The Primal Gear Unlimited Compact Folding Survival Bow Review

Most people plan on including a firearm of some sort in their bugout bag or home preparedness equipment—usually, a rifle, handgun or shot-gun. While all of these are very useful and practical, they do have two drawbacks: They require unique skills and equipment to repair, and they can’t shoot the same bullet twice. The bow and arrow, on the other hand, can be used for the same purposes of hunting and protection, albeit not from the same ranges. In addition, they are much easier to maintain and repair, and you can shoot the same arrow hundreds of times. Also, you can re-sharpen your hunting broadheads when needed.

Compared to a firearm, their light weight also makes them great for inclusion in your emergency gear. Because a bow and arrow don’t give off a loud bang, they are also a good choice if you don’t want people to know you are hunting in the area. There are a few companies that make takedown bows designed for inclusion in survival gear or bugout bags. The Compact Folding Survival Bow (CFSB) from Primal Gear Unlimited is the only one that comes already assembled and ready to use.

Adjust the brace height

When you get your CFSB, you will want to set the brace height so you can get good arrow flight. Brace height is the distance from the point where your hand meets the bow’s riser/handle to the bowstring, where you have your nocking point set. The brace height should be between 6.5 and 8.0 inches.

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Most likely, the string will be too long when you get it, so after you string the bow for the first time, check the brace height and then set it for at least 6.5 inches. If you don’t, and the string is not short enough, it will release the arrow too close to the riser. As a result, the feather fletching might cut your hand, or the string might hit your forearm, giving you a nasty bruise. Adjust the brace height by making the bowstring longer or shorter. Do this by unstringing the bow and removing the top end of the string.

Then, twist it to make it shorter or untwist it to make it longer. By moving the brace height a half-inch or so at a time, you will eventually find the height at which the arrow flies the best and the bow makes the least amount of noise when shot.

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Once you determine the correct brace height for your bow, a good way to remember it is to write it on the upper limb. An even better way is to put an arrow on the string and mark the arrow where it crosses the riser, essentially turning it into a ruler you can use to measure your brace height.

The compact folding survival bow

The CFSB is a longbow. The riser is made from a billet of aircraft-grade aluminum, and the dimensions are 23×1.5×1.5 inches. A groove is machined down the middle, and a sight window with arrow rest is cut into the side. Felt dots are placed on the arrow rest and arrow plate portions of the sight window for a quiet draw and release of your arrow. You can hold the bow with the sight window on the left side if you are right-handed or vice-versa if you are left-handed. The bow shoots the same either way. The limbs of the CFSB are made of solid pieces of fiberglass cut to shape. They come already attached to the riser and fold down into a slot for transport and storage.

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When ready to use, they fold back out and are held in place by a rotating bolt. Primal Gear Unlimited offers its CFSB in three draw weights: 40, 50 and 55 pounds. The different weight limbs can easily be swapped by undoing some screws, removing the current limbs, putting in the new limbs and then replacing the screws.

The company also offers a bow-fishing model—the Primal Fisher, which is just like the regular CFSB but is threaded to accept a fishing reel that you can attach to a bow-fishing arrow. With the addition of the reel, you can also take fish and stingrays, in addition to small and big game. The bow does not come with a quiver or arrows. Those must be purchased separately.

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The takedown arrows

The takedown arrows are made from 400-spine carbon arrows with feather fletching. The arrow is cut in half, and a set of aluminum inserts (one male and one female) is glued into the two halves so they can be screwed together to make a complete arrow.

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Although they hold together well, applying some beeswax to the threads will help them stay tight over the course of multiple shots. The takedown capability makes these arrows easier to transport while back-packing or traveling, as well as conceal in your pack or bags if you are trying to hide the fact you have a weapon with you. The folks at Primal Gear Unlimited have tested the arrows to ensure they fly well from all three draw weights. Depending on your shooting style, some modification might be needed regarding where you aim if you change limbs.

Install the arrow nocking set

Once you have your brace height set properly, you can install the nocking points on your bowstring. The nocking points are used to ensure that you position your arrow in the same place every time. The location of the nocking points should be a quarter-inch or so above where the arrow rests when it is perpendicular (90 degrees) to the bowstring. There are many ways you can mark this location.

Brass nocking points are the most popular and are crimped to the bowstring with a pair of small nocking pliers. Heat-shrinking plastic tubes are another option. You slide them into place and then use a lighter or hot-air drier to heat them up and make them shrink onto the string. Another method is to use some waxed thread (or the same material used to make the bowstring) and wrap it around the string several times until it builds up enough to be used as your nocking set. Then, tie it off.

Pick the right head for the right purpose

Over the centuries, archers and hunters have developed dozens of different points to attach to the end of their arrows, depending on what they were trying to do. Although you don’t need to pierce the armor of mounted knights, as the English longbowmen of the 15th century had to do, or send a whistling arrow through the air to warn of approaching danger, you will be well served if you keep a variety of different arrowheads with your CFSB.

  1. Field points are used mainly for practice, shooting at targets or roving through the woods, shooting at leaves, dandelions or rotten stumps to sharpen your aim.
  2. Blunts and small-game hunting heads can also be used for roving, but are intended for hunting small game, such as rabbits, squirrels and birds.
  3. Spring-loaded heads, such as the Zwickey Judo or the Muzzy Grasshopper, have wires sticking out from the head so they catch in the grass and leaves. This helps prevent them from getting lost under the clutter on the forest floor. They can also be used for both roving and small-game hunting.
  4. Broadheads are two or three bladed heads used for hunting medium to large sized game animal, such as deer, bear, wolves and coyotes. these arrow heads should be kept razor sharp to bring down your game quickly.

The quiver

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The Primal Revolution Tactical Quiver is a 23-inch quiver made of Cordura nylon with MOLLE webbing on the exterior for adding pouches for items such as shooting gloves, arm guards or extra bowstrings and arrow points. The interior is one large compartment with a hook-and-loop strap. You can use the strap to hold the collapsed longbow in place and pack your full length or takedown arrows in the rest. The quiver’s straps allow it to be worn on the hip as a side quiver or across the back as a back quiver. Using the MOLLE straps, you can also attach it to any pack or belt that also has MOLLE attachment points.

Other primal gear equipment

In case you don’t already have any archery or bowhunting gear, Primal Gear Unlimited stocks everything you need. By checking out the various sections of the company’s website, you can order arm guards, shooting gloves, quivers and hard cases. Also available are bowstrings and accessories, such as nocking points, string wax, bow-fishing equipment and all the different arrow points you need.

As you can see, a takedown longbow such as the excellent one made by Primal Gear Unlimited is a great addition to your emergency gear, whether you plan to use it at home or during a bugout situation. It is easy to use, easy to conceal, quiet in use and has many uses—from hunting and fishing to self-protection to marksman-ship practice.

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If you’re looking for a well-designed tool to help you survive in the woods while maintaining a stealthy profile at the same time, this compact and lightweight bow is worth checking out. It can serve as a backup up to your firearm, or it might just be all you need to make it through to the other side.

Editors Note: A version of this article first appeared in the 2016 print issue of American Survival Guide.