Finding the best crossbow to meet your requirements and stay within your budget can seem like an intimidating task. Thankfully, with the right information and guidance, finding the crossbow that rises above the rest isn’t that much of a challenge. Whether looking for the top crossbow within a certain budget or the most powerful crossbow, we can help make the choice much easier.

To help you better access this information, we’ve compiled what our research and personal experience have proven to be the top 5 crossbows available on the market today. If you find a crossbow from the top five list that you’re interested in, be sure to scroll down and check out the condensed crossbow reviews of each one.

A lot of time and research went into making this page, and we hope it will serve as a tool to start you on the right path for finding the best possible crossbow for you.

Our Recommended Top 5 Crossbows

Product ImageBrand NameWeightOur GradingPrice
Barnett Ghost 41013 PoundsA+

Excalibur Matrix 35510 poundsA+

Barnett BCX Buck Commander12.4 pounds

Barnett Jackal Crossbow12.3 PoundsA

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow 9.9 pounds

Best Crossbow for the Money by Price Range

Different users have unique needs when it comes to choosing the perfect crossbow. Some people aim to choose the highest quality model available, but many people look to purchase crossbows within their budgets. In these instances, it is ideal to find a crossbow that is the top model for the price range users are willing to shop in. To help buyers, we have compiled a list of the best performing models within eight different price ranges. After finding a suitable range, read the models’ in-depth reviews to help make a purchase.

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury

It works well for experienced crossbow users that want a lightweight alternative when not using larger kits, but it also works well for beginner hunters wanting an affordable package. It comes with four 16-inch arrows and a 3-dot multi-range red sight, and the unit is light and comfortable to crossbow

It has a draw weight of 175 lbs that can down a deer from as far as 20 to 30 yards, and this draw weight is low enough for more athletic adult beginners to manually cock the weapon by placing a foot through the stirrup. It has a speed of 235 feet per second that works well for amateur shooters.

This speed may not seem like much compared to more advanced models, but the bow is very powerful and accurate for those needing to improve hunting and target shooting skills.

Barnett Jackal

The Jackal crossbow package comes at an affordable price, and it features a red dot sight, a detachable quiver, and bolts to make it ready to shoot right out of the box. It is a powerful crossbow with the added benefit of its affordable price.crossbow reviews

It is capable of easily taking down deer or elk from 40 yards, and at 100 yards it can still shoot well for target practice. The Barnett Jackal is so powerful it requires the use of thick and solid targets for practice, and it is likely to destroy lower quality targets within a short time.

It comes with an excellent sight included, and beginners are able to easily hit targets with it from the start. The Jackal has a draw weight of 150 lbs with a trigger pull of 3.5 lbs and a power stroke of 12 inches. Its velocity is 315 feet per second. The unit provides some of the features of more high priced units with its low price that makes for an incredible value. It features a sleek military-style body that is lightweight with a divided grip for hand comfort.

Excalibur Axiom SMF

The Excalibur Axiom is arguably the top crossbow that you can buy with a few hundred bucks. It offers a velocity of 305 feet per second with a draw weight of 175 lbs on recurve limbs. The model is a very powerful bow with a 14.5-inch power stroke and low-recoil design. It is designed for the hunter, and it can take down everything from elk to crossbow for the money

It also works well for those simply needing to practice target shooting. The unit comes with a scope that offers clear views even in low lighting conditions before dawn or after dusk. In addition to its power, the unit is highly accurate and reliable.

The Excalibur Axiom weighs only 6 pounds. Its super-light body makes it easy to haul around on long hunting trips. Like many quality crossbows, this model often surpasses those well beyond its price point in terms of features and efficiency.

Barnett Buck Commander

The Barnett Buck Commander shoots at 365 feet per second with 126 ft/lbs of kinetic energy, 175 lbs. of force in the limbs and a 14 inch power stroke. One of its most impressive features is its 175 pound draw weight that enhances the lethality of its speed and crossbow for beginners

It comes with Barnsdale laminated limbs that are encapsulated with the brand’s AVI technology to reduce noise by 20 to 30 percent. The unit features an aluminum flight rail along with Crosswire strings and cables that provide a quieter, faster and more precise shot.

It features a shoot-through foot stirrup for more power and a more compact fit. The red/green dot sight provides illumination that offers a quality close to that of a rifle scope along with the accuracy of a multi-reticle scope. The Buck Commander is one of the best models in its price range, and it is significantly advanced in terms of power and performance.

Excalibur Matrix 355

The Excalibur Matrix 355 shoots at a speed of 355 feet per second, and it has a draw weight of 240 pounds. The package comes with a rope for cocking, but it should still be left to fairly experienced and athletic users.

The brand’s ergo-grip technology allows the unit to fit in the hands like a rifle for more stability. It handles recoil well enough to keep it in a straight line without moving the bow up when firing. The unit also comes included with Dyna-Flight 97 string that is used in high-quality compound shooting crossbow

The Matrix 355 is an extremely powerful weapon that is better suited for the serious hunter, but target shooters can aim for something more affordable. This model was designed to be as powerful as possible in addition to its accuracy and stability, and it makes a great choice for amateur and professional hunters.

Barnett Ghost 410

The Barnett Ghost 410 can shoot at speeds up to 410 feet per second, and it produces 145 ft/lbs of kinetic energy. It comes with the Ready To Hunt (or RTH) package that includes everything needed to go out into the field and begin hunting as soon as possible.

The design of the bow along with its Carbonite riser make it a comfortable and balanced unit that even beginners can handle easily. The powerful crossbow is easy to assemble, and it can manage 2 to 3 inch groupings as far as 70 yards.

The Ghost 410 can take down nearly any animal as it utilizes twice the energy needed to eliminate a bear or buffalo. It is one of the top crossbows on the market regardless of price range, and it matches well to a variety of conditions regarding the user’s experience or applications.

TenPoint Vapor

The TenPoint Vapor is a perfect hunting crossbow that is made to excel in speed, weight and maneuverability. The crossbow is easy to carry along in the field due to TenPoint’s parallel limb design that reduces the dimensions of the model from axle to axle.

The unit is also lightweight, and it comes included with the exceptional RangeMaster Pro scope. The cables are also of high quality, and they should last for a very long time under normal conditions before needing replacement.

As one of the top rated crossbows available, the unit produces speeds of up to 360 feet per second with 121 ft/lbs of kinetic energy, so even the most disciplined hunter can expect great results taking down game from this model.

The TenPoint Vapor is arguably the most well-made crossbow on the market, and it is highly recommended for professionals, serious hunters or enthusiasts willing to overcome its larger price tag.

Best Hunting Crossbows

The Purpose of a Hunting Crossbow

The needs for hunting crossbows are more advanced than those for standard applications, and there are several characteristics that these tools offer over other styles.

Crossbow hunting involves traveling long distances over time, so the top crossbow for hunting should have a weight light enough to avoid discomfort during the trip. In the same way, the size of the crossbow should facilitate an easy and comfortable trip. The tool should be compact enough to carry easily.

Crossbow hunting involves taking down large prey at close range, and these tools provide the power and accuracy needed to take down some of the most fierce game in the wild.

What To Look For In a Hunting Crossbow

There are numerous factors to check for when shopping for a crossbow to ensure the best purchase. The crossbow should have a velocity high enough to eliminate prey at 40 yards away, so a velocity of 250 feet per second is usually the minimum needed for a quality hunting bow.

A hunting crossbow should not add too much weight to the hunter’s load. Hunting trips often involve long hours and limited space to operate, and lighter models are much better in these conditions.

A quality crossbow should also come with a quality scope, and the best ones can hold zero for longer times, feature 3-dot sights and avoid draining the battery too rapidly. An important factor is the unit’s cocking mechanism. A quality weapon will cock smoothly and quietly to avoid scaring away or missing out on taking down the game.

Hunters can check hunting crossbow reviews to compare models and match them to their own specific needs.

Best Models

The best hunting crossbow for each user may vary based on individual needs. For those needing speed, there is very little difference between the Excalibur Axiom SMF and TenPoint Vapor with 365 to 360 feet per second respectively, but the Commander weighs 8.1 lbs to the Vapor’s 6.8 lbs.

Both the Commander and the Excalibur Axiom SMF have a draw weight of 175 lbs, but the Barnett Jackal has a greater velocity than the Axiom. Those looking for the top crossbow for deer hunting may want the TenPoint Vapor, but the Commander and Axiom are much more affordable.

Best Mini Crossbows

Mini crossbows are also referred to as “pistol crossbows.” There are several types available, but some are much safer to operate than others. Unfortunately, there are many models of cheaply made mini crossbows being sold through online retailers.

To ensure purchase of an authentic and safe crossbow mini, it is best to read through reviews to find the best models around. Before purchase, you should determine what you plan to do with the crossbow.

Most mini crossbows are too weak to attempt to use them for hunting, but some models may be suitable for use with small yard game such as squirrels or rabbits. You should also check for assembly requirements, as there should be little to no assembly necessary aside from stringing the unit to begin with.

The materials used to make the mini crossbow should be noted as well as this can mean the difference between a cheap poorly made model and an authentic quality unit.

The best mini crossbow will be made of aluminum or highly durable plastic material with an aluminum flight rail. The string should also be strong enough to maintain with consistent use.

The 2.2-lb Blade USA Eagle 2 is one of the best mini crossbow models with a velocity of 250 feet per second and a draw weight of 150 lbs. Another top model is the 1-lb Cobra Pistol with its velocity of 150 feet per second and draws weight of 80 lbs.

Crossbow guide

What is a Crossbow?

crossbow is a bow mounted onto a stock, and it is shot from a horizontal position unlike standard bows. Today’s crossbows are very powerful devices primarily used for hunting and target practice.

The different kinds of material used to make these bows can act as a guide to help users select the right type of bow. They are typically divided into recurve and compound crossbows.

Crossbow Types:

Recurve Crossbows

The recurve design is one of the oldest and most standard forms of the crossbow. The recurve crossbow uses limb that face away from the user. They are a great choice for beginner archers as they are simple in design and more affordable.

The benefits of recurve models come from the maintenance required as they are made of fewer delicate components, and parts and strings can usually be easily replaced if broken. The best recurve crossbows make quieter shots compared to those from compound crossbows.

Compound Crossbows

Those desiring more modern designs may prefer compound crossbow models. These crossbows feature shorter strings with limbs that are attached to pulleys. They feature cam systems that allow easier drawing of the crossbow in addition to storing more energy.

The additional stored energy makes the weapon more powerful and allows bolts to travel faster. Compound bows feature shorter limbs that make them easier to carry in smaller spaces compared to wide recurve bows.

Compound crossbows are also more accurate by comparison as recurve bows have no cocking mechanism, but compound bows are heavier with more fragile parts.

Which Type of Crossbow is Better?

The type of crossbow a hunter considers to be “better” will depend upon that individual’s unique hunting needs. The biggest differences between recurve and compound crossbows involve how the devices are cocked in addition to the shape of their limbs.

Compound crossbows use cams to make drawing the weapon much easier compared to recurve models. This results in more powerful and efficient shots by comparison.

The downside to compound crossbows is their price and complexity. These models cost more on average than their recurve counterparts, and they are comprised of many more parts that are delicate enough to malfunction more often. These parts require much more maintenance compared to recurve models. It is also more complicated to change the strings on a compound crossbow.

Compound crossbows are heavier than recurve units, and the weight tends to sit in the front due to the cam system. This can make the unit droop more when aiming, and this issue requires compensation on behalf of the shooter. Because of the power they produce, these units are often loud enough to startle prey.

Both recurve and compound crossbows have benefits and drawbacks. Beginners are usually better suited with recurve models as they will not need the power and complexity that comes along with a compound crossbow and its higher price. Once skill develops, the user can upgrade to compound models for the power they provide.

Where Are Crossbows Used?

Crossbows are highly versatile machines, and they have a number of applications because of this versatility. Target shooting is one of the most common uses for crossbows, and it is likely the purpose for which most beginner users will purchase their units.

Archers have more options when using the tool for target practice, and factors such as power or speed are not always a priority.

Aside from target shooting, hunting is the most common use for crossbows. Unlike firearms, crossbows offer quick and powerful elimination of games without loudly scaring the animals away or disturbing locals nearby.

There are various types of crossbows available depending on hunting styles, but they all require advanced abilities beyond those meant to be used mostly for target shooting. Crossbows used for hunting must offer lots of power, precision, and simplicity.

Crossbows are often used in the veterinary field along with tranquilizer darts for large animals. This allows the scientists to safely and effectively put the animal into a sedated state from a distance with a decreased risk of injury to either party. They can be also used to shoot lines or hooks across natural obstacles such as rivers and cliffs.

Aside from real-world applications, crossbows have made a greater and greater impact in the entertainment industry over the years.

Once thought of as an uncommon weapon, the crossbow is now celebrated as the primary tool of some of the most respected characters in popular films and TV shows, and many people are drawn to begin using the weapons as a result of this effect.

Crossbows vs Compound Bows vs Recurve Bows

Crossbows and traditional bows are all useful for hunting game, but there are benefits and drawbacks to using each type. Becoming familiar with such information is imperative for making an educated choice upon purchasing a new bow.

Compound Bows

Compound bows present numerous benefits over crossbows. In order to increase the draw length of a crossbow, the actual unit has to be made longer to increase its total length. This makes the bow bulkier and heavier, but compound bows only require changing a module to increase the draw length.

The power stroke of a bow is the distance the string must travel from resting to drawn position, and a longer power stroke allows the unit to shoot faster.

Compared to compound bows, crossbows have a much higher draw weight that generates energy in its short power stroke.

Compound bows have draw weights usually less than one half of that required for a crossbow, and a compound bow at half the draw weight is much faster with more energy than that produced by the crossbow.

The reduced draw weight helps these bows avoid the problem of excess vibration, and the problem of unwanted noise is easier to avoid this way. Compound bows are longer than crossbows but are not as cumbersome to carry around.

Compound bows are more accurate by comparison due to having a consistent anchor point. String loop knots hold the arrow in place, and the release is on the same point with each shot.

Recurve Bows

Crossbows are much easier to maintain compared to recurve bows, and this is especially true for recurve crossbow models. It is easier for beginner archers to master the motions and skill using a crossbow, but loading a recurve bow is much faster.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Crossbow

The Type of Crossbow

Different crossbows produce different effects depending on their design, their quality or their purpose. Anyone planning the buy a crossbow should consider the type they will need for their own specific activities.

The user’s skill level, strength, and familiarity with the weapon will also determine which type of crossbow is best. Beginners may prefer a recurve style model, but those planning on doing serious hunting may opt for a compound crossbow.

Crossbow Velocity

The listed velocity of a crossbow determines the speed at which the bolt will travel over the first 20 to 30 yards as the velocity will eventually start to decrease. The velocity is measured in feet traveled per second, and quality crossbows should have a velocity of 200 feet per second or greater.

The actual velocity produced by a crossbow is determined by that unit’s draw weight in addition to the weight of the arrows being shot, and heavier ones travel slower than light ones shot from the same weapon.

The velocity an individual needs will be determined by their use of the weapon (target shooting or hunting) and the type of game they plan to hunt.

Crossbow Draw Weight

The draw weight refers to how much force will be needed to cock the crossbow. The draw weight is determined by the rigidity of the limbs. A higher draw weight will result in a more powerful and effective arrow, but a higher draw weight also makes it more difficult to cock the weapon.

To make drawing the string easier, it is helpful to purchase a rope or crank cocking device. Quality crossbows should have a minimum draw weight of 150 pounds. Lower draw weights are acceptable for target shooting, but hunters need greater draw weights to effectively take down prey.

Crossbow Power Stroke

The power stroke is the distance the string must be pulled in order to be cocked, and most weapons have a power stroke between 10 and 14 inches. A crossbow with a higher power stroke will produce a more powerful shot.

Crossbow Weight

Crossbows can be purchased in a range of weights. Compound crossbows are usually heavier than their recurve alternatives, but there are exceptions with a few models.

The weight of the unit will likely be determined by its design and the power with which it shoots as more components added to the weapon will create better function.

The weight of a crossbow should be determined based on how much the user is willing to haul around when using it.

Crossbow Length

The size of a crossbow can make it more or less cumbersome to carry around during hunting trips. Most users would be concerned about the width of the unit in this regard, but any increased dimension adds to the overall weight of the crossbow. Increased weight and size both affect how well the shooter will be able to hold the unit steady when aiming at a target.

Energy Output

The energy output of a crossbow is the amount of energy transferred from the string of the crossbow to the bolt once it is released. Crossbows with higher draw weights and longer power strokes allow a greater transfer of energy to the arrow. This creates a more powerful and deadly projectile, and it experiences less of a drop in its trajectory the faster it flies.

What Type of Limbs is Best on a Crossbow?

The limbs are the two “arms” that extend out from the body of the crossbow, and they are attached to the riser. The string is attached to the tips of the limbs. Quality crossbows have limbs made of carbon, fiberglass or a hybrid of both materials. These materials are lightweight while also being durable, and this is essential considering the strain put on them by modern crossbows. Crossbows made with limbs of wood are much more likely to break.

Arrow Length

When purchasing a crossbow, it will come with a recommendation from the manufacturer for the length of arrows that should be used with it, and different models can often have very different arrow lengths. The standard recommended length of arrows to use with many units is 20 inches, and most of this comes from the arrow shaft. Beginner users should be more concerned with proper handling the crossbow before experimenting with various arrow lengths.

Noise Produced by the Crossbow

When choosing crossbows, reviews can help you determine which models may cause more noise than others and avoid those that have a reputation in this regard. Excess noise can be disturbing to other hunters, can disturb your ability to shoot and can scare away game. Some models may be louder depending on how or where they are shot, but a good crossbow does not cause too much noise in most cases.

Crossbow Accuracy

The accuracy is one of the most important aspects of any crossbow. The accuracy determines how well you will able to land your chosen target, and this is extremely important whether shooting for target practice or hunting game. The accuracy is largely dependent on the shooter, but the crossbow can help or hinder your ability to shoot. Models with included sights should be easy to zero in and hold zero well to improve accuracy.

Additional Features and Accessories

Most manufacturers produce various accessories to get the best experience out of using their crossbows. These can include scopes, cases, cocking devices and cameras. Scopes aid in zooming in on targets for better accuracy. Cases are used to protect the crossbow and carry it from place to place when not in use. Cocking devices help users load those weapons with higher draw weights, and cameras can be used to capture photos and videos of shooting action.

How Much Money Should You Pay For a Crossbow?

It is not necessary to opt for the most expensive crossbow model available, but the quality of a good weapon will usually be reflected by its price. It is highly unlikely you will be able to find a crossbow of good quality for $100 or less. Any model that is available for an unusually low price is likely made of low-quality materials. It is generally a good idea to aim for models around $300 in order to get a weapon that is not too complex but still dependable enough to last over time as your skill develops.

US Crossbow Regulations

Before considering the purchase of a crossbow, it is imperative that you learn the laws regarding the weapons in your state. Each state has different regulations regarding the tools, so it is best to ensure you follow these guidelines when using your crossbow. In some states, owning and operating a crossbow is strictly prohibited.

Top-rated Crossbow Brands

Excalibur Crossbows

Excalibur is praised for consistently producing incredibly accurate models available for reasonable prices. They have models with a variety of velocities, so these weapons can be used for target practice as well as hunting nearly any type of standard game.

This brand’s crossbows are also extremely lightweight. Many models are less than six pounds, so they are very easy to carry around. This comes in handy for those on hunting trips that need to carry their crossbows for long periods of time.

Excalibur scopes are also known for being high-quality models. Their Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope is a fog proof unit that comes with a coated lens and red/green illuminated dots.

From all of the models made by Excalibur, there are three crossbows that stand out. The brand’s Axiom SMFMatrix 355 and Ibex SMF are some of the most useful units available. These recurve models are great choices for new crossbow users. Both the Axiom and Ibex feature a draw weight of 175 lbs, velocity of 305 feet per second and stroke of 14.5 inches. The Matrix 355 has a draw weight of 240 lbs and velocity of 355 feet per second, and each model is less six pounds.

Barnett Crossbows

Most of the crossbows in Barnett’s lineup are compound crossbows, so they tend to weight from 7 to 9 pounds like many heavier compound models.

They do not have a large draw weight, but they often have impressive speeds. There are units available in a range pf prices, so every hunter can find something within budget from this brand.

The company also makes a variety of crossbow accessories, and most of these devices can be used on crossbows from any manufacturer. The crossbows require bolts that are 18, 20 or 22 inches, and Barnett provides bolts in all size with field points. The company also makes an illuminated 3-reticle scope and a ring scope. Both are compatible with other crossbows, and they are resistant to shock, water and fog. Many users will not need a cocking device because of their smaller draw weights, but the company offers both a rope and crank cocking aid to make it easier. The Ghost 410 and Jackal models are two of the best-selling crossbows from this brand. The Ghost has a draw weight of 185 lbs compared to the Jackal’s 150, and the Ghost 410 has a velocity of 410 feet per second to the Jackal’s 315.

Carbon Express Crossbows

The company is known for creating quality arrows and bolts, and they also have a selection of impressive crossbows. Newer models are made with customizable parts to allow the user to adjust their model to better fit their own shooting needs. All of the crossbows manufactured by Carbon Express are compound, so they are heavier than many other models at 7.5 pounds or more for many units. The additional weight of carrying the units around along with the complicated design and necessary maintenance to ensure accuracy should be considered when buying a compound crossbow.

Carbon Express crossbows produce velocities from 330 to 385 feet per second, so they are great for hunting various types of game. Some of their best-selling models include the Intercept AxonCovert CX-3 and X-Force 350. The Intercept Axon is completely customizable with a velocity of 360 feet per second and a draw weight of 175 lbs. The Covert CX-3 has a draw weight of 185 lbs with a velocity of 355 feet per second, and it weighs just over 8 pounds. The X-Force 350 has a velocity of 300 feet per second with a draw weight of 165 pounds.

Parker Crossbows

Nearly all of Parker crossbows are compound models, and they are fairly quiet to shoot for compound crossbows. They feature draw weights from 150 to 165 pounds with velocities 300 feet per second or higher. Parker crossbows come with multi-reticle scopes and feature military-style stocks. These weapons make good tools for hunters as well as target shooters. Parker creates high-quality carbon bolts that are durable, straight and efficient, and they offer a variety of scopes as well. Their finest model is the Red Hot 3X32 Illuminated scope, and it is a weatherproof unit that comes with five red and green brightness settings. The scope has a field of view of over 50 feet at 100 yards, and it works with any crossbow shooting at 300 feet per second or greater.

Some of the brand’s most popular models include the Bushwacker 150, the Enforcer 160 and the Hornet Extreme, and they each provide great quality in relation to their price tags. The Bushwacker 150 has a draw weight of 150 lbs with a speed of 285 feet per second. The Enforcer 160 has a draw weight of 160 lbs with a velocity of 305 feet per second, and the Hornet Extreme has a 165-lb draw weight with a speed of 315 feet per second. The models range from 7 to 7.5 pounds.

Diamond Archery Crossbows

Diamond Archery is known for its variety of traditional bows, but the brand only produces a limited number of crossbows. The most popular crossbows in the Diamond Archery lineup include those in the Stryker series. These compound crossbows feature draw weights ranging from 135 to 160 lbs, and they all feature the brand’s CeaseFire secondary safety to ensure safe operation of the weapon. The StrykeZone models are lightweight with velocities over 375 feet per second.

Diamond Archery does not produce its own accessories for Stryker models, but this brand is the parent company of Excalibur. The accessories created for Excalibur crossbows can be used with crossbows in the Stryker series, and these affordable items are some of the best quality accessories available. The carbon bolts from Excalibur are very well-made, and they are available in 18 and 20 inches. These bolts are accurate enough to shoot in very tight groupings, and they hold up even when shot into dense targets at close range.

TenPoint Crossbows

TenPoint is known for producing the more high-end crossbow models, so buying from this brand will likely cost $1,000 or more for a quality unit. The models from TenPoint are all compound crossbows, and they offer a number of impressive features to back up their greater price. The brand’s ACUdraw technology adds in a small and lightweight cocking mechanism that allows the unit to be drawn with just one finger. This takes away the need for large crank cocking aids.

When buying a TenPoint crossbow, you can count on a high-quality stock made of superb design and extremely comfortable grip. The units also come with exceptional multi-reticle scopes. The brand’s models feature speeds of 300 feet per second or greater. Some of TenPoint’s most popular models include the Venom, Stealth SS and Stealth XLT units. The Venom is a compact and lightweight model that shoots up to 372 feet per second. The Stealth SS is a compact model with a draw weight of 185 pounds. It is designed to be user-friendly with enhanced maneuverability. The Stealth XLT also has a 185-lb draw weight with a stroke of 12 inches and velocity of 320 feet per second.

Wicked Ridge Crossbows

Wicked Ridge is a sub-unit of TenPoint, and the latter brand is known to create some of the finest crossbows available for purchase. The Wicked Ridge brand is known to create similarly high-quality crossbows just for prices lower than the typical $1,000 for TenPoint models. The affordable Wicked Ridge models are well-suited for hunting large and small game. They are efficient machines with ideal shooting traits that make them great for target shooting and hunting.

Wicked Ridge also features various accessories for their crossbows. The ACURope cocking device reduces the effort needed to cock the crossbow by 50 percent. The brand’s red dot scope features multiple illuminated dots for shooting at 20, 30, and 40 yards with red or green lighting. The 3x multi-line scope has fully-coated optics with crosshairs for 20, 30, and 40 yards. Three of the most notable crossbows in the Wicked Ridge lineup include the Invader HP, the Raider CLS and the Warrior HL. The Invader has a draw weight of 180 lbs, a stroke of 12.25 inches and a velocity of 315 feet per second. The Raider also has the same draw weight with a 12.375-inch stroke and velocity of 330 feet per second. The Warrior has a draw weight of 175 lbs, 12.25-inch stroke and 300 feet per second velocity. All of these models weigh 7 pounds.

Arrow Precision Crossbows

Arrow Precision is known for creating beginner-level weapons. The company creates both compound and recurve model crossbows. The power stroke length can vary greatly between these models, and it can range from 10 to 16 inches. There is also a range of velocities available in the brand’s selection. The diversity in the brand’s selection makes it easy for anyone to find a crossbow suitable for their needs from the Arrow Precision line. The suggested arrow length differs for each Arrow Precision model, and this is a significant contrast to many other crossbow manufacturers that usually recommend a standard arrow length for most of their units. This brand’s crossbows are fairly lightweight, and some models even weigh less than 5 pounds. The heaviest model still weighs less than 8 pounds.

The most popular models from Arrow Precision include the Inferno Fury, the Inferno WildFire II and the Inferno Hellfire II. The Inferno Fury is a 4.84-lb unit with a 175-lb draw weight, 10.5-inch stroke and velocity of 235 feet per second. The Inferno WildFire II weighs 7 lbs with a 16.5-inch stroke, 225-lb draw weight and velocity of 345 feet per second. The Inferno Hellfire II 7.5 lbs with a draw weight of 185 lbs, a stroke length of 11.5 inches and a velocity of 310 feet per second.

SA Sports Crossbows

SA Sports makes a variety of crossbows ranging from simple recurves to advanced compound crossbows, and the brand produces crossbows with affordable prices and impressive quality. Their variety suits the needs of beginner hunters all the way to those taking down the biggest game around.  SA Sports creates a full lineup of scopes, rangefinders and even cameras to capture video and stills of your crossbow action. The Raptor is a 6x20mm pocket rangefinder that helps determine distances to difficult targets, and their all-terrain camera can shoot 8-megapixel photos and 1080p video. It is a waterproof unit that can be controlled remotely to capture images without compromising safety or accuracy.

Impressive models from SA Sports include the Beowulf, the Ripper and the Empire Terminator. The Beowulf is less than 7 lbs, and it has a draw weight of 175 lbs, stroke of 14 inches and speed of 360 feet per second. The Ripper has a draw weight of 185 lbs, stroke of 13.5 inches and velocity of 340 feet per second. The Empire Terminator is less than 5 lbs, and it has a draw weight of 175 lbs, stroke of 11 inches and speed of 260 feet per second.

Horton Crossbows

The Horton brand is known to produce some rather unusual styles for their crossbows. One example is the Horton Havoc with its reversed limbs that utilize Horton’s Reverse Draw Technology, and this style is slowly catching on in the crossbow industry. Horton even carries a Zombie RIP model that is geared specifically toward the sci-fi crowd being advertised as a weapon for killing zombies.

The top crossbows from Horton are all above 300 feet per second in velocity. They are all appropriate for hunting, but some models are better suited for eliminating larger game compared to others. Most of the brand’s crossbows are over 8 pounds, so this should be taken into consideration for less athletic hunters. The Realtree Ultra-Lite model is conveniently less than 7 lbs. Bestselling crossbows from Horton include the Team Realtree Ultra-Lite, the Zombie RIP, and the Havoc. The Realtree Ultra-Lite weighs 6.5 lbs, and it has a draw weight of 175 lbs, stroke of 13.5 inches and speed of 330 feet per second. The Zombie RIP weighs 8.5 lbs and has a draw weight of 160 lbs, stroke of 13.5 inches and velocity of 305 feet per second. The Havoc is just over 8 lbs, and it has a draw weight of 175 lbs, stroke of 13 inches and speed of 325 feet per second.

PSE Crossbows

PSE is more well known for their compound bows, but they make a few models of impressive crossbows as well. These models are on the heavier side of the spectrum and usually weigh over 8 pounds. The brand’s crossbows are also quite loud, but the effects can be reduced with string silencers and limb dampeners. The crossbows all have speeds over 300 feet per second, so they are more than powerful enough to down the largest game.

PSE manufactures various crossbow accessories, but most of them include bolts. PSE’s bolt selection includes the Viper series, Carbon Force lineup and the TAC lineup. These bolts are straight-shooting, durable and able to avoid cracking against dense targets at close range. The most popular models from PSE include the PSE Reaper and the PSE Toxic Skullworks. The Reaper weighs 8 pounds with a draw weight of 185 lbs, stroke of 12.5 inches and a speed of 310 feet per second. The Toxic Skullworks model is 9.4 lbs, and it has a draw weight of 150 lbs, a stroke of 11 inches and a speed of 325 feet per second.

Crossbow Myths

  • Crossbows are more powerful than traditional bows.

In reality, the crossbow is not even as efficient as the vertical bow when it comes to storing energy. This is due to the fact that the length is shorter than that of a vertical bow, so it has a shorter power stroke. When ballistics are considered, the crossbow is just as effective as the traditional bow.

  • Crossbows are so silent they can be used undetected.

Crossbows are much quieter compared to firearms, but they are not completely silent. In addition, the slower speed of the projectile compared to that of a firearm can make the crossbow more noticeable. The bolts of a crossbow cause more damage than those from standard bows.

  • Crossbows are as effective as standard bows, so they cause no more damage than these types.

Crossbows are too dangerous to be used. Crossbows are weapons like any other, but they are no more dangerous than other weapons when the proper safety procedures are followed.

  • Crossbows are not as effective as hunting weapons.

With modern advancements, crossbows are highly effective at eliminating game. Even some of the largest animals can be hunted easily with a quality crossbow and an experienced shooter.

  • Like the rifle, anyone can shoot a crossbow.

Proper control of a crossbow requires experience and skill. These tools should be taken seriously and treated as the powerful weapons they are. Mastery of this weapon takes much longer than that to comfortably shoot a rifle.

How to Tell a Cheap Crossbow From a Quality One

A good crossbow should be made of quality materials that will last, ensure proper use of the weapon and make the operation of the crossbow as safe as possible. It is usually quite simple to tell the difference between cheaply made crossbows and those of high quality.

Cheap crossbows will usually be made of less durable materials that can compromise the strength and safety of the weapon over time. A poorly made crossbow will have a plastic hook that is likely to fail at any time, but they may advertise metal systems as these are significant features that are highly preferred over others. Quality weapons have real metal trigger systems for the utmost safety.

Tips on Choosing the Right Crossbow

Crossbow users will have different needs based on how the weapon is used, and these needs will affect how a crossbow is chosen.

There are still certain characteristics that are important across all models and all users’ needs. The velocity of a crossbow will make it more or less powerful, and this will determine how well it will be able to project through the air and subsequently penetrate targets. The draw weight also affects the unit’s velocity, and it is important for power and efficiency in the same ways. The weight of the crossbow should be well matched to the user’s ability to carry it as well as his or her willingness to do so. A heavy bow is more cumbersome, but high-quality compound crossbows used for hunting tend to have more weight. Size is as important as weight, so a unit that is compact enough should be taken into consideration.

The accuracy is essentially one of the most important aspects of purchasing a crossbow, and a quality unit will be able to enhance the user’s existing accuracy.

Cocking Your Crossbow

There are three ways to cock a crossbow including the manual method, with a rope cocking device or with a crank cocking device. The manual method involves placing the foot in the triangular space in the front of the crossbow known as the stirrup. You then press your leg down with your body weight to stabilize the weapon on the ground, lift the string and cock the weapon. This cocking method requires a virtual deadlift equal to the unit’s draw weight. Good models usually have draw weights at 150 or higher, so it may be best to consider an alternate cocking method.

A cocking rope is a great tool for most users as it does not require installation of other accessories on the crossbow. The rope is simple and affordable, and many manufacturers include a cocking rope with a crossbow. Using a rope helps reduce the force needed to draw the string by half, and this method also makes it easier to draw the sting evenly on both sides to maintain health of the crossbow and improve accuracy. Crank cocking mechanisms are more expensive, but they make cocking the weapon nearly effortless. The device is placed on the back of the crossbow and turned in order to draw the string. This method allows even those crossbows with draw weights over 200 pounds to be cocked easily. The disadvantages of this method include the extra weight and bulk of the device along with the slow process of drawing the string.

Crossbow Sights and Crossbow Scopes

You should always sight your weapon after purchase, and the crossbow packages include some form of scope.

Pin and Peep Sights

Pin and peep sights are typically found on base models, and they feature an aiming point located on the riser of the crossbow. There is also a peep sight bridge that is placed at the back of the crossbow. This is usually made of plastic or aluminum, and it features a hole to look through to the target.

Red-Dot Crossbow Scope

The red-dot scope is the next step above the pin and peep style. It is available in both single dot and triple dot sights. The three-dot sight is preferred as it allows the shooter to judge the actual distance to the target more accurately. The highest dot is used to judge targets at 20 yards, the middle at 30 yards and the lowest dot at 40 yards.

Optical Crossbow Scopes

Optical scopes are the most advanced sights available, and they are available in single and multi-reticle forms. Optical sights have much more quality compared to other types and include accessories.

Optical scopes with a single-tube design are preferred because they do not have as many parts capable of breaking. They allow magnification up to 5x and are often fog and waterproof. Scopes with illuminated dots help when hunting in poor lighting conditions.

Crossbow Arrows and Bolts

Most models come with a recommendation for the length of the arrows to be used with it, and this is 20 inches in most cases. Most arrows are made of carbon or aluminum. Crossbow bolts have different characteristics based on the components of the bolts. The shaft of the arrow is one of the most important parts. The head is the tip of the arrow, and it can come in various styles. Broadheads are sharp and made for hunting while field points are blunt and used for target shooting. The head is screwed into the insert at the front of the shaft. The nock is the part of the arrow that is pulled against the string to cock the crossbow. It is made of plastic or aluminum, and it can be flat or semi-circular in design.

For beginner shooters, the fundamental aspects of the arrows are not highly important. During this stage, it is better to be concerned with skill development and properly operating the crossbow. Once you have acquired somewhat of mastery of the weapon, you can eventually upgrade to studying and analyzing specific types of bolts. Beginners can start with the arrows included in the crossbow kit.

Crossbow Safety

A crossbow is a powerful weapon, and it is important to follow all safety precautions to make sure it is used properly. There are several things to keep in mind to ensure safe operation of your crossbow. Read the Instructions. Every new crossbow owner should take the time to carefully read the owner’s manual. It will provide a detailed explanation of how that specific model should be safely handled. Use rail lubrication and string wax. If a string breaks, it can cause serious damage to the crossbow in addition to bodily harm to you or those nearby. If the string is already damaged and frayed, change it as soon as possible. Use safety. The weapon should be set on safe after cocking. Make sure that this is the case before proceeding to use the unit. Keep your fingers in the right positions. Always make sure your fingers are below the rail before releasing an arrow. This prevents the string from hitting your thumb upon release. Never dry fire. A dry fire involves shooting the crossbow without a loaded projectile. The arrow must absorb the energy created by the bow to prevent damage to the unit. If a dry fire occurs, the limbs and strings may break and cause injury to your face or arms. Lift the crossbow before loading. If you hunt from an elevated stand, cock the crossbow on the ground before using a rope to lift it. Do not climb into a stand carrying the weapon, and do not have an arrow in place when raising or lowering the weapon.

Load your arrow only after securing yourself in the stand and lifting the crossbow. Keep arrows in the proper place. If using the stalking method to take the prey, never move around with a loaded arrow. The weapon should only be loaded upon spotting the game and preparing to shoot. Do not carry the arrow in your hand while moving. Be patient. Identify your target and its surroundings before deciding to shoot. Only attempt to shoot stationary targets on flat terrain. This helps to avoid accidents that can cause serious harm to other people or animals.

Crossbow FAQ

  • How long can I keep my crossbow cocked?

You can keep your crossbow cocked while waiting, but you should let the bow back down upon taking breaks by shooting into a designated target. Uncock the weapon at least every four hours to relax for 30 minutes or so.

  • How do you “uncock” the crossbow?

The safest way to unlock the weapon is to fire a bolt with a field point head into a crossbow target. Never try to uncock it by hand or with rope, and never fire it into the ground beyond five feet in order to avoid a ricochet effect.

  • When should the string be replaced?

The duration of your string’s life depends upon how much the crossbow is used and how well you take care of the string. If you notice damage, frays or breaks in your string, it should be replaced immediately. Keep strings and cables waxed regularly.

  • Why is the crossbow shooting to the left or right of the target?

The problem may be as simple as the crossbow being cocked off-center. If a more centered load does not fix the issue, the crossbow may need a till adjustment.

  • Why is the crossbow shooting too high or low?

Check to make sure your arrows are the same length and size and that they are appropriate for your model. If shooting field points, you can adjust the sights to fix the issue. When using broadheads, the blades may be catching too much air.

Where Can I Buy a Crossbow?

Crossbows continue to grow more in popularity, and they can be found at many standard sporting goods stores. An even better option is shopping online as it adds the convenience of ordering no matter where you are or what time you make the order. You can also preview a greater selection of models compared to the limited variety you may have in your local area.

During some periods, you may have an easier time finding cheap crossbows for sale by shopping this way. You can order directly from the manufacturer’s website or from sites such as Amazon that often offer discounts on retail prices. With this option, you can also read the opinions of other shoppers to determine if a particular model is right for you.

Making the Decision

Choosing a model for your first crossbow can be overwhelming. If you have read most of the facts available here, you are likely familiar with the essential information needed to purchase your crossbow. Consider all of the options available in the crossbow market and narrow down to the models you find the most appealing.

You must determine your individual needs and decide which model best matches them. Having a weapon that does not fit your lifestyle, body strength or skills is a waste of money along with lost opportunities. Having the proper weapon ensures better experiences for you as the owner.