The 14 Best Crossbows for 2020 – Crossbow Reviews & Beginner’s Guide

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These days it can be difficult to find the best crossbow for your needs. Crossbows are growing in popularity and the market is being flooded with new crossbows. We, the Forgotten Hunter team, have therefore compiled a list of the best crossbows that are currently available in 2020.

Before we go list the best crossbows in 2020, we’d like to explain how we rate our crossbow reviews first. Everyone has different requirements when looking for a new crossbow, some are just looking for speed and others have a tight budget to stick to.

Speed is something we consider when ranking a crossbow, but it doesn’t weigh heavily. You’ll be able to take down most animals with a 375 feet per second crossbow.

Accuracy is a very important factor when considering a crossbow. Getting tight groups at 50-yard distances is essential for clean kills.

Durability is also a very important factor. Cracked or split limbs can cause massive injuries to the shooter and you don’t want strings or cables to snap easily either.

Safety is another factor we weigh heavily. Luckily, finger guards, Anti-Dry fire inhibitors, and automatic engaging safety switches have become a standard with most new modern crossbows.

Cocking a crossbow might seem easy to do, but when you’ve got a crossbow with a draw weight of over 200 pounds, you might end up with an injured back or shoulders. If you already have shoulder or back problems, you might want to get a crossbow with a crank-cocking device.

Value. A high-quality crossbow with the latest technologies that cost thousands of dollars is definitely worth the money if you have that type of budget. We rate the value of a crossbow with a combination of specifications. This is a combination of all of the above-mentioned features and the cost of the crossbow.

The 14 Best Crossbows in 2020

Fastest Crossbow – TenPoint Vapor RS470

Our Score: 4.8/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
470 FPS8 lbs31″12″ / 6.5″225 lbs

TenPoint’s Vapor RS470 is the fastest crossbow we’ve reviewed so far. This crossbow offers speeds of up to 470 feet per second with the custom Pro Lite carbon arrows from TenPoint. On our chronograph we managed to get an average of 468 feet per second!

TenPoint Vapor RS470 - Fastest Crossbow

This crossbow isn’t just the fastest crossbow on the market, TenPoint has become known for their revolutionary ACU crank-cocking devices and they equipped the Vapor RS470 with their latest ACUslide crank-cocking device. The ACUslide is the industry’s first silent and safe de-cocking mechanism available for crossbows.

For the best accuracy possible, TenPoint included an EVO-X Marksman scope mounted on a dovetail mount. To lower the sound and vibrations the Vapor RS470 produces, TenPoint integrated a string stop system.

Pros

  • ACUslide: Safe and Silent Cocking and Decocking
  • 470 FPS: Fastest crossbow currently on the market!
  • Compact
  • Dead Silent Shooting

Cons

  • The price is rather high, definitely worth it though!
  • Assemble it yourself or work with a local dealer

If you’re looking for an insanely fast crossbow and have the budget to spend, the TenPoint Vapor RS470 is definitely the crossbow to get. Featuring all the latest technologies from TenPoint, this crossbow is their flagship model for a reason.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the TenPoint Vapor RS470.

Most Accurate Crossbow – Ravin R29X Sniper

Our score: 4.9/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
450 FPS6.75 lbs29″10.5″ / 6″12 lbs

Ravin released the Ravin R29X as its flagship model this year. Ravin has been producing great quality crossbows and we were very excited to review this crossbow. After a full year of reviewing crossbows, we can definitely say that the Ravin R29X Sniper is the most accurate crossbow currently available.

Ravin R29X - Most Accurate Crossbow

The Ravin R29X Sniper crossbow manages to shoot arrows at 450 feet per second with the included arrows/bolts. In order for Ravin to get the Ravin R29X Sniper to achieve <3-inch groups at 100 yards, they mounted a tactical scope to a jack plate adjustable elevation mount and combined a couple of technologies like HeliCoil Technology and the Frictionless Flight System.

Also included with every Ravin R29X Sniper crossbow package is Ravin’s new Silent Cocking System and is fully integrated into the stock of the crossbow. Every Ravin R29X Sniper package comes fully assembled and pre-tuned.

Pros

  • 450 FPS – Lightning Fast
  • Effortless and Silent Cocking Mechanism
  • HeliCoil Technology
  • Compact and Lightweight

Cons

  • Price, although you do get what you pay for!
  • Not able to safely let go mid-draw

Ravin’s R29X Sniper crossbow package is currently the most accurate crossbow. Getting tight 1-inch groups at 50 yards shouldn’t be a problem at all with this crossbow. Everything you’ll need to hunt is included with this package.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Ravin R29X Sniper.

Best Reverse-Draw Crossbow – Wicked Ridge RDX 400

Our score: 4.4/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
400 FPS7.1 lbs33.25″15″ / 9″8.5 lbs

Our top pick for the best reverse draw crossbow for the money is the Wicked Ridge RDX 400. Wicked Ridge is TenPoint’s budget brand, so you’ll be able to get TenPoint Technologies at a much cheaper price. This crossbow offers speeds of up to 400 feet per second, is very accurate and is available with a rope-cocking sled or the ACUdraw PRO crank-cocking device.

Wicked Ridge RDX 400 - Best Reverse Draw Crossbow

Even though the Wicked Ridge RDX 400 is speed-rated at 400 feet per second, the recommended Wicked Ridge XX75 arrows will only reach speeds of 380 feet per second. To be able to reach speeds of 400 FPS, you’re required to buy a set of TenPoint Pro Lite Carbon arrows. These arrows weigh 65-grains less than the XX75 arrows. This results in less kinetic energy and therefore less penetration of the arrow.

We recommend only using the XX75 arrows, this will ensure a longer life of the crossbow. With these arrows, we managed to get really tight groups at 50-yard distances and reach an average of 381 feet per second on our chronograph.

Pros

  • Relatively cheap Reverse Draw Crossbow
  • ACUdraw Technology
  • 400 FPS
  • Beginner friendly crossbow
  • Lightweight
  • Compact
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Scope can use an upgrade
  • Trigger has some creep

If you’re looking for the best value reverse-draw crossbow then the Wicked Ridge RDX 400 is the best option. With speeds of 380 feet per second and high accuracy, this crossbow is able to take down almost any animal at 50-yard distances.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Wicked Ridge RDX 400.

Best Recurve Crossbow – Excalibur Bulldog 440

Our Score: 4.8/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
440 FPS6.2 lbs35.75″30″ / 23″300 lbs

If you’re searching for the best recurve crossbows then you must’ve seen Excalibur crossbows popping up. We rate the Excalibur Bulldog 440 as the best recurve crossbow currently available on the market. The Excalibur Bulldog 440 is a high-quality recurve crossbow without all the maintenance that a compound crossbow requires.

Excalibur Bulldog 440 - Best Recurve Crossbow

Reaching speeds of 440 feet per second with a draw weight of 300 pounds, the Excalibur Bulldog 440 comes with the Charger EXT crank. Silently and safely cock or decock this crossbow with the Charger EXT crank.

Also included is a 100-yard illuminated multi-reticle TACT-100 crossbow scope for long-range target practice. To complete this crossbow, Excalibur installed their Expert Series Pro-Shot ACP trigger. This adjustable two-stage trigger has a smooth zero-creep 3-pound pull.

Pros

  • Fast and Powerful Recurve Crossbow
  • Silent Cocking
  • Silent Shooting
  • Lightweight
  • Pro-Shot ACP Trigger
  • Recurve Maintenance
  • Pro Package Contains Everything You Need

Cons

  • Pretty big compared to a compound crossbow

Excalibur’s Bulldog 440 crossbow is the perfect recurve crossbow. It has more than enough power to take down any animal you might encounter during your hunting trip. It’s very easy to replace strings during a hunting trip and general maintenance is a lot less than a compound crossbow.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Excalibur Bulldog 440 crossbow.

Most Compact Crossbow – Ravin R26

Our Score: 4.5/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
400 FPS6.5 lbs26″9.25″ / 5.75″12 lbs

Ravin presented the Ravin R26 crossbow during the ATA show back in January 2019 and currently still ranks #1 as the most compact crossbow. Even though it’s the most compact crossbow, it still manages to reach speeds of 400 feet per second, features HeliCoil technology, and comes fully assembled and pre-tuned.

Ravin R26 - Most Compact Crossbow

The Ravin R26 measures just 26 inches in length, 9.25 inches uncocked and 5.75 inches cocked. Included is a 100-yard Illuminated scope. It also features a built-in cocking mechanism so you can easily and safely cock and decock this crossbow.

Pros

  • 400 FPS
  • Most compact crossbow
  • Lightweight
  • Feels really well balanced
  • Versa-Draw cocking system
  • Ergonomic Grip
  • Ready-To-Hunt

Cons

  • Price
  • At this price, you’d expect a case included
  • Need to buy scope-level separate

This Ravin R26 crossbow isn’t just the most compact crossbow, it’s also a very accurate and powerful crossbow. Hitting speeds of 400 feet per second with <2-inch groups at 50 yards should be easy to achieve with the Ravin R26.

Click here to read our full review of the Ravin R26 crossbow.

Most Lightweight Crossbow – Wicked Ridge M370

Our Score: 4.3/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
370 FPS5.8 lbs35″14″ / 9.5″ 180 lbs

Our award for the most lightweight crossbow goes to the Wicked Ridge M370. This crossbow weighs only 5.8 pounds and is still able to hit speeds of 370 feet per second which is powerful enough for most animals.

Wicked Ridge M370 - Most Lightweight Crossbow

Wicked Ridge is TenPoint’s budget brand, so you’re getting TenPoint technologies at cheaper prices. A couple of the unique features of the Wicked Ridge M370 are the Gordon Glass Limbs, the T4 Trigger, and the optional ACUdraw crank-cocking device.

Wicked Ridge features the M370 with “Gordon Glass Limbs” to keep the bow as lightweight as possible. The T4 trigger features a smooth, zero-creep 3.5-pound trigger pull.

Pros

  • 370 Feet Per Second
  • Lightweight
  • Accurate
  • ACUdraw (optional)
  • Safe to use for beginners

Cons

  • Different arrow weights for speed rating

If you’re fine with rope cocking 180 pounds then save yourself some dollars and get the Wicked Ridge M370 without the ACUdraw. If you’re looking for a crossbow with a low draw-weight, then definitely take the ACUdraw package. The ACUdraw by TenPoint reduces the draw weight to 5-pounds, cocks accurately every time, and offers an effortless way to crank-cock the Wicked Ridge M370.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Wicked Ridge M370.

Best Crossbow for Beginners – CenterPoint Sniper 370

Our Score: 3.9/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
370 FPS7.9 lbs40″21.5″ / 18″185 lbs

While ranking the best crossbows for beginners, a crossbow must be pretty cheap, comfortable to handle, easy & safe to use, durable, adjustable, and be able to take out most animals. The CenterPoint Sniper 370 has all of those features!

CenterPoint Sniper 370 - Best Beginners Crossbow

With a draw weight of 185 pounds, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 manages to shoot arrows at 370 feet per second. With the included 4x32mm scope you’ll be able to hit your target dead-center at 50-yard distances!

CenterPoint made it a safe crossbow to use by featuring an anti-dry fire and auto engaging safety mechanisms. It’s also a very comfortable crossbow to hold because of the adjustable stock and foregrip.

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Lightweight
  • Quiet
  • Adjustable stock and grip
  • Beginner friendly

Cons

  • Vague assembly instructions
  • The trigger could be a little smoother

The CenterPoint Sniper 370 is a very cheap crossbow and fully adjustable. While it doesn’t include premium features like the HeliCoil technology on the CenterPoint CP400, it shouldn’t be a problem to take down animals at 50 yards! It’s the best crossbow for beginners.

Click here for out full review of the CenterPoint Sniper 370.

Quietest Crossbow – Excalibur Assassin 420 TD

Our Score: 4.8/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
420 FPS8 lbs33″ – 36″30″ / 23.25″”290 lbs

The Excalibur Assassin 420 TD is the quietest crossbow currently available on the market. We first ranked the CamX A4 as the quietest crossbow, but unfortunately, CamX announced that they’ve decided to discontinue the CamX brand.

Excalibur Assassin 420 TD - Most Silent Crossbow

The Excalibur Assassin 420 TD has a recurve design and the 10-point sound dampening system by Excalibur which makes this the quietest crossbow! Recurve crossbows tend to be quieter by design and the sound dampening system really lowers the noise and vibrations to an absolute minimum.

Its name already gives it away, but the Excalibur Assassin 420 TD hits speeds of 420 feet per second and has a TACT-100 scope just like the Bulldog 440. Once sighted in, you shouldn’t have any problems hitting really tight groups at 50-yard distances.

Pros

  • 420 FPS
  • Recurve Crossbows are easy to maintain
  • Take-Down Model
  • Pro-Shot Trigger

Cons

  • Bit expensive, totally worth it though!

Overall, the Excalibur Assassin 420 TD is a hard hitting, durable, accurate and very quiet crossbow. Excalibur crossbows are very durable and easy to maintain. It’s easy for a beginner to replace a string in the field on a recurve crossbow.

Click here to read our full review of the Excalibur Assassin 420 TD.

Best Adjustable Crossbow – Killer Instinct Speed 425

Our Score: 4.0/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
425 FPS7.2 lbs32″ – 34.5″17.75″ / 14.375″200 lbs

While looking for the best adjustable crossbow for the money, we ended up rating the Killer Instinct Speed 425 number 1. Not only does it have a 5-position AR buttstock, the Speed 425 also has an interchangeable pistol grip and adjustable forearm grip. To complete the adjustability, it’s also compatible with the Dead Silent Crank.

Killer Instinct Speed 425 - Best Adjustable Crossbow

Killer Instinct Crossbows have become known to release high-speed and high-quality crossbows at an affordable price. The Killer Instinct Speed 425 shoots arrows at an amazing 425 feet per second with the included HYPR bolts. With the included LUMIX Speed Ring Scope, you’ll be able to hit your target dead-center at up to 100-yards!

The stock is adjustable from 32 inches in length to 34.5 inches in length. While the width of the bow is 17.75 inches uncocked and 14.375 inches cocked. To lower the noise and vibrations, the Killer Instinct 425 crossbow is equipped with string suppressors.

Pros

  • 425 FPS
  • Wallet Friendly Price
  • Silent
  • Compact and Lightweight
  • Accurate
  • Great Scope

Cons

  • Have to assemble the crossbow yourself or ask for help from your local crossbow dealer

If you’re on the hunt for an adjustable crossbow then we highly recommend the Killer Instinct Speed 425. It’s a fully adjustable crossbow that’s very accurate, shoots arrows at 425 feet per second and comes with string suppressors for a stealthy shot.

Click here for our full review of the Killer Instinct Speed 425.

Best Crossbow with Built-In Cocking Device – TenPoint Viper S400

Our Score: 4.4/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
400 FPS7.5 lbs32″11″ / 7.2″250 lbs

After a year of testing crossbows, we rate the TenPoint Viper S400 as the best crossbow with a built-in cocking device. This crossbow features TenPoint’s latest ACU crank-cocking device the ACUslide. TenPoint released the ACUslide as the industry’s first smooth, safe and silent cocking and decocking crank-cocking device.

TenPoint Viper S400 - Best With Built-in Cocking Crossbow

The TenPoint Viper S400 is a compact crossbow, measuring 32 inches in length, 11 inches wide uncocked and only 7.2 inches wide when cocked. With a draw weight of 250 pounds this crossbow manages to reach speeds of 400 feet per second.

A safe and silent crank-cocking device isn’t the only high-quality feature of the TenPoint Viper S400. This crossbow also features a Tec-X stock, micro-trac barrel, S1 trigger, and a RangeMaster Pro scope.

The S1 trigger is one of the best triggers featured on crossbows. It’s a 2-stage zero-creep trigger with a smooth break. TenPoint also installed one of their best scopes, the RangeMaster Pro scope. This variable speed scope includes lighted aiming points and is extremely accurate up to 60 yards.

Pros

  • 400 FPS
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Very safe
  • Effortless Cocking

Cons

  • TenPoint speed-rates their crossbows with different arrow weights

If you’re looking for a high-quality crossbow with a built-in crank cocking device, then definitely get the TenPoint Viper S400. This crossbow also shoots arrows at up to 400 feet per second and is extremely accurate. This package is sold including a RangeMaster Pro Scope, ACUslide cocking and decocking device, 6-arrow tech quiver, and three premium Evo-X CenterPunch carbon arrows.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the TenPoint Viper S400.

Best Value Crossbow Under $1000 – TenPoint Titan M1

Our Score: 4.1/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
370 FPS6.4 lbs32.5″14″ / 9″180 lbs

TenPoint crossbows are extremely accurate, easy to cock and safe to use. The TenPoint Titan M1 is no exception to this rule and not only that, you can get the ACUdraw version for under $1000! This crossbow is the upgraded version of TenPoint’s best-selling Titan model.

TenPoint Titan M1 - Best Value Crossbow Under 1000

By using VX-5 inverted cams, the TenPoint Titan M1 has an elongated power stroke of 14 inches and is 9 inches narrower than their previous Titan model. Because of the elongated power stroke, the TenPoint Titan M1 reaches speeds of 370 feet per second with a draw weight of 180 pounds.

TenPoint mounted a 3x Pro-View 3 scope on a machined aluminum 7/8-inch Fixed Dovetail Mount. This scope is calibrated for 20-50 yards and features 3 crosshairs and four dots. It’s a high-quality scope and you should be able to get extremely tight groups at 50-yard distances.

Pros

  • TenPoint crossbow at affordable price
  • ACUdraw Safe & Silent Cocking Device optional
  • T5 Match-Grade Trigger
  • Narrow & Lightweight

Cons

  • TenPoint speed-rates their crossbows with different arrow weights

If you’re looking for the best crossbows under $1000, then definitely get the TenPoint Titan M1. This crossbow comes with everything you’ll need, including a high-quality scope and optional ACUdraw to reduce the draw weight to 5 pounds. Also included are three TenPoint Pro Elite 400 carbon arrows, which we highly recommend in our best crossbow bolts review.

Click here to read the full review of the TenPoint Titan M1.

Best Value Crossbow under $750 – CenterPoint CP400

Our Score: 4.4/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
400 FPS7.8 lbs31.75″10.5″ / 6″200 lbs

Ranking #1 in the category best value crossbow under $750 is the CenterPoint CP400. CenterPoint is Velocity Outdoor, that also owns Ravin Crossbows. The CenterPoint CP400 includes Ravin technologies at a much more affordable price. CenterPoint licenses HeliCoil technology from Ravin crossbows for accurate cocking and shooting.

CenterPoint CP400 - Best Value Crossbow Under 750

The CenterPoint CP400 measures 31.75 inches in length and has an adjustable stock of up to 5-inches. This crossbow is also very narrow, measuring just 10.5 inches uncocked and 6 inches cocked. CenterPoint installed a foot-stirrup that also serves as a bipod and it is also compatible with a crank-cocking device.

Pros

  • HeliCoil Technology
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Anti-dry fire and auto safety
  • Folding Stirrup
  • 5-Year Warranty

Cons

  • Trigger has some creep
  • Trigger breaks at ~7 lbs.

Overall, the CenterPoint CP400 is the best value crossbow under $750. The only downside to this otherwise perfect crossbow is the trigger that breaks at ~7 pounds on our tests. Included with this package are a 5-year limited warranty, three 20-inch carbon arrows, quick-detach quiver, 3×32 mm illuminated scope, and rope cocking device.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the CenterPoint CP400 crossbow.

Best Value Crossbow under $500 – Bear X Constrictor CDX

Our Score: 4.0/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
410 FPS7.8 lbs32″14″ / 10″190 lbs

In the category best value crossbow under $500, we rank the Bear X Constrictor CDX crossbow the highest. This crossbow is insanely accurate and hits speeds of 410 feet per second with a draw weight of 190 pounds!

Bear X Constrictor CDX - Best Value Crossbow Under 500

We had a lot of fun testing and reviewing this crossbow. During the testing process, we were getting extremely tight groups at 40-yard distances and even broke a couple of arrows. The illuminated scope featured on the Bear X Constrictor CDX is very clear and a perfect scope for this crossbow.

To reduce the noise and vibrations, Bear installed a dual-mount string recoil suppressor system. Most crossbows are way too noisy for hunting, but the Bear X Constrictor is very stealthy. Also included is an ambidextrous top mount 4-arrow quiver. This quiver sits on a 360-degree pivot allowing the hunter to position the quiver any way possible.

Pros

  • 410 FPS!
  • Compact crossbow
  • Adjustable Stock and Cheek-piece
  • Ambidextrous top mount 5-arrow quiver
  • Really Quiet Because of the Pre-Installed String Dampeners
  • Great Value for your Money!
  • Ready to Hunt Package

Cons

  • Range of scope could be Better
  • 8 pounds can be a bit heavy for a crossbow
  • Rope Cocking 190 pounds can be quite difficult

Overall, the Bear X Constrictor CDX is a very accurate, fast, and stealthy crossbow for hunters. Included is a ready-to-hunt package which includes 3 Bear X TrueX bolts, illuminated scope, 4-arrow quiver, cocking rope, and rail lube / string wax.

Click here to read our in-depth review of the Bear X Constrictor CDX.

Best Value Crossbow under $350 – Bear X Intense CD

Our Score: 3.9/5.0

SpeedWeightLengthWidth Axle-to-Axle
(uncocked/cocked)
Draw Weight
400 FPS8 lbs36.5″14″ / 10″185 lbs

As you can read in our in-depth review of this crossbow, we rate the Bear X Intense CD very high for a cheap crossbow. This is a very cheap, but durable crossbow that’s able to reach speeds of 400 feet per second! Therefore, we rate the Bear X Intense CD as the best value crossbow under $350.

Bear X Intense CD - Best Value Crossbow Under 350

It’s not only a powerful and cheap crossbow, it’s also a compact crossbow measuring only 14 inches wide uncocked and 10 inches wide when cocked. We rank Bear Archery in our top 5 crossbow brands, so they absolutely build durable crossbows.

The Bear X Intense CD comes with three custom Bear X TrueX arrows that feature TrueX Nock technology. In our testing, we managed to see an average of 400 feet per second and pretty tight groupings at 40-yard distances for such a cheap crossbow.

Pros

  • 400 FPS
  • Very Accurate
  • Cheap Entry-level Crossbow
  • Stock Scope is decent

Cons

  • Without string/limb dampeners this crossbow is really noisy.
  • Rope-Cocking 185 pounds can be difficult
  • Bit heavy at 8 pounds

Overall, the Bear X intense CD crossbow is a very cheap crossbow that’s also very accurate and powerful. Bear also includes everything you’ll need with a “Ready-To-Hunt” package that includes 3 Bear X TrueX arrows, scope, 4-arrow quiver, cocking rope, and rail lube / string wax. It’s highly recommended to get a string/limb dampening kit to lower the amount of sound and vibrations this crossbow produces.

Click here to read the full review of the Bear X intense CD.

Choosing the Best Crossbow Suited for You!

Choosing the best crossbow suited for you might seem like a challenging task, but we’ve listed everything you need to know about crossbows so you can buy the best crossbow suited for you!

Reason(s) for buying a crossbow

There are a couple of different reasons you might want to buy a crossbow. Maybe you’d like to hunt, but what type of animal will you be hunting? Or maybe you just like to shoot at targets with your crossbow, but at what distance and at what kind of targets will you be shooting? Or maybe you want to have a crossbow for home defense.

The reason(s) for buying a crossbow doesn’t really matter. These days there are so many crossbows available with all kinds of different features and usages.

Budget

What kind of budget do I have? That’s the first question you want to ask yourself. Determine a budget before you go out and buy a crossbow.

If you’re looking to get into crossbow hunting/shooting with a budget of less than $200, you shouldn’t expect more than a crossbow with a speed rating way below 300 fps and a very basic scope. You’re better off saving a couple of extra bucks.

It’s best if you have at least a starting budget of around $350. You’ll need some accessories like rail lube and string wax and maybe even other accessories later on. With $350 you’ll be able to get a crossbow powerful enough with which you can kill whitetail deer at a maximum of 50-yard distances.

Of course, there are crossbows costing thousands of dollars. These tops of the range crossbows are high-quality, include premium scopes, and even include crank-cocking devices so you can cock your crossbow with the least amount of effort possible.

Different Types of Crossbows

Our second step in choosing the best crossbow suited for you is determining the type of crossbow you want. Recurve and Compound crossbows are currently the most commonly used types of crossbows.

Recurve Crossbows

Recurve crossbows are the “traditional” type of crossbows. Unlike straight-limbed crossbows, the limbs of a recurve crossbow curve away from the shooter. These curved limbs create a longer power stroke which results in more power and kinetic energy.

Recurve Crossbow

Because of its basic style, recurve crossbows require very little maintenance. They’re generally also more reliable, durable, lightweight and accurate.

If you’re new to crossbows/archery in general, then it might be best if you start out with a recurve crossbow. You can learn it in an easy way without accidentally damaging your crossbow. It’s also very easy to replace a broken/damaged string during a hunting trip. This can save you trips to your local crossbow specialist.

Compound Crossbows

Compound crossbows are the most modern type of crossbows. Compound crossbows are the most accurate and deadly crossbows available on the market. Strings are looped around a “cam system” at the end of the limbs, which results in even more power and kinetic energy than a recurve crossbow.

Because of the two cams at the end of the limbs, compound crossbows have a lower draw weight and a narrower design. This narrow design allows for hunting in tighter spaces like tree stands, hunting blinds or a dense forest.

Unfortunately, compound crossbows are generally heavier than recurve crossbows. They also require more maintenance and once a string breaks, your hunting trip is over. You’ll have to replace the string with special tools or let it be replaced by your local specialist.

Compound crossbows are ideal for experienced hunters/archers that are looking for the highest speeds a crossbow can offer. Because of the higher speeds, it also produces more kinetic energy than a recurve crossbow. This results in deeper penetration and can make the difference in getting a clean kill.

Speed or Power

Feet per second (FPS), speed, power or kinetic energy is usually the most important factor for when someone new to crossbows wants to buy a crossbow. Even though this is important for what you might want to hunt, an experienced crossbow shooter looks more at the accuracy, scope and durability of a crossbow.

With a crossbow that generates speeds of 250 feet per second, you’ll be able to take down small game like turkeys and small deer.

A 300 feet per second crossbow is enough for hunting animals like deer, smaller elks and small bears.

If you’re looking to go after big game animals like moose, bigger elks and grizzly bears, then you should definitely get a crossbow in the 375 feet per second or more category.

Size & weight

Beginner crossbow hunters usually do not care much about the size and weight of the crossbow. This is something they’ll most often regret later on. The size and weight of a crossbow are very important as to how comfortable the crossbow will be for you.

If you’re just using a crossbow to shoot at targets with either a stand or from a comfortable sitting position, you might not notice the size and weight of the crossbow that much. Once you’re on a hunting trip, size and weight will matter a lot.

Hiking for miles with a heavy crossbow can break you up really quick. While hunting with a crossbow in a dense forest, hunting blind or tree stand then size will also start to matter a lot. Shooting with a 30-inch wide crossbow can bring some difficulties when shooting from tight spots.

Draw-Weight

The draw-weight of a crossbow is determined by how much force you need to apply to fully cock a crossbow into the locked position. Crossbows can be very easily cocked these days because of the use of crank-cocking devices.

The draw-weight was often used to calculate the speed of an arrow/bolt. Crossbows have been changing past couple of years and crossbow manufacturers like Ravin and TenPoint build crank-cocking devices into the stock of the crossbow.

This means that the term draw-weight is changing and it gets harder to calculate the speeds of an arrow/bolt with the draw-weight. Ravin’s R29X for example only has a draw-weight of 12 pounds. Using this number to calculate the speed of an arrow will give wrong results.

Durability

Durability should be an important factor when looking for a new crossbow. Crossbows can be manufactured out of all kinds of different materials. The stock and limbs can be made from fiber glass, aluminum, steel or a combination of different materials. It’s even possible that the stock or limbs are made from wood.

Of course, each material has different strengths and properties and therefore some crossbows will last you a lot longer than others.

Trigger

Another question we get asked a lot from new crossbow shooters is what should I look for in a trigger? Just like with size, weight and the speed of the crossbow this entirely depends on the usage of the crossbow and personal preference.

Crossbow Trigger

Even when buying a different crossbow from the same brand will give you different trigger experiences. It depends on the type of crossbow and how the trigger is made. Some brands use their own custom patented trigger designs to keep creep and trigger pull to an absolute minimum.

Most crossbow shooters prefer a trigger with zero creep and a smooth trigger pull. If you have to squeeze the trigger hard you might end up slightly pulling on the crossbow which will reduce the accuracy a lot!

Optics/Scope

A crossbow can be equipped with all kinds of different sights or scopes. From a regular red-dot sight to a premium multi reticle scope with different illumination levels.

Lumix IR-W scope 4x32 magnification

Generally, when you buy a crossbow, the scope hasn’t been sighted in. You have to sight it in yourself at specific yardages and the other reticles will automatically be sighted at their respective distances as well.

Single reticle scopes or sights are only used for a single yardage. You’ll have to sight the scope every time you change distances.

If you’re planning on shooting at a variety of distances then it’s advised to buy a crossbow with a multi-reticle scope.

Cocking Mechanism

Cocking a crossbow by hand will give you a lot of problems. Not only is there a chance you’ll put different tensions on the limbs which greatly reduces the accuracy, but there’s also a possibility of badly injuring yourself.

These days there are maybe different cocking mechanisms that help reduce the effort to cock a crossbow by up to 95%. In other words, a cocking mechanism reduces the draw weight of a crossbow.

Rope Cocking Device
Rope Cocking Sled
Crank Cocking Device

The most basic cocking mechanism is a rope cocking device. A rope cocking device loops around a part of the stock and then hooks on the string of the crossbow to reduce the draw weight by around 50%!

An upgraded version from the rope cocking device is the rope-cocking sled. The sled latches onto the flight track which greatly increases the accuracy of cocking the crossbow. The draw weight remains the same as with a rope-cocker.

To reduce the draw weight to an absolute minimum there are also crank-cocking devices available for crossbows. A crank-cocking device reduces the draw weight by up to 95%.

Not only is a crank-cocking device the easiest way to cock a crossbow, it’s also more accurate and safer.

Safety Features

Today’s crossbows are very safe to use. Some safety features have become a standard addition, some are brand/crossbow specific.

One of the safety features that almost all crossbows currently have is finger guards. Finger guards protect your fingers from getting in between the strings after firing the crossbow. Some crossbows have an over molder foregrip, which does the job just as fine.

Another safety feature that has become a standard in the crossbow industry is the anti-dry fire inhibitor. This will prevent you from accidentally discharging your crossbow or firing without an arrow/bolt loaded.

Sound or Noise of a Crossbow

If you’re using a crossbow for target shooting then sound or noise might not be important to you. Once you go out and actually hunt with your crossbow, the sound will matter a lot. Having a noisy crossbow will scare away any game in your area.

There are a couple of things that will increase or decrease the amount of sound a crossbow produces. Speed matters a lot, but this also increases the amount of noise a crossbow generates.

Another important factor is the material of the crossbow. Some materials will generate a lot of sound or vibrations than other materials.

Accessories

There are loads of accessories available for crossbows. One of the standard accessories included with a new crossbow package is a quiver and a sight or scope. The quiver is usually mounted on a Picatinny rail at the front end of the stock. A scope also mounts on a separate Picatinny rail above the trigger. A Picatinny rail provides a mounting platform for crossbow accessories.

Cheap quivers usually don’t include a horizontal position and the quiver will take up all of the space on the Picatinny rail. Some hunters don’t even like to hunt with a quiver mounted to the Picatinny rail, which leaves it for other accessories.

There aren’t many accessories available for the Picatinny rail of the scope, besides a dovetail or a different scope.

Some accessories you can mount on the Picatinny rail at the front end of the stock which are often not included with a crossbow package are flashlights, bipods, and other universal Picatinny rail accessories.

These days crossbows can also include ergonomic grips and foregrips to enhance the shooting experience even more. It’s also more comfortable to hold for longer periods of time.

Arrows/Bolts

Included with your newly bought crossbow, you’ll find some arrows. Arrows or bolts are a very important part of the crossbow. Using the wrong arrow can result in damage to your crossbow or even the possibility of hurting yourself.

Not only do you need to look for the correct length, but you also need to check what nock a crossbow needs to fire and the straightness of the arrow for accuracy.

If you’re new to crossbow shooting or hunting, then arrows may not be a big issue. There are loads of aftermarket or alternative arrows available on the market. If you currently already own a crossbow and are looking for a new one, then you might want to consider getting a crossbow that requires the same length/type of arrows you currently have.

This might save you 100’s of dollars in arrows when they’re not compatible with your crossbow.

Crossbow Bolts or Arrows

These days arrows are either made out of aluminum, carbon fiber, or a combination of both. Crossbows have become so powerful so for them to be able to consistently shoot arrows, the arrows keep weighing more and more. This isn’t a big problem at all as this will increase the penetration of the arrow.

Usually, there’s a warning on the minimum amount of grains an arrow should weigh. The most lightweight arrows for crossbows weigh 350-grains and there are arrows available of over 460-grains.

Another factor to keep in mind is, what kind of nocks your crossbow requires. There are some premium and not so premium crossbows available on the market that use their own unique design of nocks. This will greatly reduce your options when looking for a set of arrows or bolts for your crossbow.

One question we often get asked is: Can you interchange crossbow bolt Nocks? You can. With some arrows/bolts or nocks, it can be difficult to do. As you might have to cut off the old nocks which means it cant be used on a different type of arrow.

One of the most important things to consider when getting certain types of arrows is the straightness of an arrow. This is one of the most important factors of the accuracy of your shooting. If the arrows you use aren’t straight, then it doesn’t matter who you are; the arrows will land all over the target but not where you aim.

As this is a crossbow buyer’s guide, I’ve kept this part short and simple. If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide on crossbow bolts and arrows, then please check out 12 Best Crossbow Bolts to Buy In 2020 – Tested and Reviewed [Introductory & Buyer’s Guide].

Field Points and Broadheads

Included with your arrows are usually just field points. Unless you’ve included a hunting-package which should include some broadheads then as well. Field points are great for target practice, but you should not use them for hunting.

Field points are for practice shooting only and if you want to actually hunt, then you’ll need some broadheads for your arrows. Field points and broadheads can have different weights as well.

SlickTrick Xbow Broadheads

For optimal accuracy, it’s best to get broadheads that match the weight of the field points. Getting different weights of broadheads can have drastic effects on the accuracy of your shooting. An arrow will have a completely different flight path with a heavier broadhead it might even nose dive during flight.

When you match the weight of the field points, the same accuracy and flight path are almost guaranteed! Of course, this also relies on the quality of the broadheads as well.

During our crossbow hunting and shooting experiences, we’ve tested a lot of broadheads. we’ve compiled a list of in my opinion the best broadheads readily available on the market. Read it here.

Warranty

Another important factor some might overlook when buying a new crossbow is the warranty that’s covered on a crossbow. Buying second-hand crossbows isn’t a good idea at all and another reason is the fact that most, if not all, crossbow manufacturers only cover the warrant of the first owner.

“This warranty covers the ORIGINAL crossbow owner only and is non-transferable.”

High-quality brands like Ravin and TenPoint offer a limited lifetime warranty of 5 years on the crossbow limbs, stock, scope, or cocking device. Other brands only offer a standard 1-year warranty on their crossbows. If the warranty means a lot to you, then I’d recommend only sticking with the high-quality brands.

Some parts of the crossbow that does not fall under warranty are the bowstring, cables, and cocking ropes. These parts will obviously get worn out the more you use them and replacing bowstrings or cables is something you’ll have to do on your own or with help from a specialized crossbow shop.

Best Crossbow Brands

Combined, the Forgotten Hunter team has over 100 years of crossbow hunting/shooting experience. We’ve seen some of the big brands fall or have been taken over by their competition. Below is a list of our top 5 crossbow brands.

Excalibur Crossbow

Excalibur Crossbows Brand Logo

Excalibur Crossbow is a Canadian brand that has a highly respected name in the crossbow industry. They produce high-quality recurve crossbows year after year since 1983. They’re known especially for their insanely powerful and durable recurve crossbows.

Excalibur crossbow is owned by Bowtech Archery. Bowtech is one of the leading brands in the compounds bows and archery industry. No wonder they bought Excalibur Crossbow.

We rank Excalibur as one of our top-rated brands for the same exact reason. They produce high quality, powerful and insanely accurate recurve crossbows. They also release custom crossbows with either noise-dampening systems, crank cocking devices or both of them.

Some of the best Excalibur crossbows we’ve got to try out this year were the Excalibur Assassin 400TD and the Excalibur Bulldog 440.

TenPoint

TenPoint Brand Logo

TenPoint Crossbows is one of the last crossbow brands that produce and build their crossbows in the USA. TenPoint is one of the leading brands, together with Excalibur, Ravin, and Barnett, in the crossbow industry for a while now.

TenPoint owns a couple of other brands in the crossbow industry as well. Wicked Ridge is their budget brand. They also bought out Horton Crossbows to use them for their patents and technologies.

Wicked Ridge Brand Logo

Paired with Wicked Ridge, TenPoint basically releases a high-quality crossbow for any usage. TenPoint crossbows are one of the safest, accurate, powerful, and durable crossbows on the market. They’ve become known in the industry for their leading ACU crank cocking devices for safer, easier and silent cocking.

This year TenPoint released a lot of new crossbows with specific needs for basically any requirement that a crossbow shooter might have. The TenPoint Vapor RS470 is the most powerful crossbow currently available and was a thrill to shoot. A good recommendation for beginner crossbows hunters would be the TenPoint Viper S400 or the Wicked Ridge M370.

Ravin

Ravin Crossbows Brand Logo

Ravin Crossbows produces high-quality compound crossbows that offer insane speeds, accuracy, and the best crossbow technologies currently available. Each year their crossbows are getting more and more powerful and they even released the most compact crossbow with speeds of 400 feet per second!

Ravin’s parent company is Velocity Outdoor. Velocity Outdoor owns a couple of other brands like CenterPoint Archery, Crosman, and Benjamin. CenterPoint Archery releases budget versions with technologies usually only exclusive to Ravin Crossbows.

Ravin has designed some revolutionary new features like the HeliCoil technology, Versa-Draw cocking system, Trac-Trigger firing system, and a frictionless flight-system.

This year Ravin introduced the Ravin R29X as their flagship crossbow and CenterPoint released the CenterPoint CP400 back in 2019 as their best budget crossbow, which is still their best-selling crossbow.

Barnett

Barnett Crossbows Brand Logo

Barnett Crossbows was founded by Bernard Barnett’s garage back in 1962. Barnett Crossbows have steadily taken over the crossbow industry with their high-quality crossbows at affordable prices.

Currently, Barnett Crossbows is owned by Plano Synergy Holdings. They own a number of other brands in the hunting and fishing industry like Wildgame Innovations, Plano Molding, Bloodsport Archery, Tenzing Outdoors, Halo Optics, and more.

Barnett crossbows have become known for their TriggerTech trigger system, adjustable stock, and numerous other features and technologies. TriggerTech triggers are one of the smoother triggers on a crossbow available.

Barnett’s Explorer and Hyper series are one of their nicest crossbows that we’ve reviewed in 2020. The Barnett HyperGhost 425 is a really good crossbow to get or a cheaper Barnett Explorer XP380.

Bear X Archery

Bear X Brand Logo

Bear Archery was founded back in 1933 and is the oldest company in our best crossbow brands section. They manufacture anything archery related and they’re located in Florida. They sell anything from archery carts and targets to (youth) bows and crossbows.

They’re owned by Escalade Inc. and they specialize in (outdoor) sporting goods and athletic equipment. They own Trophy Ridge, Cajun Bowfishing, and a multitude of other brands in the outdoor and sports industry.

Bear Archery is known to produce high-quality crossbows for a relatively cheap price. They don’t boast any fancy technologies, but their crossbows are extremely well-made! They’ve been around for a long time and they know what they’re doing.

We can recommend any Bear X crossbow as they’re all great options. We had a lot of fun reviewing the Bear X Intense CD 400 and Bear X Constrictor this year.

Final Thoughts

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