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A crossbow is a more advanced primitive weapon which, when combined with modern materials and techniques, can be comparable to modern weapons in terms of damage infliction. They are not very common in war, but are sometimes seen with rebellious street gangs or irregular troops. Often they are developed with an automatic draw mechanism which allows for much faster reload, but it is impossible to move and reload at the same time, making it a cumbersome weapon.[1a][2a] The standard missile is a bolt tipped with steel, ceramic or plastic.[1a]


Heavy Crossbow

The Heavy Crossbow, also referred to as 'arbalest', is a ranged weapon of considerable size and is capable of delivering bolts with impressive force, easily able to penetrate primitive forms of armour. Heavy crossbows are typically used the wars of Feudal Worlds or as gaudy, hunting toys of the nobility.[7a]

Purgatus Crossbow

A Purgatus Crossbow[3]

More advanced Crossbows are also utilized by the Inquisition's Ordo Hereticus, and have become a symbol of their order. Known as the Purgatus Crossbow, it is a fusion of a Boltgun and a standard crossbow and is able to fire with more force than a Shotgun blast. However, it is its ammunition that is the true marvel; heavy wood and silver stakes inscribed with wards and runes designed to disrupt a creature's contact with the Warp, making it an excellent weapon to hunt Psykers.[3]

Stake Crossbow

A Stake Crossbow[4]

A Stake Crossbow is a specialized weapon used by the Ordo Hereticus. When the Crossbow fires, it fires a silver stake engraved with sigils that destabilise a psyker's connection to the Warp. The impact of the stake against a psyker will not only cause a major wound, but it will cause his powers to go out of control, destroying the psyker in a storm of psychic energy.[4] The Stake Crossbow might be attached to a bolter to form a Combi-weapon - the Condemnor Boltgun.[5]

Catechist Pattern Stake Crossbow

A derivative pattern of the Stake Crossbow, the Catechist-pattern Stake Crossbow is a high-power, self-loading mechanical crossbow weapon fires specially constructed 15 centimetre adamantine-silver alloy stakes. Thee stakes are diamantine-tipped, microetched with deadly prayers of anathema against the witch and the Daemon and feature razor barbs that snap out from the stake to embed in the target’s flesh as well as a sufficient draw weight to pierce many conventional forms of body armour. The special stake-bolts are especially “holy” and have a particularly deadly effects on certain warp creatures and psykers. If iy deals sufficient damage, the bolt becomes embedded in the victim dealing additional damage if removed by force. The Stake-bolts for the Catechist are rare items and can only be acquired through the Holy Ordos itself.[7b]

Crossbow Bolt Pistol

A Crossbow Bolt Pistol is a Crossbow capable of firing Bolts, a volley at a time.[6]

“Deliverance” Light Crossbow

An especially quiet and easily concealed weapon, the Deliverance Light Crossbow can be used one-handed or even on a wrist mount with minimal impediment. The weapon deals less damage than a stereotypical crossbow, but compensates with a faster reload time. They are manufactured in small quantities across a number of Askellian Feudal Worlds.[8a]

Selvanus-Pattern “Castigator” Heavy Crossbow

Originating from the Forge World Selvanus Binary, a world with a reputation for producing advanced technology, the Castigator Heavy Crossbow is something of an oddity. It is an ostentatious device which fires bolts almost a full metre in length which can knock a man prone with even a glancing hit.[8a]


Reynbows, also referred to as a mag-bow or reyn-bow, are a crossbow-like weapon from the planet Gereon. Used by the local 'Sleepwalker' tribesmen, the weapon fires fifteen centimeter long, iron quarrels, tipped with resin imbued with the venom of a local species of moth which is incredibly lethal to unaugmented humans. Resembling a machine bow, instead of a traditional string launcher, reynbows magnetically sling their darts at the target. Each reynbow is handmade and individualised, though they all follow the same basic design of a long, hollow tube of metal or hardwood with a trigger grip set behind it, and a shoulder-stock behind that. A power cell appears to be built into the shoulder stock, while the metal arms of the bow are coiled back more sharply than any conventional crossbow and are weighted at their tip. The bows are virtually silent and fire with tremendous force.[12a][12b][12c]

Specialised Ammunition

Typical crossbows utilise quarrels or bolts, firing munition's ranging in size, shape and material from crude wooden shafts with flint tips to steel darts with razor sharp points. Some, quarrels are even further specialised to deliver payloads with unique attributes.[2b]

Explosive Quarrels

Explosive arrows and quarrels might be treated with one of a variety of unstable alchemical compounds or crudely tipped with shells. This ammunition overcomes a crossbow's primitive design, enabling it to pierce more advanced forms of armour and inflict greater damage, albeit at the cost of accuracy.[1b]

Blessed Ammunition

With arrowheads covered in microscopic etchings of warding and devotion, forged from relics of ancient saints, tempered in the spilt blood of martyrs, or wrought with prayers to the Emperor to banish His foes, Blessed Ammunition also referred to as 'Sanctified Ammunition' can be effective against enemy psykers and warp entities.[8b][10]

Purity Rounds

Purity Rounds are a weapon created by the Cult of the Pure Form, to further their war on the Mechanicus; the round has recently come back into favor, as the cult expands its influence. Each round has a small haywire generator that activates the moment the shot strikes its target, minimising the victim's chances of avoiding its effects.[9][8b]

“Emperor’s Light” Thermal Bolts

An attempt to rig otherwise primitive crossbows with anti-vehicle capabilities, the "Emperor's Light" Thermal Bolt attempts to solve the ineffectiveness of low-tech weapons against armour by fitting small melta charges and magnetic clamps to the front of crossbow bolt. The resulting ammunition is effective against vehicles, though suffers suffer from a lack of accuracy due to the bolts increased weight.[8b]

“Emperor’s Wrath” Shard Bolts

The "Emperor's Wrath" Shard Bolt is a cruel device intended to cause maximum lingering harm. A shard bolt is made of a brittle metal which breaks apart after penetration, causing the resulting splinters to twist further into the victim's flesh. These shards cannot be removed from the victim without inflicting further, excruciating pain.[8b]

“Heretic’s Match” Incendiary Rounds

The ungainly arrowheads of the "Heretic's Match" Incendiary Round are filled with promethium or other incendiary materials, and ignite with immolating fire on impact. Few heretics can withstand this fury of the righteous made manifest. While effective at setting targets alight, the bolts are unreliable. A variant of the ammunition is also produced as a shotgun shell.[8b]

Silver Stakes

Though not nearly as potent as the stakes from a Purgatus Crossbow, these bolts are still an effective against those who gain strength from the Warp.[8b]

Theta-Pattern Concussion Bolts

Rediscovered by the eccentric and outspoken Tech-Priest Magos Dahnnic Rhom, Theta-Pattern Concussion Bolts contain a proximity sensor that explodes a fraction of a second before impact. This detonation creates a micro-singularity that sends a concussive wave of unrelenting force in all directions.[8b]

Theta-Pattern Shock Bolts

Another attempt by the Tech-Adepts of Core Theta to marry more advanced technology with primitive weapons, Theta-Pattern Shock Bolts embed several micro-electrical capacitors within a tungsten tip, emitting a non-lethal discharge, designed to incapacitate anything up to a grox in size.[8b]

Abyssal Bolts

A refinement of the crude Abyssal Charge grenade and used by only fearless Radical Inquisitors, Abyssal Bolts use embedded shards of corrupted metal to shred the soul as well as the flesh.[11]

See also


Primitive Weapons
Close Combat Combat aссessorySwordClubHammerAxe
FlailGroxwhipSpearStaffGreat Weapon
Arrow-Throwers BowHandbowCrossbowHarpoon Gun
Slug-Throwers Flintlock PistolMusketBlunderbussScatter Cannon
Other Throwing WeaponSlingBolasBolas Launcher