Pioneer Air Bow Review
Okay, for starters, let me say I am in no way affiliated with Pioneer, Crossman, or any manufacturer(s). This is a completely unbiased review of something I purchased because I HAD TO HAVE THIS TOY! That being said, THIS MACHINE IS NOT A TOY!!!!
So I first stumbled across this jewel while trying to do some bargain shopping for some needed gear. I was about to leave for a pretty serious qualifier and state rankings for open archery classes. I needed to re-fletch some arrows, and realized I didn’t have many fletchings left. Then this precision mastery appeared on my screen. I was impressed by the specs listed, but like anything new, very skeptical. I waited a bit. Read reviews after reviews. Watched You-tube videos. Did some homework. Financially, the stars didn’t align for me to own it immediately either, so I waited for that as well. I finally was able to shoot one. Well holy smokes. I was hooked. We’ll get into that a little later. Before I go any further, here’s the listed specs from Benjamin.
Arrow Velocity Up to 459 fps
Action Bolt Action
Length 33.5 in.
Product Weight 7.0 lbs.
Barrel Material Steel
Camo Pattern Camo
Front Sight None
Mounting Rail Picatinny
Trigger Two Stage
Sling Mounts Included Yes
Sling Mount Type Rear Post / Front Post
Stock Material Synthetic
So, I got to shoot one. I was hooked. What a great way to sling an arrow so quick! So, I did a little more playing. Of course it was a personal friend of mine who owned it, as well as another shooting enthusiast, so it wasn’t hard to convince him to let this happen. He is a bit more affluent than I am, so he has all the accessories and ALL the gadgets and gizmos too. We had to test them all. He also has a dedicated, measured legal range in his back yard, which helps as well. So, we put this thing through the paces. I set up my chronograph, and off to testing we commenced. First thing we did was fully charge the air tank. At a full charge (3000 PSI), it says you get 8 shots out of it. Not exactly true. You can fire more than 8. However, thanks to the modern marvels of science the chronograph showed us why they say 8. After the 8th arrow/bolt, the feet per second does drop SLIGHTLY. And by slightly, I mean SLIGHTLY. We lost between 2 to 6 feet per second on the next 4 arrows. The next drop was a little bit more drastic, at 11 feet per second for the next 6 arrows. Then it completely fell out to where they were barely getting stuck in the target bag at 20 yards. So, at close range, you can get 18 arrows off with a nominal loss of speed and still be potentially lethal.
We went a little further. So we refilled the internal tank. Stretched the target out at 100 yards. It didn’t quite make it. It may be able to do it with modifications, but I don’t advise that. We backed it up to 80 yards. With no wind, I was hitting shot groups VERY accurately at 80 yards. After dialing in the scope (that comes with it), consistent bullseyes. To the point where I had to aim away to avoid destruction of arrows. At that point, 8 shots was maximum to get them to have any penetration. After that the penetration was barely enough to get them to stick in the bag. We backed the target bag back some more, and at 60 yards it’s deadly.
We took it another step further. Got in my tree stand. Set up a 3D target. What accuracy! Even from an elevated position, IN THE WIND, still precision. It was very impressive. I had to buy one.
So, here’s the secret behind it. Using compressed air it, pushes the hollow arrow through the air. Pretty nifty huh? Smart idea. It’s fairly effective too. There had to be a lot of research and design on this one. Also, the arrows are helical fletched, which definitely allows the flight of the arrow to be as productive as possible. The arrows are quite light, but seemingly strong especially for carbon fiber hollow arrows. They come with 100 grain field points, and with a 100 grain broad head, they fly nicely. Another feature of engineering.
The trigger is crisp, the whole machine is user friendly. It’s not unbearably heavy, it’s not cumbersome or unwieldy. It’s “bull-pup” design allows for quick target acquisition. The scope provided is a multi-retical style, allowing for yardage calculation in your field of vision. It’s not a horrible piece of glass. As everyone knows, most of the scopes that come with the weapon are usually the cheapest pile of trash. Not in this case. Granted, it’s no show stopper by any means. However it will get the job done.
So, it does what’s advertised. It is legal in some places to hunt with. It can kill an animal. Here’s the con’s.
It is louder than I expected. It isn’t a shotgun going off, but it’s definitely noticeable when you fire it.
The whole pumping scenario. I tried the tank, and the hand pump. The tank is OK at best, the best honestly is the pump. However, it’s a workout to get a full charge. Even if the hand pumping is the price of admission, it’s well worth that ticket.
The price of the arrows. Currently, you can only get THEIR arrows. Due to the design and necessity for the seal at the back of the arrow in order to fire it, you are forced to get them directly from them. I personally like cutting, fletching, and “building” my own arrows. That’s not just for cost purposes, but because it’s enjoyable to me. Not having the ability to build my own poses a down side to me.
The scope could use some upgrading. It’s limited, but functional.
As a non-believer of picatanny rails and traditional military guy, they do tend to drive me nuts. I’d personally eliminate mine if it was possible. People tend to put too many “doo-dads” on the rails because they can. Sometimes (in my opinion) simple and functional can be better long term.
Stickers. So, spend all this money on this accurate and precision machine (cause in all reality that’s what it is). In order to make it camo, they give you a sticker kit. Stickers don’t stay sticky for long, and leave room for error. I personally get irritated when things aren’t “perfect”, so I had someone do them for me because I would have been flipping out and re-doing it repeatedly just for “perfection” that after one day of shooting (today actually) and them falling off mid-shoot. They could have done something a little better than a sticker to be honest. This leads me to my next point.
Price. It is a bit salty. However, I must say worth the money. I’ve seen them all over the spectrum of price point. Granted, it’s not one of my precision sniper rifles I own. However, it is pretty much as accurate with a different projectile. So I see the idea behind the cost, but there should be some relevance to justify why some are so ridiculously different than others. I feel like I got a good deal on mine, and it was actually not the cheapest, but certainly not the most expensive.
Covers the bases, and it actually fits in an AR style hard case quite well. The only thing that doesn’t fit is the arrows/bolts, and the pump or tank (whichever you decide to use).
All in all, this is one fine precision machine. I suggest it if you want the luxury of archery season and can’t draw a normal bow. I suggest it for fun target shooting. I suggest it if you want to shoot something different. I also suggest it if you are into another way to launch an arrow. It is legal for hunting in some states and areas. PLEASE CHECK YOUR LOCAL LAWS BEFORE USING IT FOR HUNTING ANY GAME!!!!! IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE FOR THE LAW!!!!! BE SAFE WITH THIS, IT IS NOT A TOY!!!!
Be safe out there, and shoot straight!!!
-Bill Vahle, Fall Obsession Field Staff