Best Crossbow Reviews 2019: Top Rated Bows for Hunting With Any Budget

best crossbows

 

Welcome to the best hunting crossbow for the money review!

If you are thinking of buying a new hunting crossbow, chances are you took some time to save up your hard-earned cash. The last thing you want to do is purchase an overpriced model that doesn’t have the features you need.

In this review guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at top-rated crossbows that offer exceptional value for their price. Even better, we’ll discuss just what makes a crossbow top-rated in the first place, and hopefully, prevent you from wasting your money on the wrong hunting crossbow.

Our Top Pick

According to our research, the best crossbow for deer hunting is the Barnett Wildcat C7. This model has an arrow speed of 320 feet per second and an ergonomic design to ensure comfort and optimal maneuverability.

This crossbow also has a lightweight composite GAM stock, vented quad limbs, and high-energy Veloci-Speed wheels.

Reviews of the Best Crossbows

Barnett Wildcat C7 – The Best Crossbow Overall

According to the manufacturer, the Wildcat C5 is one of their bestselling crossbows. This model features everything you need in a compound crossbow, including an affordable price tag.

Key features of the Barnet Wildcat C5 include the following:

  • A draw weight of 150 pounds
  • Maximum arrow speed of 320 feet per second
  • A string length of 37 inches
  • Total weight of 8.5 pounds
  • Kinetic energy of 91 feet-pounds

The Wildcat C5 comes with several high-value features, including a lightweight composite GAM stock, vented quad limbs, and high-energy Veloci-Speed wheels. This combination of components together with the CROSSWIRE string and cable system adds significantly to the crossbow’s arrow speed, accuracy, and comfort.

The crossbow’s draw weight of 150 pounds and arrow speed of 320 feet per second render it suitable for hunting animals the size of whitetail deer. Other features that users like include the lightweight, low-profile design, and the crank attachment that allows for easy installation of a crank cocking device.

One issue with the Wildcat C5 is that the string quality is somewhat lacking, and adjusting the string can be a hassle.

The Wildcat C7 picks up the slack and has all the C5 features we know and love, while adding other features such as the Anti-Dry Firing, which for sure most of us need.

Pros

  • High-quality compound crossbow
  • Relatively low price
  • Machine quality that is on par with the best in the market
  • Versatile crossbow and suitable for hunting and target shooting
  • Accurate, comfortable, and reliable crossbow
  • Ideal for beginners

Cons

  • The string may start fraying prematurely
  • No vibration control

Here’s a promotional video of the Wildcat C7 from Barnett.

 

If you want the best, look to the Barnett Wildcat C7. This crossbow was made in the United States, and it comes with several extras, including a quick-detach quiver, three 20-inch arrows, and a premium red dot sight.

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Bear X Bruzer FFL – The Best Crossbow for the Money

When it comes to value for money, nothing beats the Bruzer FFL from Bear X. This crossbow features everything you want in a high-end product but at a fraction of the price. The Bruzer’s key features include:

  • A draw weight of 125 pounds
  • Maximum arrow speed of 335 feet per second
  • Total weight of around 9 pounds
  • Kinetic energy of 99.3 feet-pounds
  • An axle-to-axle distance of 18 inches

Despite its affordable price tag, the Bruzer’s performance is on par with other crossbows that have similar specifications.

The most notable specification is the draw weight of only 125 pounds. Since this is a reverse limb crossbow, or “FFL,” as Bear X calls their reverse draw technology, it doesn’t need a high-draw weight to produce the high arrow speed of 335 feet per second. As a result, children or people of small stature can easily draw the crossbow with the pull cocker.

The Bruzer is not perfect, however. This crossbow doesn’t feature a noise and vibration control mechanism, and the quality of the scope can be improved.

Pros

  • Low draw weight with high arrow speed
  • Crossbow is skeletonized to add rigidity, but not weight
  • High value for the money
  • User-friendly for beginners
  • Suitable for hunting

Cons

  • No noise and vibration control
  • You may have to replace the scope

The Bruzer is budget-friendly, versatile, and user-friendly. If you are strapped for cash, this high-end product from Bear X should be on your list.

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Killer Instinct KI350 – The Best Compound Crossbow

The KI350 from Killer Instinct is a high-performance compound crossbow and a suitable choice if you value compactivity. Key features of this crossbow include:

  • A draw weight of 175 pounds and a trigger pull of 3.5 pounds
  • A maximum speed of 350 feet per second
  • Total weight of 6.5 pounds
  • A rubber coating that reduces noise and that absorbs vibrations

Because of its price tag, the KI350 is generally regarded as an entry level crossbow. However, it comes with an array of features that you are likely to find with high-end hunting models. Features that make this a reliable hunting crossbow include the draw weight, arrow velocity, lightweight, and compact size.

The KI350 has an axle-to-axle distance of 18.5 inches and a length of 34.5 inches. You can also fit Killer Instinct’s cocker device to this crossbow to make cocking easier.

Drawbacks of the KI350 are that the fitted strings tend to unravel. Finding new separate components of this model may also be a challenge.

Pros

  • High-draw weight and speed for the price
  • Lightweight model for optimal maneuverability
  • Compact size
  • Compatible with the brand’s cocker device

Cons

  • Replacement parts are scarce
  • Quality of the fitted strings can be improved

The KI350 is widely considered to be the best compound crossbow in this price range. The crossbow is accurate, lightweight, reliable, and perfect for beginners as well.

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TenPoint Turbo GT

The Turbo GT from Tenpoint was the 2016 winner of Game & Fish Reader’s choice awards, and when you look at its specifications and features, it is clear why. The Turbo GT’s features include the following:

  • A maximum speed of 360 feet per second
  • A draw weight of 175 pounds
  • A fitted self-retracting rope cocking device
  • Lightweight of 6.45 pounds
  • An enhanced design to enhance the crossbow’s accuracy and power

The Turbo GT comes with a Fusion S stock, a 3x Pro-View 2 Scope, an easily detachable three-arrow quiver, three 20-inch Pro Elite carbon arrows, and a side-mount quiver bracket. The self-retracting rope cocking device can reduce cocking effort by up to 50 percent.

This crossbow is compact for optimal maneuverability and hunting in any conditions. The crossbow’s angle-to-angle width is 17.5 inches when it is not cocked, and 13 inched when cocked. The Turbo GT has a length of 35 inches and a power stroke of 12.6 for added accuracy.

One drawback of the Turbo GT is that its coating tends to scratch easily. This crossbow also has a relatively high price tag. If you are a serious crossbow hunter, however, you may find that it offers a value that is worth the cost.

Pros

  • High-draw weight and speed
  • Stable design that allows for comfort and accuracy
  • Comes with self-retracting device for easier cocking
  • High-quality scope
  • Lightweight and compact design

Cons

  • A relatively high price tag
  • Coating tends to scratch easily

The Turbo GT is a viable option for bow hunters who value quality. Additionally, when it comes to performance, reliability, and comfort, we agree with Game & Fish Reader: the Turbo GT offers it all.

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Barnett Buck Commander Extreme (BCX)

The Buck Commander Extreme from Barnett is the crossbow for you if you need to pack a powerful punch. Despite this crossbow’s high-draw weight and arrow speed, it is lightweight and compact. Let’s look at its features:

  • A draw weight of 185 pounds
  • Maximum arrow speed of 365 feet per second
  • Axle-to-axle measurement of 19.875 inches
  • Allows for crank integration for easy cocking
  • Weight of 7.1 pounds

While 7.1 pounds may not seem light in comparison with, say, the Tenpoint Turbo GT, it is a low weight when you consider that the Buck Commander Extreme is a compound crossbow. In fact, it is one of the lightest compound crossbows available.

The Buck Commander Extreme comes standard with an illuminated 3×32 scope to improve accuracy when you are out hunting or target shooting. It also has a durable and balanced design to make shooting and carrying more comfortable.

One issue with this crossbow is that the quality of some of the accessories is lacking. The attachable quiver, for example, is flimsy and may be too fragile for harsh hunting conditions. The crossbow may also be too loud for some hunting settings.

Pros

  • Sufficient draw weight and arrow speed for hunting
  • Lightweight, durable, and balanced design
  • Compact size for maneuverability in close-quarter situations
  • Features crank integration to make cocking easier

Cons

  • Limited noise and vibration control
  • Quality of some accessories can be improved

The Buck Commander Extreme is the crossbow for serious hunters, as it offers high performance at an affordable price.

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Excalibur Matrix Grizzly SMF

If you want an affordable product from a high-end brand, the Grizzly may be a suitable option for you. This compound crossbow has all the features you need for hunting medium and small game. Let’s take a look at what this crossbow from Excalibur has to offer:

  • A maximum arrow velocity of 304 feet per second
  • A draw weight of 200 pounds
  • A weight of only 5.5 pounds
  • A design that allows for balance and comfort

This crossbow is a unique item in this list in that it can bear 200 pounds of draw weight and that it has an incredibly lightweight.

Because of its compact composite frame and lightweight, it may be the perfect option for women and young people. The scope that comes with the Grizzly is adjustable to enhance accuracy, and the package includes four high-quality arrows.

Notable drawbacks of the Matrix Grizzly SMF is that it doesn’t feature an anti-fire mechanism, which compromises its safety. Additionally, the rails are not made from aluminum as is typically the case with models in this category, which may limit its sturdiness.

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Comes with four arrows and attachable quiver
  • Easy to assemble and use
  • High maximum arrow velocity
  • High value for money

Cons

  • No anti-fire mechanism
  • Rails are not made from aluminum

The Matrix Grizzly SMF allows you the opportunity to own a crossbow from an expensive brand without breaking the bank. Despite its size and weight, it is a powerful and versatile crossbow that is suitable for a wide range of application.

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Barnett Ghost 375

The Ghost 375 excels when it comes to accuracy and speed, which is no surprise as it is a model from a leading manufacturer. This crossbow’s features include:

  • Maximum arrow speed of 385 feet per second
  • A draw weight of 160 pounds
  • Weight of 7.1 pounds
  • Anti-vibration technology limbs
  • Triggertech Trigger Technology

Like most other high-value models, the Ghost 375 is durable, lightweight, and accurate. This crossbow also has a compact design to allow for free movement in restricted areas. The Ghost 375 differs from other models in that it produces a high speed of 385 feet per second with a draw weight of 160 pounds.

Included with the crossbow is a retractable underarm counter-balance system and it allows for the integration of a crank cocking device.

Drawbacks that this crossbow share with other products from Barnett is the cheap and flimsy accessories like the attachable quiver. Another problem is that there is no mechanism to make cocking easier.

Pros

  • High maximum arrow speed
  • The crossbow performs better than many other models in terms of accuracy
  • Features Barnett’s 5-in-1 safety firing system
  • Includes an adjustable scope
  • Lightweight and compact design

Cons

  • Quality of accessories can be improved
  • No cocking mechanism
  • If you need a high arrow speed and accuracy at a reasonable price, the Ghost 375 from Barnett is the crossbow for you.

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Ravin Crossbow R9

The Ravin R9 is one of the fastest crossbows in its category. In addition to arrow velocity, this model also has a wide range of features that makes it a popular option for hunters and target shooters alike.

  • Maximum arrow speed of 390 feet per second
  • Weight of eight pounds
  • Thirteen-inch power stroke that contributes to the speed
  • Balanced draw weight
  • Compact with an axle-to-axle measurement of 10.5 inches

Off the bat, it is clear that there is a lot to love about the Ravin R9 package. It is powered by Helicoid technology, and its design features are geared towards accuracy and speed. This crossbow has a rifle-like design, a 100-yard illuminated scope, and built-in cocking mechanism and sling mounts.

The axle-to-axle measurement is six inches at full draw, making it the most compact crossbow on this list. The crossbow is also fitted with an anti-dry fire to prevent injury when you are carrying it around.

There are drawbacks, however, despite the incredible value that this crossbow has to offer. The Riven R9 has limited noise and vibration control, which can be an issue in specific hunting settings. The crossbow also has a high price tag and, as a result, may not be a viable option for a beginner.

Pros

  • High maximum arrow speed of 390 feet per second
  • Compact and lightweight design
  • Ideal crossbow for hunting
  • Quick and easy arrow loading
  • High-quality materials and durable design

Cons

  • Expensive option
  • No noise cancellation
  • With its high arrow speed and accuracy, the Ravin R9 is the best crossbow in this list for hunting big game.

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Empire Beowulf

The Empire Beowulf is widely considered to be one of the best crossbows in the price category. Its price and features make it a viable option for beginners and mid-level hunters.

  • A draw weight of 175 pounds
  • Maximum arrow speed of 360 feet per second
  • Axle-to-axle measurement of nineteen inches
  • Total weight of 10 pounds
  • Power stroke of 14 inches

 

The Empire Beowulf has everything you want in an entry-level crossbow, including draw weight, high arrow speed, affordable price tag, and ergonomic design. The crossbow also features an ultra-compact riser assembly for deer hunting.

A significant drawback of this model, however, is its weight. Hunters who have small statures may have difficulty operating the crossbow efficiently.

Pros

  • High arrow speed
  • Ultra-compact riser assembly
  • Low price
  • High-quality and durable design

Cons

  • The crossbow is not entirely suitable for veteran hunters
  • Relatively high weight can make operation difficult

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CenterPoint Sniper 370

The Sniper 370 from CenterPoint may be the last item in this list, but it not the least. Like the Bear X Bruzer FFL, the Sniper 370 offers incredible value for its price tag. This crossbow’s features include:

  • A draw weight of 185 pounds
  • A maximum arrow speed of 370 feet per second
  • A weight of 12.2 pounds
  • Fully adjustable stock and pass-through foregrip
  • CNC machine cam system

Features that allow for accuracy and precision include the CNC machine cam system, the pass-through foregrip, and integrated spring suppressors that reduce noise and vibrations.

The high arrow speed of 370 feet per second also makes this crossbow a suitable option for a wide range of hunting applications.

At 12.2 pounds, the Sniper 370 is on the heavy side, and people of small stature may have difficulty operating this crossbow. The scope’s quality is also lacking, and you may have to replace it with a higher-end model. You can view a more in-depth review of the Sniper 370 here.

Pros

  • Great value for money
  • Balanced design
  • High arrow speed of 370 feet per second
  • Noise and vibration reduction

Cons

  • Relatively heavyweight
  • The scope may be insufficient

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Buying Guide

There are several aspects to consider to ensure that you are purchasing a crossbow that is right for your unique requirements. Buying considerations include things like crossbow type, speed, noise, draw weight, and arrow track.

Crossbow Type

One- and Two-Handed Crossbows

When shopping for a crossbow, your first decision is whether you need a one- or two-handed model. Crossbows that are operated with two hands are more common than one-handed, or “pistol” crossbows, mainly because they are more versatile.

You can use a two-handed crossbow for fishing, hunting, target shooting, and military applications. Generally speaking, two-handed crossbows also tend to be more user-friendly, accurate, and powerful than pistol crossbows.

Despite the advantages of two-handed models, many buyers prefer one-handed models. Pistol crossbows are typically more compact than a two-handed model, and they have lower price tags. Since one-handed crossbows are small and lightweight, this type is the preferred option for home-defense and small game hunting.

Recurve Crossbows

Modern recurve models share many similarities with historic crossbows. A recurve crossbow’s strings attach directly to the limbs, and it has a design that is simplistic in comparison with that of a compound model.

Recurve crossbows don’t provide the same arrow speed as compound models. They are noisier as the result of spring vibration and, because this type’s string is relatively loose, you won’t get the same precision and accuracy as you will with a compound crossbow.

Despite its drawbacks, you may still prefer a recurve crossbow, though, because recurve models have simplistic designs and fewer components than compound crossbows, they typically have low maintenance requirements and are lighter weight.

Recurve crossbows are generally also more affordable than compound types, and they typically offer a higher degree of durability as there fewer parts that can become defective.

A recurve crossbow may be ideal for you if you prefer simplistic and durable hunting equipment or if you are a beginner hunter or target shooter.

Compound Crossbows

Compound crossbows feature pulley systems in their limb assemblies. If you see a crossbow with a set of wheels and multiple strings, the chances are that it is a compound type. The pulley system, or cam set, gives the crossbow a mechanical edge over recurve models, especially in terms of the so-called let-off effect.

“Let-off” is a term that refers to the reduction in draw weight and the maximization of stored energy. Since the pulleys draw the string up, compound crossbows can deliver an increase in energy of around 33 percent, and the crossbow is easier to cock.

The pulley system and increased energy offer several benefits, including high speeds, silent release, low recoil, and high precision and accuracy. Compound crossbows generally also provide a higher shooting range than recurve crossbows.

Since there is less reliance on the limbs for stored energy, the limbs are shorter and, as a result, compound crossbows are typically more compact than recurve models.

Compound crossbows are not without their drawbacks, despite their sophistication. Pulley systems add to the weight of the crossbow, and they tend to increase the crossbow’s maintenance requirements. This type of crossbow also has a lower tolerance for drops and blows than recurve models.

A recurve crossbow is the most suitable type for serious hunters or target shooters who require a high degree of precision and accuracy, and who don’t mind the added weight and higher price tag.

Reverse Limb Crossbows

Reverse limb crossbows have been around since 2011. This type features a pulley system design that is based on that of the compound crossbow. The difference between these two types is that the string of the reverse limb faces the shooter and not the target.

Reverse limb types offer several added mechanical advantages. The design allows for the riser location to be further back, which centers the weight and solves the “forward-tipping weight” issue that you typically get with compound crossbows. This type of crossbow is also more comfortable to shoulder and more natural to hold for long periods, for example, if you are waiting to get the perfect shot.

Another prominent benefit you get with reverse limb crossbows is compactivity. The axle-to-axle distance on some models can be as short as ten inches. As a result, reverse limb crossbows offer ample maneuverability in close-quarter settings.

The reverse draw technology that this type of crossbow features increases the power stroke significantly. The result is an enhanced draw weight to speed ratio. It is not uncommon for a reverse limb crossbow to produce speeds upwards of 380 feet per second with a draw weight of only 165 pounds.

Drawbacks of this type of crossbow are similar to those of compound crossbows. Reverse limb crossbows are relatively expensive, they have high maintenance requirements, and they are fitted with more components that can break.

You need a reverse limb crossbow for hunting large game or if you have a high-stealth requirement. Long-range target shooters may also prefer this type to compound crossbows.

Draw Weight

Draw weight refers to the amount of pull that is required to bring the limbs into a firing position and is directly proportional to the speed of an arrow.

Draw weight is one of the essential buying considerations when shopping for a crossbow, especially if you need one for hunting. Your draw weight requirement depends on the size of the game you typically hunt.

For medium-sized game like deer, you need a draw weight of at least 150 lbs to ensure a humane kill. If you have a reverse limb crossbow, you may get away with lower draw weight, but many crossbow hunters are not willing to take the risk.

Along with draw weight and speed, you may also want to consider kinetic energy, which is one of the metrics that is commonly used to measure a crossbow’s power. Kinetic energy is not always an accurate unit of measurement; however, as it depends on the arrow’s weight and the distance it already traveled from the crossbow.

If you stick to the general draw weight and arrow velocity requirements for the size of game you hunt, you will find a crossbow that is suitable for your hunting application.

Speed

The velocity of the arrow influences several other variables, including accuracy, range, and force of impact. Like draw weight, the arrow velocity you need depends on the size of that game you typically hunt.

If you hunt medium-sized game like deer, you need a minimum speed of 300 feet per second. Some reverse draw crossbows can achieve this speed with draw weights below 150 pounds.

Arrow Track

Arrow track refers to the mechanism that launches the arrow. This structure is sometimes also called the flight track or barrel, and every high-quality crossbow should feature an arrow track that delivers the arrow accurately downrange.

Crossbow Components

Your crossbow’s parts should be durable and made from high-quality materials. If you have a wooden recurve crossbow or compound crossbow with steel cables, the string should be made from Dacron material that has more “give” than other string materials.

If the recurve crossbow’s limbs are reinforced, or if you have a compound crossbow with synthetic cables, D97 is the best string material.

Manufacturer

Choosing a crossbow from a reputable manufacturer is essential to ensure that you receive the best value for money. Reading reviews and buyers’ guides like this one can help you find a brand that meets your requirements.

All the products we feature in this guide are from familiar manufacturers that deliver high-quality products.

Weight

Crossbow weight is one of the key buying considerations. Lightweight crossbows like the recurve models provide optimal maneuverability, and they are generally easy to carry around when you are hunting.

Compound and reverse limb crossbows are typically heavier than recurve models. Although carrying these crossbows around can result in muscle fatigue after some time, they are easy to keep steady when shooting.

When shopping for a crossbow, consider your needs. If you don’t have to carry your crossbow around for miles but require a balance and precision, choose a heavier crossbow. On the other hand, if you need optimal mobility, opt for a lightweight model.

Noise

One of the benefits of using a crossbow is that it is silent and allows for a higher degree of stealth than a firearm.

Some crossbows are louder than others, however. Recurve crossbows with parallel limbs are the quietest, but they don’t shoot as far as, for example, a compound crossbow.

Additional Features

There are several add-on features to enhance the performance, accuracy, and safety of your crossbow. These accessories include, among others, crossbow scopes, cocking aids, and noise dampening devices that do reduce not only noise but also vibration.

The benefit of these features is that it allows you to find a basic, yet high-quality crossbow at a reasonable price that you can improve over time.

Do’s and Don’ts for Getting the Most Value from Your Crossbow.

Pay Attention to Quality

A crossbow with superior quality will not only last for years, but it will also be comfortable, accurate, and reliable.

Use Enough Draw Weight

Draw weight regulations differ from state to state but, generally speaking, your crossbow should have a draw weight of at least 75 for hunting small game and target shooting.

Use Quality Arrows

The quality of your arrows can influence your crossbow shooting experience. A bolt with a high-quality broadhead will fly straight and true, whereas cheap arrows don’t perform optimally in terms of accuracy and speed.

Understand Arrow Trajectory

When an arrow is released from a crossbow, it will travel downrange in a parabolic arc. Understanding arrow trajectory will help you hit targets at various distances.

Practice

Having regular shooting sessions will ensure that you are proficient with your crossbow while you are hunting. When you practice, simulate hunting conditions and find the shooting range with the right targets for crossbows.

Don’t Shoot Off-Hand

Since a crossbow is heavier at the front, refrain from shooting off-hand, as it can make it challenging to find your balance. Instead, take a rest and try to pad the crossbow’s front with a soft object like a jacket.

Shooting from a kneeling or sitting position will improve your aim and limit the effect of recoil.

Don’t Forget About Your Fingers

When you carry a rifle, the fingers of the hand that holds the front may stick out above the barrel. Never carry a crossbow this way, as your fingers are in the path of the bowstring, and you risk a severe injury.

Final Thoughts

That’s it, folks. Hopefully, you have enough information to make a calculated buying decision now.

To recap, the best crossbow for 2019 is the Barnett Wildcat C7 with its high arrow speed of 320 feet per second, low-profile design, and additional features to increase accuracy and precision.

The best crossbow for the money is the Bear X Bruzer FFL, a reverse limb crossbow with an arrow speed of 335 feet per second.

These crossbows are not only affordable, but their specifications are on par with those at the high end of the price range.

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