its recurve limb design, the Assassin Extreme is compact and maneuverable, and the rig looks great in the Flat Dark Earth finish.
Another key feature is the silent Charger Crank system that worked flawlessly in our testing. The only suggested improvement to that system would be an internal brake that operates during de-cocking as well as during cocking, eliminating the possibility of a free-wheeling crank handle while letting the bow down manually.
As for comfort, the Assassin Extreme’s flared foregrip, pistol grip and raised cheek piece offer excellent control and a good fit while shouldering and aiming the crossbow that also produced good accuracy.
- Manufacturer: Excalibur Crossbow, 888-689-1289; excaliburcrossbow.com
- Model: Assassin Extreme
- Safety Features: Anti-dry fire, flared foregrip, integrated safety wings, manual trigger safety
- Riser: Aluminum, black anodized, integrated limb pockets
- Overall Length: 32 inches
- Width (limb tip to limb tip): 25 inches (at rest), 20.5 inches (cocked)
- Advertised Weight: 7.45 pounds (crossbow only)
- String: BCY DynaFlight 97, 26.125 inches
- Limbs: Micro High-Output Express
- Draw Weight: 400 pounds, reduced to 12 pounds via integrated Charger Crank
- Power Stroke: 15 inches
- Stock/Forearm: Injection molded polymer
- Finish: Flat Dark Earth and Realtree Excape
- Advertised Speed: 400 fps with a 350-grain bolt
- MSRP: $1,399.99
- Comments: Extremely sturdy, easy to cock, quiet and fast!
Speed & Energy
- Bolt Speed: 378.7 fps (420-grain bolt), 352.0 fps (500-grain bolt), 408.3 fps (408.4-grain Mfr. bolt)
- Kinetic Energy: 133.8 ft./lbs. (420-grain bolt), 137.6 ft./lbs. (500-grain bolt), 131.4 ft./lbs. (408.4-grain Mfr. bolt)
- Maximum Width: 25.38 inches (at rest); 20.63 inches (cocked)
- Overall Length: 32.25 inches (with stirrup); 27.25 inches (without stirrup)
- Mass Weight: 7.5 pounds (crossbow only); 9.3 pounds (with accessories)
- Average Trigger Pull: 1.48 pounds
- Length of Pull: 13.8 inches
- Average Shot Noise: 111.5 dBA with 420-grain bolt; 110.7 dBA with 500-grain bolt
- Maximum Shot Deviation at 35 Yards: .625-inch