All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows – Blackcat & Wildcat Review

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Barnett released two brand new recurve crossbows this year, the Blackcat and the Wildcat. These recurves come in a traditional classic design and deliver arrow speeds of up to 260 feet per second, and that with a relatively low draw weight of only 165 lbs. Other recurve crossbows achieve these arrow speeds only in combination with higher draw weight (at least 175 lbs).

Barnet also released the ultra-compact TS380, the Hypertac 420, and the Explorer compound crossbow series that consists of three models this year.

Recurve crossbows are gaining in popularity. This is mainly due to the fact that they require little maintenance, you can easily replace the tendon at home and they actually can’t break. Recurve crossbows are a great option for new crossbow shooters who want a straightforward, easy-to-use design. The Barnett Blackcat and Wildcat both come in a “Ready-to-Shoot” package with everything you need to use the crossbows efficiently.

Barnett Blackcat & Wildcat Crossbow Features

Barnett Blackcat
All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 1All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 2
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Barnett Wildcat
All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 3All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 4
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Speed:
260 FPS
Speed:
260 FPS
Weight:
4.8 lbs
Weight:
4.8 lbs
Length:
35.5"
Length:
35.5"
Width Axle-to-Axle (uncocked/cocked):
28" / 22"
Width Axle-to-Axle (uncocked/cocked):
28" / 22"
Power Stroke:
12"
Power Stroke:
12"
Draw weight:
165 lbs.
Draw weight:
165 lbs.
Extra Features:
Soft-Lok Bristle Arrow Retainer, Metal Injection Molded (MIM) Trigger, Anti-Dry Fire (DFI), String Dampeners, Anti Vibration Foot-Stirrup, Pass Through Foregrip, Three Picatinny Rails
Extra Features:
Soft-Lok Bristle Arrow Retainer, Metal Injection Molded (MIM) Trigger, Anti-Dry Fire (DFI), String Dampeners, Anti Vibration Foot-Stirrup, Pass Through Foregrip, Three Picatinny Rails

Package Contents

  • Barnett Blackcat or Wildcat crossbow(mostly assembled)
  • Premium red dot sight
  • 2x 18″ Aluminum arrows
  • Lightweight quiver
  • Lubrication wax

First Impressions / Size and Weight

I really like the look of the Blackcat and Wildcat recurve crossbows, they both feature a traditional simple design, and the number of movable parts is kept to a minimum. They are not the most compact recurve crossbow out there, the Blackcat and the Wildcat crossbows both measure a total length of 35.5 inches(32 inches without the stirrup,) and a width of 28 inches(axle-to-axle,)22 inches when cocked. These lightweight crossbows tip our scales at 4.8 lbs(barebow).

The black strike finish of the Blackcat looks fantastic, and the Wildcat has a great finish as well. Barnett always does a great job at that. The crossbows feature a sturdy lightweight stock and a safe finger guards pass-through foregrip.

Like most Barnett crossbows the Blackcat and the Wildcat are customizable. The crossbows feature three Picatinny rails, so you can attach extra equipment, like optics, extra quiver, flashlight, etcetera.

The crossbows come with a rubberized anti-vibration foot stirrup that helps quiet the bow down during the shooting. To dampen the crossbows further Barnett decided to install them with track-mounted string dampeners, they significantly reduce string noise during firing.

Barnett Blackcat budget Recurve Crossbow
Barnett Wildcat Budget Recurve Crossbow

Arrows and Speed

The Barnett Blackcat and the Wildcat both shoot arrows with speeds in the range of 250-260 fps. Barnett speed tested the crossbows with 380-grain arrows. The Aluminum arrows in the package are 18 inches long. They do not weigh 380-grain so you won’t reach the crossbows advertised speed with them. However, they are high-quality arrows that I would gladly hunt with.

The crossbows come with a lightweight side-mount quiver that can hold a total of four arrows.

Optics

The Barnett Blackcat and the Wildcat come with a good quality red dot sight. It is a fine sight with no special features.

Cocking

These crossbows are very easy to cock and they cock smoothly. You only have to pull 165 lbs of weight. If that is still to much weight for you to pull you can of course buy a rope cocker that will reduce the pull weight by 50%.

Trigger and Safety Features

Barnett decided to equip the Blackcat and Wildcat with a MIM (Metal Injection Mold) tight tolerance trigger. This is a very nice, high-quality trigger. The trigger system is equipped with ambidextrous auto-safety and anti-dry-fire which prevents you from accidentally dry firing the crossbow. The crossbows both feature finger safety reminders to keep your hands safely below the flight deck.

Assembly and Sighting-In

The BlackCat and Wildcat come “Ready-to-Shoot”, meaning that they come mostly pre-assembled. With just three bolts you can install the crossbow and start using them.

Read the user manual that is included in the package!

Range Test

The Blackcat and Wildcat are easy to manage and shoulder. The butt of the stock lies comfortably against the shoulder and the “pass-through” concept offers extra stability and comfort. Because of their lightweight build and maneuverable design, they are is ideal in run and gun situations and very much suited to be used in a tree stand or ground blind.

We speed tested the crossbows with the chronograph we use to speed test all the crossbows that pass our review table. We shot with the aluminum arrows that were included in the package, with them we reached a maximum velocity of 245.6 feet per second. The trigger has a smooth crisp pull and it doesn’t make to much noise if you pull it. There are no annoying vibrations and zero perceivable creep.
The crossbows have a Soft Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, this device retains the arrows and holds them securely on the flight deck before firing. You can hang the crossbow upside down and the arrow won’t fall off!

The crossbows are remarkably quiet due to their various dampening systems. Barnett equipped the crossbows with track-mounted string dampeners and the rubberized anti-vibration foot stirrup also helps to significantly quiet the bow down.

Recommended Accessories

Arrows & Broadheads

I recommend buying some good quality 20″ carbon arrows and combine them with Simbadteck 2.8″ stainless steel broadheads.

18 inches long Carbow Crossbow Arrows that weigh 380 grain each.
12 Simbadtech Broadheads that weigh a 100 grain each

Rope Cocking Device

If you want a good rope cocker to cock the Blackcat and/or Wildcat Í’d recommend buying a Elong Crossbow Cocking Device.

Elong-Crossbow-Cocker

Sling

I recommend buying a Tenpoint Neoprene Crossbow Sling. It has a non-slip design with custom swivels and a heavy-duty adjustable strap. It also features a shoulder strap with an integrated elastic band for Crossbow Unloading Bolt (CUB) storage and a thumb loop for added shoulder security.

Neoprene Crossbow Sling from Tenpoint

Storage

There is no crossbow case included in the package. I recommend buying a Slayer universal crossbow case from Killer Instinct to store and carry the Blackcat and/or the wildcat.

The Killer Instinct Slayer Crossbow Case

Pros and Cons

All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 5

Pros

  • Hard-hitting 260 FPS
  • Fantastic traditional design
  • Low draw weight for a recurve crossbow
  • Cheap
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Customizable
All-New Barnett Budget Recurve Crossbows - Blackcat & Wildcat Review 6

Cons

  • No crossbow case included in the package
  • No shoulder sling included in the package

Our Verdict

These new recurve crossbows from Barnett are easily the best 270 FPS/165 lbs draw weight recurves for under $200 currently on the market. They are very comfortable to carry, shoulder, and shoot with and they come with a lot of safety features. If you are looking for a great starter crossbow that is easy to cock and packs a punch, I highly recommend either one of these awesome looking recurve crossbows.

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