PSE TAC Elite and Ordnance Crossbow Review
By Andy Backus
We have been quite eager to publish a review of the TAC Elite and TAC Ordnance crossbows. So we were excited to receive our first shipment of the new PSE TAC Elite crossbows a few days ago.
Several years ago my dad, Len Backus, had started to hear a significant buzz about a brand new crossbow model from PSE, the likes of which had never before been seen (or even thought of). PSE had changed the crossbow game with the introduction of their PSE TAC 15 and TAC 15i crossbows. Len approached PSE owner Pete Shepley at the SHOT Show in 2010 and was able to get his hands on one with the idea that he'd try it for a while and write a detailed review about it.
Read Len's detailed PSE TAC 15 review article from 2010 - HERE.
You see, Len is an experienced long range rifle hunter and shooter, and publisher of the online magazine LongRangeHunting.com. He thought that if he used some of the shooting techniques known to be critical to accurate long range rifle shooting, that he could really max out the potential of this intriguing weapon. Well, he was right, but the performance of the PSE TAC 15i crossbow was so far beyond anything he could have expected that he was sort of in a state of awe, unable to believe what he was seeing. He starts his original PSE TAC 15 review article describing how he kept shaking his head as he walked back from his target at the local range:
Fast forward 3 years, and through our online store, The Long Range Hunting Store , we have sold and serviced more TAC 15 and TAC 15i crossbows than any other store in the country. Our TAC 15 specific online forum, www.TAC15forum.com , has grown and grown (thanks to the popularity of the TAC 15) and provides some of the most detailed information anywhere about how to get the most out of your TAC crossbow. It is also a great place to chat with other TAC 15 owners and share hunt stories. Len and I have personally hunted with our own TAC 15i crossbows, taking deer as far as 72 and 86 yards. Both shots were pass-throughs, by the way. I mention these facts to make the point that we know as much or more than anyone about the PSE TAC series of crossbows. In fact, the folks at PSE have been known to occasionally refer customers to us with unusually technical questions since we have so much experience with PSE TAC crossbows.
In reviewing the new 2013 PSE TAC Elite and Ordnance crossbows, I will start by giving you an overview of why their predecessors, the TAC 15 and TAC 15i, have been so effective and so popular. First let me explain that the TAC 15 and its new and improved model, the TAC Ordnance are designed to drop into your own AR-15 lower. The TAC 15i and its new and improved model, the TAC Elite, have an integrated lower. To simplify the rest of this review, I will be referring to the TAC 15i and TAC Elite models with the integrated lower.
So what has made the TAC 15i so effective and popular? Its tactical, AR-style look and feel? The ability to easily accessorize and customize the TAC 15i thanks to three picatinny rails, and the ability to drop in custom triggers or drop-away rests? Those are very appealing features, but I believe its blistering fast speed and extreme accuracy and killing power out to extremely long ranges are the main reasons for its popularity.
The TAC 15i is an unusually long crossbow, allowing for an extra-long “power stroke” of 17 ¼ inches. The power stroke is the distance measured from the crossbow’s string at full draw to the string at rest. The longer the power stroke, the faster the crossbow. In his original TAC 15 review article, Len used a chronograph and measured a speed of 406 fps. Extremely fast vertical bows these days shoot much lighter arrows at just under 310 fps, so you can imagine how much faster 406 fps seems.
The TAC 15 arrows are larger in diameter and are stiffer than vertical bow arrows in order to handle the extremely fast launch speed and force of the TAC 15. The arrows are also longer than typical crossbow arrows because of the long power stroke. This results in a relatively heavy arrow which retains pass-through power out to great distances and is also less affected by wind deflection.
Extreme accuracy out to ranges of 100 yards or more, along with killing power out to those same distances are the main reasons why the PSE TAC 15i crossbow has been as popular as it has. I’ve already mentioned that the TAC 15i is able to sling a relatively heavy arrow at super-fast speeds, and that obviously contributes to its incredible accuracy.