Crossbows for target shooting and for hunting purposes have become increasingly powerful, complex and high-tech. It’s truly an intimidating piece of weaponry, and an awesome, ominous visual to see a full-size high-power crossbow drawn and loaded. Here we will look at the industry’s best crossbows.
The intimidation factor is also high when you’re trying to choose the best crossbow for your needs. With so many options available it’s a challenge to choose the right draw weight, velocity, size, options and add-on accessories you should select for your specific needs.
In this article we have done significant research into the current high-power class of crossbows in the industry, its most respected makers, and their very best crossbow products based on a variety of needs and requirements. If you’re in the market or just researching, you’ll find what you need here.
Quick Answer: The 5 Best Crossbows For 2017 / 2018
- Killer Instinct KI350 Crossbow
- Bear X Crossbows Archery Bruzer FFL Crossbow
- Barnett Jackal Crossbow
- Wicked Ridge by TenPoint Invader G3 Crossbow
- Barnett Ghost 375 Crossbow
If you’re looking for a crossbow that’s got users raving, delivers impressive specs, and makes it all easy on the wallet this might be your first, last, and only stop. Killer Instinct is not necessarily a huge name in hunting bows, but they have carved themselves a place in the market for affordable hunting crossbows.
This compound crossbow packs a featherlight 6.5 pounds of mass (carry weight) and puts out an insane 175-pound draw weight. That translates to a tasty 350 FPS bolt speed leaving the crossbow.
If you’re not already aware, all these are perfectly acceptable specs for knocking down even big game without too much hassle at mid to long distances.
Features of the Killer Instinct KI350:
- Clocks in at an impressive 350 FPS
- Lightweight and Balanced at 6.5lbs
- 3.5lb trigger pull with 175lb draw weight
- KI PRO Package – KI Lumix Multi-Reticle Scope with Blue/Green Rheostat Illumination, 3 bolts,Quiver, String Suppressors.
- Uncocked 18.5″ / Cocked 14.5″ ATA Width
Full Manufacturers Specs: Killer Instinct KI 350
On top of that they’ve tossed in an illuminated scope for dusk shooting, detachable quiver, and 3 bolts to get you started! Not a bad choice considering the reliable reviews and great user feedback.
Bear X has managed to create an awesome looking inverse designed crossbow that’s reliable and consistent. While the reversed limb design isn’t a new concept (it’s been around hundreds of years) it is just as effective and often more compact than traditional designs.
Features of the Bear X Crossbows Archery Bruzer FFL:
- Shoots 335 FPS (feet per second)
- Draw weight 125 lbs
- 18 inch ATA (axle to axle)
- 15.1 inch ATA at draw
- 99.3 ft-lb K.E. (Kinetic energy)
Full Manufacturer Specs: Bear Bruzer FFL
I like that the bow is just 15” wide from axle to axle when drawn but I think they could have shrunk that down a bit. It’s capable of 335 FPS shots which aren’t pushing the bleeding edge of technology but they’re not bad either for a reasonable 125-pound draw weight. One thing I would have liked to see improved is the “plastic” feel to the bow, but if it works, it works!
While you do get a scope with the bow, there’s no included bolts or quiver which makes me sad. It’s not a deal breaker, however, given the long reload time of crossbows in general and the fact that, once loaded, you can carry a bolt around in it for hours.
Barnett makes our list a few times because of their affordable crossbow packages that are well-loved by users. I wouldn’t call them “premium” crossbows, but they’ll get the job done and should get you out hunting for a few seasons before you might want to upgrade.
That said, this bow is a respectable hunting piece on its own. With 3 bolts included right out of the package in a nice detachable quiver, this compound crossbow is ready to deal some damage. They’ve included a pre-mounted red dot scope which will be great at the medium range that this crossbow takes advantage of with a 315 fps firing speed. Don’t forget to sight it in before you use it, though! These scopes need some practice and fine tuning to be accurate.
Features of the Barnett Jackal:
- Firing Speed (velocity): 315 FPS
- Draw weight: 150 lbs.
- 3 arrows included
- 3.5 lb smooth trigger pull
- Complete package includes: quick-remove quiver, bolts, and advanced red dot sight
- Military-style stock; high impact wheels; premium synthetic string and cabling system
With a lightweight 3.5-pound trigger pull, you’ll be launching rockets with the 150-pound draw of this bow. Remember to maintain your equipment and get the bow tuned up by a pro shop before each hunting season to ensure longevity and safety!
Packing a 165 pound draw weight and launching bolts down range at a lightning fast 330 fps this is a very reasonably built bow that can serve just about any hunter’s needs. At medium ranges, it will pack enough punch to take down North American big game using the 96 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.
Features of the Wicked Ridge Invader G3:
- Draw Weight in lbs. 165
- Speed: 330 feet per second
- Power Stroke: 13.5″
- ACU-52 cocking mechanism
- Weight: 6.6 lbs.
Full Manufacturers Specs: Wicked Ridge Invader G3
The crossbow measures a reasonable 37.75” long and 22.6” axle to axle (unstrung). At 6 1/2 pounds, overall, it’s light enough to carry for a long hike into the blind without being overbearing. It’s equipped out of the box with the Ten Point multi-line scope for taking shots at various distances.
As always, be sure to sight it in! I like that they’re including 3 Wicked Ridge 400-grain carbon arrows. These are lightweight and will definitely zip out of the bow at mind bending speeds.
Users rave about the accuracy and consistency of this bow and many consider it among the quietest crossbows on the shelf today. It’s a step above many entry level bows so expect to pay a bit more for the quality you’ll be getting.
Barnett makes it on to our list yet again! This time we’re checking out a bow that rockets bolts down range at speeds that are near top of class. Somehow, they’re able to achieve a warp speed of 385 fps with just 165 pounds of draw weight. That’s 125 ft pounds of energy on the bolts which can easily slice right through bone.
Features of the Barnett Ghost 375:
- 385 feet per second
- Draw weight: 165 lbs
- Kinetic energy: 125 ft lbs.
- Real Tree Max1 Camofloge
- Weight: 7.1 lbs
- Patented Trigger Tech Technology utilizing a 3 lb no-creep trigger release.
- All components are stainless steel
- Includes: 4×32 Scope, lube wax, rope cocking device, (2) Headhunter arrows (20″)
Full Manufacturers Specs: Barnett Ghost 375
With specs like this the Barnett Ghost might be a good choice for those looking to drop big game at long distances with precision. Maybe that’s why they call it the Ghost? I love the 4×32 scope that comes with it. Because of the potential for long range shooting you’ll want a 4x scope to keep up with the range of the bolts. At just over 7 pounds of mass, the bow is reasonably light but could be lightened a bit more in my opinion.
You’ll love the 3-pound trigger release and detachable quiver with two included arrows. To get the most out of this bow, you may want to upgrade to high end bolts and remember to wax the string every few shots to keep the bow functioning properly.
How to Choose the Best Crossbow for You
- Crossbow Prices
- Crossbow Draw Types
- Crossbow Draw Weight
- Crossbow Arrows
- Crossbow Sights and Crossbow Optics
- Crossbow Buying
Crossbows have become increasingly popular in recent years. With changes in legislation more states each year are making crossbows a legal option during bow season for hunting. They’re incredibly accurate, powerful, and reliable. For sportsmen who are unable to use a more contemporary compound bow, a crossbow can be a great choice.
With so many options, however, it’s a little daunting trying to choose which options, features, and styling you need for your next crossbow. Today I’m going to help you make the right choice with your next crossbow purchase. We’ll talk about how to choose the best crossbow, what to look for, and some things to avoid. Then, I’ll suggest a handful of bows that you might start with on your search for the perfect crossbow for you!
Choosing your crossbow isn’t as easy as simply picking the first bow that you see off the shelf. It’s important to be informed before venturing in to the archery shop, or hitting up an online store to buy your bow.
Unfortunately, the simple truth is that we can only afford what we have the budget for. First on the agenda is establishing a budget and determining which bows we can afford in that range.
By and large, it’s going to be well worth your time to spend a little extra cash up front and purchase a quality bow from a reputable manufacturer.
Crossbow Draw Types
Draw weight is the simple number that represents the power of the bow. It’s also equal to the amount of effort it will take to cock the bow. Largely there are two main methods of drawing a bow.
A rope assist basically uses a rope with a large handle to help you gain leverage on the string and draw it back. There’s not much “mechanical advantage” on these so you’ll have to be able to pull most of the weight of the bow unassisted.
Some bows can be fitted with a crank which uses a ratchet and lever to draw the string. These are noisy, slow, and cumbersome. Don’t expect to get a second shot off. These cranks do offer the benefit of allowing you to be able to draw much heavier weights without an increase in effort though!
Crossbow Draw Weight
Most states establish regulatory minimums for their hunting laws. Generally, a bow over 75 pounds of draw weight will meet minimums. Anything lower than that can be in danger of improperly harvesting an animal. Low weight bows may not have the force necessary to cleanly kill a big game animal such as whitetail deer.
Roughly speaking you’ll want to go with the highest possible draw weight that you are reasonable capable of drawing. Choosing too high of a draw weight can make it difficult to load the bow, so don’t try to be macho about it.
Arrow speed is important to your overall crossbow setup. When practicing on the range you’ll be using lightweight field tips on your arrows, usually. These tips are much lighter and therefore faster than broad heads used for harvesting game.
When we load up for a hunting trip it’s time to use broad head arrows which slow down the arrows considerably and change the trajectory and sighting of the bow. When sighting in your bow for hunting, be sure to use arrows of the same weight as your broad heads. It is possible to do this by using heavier field tips so that you don’t have to use up precious broad heads.
Usually hunters seek a bow and arrow combination of about 300 – 400 feet per second. With modern technology and improvements in crossbows, 400 fps shots are more common than they once were. 300 fps, however, is more than adequate for most hunters and game.
Crossbow Sights and Crossbow Optics
On crossbows, the choices of optics become significantly vaster than those available to traditional bow shooters. Because of the speed, power, and distance of crossbow bolts it’s more appropriate often to use red dot or scope sights. These can vary greatly in price and quality.
Red dot scopes are a great choice for close to medium range shooting. They’re faster to acquire targets when compared to a telescopic sight. They also provide a larger field of view and require much less time to aim. Red dot scopes usually come in a 2x magnification or no magnification at all. They can’t be as accurate as long-distance scopes for several reasons, and that’s really the biggest drawback. For long distance pinpoint accuracy, you’ll need something else.
Medium to high power telescopic scopes provide serious accuracy when shooting over longer distances. They’re much more cumbersome, larger, and harder to use than a red dot scope. However, what they lack in speed they make up for in precision. For shots at medium to long range you may want to consider a 4 – 8x scope of decent quality.
In the world of full size crossbows, most are oriented at hunters. For North American big game, any bow on our list will get you started. Some of the bows are more than enough to keep you going for many hunting seasons to come.
The longevity and effectiveness of your bow depends on you. Remember to sight in your scope, have your bow tuned each year by a pro shop, and wax your string religiously. Most bows on our list come with arrows right out of the box. One thing you could do to improve your speed, consistency, and accuracy would be upgrading to the best bolts and broad heads your money can buy.
Remember, there’s always room to upgrade in the future. If you’re a new hunter and you’re not sure whether you’ll stick with it – try starting with an entry level model. Any bow on our list will get you started!
And always remember to practice proper crossbow safety techniques. Here’s 15-minute safety and instructional video from TenPoint Crossbow Technologies that will refresh your safety regimen.
Good luck in all of your crossbow endeavors. Enjoy!