Meet the VLAD, Ek Archery’s new subcompact crossbow

The inexpensive .22 long rifle is a cartridge with manifold applications; precision target shooting, plinking, small game hunting and when pressed into service: self-defense. The .22LR, and the variety of firearms that it services, was the inspiration that drove the engineering team at Ek Archery Research to reimagine the crossbow pistol as a product of diverse functionality.

The ubiquitous pistol crossbow seen on the shelves of sporting goods stores and military surplus shops has long been the product that many a teenager has saved their pocket money to buy. As the young shooting enthusiast upgrades from a slingshot or plastic BB gun, they find that the pistol crossbow has much of the same thrill as an air rifle, that something which is absent from their airsoft-type toys; namely the satisfying feeling of engaging the target with solid penetration. 

Ek Archery Research’s manufacturing partner, Poelang Pte. Ltd., has been producing the “often copied but never equalled” Cobra Pistol Crossbrow since 1992. Still available at a very reasonable retail price point, the venerable Cobra is sold in two variants, an aluminum frame model and a sturdy economical plastic-frame version. While these products are still a joy to shoot they have a couple of operational drawbacks that limit their use; the 80lb limbs of the Cobra need a moderate amount of arm strength to cycle and its single-shot configuration does not allow for a quick follow-up shot.

The VLAD, the evolution of the Subcompact Crossbow

The issues of the Cobra have been elegantly resolved in Ek Archery’s latest issue, the VLAD. The VLAD takes much of its pedigree from the innovations that make Ek’s R9 and Adder such superlative carbine crossbows, namely a design that allows the crossbow to be rapidly disassembled and reassembled into discreet components and the inclusion of an integrated cocking system that uses mechanical advantage to cycle the device. 

With just the tip of a crossbow bolt, the pin that secures the VLAD’s integral magazine is released allowing the limb set to quickly changed or stowed away for transport. Packaged with a pair of with 60lb and 90lb limbs, and when supplemented by the additional purchase of a low-cost 30lb limb set, the VLAD can easily be cocked by almost any user. The VLAD also does away with awkward cocking lever of the original Cobra by mating the cycling mechanism to its aluminium side-folding stock. With a specialized fore-grip and the additional leverage provided by the stock, cocking the crossbow is effortless and rapid.

Borrowing from Ek’s powerful R-Series “Adder” Carbine Crossbow, the VLAD features an integral 8-shot top fed magazine that reliably provides a bolt as fast as the operator can cycle the crossbow. Using the provided 8-shot “charger-clip” the VLAD’s magazine can be reloaded in seconds and a fully-kitted VLAD can be carried with two of these speedloaders attached to picatinny rails on the front end of the crossbow. 

From Causal Shooting to SHTF

When operated with the 30lb limbset, open sights and a square of solid target foam, the VLAD is the ultimate back-garden plinker with which to hone ones shooting skills. The bolts used by the VLAD are a very economical choice for casual shooting and be resourced for as little as 36p (44 cents) per bolt. However, when the VLAD is equipped with its red-dot sight and a 60lb/90lb limb set it transforms into a formidable defense platform propelling the 6.5”aluminum bolt at 165/200fps and delivering up to 19 joules of impact. In lieu of a firearm, the VLAD is a serviceable short to medium range weapon that can give the defender the advantage of distance and the ability to rapidly place a second or third shot on target. 

It is this versatility that makes the VLAD an indispensable component of the survivalist’s “bug-out bag”. With the stock folded, a flat-packed VLAD measures just 18 inches in length and weights 4.1 lbs, taking up a modest amount of room in a small backpack with its limbsets and speedloaders; leaving plenty of space for other equipment. One of the requirements for both urban survivalists and rural preppers is that equipment for small game hunting in emergency situations should rugged, field-serviceable and quiet; and the VLAD was designed with all of these specifications in mind. Constructed to be exposed to the elements the VLAD is not a fragile system like a compound crossbow and its limbsets are easily restrung; replacement strings being inexpensive. The sound signature of the VLAD’s recurve limbs in operation is quieter than the report of an air rifle.

The VLAD comes pre-packaged with a red-dot sight, a speedloader, a replacement limb string, a pair of limbsets and 16 bolts making it ready-to-shoot out of the box. With the addition of further accessories like an integrated laser sight, extra speedloaders and a tactical light, the VLAD becomes an aggressive tool of both defense and survival.