July 28, 2020
Can one platform fire both bullets and arrows? That’s the design premise behind the Traditions Crackshot XBR, a single-shot .22 LR rifle that converts to an arrow-launcher. The Crackshot fires .22 rimfire ammunition in its standard rifle barrel, but swap that barrel with the package’s dedicated XBR upper, and the unit transforms into a gun that propels arrows with enough speed and accuracy to take big game. The XBR is a unique platform for recreational shooting, as well as a capable hunting arm in states that permit its use.
The Crackshot is configured as a break-action single-shot with a 16.5-inch barrel. As a rimfire, the Crackshot is a handy small-game rifle, plinker or general-purpose camp gun.
The XBR upper replaces the Crackshot’s .22-caliber barrel and fore-end, allowing users to shoot proprietary arrows propelled by a breechloaded .27-caliber cartridge that contains only powder. Instead of a barrel, the XBR upper has a 20-inch shroud that accepts the arrow.
The shroud consists of an outer tube and an inner post. A nockless arrow slides onto and along the post, and together the post and tube serve as an arrow guide. The shroud encapsulates the arrow shaft, but the business end of the arrow remains exposed to accept a field point or broadhead.
The XBR launches a 16-inch Traditions 2216 Firebolt aluminum arrow. Much like the powder charges used by nailers and fasteners in the construction industry, the .27 Caliber Long XBR Powerload propels the arrow when fired. The XBR Powerload is similar to a blank, and it pushes the arrow to speeds of up to 385 fps with a relatively quiet report.
Thanks to its well-designed synthetic stock, the Crackshot XBR is ergonomically pleasing when shouldered. The rifle is surprisingly light, weighing about 4 pounds. Two swivel studs are provided for a standard rifle sling.
A 4x32mm scope comes factory-installed on the XBR upper’s Picatinny rail. Three arrows are included with the package; a side-mount quiver is an optional accessory. The Crackshot XBR is available with a Realtree Edge, Kryptek Highlander or black finish. The black Crackshot XBR I tested has an MSRP of $499.
Setting It Up
Installing the XBR upper onto the Crackshot frame is a straightforward process. Unscrew the front sling-swivel stud, and remove the fore-end. Depress the barrel-catch lever on the trigger guard, pivot the .22-caliber barrel downward, and lift it from the frame. Rotate the XBR upper around the hinge pin and onto the frame until it locks in place. Finish by installing the XBR fore-end and tightening the screw located at its midway point.
Preparing the XBR for a shot is also simple. Slide the Firebolt arrow shaft onto the inner post and into the shroud until it stops. The arrow is hollow along most of its length, but it has a solid section toward the front that meets the front edge of the post and prevents it from going farther into the shroud. With the muzzle pointed safely downrange, open the action, insert an XBR Powerload into the chamber and close the action. Disengaging the cross-bolt safety and cocking the hammer readies the XBR for firing.
The XBR I tested was very close to being sighted-in when I received it. After a few minor adjustments to the scope, I was punching bullseyes with field points. The trigger had a bit of travel before breaking, but I didn’t notice any negative effect on accuracy.
To further test the XBR, I equipped the arrows with 100-grain SEVR broadheads. These are rear-deploying mechanicals, and the XBR produced nicely clustered groups with them out to 50 yards. The test XBR propelled arrows to a chronographed 383 fps with little recoil.
Considering the speed at which the XBR launches arrows, it delivers adequate arrow lethality (kinetic energy) to cleanly take many game animals. Before hunting with the XBR, however, check regulations for applicable seasons and restrictions. Traditions is actively working with states regarding the legality of hunting with the XBR, and reports some states currently permit its use for predators and game that can be taken by any means.
I was admittedly skeptical about the XBR prior to using it, but I found it an absolute treat to shoot. I appreciated the simplicity of its operation, and the fact that there are no compressed air tanks to fill (as found on pneumatic arrow-launchers) or strings to cock (think crossbows). Those searching for a new way to enjoy their time in the field—whether it’s spent firing .22 LR ammo or shooting arrows—will enjoy this unique platform.
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