Crossbows are great for both recreation and hunting, but the market is glutted with cheap products which have a tendency to fall apart at the drop of a hat. If you’re looking to find one of the best crossbows around it can take a lot of research and more than a little bit of knowhow to make sure you get one suited for your purposes.
In our research we found a lot of great bows, but for most people the CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow is absolutely fantastic. This cheap, powerful recurve crossbow performs much higher than its price point. Whether you’re hunting or target shooting, we’ve dug up the best around and brought them straight to you. So, without further ado, let’s dig into the meat of the matter and then we’ll show you how to make sure that the crossbow you end up with is perfectly suited for your unique situation.
If you’re looking to drop some money on a ready-to-go hunting crossbow, then the CenterPoint Sniper 370 is a fine way to get started. Stand hunters may want something smaller, however.
Top 5 Crossbows
|Bear X Crossbows Archery Bruzer FFL||Reverse Compound||125lb||Check Price|
|CenterPoint Sniper 370||Compound||185lb||Check Price|
|SA Sports Fever Crossbow Package 543||Recurve||175lb||Check Price|
|Cobra System K-8025 Self Cocking||Pistol Recurve||80lbs||Check Price|
|Excalibur Crossbow Matrix SMF Grizzly||Recurve||200lbs||Check Price|
1. Best Hunting Crossbow
Bear X Crossbows Archery Bruzer FFL
This 125lb, reverse compound crossbow from Bear X is perfect for hunting large game. It easily meets the poundage requirement and comes in a compact form to allow for easy maneuvering from a tree stand or within the confines of a blind. Even better: while it’s the most expensive bow on our list, it’s also super cheap for the specifications and style.
This bow goes from small to absolutely tiny when at a full draw. The width of the bow reaches down to 15 ½” once you’ve pulled it back. Any hunter knows that blind or stand space is at a premium, and even a couple of extra inches can make a big difference.
If you’re planning on hunting deer or other large game, this bow ends up being a great investment. Spot-and-stalk hunters or target shooters may want to go for a different model, however, in order to save some money.
Pros and Cons
- 125lb draw weight is perfect for big game
- Reverse compound design delivers impressive force with a small bow
- Easy to draw
- Super quiet firing
- Expensive overall
- Very heavy
2. Best Compound Crossbow
CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package
The CenterPoint Sniper 370 provides a 185lb draw weight and a compound design. This makes it awesome for stalk-and-spot hunters, but it’s a bit much for target shooters. This powerful bow comes equipped with a powerful scope as well. While it’s not perfect, the included optics give it some great out of the box functionality.
The whole bow draws down to 18” when cocked, which is a bit big for stationary hunting but small enough to not get tangled when you’re in the brush.
The well-engineered cams give it an easy draw as well, allowing most people to cock it fairly easily.
Pros and Cons
- 185lb draw
- CNC milled hardware
- Comes with a scope
- Adjustable stock
- Too powerful for target shooting
- Some trouble with packaging
3. Best Budget Hunting Crossbow
SA Sports Fever Crossbow Package 543
This 175lb draw, recurve crossbow is pretty awesome for the price, and most people will find that it quickly pays for itself. It’s accurate and powerful, as well as having a great scope mount and coming with a 4×32 scope that allows for some pretty impressive accuracy once you get it dialed in.
The only real problem with this bow is the fact that the draw weight can be a bit much for those who aren’t used to crossbows, especially since it’s a recurve and doesn’t have any assistance for the pull. The foot stirrup is great, however, and with a bit of practice most people will be able to easily get a quick shot off.
If you’re looking for a cheap hunting crossbow, then you’ll be impressed with this one. It comes with everything you need to get started, although it does have some limitations.
Pros and Cons
- 175lb draw weight
- Low price
- Boot-style foot stirrup for cocking
- Hard to draw
- Included scope can be hard to dial
4. Best Pistol Crossbow
Cobra System K-8025 Self Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow
When it comes down to it, not all of us think we need a big and expensive weapon for hunting and… that’s really what most modern crossbows are designed for. A lighter pistol model can still lead to a good time for target shooters or those hunting smaller game like rabbits or squirrel, however, and this 80lb pistol style crossbow definitely delivers on that front. Keep in mind, despite its small size and relatively low poundage this still isn’t a toy by any means. What it is however is a whole lot of fun.
The self-cocking mechanism makes it fairly easy to draw for most people as well, and it stays fairly accurate as well. It’s not going to be suitable for deer, but it’s definitely one that we’d recommend for those who aren’t planning on hunting small game.
As a smaller bow, this pistol styled crossbow is great for small game and target shooting, and the price is just right for those who want an introduction to crossbows without needing to spend hundreds of dollars.
Pros and Cons
- 80lb draw weight
- Pistol design
- Great cocking mechanism
- Adjustable sight
- Too weak for larger game
- Fairly hard to source arrows for
5. Best Recurve Crossbow
Excalibur Crossbow Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow
This crossbow from Excalibur is a beast. Coming in with 200lb draw weight, this recurve crossbow is simply too much to handle for many people. If you can handle it, however, it’s going to be your favorite new hunting companion in short order. It’s also fairly lightweight at 5.5lbs. The scope it comes with is also top notch, making the whole package pretty much perfect right out of the box. We really can’t recommend this one enough for serious hunters who prefer to use recurve crossbows.
It’s also extremely expensive, which can be quite a bit of a turn off for most people who think something lighter will handle the task. The thing is: this bow will make short work of pretty much any game in North America with the right arrow.
If you want a top of the line recurve, and you’re willing to pay for it, the Matrix SMF is exactly what you’re looking for.
Pros and Cons
- 200lb draw weight
- Great optics included
- Extremely accurate
- Very expensive
- Hard to draw
A Quick Word on Legality
Within the US crossbows can end up in complicated legal situations when you’re using them for hunting.
In some states, for instance, they’re not even considered archery equipment while in others they’re available only to disabled hunters.
On the other hand, in some states they’re fully legal.
It’s always best to check with your state regulations in order to make sure you’re in the clear.
Cabela’s has a handy guide if you’re not quite sure how things are in your state.
Picking Your Crossbow
Not everyone is planning on using their crossbow for hunting, target shooting is a great form of recreation and there’s something fun about getting behind the bow.
Whatever you’re looking for, there’s definitely something out there for you. We’ll do our best to make it easy even for a complete novice to figure it out.
So, let’s take a look at what you need to know.
Recurve vs. Compound
This is the biggest decision you’ll have to make.
For the most part, recurve crossbows are a lot simpler but they also require a bit more effort to draw. A lot more, if you’re at the same level of poundage.
Recurves also tend to be a lot cheaper than their compound cousins, simply due to the fact that they have less moving parts.
For most people, a cheap recurve crossbow is an awesome option for target shooting. Lighter poundage recurves are good for hunting small game as well, where allowed.
Compound crossbows, on the other hand, are much easier to draw. These well-engineered devices also tend to be rather expensive, especially when you compare them to recurve crossbows.
Compound crossbows are ideal for hunting larger game. If you can afford one they’re also good for target shooting, but few people are going to want to drop the money on a high poundage compound bow to punch holes in paper.
The poundage of the bow makes a big difference in the ideal application of the bow.
For the most part, hunting crossbows should be around 125lbs.
That’s enough to punch a broadhead clean through a deer from a broadside shot, launching a bolt at around 245 feet per second.
Lighter bows may be ideal for smaller game and target shooting. After all, 125lbs might be pretty overkill if you’re shooting at a rabbit or other small animal and it’ll definitely lead to a lot of broken bolts if you’re shooting at hay.
Someone in decent shape should be able to pull a 150lb bow without too much trouble, provided it has a stirrup for your foot.
Cocking aids can be found pretty easily if you do end up purchasing a bow which you have a hard time using.
Folding limbs are great for storage, although many people still prefer fixed limbs.
Less moving parts means a lower chance of failure, after all, and a bow under 125lbs of tension can fail in a spectacular manner.
On the other hand, folding limbs tend to be overbuilt so the chances of failure are pretty much minimal as long as you go with a trusted brand.
There are also reverse-limb bows which are awesome for compact power. They look a little bit awkward, but due to their design they can often reduce the length of a bow without sacrificing much power.
Stocks aren’t quite a cosmetic feature but they’re less essential than when you’re looking at a rifle due to the minimal recoil of a bow.
Heavier bows will tend to have a more solid stock. The bolt will barely be on the bow after the release, but keeping it still during those milliseconds can mean all the difference on where it lands.
A heavier stock will help keep the bow balanced during that crucial period.
On the other hand, skeletonized stocks can make for a lighter bow. These are great for stalk-and-spot styles of hunting as well as target shooting simply due to being easier to handle.
There are hunting bows which can be purchased on a fairly tight budget. Depending on whether you’re going for small game or large game, you’ll want to make sure that you have enough poundage but look for the following properties if you want something cheaper:
- Fixed limbs
- Standard limb configuration
- Fiberglass limbs
- Plastic stock
On the other hand, you can spend some serious cash and come away with a tricked out bow that’s perfectly suited for your situation.
Which end you decide to end up on is most likely going to be the end of your decision but for a hunting bow do not compromise. It can end badly for your prey, which is unethical to say the least.
For target bows, just make sure the whole thing is solid enough to not blow apart and you’ll be fine. If you really get into the hobby you may end up saving up for later, crossbows can be surprisingly addictive.
Whether it’s for hunting or recreation, crossbows are an impressive tool. Finding a great one can be one of the coolest things you might ever do, so choose wisely and you’re sure to end up with something you’ll treasure for years to come.