Last updated on May 16th, 2018 at 03:40 pm
Since Medieval times, the crossbow was both a hunting weapon and a weapon of war. It was cheap, easily produced and allowed nations that didn’t have an archery tradition to field a ranged force. Today, a crossbow is still a hunting weapon, as well as a sports one, but it’s not exactly cheap. Buying a crossbow requires careful consideration, no matter if you want to use it for target practice or hunting. If you wanted to buy one, you’re in luck, because we’ve searched near and far to bring one of the most extensive crossbow reviews you’ll ever see.
But that’s not all. Aside from our reviews, we have two additional aspects you’ll be happy to read and exploit. First, we’ve included a buying guide, so you know exactly what to look for in your future weapon and what we’re referring to in our reviews. Finally, since crossbows aren’t an everyday purchase, we’ve found a selection of promo codes and deals you could use and get a bargain purchase.
Best Crossbows - Experts Reviewed and Tested
Today, we have a selection of 16 outstanding weapons that ought to appeal to those shooting both standing targets and moving targets alike. So, let’s jump right in!
Ravin R15 Predator
Our first product comes from one of the best brands on the market – Ravin. Though they’ve upgraded their arsenal with the R20, the R15 Predator crossbow remains very much relevant. The Ravin R15 crossbow is one of the most powerful out there, with a draw weight of 220 lbs, but with a draw force of only 12 lbs. This force translates to a speed of 425 fps and a kinetic energy output of 160 ft. per Ibs, meaning it can kill any game in the US at 50 yards. It also comes with a 100-yard scope and a quiver attached, plus 6 Ravin bolts with 100-grain practice points – ideal for zeroing in.
One of the best parts of this crossbow is its very narrow profile. Thanks to advanced engineering, the bow’s axle-to-axle width is but 6 inches cocked, meaning it’s smaller than most crossbows. As a result, R15 one of the best, if not the best crossbow for hunting – well, maybe it would have been, if not for the R20 model.
- Exceptional power
- Small profile
- Can be used for hunting any pray
- Breakneck speed
- Very expensive
- Does not come with drawing aid
Barnett Ghost 410 Crossbow
Second up is a very fine crossbow from Barnett. The 410 Ghost is among the fastest crossbows on our list and, for what it offers, it’s quite affordable. Its draw weight is quite considerable, standing at 185 lbs, making it a perfect fit for hunting. This is further supported by the fact that 410 is clocked at 410 fps and is very quiet, so you can bet that deer will fall to the ground before it even realizes it’s been struck.
These couple of facts rank this item quite high in all Barnett crossbow reviews. However, its size seems to be one of the most important factors for hunters. Namely, the bow is 20” from axle to axle, which is about the average span for a hunting crossbow. The crossbow also comes with additional accessories. It comes with a 3×32 scope, three bolts, a quiver and a drawing aid device, which is something you might need using this bow.
- Powerful and fast
- Excellent value for the money
- Comes with a scope and drawing aid
- Relatively narrow profile
- Best crossbow for deer hunting
- We observed customers reporting dry firing incidents
SA Sports Empire Beowulf Compound Crossbow
Our next crossbow is more of a budget option that a grade-A weapon. SA Sports Empire Beowulf crossbow is a fine-tuned piece of hunting and target practice weaponry with a very affordable price tag. The bow has a formidable draw weight of 175 lbs, and has a very decent 14″ stroke, allowing it to move a bolt at a very impressive 360 fps. It’s also a full inch narrower than Ghost, making it ever so maneuverable.
The only problem with this weapon is that it’s not the quietest crossbow of 2018. This somewhat limits its usefulness as a hunting weapon, as there are more silent weapons, and this might mean a world of difference when you’re on the hunt. Even though it’s quite affordable, you can reduce the price further with one of the Sears promo code offers.
- Reasonably powerful, with good speed
- Very affordable
- Comes with a scope attached
- Quite a narrow profile
- Not the quietest bow around
- The bolt groove is a little rough, might damage the string and the fletching
Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow
Moving on to no.4, we’ve got the Carbon Express Axon Crossbow. If you’re looking for the best tactical crossbow, Axon about fits that profile. It’s affordable, but quite powerful, and offers numerous customization options. The crossbow comes outfitted with a Picatinny rail so that you can mount any scope on it. Plus it comes with an AR rifle family stock, so people experienced in shooting with an AR will feel very comfortable shooting with this bow. The length-of-pull is also adjustable, so you can highly personalize your bow.
As for the bow’s performances, you’re looking at a 13.5” power stroke with a 175 lbs draw weight, creating a speed over 360 fps. Its kinetic energy output is not the best though, standing at 122 ft. Ibs. The bow’s width is 13.5”, which makes it one of the narrowest crossbows on the market. Overall, it’s an excellent, highly customizable, bow that will never fail you on the hunt.
- Very narrow profile
- Quite affordable in its power and speed range
- Highly customizable
- Comes with a drawing device
- Does not have the best kinetic energy output
- Certain quality issues with the front hand post and metal pieces that hold the bolt at the front
Wicked Ridge Invader G3 Crossbow
At spot no.5 we’ve got the Wicked Ridge invader G3 Crossbow. This is one of the best budget crossbows, offering an excellent price with very decent specifications. The bow boasts 165 lbs of draw weight, fires a bolt at 330 fps and has a more than decent 13.5″ power stroke. The bow is not overly wide as well, being 19″ from axle to axle making it reasonably maneuverable. The bow is also very quiet, which, combined with its specifications, makes it, hands down, the best deer hunting crossbow of 2018. The bow comes with a cocking device, a 3x scope and three carbon fiber bolts plus a quiver. Since this crossbow is one of the most popular ones, you can get it at a reduced price by using Walmart’s deals and promo codes.
- Quite affordable
- Decent power and speed
- Fairly maneuverable
- Fairly light
- Comes with a cocking device
- Not as powerful, but can be still used for deer hunting
Excalibur Null Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow
If you’re looking for a real beast of a crossbow, then you need Excalibur Null Matrix Grizzly Crossbow. As the word “grizzly” in the name suggests, this crossbow is intended for hunting big game, and, boy, does it deliver. 200 lbs draw weight at only 100 lbs draw effort, fires a 350-grain arrow at 305 fps. With these stats, Excalibur Null Matrix is more than enough to bring down the eponymous grizzly, and at a great price, especially if you’re buying it off Academy and grab one of Academy promo codes.
One of the interesting things is this is a recurve crossbow, whereas all others so far were compound bows. Another interesting fact is that Null Matrix is almost the same as Excalibur Crossbow Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow with Twilight Dlx, optimized for a treestand, and boasting a 290-pound draw weight. Sadly, this Hulk was discontinued, due to the new Null Matrix, but we figure you’ll be plenty satisfied with Null, even without the extra 90 lbs of draw weight.