Crossbows come and go, and serious archers know that it isn’t exactly easy to find a crossbow that is accurate, durable, fully-equipped, and affordable. In this article we’ll review a few of the crossbows that are considered to be the best available on the market right now. First, though, we’ll give inexperienced and beginning archers a little background on exactly what a crossbow is and how it works. We’ll also break down each consideration that you should have in mind when choosing the best crossbow.
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- 1 Top 10 Best Crossbows 2018 – Reviews and Comparison
- 1.1 1. Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package – Best Overall Bow
- 1.2 2. Excalibur Refurbished Matrix Mega 405 – Best Recurve Crossbow
- 1.3 3. Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT – Best Compound Crossbow
- 1.4 4. Excalibur Micro 335 – Best Crossbow for Weight
- 1.5 5. Barnett Ghost 410 CRT – Best Crossbow for the Money
- 1.6 6. Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit – Best Bow for Customization
- 1.7 7. Barnett Wildcat C6 Crossbow Package – Best for Beginners
- 1.8 8. TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX Crossbow Package – Best Hunting Crossbow
- 1.9 9. TenPoint Vapor Crossbow Package – Best for Archery Sports
- 1.10 10. Barnett Quad 400 Crossbow Package – Best for the Budget (Under 500)
- 2 What is a Crossbow
- 3 Types of Crossbows
- 4 Crossbow Parts
- 5 How to Choose the Best Crossbow – Buying Guide
- 6 How to Use a Crossbow Effectively
- 7 Crossbow Use, Care & Maintenance Tips
- 8 Conclusion
Top 10 Best Crossbows 2018 – Reviews and Comparison
|Model||Draw Weight||Velocity||Our Score|
|Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package||260 lbs||380 FPS||4.9|
|Excalibur Refurbished Matrix Mega 405||290 lbs||405 FPS||4.8|
|Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT||165 lbs||360 FPS||4.8|
|Excalibur Crossbow Micro 335 Crossbow||270 lbs||335 FPS||4.8|
|Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package||180 lbs||410 FPS||4.9|
|Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit||175 lbs||360 FPS||4.8|
|Barnett Wildcat C6 Crossbow Package||140 lbs||320 FPS||4.7|
|TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX||185 lbs||385 FPS||4.9|
|TenPoint Vapor Crossbow Package||165 lbs||360 FPS||4.9|
|Barnett Quad 400 Crossbow Package||150 lbs||345 FPS||4.7|
1. Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package – Best Overall Bow
Excalibur has made plenty of quality crossbows, but this one really takes the cake for the best overall bow that you are going to find on this list. Although the draw weight in 260 pounds, there is a lot about this crossbow that you are going to love.
The first thing that you are going to love is the fact that this bow is incredibly accurate. Once you are adjusted to the bow, it’ll be easy to fire it and have it exactly where you are intended.
There are a couple people out there that struggled with the accuracy at first. They claim that in order to get the incredibly accuracy, you actually need to be using 20-inch bolts instead of the 18-inch ones that come with the crossbow. It’s a minor inconvenience, but it can make or break the purchase for some people.
This quiet bow is light, compact, and surprisingly quiet. While it is on the expensive side, it is one of the best bows that you will be able to find out there.
2. Excalibur Refurbished Matrix Mega 405 – Best Recurve Crossbow
Now, we had to include another Excalibur on this list because their recurve bows are some of the best. In many of their recurves, they use a special system that helps make sure that the bows are quiet, despite their propensity to be louder than compound bows.
The downside to this particular bow is that it requires a 290-pound draw weight. You’ll definitely require a rope aid to help you cock the crossbow.
This bow will shoot quickly and has incredible accuracy. This makes this a great bow for shooting targets or hunting. Regardless, you’ll be able to hit anything you set your sights on. The accessories that come with this particular bow will help you tackle any challenges you might face like the high draw weight.
Despite the high price, this bow is really worth all that extra cash that you’re putting into. With all the great features of the bow itself, you’re also getting some extras that will ensure that your experience with the bow is second to none. You will be truly impressed once you get your hands on this crossbow.+
3. Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT – Best Compound Crossbow
Now don’t be fooled by the price of this compound crossbow. This bow is a powerhouse at this price and often outperforms other compound bows that cost slightly more than this one. This is yet another lighter bow, but this time it also has a lighter draw weight at 165 pounds. This just means that it’s going to be easier for you to fire it when you’re out hunting or at the range.
The price point is something that you’ll really love, especially if you’re looking to start with a compound bow. The price point for this package means that some of the extras aren’t going to be the best quality, but those are things that you can upgrade when you’ve reached that point.
Many people that are picking up crossbows for hunting instead of rifles find that this feels comparable and that it’s got a nice light feel to it. Even if you get to the point where you’re thinking of getting better equipment, I’ll bet you’ll start by seeing what you can do to improve your experience with the Ghost before looking for a brand new crossbow.
4. Excalibur Micro 335 – Best Crossbow for Weight
A problem that some people have with bows is finding one that they can hold for a long period of time without making their arm hurt. The best way to make sure that your arm isn’t facing any problems is to get a lighter bow. The Micro 335 is just about 5 pounds and 3 ounces. This means that the bow is going to be one of the lightest weight that you ever get your hands on.
This particular recurve crossbow is from Excalibur who already makes really impressive bows. This one is no exception. Even though it is light, this bow can shoot at up to 335 fps, which isn’t too bad for such a light bow. It is also incredibly quiet for a recurve. The best part is the fact that it is still an accurate bow. You’re going to be able to get incredibly accurate shots even with a light and compact bow.
The main problem that you will find with the bow is the fact that it will take a lot of effort to cock this crossbow. Using a rope aid makes it more manageable, but it can still be pretty difficult as the draw weight is 270 pounds without a rope aid. However, the size and weight of this bow may make that trade off worth it for many people.
5. Barnett Ghost 410 CRT – Best Crossbow for the Money
Arrow speed is an issue that a lot of hunters deal with. If your arrow doesn’t go fast enough, then it might not be able to take down whatever you’re hunting. So the Barnett Ghost 410 is great for arrow speed.
The draw weight isn’t too bad either, especially when you think about how fast the arrows go. The 185-pound draw weight is really impressive for the 410 fps arrow speed. This particular crossbow comes with a rope aid that you will be able to adjust for your height and needs.
This crossbow and everything that comes with it will be able to do a lot and shoot very accurately, even with the increased speed. This may be just the perfect weapon to add to your arsenal if you want a good and powerful crossbow.
You will want to keep in mind that because of the power that this bow delivers, it will make quite a bit of sound. But that isn’t unusual in bows that provide quite a bit of energy. In fact, for a bow that can shoot arrows at 410 fps, it is relatively quiet. You will need to keep up the maintenance to make sure that this bow is firing well.
6. Carbon Express Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit – Best Bow for Customization
When you’re looking for a crossbow for yourself, you might want the ability to customize your crossbow. While there are parts that you can change out on most bows like a scope, a quiver, and a rope cocking device. However, getting the chance to adjust your crossbow more to suit your individual taste is a rather important feature.
There’s plenty of space to add things that you like or just to help adjust the bow so that it matches what you need. This particular bow can also accept AR-15 accessories, which means that you can switch out anything that’s on this bow that you need to change.
This bow is made for those that really want to customize their experience and know what they want on their machine. The lower price point also means that you are spending less money on your bow and able to spend more money on the additions and changes that you need. The beginning weight of this bow is a little heavier, but it’ll be a stable bow and very solid in your hands.
7. Barnett Wildcat C6 Crossbow Package – Best for Beginners
One of the biggest problems that people have with bows is that the draw weight can make it hard or impossible to reach the actual speed that is advertised with the bow. Draw weight can also be a problem for younger users or older users.
This bow helps conquer that by starting at a low draw weight of 125 pounds. With a rope cocking device, the draw weight goes even lower which makes it easier to cock than a lot of other bows out there. And even with that lighter draw weight, it can still get an arrow speed of 320 fps.
The low draw weight, the fast arrow speed, and the low price might make this an excellent crossbow for the beginner, but it’s also just an excellent crossbow all around. This bow will serve you well no matter what you’re doing. Even if you’ve used a number of crossbows and are experienced, trying out this Barnett will show you a simple bow that knows what it’s doing.
8. TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX Crossbow Package – Best Hunting Crossbow
Looking for a hunting bow is about getting a bow that does everything that you need it do as quietly as you can. The TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX certainly does a lot. The bow is extremely accurate after you take the time to get used to the bow.
When it comes to hunting, you don’t just need accuracy. You need speed and you need quiet. If the bow is too loud, then you’ll end up scaring or startling game that you wanted to hunt. As for speed, you need a bow that is capable of taking down something. If there wasn’t much power behind each bolt, then you wouldn’t really be able to take down anything.
Luckily, this bow does everything that a hunter really needs. There are some components that need to be dulled so that they don’t reflect as much light, but that’s the only real trouble with the bow. The price of this particular crossbow is high, but it would have to be to include all of the great features and design that are part of this crossbow.
9. TenPoint Vapor Crossbow Package – Best for Archery Sports
When most people think of archery sports, they think of typical long bows and not of crossbows. Crossbows are certainly cool in most people’s books, but they don’t think about using them for target practice as much as they think about using them for hunting.
However, this crossbow could definitely be used for shooting at targets and nothing else. The accuracy on this crossbow with the scope is incredible. You’d be hard pressed to find a crossbow that will be as accurate as this one. You might even accidentally take some fletching off of the arrows that are already on the target.
This bow is extremely powerful and could easily be used to take down animals if you wanted to use it for hunting, but it’s just as much fun when you want to take it to the range and shoot at targets from long distance. It’s powerful enough to knock over targets that aren’t properly secured.
Because this bow doesn’t come with a padded sling, you might find that this one is heavier and harder to carry around. You’ll probably want a sling if you’re going to be out hunting, but it doesn’t change much if you’re only using it for targets. The 165-pound draw weight means that this bow will be easier to cock.
10. Barnett Quad 400 Crossbow Package – Best for the Budget (Under 500)
When you’re looking for a low-cost bow, you’re also looking for something that will be able to stand on its own. Getting a wimpy and cheap bow won’t help out those that really want a good bow at a low cost.
Luckily, the Barnett Quad 400 is a great compromise. You will also find that this bow has a lower draw weight of 150 pounds. It isn’t the best you can find, but it is extremely low. With the aid of a rope cocking device, you’ll definitely be able to get the bow cocked easily. The 345 fps of the bow is also quite incredible for the price that you are paying.
This crossbow is perfect for people of all skill types because of its ease of you. Beginners will like it because of its price. Experienced users will love the low draw weight and low price, even though it is a heavier bow.
What is a Crossbow
A crossbow is a type of bow that utilizes a horizontal bow mounted onto a gun-like stock. Although it might seem as though someone decided to combine a bow with a gun to create the crossbow, the fact is that crossbows were around far before guns were even invented. Arrows shot by a crossbow are also known as bolts or quarrels. Crossbows were invented in ancient China as military weapons, and the innovation of these devices was a game-changer in the field of projectile weaponry. Today, crossbows are mainly used in shooting sports and hunting, especially when silence is of the utmost importance. Knowing how to properly draw a crossbow and efficiently hit a target with a crossbow are considered skills that can take a lot of time to master.
Types of Crossbows
There are two basic crossbow types: the recurve crossbow and the compound crossbow. Both types of crossbows are derived from types of traditional bows. We will discuss each type of crossbow so you can have a better understanding of what you’re dealing with in each situation.
- Recurve Crossbow: – The tips of a recurve crossbow flex away from the shooter. It uses one string that is attached to pulleys, each of which has cables that are attached to the opposite limb. This allows the bow’s limbs to have a longer draw length, and this translates into more acceleration and a lower “hand shock” for the archer. Recurved crossbows have a higher chance of making noise with each shot, and the formation of the bow puts more strain on the bow’s materials.
- Compound Crossbow – The compound crossbow does not turn away from the archer at any point. It has a lower draw weight than the recurve crossbow because it only has one string and there is no cable or pulley system involved. Compound crossbows are known for being easy to cock and they require less strain on behalf of the archer.
The compound crossbow does not turn away from the archer at any point. It has a lower draw weight than the recurve crossbow because it only has one string and there is no cable or pulley system involved. Compound crossbows are known for being easy to cock and they require less strain on behalf of the archer.
A standard crossbow consists of the following parts, although some parts may be specific to either a compound crossbow or a recurve crossbow:
- Stock – The stock is the part of the crossbow that you put against your shoulder. It is also known as a tiller.
- Bridge – The bridge runs underneath the site along the middle of the crossbow.
- Latch – The crossbow latch holds the string in place until the archer pulls the trigger to release the arrow.
- Sight – The style of a sight varies, and some crossbows only have a small indicator instead of a sight. Most crossbows, however, have a scope-style sight that the archer uses to achieve a better aim.
- Serving – The serving is the point of the bow string at which the arrow’s tail connects.
- Retention Spring – The retention spring is stretched with cocking and snaps back into position when the trigger is pulled.
- Trigger – The trigger unhinges the latch and allows the string to propel the bolt toward the target.
- Foregrip – The foregrip is where you place the hand that is not being used to control the trigger.
- Flight Groove – The flight groove holds the bolt in place and ensures that the arrow proceeds immediately and directly forward when the trigger is pulled.
- String – The string is used to add tension to the bow, and it also makes contact with the rear of the bolt.
- Riser – The riser is found at the forward portion of the flight groove and holds the head of the bolt in place until the trigger is pulled.
- Barrel – The barrel is the lower part of the flight groove and this word can be interpreted as being composed of the foregrip, flight groove, and riser.
- Limb – Each bow has two limbs, or sides of the bow that go in either direction away from the center of the bow.
- Stirrup – The stirrup is used to cock the crossbow. You place your foot through the stirrup and cock the bow while the stirrup is firmly on the ground.
- Quiver – The quiver holds extra bolts and is often located on the underside of the bow toward the front end.
How to Choose the Best Crossbow – Buying Guide
If you’re looking to buy a crossbow then you’ll want to take certain things into consideration when making your selection. You should closely evaluate each of the following points when comparing crossbows to buy:
- Compound Bow Type – Each type of bow is useful for something specific. Buy the best type of bow for your game or sport, and buy a bow that matches your experience level.
- Main Use – Is the bow going to be used for archery sports or for hunting? If the bow is to be used in hunting then you’ll want to buy the appropriate bow for the game you plan to hunt.
- Sound – How audible is the crossbow when it fires? Is the cocking noise extreme loud or potentially unnerving to game in the area?
- Bow Weight – How heavy is the bow? Some hunters may not be able (or willing) to lug around a heavy bow even though it could mean a better shot.
- Draw Weight – What is the draw weight of the bow? It’s important to take this into consideration because the bow’s draw weight will have implications for how easy it is to use, as well as what types of game it can bring down.
- Speed – What is the average velocity of arrows released from this bow? Most bows have a “feet per second” rating that you can look to for comparison shopping.
- Manufacturer Guarantees & Warranties – Does the manufacturer of the bow (and arrows) offer any sort of warranty period? How are warranty claims processed? What happens if something is defective or breaks? Is there a reduced cost or free replacement program in effect for the bow (or the arrows)?
- Scope – Does the bow include a scope? If so, what are the scope’s capabilities? If no scope is included then what kinds of scopes could be added onto the bow?
- Customization – One of the great things about crossbows is that they can be extremely customizable. If you’re the type of archer who wants to add and take away parts to turn your “off the shelf” bow into a fully customized weapon then does the bow you’re considering allow you to do so?
- Arrow Size – Know how long the arrow is, and know how large of an arrowhead your bow can handle. The arrows of a crossbow are very specific to the crossbow being used.
- Extra Parts – Does the bow come with any spare parts, such as strings, cables, or pulleys? How hard (and expensive) is it to get your hands on high-quality replacement parts? You never want to go short on quality when it comes to replacement crossbow parts.
- Cocking Aids – Does the bow in question have a built-in cocking aid to make drawing the string easier? If not, then can one be added on with relative ease?
- Design – Is the crossbow outfitted with a camouflage color scheme that will confuse potential game targets, if applicable?
- Price – Price should never be your main or only consideration, but when comparing similar crossbows you should definitely let price be part of the equation.
How to Use a Crossbow Effectively
The famed artist Leonardo DaVinci drew what is now a famous sketch of a crossbow, and we aren’t here to try to “one up” the master. The mechanics of a crossbow are actually quite simple, but it takes time, patience and training to learn how to effectively use a crossbow.
There are a few different types of crossbows (see above section) but they all work in the same general fashion. You have to consider the size and shape of the bow, the size of the arrow, the draw weight, the draw length, and other factors that also apply to “regular” bows. To use a crossbow you usually need to follow these steps:
- Place the crossbow’s stirrup on the ground and place your foot through it.
- Hold your foot firmly in place once your foot is all the way through the stirrup.
- Pull the string with both hands and with the same amount of force. You might want to use an automatic cocker to help you pull the string back to the appropriate degree on both sides. When the bow is fully cocked you should hear a loud “click.”
- Place an arrow into the crossbow’s groove and make sure that the end of the arrow is touching the string. One of the arrow’s feathers (also known as fletchings) should be in the crossbow’s groove.
- Your crossbow might have an automatic safety feature, or it might have a manual safety option. Make sure the safety is engaged until you are fully prepared to fire the weapon. To fire your crossbow simply aim and pull the trigger.
It’s vital to note in this section of the article that a crossbow is not a toy and that you should only use your crossbow under the direct supervision of someone who is qualified to use such a device (if you are not such a person yourself). You should only use bolts (arrows) that are designed to be used with the specific crossbow that’s in your hands. Crossbow legality differs from state to state and within specific municipalities so be sure to check the crossbow laws in your area before you do anything else.
Crossbow Use, Care & Maintenance Tips
The following pointers will help you keep your crossbow and bolts in pristine condition, thus allowing you to get the maximum amount of life out of your investments.
- Check for worn, missing, damaged or loose parts before each crossbow use.
- Replace all frayed or slightly worn strings immediately.
- Keep the barrel and flight groove lubricated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Wax the crossbow string and cables according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Keep the trigger box and exposed mounting bolts lubricated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Wiggle the riser and limbs to make sure they do not move independently from the crossbow’s stock.
- If you use a scope, you can clean it occasionally with an alcohol-based wipe.
- Use a can of compressed air to get any particles of direct out of the nooks and crannies of your crossbow.
- Periodically re-tighten all bolts in an even manner and a little bit at a time. You should do this every 50-100 shots.
- Check each arrow before loading into the crossbow. Make sure the arrowhead is firmly in place and that there are no cracks or splinters along the shaft.
- Use a vibration dampening device to reduce noise and vibration.
- Purchase a crossbow case with a hard shell, and keep your crossbow, arrows, wax, oil, etc. in the case.
- Keep the crossbow away from the prying hands and eyes of children at all times.
By now you should have a solid understanding of the various types of crossbows, and you should be familiar with each individual part of a crossbow. You should also be able to take our reviews of 2016’s best crossbows and use the information we’ve provided to make a valid selection based on the advice provided in our buying guide. Bookmark this page so when you buy your new crossbow you can use the crossbow care and maintenance tips provided above to keep your crossbow in working order for the longest period of time possible. If you have anything you’d like to see added to this article, or if you would like to let us know what your choice for the best crossbow of 2016 would be, feel free to leave us a message in the Comments section below.