Hunting is a primal activity that can be traced back to the very beginnings of humanity. Today, things have changed greatly from what they once were. You’re no longer alone in the forest or jungle, spear in hand, stalking your prey through the foliage while avoiding predators that want to make a meal of you. We can give credit to the genuine people of East Asia for inventing the crossbow back in 6th century BC. Now let’s take a look at the best crossbow we have to offer in 2017.
Today, we have guns, camouflage, tree stands, and any number of other advantages. New hunting products, electronic calls, and useful innovations are at their highest ever seen. However, for those who want something that ties more closely to that ancient heritage, there are options – crossbows might not be the same as using a boar spear or a handmade longbow, but they’re a far cry from a hunting rifle complete with a powerful scope.
They’re more primitive, but at the same time, more rewarding to use. It’s more about the hunter’s skill and cunning than about using modern technology to your advantage.
Let’s take a look at the top-rated and best crossbow:
Of course, there are quite a few things that you’ll need to consider when buying the best crossbow. There are tons of options on the market, and they’re very far from being the same. You need to know the features that matter most, the pros and cons of different models, how long each model will hold up through years of use, and more. We give you an opinion on what is the best crossbow for deer hunting, the best crossbow for your money, and under $500 or in your price range. If you’re comparing the best crossbow for hunting you’ll need to make your decision based on specific criteria, including the following:
- Intended game: A lot will depend on the type of game you intend to hunt. The larger the game, the more power you’ll need (even though accuracy is more important than feet per second).
- Draw weight: Draw weight refers to the amount of effort required to draw the crossbow. If you’re hunting deer, you’ll want something with between 75 and 125 pounds of draw weight, but there are more capable models out there. Also, remember that draw weight equates to speed.
- Your height: Your height will be a factor in how much difficulty you have cocking a crossbow and whether or not you need a cocking aid, such as a rope. While cranks are available, they may not be ideal for all situations due to their slow speed and the amount of noise created by cranking.
- Speed: Speed for crossbows is measured in feet per second or FPS. Generally, the higher the draw weight, the faster the arrow will fly once you pull the trigger and shoot.
- Cost: This is one of the most crucial factors, and will determine what you can afford in terms of size, draw weight, and features. Know your budget before you even start looking at different crossbows.
- Weight: Crossbows can be heavy, and that weight will affect your hunting experience in many ways, from having to haul the bow with you to the blind or stand to the strain it puts on your body while shooting.
- Maintenance: Crossbows are machines, and they do require some maintenance. This ranges from regularly oiling moving parts to replacing the string and more. Consider the recommended maintenance by the manufacturers before buying a model.
Understanding the differences between crossbows
While the term “crossbow” is all-encompassing, you’ll find a very wide range of differences in models out there. Some of the primary differences include:
- Fixed or folding stock
- Draw weight
- FPS rating
- Ability to use a scope
- Ability to use a rest or shooting rail (like those found on tree stands)
- Quiver mount
- Limb configuration
While you might find a crossbow that looks great, it might not be the best fit for your height, your strength, or your budget. They range in price from as low as $130 to over $600, and bring a wide range of different features to the table.
We’ve assembled a list of the best crossbows on the market for a variety of different needs.
So, let’s get on with the show. We’ll start with a crossbow that’s moderately priced, and sees pretty good marks from customers.
#1 CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package
Overview: This crossbow gets good reviews from buyers, and offers quite a few benefits. It’s capable of shooting an arrow at up to 370 FPS, and features quad limbs for more strength and better accuracy. Mounting a scope is simple, and the rail is made from durable aluminum for a long use life. The bow also features an anti-dry fire system, and the built-in suppressors help to reduce string vibration and noise. The stock and foregrip are both adjustable to suit different shooting preferences. Note that the scope is included, but adding an upgraded scope is possible. Specs: Aluminum rail, adjustable grips, up to 370 FPS, 185-lb. draw weight, lightweight, quad limbs, precision-oriented design.
Specs: Aluminum rail, adjustable grips, up to 370 FPS, 185-lb. draw weight, lightweight, quad limbs, precision oriented design.
High velocity shooting
Fully adjustable stock
String noise and vibration system suspension
Includes a scape
Only includes 3 arrows
Instructions somewhat vague
Included scope is not the best but works
“This is one heck of a crossbow. Much better than some of the others costing over a thousand bucks!”
#2 Barnett Jackal Crossbow Review
Overview: This crossbow is definitely sleek, and features a military-inspired design. It is also priced very reasonably and delivers plenty of power for shooting pretty much any game you might have in mind. The crossbow features quad limbs for better power and accuracy and comes with a scope and red dot sighting system out of the box. The cables are fully synthetic for better wear resistance, and the 3.5-pound trigger pull is also a nice touch. This crossbow comes with a limited 5-year warranty and is made in the US. Note that while the stock is lightweight, it is not adjustable. It’s also highly recommended that the string is waxed after every 10 shots and that the crossbow is kept in a climate-controlled area at all times when not in use. Specs: Shoots at 315 FPS, includes 3 arrows, military-style stock with a pistol grip, lightweight design, includes a detachable quiver, includes Picatinny rail, 5-year warranty.
Specs: Shoots at 315 FPS, includes 3 arrows, military-style stock with pistol grip, lightweight design, includes detachable quiver, includes picatinny rail, 5-year warranty.
High velocity shooting
Easy to assemble
Auto safety feature
Red dot sight is accurate
No cocking rope included
Low-quality wax and lube included (customers recommend buying upgraded string wax and lube)
“This was my first crossbow and I love it. It’s easy to use for a beginner and it didn’t break my wallet. Wife ok’d the purchase!”
#3 SA Sports Fever Crossbow Package 543
Overview: This entry-level crossbow is ideal for those new to crossbows or new to bow hunting in general. It features a lightweight design (under 5 pounds), and 175 pounds draw weight. It is capable of shooting at up to 240 FPS, and includes all the tools needed for assembling the crossbow out of the box. This crossbow also features a dipped camouflage paint job for better durability and fiberglass limbs for both durability and lighter final weight. It includes a scope and uses a Picatinny rail, although some users have noted that the scope needs to be loosened before being mounted permanently or it points to the left. The auto safety feature is designed for both left and right-handed shooters, and the padded carry strap is a nice addition, as well. Specs: Weighs under 5 pounds when fully assembled, dual limb design, fiberglass limbs, includes scope.
Auto Safety System
Up to 240 FPS
Compact rear stock
Includes assembly tools
Includes 4 arrows
No cocking rope included
Stock is not adjustable
“Not a bad crossbow for the price. I bagged 4 deer last season using my SA 543. Powerful crossbow.”
#4 Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Package
Overview: A very popular crossbow with Amazon shoppers, this model offers a sleek design and can connect to a cranking mechanism if so desired. It’s a smaller bow, which means it can be used by men, women, or even children. The stock is adjustable to fit different needs, and the bow is capable of shooting up to 300 FPS. The draw weight is 130 pounds and is powerful enough even for larger game. The Recruit Compound Crossbow also features a pistol grip behind the trigger and trigger guard and includes an adjustable scope out of the box. Note that this model comes with three arrows from the manufacturer, and features a quad limb setup. It also includes a rope cocking device. Specs: 130 lb draw weight, up to 300 FPS, adjustable stock, included sight, included cocking rope, can be fitted with a crank, pistol grip, includes Picatinny rail.
Adjustable stock for different needs (be adjusted as user grows)
Up to 300 FPS
130 pound draw weight
Red dot sight included
Included sight is moderate quality (upgrading is recommended by some buyers)
The string does need to be waxed frequently, as with any bow
Some users have reported cracked limbs after light use
“My husband enjoyed his new crossbow as an anniversary gift. He said it shoots well and was the one he wanted. Great price on this Barnett bow.”
#5 Barnett Raptor FX2 – Premium Dot Scope Crossbow
Overview: This stylish, quad limb crossbow is an excellent option for hunters, even though it might be at the higher end of the price scale. It features patent-pending technology (the bristle retainer), as well as a CNC-machined Picatinny rail. The included scope is a nice touch, and the quiver mounts easily under the bow to hold spare arrows. The stock is made from composite material and is light and comfortable. The bow is also capable of shooting up to 330 FPS and features a 150 pound draw weight. A rope cocking device is included for convenience, and there is also a foot stirrup. The limbs are made from composite material like the stock and are laminated for protection and longevity. The butt pad is also adjustable to suit user preferences. Specs: Lightweight, adjustable butt pad, shoots up to 330 FPS, 150 pound draw weight, scope and red dot sight included, rope cocking device included, laminated quad limb design.
Fast and easy assembly
Easy to read instructions
High velocity shooting (330 FPS)
Measures just 17 inches from tip of limb to tip of limb
Bristle retainer included (patent pending)
Some customers say red dot scope is low quality (scope can always be upgraded)
Some customers say there is a decent amount of recoil (this does shoot 330 FPS!)
#6 TenPoint Titan SS Crossbow Package
Overview: While this is the most expensive crossbow on our list, it’s an ideal solution for anyone looking for a compact form factor and powerful shooting. It features up to 340 FPS shooting velocity and comes with a three-arrow quiver designed for ambidextrous use. Note that this kit does not include any arrows. Unlike other models on our list, this one comes with a full 3x multi-line scope, rather than the more common red dot sight. The TenPoint Titan SS also features a quad limb design, as well as an adjustable stock. It measures just 18.5 inches from tip to tip when cocked, and has a 175-pound draw weight. Note that this crossbow comes with a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer, and is made in the US, as well. The instructional DVD is a nice touch and provides more information than can be obtained through assembly and use instructions, or a user manual. Specs: Weighs just 6.7 pounds, adjustable stock, quad limb design, compact form factor, includes full 3x multi-line scope (no red dot sight), bow and stock arrive fully assembled (they need to be mated out of the box, though).
Minimal assembly required – most customers report less than 10 minutes needed for assembly
Instructional DVD is very explanatory
3x multi-line sight included
High velocity shooting (up to 340 FPS)
Ambidextrous, quick detach quiver is a nice touch
Lightweight and compact (shorter and narrower than other options)
No arrows included with the kit
Written instructions are vague, but DVD is worth watching
In Conclusion: Finding the Best Crossbows for Hunting in 2017
We’ve listed six of the best options available if you’re looking to get into hunting with a crossbow. However, there are many other models on the market. We highly recommend you narrow down your needs before purchasing any crossbow. Consider a few of the following factors in your purchase decision: Who will use the crossbow?
Who is going to be using the crossbow primarily? How large are they? How easy is it to adjust the stock and is the draw weight appropriate for that person? If you’re a man who stands six feet tall and weighs 190 pounds, you’ll have an easier time than a woman who stands five feet, four inches and weighs 120 pounds, or a teenager just learning to shoot.How hard is the bow on strings?
All crossbows suffer from string wear – it’s part of the overall crossbow design that can’t be eliminated. However, some models suffer from excessive wear, and you’ll need to wax more frequently and replace the string more often. That adds time and cost to your purchase decision.Where will you hunt?
You’ll need to consider where you’ll be hunting, as well. For instance, if you’ll be in a stand with a shooting rail, you can likely afford to use a heavier, larger crossbow. If you’ll be using the crossbow without any type of bracing/rail/support, you might want to consider a lighter model.How will you transport the bow?
How will you get your bow to your hunting area? Do you need a carrying case? Does the crossbow come with a carry strap? How much assembly/disassembly is needed to transport the bow to your hunting area?How heavy is the crossbow?
All crossbows get heavier the longer you use them, but a very heavy bow could be detrimental to your hunting, particularly if that perfect deer doesn’t materialize until the very end of the day when your arms are already fatigued.What’s your budget?
How much do you have to spend on a hunting crossbow? What features can you live without in order to ensure that you get a quality bow at a price you can afford? What is the “make or break” features that you absolutely must have?
Whether you’re just starting out in hunting with a crossbow, are a longtime veteran, are teaching your spouse or child to hunt with a crossbow, or just want to get some target practice in, you’ll find an option that fits in the selection we’ve provided above.Do you have questions or comments about our crossbow selections, or another model you feel deserves some attention? Let us know. Just add your thoughts to the comments section below. Whether you want to mention challenges with bow assembly, thoughts on maximum FPS for a particular model, or something else, we’d love to hear what you have to say.
About the Author
Trey is a lifelong hunter and avid camper. He lives outside Denver, CO with his wife Kaci and their lab mix Ziggy. They spend as much time as possible outdoors - hunting, fishing, and camping.