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Too many of these so called bolts are actually arrows. Too many of these "arrows" for crossbows are actually lightweight target arrows of modern cost efficient manufacture ie. hollow alloy tubes.

Take a look at historical crossbows and the true bolts they shot. These are more substantial, thicker, shorter and have more mass than a modern type target arrow. The mass is necessary to counter the physical twisting forces the bow crossbow prod produces. Historical fletchings were made out of material like leather which could withstand the large G-forces produced and there were only two fletchings parallel to each other so that they did not foul the stock.

A crossbow bolt does not act or fly in any way the same as an arrow for a bow. An arrow flexes in flight from side to side and this is why a bodkin arrow can under the right conditions actually penetrate bullet proof glass. A crossbow bolt is stiff, short and flies true, similar to the trajectory of a firearm. The fletchings do not bend with the shaft to clear the bow stave as it is released.

Most of these "modern" designs of crossbow are shooting arrows more similar to what a bow would shoot. This is ok for American hunters, who can spend half a day or more tracking their wounded prey as it bleeds out. It is pretty much the wrong principles for a self defence scenario or for hunting small game like squirrels & rabbits etc.

If you desire a high power crossbow for serious prep use that will be robust & reliable, then go look at historical & medieval crossbows in a museum & the Bolts they use. They were built like that for a reason and had hundreds of years of development to get to that stage. Re-inventing the wheel is just going round in circles - again & again.. Historical working replicas of these crossbows are available to buy from the right craftsmen. They will be similar in price to a (perceived) good quality mass market one. They will however last a lifetime and do the job intended & then some.. Much funBig Grin
I must confess I knew they were different but from the ones I have they are not significantly so. I'll have to have a look at crossbow bolts a lot more closely.
So doers anyone have a link to a supplier of the HD bolts of the type TL reccomends?
(25 May 2012, 08:40)NorthernRaider Wrote: [ -> ]So doers anyone have a link to a supplier of the HD bolts of the type TL reccomends?

I went looking for traditional crossbows last night as my birthday is approaching, but no joy other than in USA, I came across a EBay seller from down under selling some interesting items.

Hoping for a Parcel today so I can carry on making and testing these bolts, I might turn one in to two and try them on my smaller crossbows.

I have seen them for sale at medieval re-enactment shows. I have known people buy them. I will see what contact info I can rustle up. One of the blacksmiths who makes them is called Andy Kirkham. He has a superb reputation for quality kit and not at rip off prices either. I have purchased sword blades, a pollarm head & a large calibre arquebus off him in the past. I see he is now doing items for the movies and for historical/museum documentaries. There are other makers also. If you go on the Re-enactors web ring, you will eventually be able to track down makers - possibly. Also the info will easily be available on "Living" You may have to ask a forum member or something like that?? Possibly there is a traders advert section? Don't know, as I can't be arsed with the constant message crap that reams off on there. There is some good info & links to be had though.

Andy Kirkham usually has a stall displaying his wares at the Tatton Medieval Fayre on the 16th & 17th June at Tatton Park in Cheshire. I will see him there at that time anyway if that is any use to anyone.

Bolts are available also from the same sources. They are actually much easier to make up oneself than a decent arrow would be. I don't have one to discuss detailed construction now myself, but you should be able to get the info online. Numerous sources inc museums and historical weapons books that show crossbows & their manufacture are to be found. Original historical crossbows are not complicated really - they just have to be done right. You are talking a hell of a lot of force being stored up & unleashed suddenly. A steel prod is much more durable than any fibreglass one. Serious amateur scientific trials have proved this & chapters of books dedicated to it. The only reason fibreglass can be used for the limbs of modern crossbows is because they are effectively a hybrid that has more in common with a traditional bow than an original thoroughbred crossbow - just held flat on and the arrow rested on a launching platform. see the original medieval hand held war crossbows and you will appreciate their devastating power. That is why the aristocracy leaned on the papacy to excommunicate crossbowmen if any were found in use. This holy order only lasted a very shortwhile and was unenforcable, because most Lords wanted crossbowmen in their armies when going to war and especially when defending any fortification. The reason this order came abot was because the Aristocracy, ie the nobles & lower knights were most displeased with the fact that they were no longer the invincible tide that had swept all before its lances for the last few hundred years. The thorn in their side was the fact that you could take an untrained conscript, put acrossbow in his hands and within a few days training, he could accurately shoot down a mounted knight with relative ease. The crossbowman had very very little invested in him, whereas the mounted knight had a sum invested that could easily be the amount of revenue a geographic Lordly domain brought in over afew years. A seriously considerable sum + a lifetime of training from being a boy and all the social & hierarchy & material wealth that backed this up. This equation was a serious imbalance in the traditional order of knight beats up peasant as & when he pleases and only really usually wanted to worry about fighting other knights etc for glory & reward.

The point of this narrative is -> The original true crossbow design is an awesome, tremendously powerful and to be much respected instrument of death. Not to be taken or used lightly.
Lighter versions were produced for hunting and these are probably more appropriate for survival use. They are built similar to the war bows but are of lighter construction and finer tuned for hunting accuracy. The zenith of this type of crossbow was in the 16th century, when guns had more or less taken over on the battlefield, but the crossbow was still desired off it for gentlemanly pursuits. there are some very very nice examples on display in museums, such as the Royal Armouries.
Happy hunting, TL.
AN amendment -- Modern crossbows are not more like a normal bow than a crossbow. That is wrong. They are in fact similar in style & looks to a hunting 16th century crossbow. What is different (not talking about compound stuff here) is the materials used & modern engineering design of them. They are IMO overengineered, over complicated, of inferior materials and structural strength. The prods use fibregalss which is really acting the same as a bow. just a little shorter limbs. To compensate for the inherent weakness, they use a much longer distance launch of the projectile, which is one of the reasons I figure for using what is effectively an arrow. This ballistic theory of a longer launching distance is valid and is why longer barreled guns are more powerful & accurate (to a point) but it is a Compensatory design. You end up firing arrows instead of heavier bolts (on the commercial versions) & the overall weapon is weaker & more prone to damage from external & internal forces. It is not a design that would be easy to repair in the field. There is very little to go wrong on an original design - except for string breakage which is inherent in high power crossbows anyway. String making is an invaluable skill if you are a crossbowman + the need to keep spares & dry.

The English had a soft spot for an alternative design of bow that was very like a crossbow but fired stones or lead bullets/balls. IT was invariably known as a "Stonebow" and examples do survive. Recreations have proved inconsistant and hard to master the original design. The useful thing about the stonebow is that you can find or make the ammunition readily enough and bullets/stones fired from what is effectively a low velocity weapion, do not tend to pass straight through the prey and disappear into the undergrowth. If vital organs are missed, then the prey may not be incapacitated as one would like!! With a bullet (lead lump) firing bulletbow, then the damage & stopping power would have some similarities to a black powder smallarm - quite effective.... :-)
Interesting stuff TL.
This is what makes the difference when you come to buy things. nowledge is power. Well, wind power anyway.
Good thread this, we getting cheap crossbow bolts made and a history lesson thrown in, anyway back to making bolts 5 more left to do.
First 14 are done, not sure how to price these, the heads 28p the vanes 10p each, the bolts hard to price as I have a bag and netting and a lot of material I can make use of, I could definitely get my money back on the extras left over so I am going to price the bolts at what I paid per unit and without adding the benefits of the extras so all in 73p per bolt.

28+20+73= £1.21p

x 14= £16.94p

The cheapest I found carbon bolts selling online are £35 for 5.

35x5= 105 I have 14 bolts so allow for one bolt del cost so let’s say all in £105 for fourteen bolts.

105-17= saving of £88 per tent, saving me £1144 I am happy with that.

I made one vane from duct tape will test it tomorrow.

[Image: 9TtTr7G5mBO8H1BreZ1KamPh.jpg]
I'm not sure I wan t to go back to medieval tech, but I do prefer the simplicity of a recurved to a compound bow. The main drawback is the, urm, draw back... a 200lb recurve is an angry bitch to draw. The performance from fibreglass limbs seems pretty good, its not just about the poundage, but the rate at which the energy is transferred to the bolt. The tips of the prod, and therefore the string, on a lower power crossbow don't necessarily move faster, but they can move faster with a heavier bolt. Energy delivered to a target comes more from velocity that from weight of the projectile, so heavier is not always better. There is a balance for the optimum weight bolt for a given bow. And it does seem like the bolts available are usually on the lighter end of the scale. anyway back to my point, the main disadvantage I see of a fibreglass prod in a survival situation is how easily they fracture. I'm far from a crossbow expert though... more a dabbler.

I have a homemade (not made by me) crossbow with an aluminium prod. It looks a cross between a historical crossbow and the ones made and used by the IRA. I never really put it through it's paces. It doesn't feel as powerful as my old 180lb Barnett re-curve though. The string I use is a bit long for it, so in effect it is never fully drawn. But it just seems to have a lot less resistance in general. The RoyalyMarines museum has a captured IRA crossbow in there, and the prod materials, size and draw length are about the same, so they must have thought it enough for nefarious usage. Aluminium seems an odd choice for a prod... I never thought of that as good spring material?
Forgot to say, I'm interested to see how the gaffa tape bolt flys.
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