There are crossbows that are pumped up by distributors because of their curb appeal and the fact that they have lots of them in inventory – and then there are honest cases where a model simply dominates in its respective price class. So which category does the ultra-popular Excalibur Axiom SMF (“synthetic main frame”) fall into? Let’s see how the Axiom lives up to each of its reported “virtues” to find out.
Out of the Box Accuracy
Excalibur has made some very lofty claims about what the Axiom can do, and has indicated that it’s capable of exceptional accuracy right out of the box. To that end, Axiom has included in the “package” a very solid scope that seems to come from the factory pretty close to zeroed-in already. But is it really the laser beam it’s reputed to be?
In short, this crossbow does indeed live up to the hoopla, and not just in our opinion. Users consistently report being able to achieve 2″ groups at 20 yards with only hours out of the box, with remarkably good groups of 4-5 inches at 50 yards! In fact, we’ve yet to see another crossbow garner such a consistently outstanding reputation for accuracy, much less one that is in the Axiom’s modest price range. There’s no doubt about it, if you can’t achieve tight groups within 30 yards with the Axiom SMF, something is setup wrong/defective or your hold needs a lot of work!
Velocity, Power & Draw Weight
Marketed as an affordable, yet serious hunting rig, we expected this crossbow to deliver lots of kinetic energy for its relatively understated 175-pound draw weight. Let’s say we were not disappointed. Rated to reach velocities of 305 FPS when using a 350 grain arrow, we calculate that the Axiom SMF generates approximately 72.3 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at the point of launch. This is plenty of power for taking small to medium-large game, assuming you are using proper broadheads and a heavier arrow. And while it doesn’t have quite the same punch as some of the more “elite” rigs, it comes darn close and without the “premium” price tag to boot!
In addition, cocking this rig is a veritable breeze with the included rope cocker (nice add on!). This is good news for the average consumer, although much younger, slightly-built, or shorter users may have some difficulty.
Construction and Durability
In general, Excalibur’s line of recurve-type crossbows are very reliable and fairly immune to failure, which is one of the big benefits of getting away from the compound-bow type crossbows. Indeed, the lack of pulleys, cams and lots of other compound-related “technology” keeps the Axiom SMF a pretty bare-bones setup. Nevertheless, there are some sacrifices made in the design to keep it within the “budget” class, such as the plastic/synthetic rail construction – which is normally aluminum in other higher priced models. Despite that swap, however, the consensus from users is that the Axiom SMF is no less rugged or durable, and we agree. If you want a crossbow that you can do pretty much anything with – and doesn’t require lots of tuning and other attention, this is your rig!
Ease of Assembly
Yet another big perk of the recurve design is just how easily they are assembled versus compound crossbows. Yet the Axiom goes together even easier than we expected, with most users indicating that they went from box to tight groups in the back yard within minutes or hours of cracking open the packaging. Again, if what you are seeking is a no-hassle rig that is as easy to put together as it is to use, the Axiom clearly lives up to its marketing claims.
Size & Weight
Crossbows are well-known for being clumsy weapons (at least bow hunters seem to think so), which is why it is no small feat that Excalibur was able to squeeze so much power and performance from a rig that weighs just 5.8 pounds! With an overall length of 37.5 inches, it is a large crossbow, but still pretty average, especially for the significant power it generates. As such, you should be able to carry the Axiom around all day and not curse under your breath while doing so. The rig is also nicely balanced, making it fairly easy to hold and aim, even for those just getting started with crossbows.
Without a doubt, a nice trigger does wonders for repeatable accuracy, and the roughly 3-pound pull trigger that comes with the Axiom is just fantastic. Crisp, light and predictable are the words commonly used to describe it…what else can you possible ask for in a trigger, much less one fitted to a rig south of $600!
To say that the Axiom SMF is a sensation among users would be an understatement. This model currently holds a nearly flawless average user satisfaction rating based on 64 reviews to date. Check them out for yourself:
Price and Value
As you can tell by now, we are also huge fans of the Excalibur Axiom SMF, but what about price? On that score too – and perhaps more than any other – this crossbow blew us away. Simply put, there is really nothing that comes close to this rig in its price range, making it probably the best value crossbow you can buy in 2014. In other words, if you want to do significantly better, you will need to spend hundreds more.
Concluding Thoughts on The Axiom SMF
This is one of those rare situations where the hype matches up with reality. In terms of accuracy, power, reliability and ease of use, the Axiom SMF stands apart. However, it is the fact that all of this performance can be had in a nice package-deal for roughly $500 that really stymies us. That is just ridiculous value for any crossbow, and is sure to lure in veteran and first-timers alike. Excalibur appears to have “zeroed-in” on this market to make a big impression with the value-hunting crowd. They have certainly succeeded in our view.
In short, if you want to get into crossbows and can afford to spend $500, the Axiom SMF is an easy choice – likely the best deal 2014 has to offer!!