Crossbow Review: Excalibur Assassin Extreme

During brutally cold conditions in northern Wisconsin, the ultra-reliable Excalibur Assassin Extreme recurve crossbow proves to be fast, accurate and comfortable to shoot.

Crossbow Review: Excalibur Assassin Extreme

The light 9.2-pound accessorized mass weight and 32-inch overall length maneuver easily.

In a complicated world filled with noise, complexity and overdone technology, there’s something to be said for simplicity. Excalibur’s crossbows have been designed around simplicity from the very beginning, but they don’t compromise on performance because the company creatively weaves cutting-edge innovations into the fold that truly enhance performance.

The 2023 Assassin Extreme rocks Excalibur’s ultra-reliable recurve styling, but it also teems with innovation. Plus, it smokes at velocities up to 400 fps — plenty of power for any animal on the planet. So, if you’ve been searching for a crossbow that will stand out on your retail floor, read along and see why Excalibur’s Assassin Extreme will do just that.

Test Crossbow Specs

  • Make/Model: Excalibur Assassin Extreme
  • Available Finishes: Flat Dark Earth (available in standard and dealer-exclusive package) and Realtree Excape (dealer-exclusive package)
  • Mass Weight: 7.4 pounds (bare bow); 9.2 pounds (accessorized)
  • Axle-to-Axle Width:  20.75 inches (cocked); 25.375 inches (uncocked)
  • Overall Length: 32 inches
  • Draw Effort: 19 pounds (with integrated crank)
  • Power Stroke: 15 inches
  • Bolt Length and Weight: 16.5 inches; 350 grains
  • Manufacturer Listed Velocity: Up to 400 fps
  • Trigger Pull: 3 pounds
  • Cocking Device: Integrated Charger Crank
  • Scope: Tact-100 Scope
  • MSRP: $1,399.99 (standard package); $1,499.99 (dealer package, Flat Dark Earth); $1,599.99 (dealer package, Realtree Excape)
  • Contact:


First Impressions

Excalibur’s motto is “Different For a Reason,” which immediately caught my eye. When my husband, Darron, explained to me that Excalibur’s crossbows sold best years ago in his family’s archery shop, I was initially surprised. At first glance, the simplistic recurve design appears technologically behind the market’s more souped-up models. But, that very concept is why scores of crossbow hunters have trusted Excalibur for 40 years strong. 

The benefit of Excalibur’s recurve design is fewer moving parts. There are no cams, axles, cables or cable slide — just limbs and a bowstring. This means less can go wrong and break, and that instills confidence in extremely rugged environments. Don’t believe it? Watch Excalibur’s torture-test video on its website’s home page. I think you’ll be stunned.

While most would assume that recurve means bulky and slow, the Assassin Extreme defies that notion. It’s actually lighter in weight than most other crossbows, and rips at a staggering 400 fps (up to); speed and maneuverability are intertwined into this simple, time-proven platform.  

Before we move onto the Assassin Extreme’s most outstanding feature, let me note that a bow press isn’t required to change the bowstring. The only tool needed is the pocket-sized Standard Excalibur Crossbow Stringing Aid. By the way, it makes a nice add-on sale for $32 (MSRP), and customers traveling to destination hunts will likely buy it plus a back-up bowstring.

The Integrated Charger Crank is distinctly this crossbow’s stand-out feature. The crank and the mechanism into which you latch the bowstring are interconnected. This improves accuracy by ensuring consistent string alignment, and everything to cock the crossbow is at your fingertips — no loose parts or pieces. That includes the crank handle, which has a well-appointed storage slot on either side of the stock (to accommodate right- or left-handed shooters). 

Not only is this cranking system streamlined, but it makes cocking the crossbow easier and faster with fewer movements. No more fumbling around with a removable crank. This is especially beneficial when a follow-up shot is required. This same system also allows you to safely, easily and silently de-cock — a jaw-dropping advantage.

The raised cheek piece provides a nice contact point for extra stability and comfort while aiming.
The raised cheek piece provides a nice contact point for extra stability and comfort while aiming.

On the Range

Of course, I spent some time shooting the Assassin Extreme in hunting-realistic conditions including wind, deep snow and below-zero temps. Here are my observations.

Even as a small-framed woman, I found this powerful crossbow surprisingly fast and easy to cock — the integrated cranking system reduces draw effort to merely 19 pounds, which most people could easily handle. Secondly, the crystal-clear scope and yardage-holdover points make it easy to address your target quickly and effectively.

The integrated crank operates silently, allows for fast reloading, and allows the Assassin Extreme to be de-cocked. It also reduces cocking effort to an easily managed 19 pounds.
The integrated crank operates silently, allows for fast reloading, and allows the Assassin Extreme to be de-cocked. It also reduces cocking effort to an easily managed 19 pounds.

Accompanying those things is the smooth Pro-Shot Trigger, which is a two-stage design similar in feel to match-grade rifle triggers. I was able to hold dead-still while squeezing through the sequence and let the shot break naturally and cleanly at 3 pounds.

The compilation of those attributes makes it hard not to be accurate. Once I was on and confident at 20 yards, I was eager to test out the scope’s other aiming points. I simply dialed the Tact-100 scope to correspond with the Extreme’s feet-per-second rating and shot some bolts at a few different distances. I made some nice kill shots at 50 yards with the feels-like temperatures at minus 17°F. I’m confident that most average hunters could experience similar results.

The Assassin Extreme is entirely ambidextrous so that left- and right-handed shooters can use it interchangeably. And did I mention that it’s incredibly lightweight and easy to swing and control? Virtually any hunter can comfortably maneuver the 32-inch, 9.2-pound (accessorized) crossbow and acquire their target seamlessly. The raised cheek piece adds another contact point to stabilize the aiming picture. The ergonomic pistol grip and stock also substantiate control and comfort.

I will note that the shot is fairly loud. The R.E.D.S. Suppressors tame string noise, so from what I could tell, the loudness is due to the hollow parts of the stock, allowing shot noise to resonate inside. My standard kit didn’t include it, but the dealer-exclusive package includes Excalibur’s Sound Deadening System. I suspect it would substantially reduce shot noise.

The standard kit includes just about everything needed in order to either hit the range or the woods — scope, scope rings, R.E.D.S Suppressors, quiver, four Quill bolts, practice points and a Fail-Safe Strap — for a price of $1,399.99. Of course, pro shops will want to offer the dealer-exclusive package, which offers a different scope and the Sound Deadening System. Notice in the spec chart that the dealer-exclusive package retails a bit higher.

This 50-yard shot is an example of how accurate the Assassin Extreme performs, even in feels-like minus 17°F Wisconsin temps.
This 50-yard shot is an example of how accurate the Assassin Extreme performs, even in feels-like minus 17°F Wisconsin temps.

Final Thoughts

With time, certain things become tired and worn, but in contrast, others become refined and streamlined. While holding true to its long-standing, simplistic recurve styling, Excalibur Crossbow has certainly refined and streamlined the Assassin Extreme to hold its own against the competition — no surprise after 4 decades in business. Excalibur also stands behind its products with a limited lifetime warranty. And, Assassin owners can return their crossbow anytime to have it inspected and serviced.

To finish, your customers can’t go wrong with this high-quality, eye-catching crossbow, or other Excalibur models, such as the 40th Anniversary Micro Series Wolverine, which is even lighter and slightly less expensive. After 40 years, simplicity and innovation are still radiating at Excalibur Crossbow. Happy 40th anniversary, Excalibur!


In the field photos by Darron McDougal


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