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"New" 1981 Model Barnett Commando

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#1 vonfatman



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Posted 27 November 2010 - 10:02 PM

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday my father-in-law gave me a beautiful crossbow....it's LNIB and he tells me it has only been sighted in and then un-strung and re-boxed.

The invoice is 4/24/81. The price was $333.60 so I assume this was a pretty good crossbow based on how well made it is as well as it's 1981 price.

My daughter would like us to read up on the crossbow, practice and then deer hunt with it...


Would this bow be usable as-is...the strings would be OK? The bow arm will still be good to use?

We've put the string on this bow (a challenge for a novice...I now know why the call it the "bastard string") and hope with some learning and practice we can hunt.

Assuming this bow is good to go...what is it's effective range for whitetail? We can hunt well within 50 yards if that's the cut-off.

Any suggestions or ideas would be much appreciated as we are at the very beginning of our learning curve.


Some pics...

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#2 Urban Legend

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Posted 27 November 2010 - 10:15 PM

That is a great looking bow, and a collectors item to some. I would be very interested in making a deal on your crossbow. I sent you a PM.

#3 Sean



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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:01 PM

I had the exact same bow back then as well, for the time it was high teck with the self cocking stock, but burned up strings fast and really loud due to the cocking system ralltling when shot, check reall goog for limb cracks under the limb tips, some came with caps some with just a piece of leather to protect the string loop

#4 vonfatman



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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:03 PM

Thanks Sean,
We will check the limbs.


#5 Mike


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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:25 PM

Sorta correct as others have noted.

They all came with plastic protectors on the limb tips. Otherwise, the strings won't last long wrapped around the semi-sharp edges. As far as the string on the rail/track....just keep it and the string waxed/lubed well.

The one I used to have was very accurate. At about 25 yards, I could shoot five arrows and they'd all be touching each other.
Noise, they are a little noisy. As noted, there's a lot of pieces to rattle around.

You've got yourself a very fine old crossbow there. Though, because of it's collectability, not sure I'd hunt with it. Pick a newer bow that if something breaks, it can easilly be replaced.

Have fun.


#6 Matt R

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Posted 16 December 2010 - 11:12 AM

Great looking vintage bow, I have the slightly earlier wooden Wildcat and love the early Barnett styling. Given the age, as Mike indicates, probably better if you take a few shots to satisfy your curiosity and then keep it as a functional collectors piece rather than subject it to all the rigours of hunting.


#7 AndyC



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Posted 17 December 2010 - 07:02 PM

The very early models, like the rest of the Barnett range at the time, did only have a leather pad over the limb tip for protection. The pivot point at the base of the pistol grip was also a little different.

That aside, I have improved the string wear issue on mine by polishing, and slightly modifying the angle of the brass draw hooks so the string isn't pushed so hard to the deck when approaching full draw. Smoothing/polishing both the brass where it meets the trigger box, and the upper edge of the trigger box also helps.

Another contributer to string wear is the damage caused on string release. As the single fingered string latch falls, it strikes the arrow nock, denting its surface before the string makes contact with the now "roughened" nock face. Not the best recipe for serving preservation. I guess the arrow nock could be mounted just forward of the string latch, but there then could be a risk of partial dry fire? The early Barnett prods were pretty prone to delamination, and risking this with an obsolete 175lb limb is to me out of the question.

I grip the brass cocking arms while shooting my Commando, and find it the best way of stopping the rattles.

I find this crossbow also drives better with feathered arrows, as the arrow groove is a little too shallow for most vanes. Plastic vanes can also be damaged by rough edges in the casting of the nose groove.

#8 Zrt1200


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Posted 18 December 2010 - 06:07 AM

That is a great looking crossbow for sure. But I would not hunt with it either. Get a newer crossbow to hunt with.

#9 xbowguy


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Posted 18 December 2010 - 07:39 AM

There is a little bit of history that goes along with that crossbow and its actual origin or so I have been told. In any event there is a great picture of it along with a great set of legs on the James Bond For Your Eyes Only movie poster. The Commando has seen it's fair share of movies.

My only concern would be that sitting that long that the limbs may go. Time and lack of use are the enemy of fiberglass and epoxy.

If your not in love with it for any personal reasons take UL up on his offer and trade for something that will make a better hunting tool for both you and your daughter.

#10 AndyC



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Posted 18 December 2010 - 04:16 PM

Another niggle I've yet to sort out on mine is a small trigger issue. As the Commando has no complete trigger guard, and the trigger travel is long, even after the mechanism has fired, the back of the blade strikes the knuckle of the second finger, this can be painful after a while! I'm still trying to figure out a trigger stop, preferably something that dosn't interfere with the mechanism box, to overcome this.

There was a Commando II that addressed many of these issues, and introduced a few new ones lol, came in recurve and compound, and is very rare indeed. They weren't around for long though, as I think they cost too much for Barnett to build. There are of course, the cheep asian rip offs of the Commando, in pistol form, still widely available.

Personally, I still think there is a place for the crossbow with integrated cocking mechanism. Even if the cost is a little more, the benefits of a reliable and light weight mechanism are huge, and we could do away with rope and crank cockers, foot stirrups etc etc. Swissbow are onto it, but it surprises me why other manufacturers aren't.

But yes, as others have said, and despite the work I've done to mine, the Commando is more of a collectors piece, curiosity, a showy bit of film prop history, and certainly looks fantastic hanging on a wall!

#11 pist0l3r0



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Posted 14 November 2011 - 10:16 AM

I bought a used Barnett Commando last year near where I'm from. It was complete with original bolts and broadheads. It is pie plate accurate for me up to 70 yds, and have robin hood'ed bolts with it at closer range. It is powerful at 175 lb., I use the same 20in., 400gr. bolts as in the Parker i have. I love my Parker too, but i wind up carrying the Commando when im out unless i am on a deer hunt. I bought a new 2007 Parker Cyclone to replace a brand new Predator i had last year, and I would take the Commando or Cyclone over a new Barnett. The Predator wasn't at all what i expected from a comparably priced and reviewed weapon. i found the Predator to be pain not having anti-dryfire system. i expected it from that caliber of weapon, and was misled by the salesman into thinking the safety would prevent any damage if dryfired So cheers to barnett for making the new predator with ADF, unfortunately after i dryfired again again and again, it snapped a limb mount and was to be fixed by the factory and modified to mount on a ADF stock. So. Far it has not been done, but anyway... Aftert seeing the Cyclone which I recognize to be more a match/ trophy/ competition weapon in comparison to the Predators all out speed which is fine. The standout Cyclone has a REAL match type trigger and release mechanism that is highly(!) Advanced in comparison to the other brands i was looking at, I intend to stick with it instead of going for a Ghost. Or Ten point or Horton or Excalibur. I should have compared models better and not wasted the 600$. I still have it,broken, waiting to be shipped... Anyway, I got off topic... I hope to use the Commando for years, cocking is super fast so repeat
ed shooting is a joy I will continue to use this extrordinary bow without concern, but with care. It is of higher quality and tolerance (ed.)than any of the new models barnett has. I am sure barnetts current weapons are superior in ways, but i wish there was a new model identical to mine.. i would pay up to 1000$ to replace it. The only comprable model i would see is the Parker Concorde. Which is self cockinjg and 1000$.com I encourage you and your daughter to enjoy your crossbow.
I am very happy to have happened upon it. I love the commando crossbow. I posted quick vid of my commando on my pist0l3r0 channel on youtube

Edited by pist0l3r0, 14 November 2011 - 11:16 AM.

#12 Ghost 4oo Joe

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 01:36 AM

I had the Wildcat III. Same prod but it didn't have the self cocking stock. I shot 3 deer with it but all under 30 yards. Your xbow can take down deer but I wouldn't try anything farther than 25-30 yards and make sure you're daughter is hitting true every time. The power and speed of the new xbows can blow through both shoulders of a whitetail but a long shot in the shoulder with this and you're going deep in the swamp after it. As for a collector, it is in great shape but not "brand new in box". It has been used. If you find the right person though, you can probably get enough from this bow to get a newer crossbow but yours is pretty cool and I sure wish I still had my Wildcat III.