Last Updated on
It’s a versatile weapon with tons of potential.
From target practice, to game of all sizes—the crossbow can cover quite a few bases.
Much easier to work with than a bow—both traditional and not—and generally less expensive to own and operate than a gun, they’re convenient and economical too.
The problem is … there are so many options out there, choosing the best crossbow can be tough. Especially if you don’t know a whole lot about the platform.
Keep reading for an in depth look at some of the top rated bows on the market for every price range and use.
OUR BEST CROSSBOW PICKS
Barnett Ghost 420
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II
Top Choices on the Market
How to Pick the Best Crossbow for Your Needs
Before you jump in and start looking, it’s important to consider your needs.
The right bow for a new hunter, may not be the right choice for you.
As you look for a new crossbow, here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind:
What will you be using the bow for?
This is probably the most important questions to ask before buying one.
While one of the most common uses for crossbows is hunting, they have plenty of other uses too. Some users may just want to use a bow for target practice. Others may want to have one around for emergencies or survival situations.
If you do plan to hunt with one, consider what types of game you’ll be pursuing. A lot of the higher end options are pretty powerful—great news for big game hunters, but probably a little much for someone planning to harvest smaller game.
Where you’ll be using your crossbow should be a major factor in your purchase decision too.
Ultimately, it should be suited to the location and conditions where you’ll be using it.
Some states also limit where and when these can be used for hunting. And there are a few that don’t allow it at all, or only for handicapped hunters.
Make sure you understand what’s legal, and what’s not, before making a final decision.
Like most purchases, picking the right one often comes down to what you can afford.
There are some really great options across the budget range.
Don’t let a less expensive option fool you.
Most can be had for anywhere from $300 to $1000. Prices do go up past the $2000 mark though. And you can, of course, spend much less than $300.
Crossbows have come a long way.
Though traditional bows have advanced quite a bit in recent years too, these are a bit more complex and have really taken advantage of modern materials and engineering.
Like bows, compound mechanisms have become the most popular option for crossbow shooters. But, recurve choices are also available.
Many also come with scopes or can readily accept one.
Another feature you’ll want to consider is how you want to cock your bow. Some newer models now come with integrated, hand-crank cocking mechanisms. Most designs still require shooters to use a separate cocking tool though.
Crossbows are weapons.
That fact alone makes them inherently dangerous if not handled properly.
Crossbows also put very sharp objects under a lot of tension. And with compound bows, there are a lot of moving parts.
For first time buyers and newer users, safety should be a real concern.
Thankfully, most modern crossbows come with a number of safety features—like anti-dry fire mechanisms and trigger safeties—built right in.
Just make sure you pick a crossbow with safety features you understand and that are right for your needs.
The Top Choices for Every Purpose
It all comes down to purpose.
Whether you’re picking up a crossbow for the upcoming deer season or as a gift for your son or daughter, you need the right tool for the job.
When it comes to hunting, you want the best.
Seeing an animal get away or leaving one wounded because you didn’t bring the right tool for the job is every hunter’s worst nightmare.
When it comes to power, accuracy, and effectiveness, the Ravin R15 is one of the best crossbow models available.
The R15’s compact size and light weight make it a great choice for hunters looking for a more maneuverable crossbow. At just over six inches wide when cocked, it’s one of the slimmest choices on the market.
Power isn’t in short supply with this Ravin either with arrows moving at over 400 feet per second.
The biggest drawback to the Ravin R15 is the price. As one of the higher-priced models on the market, it isn’t for everyone.
Ravin R15 Specifications:
- Weighs only 6.9 pounds overall
- Arrow speed of 425 feet per second
- Powerful 160 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy
- Just 12 lbs. of draw force
- Just over six inches wide when cocked
- Comes from the factory with 100 yard illuminated optic, but picatinny rail mount also works with other rifle-style optics
- Ships with six matched bolts and field points
Southern Risen XT 350
If you’re looking to pick up your first crossbow, Southern's Risen XT 350 makes for a great first-time option.
The Risen XT is a complete package with plenty of room for customization on the included accessory rails.
Shooters get plenty of power too with 180 lbs. of draw force, ensuring that newer users are not left wishing for more.
One of the Southern Risen XT’s best features is the addition of an adjustable, AR-style stock. This allows the bow to be quickly and easily adjusted for shooters of all sizes.
Risen XT 350 Specifications:
- Weighs just over 11 lbs. overall
- Arrow speeds of up to 350 feet per second
- 180 lbs. draw weight
- Telescopic stock ensures a good fit for shooters of all sizes
- Built in picatinny rails for mounting an optic, lights, or other accessories
- Vertical foregrip included for greater control.
Barnett Recruit Terrain
Looking for a great bow for smaller shooters?
The Barnett Recruit Terrain provides smaller shooters with a more compact, simple to use platform.
The Recruit Terrain is no lightweight though. Shooters will still see arrow speeds of up to 330 feet per second and a kinetic energy of over 90 ft lbs.
The Barnett Recruit Terrain also ships with an optic, arrows, and everything a younger user would need to get started.
The included picatinny rail also means shooters can upgrade the bow down the line. An anti-dry fire release and trigger safety makes this a safe option for younger users as well.
Barnett Recruit Terrain Specifications:
- Weighs just 6 pounds overall
- Lightweight 3 pound release
- Arrow speeds of 330 feet per second
- Over 90 ft. lbs. of kinetic energy
- 140 lbs. draw weight
- Ships with 4x32, but picatinny rail mount also works with other optics and accessories
- Comes with two arrows and cocking device
Excalibur Matrix 380
If you’re looking for a simple model that doesn’t rely on a set of complex pulleys for power, a recurve bow is the answer.
Recurve bows use two limbs that have been curved toward the front to provide power and speed.
Excalibur makes a number of recurve bows, including the Matrix 380. Known for their simplicity and durability, Excalibur bows provide durability in the most adverse conditions.
The Excalibur Matrix 380 gives shooters a powerful 260 pound draw weights and an arrow speed of 380 feet per second.
Excalibur Matrix 380 Specifications:
- Weighs a little over 10 pounds overall
- Arrow speeds of 380 feet per second
- Durable, ergonomic stock
- Powerful 260 lbs. draw weight
PSE Viper SS
Looking for something a bit smaller?
A mini crossbow can be a fun way to get in a little target practice or even hunt small game.
The PSE Viper SS packs a ton of fun and power into a tiny package.
With a size not much larger than most handguns, the Viper is far smaller than the average. But even with its diminutive size, this little bow propels bolts at a surprising 215 feet per second.
The PSE Viper SS comes fitted with an open, iron sight and an integrated cocking system for easy use.
PSE Viper SS Specifications:
- Super compact and lightweight
- Arrow speeds of up to 215 feet per second
- Durable recurve construction
- Draw weight of 50 lbs.
- Automatic safety and anti-dry fire mechanism
Barnett Recruit Tactical
- Lightweight composite stock
- Arrow speeds of up to 330 feet per second
- Comes with 4x32 optic
- Draw weight of 130 lbs.
- Automatic safety and anti-dry fire mechanism
- Compatible with crank cocking devices
Carbon Express Covert CX-3 SL
- Solid CNC machined aluminum build
- Arrow speeds of up to 355 feet per second
- Includes lighted, multi-reticle 4x32 optic
- Draw weight of 175 lbs.
- 119 lbs. ft. of kinetic energy
- Arrow speeds of up to 365 feet per second
- 3x32 optic included
- Draw weight of 140 lbs.
- Reverse limb design with lightweight carbon limbs
- Comes with 3 arrows and cocking rope
Crossbow Reviews by Budget
For many buyers, it all comes down to price.
The good news:
The market has a lot of great options spanning the budget spectrum.
Cheap & Affordable
Arrow Precision Inferno Fury
If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to get into the sport, the Arrow Precision Inferno Fury provides users with a lot of features at a great price.
For under 100 bucks, the Arrow Precision Inferno Fury gives you an arrow speed of 235 feet per second and a draw weight of 175 pounds. Plus, four arrows and a red dot sight.
While it might not give quite the same performance as a bow that costs five or ten times as much, this model packs a lot of value into a low priced package.
CenterPoint Sniper 370
If you’re looking for something under $300, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 gives shooters some truly valuable features at a great price.
With a composite and aluminum construction, the Sniper 370 also incorporates a CNC machined rail and adjustable AR-style stock and grip. The foregrip is also adjustable and interchangeable.
The CenterPoint Sniper 370 sends arrows downrange at 370 feet per second with a draw weight of 185 pounds and comes equipped with a 4x32.
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II
For just under $400, you can’t go wrong with the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II.
At only 6.4 pounds, the Whitetail Hunter is very lightweight but still packs a punch with arrow speeds of up to 350 feet per second and total kinetic energy of over 100 foot pounds.
This is made in the USA and also comes equipped with a 4x32.
Excalibur Matrix Grizzly
Excalibur’s Matrix Grizzly brings the legendary accuracy and durability of Excalibur's Matrix line to shooters at an affordable price.
With a draw weight of 200 pounds and an arrow speed of 305 feet per second, the Matrix grizzly delivers some serious power.
The compact thumbhole stock sports a Mossy Oak camouflage exterior that’s great for a range of hunting environments.
TenPoint Titan SS
If you really want to invest in a solid hunting package the TenPoint Titan SS is a consistent performer with a lot of great features.
For under a grand, shooters get a stock with adjustable comb height and length. A 3x otpic is also included and three arrows.
And with a draw weight of 175 pounds and arrow speeds of up to 340 feet per second, users get plenty of power for most North American game.
Ravin R10 Crossbow
If budget isn’t a concern and you want the best, the Ravin R10 is one of the top choices available at any price.
With a compact profile—it’s just over six inches wide when cocked—a very light overall weight, and impressive accuracy, the R10 delivers in the field and on the range.
The R10 propels arrows at nearly 400 feet per second with 135 foot pounds of kinetic energy.
Top Brands & Manufacturers
With so many makers and models to choose from, picking the right one isn’t easy.
Here’s a quick roundup of the top brands out there right now and their top products.
Ravin hasn’t been around long, but they’ve made quite a name for themselves in record time. This Minnesota based maker is made up of a team of industry veterans, dedicated to making premium models right here in the US.
One of their top of the line products is the Ravin R15.
The R15 packs a very accurate and powerful setup into a compact package.
Ravin has used some innovative engineering to make their bows very narrow and rifle-like. The R15 is just a little over six inches wide when cocked.
With arrow speeds over 400 feet per second, the R15 is also one of the most powerful and accurate bows on the market. Some shooters are actually making accurate shots out to 100 yards with it.
The R15 isn’t cheap though.
Coming in at around $2000, this premium crossbow comes with a premium price. But if the price isn’t a problem, the R15 is worth every penny.
Barnett is one of the oldest names in this market. Since the 1960s has been producing innovative bows and archery equipment in the USA.
The Barnett Ghost 420 currently tops their lineup and is one of the most innovative options available today. With carbon fiber limbs and a machined aluminum arrow track, the Ghost is both light and maneuverable at just over seven pounds.
420 foot per second arrow speeds and 153 foot pounds of kinetic energy make this crossbow one of the fastest and powerful bows on the market.
The Ghost also comes equipped with a frictionless release that makes use of a free-floating roller assembly, giving it a very light 3 pound trigger.
You’ll also get a rope cocking device, illuminated optic, and two arrows.
TenPoint is another major player, producing a wide range of bows and styles. From basic beginner to reverse draw designs, TenPoint does it all.
One of their most innovative designs is the Stealth NXT.
The Stealth NXT is another compact, narrow bow seeking to give hunters a more manageable crossbow in the field. At just over six inches wide when cocked, it’s one of the most compact bows on the market.
TenPoint’s Stealth NXT puts out up to 144 foot pounds of kinetic energy and propels arrows at 410 feet per second.
A cocking device is incorporated right into the stock of the Stealth NXT, allowing users to quickly crank back the bolt and skip the need to bring along an extra tool.
The Stealth NXT doesn’t come cheap though. At over $1000 it rivals some of Ravin’s bows, but does provide similar features.
CenterPoint provide a lot of great options for new and experienced shooters. From simple recurve designs to compound crossbow packages, CenterPoint offers a lot of choices.
The Gladiator Whisper tops CenterPoint’s lineup with a lot of power and a few innovative features.
With a draw weight of 200 pounds, the Gladiator is capable of propelling arrows at up to 405 feet per second. CenterPoint makes this possible through the use of a quad limb design.
For guidance, CenterPoint includes a 4×32 optic that sits atop a CNC machined aluminum riser.
To keep things interesting, the Gladiator Whisper incorporates an adjustable AR-style stock, allowing users to quickly adjust the bow’s fit and length.
For over 20 years, Excalibur has been producing innovative, recurve crossbows. Excalibur bows are known for their durability and performance.
Though Excalibur solely produces recurve models, their performance is comparable to many of the industry’s other top performing bows. The recurve design also provides a lot of durability given the simple design.
The Matrix 380 is one of Excalibur’s top performers. With arrow speeds of up to 380 feet per second, gives shooters a lot of power in a simple, reliable package. The Matrix also ships with a optic and a Realtree camo paint job.
If you’re looking for reliability and performance, Excalibur and the Matrix 380 are great options at a reasonable price.
Founded over 20 years ago by industry veterans, Parker has since grown to be one of the world’s largest producers of compound bows and crossbows.
One of their top pick is the Hurricane XXTreme.
With up to 380 feet per second of arrow speed and a 165 pound draw weight, the Hurricane is one of the faster, more powerful bows on the market. And measuring a little over 20 inches wide and about 36 inches long, users can expect a standard sized bow.
Another thing the Hurricane has going for it is an adjustable stock. This Parker model is part of a growing trend to adopt an adjustable, AR-style stock that can quickly adjust to the shooter’s needs.
Users will also find an ergonomic pistol grip and an automatically engaging trigger safety and anti-dry fire mechanism.
Carbon Express produces some truly innovative crossbows at a great price.
The Covert is one of Carbon Express’s most innovative options.
With a lightweight 3.5 pound trigger, the Covert is accurate and easy to shoot.
360 foot per second arrow speeds and a 175 pound draw weight come together to give the Covert 109 foot pounds of energy.
For a very reasonable sub $600 price tag, the Covert comes with a lot of great features. Shooter get a 4×32 optic plus three arrows and a quiver.
A crank cocking device is also included.
To round things out, the covert comes with a pistol grip, skeletonized camo stock, and vertical grip.
If you’re looking for a choice that won’t break the bank, Jaguar may just have the answer you’re looking for.
The Jaguar CR-013 gives you everything you need to get started with crossbows for under $200.
With arrow speeds of up to 245 feet per second and a draw of 175 pounds, this Jaguar is a surprisingly good performer. This crossbow also comes with a 30mm red dot optic with seven levels of brightness adjustment and four arrows.
While this might not be the most feature-rich on the market, it’s a great deal for those looking for something at a reasonable price.
PSE is one of the oldest and most well-known names in archery. They make everything from traditional recurve bows, to compound bows, and crossbows. PSE is known for making quality products at reasonable prices.
One of PSE’s most popular crossbows is the Fang 350 XT.
The Fang 350 XT comes in at a great price—providing a lot of value and function for the average hunter.
Wrapped in a camo appearance, the Fang 350 XT is capable of arrow speeds of up to 350 feet per second.
With the Fang 350 XT, shooters get an entire set, including three arrows, a 4×32, and a rope cocking device.
Mission is a newer manufacturer of higher end bows based in Wisconsin. Much like Ravin, they’ve gone straight for the upper end of the market, creating some truly innovative bows.
The Sniper Lite is one of Mission's most interesting bows. Weighing less than six pounds, the Sniper Lite is nearly unparalleled in terms of weight.
The Sniper Lite is capable of sending a 400 grain arrow down range at up 310 feet per second. While it’s not the fastest bow on the market, this level of speed is more than capable of taking all but the very largest of game.
With this crossbow, you’ll also get a quiver of three arrows and an illuminated, adjustable sight.
Final Verdict: Here Are Our Top Choices
Barnett Ghost 420
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II
It’s always hard to hard pick just one best crossbow.
Especially with so many great choices.
But, if you want a solid performer with innovative features and plenty of power, the Barnett Ghost 420 is the way to go. Shooters get a complete package that’s effective against any North American game for a price that should be manageable for serious crossbow enthusiasts.
If you want something a bit more compact, Ravin’s R15 is a solid performer. But does carry a much higher price tag.
For those who’d like to stay at the lower end of the budget spectrum, the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II provides a lot of value for a great price.