Dating back to ancient China, the crossbow technology has advanced more in the last 20 years than in the past 2,000 years. Nonetheless, despite its various advancements, this kind of weapon remains a short-range hunting tool with a maximum range of 40 yards. In case you’re wondering why hunters still utilize such weapons, it stems from the fact that they allow them to deliver a very precise silent shot at close range.
If you’re considering purchasing a crossbow in the near future, then our website filled with lots of useful reviews and guides can help you make an educated decision – one that you won’t regret once you’re out on hunting field!
Best 10 Crossbows Overall
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|Review||150 lbs||315||7.7 lbs||20"||400||12"||4.5|
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|Review||175 lbs||235||5.8 lbs||20"||100 tip||10.5"||4|
|Barnett Quad 400|
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|Review||150 lbs||345||8.4 lbs||22"||400||15.2"||4|
|SA Sports Fever|
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|Review||175 lbs||240||4.8 lbs||20"||400||11.5"||4.5|
|Barnett Ghost 410|
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|Review||185 lbs||410||7.2 lbs||22"||400||15.4"||4.5|
|Excalibur Matrix 380|
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|Review||260 lbs||380||5.9 lbs||18"||350||13.1"||5|
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|Review||175 lbs||350||8.6 lbs||20"||350||12"||5|
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|Review||165 lbs||360||6.8 lbs||22"||420||15.5"||5|
|Barnett Wildcat C5|
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|Review||150 lbs||320||8 lbs||20"||400||12.2"||4.5|
|Barnett Ghost 350|
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|Review||175 lbs||350||7.6 lbs||20"||400||12"||4.5|
Best Crossbows for Sale by Price
Price Range: $100 – 200
Our Choice: Arrow Precision Inferno Fury
This is a perfect candidate as a best value-for-money crossbow. Although it resides in the affordable range, its performance is still comparable to high-end crossbow models. With its simplistic design, it is a great model for most beginners. Expert users can also get this if they wish to opt for an extra, less pricey model. The Inferno Fury is great for both a power hunting tool and practice weapon. As mentioned, it is packed with many features yet still coming to you at a very low price.
The crossbow’s kit comes with an included three red dot sight, rope cocking device, arrow rest, basic arm guide, foot brace and 16 inch fiberglass bolts. What’s more, there are additional features you might want to look out for. One of those features includes ambidextrous stock and safety. Whether you are left or right handed, it is suitable for the job. The weapon is also highly durable as it resistant to dry fires with anti-dry fire capability.
Price Range: $200 – 300
Our Choice: Barnett Jackal
Whether you are making preparations for the next game hunting session or have an interest in taking up archery, you will need a dependable crossbow! The Barnett Jackal Crossbow is one of the best choices around. This particular model comes with a sleek and professional design. With a military-style stock, it is very convenient to carry around, thus it is a great tool to have when you go out hunting. It also comes with synthetic string and cable and can launch arrows at a speed of 315 fps.
When you purchase the complete kit, you are provided with a premium red dot sight for more accurate aims, quiver and light bolts for easy removal and vice versa. Furthermore, the divided fore-grip makes it more comfortable for your hands. All in all, the Barnett Jackal is super light and ergonomically designed for ease of use and versatility.
Price Range: $300 – 400
Our Choice: Barnett Outdoors Brotherhood
Crossbows are popular weapons for hunters of all sizes, shapes and ages. The Barnett Outdoors Brotherhood is no exception. Each Barnett package upholds the three words that represent all hunters, which are stealth, strength and passion. For a compact package, its power allows the bow to shoot up to 350 fps with 109 feet per pounds of kinetic energy! The crossbow is also so lightweight that it is only 7 pounds; this weight is considerably light for a compound bow.
The Outdoors Brotherhood is equipped with Barnett’s high-powered cam system as well as the Crosswire strangle and cable system. Premium cross strings from Crosswire are made of materials that are top-notch in quality. However, the crossbow does not come with string suppressors, meaning it isn’t as quiet as other, more expensive, crossbows. According to numerous reviews online, this model is well balanced and has an excellent trigger. In fact, they are great at suppressing vibration!
Price Range: $400 – 600
Our Choice: Barnett Ghost 350 CRT
At a weight of only 7.5 pounds, the Barnett Ghost 350 is one of the lightest crossbows on the market. Not only that, but this particular model is quite easy to handle, which makes it ideal for beginners or for light weight users. Its shooting speeds are impressive and it is thanks to the amount of power that can be built up by its whiplash cams. The cams allow for much smoother release and quieter shots.
One of the greatest advantages users will enjoy with the Ghost 350 is its safety feature. Indeed, when it’s cocked, its anti-dry fire trigger engages the safety automatically, which makes it more suitable for competitions and hunting as it is very safe to carry around. Every shot is almost effortless as there is reduced coil and vibration.
Price Range: $600 – 800
Our Choice: Carbon Express Intercept Supercoil
The Intercept Supercoil is based on high performance and deadly accurate. This crossbow offers the best of both worlds combined in a single unit, and it is a military AR-style design that shoots at devastating speeds. It offers top of the line premium parts that can be adjusted to multiple positions, giving users the flexibility to go for any shooting style they desire; even in tight spaces. Having flexibility in tight areas allow you to reduce or prevent inaccurate shots!
The Intercept Supercoil takes advantage of a Picatinny design platform to accommodate most commercial and military AR parts. This allows users to easily customize different components of the crossbow to their heart’s desire. The things you can customize include the quiver, stock, grip, forearm and other areas. If you are someone who prefers to hunt silently in the field, you may be delighted to know that the crossbow includes SilenTech Coating, which is a rubber-like finish that’s applied to the exterior.
Price Range: $800 – 1000
Our Choice: Barnett Ghost 410 CRT
A game changer like the Barnett Ghost 410 CRT, weighs only 7.3 pounds and has a 20 inch axle to axle. Compared to the Ghost 400, this model is faster and much lighter than the former. Do not let the 410’s lightweight fool you, as it maintains some of its most impressive features. Similar to the Ghost 400, it features the Carbonlite Riser Technology (CRT) that’s owned by Barnett.
This technology enables you to change the direction of the balance point away from the back and riser to your shoulder if you are shooting. The Carbonlite riser is amazingly strong and boasts a five to one safety factor. The ultra-light riser is also patent-protected and provides user the perfect balance of speed and weight. To enhance your experience with this model, you should use it with a cocking rope device. It is a good add-on that you can benefit from, no matter how strong you are.
Price Range: $1000+
Our Choice: TenPoint Venom
Do not let the price intimidate you too early! This premium level crossbow infuses a woven carbon fiber barrel that’s about 19.9 inch with TenPoint’s famous FSB stock, as well as a supercharged XLT bow assembly to create an ultra-compacy and extremely light model that is able to deliver a deadly hit at a speed of 372 fps! Many expert hunters have even dubbed it the ultimate crossbow to get.
Putting the TenPoint Venom together is a no-brainer as you can refer to their detailed instruction manual at anytime. It is downloadable from their website. Furthermore, its wings are bedded between the barrel and stock to serve as noise dampeners. It also has rubber safety wings to help keep your fore-grip fingers and thumb safe. All in all, this model is built to last, and you can easily tell from the quality craftsmanship and parts used. The scope is crystal clear and the looks of the carbon fiber barrel are stunning. Did we mention that cocking the crossbow is a breeze?
Things to Consider Before Buying a Crossbow
In case this is your first time shopping around for a crossbow, then take note that this is going to be a difficult decision. In general, the best way to determine which model is right for you will mean trying it out by yourself. If you’re shopping online, then you should make time to visit a specialized shop where you can handle a version similar to the one you’re ordering.
There are several aspects to account for before buying a crossbow. Because it is a lethal weapon, the most important thing is safety. In this regard, the auto safety engage and the anti dry fire device constitute critical features. Remember that if you dry fire your crossbow, meaning you shoot without an arrow loaded, then there’s a chance the limbs and stings can crack, potentially causing injuries to your face and arms.
Here are some other aspects to consider in addition to safety features:
- The type of bow that best suits your needs
- Draw weight
- Power stroke length
- The weight of the crossbow
- Scope sight
- The types of arrows and bolts
Although there are numerous models available on the market, in the end it all boils down to two main types, namely compound and recurve crossbows. Often described as the modern variant of crossbows, the compound weapon can be easily identified via its shorter and sturdier limbs. These two critical features determine professional hunters to point out that the compound crossbow is more energy efficient. The compound crossbow presents the following advantages:
- It is considerably faster at lower draw weights
- It requires less force on the trigger sears
- It is more powerful than its recurved counterparts due to the faster speed of the bolts
- It features a simpler cocking device
- It is overall more narrow and hence, it’s more efficient for areas with dense vegetation
In spite of all these advantages, take note that a compound model incorporates a higher number of moving parts that wear out relatively easy. Therefore, if you intend to use it frequently, you will also have to dedicate sufficient time for maintenance. In addition, compounds are a lot of noisier and heavier, especially if you account for the density and associated weight of the bow’s frontal section.
At the opposite pole, the recurve bow is one of the oldest and most simplistic designs applied to these weapons. Recurve crossbows can be identified via their distinct appearance featuring a tip that is curving away from the shooter. Its limbs are bent to ensure a longer draw weight, which in turn accelerates the projectiles.
The design does not only reduce the shock you feel in the hand, but it also generates less noise while shooting. On a side note, less noise does not mean you should expect it to be 100% silent; you will hear a clatter when you shoot a recurve model. Besides being less noisy than its compound counterparts, the recurve presents the following advantages:
- It doesn’t require extensive maintenance, thus making it a perfect choice of weapon for long hunting trips
- It weighs less than a compound, making it easier to carry around
- The lighter weight also makes it easier to aim quickly
- It is easier to restring, unlike compounds that require you to use a bow press to fix a broken string
The main drawback of a recurve model is that it doesn’t feature a cocking device and hence, it will require some physical strength on the part of the user. In addition, you shouldn’t expect too much power or accuracy from a recurve weapon. Furthermore, due to the wider design, the recurve demands more draw weight for the same arrow speed.
Whether you should opt for a compound or a recurve crossbow is a matter of preference because both models include features the other does not have and vice versa. Then again, if you’re a beginner and this is your first crossbow, it would be wise to opt for a recurve model because it’s lighter and easier to manage. Moreover, due to its simplistic design, a recurve is simpler to use in the sense that you won’t have to figure out how to operate it when you are in a tough spot. On the other hand, if you are an experienced hunter who prefers a strong, forceful weapon, then perhaps a compound model is more suitable for you.
2. Draw Weight
Draw weight is a term that refers to the force required to cock the crossbow, force that is typically determined by the rigidity of the limbs and prod. In general, the higher the draw strength, the harder it will be to pull the string and, as a direct consequence, the deadlier the shot. In case you intend to use your bow for target practice or other recreational activities, then the draw weight is not really relevant.
On the other hand, if you want to use your weapon for hunting, then it is recommended to select a model with at least 150 pounds draw weight. After all, when you’re hunting you want to make sure that you’re actually killing your pray, not just wounding it.
In general, for recurve crossbows the draw weight will increase the farther back you pull the string. In this case, the bow will reach its maximum draw weight when it is fully cocked and in the locked position. Due to its design, compounds will reach a peak draw weight and then drop it to the holding weight; take note that the holding weight is usually up to 30% of the draw weight. However, high performance compound crossbows are capable of maintaining the peak draw weight longer during the draw cycle and hence, store more energy and deliver faster projectiles.
Granted, the draw weight is the direct indicator of the type of speed you can expect from a particular model. However, let’s not forget that not all bows are created equal, meaning that there are two other critical factors that determine how fast your weapon will shoot an arrow. These two factors include the shape of the cams and the power stroke. The cams, particularly their shape, directly affect the draw force curve, which is a measurement of the draw weight at a particular point in the power stroke. The power stroke refers to the distance a string can travel between the point where the bow is at rest to the cocking position point; but more on that later on.
Generally speaking, crossbows are considered weapons that can be effectively maneuvered by just about everyone, regardless of age, gender, size and the physical ability to bow hunt. However, considering that some of these bows come with draw weights of around 200 pounds, you will have to account for your physical limitations. Luckily, manufacturers have started including various cocking devices to aid you in drawing the crossbow. Nowadays, you can choose between three methods to draw your crossbow, meaning:
- Manual cocking
- Rope cocking
- Crank cocking
3. Bolt Velocity
Velocity refers to the speed with which the projectile is going to travel for the first 20 or 30 yards. On a side note, after this short distance, the bolt velocity will start to decrease. Velocity is measured in feet-per-seconds and, if you’re going to use the crossbow for hunting purposes, you should pick a bow with at least 200 FPS. Then again, if you’re serious about hunting, then a 300 FPS model is what you should be aiming for. Not only does this velocity ensure the arrow drop is small enough, but the kinetic energy is sufficiently high to guarantee the necessary accuracy for taking a target down from up to 50 yards away.
While you might be tempted to believe that higher velocity is an indicator of a better, faster weapon, in reality the measurement is relative. First off, the actual velocity is determined by the draw weight as well as the weight of the projectiles you intend to use. Therefore, at least in theory, a lighter bolt will travel faster than a heavier bolt shot with the same model.
Even though velocity is pretty easy to understand, you should be aware that the measurement is usually relative, as it mostly depends on the testing methodology and the arrow’s total weight. To put it simply, some manufacturers do not adhere to the same testing standards when it comes to determining their crossbows’ speed. While some specify the details on how their arrow speed data is obtained, others do not. It is wise to avoid investing in a weapon that doesn’t include this type of information.
4. Power Stroke Length
As previously mentioned, the power stroke length is a measurement that refers to the distance a string will travel from its loose position until it reaches the latch and gets in the cocking position. In general, crossbows available on the market have a power stroke between 10 and 14 inches, a higher value indicating a higher stroke and a more powerful shot. Without denying the importance of the power stroke length, the value should not be the most important criterion in your decision. Let’s not forget that what really matters in the power stroke is that it is properly adjusted for the draw weight.
In case you are wondering why manufacturers don’t make a longer power stroke on all crossbows, then the answer is the design of the weapons. Because crossbows tend to be heavier in the front, having an excessively long power stroke means it will become increasingly difficult for you to move the bow further out in front. Therefore, it will become harder to aim with it, making the weapon less ideal for hunting.
Take note that the only effective way to extend the power stroke on the crossbow – without diminishing the weapon’s hunting capabilities – is to incorporate the reverse draw technology method to increase its balance. In case you didn’t know, the reverse draw technology means that the riser of the bow is mounted behind the string, an aspect that allows for string to be pushed further down the barrel. Considering that when you shot, you are transferring the weight of the crossbow towards its middle area, the weapon becomes heavier in the front and it balances better.
5. Weight of the Crossbow
More often than not, hunters prefer to invest in the lightest crossbows available. Without denying that a light crossbow will be convenient while you’re out in the woods, keep in mind that a weightless weapon is harder to keep steady and maneuver while aiming. To put it simply, having a little bit of extra weight will automatically increase your aim as well as your steadiness and precision.
A further reason why purchasing a heavier model is advisable stems from the fact that the extra weight makes the weapon sturdier. Therefore, you can be certain the crossbow won’t break down due to extensive usage.
In order to select an appropriate weight for your weapon, first you will have to consider its primary use. After all, crossbows can be employed for other activities than hunting. In case you’re purchasing it for fun or target practice, then the weight and the size of the weapon are irrelevant. In fact, if the weapon will be stationary, the size and weight of the crossbow will not be an issue at all.
On the other hand, if you’re investing in a weapon for serious hunting, then opting for a model that is neither too heavy nor too light is your best bet. While it’s true the weapon will feel cumbersome during a long hunting excursion, a heavier crossbow will be more suited for your hunting needs. In the end, it is advisable to test or operate the weapon for a while and choose one that is fairly easy to maneuver.
6. Scope Sight
Even though you can still find open sights crossbows on the market, the truth is that you would better off with some sort of a scope sight. You have three options when it comes to scope sights, namely:
Pin and peep sights
Found mostly on base model crossbows, the pin and peep consists of an aiming point mounted at the front end of the crossbow, usually on the riser itself. The device also includes a peep sight bridge that is fastened at the rear of the bow. The peep sight can be made of plastic or aluminum and has a hole in it that allows you to look through it, at your aiming point. The mechanism also includes a series of adjustable pins that permit you to mark the distance; alternatively, you can use the pins to move the point of interest to the left or right.
The red dot scope sight
Available in two models – the single red-dot and the triple red-dot sights – the scope is the next step mechanism from the classic pin and peep style. The preferred scope sight of experienced hunters is the three red-dot sight, as it allows them to better judge their actual distance from their target. The top dot is used for targets at around 20 yards, the middle one for aims at 30 yards and the lower dot is for targets located at least 40 yards away. As far as the single red-dot sight scopes are concerned, you will have to make sure the dot is aligned with the target and adjust the distance according to your experience.
As you probably already guessed, optical scopes are more advanced than the aforementioned sights. Similar to red-dot scopes, they are available in two variants, namely single and multi-reticle, which serve the same purpose. Unlike the red-dot scope, the optical sights are superior, include numerous accessories and have an overall better quality, some even comparable with the scopes commonly employed in rifles.
The best types of optical scopes are those with a single-tube design, mostly because they don’t include multiple parts and have a lower chance of breaking. These optical scopes allow a magnification between 1x and 5x that can include water and fog proof screens. If you’re purchasing a weapon for hunting purposes only, then it is best to opt for a scope featuring additional illumination dots. The extra illumination sources will not only make it easier for you to hit a target in poor lighting conditions, but will also allow you to hunt during the nighttime.
Although lighter projectiles fly faster, keep in mind that reputable manufacturers recommend a minimum grain weight bolt for optimal use with their models. Shooting lightweight projectiles puts unnecessary stress on the components of your crossbow, causing them to break or fail and placing you at risk of personal injury. Therefore, it is highly advisable you inform yourself and use the correct arrows and/or bolts. On a side note, sometimes shooting with other arrows than the ones indicated by the manufacturer can void factory warranty.
The crossbow arrow is made of aluminum or carbon, has a length of around 20 inches and consists of the following parts:
- The head – refers to the part that is typically fastened into the insert at the front of the shaft. Arrows are available with field point heads and broad heads, the latter including sharp edges and being mostly used for hunting. The point heads don’t incorporate sharp parts and can be used for small game hunting as well as target practice;
- The shaft – represents the elongated body of the arrow;
- The insert – refers to the round pull-out that is attached to the front of the arrow shaft. The inserts can be made of aluminum, brass or both metals;
- The nock – is the small part affixed to the rear of the arrow shaft. Made from plastic or aluminum, the nock comes into contact with the string when you cock the crossbow. Nocks are available in a half-moon style or can be flat. A half-moon nock includes a small groove that makes it easier for you to align the arrow horizontally with the string before you take a shot.
In the past few years, crossbows have been gaining popularity in hunting and recreational activities alike. In case you intend to acquire a crossbow in the near future, then don’t forget to account for all your hunting or recreational needs before reaching a decision. Because some crossbows are more difficult to maneuver than others, it is highly advisable to select one that satisfies your requirements and that is on par with your physical abilities. And you can find out just that on our website from our reviews so have fun learning!