Cold Steel Cheap Shot 130 Crossbow, by Pat Cascio

We often only think about firearms when we discuss hard-core survival. And of course, we need a good knife for various chores. But archery is often overlooked. Today, we’re taking a close look at Cold Steel‘s Cheap Shot 130 crossbow. I quickly found that it is a joy to use.

When I was 11 or 12 years old, a friend and I used to hunt rabbits in a field – a big field – down the block from where my mother and step-father lived. I didn’t live with them, but would spend some weekends at their house. The field itself was outside the city limits of Chicago, Illinois. Believe it or not, my friend and I got a lot of rabbits with our bows. That is the extent of my use of a bow and arrow. I had no experience with a crossbow, until long-time friend, Lynn Thompson, who owns Cold Steel, sent me his newest product to test.

Some Assembly Required

Look, I don’t like to open a box, only to find out that the product inside of it, needs to be assembled, and more often than not, the instructions are not clearly written. So, I pass this chore along to my oldest daughter, and she has the patience to follow the instructions and assemble whatever it is that I need to have assembled. When I gave her the Cheap Shot 130 crossbow box, I got “that” look from her, however, inside of 5-minutes, she handed me the completely assembled crossbow. Wait? What? Huh? Can’t be!!! Sure enough, she assembled the Cheap Shot 130 and even read the instructions on how to use and it, and explained it all to me. Everyone knows that their dad isn’t the brightest tool in the shed, right?

A close examination of the Cheap Shot revealed that this thing was really, and I mean, REALLY well-made. The only change I’ll make to it is to replace the red dot sight, with a much better one. However, the red dot sight that comes with the bow, makes it ready to go.

The Specs

Let’s check out some of the things about the Cheap Shot that I’m sure you’ll like to know. First off, it has a draw weight of 130 pounds.  Wow! That’s a lot of energy sending a bolt down range, and I was thinking, this hummer is going to be hard to cock – not even close, it has a cocking handle, that makes cocking it a piece of cake, and it is FAST, too! The draw weight sends bolts down range at 226-feet per second, and is capable of 3-inch groups at 30-yards.

You get six bolts with target tips on them, as part of the package, and additional bolts are available from Cold Steel, as well as various hunting tips. Lynn told me that he took several deer and other big game with his Cheap Shot sample. Many folks don’t know that Thompson is a big game hunter. He hunts all over the world – and he uses he knives, spears, handguns and other weapons, like this crossbow. He is a world class hunter.

You also get sling was, a single point shoulder sling, an M4-style stock with buffer tube, single position red dot sight, fore grip, secondary detachable fore grip, two lens cleaning wipes and an Allen wrench for quick assembly/disassembly.

Target Tests

I set up a cardboard box, with a lot of pieces of cardboard inside of it, to capture the bolts. Well, needless to say, the first bolt went right through the box, luckily, I was able to recover it – I had a good back stop – my pump house. So, I added more sheets of card board to the box. Second shot, was very close to the orange bulls eye on the box – I was shooting at 20-yards. Third bolt was a bit low…after that I made some adjustments to the red dot sight and really started having fun with the Cheap Shot 130.

My youngest daughter, who is 30-yrs old, spends way too much time watching some of the super heroes on television, mostly the Marvel comics super heroes and one of her favorites is The Arrow – she got herself a long bow, target and some arrows and has been practicing now for some time. I still remember her first few shots in our front yard – she completely missed the target – so let’s hope her skills have improved. I’m sure she’d love this Cheap Shot crossbow, though – easy to aim, easy to shoot and very easy to reload.

The string was waxed before I used the Cheap Shot, as well as the rail that the bolts ride on. The instructions say to re-wax the string after every five shots – easy enough to do. I’d stock up on string wax, if you plan on using this crossbow for survival purposes. And I’d sure stock-up on spare strings, too.

The trigger pull on this crossbow is very light, and easy – no stacking or anything like that as you’d find on a handgun.  And, as already mentioned, it is extremely easy to re-cock this bow, for follow-up shots, too – it doesn’t take a lot of effort at all, to re-cock the bow with the lever.

I used to live outside the Oregon Coast, where there was a lot of bow hunting, and most hunters weren’t very good with their bows. I’m sure they were taking shots well beyond any reasonable distance a good bow hunter should take. It was nothing to see elk, walking down our road with as many as half a dozen arrows stuck in their rump – that is cruel! If you can’t take an animal cleanly, then pass on the shot – please!

Practical For Survival

So, where does the Cheap Shot 130 fit into a survival situation? Well, for one thing, if you plan on doing any hunting, it may not be a good idea to use a firearm, that will let everyone know where you are at – could prove fatal to you at some point if they track you down. A crossbow, like the 130 has more than enough power to take deer and elk-sized game and do it without a “bang” – it will be nearly silent. So, I think a crossbow is a darn good idea for long-term, rural survival and hunting.

You can also legally hunt various game – if your state allows the use of a crossbow – during bow season. Make sure you check your regulations before going afield with a crossbow. Your state may allow bow hunting, but may not allow crossbow hunting. Be certain of the legalities. Of course, in a total SHTF scenario, we won’t be too worried about hunting regulations.

Full-retail  price on the Cheap Shot 130 is $279.99 – but shop around, and you’ll find it for less money, and perhaps even with free shipping. Be sure to stock-up on plenty of spare bolts. You will lose some, no doubt about it. And, pick the right hunting broadheads for the game you plan to hunt. Many states are very particular about the size and shape of arrowheads used for hunting – be advised! So, if you’re in the market for something a bit different for your survival preparations, then check out the Cheap Shot 130 crossbow. It is a dandy tool for survival!

JWR Adds: I received the following proviso from a SurvivalBlog reader, who is an M.D.:

“Please advise your readers that [in most states] unless you have a letter from your physician stating that due to disability you are unable to use a long bow to hunt and should be allowed to use a crossbow as well as a release from your state’s DNR you will be breaking the law if you use a crossbow to hunt in the pre-SHTF times. As a family physician, I had to write letters for my patients on many occasions for this very issue.”


    1. Most typical deer hunting recurve bows have a 40 pound draw weight. Most compound bows have a 60 pound draw weight. A crossbow with a 130 pound draw weight is not a “toy.”

  1. I would consider this a competent training tool for the beginner. Seems to be put together fairly well. I would not use this outside the boundaries of target or introductory archery. For the money, a decent training piece.

  2. There are people who should not hunt animals with a high powered rifle or shotgun loaded with slugs.
    It is all about judgement some people develop this trait while other people do not.
    Thank you for this review. I have been dabbling in 80 % lowers and archery given the current politics.
    I can definitely see this crossbow as a tool to learn and practice. I have no doubt it could come in handy in a sticky situation.
    I do like Cold Steel products. Once again, thank you.

  3. I have to seriously question the comment about “half a dozen arrows stuck in the elk’s rump”. The elk would immediately run a half mile after the first arrow was shot or sometimes even if it missed him completely. I have been bow hunting elk a long time and never seen an elk stand around for 5 more shots!!! Come on! Other comments…40# draw weight for a standard or even compound bow is considered the minimum legal draw weight in many states. Most women bowhunters I know shoot at least 48# to 50# with a traditional bow and over 50# for a compound. Most men, use substantially heavier. However, the key to bowhunting success is accuracy/shot placement into the vital areas no matter how large and or dangerous the game hunted is. If you aren’t capable of that then use another weapon. The problem with lightweight crossbows such as this is that their downrange energy and trajectory is a problem due to a very short power stroke. On the opposite side of the coin would be that it IS capable of killing large game when shot accurately at close distances. Typical crossbows , however, are very noisy and string jumping is an issue with a crossbow this slow.

  4. Jima

    Agree with you wholeheartedly on shots at an elk. I mainly hunt white tails and if you miss one with the bow they USUALLY don’t hang around for another shot, although it has happened to a couple of my friends because compound bows, suitably silenced, are very quiet. I defer to your expertise on elk never having hunted them. ( very limited draw in WI ).

    Clearly Pat Cascio, although a very nice fellow and fine reviewer, has not hunted a ton of large game animals. I myself use a vertical bow, but have a lower end crossbow simply for a SHTF type situation where members of my prepper group do not have the skill set to use the vertical bow. One would have to admit that not having to draw on the animal and move as much is a decided advantage when hunting to survive. I always want the challenge of the vertical bow in any non survival situation, like I am sure you do.

    Keep on hunting brother. Wish I could elk hunt with you. God bless.

    1. I have a couple of Chekmate recurves with no strings ( picked up at a garage sale )trying to find some info on these if they are worth keeping

  5. ” It was nothing to see elk, walking down our road with as many as half a dozen arrows stuck in their rump – ”

    You folks out there who cannot understand the anti-hunting mentality that is gaining converts by the day, please read and re-read the above words. If you are so lazy that you cannot master the process of humanely harvesting a wild animal, if you are too busy to take the time to master a skill, if you don’t have time to practice with your bow or whatever your weapon of choice, then stay the hell out of the woods and buy your meat at Costco. I personally am repulsed at the thought of an elk walking down a road with a half dozen arrows stuck in it. Shame on some of you who call yourselves “hunters”.

    1. TWB:
      Point is that is NOT going to happen. ie) to have an elk on the road with a half dozen arrows in it’s rump. Not happening. Take one shot and miss and you might if very lucky and a quiet bow get another shot, but not if you hit the animal in an non-lethal location, it runs, it’s gone. I consider that comment to be an archery insult from someone who only knows firearms. In my 40 years of archery hunting with longbows and recurves, I have taken approximately 110 big game animals, mostly whitetails, but also 2 bull elk and 1 bull moose. I can recall only 2 wounding losses. No baiting! All fair chase hunting where the animal has the advantage. I’m not boasting, I’m just illustrating a point. Aargh!

  6. Thank you for the review Pat. It is always nice to see alternative methods of harvesting game in a SHTF situation, or anytime it is legal to use these great tools.
    It is funny how everyone becomes Robin of the Hood and knows everything about archery because their Uncle Tommy taught them how to shoot a bow in Scouts when they were twelve.
    I was a cop on the Oregon Coast in the 90s and I can attest to the lack of technique and ability by many, but not all, so-called bow hunters on the Coast. Most probably woke up half-way in the bottle and it was amazing we didn’t have to pull five or six arrows from their hunting buddy’s hairy butt from time to time.
    Hope this didn’t hurt any feelings with the reality check coast dwellers, but Pat speaks the truth!

  7. Most important aspect of a crossbow in a SHTF situation is the ammunition problem.
    Conserving ammo will be a priority. You can reuse a crossbow bolt (assuming you can find it after miss). You can also fabricate a bolt, a heck of a lot easier than improvised gun powder and primers. Its not ideal, but its better than nothing when you shoot that last 22lr.
    Also look into “stone bows.” Its basically a crossbow modified to shoot a pellet, pebble, marble, clay ball, or even a lead ball. I’ve seen modern ones on ebay which fire ball bearings. Although one capable of firing a stone might be more practical.
    In the old days people used these for small game, which you are far more likely to encounter than an elk. Think “4 and 20 black birds baked in a pie…”

  8. There are a lot of crossbows on the market, this one included, that do not have the speed or power to reliably and cleanly kill a large game animal. Cold Steel says it will shoot 226 fps, and a good hunting crossbow for deer-size game should shoot at least 300 fps and some go over 400. When this product came out, I asked if longer/heavier prods would be coming out to make it suitable for anything more than fun shooting and small game. At that time, they said no. Please don’t try to use this for large game until it can generate more speed and power. I think at least one of the Gulf states allows use of succinylcholine (suxamethonium choline) for poison arrows for some hunting. I would not do that, but that might be the only way to use such a lightly prodded crossbow.

  9. Saw a lot of comments about not using the Cheap Shot 130 on large game. Sorry, but after killing two white tail, two wild boar and a javelina with it, I have to disagree with you. If you keep your shots to 20-25 yards and use a 2 blade broached like the Magnus Stinger you can kill just about anything. This last deer season (2018) we had complete pass-throughs on two bucks and one doe out to 22 yards. The Cheap Shot is a very competent close range killer and is ideal if you are pressed into using a crossbow for self defense. As for bolts, any standard carbon or aluminum arrow can be used in a pinch. Just cut off one of the vanes or feathers and shorten the “nock” to a “stub”. It will shoot pretty darn straight and if you have time, you can shorten the shaft to 16″ or so as well.

    Here is the YouTube video showing us hunting with it and having pass-throughs for proof.


    Lynn C. Thompson

  10. I just ordered the cs130 for bowfishing. I am excited to try it and hope it lives up to my expectations. I like the cocking lever idea. We shoot a lot of fish from bullheads to alligator gar. I have 3 bowfishing boats lots of bows and a ravin crossbow but that is too powerful for bowfishing. Compound bow at 45-50 # works good so the arrow doesn’t go all the way through as bad. Also when you miss if the bow is too strong it can be really hard to pull out of the bottom or cattail roots. Season is soon but the ice is still thick here in NW Minnesota and we are already back from Texas.

  11. Where can I get additional strings for this? I’ve tried several string shops and they don’t have anything even close for the Cheapshot 130. Cold Steel doesn’t even carry them.

  12. Draw weight is one thing, power stroke is another, the cheap shot 130 which is based on the ek archery r9 system. The 130lb limb delivers roughly 30ft/lb of enery.
    To put it in perspective a full size crossbow delivers anywhere between 100 and 200 ft/lb of energy.

    Its a great little bow for fun, for hunting i have some reservation, close range maybe, wouldn’t try anything passed 20yards. Bolts are also an issue, not the most accurate

Comments are closed.