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What is the Best Crossbow – Crossbow Reviews and Guide

Most people seem to love a good crossbow whether it is to lay waste to zombie hordes in Walking Dead, kill vampires, decimate French armies or to kill a monarch such as Richard the Lionheart; or if you are a psychopath like Joffrey Baratheon you use your crossbow, or in his case toy, for more heinous purposes. However, most of us are not caught up in a zombie apocalypse and we just enjoy utilizing the crossbow like any normal, sane person who enjoys their hobby. There are a lot of different and good crossbows available nowadays and so you can find yourself asking “What is the best crossbow on the market?” With all the information available online it may be hard to find an answer to this question in your particular circumstance.  That is why we did a thorough research, interviewed experts, and done our own tests – all with a hope that our guides and crossbow reviews will help you choose the best crossbow for the money and for your needs.

Top Crossbows Comparison Table 

(sorted by price: high to low and based on crossbow ratings)

ImageNameSpeedDraw WeightCrossbow weightTypePriceCrossbow Ratings
Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow

Our review
380 fps260 lbs5.9 lbsrecurve$$$$$5.0/5.0
TenPoint C13004-7411 Vapor

Our review
360 fps165 lbs6.8 lbscompound$$$$$5.0/5.0
Excalibur Matrix 355

Our review
355 fps240 lbs5.4 lbsrecurve$$$$5.0/5.0
TenPoint Titan Xtreme

Our review
333 fps180 lbs7.3 lbscompound$$$$5.0/5.0
Wicked Ridge Raider CLS

Our review
330 fps180 lbs7.0 lbscompound$$$$5.0/5.0
Barnett Zombie 350 CRT350 fps175 lbs7.6 lbscompound$$$4.7/5.0
Excalibur Ibex SMF

Our review
305 fps175 lbs5.9 lbsrecurve$$$4.8/5.0
Excalibur Axiom SMF

Our review
305 fps175 lbs5.8 lbsrecurve$$$4.9/5.0
Barnett Ghost 350 CRT

Our review
350 fps175 lbs7.6 lbscompound$$$4.6/5.0
Wicked Ridge Warrior HL

Our review
300 fps175 lbs7.0 lbscompound$$4.8/5.0
Barnett Penetrator

Our review
350 fps175 lbs8.6 lbscompound$$4.8/5.0
Barnett Wildcat C5

Our review
320 fps150 lbs8.5 lbscompound$$4.4/5.0
Barnett Quad 400

Our review
345 fps150 lbs9.0 lbscompound$$4.4/5.0
Barnett Jackal

Our review
315 fps150 lbs7.7 lbscompound$4.4/5.0
SA Sports Fever

Our review
240 fps175 lbs4.9 lbsrecurve$4.7/5.0
Arrow Precision Inferno Fury

Our review
235 fps175 lbs4.8 lbsrecurve$4.2/5.0

Main Types of Crossbows

First of all, what is a crossbow? In general, crossbow design is similar to bows (both recurve and compound). Crossbows also have a curved shape but they are used horizontally as opposed to the more common method of using the longbow vertically (although there are some modern crossbows that are also vertical).  A crossbow is attached to a wooden body called a tiller or stock that holds the arrow in place whereas the nut or catch holds the string. There are also a number of accessories and improvements in modern crossbow technologies – cams, adjustable scopes, advanced material limbs to name a few.

top crossbow reviews guide - breakdown

Click to enlarge main compound crossbow parts

There are two main types of crossbows, both with their unique advantages and disadvantages. The first type is the compound crossbow, which has shorter limbs and is easier to handle. The second type is the recurve crossbows. It is important to realize that recurve crossbows are directly descended from their historic counterparts, whereas compound crossbows are in many hobbyists’ opinion a technological improvement to the original crossbow design. Recurve simply means that the limbs are facing away from the shooter, compound crossbows however utilize cams that have been appended to the original crossbow design, allowing one to draw the bow easier. In addition, the cocking mechanism makes it easier for the user to draw. The cam system enables the compound crossbow to store more energy, thus making the bow more powerful. This design in the compound crossbow allows it to propel its projectiles at higher speeds.

Which Type of Crossbows is Better?

Compound crossbows are more powerful than recurve ones since compounds launch bolts faster. For obvious reasons, more power is better than less power when you are hunting big game. However, compounds are often heavier than recurves making it harder to carry them around during an all-day hunting trips. Also, compounds generate somewhat louder noises which may make it harder to surprise prey.

Compounds also need much more maintenance than recurve crossbows since they contain more mechanical parts that are prone to getting worn out or broken. Furthermore, when the string breaks on a compound, a bow press is needed which can cost you around $50 to $500 depending on the bow press. You won’t have to face the same expenses with recurves. Recurves on the other hand are lighter than compound ones but do produce less power, though the difference can be only slight.  Recurve type crossbows also do not possess a cocking mechanism and cocking them requires a bit of physical strength, so more powerful versions may not always be suitable for smaller frame women and children.

Overall, both compound and recurve types of crossbows have different strengths and weakness, but if you are amateur or beginner, then a recurve might be the ideal option for you especially since they are less expensive than their counterparts, but if you want more power, then opt for the compound crossbow.

Have a look at the crossbow reviews we put together at the bottom of this page, they show top rated crossbows for each budget category — lower budget options will do well to get you started!

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Crossbow

There are four main factors that those choosing a crossbow should be concerned with: 1) speed 2) draw weight 3) crossbow weight and 4) budget.

1. Crossbow Speed

Of the four factors, speed is one of the most heavily debated decisions in choosing a crossbow and there is plenty of disagreement if it should be #1 factor or not. It is important to understand that you have to think of speed, especially if you are hunting and not only using your crossbow for target practice. For most deer, hunting them with any crossbow suffices; however when it comes to larger animals such as elk or moose or say for example African safari animals, then you need your weapon to shoot the arrow or bolt faster and at longer range, minimizing the chance of the animal reacting and thus resulting in a possible miss or not making a kill shot.  To make it more serious: if you are up against a grizzly in Alaska, then distance and speed with which that distance is covered by your bolt can mean the difference between life and death.

2. Crossbow Draw Weight

The second important factor you need to consider is the draw weight. Essentially, draw weight is the amount of force required to draw the bow of the crossbow, and the draw weight increases the further the string is pulled back. It is extremely important to know a crossbow’s draw weight because you need to take that into consideration when hunting.  Most decent crossbows have at least a 150lb draw weight, which gives you a bolt speed of around 220-350 fps.

Nonetheless, for hunting a 150lb draw weight is appropriate for hunting deer,  rabbits and birds if you manage to hit the right spots. Larger animals such as small bears, elk and caribou require a crossbow around a 175lbs draw weight if not more, and most crossbows in that range shoot their projectiles at around 330 fps to 350.  If you are the more adventurous type who is seeking out moose and grizzly bears, then you definitely want to choose at least a 200lb draw weight crossbow. Most crossbows with a draw weight of 200 pounds or more fire their bolts at around 330 fps to 350, while some reaching speed of 385 fps and more. For all of them you will get a great (read: deadly) combination of power and speed.

3. Crossbow Weight

Finally, there is the factor of the crossbow’s weight, which is a vital part in purchasing the appropriate crossbow. You have to take into account your physical dimensions and for what purposes you intend to use the crossbow for. If you spend an entire day in the woods hunting, then you might want have a light and compact crossbow. On the other hand heavy crossbow iseasier to keep steady because the extra weight prevents the crossbow from moving around.

4. Crossbow Price

Bearing the three factors above in mind, it is also important to take into account that more expensive crossbows are undeniably better than their more budget-conscious counterparts. There are a few reasons for that, the main ones are:

  1. More expensive crossbows are more technologically advanced that cheap crossbows and include in their price cost of patent royalties for newest technologies. Main crossbow manufacturers put a lot of efforts and funds into R&D and protect their findings by patents. Once the technology is developed, other manufacturers adopt the technology and start using it in their crossbows while paying patent royalties to original inventors. It is a common practice in crossbows industry and the most advanced brands incorporate all the most advanced inventions in the crossbow designs of their flagship models.
  2. More expensive crossbows are also built with higher quality materials and include in their price cost of the materials and high precision manufacturing. Manufacturing costs of a high end crossbow are quite high as they require advanced machinery and highly trained technicians. Also, more advanced artificial materials used in high end crossbows are limited in supply, have high lead time for producing, and as a result very highly priced. All these factors are accounted for in the more expensive crossbows.

This is very straightforward and crossbow industry is one of the few industries where price, quality and performance are very highly related. The below video of ‘How Crossbows are Made’ will give you a better understanding of the complexity of crossbow manufacturing, even though they show a fairly non-complex crossbow.

Best Crossbow For the Money:

Now that we have the nitty-gritty out of the way, we finally get to the best rated crossbow reviews and options. These are top rated crossbows in their respective price range, starting with the most expensive option and moving down based on crossbow prices.

$900 or more: Excalibur Matrix 380 Review – The Fastest Crossbow

the fastest crossbow - excalibur matrix 380 crossbow review

For crossbows that will set you back at least $900, none can compare to the Excalibur Matrix 380, which is the best recurve crossbow on the market. Its draw weight is 260 lbs and it has a reported speed of 380 fps attained with a 350gr. arrow. This remarkable speed makes it one of the fastest crossbows nowadays! Needless to say with such speed it is also the most powerful crossbow. Amazingly, with the high speed it does not produce a lot of noise, so it is a great crossbow to take on a hunt, especially if you are hunting from a blind. As for the dimensions it is very compact with 35,6 inches long and weighs 5.9 pounds which is extremely lightweight for crossbows. It comes packaged with a Tact-Zone Crossbow Scope (illuminated: red and green and with a range scale of up to 60 yards), a four-arrow ambidextrous quiver, four Diablo arrows, four 150 grain field points and a rope cocking aid. Once you sight it, you are ready to go hunting.

Reviews of this crossbow are overwhelmingly positive with nobody giving it less that 5.0 out of 5.0 based on performance. A lot of archers claim that this is the most accurate crossbow on the market while everybody agree that this crossbow gives the user the most pleasurable shooting experience. Word of caution from another user: if you want to practice shooting this crossbows, make sure you get good block targets – at 40 yards arrows go fletching deep and you may not be able to pull them out.

Price of the crossbows is on the high side, but keep in mind that you are also purchasing a lifetime warranty on the crossbow as well as legendary Excalibur customer support.

<Click here to find out more about the fastest crossbow – Excalibur Matrix 380>

$600-900 range: Excalibur Matrix 355 Review

top rated small crossbow - excalibur matrix 355 review

In the price range of $600-900 the best crossbow for the money is Excalibur Matrix 355, which is also a recurve type crossbow. It has a reputed speed of 355 fps and is considered to have phenomenal accuracy similar to that of the 380 model. In reviews, some owners noted that it was very easy to group arrows in a small 4” circle from 30 yard distance with this crossbow, and others noted its high accuracy in 70+ yard shots. The crossbow comes equipped with a great scope, which is another benefit noted by all reviewers.  It has draw weight of 240 pounds and it is very light, weighing only 5.4 lbs, thus making it a great crossbow for hunters who like moving. The shorter power stroke (12.2”) makes it easier to cock, which is another helpful attribute during a hunt – you only need to pull the sting to your waste, as not as high as your chest as with some other models.

Excalibur Matrix 355 has excellent safety features, but is a little louder that it’s big 380 brother. You may want to consider ordering and installing suppressors separately if you want an absolutely silent crossbow. The Matrix 355 received great reviews from all its owners. All reviewers acknowledged high-quality manufacturing of the crossbow and its durability. Excalibur Matrix 355 is a highly suitable crossbow for professional hunters due its many features, and with its kinetic energy you can take down the largest game in the US.

<<Click here to see more reviews of Excalibur Matrix 355>>

$500-600 range: Barnett Zombie 350 CRT Review

top rated crossbows - Barnett Zombie 350 review

In this budget range the top crossbow is undoubtedly Barnett Zombie 350 CRT. It weighs 7.6 pounds and features Carbon Riser Crossbow Technology (CRT) which allowed shifting weight from the front of the bow making it more balanced and helping aim easier and shooting a crossbow with more accurately. The low weight makes it easy to carry the crossbow for any distance which is perfect for hunters. The crossbow has draw weight of 175 pounds and shoots with speed of 350fps, which is sufficient for almost any purpose. Zombie 350 comes with a great adjustable scope (5 brightness levels, 2 colors) which is very easy to use and it has a stock that is ready for a crank device.  Besides the scope, the standard Zombie 350 package includes a set of 3 20” arrows with a quiver, a sling and a rope cocking device.  One of the fastest, quietest and most powerful crossbows for the money.

Reviewers on Amazon gave the crossbow 4.5/5.0 score with emphasis on great accuracy, power and design the crossbow. One reviewer noted that because of the crossbow’s accuracy he can’t shoot 2 bolts at the same spot as he will ‘robin hood’ them every time. Another customer commented on the power of the crossbow by stating that went 3 inches deep in a brick wall and went through a 400fps target without visible effort. Overall, all people who purchased Zombie 350 and left reviews were highly pleased with its performance and recommended it to anyone looking for a powerful crossbow within the budget range..

<<Click here to see more reviews of Barnett Zombie 350 CRT>>

$400-500 range: Excalibur Axiom SMF Review

Best crossbow under 500 - Excalibur Axiom SMF Review

Top crossbow under 500 is the Excalibur Axiom SMF. The crossbow is positioned as a price-point bow for those who want to try recurve crossbows and don’t want break the bank while doing so. As an owner of this crossbow put it “Excalibur has under promised and over delivered!” It clocks in at 305 fps speed, with a draw weight of 175lbs With such speed and power this crossbow can take down an elk and perhaps and ox or African buffalo. It is a relatively small crossbow weighing 5.8 lbs so you will have no difficulty carrying it around on your hunting trips. Some of its other notable strengths include high quality material, meaning it will be a long time before you need to replace the parts and the crossbow is low-maintenance since it is a recurve crossbow.  The trigger is very responsible and stable, thus great for novices and it has very high accuracy. However, there are no finger guides to prevent you from placing your fingers in the path of the string, so beginners need to be aware of that fact.

Like its more higher priced Excalibur counterparts it has received rave reviews. Customers on Amazon rated this crossbow at stunning 4.9/5.0 The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and the crossbows comes highly recommended by its owners. All customer noted great accuracy of the crossbow at various distances and several owners advised against aiming at the same spot more than once to avoid ‘robin hooding’ the first bow. Shooting 2” groups from 50 yards did not seem to be a problem to anyone. Overall, Excalibur Axiom SMF is a great model and definitely the best crossbow under $500.

<<Find out more about the top crossbow under 500 – Excalibur Axiom SMF>>

$300-400 range: Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Review

most powerful crossbow - Wicked Ridge Warrior HL review

For those of you who are searching within $300-$400 range, the Wicked Ridge Warrior is the best choice. It is a compound crossbow, weighing in at 7lbs, with a draw weight of 175 pounds. The velocity is 300 fps and while some higher priced models do produce higher speed, you can still very effectively hunt turkey, deer, antelope and larger animals such as small bears and elks. The crossbow comes equipped with excellent ambidextrous safety features, including Dry-Fire Inhibitor which will prevent crossbow from firing without an arrow. The crossbow also features industry’s quietest and smoothest trigger technology, patented as a Power Touch Trigger. Wicked Ridge Warrior is proudly manufactured in Ohio, USA, so you can be sure that it offers great built quality.

The crossbow received highly positive reviews from its users, with remarkable rating on Amazon – 4.8/5.0. Many reviewers were surprised by the quality of the bow considering the fact that it is not overly expensive. A lot of reviewers noted their experience of shooting very tight groups within minutes of assembling the crossbow, eg: “Got it for my wife and it shot bullseyes right out of the box”. Wicked Ridge Warrior is easy to assemble with the entire process taking less than 20 minutes even for beginners. Overall, this is a superb American-made crossbow with great value for money offering, as one owner put it: “All in all worth the money, a great value and you cant go wrong with a ten point.”

<<Click here to see more reviews of Wicket Ridge Warrior HL>>

$200-300 range: Barnett Jackal Review

heavy crossbow under 500 - barnet jackal reviewIn the $200 to $300 price range we have the Barnett Jackal compound crossbow, which combines affordability, power and efficiency in one package. However, at 7.7 lbs it is quite heavy and it has a draw weight of 150 pounds but its velocity is 315 fps. It’s an excellent choice for novices and best beginners crossbow as well as for price conscious veterans.

<<Click here to see more reviews of Barnet Jackal>>

$200 or less: SA Sports Fever Review

best cheap crossbow -SA Fever ReviewFinally, we get to the SA Sports Fever  which is the best cheap crossbow that seems to be mainly aimed at novices and hunters shooting smaller game and deer.  Since it is priced below $200 it is quite a bargain. The SA Sports Fever crossbow is a recurve type crossbow with a draw weight of 175 pounds and its arrows reach a velocity of 250 fps, it is quite light weighing and compact crossbow at 4.85 pounds and it is very easy to cock. Understandably, Sports Fever has fewer features in comparison to higher price range crossbows, but it gets the job done for novices and some hunters. If you are looking for a cheap crossbow, a compact crossbow, and an overall the best beginners crossbow – definitely consider SA Sports Fever.

<<Click here to see more reviews of the best cheap crossbow – SA Sports Fever>>

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