The origin of the crossbow is unclear, but most believed it was invented in China, around the 5th Century BC. There is clear evidence though, that it was used in many wars around the world including Europe and Asia. As time and technological advances change, this device of today is no longer used for wars, but for game and hunting.
Unlike the many types of bows, it has a very short range and many archers like to use it for target archery. For more history about the crossbow. If you are new to archery or even a seasoned veteran, looking to upgrade, look no further.
While there seems to be an endless amount of crossbows to choose from, the truth of the matter is that there are only a handful top of the line manufacturers that can really be trusted to deliver high quality result you are searching for.
Check out our list below. We’ve done the hard work for you, and have narrowed down what we think are the cream of the crop, the best model for the money. The chart below is an interactive comparison chart that will help you find that bow you have always wanted.
Crossbow Length / Weight
|TenPoint Titan Xtreme with ACUdraw
||333 fps||180 lbs||12.6||38 in / 7.3 lbs||+|
|Excalibur Matrix 355
||3355 Fps||240 lbs||12.2||34.75 in / 7 lbs||+|
|Excalibur Axiom SMF Kit||305 Fps||175 lbs||14.5||37.5 in / 5.8 lbs||+|
|TenPoint C13004 Vapor
||360 Fps||165 lbs||16.5||37 in / 7 lbs||+|
|Barnett Zombie 350 CRT
||350 Fps||175 lbs||12||37 in / 7.8 lbs||+|
|Parker Bows Bushwacker||285 Fps||150 lbs||11||33.5 in / 7 lbs||+|
|Barnett Quad 400
||345 Fps||150 lbs||15.5||37.7 in / 9 lbs||+|
We know it all too well that sometimes we can’t afford the expensive models that we really want, or if you are just dabbling and don’t want to break the bank just yet. We are here to help you make the right decision. Below we have carefully crafted a list of the best models in 4 different price ranges.
Best Below $100-$200. 150 lbs Wood Crossbow
One of the best archery for beginners to start with is the 150 lbs Wood Crossbow with Scope kit. Many who have bought this setup as a beginner kit have said it is one of the best choices they made.
Some of the many reasons being that this kit sells for less then $100 dollars on Amazon. As the kit comes with metal arrows and a scope, it was a great first step to the world of archery as well as for the people who found that archery wasn’t for them and didn’t have to spend to much money to find out.
For being below 100 bucks, you shouldn’t expect to much, it is a mediocre product, but it is a great cheap model just to play around with and even hunting a few small animals. The wood stock itself is good quality wood.
The Finish and fit where great, the nylon washers will take some slop from the foot stirrup so it will start working lose over time. The scope that came with this model is cheap but will do what its suppose to do, but can easily be replaced with a bigger one fairly easy. All in all it’s a great buy for new archers wanting to get into the sport.
Best Below $400-$500. Parker BushWacker 150 Crossbow
The Parker BushWacker 150 lbs is a truly an affordable model. Being priced between 300-400.
It is designed for new to intermediate archers so the power won’t be that great to a veteran. Out of the box, the assembly is pretty easy even for a beginner.
The instructions are very straight forward and you can see it done live by going on Youtube.
The BushWacker is great if you want to hunt small to medium size animals. The noise level is very quite and won’t startle your prey.
If you want to hunt anything big elk an elk, the BushWacker 150 won’t be a good choice, but it will definitely be powerful enough to take down the elk at 20 yards, but at 30 or yards, it might not work. Overall, this is a great start if your price range is around 300-400.
The Excalibur Axiom. Best Below $500-$600
Coming in with a respectable 175lb draw weight, nicely fitted on a recurve limb, the Excalibur Axiom’s bolt velocity is around 305 feet per second with a power stroke of 14.5.
The Excalibur has an ergonomic low coil design, and only weights about 6lbs making longer hunting trips more bearable.
This package comes with multiplex scope which is great even when under poor lighting. The set also comes with a quiver and 4 arrows. Priced only at around $455 this is a great mid-rage quality model.
The Barnett Buck Commander. Best Below $600-$700
How To Choose The Right One
Choosing the right model can be a very daunting task. Below, we have put together a guide for you to help you make this task a bit easier. If you are new or a novice to the sport please read these common things you would find when looking for a great model.
What is a Draw Weight:
What a draw weight means when referring to a crossbow is the force that is needed to draw back your device. As the number of the draw weight goes the, the difficulty of drawing the string back will be, and having a higher draw weight will also mean how deadly your arrows will become.
When looking for a device, the minimum draw weight you would want to look for is around 150 pounds. There are lighter draw weight crossbows out there, but anything lighter will only be good for target practice. If you main goal is to use it for hunting, 150 pounds would be the minimum choice.
A power stroke is the distance the string will travel from its loose position reaching the latch as it gets cocked. You’ll find a lot of crossbows have a power stroke between 10”-14”.
Thought its true, having a higher stroke means more power to the arrow, its not a value you need to fixate about and try to get the highest power stroke. What really matters more is if the stroke was adjusted correctly based on the bow’s draw weight.
The velocity is measured in FPS or feet per second. It determines the speed the arrow will travel for the first 20-30 yards, Beyond this, the velocity will start to degrade. The minimum number you should look for is about 200 FPS.
Bear in mind, the actual velocity is determined by the bow’s draw weight as well as the type of arrows you are currently using. A lighter arrow will travel faster then a heavier arrow will.
A good rule of thumb, when looking at the velocity that is listed for that bow, know that the number has already been calculated for you and usually they have used the arrows that comes with the bow.
What Is Energy Output
Energy output is determined by the energy that is transferred from the bow string to the arrow when released, as it is directly related to the characteristics mentioned beforehand: longer the power stroke is and higher the draw weight the more energy will then be transferred making the arrow more deadlier, faster and less trajectory dropdown.
There is a lot to consider when you think about energy output, our advance is to stick with our guide. Minimum of 150 lbs, and a velocity minimum of 200 Fps with the power stroke minimum of 10”. You’ll get a very accurate , powerful and bow for the money.
What are Limbs and which are Best on a Crossbow?
Limbs on a devices are the two parts that is attached to the bow’s riser, at the tip of the limbs is also where the strings ar attached. One of the common things to look for when looking at the limbs is what kind of material it is made of.
The quality crossbows have limbs that are made of either fiberglass, carbon or a combination of both. These materials are very durable and light weight, which is a necessity with the stresses generated by crossbows of today.
Stay clear of limbs made of wood or aluminum, they have a greater chance of breaking. Its beat to save money to get the better material as this will be better in the long run.
What should you pay for a crossbow?
Keep in mind, just because its expensive doesn’t always mean it’s a high quality bow. The price range you would want to stay at minimum, $120.
Anything less, please stay clear, at this price range quality will not be up to par and can be hazardous and dangerous to you. Check out our guide of the best crossbow for the money if you are looking for a good crossbow in your price range.
How to use it
When buying a brand new out of the box device, some basic assembly is usually required. Most will come with manufacturer’s instructions and are usually really easy to put together. A typical package will usually look like the picture here.
The bow section usually come already assembled for you, but will need to be fitted to the stock by using the fasteners that are supplied for you.
Other parts like laser sights, Red dot sights, scopes are sometimes pre-installed, but not all the time.
Manufacturers will sometimes package items separately so you’re probably going to need to mount the rings and your sighting device also. Next you’ll need to install your quiver bracket and any accessories you see fit like the cocking devices, slings etc. on the stock. Typical time for assembly is about 20-30 mins, then you’re ready to shoot.
How to Cock The Bow
As their designs and technology evolved, the power that was needed to cock the bow back went beyond what a normal human can do. New models started including cocking devices like cranks and levers which helped the archer draw the bow back a lot easier.
The modern bows now have draw weights that are 200lbs, so using levers and cranks to help you draw the bow back is a must. There are three methods in drawing your bow back and we’ll go over them below.
Method 1. Manually Cocking The Crossbow
This is by for the quickest and simplest way to draw your bow back. The best way to go about this is by placing your foot inside the stirrup, next reach down with two hands and cock your string back. Doing this method is very effective, but isn’t for everyone.
If it has a 175lbs draw weight, then you better be able to deadlift 175lbs of weights, because that’s essentially what you are going do.
The advantage of this method is the simplicity of it. You don’t have to look for any extra devices to carry, buy or install. You can cock the bow back fairly quickly, the downfall of it is the strength it takes for an archer to consonantly cock the bow back will start to take a toll on a person.
Unless you already possess some good physical strength chances are you‘ll get tired as the day passes. When manually cocking a crossbow, another big drawback is that accuracy can be compromised. You must be sure you cock the crossbow back perfectly straight, keeping the middle of the string as centered in the trigger as possible.
If somehow you pulled one side of the string harder than the other side, the center of the string will be pulled left or right of the trigger.
This will result in a shot that will spray and miss right or left of the target. One big tip you can do if you decide to go the manual route is to mark the center of the strong with some white paint, so you’ll know to make sure the center is always aligned.
Method 2. Using a Crank To Cock
You can use a Crank to cock your crossbow. A crank is a small devices that is usually mounted on the bow’s stock. This device will allow the archer to draw the bow back by winding a small crank handle. The cranking devices will let anyone of any age or disabilities to cock back their bow making this a popular among younger adults and hunters that have some physical disabilities.
Using a cranking device will give an archer many great advantages. For example when trying to cock back a bow that has a 150lbs draw will feel like nothing, saving the archer’s arms from getting fatigue. Another great advantage is when you use the crank to draw the string back; the string is more likely to get aligned in the center.
Even thought there are a lot of upsides to a crank device, there are also downsides. For one, crossbow crank devices are expensive, they are at least $100 dollars or more. Also this device will add more weight to your bow as well as more bulk to the butt of it.
Though there are some more sleeker models that can be used, but all in all it will add weight and size. Another thing to take note is that, a crank device will take you a lot longer to cock the string because you’ll have to wind it up slowly.
Method 3. Rope Cocking
To help cocking your bow a little bit easier, a rope cocking device is used. It is basically a pulley system and gives you a good 50% mechanical advantage. If you have a 200lbs of draw weight, by using this device you’ll be really cocking back 100lbs.
The down side of this is that you’ll have to pull back the rope twice as far. A typical rope cocking device has two handles, 2 string clips, and a rope which connects everything together. Once in position, you pull the handles up towards your chest while still having your foot on the stirrup.
This third method will still use a good amount of your strength, but its still a lot easier then manually cocking your bow. Rope cockers are relatively inexpensive and the price tag run around 35-40 dollars.
The big advantage of this device is that it will make a 150lbs draw weight feel half that when drawing your string back. It will also improve accuracy by helping the archer center the string when doing a full draw.
The only down side with this would be the time it will take to route the rope thought, draw the bow, and then put it away. Overall this method is strongly recommend to have the best experience.
Your Bows Scopes
When picking up a new set the good sets usually will include some sort of scope. And there are two types to choose from. Make sure to always configure your site for your bow.
Optical Scopes are usually more expensive than your usual red dot scope. The price can range from $80 to 250, 80 being a good quality one. As the higher end models will have more features and a bit heavier. The optics that are included are very similar to what rifle scopes uses.
Some models will have a single tube design which will lessen the chances of anything breaking. They will also magnication from 1x to 5x range and most are fog and water proof.
The higher end ones will also include illuminated ots, which will make a target that is poorly lit easier to hit Optical Scopes come in single and mult-reticle targets. And these are more for preference of what best suites the user.
Red Dot Scopes:
This is the cheapest and the most basic setup for scopes, and the price range can be $50 or less. The red dot comes in 2 different varieties, the triple dot red-dot scope and the single dot red dot scope. What these means are the dots you’ll see down your scope. As the name suggest, single you’ll see one red dot.
down the scope while triple you’ll see three red dots down the scope. When using the single dot scope, you’ll use it to align it with the target using your own judgment.
When using the triple dot scope that are positioned vertically, you’ll align the bottom dots to a target that is about 40 yards away, the middle dot will be aligned with the target about 30 yards away, and finally the top dot will be align with a target 20 yards away.
Compound Vs Recurve Types
The difference between a compound and recurve are the limbs. The mechanism used the pull the string. Compounds uses cams, a system that helps the archer draw the bow back a lot easier then the recurve and will also have a lot more power.
Because of the increase in use and power, compound crossbows are a lot more expensive than your typical recuvre model. Other dis-advantages are that they are a lot heavier as well, because of the cabling system being sued.
And with more technology in place, you have a lot more potential in having your bow malfunction. We don’t recommend picking the compound model if you are a beginner, and would recommend that you would stick to the recurve model until you have put more shooting time in and have a better understanding of the components of the compound.