Due to changes in hunting laws across the country, the crossbow’s popularity has surged since 2013. In the past few years, lots of hunting companies have devoted lots of energy to producing the best crossbows on the market. However, as the selection of weapons grows wider and wider, it has become increasingly difficult to determine which are really worth the money, let alone which one is the best for your needs.
We’ve come to the rescue to help you make an informed decision. We put serious time and effort into researching all the options on the market today. After studying the features, specs, and technical info for countless bows, we undertook a huge analysis of reviews from previous buyers, to find out how these models stack up in the real world.
In the end, we’ve narrowed down our list to the top 3 ultimate shooters, based on features, price, and user reviews. Read on to find out what you should consider before purchasing your own!
First, take a quick look at our current most popular recommendations:
Overall Top 3 Crossbows Reviewed
1. Barnett Ghost 410
With a shooting speed of 410 FPS, the Barnett Ghost 410 is one of the most powerful crossbows you can own. This, combined with its superb accuracy, 180 lb. draw weight, light weight of 7.3 lbs., and short axle-to-axle length of 19-7/8”making it the best crossbow for hunting, especially when stuck in a small place looking for large game. It has a flawless string latch and trigger system, which gives you a very fast and smooth release with each shot. includes everything needed for quick assembly, and allows for such a high level of speed that you are certain to hit your target before they ever hear a sound. Priced at $999.99 on cabelas.com, it includes a 3×32 scope, talon sling, quiver, rope cocking device, and 3 arrows.
Reviewers have nothing but good things to say about this bow. Hunters reported that it’s easy to carry, feels rugged and durable, and is super easy to set up and take down for tuneups. Many reviewers wrote that with a bit or regular maintenance, they firmly expected this weapon to last indefinitely.
In the field, it performs far above its price class. This bow can take down rabbits and other small game past 200 yards, and it’s powerful enough to take larger game at close range. Many hunters remarked that one of the most important hunting feature on this bow isn’t actually a specific component, but the overall weight, which makes carrying this through the woods and getting set up for your shot a cinch.
2. Excalibur Matrix 355
Featuring Excalibur’s Ergo-Grip technology, as well as Compact Recurve Technology, the Matrix 355 is comfortable to hold and doesn’t leave you with aching shoulders after a long day. Recently redesigned for improved performance, it is lightweight (5.4 lbs.), compact, and produces less noise than older versions. It is easy to use, accurate, and deadly at distances well over 70 ft. It has a shooting speed of 355 FPS and a high draw weight of 240 lbs. However, it can be easily and smoothly cocked using the included rope cocking aid. It is priced at slightly less than $900 and includes “Kolorfusion” applied Realtree Xtra Camo, four arrows, a Quad-Loc riser, and the rope cocking aid.
We like it because it’s very smooth and easy to draw, especially given the higher draw weight. It’s also a compact, simple design like the Barnett. That means very little risk of breakages, and a lifetime of low maintenance operation.
Previous buyers had lots of praise for the Matrix 355. Many raved about the accuracy of this weapon, and said it made an ideal target practice choice, as well as a very reliable hunting companion. That accuracy comes from the combination of excellent balance, a high-end scope, and the simple firing mechanism. It’s easy to find and hold your target, and the smooth release makes it easier to fire without disrupting your angle. Like the Barnett, it’s relatively lightweight and small, which made it a popular choice among smaller shooters and women.
3. Barnett Jackal Crossbow
Considered to be one of the best crossbows for those new to the sport looking for an affordable option, the Barnett Jackal is comfortable to use and features a cool design reminiscent of the military. We’re impressed by the power factor, more than anything else. Although it has a lower draw weight (150 lbs.) than many other models, it has a FPS of 315. As a result, it can be easily used for target practice, but it is also quite apt at taking out large game from distances of 50 ft. or more! Previous buyers who took the Jackal hunting reported taking 250lb game with ease.
It can be assembled in less than 10 minutes, features an automatic safety to prevent dry firing, and is constructed from high-quality materials. We’re also impressed by the price, which is less than $3o0. The package includes a detachable quiver, quiver attachment platform, a tube of wax, and three arrows. With all its great features, we consider it to be the number one high-value for the money choice from Barnett in our best barnett crossbow reviews article. Plus, since it’s so durable, many reviewers said that after years of use, it still fired like when they first bought it.
The Jackal receives high praise from reviewers for being an affordable option in a high-priced market. Novice reviewers said that while they bought it with modest expectations, they were surprised to find that it was actually quite a good weapon. While it’s marketed for affordability, it’s a light, maneuverable model with good performance and solid construction. Plus, it looks great!
The Top 5 Best Cheap Crossbows Under $500
Finding a high-quality, durable and affordable option for less than $500 can be a challenge. With so many different models to choose from, it’s hard to know exactly which ones are the best and which ones just cheap and not high quality.
We’ve done the work for you, and weeded out the ones that are a waste of time and money, resulting in our list of The Top 5 Best Cheap Crossbows Under $500!
5. Centerpoint Sniper 370
This crossbow offers speed and great accuracy, all at a reasonable price. This bow has a fully adjustable forearm and tactical stock, so it works for people of all sizes. With a 185 lb. draw, and a 13.5″ power stroke, this bow delivers speeds up to 370 fps. The full package includes a illuminated scope, a sling, carbon arrows, a quiver, and rope cocker. This is a great out of the box option. Our only criticism of this bow is that it is a tad front heavy, and might not feel quite as solid as more expensive bows. That being said, it’s tough to beat this for the price.
4. Wiked Ridge Invader G3
Next up we have the Wicked Ridge Invader G3 by TenPoint. This bow also arrives as a package, which includes a multi-line scope, three arrows (20″ carbon), and instant release quiver, and a self-retracting rope cocking system. This bow is very light compared to most, especially for the price. With up to 330 fps, it’s not quite as powerful as the Centerpoint Sniper 370, but it still packs a punch, with 13.5″ power stroke and 165 lb. draw weight. When we tested this bow it was very accurate. Other than not having an illuminated scope, for hunting in low light conditions, this is definitely a solid choice.
3. Jaguar CR-013 Series Crossbow 175 lbs. Spring
Typically priced under $300, the Jaguar CR-013 Series Crossbow 175 lbs. Spring is our #3 choice for The Top 5 Best Cheap Crossbows Under $500. This one is a great value at this price, and includes a 30 millimeter red dot sight, as well as a shoulder strap for comfort and stability when shooting.
This powerhouse fires at speeds of 245 ft. per second, and has a 34.5 inch length. The Jaguar CR-013 Series includes a total of four 16 inch bolts, seven level brightness adjustment, and is a composite stock rifle style model made from fiberglass. The Jaguar CR-013 Series is available in your choice of black or camo finishes.
This one makes a great bow for beginners or for those on a budget. We highly recommend it.
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2. Barnett Penetrator Crossbow
With a full five-star rating, the Barnett Penetrator Crossbow is highly recommended by its owners, and is available as a package that includes a Quiver, 3-20-Inch Arrows and a 4x32mm Scope. Typically priced under $500, we feel that this one is a great value.
The Barnett Penetrator is powerful, and provides an easy to use, accurate shot. Its innovative design delivers a shoot-through foot stirrup, in addition to a 12-inch power stroke that’s capable of firing at speeds as high as 350 ft. per second.
The Penetrator delivers a 175 lb. draw weight, and uses 20-inch arrows. It provides 116 foot pounds of energy, and measures 37 inches long by 24 inches wide. You’ll also receive a manufacturer’s limited five-year warranty with your purchase.
1. Barnett Quad 400 Crossbow
Our #1 pick for The Best Cheap Crossbow Under $500 is the Barnett Quad 400 Crossbow. This one comes as a package that includes a Quiver, 3 – 22-Inch Arrows and your choice of a 4x32mm Scope or a premium 3 Dot Red Dot Scope, usually $400.
The Quad 400 was redesigned to include new features in order to maintain its reputation as one of shooters’ favorite bows. The Barnett Quad 400 shoots at a speed of 345 ft. per second, has a 150 lbs. draw weight, and 112 ft. pounds of energy with a 15.5 inch power stroke. The Quad 400 features a 9 lb. weight, 37 inch length, and a 26.75 inch width.
The Best Mid Price Range Crossbows
Whether you love hunting or you are an avid archer, the wide range of crossbows available in the market only make it more difficult for you to choose the right crossbow that meets your requirements. In case you have no constraint on the budget, you might decide to follow the reviews and just go with the best crossbow available. However, the situation becomes doubly confusing when you add the budget aspect to the decision making matrix. If you are looking for a beginners level (low price range) or super-expert level (high price range) crossbows, then this is not the right article for you, as we have done thorough research and in-depth analysis to help you find the best mid price range crossbows for intermediate to expert level use.
Barnett BCX Buck Commander Extreme CRT Crossbow
Looks like Barnett have put all of their 50 years experience in the making of this champion crossbow which combines high accuracy with compact design. The Barnett BCX shoots with same results at all temperatures and weather conditions. The ergonomic design makes it super-comfortable for use. This crossbow also boasts speeds of up to 365 FPS giving it the lethal touch, so that your game has no chance, and crank integration is possible, thereby enhancing the utility and versatility of the crossbow. Useful in box accessories include a Rope Cocking Device (RCD), 3 bolts, and 3×32 Scope. The RCD reduces the draw weight to almost half and the scope lets you take precision shots at high range.
- Anti Dry Fire System. It prevents the crossbow from shooting without an arrow
- Automatic Safety Latch. The safety latch automatically changes to load position on charging the bolt in the bow
- It is very light, durable and compact owing to its ergonomic design.
- Its a little louder than desired, thereby necessitating a dampener, which is not part of the package
- Quiver quality can be better.
Overall Verdict – Barnett BCX. With loads of features and a winning design, Barnett BCX definitely packs a punch. The accuracy was tested and found very good in all weather conditions. The light weight and ergonomic design make it extremely comfortable to use. It scores a high 4.6 points out of 5 on our scale and is therefore the best crossbow for the mid range category.
Excalibur Matrix Grizzly SMF Crossbow
The quality of an Excalibur crossbow is never under question, it is the price which normally puts away a prospective buyer. However, the ace crossbow manufacturing company seems to have decoded the price reduction formula while maintaining all the great features of a Excalibur Matrix crossbow. The Grizzly SMF comes at a very affordable price. The beautifully balanced layout and the light weight of the crossbow render it very comfortable to handle. Some key features are: Rope Cocking Mechanism – it eases the loading of arrows on the bow and reduces the draw weight, a Vary-Zone Scope, which gives you the ability to aim and shoot accurately in one go, and a Shorter Power Stroke, which makes the bow easy and comfortable to use even for younger shooters. This crossbow also comes with 4 Diablo Bolts, which are some of the best quality arrows you can get.
- Weighs only 5.5lbs and is very compact while maintaining the strength and balance required for hunting
- Very accurate crossbow, especially using the included scope
- Four bolts and attachable quiver included in the package.
- Experienced archers will take some time to get used to the shorter power stroke
- Speed of 305 FPS is alright for most hunting scenarios, but it could be higher.
Overall Verdict – Grizzly. The Excalibur have taken a very important step by manufacturing a mid price range crossbow so that everyone gets to experience their superior quality of bows at affordable prices. There are a few minor differences from the higher end bows, but those are not easily noticed. Grizzly is a great choice for a mid price range crossbow as it offers most of the features of a professional high price range bow.
The Best Beginner Crossbow
After searching through a ton of options for beginning shooters, we’ve finally come up with the absolute best option for a beginning archer:
This Carbon Express package was rated best for beginners by Field and Stream in 2015, and we’re still loving it in 2017. It combines elements of a crossbow and a rifle, for a simple, easy-to-learn design.
We love the compact spread which is only 13.5″ wide when cocked. It’s also a lighter weapon, at 7 pounds. Both the size and the weight make it an ideal choice for people who aren’t used to hauling around crossbows or aiming with something this wide.
We love the hybrid barrel, which uses a picatinny trail like you’d find on a modular rifle. It allows for a custom grip, and the trigger assembly provides the strength of a bow assembly with the feel of a handgun.
It also comes with a rope-pull tool for getting things cocked and ready to go. That’s super helpful for new shooters, who won’t be used to a 175 pound pull weight.
We especially like that although it’s designed to be used by new shooters, it doesn’t skimp on the power. This is a weapon you can actually take hunting. It’s powerful enough to achieve a 355 feet per second flight speed, which is enough to bring down serious game. Unlike lots of other entry-level options, this one will grow with you from the practice yard to the field.
Best of all, it’s covered by a 5-year warranty. That’s more than enough to protect your investment through the learning curve.
The Ultimate Buying Guide: How to Choose
Now that you have narrowed down your options, it is time to decide which option is the best one for you.
According to expert archers, there are several things to consider prior to making your final decision. The most important factors are cost, draw weight, arrow speed, and the power of the scope. Let’s explore these features more closely to see how they impact your final decision.
This simply means the quantity of force you will require to cock the cross-bow. This is calculated by looking at how rigid its limbs, as well as its prod, is. The higher this number is, the more strength you will require to pull the string. It will also indicate how lethal the arrow is.
The lowest number you should settle for is 150 pounds. Any lower will work for practicing on targets, if you plan on using the crossbow for hunting – you will need those 150 pounds to make sure your prey is killed and not just wounded and then wandering around the place in agony.
Remember that you will have to cock the weapon by hand. You put your foot in the stirrup which is located on the highest level of the crossbow, then you have to fix it using your leg to the ground to give you the right balance. After that, you can pull the string until it’s secured in its place.
You will be basically lifting a weight of that amount (draw weight). That sounds awfully intimidating, so there is a way to make the whole thing easier. You can get a rope or even a crank device specifically designed for cocking a crossbow.
The measurement taken is calculated in feet for each second and it simply tells you how fast the arrow will travel through the air. However, it indicates how fast it will fly over 20 to 30 yards when you fire it and afterward it will slow down.
The lowest you should pick is 200 feet per second (FPS). It also depends on the draw weight as well as how heavy your preferred arrows are. Of course, it makes sense that a heavier arrow will travel slower than a lighter one. So when you are looking and comparing different crossbows, the numbers will be calculated using similar arrows to give you an accurate result. Many crossbows are already sold in a package with arrows, so the numbers will be calculated using those arrows.
For a more detailed explanation of choosing the right speed for your needs, check out this video:
It is the distance the string will move from position A to position B where A is a loose string and B – position at the latch and the cocking point. Most crossbows are between 10 inches and 14 inches. The higher stroke power will generate more power in the arrow, but don’t worry too much about this number. The most essential issue is to adjust the stroke depending on draw load of the crossbow. If you are not sure about any of these things – ask a professional to help you the first couple of times.
Energy is needed to cock the cross-bow, but it is also constantly moving. In this case – from the cross-bow cord to the arrow itself when it’s released. The higher the number of the draw load as well as the lengthier the power stroke, the higher amount of energy will go to the arrow, making it more lethal.
It will move faster in the air and the trajectory will be straighter as well. It can be determined by using a calculation, but it is simply too complicated and time-consuming. There are other things to spend your time on, like the plan of the weapon itself. How ergonomic is it? Think about the plan of the narrow track and mechanisms.
Accuracy is one of the most important factors when choosing a crossbow, and all these effects have an impact on it. There is no point in having the most powerful crossbow if you are not comfortable using it, or it’s simply inaccurate.
If you go for the 250 pound smallest of 200-FPS and about 10 inches, you will become the owner of a powerful weapon that will not make you sorry you bought it. It will be good for practice shooting and actual hunting because of its accuracy and how comfortably it fits your body.
How much will it cost?
The prices are different from place to place and don’t always reflect quality. Archery is one of the industries where you still have to be fairly sure of what you need from your weapon and its parameters. You also might need to do some more research looking at the same model of the cross-bow in few different places. This way you can find and choose the best one to use much easier than simply reading about them.
Don’t discard reading-based research either, especially if you are a first-time buyer. Also, don’t just buy it online, even if you trust the site. Look at them in person first to figure out which really suits you best.
All weapons are subject to the weapon’s regulations, and if you talk to a person in a shop, they will be able to tell you about all the little details on each particular crossbow. This way you can be absolutely sure of what you want or need.
Quality crossbows will take about anything above and including 120$. Any lower than that and it starts to be unreliable. It will mean the weapon is low quality and you could cause yourself or someone else serious injuries by using something like that. There are only a few models below 200$ you could consider.
However, if you are ready to invest, spend a little more and get one around the 300$ price point as your first crossbow.
Make sure you only buy them from legitimate sources to not only be smart about the money you spend but also to avoid scams or worse – injury either to yourself or someone else in close proximity. It is, after all, a weapon that can turn deadly if not used properly.
Cocking your crossbow
It is one of the most important parts of the crossbow because without cocking it there will be no shooting – target or otherwise. There are three main ways you should know about.
The Manual Way
Most cross-bows will possess a part called a stirrup. It is a semi-triangular hole at the front side of the crossbow. You put one foot inside it while your leg weighs it down and then your body weight allows you to pull the string so it can be successfully cocked. If you prefer doing it this way be sure that your thumbs are as near to the stock as they can be otherwise it will not be done properly.
The accuracy will go down and the string might get damaged. This is one of the hardest ways to do it, because, as mentioned before, it will basically mean deadlifting 150 pounds or more, depending on which mode you have decided to buy. There are two better options that make it easier.
The Rope Cocking Way
Using a rope is great because you don’t need any additional accessories on the weapon itself. It is also not an expensive additional gadget you need to buy since most will cost between 15 to 30 dollars. Some heavier crossbows will already have a package rope since it’s very rare that someone would just deadlift something like 175 pounds. Unless it’s the way you like it.
You basically will be able to decrease the force required for drawing the string in place. It will be easier to do it accurately and evenly improving the shooting quality and accuracy of the crossbow.
The Crank Option
If you have money left over after buying your crossbow, deliberate investing in a crank mechanism to make cocking easier. It will be adding 100 to 150 dollars, but a worthy investment.
It is a mechanism you can attach weapon’s back and then draw the string by turning the crank. It’s exactly that simple. If you’re trying to teach your kids about crossbows, they will be able to do it with a crank. However, always remember that they should only do it under strict supervision.
Be ready that the mechanism might be heavier than you’d think and it will take you a long time to do it without damaging the crossbow or the string. However, it will allow you to easily cock the heaviest of crossbows without pulling a muscle and that is a definite advantage.
There are now online ballistics calculators available that will allow you to gather data about speed, energy, arrow drop and force for up to 70 yards which is quite impressive. You could do the mathematics with a pen and paper but that may be a terrible waste of time and resources.
You need to put in the mortar grain load and the speed if you wish to calculate any of these sections. The more different aspects you provide, the more accurate the reading. For example, fletching-height as well as shaft length can help with accuracy.
Crossbows and their scopes
There are two different scopes you will become familiar with if you need to do this on a regular basis. Best sets will always have one, so if at all you want to invest in a scope, check if your crossbow has one in the kit already.
Red-Dot Crossbow Scope
One of the simplest but also on the cheap range. There are single and triple red dot scopes and the difference starts when you have to align the crossbow with your target. You will have to attempt to align the dot with the target. But what about the 3 dots? Well, in that case, the top one will be about 20 yards, the middle – about 30 and the bottom – about 40 yards of range. You will as well want to know how far it is based on your feel and experience
Optical Crossbow Scopes
These will be more expensive and will also be a little heavier. However, they are more accurate and different in range. They are mostly water and fog proof, so you don’t have to worry about the elements. There are single and multi-reticle scopes to help you align the weapon with the target. If you’re just starting out, possibly a red-dot is fine, but as your skill increases, you might be interested to invest in an optical scope just to make your life a little easier.
A good scope is imperative if you want to have an accurate shot and position yourself far enough away that you cannot be detected by your prey. When looking at scopes, determine the range you will need. Smaller game are best tracked when a short- or mid-range distance scope is used. Make certain that the scope fits properly and does not get in your way. For a detailed account of how to choose the best scope, check this out:
Compound or Recurve?
The main difference is between its limbs and the mechanism. Compounds have a system known as cams that make the process of drawing the string simpler than the recurve ones. They deliver more powerful shots, but it’s not a guarantee and given.
• Compound crossbows will be a bigger investment
• They are heavier and harder to control
• More complex in design and more possibilities of malfunctioning because there are more different parts in them
If you are a beginner in this kind of field, then you should pick a recurve crossbow and then gradually grow into a compound one as you go along.
Your skills will grow as you get used to the weapon and your understanding about how they work will do the same.
Arrows and bolts
y crossbow manufacturer issues recommendations about the arrows you should use with any particular weapon. Most cases will not go over 20 inches. They are wither carbon or aluminum and there are several parts on each arrow.
The main portion of arrow is called the shaft
The nock may be a piece of plastic or aluminium at the final of the shaft. It comes in connection by the string when you cock your crossbow.
Insert – broad head with sharp edges or a field point without the sharp edges. The latter is mostly created for practice.
Arrows have different aspects, such as the load of the head. Don’t worry about any of it if you’re just starting out. It will not make any difference when you’re practicing or while you are still learning about how they all work.Once you’re sure that this sport and lifestyle is for you, you can slowly start to experiment with different arrows.
It will take some time before you can call yourself a professional, but it is not only an interesting hobby to pick up but almost a lifestyle. It will offer you new perspectives and you will slowly learn about the different crossbows people use on different occasions. If you can – talk to people who do it seriously because they will be able to offer you insights like nobody else.
The Ultimate Crossbow
As we did our research, we kept searching for the model we could dub “The Ultimate Crossbow.” After looking at dozens of models from different brands, offshoots, and special makers, we think we’ve found the ultimate choice!
The Ten Point Venom has made the top of the Editor’s Choice list in Petersen’s Hunting, Fish and Game, and other periodicals for the past few years. It’s a smart, technical crossbow with some truly fantastic features. It has a carbon-fiber barrel, for the ideal balance of strength and light weight. It has a modified cable system that produces over 370 fps arrow speed, which is one of the best on the market. And even with all that power, it’s incredibly compact and maneuverable. The whole thing is less than 36″ long, and has a very manageable 13.3″ width when it’s cocked. It also comes with a deluxe scope, carbon fiber arrows, adn an onboard crank-cock system. Overall, previous buyers and professional reviewers simply raved about what a pleasure this one is to shoot. We don’t think you can do any better!
While this is a premium-priced bow, it’s loaded with premium features and premium performance. It’s also backed up by a lifetime warranty, from a company that has an excellent reputation for customer service. Our take: If you can make it happen, go for it! You’d be hard pressed to find a better investment!
Also check out our brand reviews, TenPoint crossbow reviews and Parker crossbow reviews, where we discuss what each brand is known for, and we compare the highest-value crossbows that each brand manufactures.