Obscure Object of Desire: Big Joe 5

Guy card check here. When someone asks you why you need a crossbow-speargun hybrid that person better not possess the Y-chromosome. “Killing Nazis” or “Killing Sentries” are good reasons along side “Cuz Cool”.

For those of you who do not know, Big Joe 5 was a crossbow style weapon developed around WWII by the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) which was like the forerunner to the C.I.A. Our guys needed a compact and quiet killing machine for assassinations and taking out sentries. It used a series of bands to store its energy instead of a recurve or compound bow setup.

“Yes”, even in the atomic age a crossbow is a weapon of war albeit a niche one. Supposedly, this thing was lethal out to 200 meters but I would not go past 200 feet with it. Going off of the little I know about archery and the slightly more I know about firearms ballistics, for a single shot (huge caveat) I would take this thing over most subsonic rounds of the era.

Crossbows are still employed in modern conflicts – again infrequently. They are quiet, deadly, and can be effective. They are very quiet, more so than many rifles and handguns that deliver near the same level of lethality.

But hey, that is not why I want one. I just want it because “Guy” and “Cool”. I think I would rather have a replica than an original. I would want to shoot the thing once in a while and it seems like one that was actually employed in theater would be worth a lot in terms of money and/or sentiment.

This gadget could be folded as well which means it could probably fit in a ruck sack or back pack. It seems like this thing would be a lot of paperwork free fun!


  1. Sam L. says:

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh. COOL!!!!!

  2. knightofbob says:

    Back in the ’90s, one of the catalogs I subscribed to had a folding crossbow with something like a 250 lb draw weight. It seemed utterly impractical and I question the reliability of a folding mechanism under that much pressure, but I still want one.

    This thing looks like a Royal Nonesuch/Jorge Sprave collaboration. And I mean that in the best way possible.

    As an aside, one place crossbows are still in active combat use is with special police in southern China, where they have attacks from Uyghur separatists. The idea is that a crossbow bolt is less likely to set off a suicide vest than a bullet.

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Obscure Object of Desire: Big Joe 5

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