The Hunt for the Best Crossbow

The first time you go hunting with your best compound hunting bow, that you are chomping at the bit to use, you will not have a clue if you are a newbie.  Crossbows just might be intimidating and very overwhelming.  You will want to know how do you load it, how do you pull the string back, what will the trigger do and how to do it right, will it kick the same as a rifle, will it be noisy to scare the game being hunted, or will it be accurate to kill the game.  After much thoughtfulness, you still want to know will it shoot precisely far away and will it have the power necessary to kill a deer, elk, or even a bear.  You do know it will be powerful enough to kill fowl such as birds, wild turkeys, and even rabbits.  It will also be a great tool for target practice.

Know that the modern-day crossbows are accurate, fast, and have commanding power.  You can take down the largest of the large animals here in North America.  The crossbows are extremely fun to use and will give you hours of satisfaction and pleasure.  You will need to learn the basics either from a trainer, an experienced friend, or someone you admire in your family.  If you are a beginner, or have your feet wet somewhat, the guidelines below should be useful.  Good luck!  As they say, knowledge is power.

Choosing an Ideal Crossbow for Hunting and Things to Know

  1. The Best Strategy—Buy the Best You Can Afford

As you well know from your research, there are inexpensive models and high-end models from which to choose.  The low-end crossbows will not have the quality build that you will need when you are there with your animal in your sights.  You will want to have the crossbow, some arrows and arrow points, a quiver, a scope, and a cocking mechanism.  The best crossbow can cost from $800 to $1500 and well worth it.  Like anything else, you get what you pay for, and cheap is not what you want.

  1. Decide Your Draw Weight

Draw weight is what differentiates a target bow from a hunting crossbow.  Most states have created an adequate regulatory minimum so you will not have to guess.  These guidelines will differ from one state to another, and overall, it will be from 75- to 125-pounds of draw weight.

Mule Deer vs Whitetail Deer

The whitetail deer shown on the right, lives east of the Rocky Mountains in the USA.  The mule deer on the left lives in the western USA and gets their name because their ears look like mules.

A crossbow in the range of 75- to 125-pounds should be sufficient to kill either of these two small deer at a reasonable range.  Bigger is faster, and some draw weight over 200-pounds is available.  Georgia has no size restrictions nor does Montana.  A large draw weight should get you a moose, bison, or elk.

  1. Arrow Speed

Shooting a fast arrow is the way to go.  When you increase your draw weight, you will make your crossbow faster.  A hunting-weight arrow with an initial velocity (speed) at 300-feet per second (FPS) will give your arrow plenty of kinetic (moving) energy to kill big game that will lessen the arrow’s flight at long distances.  This allows for easier more exact shooting.

  1. Scope Sight

Some crossbows even today have open sights.  Your chances are better with a scope sight.  The optics offer more exact and easier shooting.  You can choose magnification from zero and anything between to 5 times power.  Inside the scope is the Reticle with vertical and horizontal crosshairs and there could be a single red dot.  This will furthermore project an object or otherwise suspend it across your field of view.

Use these configurations for a fixed distance usually 20-yards.  You will then need to offset the longer shots by holding higher.  There are multi-Reticle scopes available and they are more all the rage, mostly the ones with 3 to 4 dots or horizontal crosshairs.  The top center line sights in for 20-yards while the next 2 are at fixed intervals that will be exact at 30-, 40-, and 50-yards.

  1. Quality Arrows/Bolts

This is important to know.  For your arrows or bolts to fly with accuracy, cheap bargain basement arrows will not have the tolerances to do what you want with precision.  Use only the best of the best bolts/arrows with your crossbow.  They must have a nock intended for crossbows, not compound bows.  The crossbow arrows will be of the correct length with the right fletches.  Carbon arrows are the best high-tech and robust, even though aluminum will work well.

  1. Quality Broadheads

A most important part of the arrow is the broadhead and there is a plethora of them in the market place.  The high tolerance broadheads carry a high price tag.  These will have the razor-sharp blades that fly true and straight as an arrow.  They can be bought as replacements blades for damaged ones or mechanical with the mechanical ones being more popular these days.  The commonplace broadheads are weighted at 100 grains.  The 125 grains are best and it’s your decision for what you need to do with your crossbow for the best results.

  1. Break Time

Crossbows are heavy and bulky to carry.  When you are tired or fatigued in some of your muscles, it could be impossible if not difficult to shoot without a break.  Rest is important.  You can use the standard rifle shooting positions such as sitting and kneeling and by using shooting sticks.  Bi-pods and mono pods are good alternatives as well for accuracy and rest with a best compound hunting bow.

  1. Arrow Trajectory

parabolic arcArrows travel downrange in a large parabolic arc when fired from a crossbow.  You might shoot at the animal between the distances set for the crosshairs.  Lots of practice will teach you where you will need to place the crosshairs in relationship to the animal.

  1. Range Finders

Today’s laser range finders used to decide the distance of your target, will with the click of a button, give you the precise distance between you and your target.  They are right for shooting off your arrow at a beautiful 12-point bull.

Deer Hunting

Some scopes will indicate where to aim on uphill and downhill positions.  The cost range is from $250 to $400 and very well worth it.

Crossbow Types

Recurve and compound crossbows are the most common.  Crossbows with their recurve limbs need longer limbs with a larger barrel.  This gives a longer power stroke contrasted to the compound crossbow.  Because of its ease, hunters opt for the recurve crossbow.

Recurve Crossbow

Recurve CrossbowRecurve crossbow is a new design on ancient art and technology. The recurve denotes curving or facing away from the hunter.

Compared to the compound crossbow:

  • Simple design and easy to use
  • Larger, wider, and heavier
  • More quiet than compound bows
  • Easy string changes
  • Loss of power and accuracy when measuring up to compound crossbows

Compound Crossbow

Compound CrossbowCompound crossbow is a newer design and uses today’s technology. They are not strung and that tension is what gives the power to this bow.

Compared to the recurve crossbow:

  • Smaller and lighter
  • More powerful with higher velocity
  • Easier cocking
  • Usually safer
  • More costly

Pistol Crossbow

Pistol CrossbowPistol crossbow is not the one that will kill big game. It does not have a stock built onto the mainframe and is lighter than a crossbow.  There are two types:  the draw pully where you pull back the string with all your strength to cock it.  The second type is self-cocking.  Self-cocking means you push down on a lever at the back of the frame and draw the string into position.  This uses your weight and balance permitting easier cocking of the bow to load your bolt.  These are inexpensive starting at about $20.

Top 5 Best Hunting Crossbow Reviews in 2017

 

1. Barnett® Jackal Crossbow Package

Barnett LogoThe Barnett® Jackal Crossbow model number 78404 is one of the best sellers on Amazon.com® for many good reasons.  The crossbows are designed by hunters for hunters and they would know!  It is reasonably priced in camo pattern and Realtree APG® finish with all the accessories and power you need.  Barnett® has helped evolve the crossbow technology for over 50 years.

The stock design for the Jackal is exclusive for the crossbows from Barnett®.  This model has the weight and power to be a weapon to reckon with.  The features of this crossbow put it up there with the super expensive bows giving you value for your money.

The military type stock is light and compact with quad limb high-energy wheels.  The synthetic string and cable system delivers fast arrow speed.  The divided foregrip will give your hands comfortable placement.  It is ready to shoot as soon as you receive the box.  You will receive the effective quick detach quiver, bolts, and the first-rate red dot sight for a sure shot.  The package highlights the new ADF (Application Development Framework) MIM (Metal Injection Molding) trigger.  Having better top-quality, MIM involves small parts such as the thumb safety, slide release, and sights.  The injection molding method is preferred to castings by other companies with the same durable strength as those machined using steel.

You will achieve arrow speeds of 315-feet per second with the high kinetic energy wheels, cabling system, and superior synthetic Crosswire® string and cable system with this quad limb fabrication.  With its shared functionality using its stock that is light in weight and the power the bow provides, this is an overwhelming bow for your target.

The ADF trigger pull will give you 3.5-pounds.  The 7/8-inch Picatinny (Weaver) rail, a military tactical rail, is used on some firearms and bows as a bracket device for a mounting platform for telescopic sights.  Additional features are the AVI (Anti-Vibration Insulation) foot stirrup, AVI bolt retainer, aluminum riser, quad limbs, 3-arrow quiver, 3 each HeadHunter 20-inch arrows with 100 grain field points, and a single red dot scope.  The ideal bolt is 18- or 20-inches.  The bolt has finger reminders with a pass-through foregrip.  There is no cocking device but it can be purchased on Amazon for about $15.  The nose bolt and hex key are included.

Specifications:

  • Velocity: 315 FPS
  • FPKE: 88
  • Let-off: 0%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 26.25-inches
  • Draw weight: 150-pounds
  • Kinetic energy: 95-foot pounds
  • Power stroke: 12-inches
  • Arrow length: 20-inches
  • Dimensions: 36-inches long x 28.25-inches wide
  • Weight: 7.7 pounds

When you store your bow in a climate controlled storage area and wax the strip after every 10 shots, you will have a better performing bow for many years to come.  Be sure when you load your crossbow to ensure the odd colored arrow fletching is down.  Read your User’s Manual for even more instructions and safety procedures.

Gift-wrapping is available for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.  A carrying case is not included.  You will receive a User’s Manual and a 5-year Limited Warranty.  The bow is made in the USA.

2. SA Sports Fever Crossbow Package

The SA Sports Fever Crossbow model number 543 has all the accessories and qualities every hunter wants at an affordable price for the best crossbow package.  The package includes the first-rate 4×32 multi-Reticle scope, and quick detach quiver with 4 arrows.  The padded shoulder sling is comfortable, and it has an adjustable Weaver-style scope mount, all over camo pattern, rope cocking device, and it’s ambidextrous for either hand you use.  It has an auto safety that is also ambidextrous with a large boot-style foot stirrup, and a lightweight composite track and barrel.  It covers 240 FPS, is lightweight and has a compact ambidextrous rear stock.  You will receive 4 each 16-inch 2219 aluminum arrows, assembly tools and hex keys.

The cocking device is a very good quality with handles and a cocking cord.  You can maintain this by lightly lubing the cores with rail lube wiping off the excess.  The rollers can be lubricated with gun oil.  For your safety, don’t cock it by hand that will additionally lessen your accuracy.  To cock it safely, put your foot into the cocking strap all the way.  Attach the 2 hooks to the string on both sides of the stock.  Pull the center of the cord up and put it in the notch securely that is below the rear of the scope.  The cord will make the letter ‘M’ when you look down the cord and are ready to pull it.  You can take a 6 pointer at 20-yards.

A bi pod would be difficult to use because there is no rail, but creative analyzing might find a way.

SpecificationThe weight is 4.85 pounds, the length without the foot stirrup is 31-inches, and the limb is compression fiberglass.

Gift-wrapping is available for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.  A carrying case is not included.  You will receive a User’s Manual and a 1-year Limited Warranty.  The bow is made in Taiwan.

Video to set up:  https://youtu.be/FyO2LWdX5T8

3. Barnett® Ghost 360 Crossbow Package - Best Crossbow for the money

Barnett LogoThe Barnett® Ghost 360 Crossbow model number 78630 camo pattern will give you the perfect weight and speed in the ideal size for all your sports and hunting activities.  The design is wonderful for using your skills in an unpredictable hunting environment of many trees and bushes.  The carbon lite riser is 43% lighter giving you the weight you prefer at only 7 pounds.  The Ghost 360 incorporates the 5-1 safety system with trigger system and CRT (Carbon Riser Technology).
Barnett® gives you its finger reminders and pass-through foregrip, 7/8-inch Picatinny rail that is machined rather than cast, and its premium machine aluminum flight track system.  The custom composite laminated limbs, the Crosswire® string and cable system, 3-arrow Cross quiver, 3 each HeadHunter 20-inch arrows, rope cocking device, anti-dry fire trigger, and 3×32 illuminated Reticle scope is a red or green 3 dot scope, and all the accessories most hunters desire.

How to use Barnett CrossbowSpecifications:

  • Velocity: 315 FPS
  • FPKE: 115
  • Let-off: 0%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 20-inches
  • Draw weight: 165-pounds
  • Energy: 95-foot pounds
  • Power stroke: 14-inches
  • Arrow length: 20-inches
  • Dimensions: 36-inches long x 22-inches wide x 7-inches thick
  • Weight: 7 pounds

When you store your bow in a climate controlled storage area and wax the strip after every 10 shots, you will have a better performing bow for many years to come.  Be sure when you load your crossbow to ensure the odd colored arrow fletching is down.  Read your User’s Manual for even more instructions and safety procedures.

Gift-wrapping is available for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.  A carrying case is not included.  You will receive a User’s Manual and a 5-year Limited Warranty.  The bow is made in the USA.

4. PSE® Fang 350 Crossbow

The PSE® Fang 350 Crossbow for 2015 is upgraded for 2016.  For 2017, the Fang is the 350XT model not reviewed here.  The redesigned cams have been updated for 2016 with a fast speed of 350 FPS.  This is one of the best crossbows at an affordable price in the marketplace.  This bow fits left- or right-handed folks in a camo pattern.

It comes with an anti-dry fire trigger with 4-pound pull for safety, with a mass weight of 6.8-pounds making it lightweight and fast.  It has a 5H Outdoors brand 4×32 Reticle scope that can be removed, and a quiet shot with its 1 bow string.  The power stroke is 12-1/4-inches and the axle-to-axle is 19-1/4-inches.  The entire package comes with string stops, 5-bolt quiver, 3 each 20-inch carbon bolts with half-moon nocks, 100 grain bullet tips, a cocking rope, rail lube so necessary for maintaining your gear, a foot stirrup, and 350-340 speed with 400 grain bolt.  The bow comes with a Picatinny rail on top and you can mount the scope there or at the bottom where the quiver mounts.

The bow does not come with a carrying case but a Tarantula crossbow case will fit it.

Specifications:

  • Velocity: 350 FPS
  • Let-off: 0%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 19-1/4-inches
  • Draw weight: 155-pounds
  • Kinetic energy: 106-foot pounds
  • Power stroke: 14-1/4-inches
  • Arrow length: 20-inches
  • Dimensions: 35-inches long with stirrup
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds

Gift-wrapping is available for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.  You will receive a User’s Manual and a 1-year Limited Warranty Card that you send in.  The bow is made in Taiwan.

5. Carbon Express® Intercept Axon Crossbow Kit

The Carbon Express® Intercept Axon® crossbow is ready for hunting out of the box.  It is model number 20261 (LT model number 20252 not reviewed here, but is 2-ounces lighter).  The black color is more military looking and the Picatinny rail and the design adapts to a good number of commercial and military AR (Armalite, a small arms company established in the 1950s, not Assault Rifle) parts.  When you have the 29-inches of rail, you can tailor this crossbow to your heart’s content.  The Intercept Chassis platform has the modular system as the AR black guns have.

You will have the length-of-pull for better-quality repeating and precision.  Additionally, you can tailor this to your specific desires.  The compact axle design gives you incredible handling in blinds or up in the tree stand and any tight difficult spots.  With the anti-dry fire trigger, the entire metal trigger gives you the safety you want while offering reliable operation.  Both left- and right-handers can use the safety effectively.  The cams are machined aluminum.

In the kit, you will receive rail lube, 3 carbon cross bolts 125 grain, the excellent 4×32 glass-etched Reticle lighted scope, rope cocker, 3-arrow quick-detach quiver with side bracket, and 3 practice points.  With its precise engineering and design, you will enjoy all the advanced qualities and high-end characteristics of this one-of-a-kind crossbow.  The trigger does not creep, and gives a clean break at a pull weight of 3.5 pounds, making this a killer bow.  The exterior finish of SilenTech® coating resembles rubber to lessen vibration while dampening sound for quieter hunting.  The carrying case is not included and can be purchased separately.

Specifications:

  • Velocity: 360 FPS
  • Let-off: 0%
  • Axle-to-Axle: 13.5-inches cocked
  • Draw weight: 175-pounds
  • Pull weight: 3.5-pounds
  • Kinetic energy: 122-foot pounds
  • Power stroke: 13-1/2-inches
  • Arrow model: Maxima Blue Streak®
  • Arrow length: 20-inches, 400 grains, 3 each
  • Dimensions: 30-1/4 to 35-inches
  • Width cocked: 13-1/2-inches
  • Width uncocked: 17-inches
  • Length of pull: 12- to 17-1/2-inches
  • 5 years warrantyWeight: 8.1 pounds

Gift-wrapping is available for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.  You will receive a User’s Manual and a 5-year Limited Warranty.  The bow is designed and assembled in the USA of domestic and imported parts.

Tips

  • You do not need a license to own a crossbow because it’s not a firearm.
  • Become familiar with the trigger’s feel because they are all different. It will feel not the same with and without gloves.  Shoot both ways to get the feel.
  • Practice as often as possible. Set it up, sight it, and shoot off a bench rest.  After you feel confident with that, go to the field that will be similar to your hunting place.
  • Try shooting from the sitting and kneeling positons, hike up into your tree stand and practice shooting at various angles and distances.
  • Understand your bi or mono pod and learn to use your shooting sticks quietly, quickly, and proficiently.
  • Maintain your Hunting Crossbow: Always check the cable and strings for excessive wear and replace. Keep the string, cables, and center clean after practicing and after your hunting trip.  Read your User’s Manual for lubricating the center serving.  The rails need to be lubed regularly as well.
  • Many of you might be rifle shooters and they tend to stick their fingers of the hand holding the rifle’s forearm straight up when they cradle the rifle. Do not do this with a crossbow; you might put your fingers in the path of a bow string whizzing down the rail.  It will slice your thumb and fingers down to bare bone.
  • Crossbows have a lot of weight in the front end. This makes it hard to balance when you try to shoot from the off-hand position.  It’s better to shoot from the sitting and kneeling positions.
  • Know your greatest effective shooting range. That is your greatest distance to hit the bullseye with your arrow continually and reliably.  For some it might be 20-yards, while for others it is 60-yards and it can be in between.

Final Thoughts

Crossbows are enormous fun and can take down a buffalo—purchased on a ranch of course.  Be sure to read our crossbow reviews for what have to say about crossbow experience for the brands listed here.  These best hunting crossbows are not toys, so would not be recommended for young kids under 10 years old.  Happy hunting shopping for your best crossbow and happy shooting!

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