When it comes to hunting, you are not as limited regarding the options you have at your disposal. Most hunters opt for a hunting rifle due to the ease of use and relative ease of finding ammunition. There are other choices, however, and there are a few advantages to using other options.
One of the best options you can choose for hunting beside a rifle is a crossbow. Crossbows have been in use since around 200 BC, with Ancient China being their birthplace. A crossbow is broadly similar in function to a bow and arrow, but the similarities end there.
There are a few crucial differences between a bow and arrow and crossbow that show be taken note of. First, a crossbow functions using mechanical parts to wind back the string, allowing shooters who are less physically powerful to fire the weapon.
In addition to needing less strength to use a crossbow, it also requires magnitudes less training than the bow and arrow. It is for this reason that the crossbow largely superseded the bow and arrow in military use. Whereas a bow and arrow require years of training, a crossbow can be used relatively effectively with a few days of training.
There are other advantages to using a crossbow in hunting when compared to firearms. First of all, the crossbow is slightly more forgiving if you miss. Due to the relatively quiet functioning of a crossbow, you will find that a missed shot will not scatter all of the animals in your general vicinity.
If you are lucky enough, sometimes the shot will not even startle the animal that you are aiming at, giving you an opportunity to reload and take the shot, provided that you can reload quietly enough. The low noise of a crossbow shot helps greatly when beginner hunters are learning to use the weapon, due to the relative skill required to aim and fire a crossbow compared to a rifle.
Crossbows also have the advantages of using quarrels instead of bullets. A quarrel, also known as a crossbow bolt, is roughly similar to an arrow, except that it is typically smaller and designed to fit into the mechanical firing mechanism of a crossbow, as opposed to the manual system used in a bow.
Quarrels are advantageous because they can be reused in the event that they are undamaged after being shot. While this may not seem all that common, you would be surprised by how resilient crossbow quarrels can be. Regardless of whether you hit or miss, the ability to reuse your ammunition allows you to save money in the long run.
We will now move onto the reasons why you want to purchase an effective crossbow. After that, we will look at some of the crucial characteristics to search for when buying the best crossbow and then we will get into our best crossbow reviews. If you would like to skip directly down to our reviews, feel free to do so.
*Notice: On mobile devices, scroll right to see entire table.
Best Compound Crossbow
Winner: TenPoint Turbo GT Crossbow Package
Runner Up: Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package
Best Recurve Crossbow
Winner: Excalibur Crossbow Micro 335 Crossbow With APX Package
Runner Up: Excalibur Matrix 355 Crossbow Package
Best Repeating Crossbow
Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit
Why You Should Choose Your Crossbow Carefully
Regardless of whether you are purchasing your crossbow for hunting or target shooting, it is important that you purchase the best crossbow possible. Unlike a gun, a crossbow is heavily depending on excellent construction quality. A minor problem with the mechanism on your crossbow can result in catastrophic failure or your crossbow simply not firing.
As with any other weapon, it is important to consider safety above all else, and investing in a cheap, badly produced crossbow may be a danger to you in the event of a malfunction. Beyond the danger to your safety of a subpar product, an ineffective crossbow can also ruin an excellent hunting opportunity.
Crossbows tend to be expensive products and should be treated as an investment. Should you invest too little money in a cheap crossbow, you may end up having to buy another one further down the line. This usually results in you spending more money on less effective products over the long run.
You would be better off investing in a crossbow which is both effective and reliable early on, so you can get several years of good use out of it. This ensures that you will not have to waste time and money ordering new crossbows every few months when your last one breaks or seizes up.
Let's take a look at some of the crucial aspects to pay attention to when buying your crossbow, to ensure that your product is the best choice for you and your needs.
What To Look When Choosing Your Crossbow
There are many determinants to consider that will lead you to choose the right crossbow for your needs.
There are two separate characteristics that can be referred to as purpose when it comes to a crossbow. The first is the obvious meaning, the purpose for which you intend to use your crossbow. There are some differences to take note of between different types of crossbows intended for different uses.
For example, most hunting crossbows tend to be more lightweight and durable than other types of crossbows. This is because they are meant to be used in the outdoors, where they will often be exposed to the elements. This means that they have to be resilient to keep functioning.
Target shooting crossbows, on the other hand, can afford to be a little bit heavier and a little more fragile. They can often feature scopes that would be impractical for use in hunting conditions, but make it much easier to aim in range conditions.
On the other hand, there are also dual purpose crossbows, which does not designate the ability to be used for multiple purposes, but in fact, the type of ammunition which they may use. Dual purpose crossbows give you the option of firing bolt or metal ball bearings for non-lethal applications.
Another important consideration to make before finding the best crossbow for your needs is the type of configuration you would prefer for your crossbow. Just like guns, crossbows come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and finding the right one for you depends on your intended use and several other factors.
For example, the most typical type of crossbow which is used in hunting applications is a full-size crossbow. These are usually about the size of a rifle, and they have a good deal of draw weight. On the other hand, you can also choose to opt for a hand crossbow, which is essentially the crossbow equivalent to a pistol, less powerful, but more portable.
Draw weight contributes to several factors in a crossbow and is another one of the main considerations which must be made when accounting for the shooter. Draw weight has a rather large bearing on user friendliness as a higher draw weight will increase the amount of work that a shooter must do to recock the crossbow.
While a higher draw weight does indeed make it more difficult to reload your crossbow, it will also make your crossbow far more lethal. Draw weight is directly correlated to the force with which the bolt is propelled from the crossbow, so hunting crossbows will have a higher draw weight than target shooting crossbows.
One other aspect to consider is the speed of your quarrel when you fire your crossbow. The speed of the bolt will have an effect on several factors when firing a crossbow. Primarily, it will make your crossbow easier to shoot, but it will generally be harder to reload due to the higher draw weight required to fire bolts at higher speeds.
The reason that it will be easier to fire your crossbow with a high bolt speed is that you will need to lead a moving target less and you will also have to account for less projectile drop. A higher arrow speed also makes the projectile markedly more lethal, so hunting crossbows will generally be the best crossbows in terms of arrow speed.
The last thing to consider when buying a new crossbow is whether or not it comes included with a scope and the type of scope that it comes with. There are many options when it comes to purchasing a crossbow with a scope, and some shooters prefer to fire without a scope at all.
A scoped crossbow will generally be more fragile than an unscoped model, so you will have to be far more careful with it. However, a scope will often allow you to account for projectile drop as well as allow you to hit targets much farther away. However, the relatively slow projectile speed of a crossbow will make it harder to hit a target the farther away you are.
After going through all those elements, you will definitely be able to choose more carefully your own crossbow. Now that you improved your knowledge on crossbow elements, let's see our top market recommendations.
Best Compound Crossbow - TenPoint Turbo GT Crossbow Package
If you are looking the best crossbow with a compound construction, the TenPoint Turbo GT is an excellent choice, especially when it comes packaged with such a wide range of accessories. For example, this crossbow comes with a three pack of TenPoint's Elite arrows, so you can get shooting as soon as this product arrives.
- Features the ACUdraw crank cocking system for easier reloading
- Includes a three pack of TenPoint Elite carbon arrows
- Includes an ambidextrous three bolt quiver
- Includes a TenPoint 3X Pro View 2 Scope
- Features an adjustable Fusion 5 stock
- Includes an instructional DVD
When it comes to a wide range of accessories, it is hard to find a better offer than the Turbo GT package. You can spend up to 50% more on competing products if you have to purchase all of the included accessories separately. Thankfully, this package is available for the very reasonable price of just around 1000 dollars.
We were particular fans of the ACUdraw crank system, which ensures that reloading the crossbow is not as difficult as some of the competition, while still retaining an effective draw weight for the effort. Unlike other crossbow models with a simple and easy cranking process, this particular crossbow is intuitive and easy to use, even for beginners.
The inclusion of an instructional DVD may seem a little bit dated with the wealth of information available on sites like Youtube, but it is still an appreciated inclusion, as it makes it easier to learn the ropes.
This seems like one of the best options you can find for a first-time crossbow buyer, due to the wealth of included attachments and this model's ease of use, it is certainly an all around good choice.
Runner Up - Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package
The Barnett Ghost 410 CRT crossbow package is an excellent choice if you are looking for a reliable crossbow included in a comprehensive package. Unlike some of the other choices on this list, this product is available for a rather reasonable price, at about 850 dollars. While this is not necessarily cheap, it is still rather impressive for a crossbow package.
- Crossbow fires at 410 feet per second
- Features 185 lbs of draw weight
- Includes a 3 arrow quiver
- Includes a 3x32 scope
- Includes rope cocking
- Includes a talon sling
- Crossbow is 20 inches axle to axle
- Includes 3 22 inch arrows
The inclusion of a scope in a crossbow package is to be expected, but we were honestly not very impressed by the included 3x32 scope on this model. If you are hoping for a high-quality scope with this crossbow package, you may be disappointed and should probably look into an aftermarket scope option instead.
Thankfully, every aspect of this crossbow package besides the scope highly impressed us. One of our favorite features was the CRT (Carbonlite Riser Technology) system which is in place to ensure that the crossbow's balance point remains closer to the stock, instead of at the riser. This makes the handling of this crossbow preferable to other comparable models.
The 185 lbs draw weight is to be expected from a crossbow such as this, and it makes cocking this model a little more difficult than some competing options. Thankfully, there is a solution to this, as Barnett sells an optional crank cocking device that makes it easier to cock this model.
All in all, if you are looking for an affordable yet reliable crossbow package, you will be a huge fan of this product.
Best Recurve Crossbow - Excalibur Crossbow Micro 335 Crossbow With APX Package
The Excalibur Micro 335 is the best crossbow you will find if you are looking for the smallest possible model which still features an effective draw weight and arrow speed. Thanks to the 270-pound draw weight, you will have no issue with making lethal shots while you are hunting with this model.
- Features a 270-pound draw weight
- Features a Realtree Camo for low visibility while hunting
- Package comes with an included scope
- Features a recurve bow section
- Crossbow weighs 11.6 pounds
- Includes an instructional DVD
- Includes a cheek pad
- Includes a rope cocker to reduce cocking weight to 135 pounds
While 270 pounds of draw weight may seem like cause for concern if you are not a bodybuilder, this model comes included with a rope cocker that reduces the cocking weight to 135 pounds. While 135 pounds is still a rather substantial cocking weight, it is nowhere near as difficult to load as 270 pounds.
The small size of this model makes it easier to use in camouflaged locations. If you are used to hunting from confined spaces, you will find that this model is ideal for your needs. While it is also effective for target practice due to its high degree of accuracy, the high draw weight and small size of this model make it the ideal choice for a hunting crossbow.
The recurve design ensures that this crossbow can maintain a good degree of draw weight while at the same time cutting down on the width of this model. Every aspect of this crossbow is geared to ensure that you can get the most power out of a small package, so do not underestimate this crossbow due to its small size.
Runner Up - Excalibur Matrix 355 Crossbow Package
The Excalibur Matrix 355 is an excellent model of hunting crossbow that combines high power and small size into one convenient package. Excalibur is a crossbow manufacturer that specializes in making compact crossbows that do not sacrifice draw weight. They accomplish this through the use of their recurve bow design.
- Features a 355 foot per second bolt speed
- Features 240 pounds of draw weight
- Features Realtree camo for low visibility hunting
- Features a 12.2-inch power stroke
- Comes included with a three arrow quiver
- Features a recurve bow design
- Includes a rope cocking aid
- Features an ErgoGrip stock
The recurve design of this model ensures that it will be strong enough to neutralize any targets you are hunting while still giving you sufficient room to be comfortable enough in confined spaces. If you like to camouflage yourself in tighter spots, you will find that a recurve crossbow such as this model should be ideal for you.
The inclusion of a rope cocking aid is crucial with a model such as this, due to the rather high 240-pound cocking weight. The cocking aid manages to reduce the weight to a more manageable level. While the bolt speed of 355 feet per second is a little lower than some of the competition, it is a necessary downside to the recurve design.
This model of the crossbow is also rather user-friendly regarding ergonomics. The ErgoGrip stock ensures that you will have a comfortable shooting position with this model of crossbow, a very useful feature when you lie in wait for your prey. This crossbow is designed as an ambush hunter's crossbow, and it accomplishes the job quite readily.
Best Repeating Crossbow - Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit
If you would like the best repeating crossbow with a compact size, you will be a fan of the Carbon Express Intercept Axon. We were quite impressed by the effort put into the construction of this model. You can tell from the moment that you take it out of the package that this crossbow is one which is meant to last.
- Crossbow is 13.5 inches axle to axle
- Features an anti dry fire mechanism
- Features a no creep trigger with a 3.5-pound pull weight
- Features a multi position picatinny rail system
- Includes a folding foregrip
- Fires at 360 feet per second
- Features a 175-pound draw weight
- Features a 4x32 multi reticle illuminated scope
- Includes rail lubricant
We are particularly impressed by this model's small size without sacrificing arrow speed. The relatively compact design allows you to make use of this model in confined locations such as small treestands and other ambush positions. The inclusion of a folding foregrip also improves the handling of this crossbow.
The inclusion of a multi position picatinny rail system allows you to choose from a wide range of attachments. We are big fans of the commonality of the picatinny rail. The included illuminated scope was also impressive, as it features both red and green dual illumination.
The firing mechanism is one of the more impressive parts of this crossbow, featuring one of the best made trigger groupings we have seen in quite some time. This allows you to get off a substantially more accurate shot thanks to the clean and simple trigger pull. Other manufacturers could take a few cues from this model's trigger design.
We hope that this guide has helped you find the best crossbow for your needs. Finding the right crossbow can take some time, and we want to help make your buying process easier.
It helps to take your time and put some effort into researching your future crossbow as they are quite an investment. Buying the right crossbow will ensure years of long term usage while out hunting. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask us in the comment section below.