Looking for the best crossbow? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Here you’ll find honest and unbiased crossbow reviews. We cover only the best selling and top-rated crossbows available on the market today.
Our reviews and guides will help you make an informed decision. So you can feel confident about which crossbow is the best for your needs.
Whether you want a crossbow for leisure, hunting, or sports, this guide will help you find the right one.
Because these weapons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, pulling mechanisms.
And most importantly, they all have different calibers and shooting speeds.
So today I’m going to share everything I know about crossbows, specifically:
- Reasons Why You Should Get A Crossbow
- Key Features Found In A Quality Crossbow
- The Different Types of Crossbows You Can Choose
- How Much Draw Weight Do You Need?
- 13 Best Crossbows On The Market Today
- Crossbow Legality Questions and Answers
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GET A CROSSBOW
The crossbow excels as both a self-defense weapon and a hunting weapon.
But as survival site, we tend to look at things with an eye towards “worst-case” SHTF type scenarios.
That’s why I like this video from Canadian Prepper. He does a nice job laying out all the survival justifications for owning a crossbow:
KEY FEATURES FOUND IN A QUALITY CROSSBOW
When it comes time to choose a crossbow, there are lots of competing models and claims.
It can be a daunting task to wade through all the options and decide which fits your needs best.
To help narrow the field, you should consider the following features:
In the world of crossbows (and survival bows), speed is king. Faster arrow speeds translate to more powerful shots and penetrating power.
A compound crossbow can deliver these high speeds much easier than a recurve model. But don’t forget to consider the size and strength of the crossbow bolts.
The heavier the bolt the more momentum it will have to carry through a target.
A high-powered compound crossbow can snap a light, poorly constructed bolt. So make sure you buy ones rated to the task.
As with anything you’re carrying around the woods, weight matters.
A lightweight crossbow may be easier to carry, but it won’t damp out the vibrations caused when you fire a bolt.
On the other hand, a heavyweight crossbow may feel like a boat anchor, but shoot smooth as silk.
So, it’s best to think about the type of hunting or shooting you plan to do.
Whether you stalk prey on foot or waiting in a blind or both. It’s best to think about how you intend to use your crossbow before you “pull the trigger” on a purchase.
“Draw weight” is NOT the same as “overall weight.” “Overall weight” refers to how much weight you’ll be carrying.
While “Draw weight” is a measure of the force needed to pull the string back into position.
A higher draw weight means it’s harder to prep the crossbow for shooting. But the higher draw weight results in higher arrow speeds.
That’s why many crossbows offer cocking mechanisms, to help offset the difficulty of intense draw weights.
Crossbows with draw=assist mechanisms are popular, especially for those who are older or disabled.
Compared to rifles and shotguns, just about any crossbow is relatively quiet. But you may be looking for something extremely quiet and stealthy.
Perhaps you want a model to avoid spooking game or to help conceal your presence.
A recurve crossbow with parallel limbs is the quietest.
This type of crossbow has fewer moving parts, and the forces are more balanced. This translates into fewer parts in motion to create noise in the first place.
Also, you can add stabilizers and string silencers to help reduce the “twang” of any bowstring.
A crossbow – especially a compound model – is a mechanical work of art.
The materials, the precision, and assembly all contribute to the reliability, accuracy, and power of the device.
If the manufacturer skimps on any of these, your experience as a user suffers.
Manufacturer / Brand Name
As with anything else, there is something to be said for long-lasting brand names.
A name is not the last word in quality. But a brand with a loyal following is most likely built on a quality product.
The same goes for outstanding customer support.
Stop by your local archery ranges and shops. Ask around for the best recommendations from other shooters and professionals.
Take the time to shoot any models you’re considering buying. Get help fitting and setting up your crossbow after purchase.
You’ll learn a lot more about how to fine-tune things and get some great shooting tips in the process.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CROSSBOWS YOU CAN CHOOSE
The crossbow has come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci drew prototypes in his notebooks.
There are designs for a variety of uses, and at all levels of technology.
These are mostly for target shooting. Though perhaps you could hunt small game like rabbits with one with some practice.
But few will be able to take down larger game like deer.
A recurve crossbow is the most uncomplicated design.
Whether made of wood or modern materials, they have few moving parts. Making them inherently lighter and more durable.
Many recurve designs can be serviced in the field if a string breaks or is knocked out of alignment.
They are also usually a lower cost than more technologically advanced compound models. They are quieter when fired as well since they don’t have as many moving parts.
The most significant disadvantages are the massive draw weights and slower arrow speeds.
The main difference between a compound crossbow and a recurve crossbow is noticeable at first sight.
There are multiple pulleys and cams on the ends of each limb of a compound bow. In addition to several wraps of cable around them as well.
This sophisticated design allows the bow to “let-off” the draw weight once you reach a certain point. This makes it far easier to cock the firing mechanism and still get fast arrow speeds.
Plus, the limbs of a compound bow are often much shorter than a recurve model. This allows for a more compact design with better maneuverability.
They often have much higher arrow speeds; thus, the resulting Kinetic Energy of the bolts is much higher. However, they do have some significant drawbacks.
First off, they’re louder, heavier, and more of a challenge to maintain.
In fact, a broken string can be dangerous as it unwinds through the cams and can not be serviced in the field.
Reverse draw crossbows are primarily compound designs with the bow mechanism reversed.
This results in a better-balanced weapon. This means its more comfortable and maneuverable than it’s design predecessor.
Plus, they fire faster arrow speeds than most compound models and at reduced noise levels.
Here’s a nice introduction video on the different crossbow technologies. This video only scratches the surface but if you’re new to the world of crossbows, it’s a must-watch:
HOW MUCH DRAW WEIGHT DO YOU NEED?
The first question most people ask is, “How much draw weight is enough?”
To be honest, it depends on what you want to do with your crossbow. Modern crossbows are built for one of two purposes: target shooting and hunting.
1- Target Shooting
Lower draw weight and lighter arrows are perfectly acceptable. In fact, lower draw weights and reduced recoil will often be more accurate for shooting.
Ever notice that all the Olympic sharpshooters are using .22cal rifles? Same reason.
Accurate shooting is always essential, but so is knock-down power if your hunting.
As you hunt larger and larger game, the amount of energy required to take down the animal increases. An arrow must be able to penetrate the skin, muscle, and even bone to hit vital organs.
This is measured as the kinetic energy (KE) of the weapon. This is calculated using arrow speed and mass.
Higher speeds and higher mass result in a greater KE. This means you can either shoot a heavy arrow slower or a lighter arrow faster to achieve the same KE.
In the past several decades, the trend has been towards lighter, faster arrows. That’s because they fire further and reach the target faster. Often before the animal hears or realizes it got shot.
Most crossbow manufacturers design their hunting models around medium to large-sized game.
In North America, that means most hunting short of the absolute biggest game such as moose and bear.
With that said, an arrow speed of over 300 fps can efficiently dispatch a whitetail deer. If you’re hunting larger game, faster speeds (and heavier broadheads) would be necessary.
Here’s a helpful video that provides even more detail about crossbows, setup, and kinetic energy:
13 BEST CROSSBOWS ON THE MARKET TODAY
Like choosing any other piece of survival gear, you can spend as much or as little as you want on a crossbow. And like most things in life, you’ll get what you pay for.
If you have a large bankroll, go for a top of the line model. You can expect high performance and unmatched quality.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to stretch every dollar, you need to look out for deals and be ready to do your homework.
We’ve done some searching and found great options at every price point. Starting with some lower budget models that can get you into the sport:
If you’d like to hunt with it someday, you’ll just need to add some bolts with broadheads, and you’re ready to go.
The Barnett Jackal is lightweight and comes with a “dry fire” prevention safety feature. This helps to prevent damage from firing it without a bolt loaded.
- Solid design and construction
- The complete package for beginners
- Some people report it’s louder than expected
- Harder to cock than other similar models
First off, as the name implies, it’s much quieter. This is an important feature and prevents giving away your location.
Secondly, it’s much faster – which translates into more Kinetic Energy and knock-down power.
It has a suitable cocking mechanism and robust safety features.
Unfortunately, the arrow retention spring appears to be a weak design point. So be careful when loading your arrows.
- Good safety features
- Users have reported some durability issues
Southern Crossbow is a relatively small company. But they’re making crossbows with unique features many people like.
Combined with their low cost, they are a good option for a beginner.
In particular, people like the familiarity of the AR-15 style stock. This can make for a smooth transition from shouldering and aiming a firearm.
They also have an acceptable amount of power, which translates to reasonably fast arrow speeds.
- Comfortable AR-15 stock
- Bolts were low quality
- Heavier than average
Now let’s move up a bit in the price range. Next, are some quality crossbows at a medium price:
The Warrior G3 is a very sturdy crossbow that should provide years of service.
It comes nearly pre-assembled on arrival, so you can head out to the range or the woods almost immediately.
It also features a well-designed cocking mechanism and dependable safety features.
Unlike some competitors, it’s a reasonably lightweight design with a compact limb system.
- Effective cocking mechanism
- Lightweight and maneuverable
- The scope may not hold zero for extended storage
- Somewhat noisy, especially the cocking mechanism
The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is another excellent, lightweight hunting crossbow. This crossbow has an advanced trigger mechanism and safety vs. others in this price range.
It’s small enough to not be bulky in a blind or treestand, but still boasts a respectable 350 fps.
The package also includes a modest scope, quiver, and bolts. This makes for a complete setup for an affordable price.
- Advanced trigger mechanism
- Includes several excellent safety features
- Arrow track seems imprecise, causing grouping issues
- The scope is not the best, resulting in drift – many people have opted to replace
The string dampers help to keep it quiet, while the illuminated scope can help at the edge of shooting hours.
Like similar crossbow packages, it comes with a quiver and bolts. But the bolts included seem to be higher quality than comparable starter sets.
- Fast arrow speeds
- Included string dampers help quiet string noise
- Several reports of dry fires, which can damage the bow
As expected, it’ s also a lightweight option at under 6lbs.
This crossbow is also friendly for those who want to DIY maintenance. Regular tasks such as replacing bowstrings are straightforward to perform.
However, the relatively low arrow speeds make this more a small to a medium-sized game weapon. But it excels at that role and will provide for years to come!
- Good quality construction and accessories
- Field serviceable
- Louder than expected – so it would help to add string dampers
If you’re willing to pay up for higher-end technology, these following crossbows take you up a level in quality:
TenPoint is quickly developing a solid reputation with the pros. They make high-quality crossbows at a variety of price points.
The Titan SS is a dependable workhorse for small to medium-sized game. It’s lightweight, compact, and easy to carry and shoot.
The 340 fps arrow speeds are fast enough for nimble deer. AND small enough to swing in the brush to follow a rabbit or grouse.
- Lightweight and compact
- High-quality build
- Not suitable for game larger than whitetail deer
When I think of that name, traditional bows pop to mind. But it turns out that Bear Archery is producing some advanced reverse draw crossbows as well!
The Fisix FFL is a great example, with a tiny 11″ width at full draw and a well-balanced profile, making it easy to swing.
This crossbow is extremely solid! But that comes at a price – in this case, a weight of almost 10lbs!
You won’t want to carry the Fisix for a full day of stalking. But it’s hard to beat the accuracy that stability provides.
This is an ideal setup for a large blind or treestand hunting!
- Incredibly accurate
- Solid and durable Bear construction
- Nearly 10lbs!
Here’s another fine recurve design from Excalibur. The Bulldog includes some significant upgrades from their starter models.
Notably, the high 400 fps arrow speeds are great for those interested in larger game. Because this crossbow generates far more kinetic energy than lower speed models.
The recurve design allows for easy maintenance and lightweight construction.
At just over 6lbs, it’s an easy load to carry around in the woods.
Bonus details such as the illuminated scope and integrated cocking rope make for a complete crossbow package.
- 400 fps speeds make it suitable for large game
- Quiver and quality bolts included
- Wide recurve design might not be maneuverable in brush or treestands
Finally, if you absolutely have to have the best, here are some top of the line crossbows with ALL the features:
With the right arrow combination, even 440 fps!
Obviously, that kind of speed creates the power to take down big game.
This is a rugged, reverse draw design, making it a technical work of art that’s hard to beat.
- Arrow speeds of more than 400 fps are possible
- Very well balanced due to reverse draw
- Extremely accurate due to vibration reduction
At this higher price range, all the bows will tick the boxes for speed, quality, and reliability.
The Ravin R9 does so with a revolutionary design. That’s why it can boast as one of the smallest crossbows on the market, at under 7″ wide at full draw.
If you want to hunt in dense brush, a small blind, or narrow treestand, this is the crossbow that has your name on it.
It swings easily, fits anywhere, and can hit a target so fast it’s nearly impossible to spook them.
There’s a reason the R9 is DOMINATING the market these days. Now, if only it were less expensive…
- Tiny profile, only 7″ wide
- Blazing speed
- $uper high price
Yes, the Scorpyd Aculeus is one hell of an expensive crossbow.
It’s also one of the fastest designs on the market today. It comes in at an absolutely staggering speed of 460 fps.
So fast, in fact, that you’re limited on what arrows can handle the forces created when you pull the trigger.
All that speed is paired with incredible accuracy. This is due to its high-precision construction and detailed engineering.
This makes for an unbeatable crossbow for nearly any situation.
- Incredible speed
- Audible click when removing safety
- Limited arrow choices
- $uper expensive
CROSSBOW LEGALITY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
One of the most common questions about crossbows is whether they’re legal to own and use.
Unfortunately, I can’t give you legal advice. That’s why you should look up local regulations for where you live, before finalizing a crossbow purchase.
Depending on where you live, it may be treated more like a firearm than a bow, while some states only allow crossbows for hunting with disability permits.
The North American Crossbow Federation provides helpful information by state for crossbow hunting.
A crossbow can be a great hunting tool. It combines the quiet approach of archery with an easier aiming and firing of a firearm.
You don’t run out of ammo (as long as you recover your arrows), and with proper care and maintenance, they can last for years.
There are so many models on the market that there’s certainly one that fits your budget and needs.
It’s worth considering a crossbow for your next hunting season!