Humans have been hunting with crossbows for centuries. The perfect combination of tradition and hunting power, the crossbow opens up a whole new world of opportunity for deer hunters.
Each year, crossbow technology seems to take a giant leap forward. While this is good news for hunters, it can also leave inexperienced shooters feeling overwhelmed with all the possibilities. However, it can still be hard to decide what to buy, even if you’re an experienced bowhunter.
We’ve done the hard work for you by narrowing down the vast field of options and offering you r top picks. Ultimately, the top crossbow for deer hunting is one you can use with accuracy and proficiency. While we acknowledge a crossbow is a highly personal choice, we think the options on this list are some of the best on the market.
Best Deer Hunting Crossbows
Top 6 Best Deer Hunting Crossbows
With a narrow, 6-inch profile when fully cocked, the Ravin R9 offers easy maneuverability in close-quarter situations. This makes it perfect for deer hunting in thick woods, in a ground blind, or from a tree stand.
Hard-hitting and lightning fast, the Ravin R9 produces arrow speeds of 390 feet per second with 135 pounds of kinetic energy. That level of speed and energy produces amazing accuracy and deep penetration, almost guaranteeing quick, humane kills.
Sold as a package deal, the Ravin R9 comes with a number of handy accessories, including six bolts, a quiver, cocking handle, sling mounts and a 100-yard illuminated scope. It comes fully assembled (except for the scope), so it is practically ready to shoot straight out of the box.
Although compact, the R9 is on the heavy side. Weighing in at almost 9 pounds with added accessories, this is one of the heavier models in our list of top picks. However, it is well-balanced and features a rugged, durable construction that make it worth the extra weight.
While this is also the most expensive crossbow on our list, it definitely worth the investment. Equipped with unique Heli-coil technology that includes a non-traditional rail and dual cam cables, this thing delivers enough speed and kinetic energy to knock down whitetails and larger game without breaking a sweat. This crossbow is definitely in a class by itself.
2. TenPoint Venom Crossbow - Top Compact Crossbow
TenPoint has managed to design a compact, lightweight crossbow without sacrificing arrow speed or performance. Easy to maneuver in the confines of a treestand, the TenPoint Venom is just as easy to maneuver in the woods on the way there. It measures only 34 1/2 inches and weighs an easy 6 ½ pounds.
Made from durable carbon fiber material, this bow is extremely lightweight and sturdy enough to handle rough hunting conditions.
It has a smooth ACU50 draw and slick release, and the 200 pound draw weight produces plenty of power and penetration for taking down large whitetails.
The Venom comes equipped with a bowjax dampening system that muffles noise and vibration and helps prevent your target from “jumping the string.”
If we had to pick something to complain about, it would be the Venom’s trigger system. It feels a bit stiff, and we wish its quality matched the bow’s performance. However, it gets the job done, shot-after-shot, so this shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
3. Excalibur Matrix 355 - Top Recurve Crossbow
The Excalibur Matrix 355 is a no-nonsense, low-maintenance recurve crossbow. Despite its simple design, this thing delivers impressive deer-dropping performance out to well over 70 yards. It easily slings 350-grain bolts at 355 feet per second with approximately 98 foot pounds of kinetic energy.
It comes in Realtree camo and features Matrix PowerLoad limbs, a comfortable Ergo-Grip stock, dependable trigger, and Quad-Loc riser. The Matrix 355 is built for long-lasting durability, so you should enjoy hunting with this recurve crossbow for years to come.
The Excalibur Matrix 355 comes as a complete package which includes a Tact-Zone reticle scope, four carbon crossbow bolts with field tips, quiver, cocking device, and a string maintenance kit.
You will need to remember to move the safety to the “on” position after you’ve cocked the Matrix 355. Since this crossbow does not have an integrated anti-dry fire mechanism, you will need to be extra careful when cocking the bow and seating arrows.
4. CenterPoint Sniper 370 - Top Budget Crossbow
The CenterPoint Sniper 370 offers exceptional speed and accuracy for a budget crossbow. The 185 pound draw weight allows this crossbow to generate arrow speeds of 370 feet per second. Theoretically, this draw weight should be a real back-breaker. However, the included rope cocking device makes it relatively easy and safe to draw.
Both the rail and cams on the Sniper 370 are made from sturdy CNC machined aluminum. The limbs are made from compression fiberglass and feature a split design.
We love the integrated auto-safety which resets each time the bow is cocked. This anti-dry fire feature prevents the crossbow from firing without a bolt on the rail.
This important safety feature will help prevent the catastrophic damage that could accompany an accidental dry fire.
Its compact size and adjustable stock make it comfortable and easy-to-use in any hunting situation. A 4x32 scope is included. While this scope does passably well at shorter ranges, hard-core deer hunters will want to consider an upgrade.
5. Barnett Jackal Crossbow - Top Crossbow for Beginners
Barnett is one of the world’s most popular crossbow manufacturers. Their Jackal Crossbow Package is made with the high-quality standards that have made Barnett an industry leader. The package includes a detachable quiver, 3 bolts with field points, and a red dot sight.
Unfortunately, the Jackal isn’t a big powerhouse like some other crossbows on our list. Producing a velocity of approximately 315 fps and 90 foot pounds of kinetic energy, the Jackal has a limited range. However, it is still more than capable of taking down whitetails at more than 40 yards with a well-placed shot.
The Jackal has an attractive, tactical-style stock that makes it comfortable to shoot. It also features a durable design that includes a riser made from stong yet lightweight machined aluminum. Weighing in at 7.7 pounds, the Jackal easy to use, even for younger shooters.
The Jackal can be a little loud in the woods. It doesn’t include any added features for noise suppression, so you’ll need to add after-market suppression devices if you want to hunt wary whitetails.
6. TenPoint Lady Shadow Crossbow - Top Crossbow for Women
Deer hunting is largely a male-dominated sport. However, the Lady Shadow Crossbow from TenPoint opens up a whole new world for female hunters. Aside from the Muddy Girl pink camo and hot pink strings and cables, this crossbow has plenty of features designed especially for women.
The ACUdraw self-retracting rope cocking system makes it easy for small-framed shooters to handle the 180-pound draw weight. Despite the feather-lite weight of the Lady Shadow (6.4 pounds to be exact), it still packs some serious power and produces a velocity of 350 feet per second and 101 foot pounds of kinetic energy.
The TenPoint Lady Shadow comes as a complete package that includes a 3x illuminated multi-reticle scope, 3 arrows with field points, quick detach quiver, and cocking device.
Although the pink camo pattern is striking, some female hunters prefer traditional camo. If it were up to us, the Lady Shadow would be available in something other than pink.
Summing It Up
When it comes to hunting elusive whitetails, our top crossbow pick is the Ravin Crossbows R9. Although this model comes with a fairly expensive price tag, the features and performance make it well worth the investment.
It is compact and durable, making it perfect for hunting all kinds of terrain. The Ravin R9 uses a cutting-edge design that produces lightning fast arrow speeds and hard-hitting kinetic energy. Not only is this high-performance crossbow perfect for deer hunting, it is also well-suited for bigger game like elk and mule deer.
However, if the R9 is outside your gear budget, any of the crossbows on this list will help you fill your tags this deer season.