Crossbow Review: Ravin R29X

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Crossbow Review: Ravin R29X
Ravin’s R29X is a speedster, with an advertised speed of 450 fps with a 400-grain bolt. Those numbers are possible, in large part, due to Ravin’s HeliCoil cam technology and its resulting 340 degrees of cam rotation. The R29X’s completely silent and integrated Versa-Draw system allows for easy cocking and uncocking, while the Trac-Trigger Firing System provides precision and safety. Ravin’s Frictionless Flight System “floats” the string and bolt above the rail for increased efficiency and better accuracy. The R29X also features a pistol grip, flared foregrip, safety wings and a rubber-wrapped buttplate and comb.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “broke the Internet” when something goes viral. Well, a few years ago, Ravin Crossbows broke the Internet, the ATA Show, print media and everything else when it burst onto the scene. The company is now one of the top crossbow manufacturers on the planet, but it isn’t resting on its laurels. Instead, it continues to do what good companies always do: push its designs and performance-markers in an endless pursuit of perfection.

The 2020 Ravin R29X is no different, throwing a 400-grain bolt downrange at an impressive 450 fps via a 12.5-inch power stroke. The rig features Ravin’s HeliCoil cam technology, Frictionless Flight System, Trac-Trigger Firing System, Versa-Draw Cocking System and much more.

Heart & Soul

While there are many features and technologies that contribute to the R29X’s success, it’s the HeliCoil Technology that opened the door for many other design and performance opportunities. Its name comes from two helical cable grooves on either side of the cams that coil cables away from the cams during the draw process. This continually changes the plane and position of the cables, preventing overlap and allowing for an over-rotation reaching nearly 340 degrees. Greater rotation means a longer power stroke and, in turn, faster bolt speeds — 450 fps for the R29X. The coiling action also keeps the cams level during the draw and shot cycles, which greatly benefits accuracy.

Further innovation is found in the cable system, as there is no cross-over as with a typical crossbow. Rather, four separate short cables, one on each side of the cams, terminate directly to a bracket on the rail — no torque — inducing angles, no friction with the rail and no need for a cable slide.

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Silent Up & Down

Ravin introduced its fully integrated silent cocking/uncocking system on the R29X, which reduces the shooter’s cocking force to only 12 pounds. The patented Versa-Draw is ultra-compact, fitting into what little stock there is on this rig. Only the crank connection is visible on either side of the stock for ambidextrous operation.

A single strap connects the Versa-Draw to the Trac-Trigger Firing System and operates in complete silence while cocking or uncocking. A brake prevents the crank from free-wheeling if you lose your grip while cocking; however, the same is not true while uncocking. The system also features a clutch that prevents over-drawing. When not in use, the crank can be removed and mounted on the quiver.

Trigger on a Trac

Another unique feature on all Ravin crossbows is the Trac-Trigger Firing System (TTFS). Essentially, the trigger box is housed in a mobile sled that slides up and down a track on the rail. It starts in the docked position at the rear of the rail and is released by pushing the spool thumb button so it can slide forward to meet the string in the exact middle every time. When properly pushed onto the string, the TTFS responds with an audible click and automatically engages the anti-dry-fire mechanism and trigger safety. Returning the sled to the docked position and loading a Ravin bolt (special nock) moves the anti-dry-fire mechanism out of the way and allows the safety lever to be placed in the “fire” position.

Free Flight

Ravin does not employ the typical crossbow rail, which has a thin slot for one vane and cradles the bolt along the entire rail as it is fired, on the R29X. Instead, with the Frictionless Flight System, a Ravin bolt is anchored at the trigger sled and supported in the front by a small roller rest. Nearly the entire bolt “floats” above the rail and, when fired, encounters almost no friction. In turn, string wear and shot noise is reduced and accuracy is enhanced.

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Minimal Mass

At 6.75 pounds (bow only), 29 inches long overall and an axle-to-axle width of six inches when cocked, the R29X is a minimalist’s dream. The RTP stock, which is a single unit that reaches from the buttplate to the flared foregrip, is sleek, with an open format and low profile. Rubber over-molding on the buttplate, comb and foregrip offer comfort and control, while a set of “safety wings” keeps the shooter’s fingers below the flight deck and out of harm’s way.

What’s in the Box?

The Ravin R29X comes fully assembled with an illuminated scope, a 3-bolt quiver, a crank handle, six +/-.003-inch straightness bolts with fieldpoints, an accessory bracket and an instruction manual.

At the Range

The Ravin R29X is easy to sum up: It is accurate (best three-shot group we have ever had during a crossbow review, I believe), fast (within 1 fps of the advertised speed), super-compact and maneuverable (feels like I could holster and draw it as fast as a revolver in the Wild West), extremely easy to operate and safe. And that trigger — crisp and light; our tests revealed a 1-pound, 6-ounce pull weight. What the R29X isn’t, however, is inexpensive — you will have to be fairly generous with your wallet.

The Ravin R29X is cool to look at in a magazine or online, but you have to get your hands on one to truly appreciate it. Do so!

The Specs

Manufacturer: Ravin Crossbows, 800-724-7486; ravincrossbows.comModel: R29XSafety Features: Anti-dry fire, auto trigger safety, safety wingsRiser: Ultra-compact, 7075-T6 aluminumCam System: HeliCoilAxle-to-Axle Width: 6 inches cocked; 10 1⁄2 inches uncockedString: 29 inches, proprietary integrated componentCables (x4): 6.3125 inches, proprietary integrated componentLimbs: Split, PolyOne materialsDraw Weight: 12 pounds (with integrated cocking mechanism)Power Stroke: 12.5 inchesGrip: Pistol style, finger contours, molded RTPStock/Forearm: Flared RTP with rubber overmoldOverall Length: 29 inchesWeight (crossbow only): 6.75 pounds (as advertised); 6.8 pounds (as tested)Finish: Predator Dusk CamoAdvertised Speed: 450 fps witha 400-grain boltMSRP: $2,649.99 (standard); $3,049.99 (w/Sniper Package)Comments: Accurate, compact, super-maneuverable and quick.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>