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 the utilizing the crossbow like any normal, sane person who enjoys their hobby. We hope that our guides and crossbow reviews will help you choose the best crossbow to do just that.
Top Crossbows – Comparison Table
(sorted by price: high to low)
|Image||Name||Speed||Draw Weight||Crossbow weight||Type||Price||Rating|
|Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow||380 fps||260 lbs||5.9 lbs||recurve||$$$$$||5.0|
|TenPoint C13004-7411 Vapor
|360 fps||165 lbs||6.8 lbs||compound||$$$$$||5.0|
|Excalibur Matrix 355||355 fps||240 lbs||5.4 lbs||recurve||$$$$||5.0|
|TenPoint Titan Xtreme
|333 fps||180 lbs||7.3 lbs||compound||$$$$||5.0|
|Wicked Ridge Raider CLS
|330 fps||180 lbs||7.0 lbs||compound||$$$$||5.0|
|Barnett Zombie 350 CRT||350 fps||175 lbs||7.6 lbs||compound||$$$||4.7|
|Excalibur Ibex SMF
|305 fps||175 lbs||5.9 lbs||recurve||$$$||4.8|
|Excalibur Axiom SMF||305 fps||175 lbs||5.8 lbs||recurve||$$$||4.9|
|Barnett Ghost 350 CRT
|350 fps||175 lbs||7.6 lbs||compound||$$$||4.6|
|Wicked Ridge Warrior HL||300 fps||175 lbs||7.0 lbs||compound||$$||4.8|
|350 fps||175 lbs||8.6 lbs||compound||$$||4.8|
|Barnett Wildcat C5
|320 fps||150 lbs||8.5 lbs||compound||$$||4.4|
Barnett Quad 400
|345 fps||150 lbs||9.0 lbs||compound||$$||4.4|
|Barnett Jackal||315 fps||150 lbs||7.7 lbs||compound||$||4.4|
|SA Sports Fever||240 fps||175 lbs||4.9 lbs||recurve||$||4.7|
|Arrow Precision Inferno Fury
|235 fps||175 lbs||4.8 lbs||recurve||$||4.2|
What is a Crossbow?
Crossbows are similar in design to longbows, crossbows have a curved shape but they are used horizontally as opposed to the more common method of using the longbow vertically. 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.
Readers should keep in mind that 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, as opposed to recurve crossbows.
Fundamental Differences Between Compound and Recurve Crossbows
It is important to realize that recurve crossbows are directly descended from their historic counterparts, whereas compound bows are in many hobbyists’ opinion a technological improvement to the original 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 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.
Compound bows are more powerful than recurve cross bows since compound bows launch bolts faster. However, compounds are often heavier than recurve crossbows and generate somewhat louder noises. Compounds also need much more maintenance than recurve crossbows since they contain more mechanical parts. Furthermore, when the string breaks, a bow press is needed which can cost you around $50 to $500 dollars depending on the bow press. Recurve crossbows on the other hand are lighter than compound ones but do produce less power, though the difference can be only slight. Recurve crossbows also do not possess a cocking mechanism and that requires a bit of physical strength.
What is the Best Crossbow Type for Beginner?
Overall, both compound and recurve types of crossbows have different strengths and weakness, but if you are amateur or beginner then a recurve crossbow 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 best crossbow for each budget category — lower budget options will do well to get you started!
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.
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. 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 heavier crossbows are easier to keep steady because the extra weight prevents the crossbow from moving around.
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. That is because they are:
- more technologically advanced and include in their price cost of patent royalties for newest technologies;
- built with higher quality materials and include in their price cost of the materials and high precision manufacturing.
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.
Now that we finally have the nitty-gritty out of the way, we finally get to the best crossbow options. These are the best crossbows in their respective price range, starting with the most expensive option and moving down the price range.
Best Crossbow for $900 or more: Excalibur Matrix 380 Review
For crossbows that will set you back at least $800, few can compare to the Excalibur Matrix 380, which is a recurve crossbow. Its draw weight is 260 lbs and it has a reported speed of 380 fps attained with a 350gr. arrow. As for the dimensions it is 35,6 inches long and weighs 5.9 pounds. 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. Reviews of this crossbow are overwhelmingly positive: some people even claim that this is the most accurate crossbow on the market while the majority agree that this crossbow gives the user the most pleasurable shooting experience.
Best Crossbow in $600-900 range: Excalibur Matrix 355 Review
In the price range of $600-900 the top dog is the Excalibur Matrix 355, which is also a recurve crossbow. It has a reputed speed of 355 fps and is considered to have phenomenal accuracy along with the 380 model. 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. It has excellent safety features, but is a little louder that it’s big 380 brother. 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.
Best Crossbow in $500-600 range: Barnett Zombie 350 CRT Review
In this budget range the best crossbow is undoubtedly Barnett Zombie 350 CRT. It weighs 7.6 pounds and features Carbon Riser Technology (CRT) which allowed shifting weight from the front of the bow making it more balanced and helping aim easier and shooting more accurately. 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) and it has a stock that is ready for a crank device. One of the fastest, quietest and most powerful crossbows for your money.
Best Crossbow in $400-500 range: Excalibur Axiom SMF Review
Top of the line in the price range is the Excalibur Axiom SMF. Like its more higher priced Excalibur counterparts it has received rave reviews; it clocks in at 305 fps speed, with a draw weight of 175lbs and weighing 5.8 lbs. Some of its 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. As for hunting, this crossbow can take down an elk and perhaps and ox or African buffalo (and definitely a Zombie).
Best Crossbow in $300-400 range: Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Review
For those of you who are searching within $300-$400 range, the Wicked Ridge Warrior is the choice. It is a compound crossbow, weighing in at 7lbs, with a draw weight of 175 pounds. The velocity is 300 fps and experts agree it could be faster but if you are going hunting you can hunt turkey, deer, antelope and larger animals such as small bears and elk. Did we mention that it’s very accurate too?
Best Crossbow for Beginners – $200-300 range: Barnett Jackal Review
In 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 crossbow for beginners as well as for price conscious veterans.
Best Cheap Crossbow - $200 or less: SA Sports Fever Review
Finally, we get to the SA Sports Fever crossbow, which 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 crossbow with a draw weight of 175 pounds and its arrows reach a velocity of 250 fps, it is quite light weighing 4.85 pounds and it is very easy to cock. Understandably, Sports Fever has fewer features in comparison to higher range crossbows, but it gets the job done for novices and some hunters.