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.
- Very simple, owing to its recurve design
- Quite affordable
- Exceptionally powerful
- Exceptionally accurate
- Recurve design slows down the arrow speed for the same draw weight compared to a compound bow
CenterPoint Sniper 370
The CenterPoint Sniper 370 crossbow is just before the halfway mark on our list of crossbow reviews. This item is the definition of value for the money – it doesn’t cost much but boasts of 185 lbs of draw weight and firing at 370 fps. It has a nice, adjustable, AR-like stock, and an integrated suppression system for low noise and low vibration, which is something we haven’t seen on other crossbows so far, making it excellent for hunting elusive targets like deer or rabbits.
However, be mindful – this is a bargain-priced crossbow. That being said, you’ll have to settle for some quality issues. Customers reported the limbs cracking and the strings snapping, and there were frequent complaints about the scope which was not illuminated as promised by the manufacturer, and of relatively poor quality. Finally, even though you won’t break your bank by paying the full price, why not save more with Dick’s Sporting Goods promo codes.
- Great value for the money, very affordable
- Decent power and speed for the money
- Adjustable stock
- Noise suppression system
- Problems with the quality of the materials used and the quality of the scope
TenPoint Venom Crossbow
Right when you thought we’d give it a rest with high-end bows and start reviewing budget ones, here comes TenPoint Venom. Venom is one of the best and the most expensive crossbows on our list, and for a reason. This stellar weapon comes bearing 185 lbs of draw weight and propels an arrow at 372 fps. Not only that, but the crossbow has a very narrow profile, being only 17.6 inches wide from axle to axle. It also comes with a scope and an ACU50 cocking aid.
- Exceptionally fast, powerful and accurate
- Comes with a cocking aid
- Comes with a noise dampener
- Narrow profile
- Very expensive
Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit
At spot number nine we’ve got the Arrow Precision’s Inferno Fury Crossbow. A mean name for not so mean a crossbow. This is, arguably, the cheapest crossbow on our list. However, it’s not like it doesn’t deliver – this recurve bow boasts 175 lbs of draw weight, and shoots the arrow at 235 fps. Now, this isn’t that impressive, considering the bows we reviewed before it, but, considering what it costs, we’d say it offers plenty of value for the money. Looking at its speed and power, it won’t kill a buffalo, but it will suffice if you plan to hunt rabbits and deer.
- Very affordable
- Very light
- An excellent choice for target practice
- Good beginner’s crossbow
- Comes with a 3-dot scope
- Not as accurate as other bows on the list
- Reasonably wide at 27 inches
- Lackluster power and speed
Barnett Jackal Crossbow
We’ve had one Barnett, yes, but what about another Barnett on our list of crossbow reviews? Well, here you go – the Barnett Jackal. Jackal is the younger brother of Ghost, and, as such, it’s not as powerful nor as fast. Still, it shoots the bolts at 315 fps, and has a draw weight of 150 lbs, making it an excellent weapon to hunt rabbits and deer. The bow also comes with a 3.5-pound trigger and a three dot sight. The bow is about 26.5 inches wide. Since the regular price most likely doesn’t quality for free shipping, try one of the Cabelas promo codes and get this item at your doorstep for free!
- Quite affordable, fit for beginners
- Good bolts speed
- Ideal for hunting smaller to the mid-sized game
- High-quality trigger
- Wider than most crossbows
- Not as powerful, but still shoots fast
Deathstalker Crossbow is one of the most exciting entries on our list. This is one of the higher-end crossbows on our list, made by Scorpyd Crossbows. The thing that makes this crossbow peculiar is because it has inverted limbs (they look like they were mounted backward, arching toward the shooter). These limbs increase the power stroke, allowing the bow to shoot faster at relatively low draw weights, making it easy for the shooter to cock the bow without losing power. Indeed, Deathstalker can fire a bolt at 380 fps while being rated to only 130 lbs. The inverted limbs also decrease the bow’s width, making it very narrow, and, by proxy, maneuverable.
Another interesting thing about Deathstalker is that the entire order is customizable. If you go to Scorpyd’s page, you’ll be able to pick your bow’s draw weight (115 and 130), scope, finish, quiver, arrows and even a cocker. Basically, you’re building your crossbow with Deathstalker.
- Incredibly fast at relatively low draw weights
- Fully customizable during the order
- Very narrow profile (10 ¾ inches cocked)
- Very long power stroke (17 ¼ inches)
- Colt 1911-style grip
- An expensive product; each modification also adds to the overall price
Junxing Hunting Crossbow
This Juxing crossbow is the perfect choice for those starting out. It’s very cheap but well made. Despite the name, this is not a hunting crossbow – its measly 65 lbs draw weight will barely take down a squirrel. However, for target practice, it’s more than enough. Comes with a convenient foregrip.
- Fair quality for the money
- Excellent beginner’s bow
- Good for target practice
- Low draw weight and low speed
- Not intended for hunting despite its name
Ravin R10 Crossbow
Only four more crossbows left, and we’ve got another Ravin crossbow. This time, it’s an earlier version as compared to the previous item – the Ravin R10. R10 is, despite being outclassed by the R20, still a very powerful and potent weapon. Just like the R15 and R20, it has a very narrow design that is sure to appeal to hunters. The bow boasts an impressive 185 lbs of draw weight, shooting at 400 fps while having only 11” power stroke. When cocked, the bow is only 6.5” wide. If you want to get it with a significant discount, purchase it with one of Groupon’s promo codes.
- Very narrow profile
- Exceptional power, speed, and accuracy
- Very light and maneuverable
- High-end product means high-end price
SAS Troy 370 Compound Crossbow
Spot number belongs to SAS Troy 370 Compound Crossbow. This the one of the best, if not the best crossbow for the money. It’s quite affordable and it delivers 185 lbs of draw weight, firing the arrow at 370 fps, making it very practical for hunting bigger game. The bow also comes with an adjustable tactical stock so that anyone can shoot it. It’s also very narrow, being only 14” wide when cocked. All in all, excellent and affordable hunting weapon.
- Superb price for what the weapon offers
- Excellent draw weight and speed, fit for hunting bigger game
- Very narrow profile, very maneuverable
- Adjustable stock and a nice 4×32 scope
- Doesn’t come with a muffler, so it’s a little loud
Horton Innovations NH15001-7552 Storm RDX Crossbow Package
Our penultimate product comes from Horton Crossbow Innovations, and their Horton Innovations is indeed a fantastic piece of technology and engineering. Storm RDX is similar to Deathstalker, mostly because it, too, features reversed limbs. This gives the crossbow an incredibly small profile, making it an exceptionally mobile and maneuverable weapon. The crossbow is but 10 inches wide, and, owing to its reversed limbs, it has an intense power stroke. The bow’s stroke and its 165 lbs of draw weight allow it to propel the arrow at an impressive speed of 370 fps. Thanks to all this, the bow is an exceptional weapon for seasoned hunters out to get the big game, despite the bow’s seemingly low.
- Very narrow profile, perfect for treestands and blinds
- Exceptional design leads to great accuracy, power, and speed
- Deep power stroke
- Unique cushioning that reduces limb stress
- High-end product with a high price tag
Barnett Lady Whitetail Hunter Crossbow
We’ll finish off our list with another Barnett product. It seems it’s a common practice for Barnett to make powerful but very affordable weapons. Lady Whitetail is no different – the bow is almost dirt-cheap but delivers excellent performances for its price. Whitetail can fire an arrow at 350 fps thanks to 150 lbs of draw weight. The bow is but 16 inches wide axle-to-axle, which makes it great for treestands and blinds. It’s also outfitted with individual nock sensors to eliminate dry fire and thus save your bow from damage. Also comes with a 4×32 scope, rope cocking device and lube wax for your string.
- Excellent value for the money
- Comes with a rope-cocking device and lube for the string
- Nock sensors prevent dry fire
- Narrow profile
- Excellent power and speed
- Considering it has a draw weight of 150 lbs, it might not be ideal for hunting larger game
Alright, now that we’ve introduced you to our “best crossbow 2018” reviews, here’s the buying guide we promised. In this guide, we’ll include several points, and teach you about crossbow types, parts, the importance of bow and draw weight, size, power stroke, and we’ll tell you all about the average price of high-end and low-end crossbows and where to find them.
We’ll start with the crossbow type. There are, actually, two types of crossbows – recurve and compound. The difference between them is substantial, so it’s vital that you discern between them.
Recurve crossbows are standard types of crossbows, mostly used for target shooting, though it’s not uncommon to see them on a hunt. They derive their name from the shape of the bow, which has limbs turned away from the shooter. Recurve bows are large and wide, yet light and very durable. They have few delicate parts and are usually more affordable than their compound counterparts.
Compound bows are the tools of the professional. They’re more powerful, with a faster bolt, but are heavier and more expensive. If you don’t get one of eBay’s promo codes, for instance, buying them can significantly damage your budget. Compound bows are usually used for hunting, due to their relatively narrow profile, allowing for better maneuverability, especially if you’re planning to scale a tree stand. These bows operate on a system of pulleys that store the potential energy, turning into kinetic energy in a flash. Often, compound bows are more potent than a recurve crossbow for the same draw weight. However, compound bows then to be on the heavy side, especially toward the front of the weapon (due to the pulley system) making it a little bit awkward to hold it at the ready. In addition to being heavy, the pulley system has many components that can break, and, if they do, they will require the attention of a professional.
So, based on this, which crossbow should you choose? Well, it depends on what you want to use it for, and what’s your budget. As we said, compound bows are used more frequently for hunting, while recurves for target practice. The power of the compound, as well as the speed of the bolt, make it an even better candidate for a hunting bow. Speed means accuracy as well as killing potential, and the recurve bow may not deliver. However, if your budget is limited, then a compound may not be the best choice as it will cost you when you’re buying it, and it will cost you some more to maintain it.
As we said, compound bows are more complicated than the recurve bow, which means they’ve got fewer parts. Both types, of course, have limbs. The limbs form the traditional image of a bow mounted on the front and set horizontally. On a recurve bow, the limbs provide the most tensile strength and propel the bolt forward. Both types of crossbow have a flight groove (the groove where you put the bolt), the barrel, the string and the retention spring that keeps the bolt in place, and stocks (which can be made of wood or composite materials).
One thing that appears on the composite bow and not on the recurve bow is cams. Cams are, basically, wheels, and they sit on the tips of the limbs. There are two types – the outside-in and the inside-out cams. The outside-in cams rely more on the limb for power, while the inside-out rely more on the cables and pulleys for the same purpose. Therefore, if you’re adamant to buy a powerful bow, then you should consider one with inside-out spinning cams; however, this will cost you extra.
Both types of crossbows are usually outfitted with a cocking stirrup. As its name suggests, the stirrup is used as an aid when you’re cocking the crossbow. However, at higher draw weights, this might become a little difficult to do by hand, so cocking aids are also available for purchase.
The weight of your crossbow can be a significant factor, depending on what you intend to use it for. If you want to use the crossbow for target practice, then the weight doesn’t matter that much, as you can rest it on a stand and then shoot. However, when hunting, the weight becomes a significant factor. If you intend to shoot from a tree stand, a heavy crossbow might be a little troublesome. Hunters that like to track their prey over long distances usually settle for lighter bows. While on the hunt, you must consider that you might be crossing great distances and carrying your crossbow or shouldering it (holding it at the ready) for a long time, which can be tiring, and you might miss due to fatigue at the critical moment. What you’re looking for in a hunting crossbow is a balance between weight and power, as you want your weapon to be light enough to be comfortable, and powerful enough to neutralize your intended target.
Draw weight, and, by proxy, power stroke, is what determines the speed of the bolt and the overall power of the bow. It is measured in lbs. Draw weight is the weight required to pull the string and cock it. Power stroke, on the other hand, is the distance between the cocked position of the string and the resting, un-cocked, position. The greater the power stroke, the faster the arrow will fly. However, when looking at crossbows, these two are often traded for one another – draw weight means a larger crossbow with bigger limbs, while larger power stroke means a longer crossbow with more compact limbs.
Now, how much draw weight do you need on a hunting crossbow? Well, it depends on the game. If you’re planning on hunting rabbits, 150 lbs should be enough. For deer or elk, you’ll need 175 lbs, though you could go with a 150 lb crossbow against a deer if you’re a good shot. However, 175 lbs is a bit hard to pull so that you might need a cocking aid. Finally, for the massive game, like moose, bears or warthogs, you’ll need something in the area of 200 lbs, at which points, you’ll most probably need a cocking device.
The size of the crossbow is critical. Here, we’re discerning between the length and the width of the crossbow. A smaller crossbow ought to be lighter and more maneuverable, but also weaker, or, more reliant on draw power to accelerate the arrow, leading to you having to use a cocking aid. Longer and wider crossbows are certain to have a longer power stroke, but, in the forest and amongst the branches, it won’t be as maneuverable, as well as heavier. The best crossbow is both light and powerful, but something like that is extremely hard to find (or costs a lot of money. The important thing here is to pick a crossbow that’s fit for your stature, as a crossbow that’s too large or too small will be awkward to shoulder and will prove disastrous for your aim.
The velocity of the bolt is the speed at which the crossbow fires the said bolt. Velocity depends both on draw power as well as power stroke, but it also depends on the weight of the bolt and the fletching. It’s measured in feet per second. The world’s fastest crossbow fires at 496 fps, but there are also rumors of crossbows hitting speeds of up to 600 fps, though these are prototypes and, most likely, for military use. However, all this is, more or less, overkill – to bring down a big game like the grizzly, your crossbow needn’t fire at speeds more than 400 fps, which is about the average speed for high-end crossbows.
However, speed doesn’t always equal power. We mentioned that the weight of the bolt influences the speed of the crossbow, but it also influences power. This is important to know if you’re hunting very big game because a crossbow firing light crossbow bolts at extreme speeds might not bring the game down. Basically, this balance can be explained using a slightly scary metaphor. If you were to get hit by a tennis ball at 100 fps, it’s going to hurt. However, if you were to get hit by a much heavier bowling ball at half the speed, you’re very likely to get killed, because of the size and weight of the bowling ball.