Crossbow Review: Southern Crossbow Rebel 350

January 21, 2014

Southern Crossbow's new Rebel 350 has several unique features not found in many modern crossbows. With its composite, full-length rubber-grip finished stock and no-wax rail, the Rebel 350 is well-balanced (at 10.8 lbs.) and comfortable to shoot. The Rebel 350 was created to combine the best features of modern tactical arms with the best of the basics in crossbow design. The bow comes up smoothly with a solid feel and heft comparable to today's AR-style rifles. The company's goal was to incorporate the style and customizable traits of a tactical weapon platform in an innovative crossbow structure.

A Picatinny rail system makes it easy to mount riflescopes and other modern tactical accessories. Other available features include a collapsible stock option and detachable ergonomic fore grip. Easy to assemble using just one through-the-stirrup bolt and two quiver bracket screws, the Rebel is ready to take to the range 10 minutes after delivery.

Unique among crossbows these days is the Rebel's multi-arrow capabilities. The bow is designed to handle 20- or 22-inch arrows with any field tip or broadhead, a definite plus for hunters who run out of 22-inch shafts and can't find them in local sporting goods stores. Switching arrows will mean a few extra minutes at the range, but not enough to ruin a hunting trip.

The Rebel 350 has a draw weight of 155 lbs., which generates arrow speeds of 350 fps using 400- to 425-grain arrows. Faster speeds can be realized using lighter arrows, but users are cautioned to avoid arrow weights below 350 grains.

The Rebel 350 is 40½ inches long and 25.6 inches wide, with a power stroke of 14.2 inches. Limbs are split composite with a compound levering system and quick, quiet cams. The bow also comes with a solidly mounted, ambidextrous QD quiver and QD sling.

The complete Rebel 350 package includes a 4x32 scope, four 20-inch arrows with field tips, QD quiver, vertical detachable foregrip, sling, string wax and safety glasses.

MSRP for the Rebel 350 package is $575.99.

At the range the Rebel 350 performed as advertised. Starting with 20-inch arrows at 20 yards, quarter-sized groups of three arrows were the norm.

The Rebel 350's scope is designed to keep arrows within 4 inches at 10-yard increments, and shot performance was spot-on out to 60 yards. Target shooters might want to tinker with windage and elevation settings at various distances, but for hunting purposes, I sight in for 20 yards and then run tests at 30 and 40 yards to emulate "real" hunting conditions. From a rest under calm conditions, the Rebel 350 was dead-on out to 40 yards with no adjustments necessary.

Switching to 22-inch arrows, I was surprised to see that 20-yard accuracy was unchanged — dead on target and too risky to try second or third shots at the same bull's-eye. At 30 and 40 yards the longer arrows dropped only slightly but were still in the manufacturer's 4-inch zone. Accuracy with field tips and broadheads (mechanical and fixed) was unaffected.

Hunters will be interested to know that the Rebel 350 can handle both arrow lengths. Some crossbows built to shoot 20-inch arrows only do not have enough width or rail length to accommodate the longer shafts, which could be a consideration when 20-inch arrows are unavailable and it's either 22-inchers or go home.

By the way, never attempt to shoot 20-inch arrows out of a 22-inch rail, especially when broadheads are attached. Some fixed-blade heads are too wide for the rail and could short-stop on the rail-to-limb joint, causing an instant disaster right around the shooter's forehand. If you are not absolutely sure that the arrow and point is going to fly smoothly and clearly past the rail and limbs, do not attempt to shoot the bow.

Another interesting aspect of the Rebel 350 is that it does not have an anti-dry-fire mechanism or automatic safety latch, which has become standard among most modern crossbow manufacturers. When the Rebel 350 is cocked and loaded, it is still on Fire until the shooter manually sets the safety to Safe, and when the safety is released the bow will fire with or without an arrow in place. The shooter must remember to place the bow on Safe and then be sure to keep an arrow on the string, or the bow could misfire if the trigger is pulled. Old-school shooters will not find issue with this, as most rifles can be loaded with the safety in the Fire position and will discharge when the trigger is pulled. It's the shooter's responsibility to maintain a safe attitude at all times and to know when his crossbow is loaded and ready to shoot, so basic safety rules should be followed at all times with or without an ADF mechanism in place. A Southern Crossbow spokesman told me that they are working on an ADF mechanism and future offerings are likely to include that feature.

The only minor drawback of the Rebel 350 package is that the provided 4x32 scope is equipped only with plain crosshairs. These are great for on-the-range shooting in full daylight, but when hunting in low-light conditions, the standard black crosshairs can easily get lost, especially on a dark animal such as a bear or hog. I recommended that the company consider providing an illuminated-crosshair scope (red, green or both) to increase the hunter's options during the critical pre-dawn and post-sunset period when the majority of killing shots are made.

To find out more about Southern Crossbow's Rebel 350 and the company's line of crossbows and accessories, log onto www.southerncrossbow.com or call (800) 431-3579.