Last Updated on May 28, 2021
The invention of the crossbow in ancient China caused a major shift in the role of projectile weaponry. But why do you need one?
- Easy to master. If you’re an inexperienced bowhunter having trouble controlling a conventional vertical bow, then crossbows are perfect for you. They still require bowhunting skills but you’ll save a lot of time with a crossbow.
- Low recoil. Crossbows are great for those who are sensitive to recoil or noise or have medical conditions that prevent them from shooting a rifle. Even the youth, women, and physically-challenged individuals will find them beneficial to use. An older capable hunter will also appreciate a crossbow since it will extend his hunting years.
- Boosts confidence. Because it’s user-friendly, crossbows will help you gain confidence in shooting. You won’t have to worry about drawing, aiming, and shooting in quick succession. If you use a crossbow, you can just cock the crossbow and leave it that way as long as you need to.
There are numerous models to choose from and the selection process may be confusing. This comprehensive guide will help you find the perfect crossbow that will suit your needs. This is done by presenting you with reviews of the top crossbows available on the market today.
5 Best Crossbows 2021
Our Top Pick
Excalibur Matrix 380
This recurve crossbow combines functionality and practicality in a compact package making it the best crossbow for the money. With increased durability, 60% longer limb life, 13.1-inch power stroke, Realtree Xtra® camo applied via the Kolorfusion process for realistic detail and long lasting finish, and an Ergo-grip stock that brings everything closer for better balance and improved accuracy, you can never go wrong with this one. Its Quad-Loc rise design locks each limb on four sides for greater strength and consistency and the Recoil Energy Dissipation System reduces noise and vibration. This even comes with a Tact-Zone scope that features an updated reticle design, 30mm main tube, red or green illuminated reticle, and multicoated lenses for exceptional clarity and light-gathering performance.
- It’s accurate and has a noise reduction for quiet shots.
- It’s better balanced.
- It offers longer limb life.
- It’s easy to cock (draw).
- It has an anti dry fire system.
- Since it comes out in Realtree Xtra camo that’s applied via “Kolorfusion” process, the details are realistic.
- It has a long-lasting durability thanks to its high end quality.
- It comes with a cheekpiece and a rope cocking aid.
- It also comes with Recoil Energy Dissipation System (R.E.D.S.) suppressors, four-arrow quiver with bracket, four Diablo arrows, and four 150 grain field points.
- It has a 260-pound draw weight.
- The left limb may break off at the base after hours of shooting.
- Some delivered crossbows may arrive damaged.
- It’s expensive, but it’s certainly worth your money.
Bottom Line: If the cost seems nothing to you (or maybe it costs a penny) then opt for this. There is no better crossbow aside from this which, by the way, is the most powerful and quietest crossbow offered by Excalibur.
The Best Within Different Price Ranges
If you have an unlimited budget, choosing the right crossbow won’t be a problem. But if your budget is limited, that’s where the real headache begins. Of course, you’ll want to be looking for the crossbow that will give you the most bang for your buck. Don’t worry, we have done the extensive research for you and we now provide you with the top crossbows for every possible budget. We highly recommend that you read these in-depth crossbow reviews.
Low Price Range
Barnett Jackal – Great For The Beginner
Coming from the world’s most famous crossbow manufacturers, Barnett Jackal Crossbow is the best crossbow for beginners. This Amazon bestseller delivers the power and features of a high priced bow making it the best budget crossbow for anyone. Its Anti Vibration Isolator (AVI) system is a unique process that utilizes a special soft-touch material that covers each limb, reducing vibration. It features an AVI foot stirrup and AVI bolt retainer to make cocking easy. With its ADF MIM Trigger Mechanism, you’ll have a smooth 3.5-pound trigger pull. The quad limb assembly is combined with high energy wheels and a synthetic string and cable system producing arrow speeds of 315 feet per second. Other features include High Definition Camouflage, Picatinny/Weaver rail platform, and a Military-stock design.
- It includes quick-detach quiver, bolts, and premium red dot sight.
- It shoots at 315 feet per second with 150-pound draw weight.
- It’s great for target/competition shooters and hunters.
- It shoots straight and flat.
- It gives consistent shots.
- The accuracy is shockingly amazing for its cheap price.
- Sighting it in is easy and fast.
- The customer service is great—they reply quickly to your concerns.
- There’s a possibility that the string will break after 20 practice shots.
- The clip that holds the bolt down may break after 30 shots.
- Bow may lock up from time to time after years of use and you may be unable to get the safety off.
- Directions are poor and the illustrations are in low standard grayscale.
- The plastic arrow retainer breaks easily (but an extra is provided).
- It’s heavy.
Bottom Line: If you’re a beginner looking for a fantastic crossbow to start with, then go for this one. But don’t forget to do a little more research to avoid misusing it.
Low-Medium Price Range
Barnett Outdoors Brotherhood – Best Crossbow For The Money
This 7-pound crossbow is unquestionably the best crossbow for the money. Barnett worked with The Brotherhood to produce this compound crossbow that’s incredibly powerful and accurate. It features a lightweight composite stock with a Magnesium STR Riser. The CNC-machined 7/8″ Picatinny rail lets you mount the optics of your choice. Another great feature is the Finger Reminders and Pass-Through Foregrip that ensure your fingers’ safety. Its Crosswire String and Cable System deliver dependably smooth and quiet shots, too, and its ADF Trigger System leaves you with less jerking and tighter groups. Other features consist of High Definition Camo Finish and a 19” Axle to Axle. It also includes one 4×32 Multi-Reticle Scope, 3 Arrow Quiver, and 3 20” Headhunter Arrows.
- It’s light and quiet.
- It produces speed up to 350 fps with 109 ft./lbs. of kinetic energy.
- Its ADF Trigger System gives a smooth 3.5 lb. trigger pull for a perfect shot.
- It’s easy to assemble.
- You’ll get pretty good grouping.
- The accuracy and speed are great.
- It’s sturdy.
- You’ll have no problem with handling.
- It shoots flat, amazingly flat.
- It’s easy to sight in.
- The provided quiver is cheap and it’s recommended if you use a different one.
- There is an engineering flaw that resulted with the bolt not laying flat on the barrel.
- The reticle of the scope that comes with it is tilted in some bows.
- The safety does not work correctly in some of its deliveries (you may have to manually push back the string stop with a pen and engage safety at the same time then draw the string back to lock it into place).
- A rope cocking device is not included.
- The finger guards can be easily broken.
- The arrow retention spring is plastic.
Bottom Line: There may be a number of cons, but the pros are still more. If you want a durable and accurate scope that’s inexpensive, then there’s no valid reason to doubt this crossbow.
Medium-High Price Range
Carbon Express Intercept Axon
This USA designed and assembled crossbow is another best scope for your money. As the only customizable crossbow, it comes with the best accessories for any shooting style or situation. This features a Micro Adjustable 5-Position Tactical AR Stock Design that allows optimal length-of-pull fit for a better repeat performance. It also highlights an Eight-Position Picatinny Stock Rail System that accommodates most military and commercial AR parts, great for unlimited custom styling for any hunting scenario; and a Gun Caliber Machined Trigger Pull (3.5lb Pull Weight) which is light and steady. Its Anti Dry Fire System helps keep you and your crossbow out of harm’s way and its compact design is beneficial for shooting in tight spots (13.5-inch axle to axle when cocked). It includes a glass-etched, 4×32 Deluxe Lighted Scope as well.
- It includes a no-creep trigger that achieves a clean break at a pull weight of just 3.5 lbs. for more lethal results.
- It includes SilenTech Coating, a rubber-like exterior finish, that reduces vibration and dampens sound on crossbows for quieter hunting.
- Because it’s slim, balance is improved and shooting performance is better.
- Its low-profile foot stirrup keeps your foot behind the barrel while downward cocking and anti dry fry mechanism which makes it easy and safe.
- Its precision-engineered aluminum alloy cam set delivers bolts at 360+ fps on a flatter bolt trajectory.
- Its tunable synthetic bow strings and power cables deliver smooth, accurate shooting and extended performance.
- Its lighted scope comes with red and green illumination for varying light conditions.
- It has a great build.
- The front hand handle may be loose.
- It can be heavy to hold.
- You have to be extra careful about the foot stirrup.
Bottom Line: This is by far the best hunting crossbow you can get for the money. It will give you the ultimate shooting experience with every use.
High Price Range
Horton Innovations Storm RDX
If you have no worries about your budget, the rules of the game will change completely. And that’s where the Horton Innovations Storm comes in. This is absolutely the best crossbow for an unlimited budget. It includes a lightweight, machined aluminum riser with a self-locking limb pocket (fitted with 13-inch tactical black 165-pound limbs) that prevents limb twist and provides added cushioning, reducing limb stress. The limb pockets are then powered by a custom RDX Cam System and Dynaflight 97 string and cables. The machined aluminum RDX cams feature 440 stainless steel bearings to increase performance and improve stability. This crossbow delivers its 400-grain carbon arrow at a blazing 370 FPS with 122 foot pounds of kinetic energy.
- Its limb pockets are self-locking which prevents limb twist and provides added cushioning to reduce limb stress.
- The machined aluminum RDX increases performance and improves stability.
- Its compact size is beneficial for hunting in close quarters.
- It has adjustable shoulder and cheek rests.
- The accuracy it provides makes shooting easy whether you’re standing or kneeling.
- It has a dry-fire-inhibitor.
- It has great speed, accuracy, and balance. It’s also a quiet bow.
- The trigger is light which allows for a short squeeze.
- It requires wax and oil only every 75 shots.
- It’s made in the USA.
- It only has 10-inch axle to axle when cocked.
- It’s not light but a shoulder strap is always helpful.
Bottom Line: The perks of having this bow are obviously more than the cons which conclude that you should totally get this one, unless you’re willing to choose between this and the next product.
High Price Range
Excalibur Crossbow Matrix 405
This 1,600-dollar crossbow will amaze you every time, especially if you’re a crossbow hunter who takes his sport seriously. It’s that other awesome crossbow you can get if you have an unlimited budget. If you want a crossbow that combines power, high-speed and flat-shooting performance, then you’ve found what you’ve been searching for. The Excalibur Matrix 405 is designed for snowy, late-season weather. It features a Premium Matrix string made of BCY Dynaflight 97 which reduces creep and increase speed; and an Anti Dry Fire Mechanism which prevents potentially dangerous and damaging misfires. Capable of a maximum velocity of 405 feet per second and backed by 290 pounds, this recurve bow can take out almost any type of target with ease. It also features string dampeners that eliminate external noise and a camouflage design that allows you to remain hidden from your game. You won’t have to worry about the warranty, too, because it lasts a lifetime.
- The R.E.D.S. string suppressors reduce vibration, noise, and shock for quieter and more comfortable shooting.
- Its super-premium Matrix String reduces creep and increases speed.
- The Anti Dry Fire System is housed in the scope mount and catches the crossbow string to prevent firing if it’s triggered without an arrow in place.
- A built-in release allows easy uncocking so you don’t have to fire an arrow to end the hunt.
- It throws arrows at unbelievably 405 fps with an amazing 127 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy.
- It includes a Twilight DLX Scope that has a huge 44m objective lens, fully multi-coated lenses, and an adjustable multiplex crosshair system.
- It has a long pull length.
- The draw weight is 290lb.
- A bow stringer is not included.
Bottom Line: Whether you want to use it for deer, elk, moose, and bear hunting, or target shooting, this will definitely satisfy your crossbow needs.
Crossbow Buying Guide
Crossbows nowadays are more efficient, faster, and easier to use than ever. These bows come in a variety of shapes, sizes, pulling mechanisms, and have different calibers and shooting speeds. However, before purchasing, you must do your homework. Crossbow manufacturers don’t follow common standards when advertising their performance data. For instance, not all manufacturers use the same arrow weight when publishing their arrow speed. It’s also imperative and practical to read reviews before you invest in a certain crossbow.
When choosing which one to get, don’t just consider its speed but also consider other factors. You will need a reliable and accurate bow for your shooting, too. It’s better to invest in a crossbow that will last long under your care. If you have no idea what to consider in buying a crossbow, then read on. I will tell you what to look for, but first you need to have the basic knowledge of the crossbow parts. This way, you won’t have to research every single part one by one and connect their uses all in your head.
You should also check out this video by Babe Winkelman from Cabela, who talks about how to choose a crossbow that suits your needs.
- It’s practical to identify the use of your crossbow before purchasing one.
- If you’re going to use it for target practice or just for fun, then you don’t have to worry about the weight and size since it won’t require a lot of movement.
- On the other hand, if hunting is your life, get a high-quality crossbow.
- Heavy crossbows keep your weapon steady because the weight prevents it from being moved easily.
- Some hunters prefer lighter crossbows for convenience while tracking their prey.
- The best thing to do is to consider your physical limitations before buying one.
- If you tend to have difficulties with your aiming, then go for a heavier one. Lighter bows are difficult to steady so a little bit of weight can be helpful when aiming.
- An average-weighted unit is ideal since those with more weight are sturdier and could be physically restraining.
- Draw Weight
- This refers to the amount of pull needed to flex the limbs of a bow into the fire position.
- Typically, the higher the draw weight value, the faster the arrow speed.
- A crossbow with a draw weight of at least 150 lbs. and velocity near 300 fps is recommended for medium- to large-sized game hunters who are hunting whitetail deer, black bears, moose, and similar animals.
- As the size of your target game increases, your draw weight and total arrow weight should increase as well.
- Besides draw weight, kinetic energy (KE) output is a metric commonly used to represent a crossbow’s power, but scrutinizing it can make choosing a crossbow more complicated than necessary.
- Compound crossbows offer faster shots because it stores energy but they are far more expensive than recurve models.
- Bolts also determine speed, so choose the right size and strength.
- Recurve models with parallel limbs are the quietest crossbows you can find.
- Cam mechanisms make compound crossbows noisier making them unfavorable for expert hunters who want their bows to be as silent as possible.
- Cocking Aids
- These are used to correctly cock the crossbow, which is important for its accuracy.
- They are available as elastic straps or cranks.
- The rope or straps are more common but the cranks offer the easier way to cock it.
- If possible and available, go for one that has a built-in cocking aid.
- Scopes are highly advantageous for hunters.
- They are needed for accurate shots.
- They can be optical, single red dot, multi-reticle, and multi-red dot.
- Your scope should weigh less than one pound so it does not throw off the balance of the bow. If your scope is heavy, aiming accurate shots can be very difficult.
- Most experts recommend choosing a scope with a wide lens to easily see any target.
The Eight Top Brands in the Industry
Ever since they began in 1983, it’s been their aim to help crossbow hunters enjoy their sport by providing the very finest in equipment and service. They claim that accuracy is more than a word; it’s a guarantee from them. Excalibur is well known for their reliable and accurate hunting crossbows. The prices of Excalibur bows vary from $35 to $1,675 depending on the specifications, features and quality.
Since 1962, Barnett has been continually innovating their modern-day crossbows. With models tailored for virtually every size, skill level, and style of a hunter, they offer crossbows that will deliver personal performance and incomparable results. Barnett is widely known for their carbonlite, reverse draw, compound, and recurve crossbows. The price range of Barnet crossbows is from $45 to $869.
Proudly made in the USA, this brand is known for the high quality of their crossbows. They use the best parts and materials available to offer durable products to their customers. They are also known for the safety, precision engineering, performance, and power of their crossbows. Tenpoint products range from $410 to $5,422.
Operating for over 27 years, Parker Bows is one of the top selling brands of crossbows in the United States. They are notable for their excellent product line with the features, benefits and performance that is demanded by bow hunters. Their Product Development Team consists of seasoned industry veterans with great insight into the markets and a number of archery Patents. Parker bows range from $265 to $3,066.
- Wicked Ridge
Wicked Ridge Crossbows by Tenpoint aims to provide the outdoorsmen high quality and precision performance crossbows. They are also known for their accessories that are simple, reliable, and affordable. They are “Tenpoint Tested and Tenpoint Tough.” Wicked Ridge crossbows vary from $360 to $980.
Horton is known for their proudly U.S. designed, manufactured, and assembled crossbows that range from $635 to $2,019. The most technologically advanced features are found in their crossbows and this makes them one of the top brands in the industry. They claim that every Horton is built to exceed expectations for as long as you own it. And a lot of customers have agreed to that.
- Arrow Precision
Big game hunters and target shooters are the target buyers of Arrow Precision products. They are acknowledged for the value and performance of their bows. They also offer a large selection of youth archery sets for boys and girls appropriate for most stages of progression in the sport. Arrow Precision bows are priced from $170 to $504.
- Carbon Express
Priced from $202 to $1,059, Carbon Express believes that, “A crossbow should adjust to you, not the other way around.” Their Covert Series deliver compact performance in the most compact frame. On the other hand, their Intercept series uses a tactical adjustability and an infinite number of accessory setup options to give their buyers custom fit, better balance, and the best possible shot. Carbon Express is generally known for their compact but powerful crossbows.
Since crossbows have been rapidly pushed throughout the recent years and products are at a very high quality, the selection process can be burdensome.
If you’re a beginner, it’s highly recommended for you to choose the simplest design available. Do refrain from buying poor-quality plastic parts, too. Choose those that are made from metal. They are sturdier. It’s better to invest in a crossbow that you can use for a longer period of time especially if you need to use it often. In order to avoid confusion, narrow down your choices by identifying your needs, determining your options, and choosing which crossbows suit your style. Know your skills, too. Opt for the crossbow that will not make you a beginner forever.
There are numerous price ranges and products to choose from, but hopefully, I have made it easier for you to decide. Remember, you can always upgrade your crossbow. So don’t be afraid to choose a less-advanced crossbow if you think it will be easier to handle. You know what they say, “Better safe than sorry.”