Hundreds of years ago guns made crossbows largely obsolete. The gun was more accurate, reliable, and useful especially in combat situations…
…but we are no longer living in a combat situation.
In fact, the best crossbows sold today are exhilarating for users and come with a host of advantages.
Within this article, we’ll break down all the benefits of crossbows for hunting, for enjoyment, and for the upkeep and cost. More importantly, we will provide guidance on how to buy the best crossbow for you and get the most from the purchase.
With high-powered rifles available on nearly every corner in the United States, there is no shortage of firepower to go hunting with. Crossbows are not intended to be the best way of killing an animal on the hunt, but rather an added challenge that comes with a host of advantages.
The first advantage is that once a crossbow is cocked and ready to fire, keeping the crossbow at full draw does not require any energy or effort. This is especially helpful for disabled hunters, children, or people who just want to ensure they have a better chance at a successful hunt.
Without the physical strength required to hold a compound bow, a crossbow user can concentrate fully on aiming and killing the animal.
The second major advantage is for accuracy. The crossbow reviews may not make it clear enough, but the scope is as useful as a hunting rifle. The best crossbow will have a scope that makes it easy to shoot from sitting or kneeling positions.
For many beginner hunters, the best crossbow is a real advantage because it offers all the stability and support of a rifle, but with legal allowances for hunting during archery season. While this varies on a state by state basis, it’s possible to crossbow hunt during archery season and this makes it much easier to get the large whitetail deer buck you have been after!
Best Crossbow vs Best Compound Bow
Even though there is a pretty clear advantage with a crossbow, there are plenty of factors that may make you think twice about the best crossbow for the money.
The mechanical advantage of the best crossbow will outweigh any compound bow. The best crossbow has a draw weight of 100 – 200 pounds. The compound bow maintains a draw weight of 50 – 80 pounds generally speaking. The larger draw weight means a faster shot.
But there are disadvantages too. Namely, even the best crossbow is going to be significantly heavier than the compound bow. In some cases even double that of a compound bow. Beyond the added weight, they are difficult and awkward to carry or shoot accurately without a rest.
Finally, if you are in the field searching for elk or other big game, even the best crossbow is much slower to reload than a compound bow and noticeably louder. As you can see, crossbows are not the be all end all especially if you aren’t willing to trade some of these advantages.
Once you have decided a crossbow is still what you’re looking for, it’s time to make your move with an actual purchase.
Best Crossbow: Tips for Buying
As with most online resources about crossbows, we have suggestions on which brands and specific models are most worthwhile based on our (and other) testing.
Crossbow reviews are usually pretty bland and simply try to make each product sound great. Why? They want you to buy, of course.
Unlike most others, we have tried to boil down the facts and provide the best crossbow review that we can (unadulterated!) It’s far better to have your trust than it is to have any small bit of money when you buy the wrong crossbow.
Crossbow Reviews: One and Two-Handed
As odd as it may seem to consider, there are one-handed crossbows that resemble firing with a pistol. The two-handed crossbows are the most common model and they’re generally going to be most useful for hunting and fishing.
The one-handed crossbow options are suited for target practice, self-defense, and occasionally for small game hunting (who wants squirrel?!?) Otherwise, there is not much use in a one-handed crossbow and you’re probably better off investing in the two-handed option.
What is the Best Crossbow Scope?
The best crossbow for your money is going to be one with a strong scope. The optics on any rifle or crossbow is key. In fact, Steven Rinella recounts an old adage that says “If I had a thousand dollars to spend on a gun, I’d put a hundred dollars into the rifle and the rest into the scope.”
The scope makes a big difference. Given that everything else on the crossbow is pretty well set up for a clean shot, it makes sense that the scope makes all the difference.
Our recommendation for the best crossbow scope is to pick up the Nikon Bolt XR. Just like Nikon binoculars (which are the best binoculars) the optics are undeniably the best. The Nikon Bolt XR comes with a 3 x 32mm magnification, a 3.4” eye relief, and has a length of 8.1”. All in all, it is your best bet for adding to your rig. The best crossbow for your money needs this scope.
Can a Felon Use a Crossbow?
What most crossbow reviews will not tell you is that felons are allowed to use this weapon in certain states. While firearms are off-limits for felons for the duration of their life, crossbows and compound bows are perfectly legal.
For someone who wants to have experience hunting with a bow, but does not want to put in the time to learn compound bowhunting properly, it is a good idea to snag a crossbow instead.
Which is the Best Crossbow For You?
There is a lot to consider when searching for the best crossbow. Even if you find the dream crossbow, it may not be the best crossbow for your money. There are many factors that go into a good crossbow, but the entire point of providing this piece of content is to help you skip the process.
We took a look at some of the major features of a crossbow in order to pick out the best. These included things like:
- Arrow track
- Draw weight
- Additional features
Once we broke down all of these features and sought a cost-effective product that could meet the needs, we boiled it down to a few different options.
Our Top 3 Choices (and Why)
#1. Barnett Ghost 410
The Barnett brand of crossbow is one of the most reputable that you will find. The models vary in their cost and efficacy, but all are from a high quality manufacturer that knows how to create crossbow products.
The Ghost 410 has a velocity of 410 (as the name implies) and a 185 pound draw weight. The crossbow is a workhorse that will take down any game you could desire. Of course, with a higher quality is going to be a higher price tag. This is in the higher range cost-wise, but it’s an investment because you’ll probably never have to buy another crossbow again.
The best crossbow for your money is often the one that maintains high quality for an extended period.
Pick up the Barnett Ghost 410 here
#2. Barnett Jackal
Staying on the Barnett train, the Barnett Jackal crossbow is the perfect entry-level crossbow. It is made by the same manufacturer that we know and trust, but it has slightly lower features. The velocity is only 315 and the draw weight is 150 pounds.
Be that as it may, the Barnett Jackal is perfect as an entry level crossbow for someone who wants to get in for under a few hundred dollars. The Barnett Jackal crossbow is perhaps the best crossbow for beginners because it will not scare them away with too many features, but will make it easy enough to get started.
Pick up the Barnett Jackal here
#3. Excalibur Matrix Mega 405
Another good manufacturer for crossbows is Excalibur and their specific Excalibur Matrix Mega 405 is one of the best recurve crossbows you will find. It has a 405 feet per second (FPS) speed and it can take down any legal game that you would be looking to hunt.
The starter package comes with an excellent scope so you might not even need to pick up the Nikon Bolt XR we mentioned above.
This is truly the best of the best, but you will be paying for it. We don’t recommend spending extra money simply to do so, but if you are genuinely eager in the best crossbow currently on the market, the Excalibur might be your best bet. Again, this isn’t the best crossbow for your money (we believe the Barnett Ghost takes that distinction), but for high rollers, you might have your choice.
Pick up the Excalibur Matrix Mega 405 here