Field Evaluation: "Exocet 200" from Excalibur Crossbow By Keith Dunlap - Field Evaluator
Nov 2, 2008 - 6:00:09 AM
With a vision to produce a crossbow that exceeded the "crappy" quality of available crossbows in the late 1970s, Bill and Kath Troubridge began Excalibur and started producing crossbows in their home basement in 1983. They aim to provide crossbow hunters with the very finest equipment and service available in the crossbow industry.
The product I evaluated, the Excalibur Exocet 200 crossbow, is their oldest running model and has been revitalized in 2005. They've added their new 200 lb. forward mounted limb system to the Exocet 200, giving it more punch for the same power stroke. It delivers up to 330 fps of velocity and 15% more energy than the original Exocet. This should provide flatter trajectories and increased knock down power.
The stock is lightweight and durable composite polymer or glass filled nylon. The limbs are made of fiberglass. Both are finished in Realtree Hardwood™ camouflage using the new "Kolorfusion" process for a more realistic and detailed camo pattern. The Exocet 200 comes with an ambidextrous manual safety, sling studs, a fiber-optic peep style sight, and is drilled and tapped to accept optional scope and quiver mounts.
Excalibur also offers "The Right Stuff" accessory package for those who are just getting started in the world of crossbow hunting. They included The Right Stuff Scope accessory package with the Exocet 200 they sent to me for evaluation. This accessory package was a very nice addition to the Exocet 200 for me I am relatively new to the world of crossbows. This complete accessory package includes the "Vari-Zone" multi-range scope 2-4 x 32mm, scope mount, scope rings, quiver bracket, Excalibur 4-arrow Realtree Hardwoods™ quiver, serving wax, excel string, rope cocking aid, crossbow stringer, (6) Firebolt arrows w/vanes and (6) 150 grain target points and (6) 150 grain Boltcutter broadheads.
Let's take a closer look at the Excalibur Exocet 200.
The Excalibur Exocet 200 crossbow
The package I received from Excalibur included the Exocet 200 crossbow, and the Right Stuff Scope accessory package complete with everything I needed to set the crossbow up and to evaluate it. I should mention that Excalibur includes an instructional DVD with their crossbows that is excellent for first time crossbow users. I give Excalibur "a big thumbs up" for taking time to create such a detailed video. In my opinion, this says something about the quality of customer service at Excalibur. Upon a thorough examination of all of the included components, I did not find any defects or quality issues with any of the Exocet 200 components, nor with any of the accessories included in the Right Stuff Scope accessory package. The fit and finish of the Exocet 200 was top notch and I have nothing negative to say about the quality of the product thus far in my evaluation.
The Excalibur Vari-Zone scope with 10-50 yard aiming points
As I mentioned, the instructional DVD contains complete and detailed instructions on assembly of the Exocet 200 and all of the Right Stuff accessories included with the package. I found the DVD extremely helpful and easy to follow. Excalibur thought of everything a first time crossbow user would need to get started, and it's all included in the instructional DVD. It took approximately 30 minutes from start to finish for me to assemble the Exocet 200 and the included accessories, including the scope mount and scope, quiver and FireBolt Arrows. I was careful to follow the instructional DVD step by step to complete the initial assembly and setup. I was ready to continue my evaluation…on to the testing.
At only 6.4 lbs of mass weight, the Exocet 200 was comfortable to hold and shoot
Function/Shootability: To begin my testing of the Exocet 200, I sighted in at 20 yards, using the center of the crosshairs on the Vari-Zone scope. I did not use a rest of any sort during this phase of my testing, as I was more concerned, at this point, with the feel of the crossbow using offhand shots into my Block 4x4 Pro target. Being relatively new to the crossbow world, I opted not to express my manliness in attempting to cock the string with my bare hands…more power to those who do so.
I opted to use the cocking aid included in the Right Stuff accessory package. This made simple work of cocking the string perfectly straight each time. I should note that if you happen to cock the string off to one side of center or the other, this could dramatically affect the accuracy of your shot. The cocking aid eliminates this problem by using a rope with two handles, where the rope is hooked onto the string at both side of the crossbow deck. When you pull evenly on both handles, the rope slips easily through pulleys that aid in the cocking process. I found this cocking aid a must for me, as I have no desire to strain my back while cocking a crossbow string.
Once I was more comfortable with the Exocet 200, I continued shooting at various distances and from various positions (sitting, prone, standing, etc). I had a blast shooting this crossbow. It was very comfortable to hold offhanded, and the 3 lb. trigger pull was not excessive, nor did it affect my shots (no pulling off or flinching). I found the location of the quiver and FireBolt Arrows to be convenient and quick to detach and place another FireBolt Arrows for the next shot. The stock was comfortable against my cheek and the weight of the crossbow was not noticeably heavy during my shots.
The cocking aid is simple to use and makes easy work of loading the Exocet 200
Shot Accuracy: The next phase of my evaluation included testing for shot accuracy. This test is subjective to my abilities as a crossbow shooter, which is novice at best, so the results here are relative. I used a bench rest for this test to steady the Exocet 200 in order to measure consistent results. I repeatedly shot groups of three FireBolt Arrows from various distances using the Vari-Zone scope (see figure 2 above). I was impressed with my accuracy, given my abilities. I was able to consistently group three arrows into a 2 inch orange dot from distances out to 40 yards. At 50 yards, my groupings opened up a bit, but still satisfactory to put a killing shot on a whitetail from that distance.
Noise Level: I'm a bowhunter, and so my comparison for noise from the Exocet 200 is solely based upon my compound bow experience…so take it for what it's worth. I found the Exocet 200 to be noisier than most compound bows on the market today, but I understand that this is the nature of the crossbow, and is generally accepted by crossbow hunters.
The advertised speed of the Exocet 200 is above average, at 330 fps, and this can compensate for some of the ducking you might experience when you shoot something with a bit more noise at a whitetail. Excalibur does offer some suggestions for eliminating the vibration noise during the shot. They include these in their FAQ section of their website. For starters, Excalibur has added Dissipator Bars on the limbs of the Exocet 200. These Dissipator Bars reduce noise and vibration and do not compromise speed since they do not attach to the limbs themselves.
Other options may cause speed deterioration, so weigh the cost vs. benefit for these options. The Dissipator Bars actually install over the top of the limbs and the riser of the crossbow, and they act as a cushion for the limbs and the riser. This dampens the vibration felt during the shot.
Groupings from 40 yards were less than 2 inches
Specifications as Tested
Overall length: 38.5"
Mass Weight: 6.4 lbs.
Arrow (bolt) length: 20"
Arrow weight minimum: 350 grain
Velocity: 330 fps using 350 grain arrow
Draw Weight: 200 lb.
Power Stroke: 15.5"
3 lb. pull trigger
Sling studs included
Fiber optic peep style sight included
Drilled and tapped for accept optional scope and quiver mounts
Sound and Recoil Suppression System - dissipator bars
Finish/Camo Pattern: Realtree Hardwoods™
Retail Price - Crossbow: $640
Retail Price - The Right Stuff Scope Accessory Package: $370
I'm a diehard bowhunter…and while the Exocet 200 crossbow from Excalibur will not take the place of my trusted compound bow, I had a great time shooting it and enjoyed the accuracy and ease of use during my evaluation. I would like to see increased hunting opportunities in my home state of PA to take advantage of this product in future hunting seasons.
We currently have limited regions that permit the use of crossbows during archery hunting season, but I hope the great state of PA expands the crossbow opportunities. I would definitely take advantage of hunting whitetails with the Exocet 200. One bonus from using the Exocet 200…I did not have a sore shoulder after shooting it for an extended period of time.
Pros: accurate, fast, fun to shoot
Cons: noisy, average person requires a cocking aid to cock the string at 200 lb draw weight