May 02, 2017
By Jon E. Silks
Every year at the Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show, a few new products seem to generate most of the buzz on the show floor and social media. This year, much of the chatter revolved around Ravin Crossbows' unique rigs. While the company may be new, its leaders, engineers and marketing personnel are industry veterans I have known for years. They have all come together under the Ravin banner because they believe it will change the crossbow game. Let's take a look!
Ravin brings two models to market for 2017 — the R9 and R15, both of which are built around the company's HeliCoil Technology. Our test bow, the R9, also features the Frictionless Flight System, Versa-Draw cocking system, Trac-Trigger firing system, an adjustable bolt rest, ambidextrous operation and numerous safety features.
A New Twist
The cornerstone of Ravin's new platform is HeliCoil Technology, which is truly unique in its design and delivery. A bracket part way up the non-traditional rail anchors the cam system cables, two on each side, thereby eliminating the need to feed cables through a slot in the rail as seen with most crossbow systems. Each cable comes straight off the cam and terminates at the bracket so there is no angle or pressure on the cable, cams or limbs, which plays a part in allowing such a narrow axle-to-axle measurement. This, along with the fact that the cables do not cross, also eliminates cable wear.
The key to the system and the reason for its name is a helical, spiraling groove that coils the cables away from the top and bottom of the cams. This means the cables do not travel on only one plane. Thus, they won't overwrap themselves during the draw, allowing for cam rotation reaching 340 degrees, where 270 degrees is closer to typical. This
extra rotation is credited with generating the advertised speed of 390 fps with a 400-grain bolt.
Ravin's Trac-Trigger Firing System (TTFS), Frictionless Flight System (FFS) and Versa-Draw Cocking System combine to create one of the most unique crossbow configurations in memory.
The patented TTFS features a mobile trigger unit (carriage/sled) that houses the anti-dry fire unit, trigger safety and a portion of the trigger mechanism. The entire trigger housing detaches from its docking station at the rear-most position and slides along the non-traditional rail until it meets with the string where it clasps directly to the center of the bowstring. The clasp automatically engages and produces an audible sound when dropped from some distance or is pushed into the string at which time the anti-dry fire and safety features are automatically activated. The rail and trigger clasp combine to ensure perfectly repeatable hookups and a balanced draw position.
Now it's time to draw the string back with the tethered trigger unit using Ravin's ambidextrous Versa-Draw system, which allows for both cocking and de-cocking using the spool thumb release. The dual spool ratchet and ambidextrous crank handle connections are integrated into the carbon-fiber polymer stock. A rare earth magnet in the crank handle helps secure it during the cocking process — good idea! A total of 11 crank revolutions return the trigger unit to its fully drawn
position, where the total trigger mechanism is automatically engaged.
The system cannot be overdrawn, as a built-in clutch slips and lets the shooter know the draw is complete. It is worth noting that only a Ravin bolt is to be used, as the nock is designed to clip onto the string in a more traditional style and the tips disengage the anti-dry fire mechanism. A tapered nock and receiver ensure precise nock positioning every shot. The nock style is also necessary for the Frictionless Flight System to work.
There is no rail in the traditional sense, as it does not serve to cradle the bolt along its entire length as in other systems. Instead, it is simply used to give structure and guide the trigger unit as described above. This leaves the bolt and string positioned above the rail with the bolt anchored only by the nock and an adjustable roller rest at the front of the rig. The Frictionless Flight System is advertised to enhance downrange accuracy and eliminate rail and string friction.
The Ravin's stock is made of a lightweight, carbon-fiber polymer and finished in Predator Brown Deception Camo. It sports overmold inlays on the pistol grip and foregrip for comfortable handling. A butt plate and raised cheek piece enhance fit while a ribbed strut that spans between the top and bottom of the stock serves as a carry handle.
A Ravin scope is included with your purchase, which features a 20- 100-yard, speed-matched reticle that can be illuminated in red or green. Built on a 30mm tube, this scope also has flip-up covers. In addition, Ravin provides a quiver with mounting bracket, six bolts with system-specific nocks, 100-grain fieldpoints and removable cocking handle.
At the Range
Besides the good balance and maneuverability resulting from the super-compact footprint, the Ravin's core technologies proved to be effective in producing advertised speeds, ease of cocking (only 10 pound effort required) and accuracy. The two-pound trigger proved crisp for a crossbow, with little travel before release.
I really like the idea of no cable or string wear, and the bolt being controlled by the nock-to-string connection and bolt rest only. I highly recommend the product spotlight and instructional videos available on Ravin's website.