Crossbow Review: Ravin R26

The Ravin R26 crossbow is streamlined, compact, tactical and loaded with hunt-friendly features.

Crossbow Review: Ravin R26

As soon as I pulled the R26 out of the box, I knew Ravin was on to something special with this crossbow introduction. I could easily hold the crossbow in one hand, and the entire, fully assembled unit was shorter than my arm. Not only that, but its 5.75-inch axle width made it noticeably slimmer and more compact.

At only 6.5 pounds with scope and three-arrow quiver attached, the R26 is what I’d call a real and true “tactical” crossbow: slim, trim, easy to carry and — as we’ll discover later — accurate to three inches at 100 yards. This, my friends, is a crossbow that is ideal for still-hunting, stalking, stand hunting or blind hunting. No matter how confined the space (certain blinds and stands come to mind), the R26 will fit the situation, giving hunters more range of motion and ease of operation than many other crossbows on the market.

The Ravin R26 includes an integral cocking system that is outstanding. The ratchet handle fits tightly into the stock, and the cocking sled is also part of the trigger mechanism. The crossbow can easily be cocked while standing or sitting, in a stand or blind, with a draw weight of only 12 pounds. The 9.5-inch power stroke generates arrow speeds of 400 fps, well above most other larger, longer, wider crossbows.

Other great features of the Ravin R26 is the new Predator Dusk Camo color, which is essentially a black matte finish that deer won’t pick up at a distance because there is no chance for morning or afternoon sunlight to reflect off the limbs or stock. Also, the scope has a black matte finish, serving the same purpose.

I especially like the foregrip-flange assembly, which keeps the shooter’s hands and fingers well below and away from the string. Even shooters with extremely long fingers will be protected by the cleverly designed foregrip.

Ravin R26 Specifications

  • Draw weight: 12 pounds
  • Power stroke: 9.5 inches
  • Arrows: 20 inches, proprietary nock; six arrows included in package
  • Arrow speed: 400 fps
  • Trigger pull: 4 pounds; dry-fire inhibitor
  • Sight: nine-reticle, red-green illuminated scope provided
  • Cocking device: Integrated crank device with self-storing handle                     
  • Overall length: 26 inches
  • Axle-to-axle width: 5.75 inches cocked, 9.25 inches uncocked
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Other features: Available in new Predator Dusk Camo; self-storing cocking crank; ambidextrous cocking and un-cocking system; ambidextrous safety and QD quiver mount
  • MSRP: $2,049.99
  • For more information: www.ravincrossbows.com

 

There’s more to like about the Ravin R26, too. The crossbow package includes six arrows — double the amount included by most manufacturers — and the quiver mount is a simple one-screw system that takes all of five seconds to secure. The mounting screw is built into the unit and is easily hand-tightened. The quiver then snaps into place on either side of the stock, giving shooters their choice of left- or right-handed arrow storage.

Shooters will also love the compact red-green illuminated nine-reticle scope provided with the Ravin R26 package. The scope must be mounted by the consumer, which means shooting must begin at 10 yards for initial zero, but once the mount screws are tightened permanently, it shouldn’t take more than three or four shots to get on target. My review sample was only 3 inches high at 10 yards on the first shot, and before the session was over I was dangerously close to “Robin Hoods” at all distances.

The scope is set up for distances ranging from 20 to 100 yards in 10-yard increments. Once the crossbow was initially zeroed, I was dead on at 20, 30 and 40 yards, with shots close enough to dead center to require sending one arrow downrange per target. At longer distances, my arrows were well within a 3-inch circle, even out to 100 yards.

The Ravin R26 would be a good choice for hunting open fields, pastures, river banks and the like where there would be no chance of a limb or twig interfering with arrow flight. However, for testing purposes, I set a Block target 100 yards into typically brushy hardwood cover and not one arrow made it to the bull’s-eye. The issue, of course, is not one of accuracy but of trajectory. An arrow traveling 100 yards flies on an arc of 8 or 10 feet, which means, in wooded situations, the shaft is more than likely to run into something along the way. At best, the arrow and broadhead will be lost, and at worst, the hit on a live deer would be less than lethal, creating a Pandora’s Box of potentially unsavory outcomes.

The Ravin R26 will put most arrows inside a 3-inch circle at 100 yards in wide-open situations with little or no wind, but all other situations are suspect. Weigh your options carefully before attempting long-range shots at whitetails in heavy cover. Considering that most deer are taken at 40 yards or less, it may be the best advice to wait for a better, clearer, closer shot. There’s no question that it can be done, the question is: Should it? In most deer hunting situations, I’d say the answer is no.

On the roving range, the Ravin R26 excelled for a number of reasons. It’s short, lightweight, compact design was tailor-made for still-hunting in thick brush, and its 400-fps arrow speed made short work of all targets out to 40 yards. The quick and easy hand-crank cocking system was a joy to work with and performed flawlessly every time. There were no malfunctions or glitches at any point in the process, even when I tried, for testing purposes, to de-cock the crossbow. It can be done rather easily following the manufacturer’s instructions, but in all honesty, most hunters will be happy to simply fire the crossbow at the end of the day using a “discharge arrow.” I usually switch to a field tip and fire my crossbows into a bale of hay, a target or even into soft sand to de-cock the crossbow and have never had an issue with the process.

Interestingly, Ravin is one of few manufacturers that specifically recommends against waxing the bowstring or serving during cold weather. Wax buildup on the bowstring clasp can lead to trigger malfunction including a delay in bowstring release. This applies to any conditions under 32 degrees. Ravin recommends using a non-wax lubricant such as Ravin Serving Fluid or Scorpion Venom Polymeric Bowstring Fluid during extremely cold weather.

Normally, I register a complaint with manufacturers that do not provide a sling with their products, but running the Ravin R26 through its paces I decided there was no reason to bring that up. The R26 is so short, light and well-balanced that a sling is probably not necessary except for extremely long hikes over rough country. The R26 is compact and easy to handle without a sling. The crossbow can easily be attached to a pack for lengthy transports and would be well out of the way while traveling through thick brush, vines and other thick cover.

 

Bottom Line

Although the Ravin R26 is rather pricey compared to most other crossbows, its advantages and features make it a good value for a serious hunter who wants to buy just one crossbow for all their hunting and shooting needs. The R26 is ideal for most whitetail hunting situations and is also suited for hunting other game (bear, hogs, elk and moose), plus it offers the advantage of long-range capability that varmint hunters might find useful when pursuing ground hogs, coyotes and other small game.

The Ravin R26 crossbow package includes the crossbow, illuminated scope with flip-up scope caps, QD quiver mount, and six arrows with field tips. Suggested MSRP is $2,049.99. For additional information about the complete line of Ravin crossbows and accessories, visit www.ravincrossbows.com.

Sidebar: Ravin’s Easy-Crank Cocking System

In the world of crossbows, nothing is more aggravating or tedious than having to use a cocking rope to cock and load the unit. The user must first dig his cocking rope out of a pocket (which one is it?), straighten out the rope, sort out the hooks, drape the rope properly over the stock or cocking groove — you get the idea.

With the Ravin R-series crossbows cocking is as simple as click, click, click — and it’s just about that fast. Remove the cocking handle from the quiver mount (which is very handy), insert the cocking handle onto the drive shaft pins, click the trigger mechanism over the string (first click), rotate the ratchet handle till the trigger mechanism is fully engaged (second click) and insert the arrow (third click). An experienced Ravin operator can easily cock, load and shoot his crossbow twice as fast as any traditional crossbow user — a definite advantage in cases where a follow-up shot is required.

Perhaps best of all is that the ratchet handle is quickly and easily installed in its slot in the quiver mount ready to be used again to cock or de-cock the crossbow.

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