The 8 Best Pistol Crossbows – [2021 Reviews]

Have fun with target practice and hunting small game, we break down this year's top pistol crossbows

Our Editors independently research, test, and rate what we feel are the best products. We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

Our pistol crossbow reviews offer a detailed analysis of the pistol crossbows with the highest customer ratings. Then we offer some background and technical information that’s helpful in choosing the best pistol crossbow to meet your needs and preferences in our How to Choose the Best Pistol Crossbow for You section.

Best Pistol Crossbows

 Prophecy Pistol CrossbowKings Archery Pistol CrossbowPSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow
editors choice
Draw Weight (lbs)80 lbs80 lbs50 lbs
Self-Cocking (Y/N)YESYESNO
Vertical ForegripNONOYES

Also See: Pistol Crossbows Comparison Table and YouTube Video Review

Quick Answer: The Best-Rated Pistol Crossbows – 2021

The Best Pistol Crossbows

  1. Prophecy Pistol Crossbow
  2. Kings Archery Pistol Crossbow
  3. PSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow
  4. Rogue River Tactical Pistol Crossbow
  5. Cobra Pistol Crossbow

The Best Mini Crossbows

  1. ACE Mini Crossbow
  2. Snake Eye Tactical Mini Crossbow
  3. Tactical Crusader Mini Crossbow

Pistol Crossbow Reviews

#1 Prophecy Pistol Crossbow

Features of the Prophecy Pistol Crossbow:

  • Draw weight: 80 lbs 
  • Arrows travel speed: 150 feet per second
  • The power stroke is 6-4/5” 
  • Easy assembly and dis-assembly
  • Unique Cobra limb system for easy cocking

There’s no doubt about it – this is the best bow your money can buy at the moment according to user reviews. Having used this exact bow many times myself, I can say that it is extremely satisfying, fun, and accurate. It’s easy to operate and will make a great target shooter or hunting crossbow for varmints.

This lever cocking crossbow has a nearly 7” stroke, drawing 80 pounds using a mechanical lever built into the bow. I like the sights on the bow – it comes with iron sights. It’s also easy to replace the limb (if it ever breaks) and replacement strings are easy enough to find. You’ll want to order an extra string and tons of extra darts as the plastic fletchings tend to break all too often.

This pistol crossbow comes with a picatinny rail and is available with a red dot sight!

#2 Kings Archery Pistol Crossbow

Features of the Kings Archery Pistol Crossbow:

  • Draw weight: 80 lb
  • Easy to use self-cocking mechanism®
  • Includes 60 aluminum and PVC arrow bolts 
  • Bow is made of durable molded fiberglass
  • Self cocking unit provides easy and fast reload
  • Includes adjustable sights

Nearly identical to the Prophecy bow we reviewed above, this lever cocking bow features a more prominent brass coloring. If you’re purchasing a hand crossbow for the stealth factor, this shiny yellow metal may be a turn off for you.

One thing that I love about the KingsArchery bow is that it comes with a 60 pack of darts. If that seems like too many, keep in mind that they’re made of PVC (plastic) and will likely break about every other shot. The savvy among you may consider making your own darts out of hollow aluminum and a little handiwork…

While there is no picatinny rail on this one, you do get more darts with your purchase. Plus, both the KingsArchery bow and the Prophecy both sport equal 80-pound draws. Which factor is more important to you?

#3 PSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow

Features of the PSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow:

  • Draw weight: 50 lbs
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs
  • Velocity: 215 FPS
  • Integrated, simple cocking mechanism
  • Auto safety lock & anti-dry Fire trigger
  • Finger guard

PSE is a well-established manufacturer of high-end compound bows and full-size crossbows. It’s no surprise to see them entering the handheld crossbow market. They have brought us a 50-pound draw bow that’s a lever cocking piece we would expect.

While similar in appearance to the above bows, there are a few major changes I do like. I’m a fan of the textured foregrip which mostly improves the leverage you’re able to get when loading the bow. I also like the string protectors on the tips of the bow arms. Considering that these hand crossbow strings tend not to last very long, any protection helps!

PSE included a vertical foregrip on this crossbow as well which I think is a big improvement over the traditional style grips on the other bows.

#4 Rogue River Tactical Pistol Crossbow

Features of the Rogue River Tactical Pistol Crossbow:

  • Self Cocking Mechanism
  • Easy to Re-cock and Load
  • 80-pound draw weight
  • 160 feet per second velocity
  • Solid metal frame
  • Includes 15 aluminum arrows w/ metal tips
  • Adjustable sight

This is yet another lever cocking hand crossbow, this time with an 80-pound draw weight again. It’s like the KingsArchery bow in that it features brass components which make it stand out aesthetically.

I like the thumb screws on the iron sights. These make it easier to adjust the bow and sight it in as you work with it to dial in the accuracy. Like most of the bows in this category there’s an automatic safety which immediately engages when the bow is loaded.

Essentially identical features to many other bows in this category may make it hard to determine exactly which is the best for you.

#5 Cobra Pistol Crossbow

Features of the Cobra Pistol Crossbow:

  • 80lbs 
  • 160 FPS
  • Self-cocking
  • Free pack of metal arrows
  • Plastic crossbow frame
  • 6.8″ power stroke

If you haven’t already decided that you’ve got enough options in the pistol crossbow arena, we’re going to give you one more to mull over. If it’s not the most affordable bow on our list, then it’s close to it!

It also comes with 15 arrows, which is the second-best deal we’ve got. PLUS, it’s an 80-pound lever cocking model which is arguably the most effective type of mini crossbow. Overall, I think the sights could be improved, but they’re simple iron sights with a minimal amount of adjustability.

Seen here with an optional Red Dot RD30 Rifle Scope in Matte Black:

Crossbow Cobra 80LB 165fps pistol-Hawke Red Dot

If you’re looking for an 80-pound model with a decent number of darts to get you started, this might be a good contender for you.

Pistol Crossbows Comparison Table

  Draw Weight (lbs)Self-Cocking (Y/N)Vertical ForegripRating
Prophecy Pistol Crossbow80 lbsYESNO4.1 / 5
Kings Archery Pistol Crossbow80 lbsYESNO4.0 / 5
PSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow50 lbsNOYES4.2 / 5
Rogue River Tactical Pistol Crossbow80 lbsYESNO3.4 / 5
Cobra Pistol Crossbow80 lbs YESNO3.9 / 5

Mini Crossbow Reviews

Technically speaking, mini-crossbows seem to live in a niche of their own. These crossbows usually have a lower draw weight and a simple pull loading method.

#1 ACE Mini Crossbow

Features of the ACE Mini Crossbow:

  • 80 lb. draw weight
  • ABS plastic and fiberglass bow
  • Adjustable sights
  • Includes 5 fiberglass arrows with field tips, bowstring and target
  • Shoots 160 FPS up to 40 yards.
  • 1.05 lbs

If you’re looking for something a bit smaller than our pistol crossbows listed above, this is your jam. Unfortunately, it’s a straight draw and you won’t get the mechanical advantage of the self-cocking pistol crossbows above.

If you struggle with lower hand strength or arthritis you may honestly want to avoid this type of draw method. With this method, you must be capable of directly pulling all 80 pounds of force to cock the bow.

With that one drawback, almost everything else is reminiscent of the pistol crossbows above. The iron sights are easily adjustable with thumb screws.

Like other bows in the category, it self-engages the safety when it’s loaded. This is important because you don’t want a sharp plastic dart firing off unintentionally.

#2 Snake Eye Tactical Mini Crossbow

Features of the ACE Mini Crossbow:

  • 50lb draw weight
  • 150 feet per second velocity
  • Pistol grip handle
  • Includes 15 arrows

With a moderate 50-pound draw, this pistol crossbow somehow manages to pack a whopping 150 feet per second bolt speed. Like most mini crossbows it is a direct draw system but the lower draw weight makes it much more reasonable to draw than the 80-pound models.

I would like to have seen Snake Eye include a more pronounced fore grip. Why? Because it’s easy and painful to catch a finger in the bow string. Never wrap your hand around the bow! That string can do serious or permanent damage if it contacts flesh.

Is mini-crossbow would make a good choice for kids or those with hand problems due to its lower overall draw weight and direct draw method.

#3 Tactical Crusader Mini Crossbow

Features of the Tactical Crusader Mini Crossbow:

  • 50 lb. draw weight
  • plastic body
  • replacement bowstrings available
  • includes 4 arrows
  • includes target

Customers seem to review this mini-crossbow as moderate at best. Some come right out of the box with frayed strings, others seem not to last very long in use. It’s no surprise with pistol crossbows or mini-crossbows that the strings must be replaced. Darts get lost and break easily.

It is, however, the absolute least expensive mini-crossbow on our list today. For that reason, we might expect that quality isn’t quite as tight as, say, the Prophecy self-loader at the top of our review list.

Make no mistake, this is not a toy! It will still do damage if used improperly and just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for the kids. This mini-crossbow has the potential to deal out some damage for target practice or varmints.

How to Choose the Best Pistol Crossbow for You

  1. What Will You Use It For?
  2. Draw Weight
  3. Size
  4. Draw Method
  5. Attachments
  6. Conclusion

Best Mini CrossbowThere’s something impressive about the power of a crossbow. In fact, they changed the course and tactics of warfare during their advent. Today the crossbow remains a staple of hunting. And somewhere along the lines hand crossbows and mini crossbows snuck into the imagination of progressive users.

What if we could pack the power of a crossbow down into a miniature version, still powerful enough to deal serious damage for sport or hunting?

Popularized by fantasy novels and TV shows, sneaky characters seem to do their dirty work with these fun-sized weapons. So how do you find a pistol crossbow that you can use to practice your aim? I’m going to help you decide.

There are only two real uses for a pistol crossbow if you’re going to be an upstanding citizen about it. First, you could use it just for fun and target practice. Second, you could use it for hunting small game. We urge against dressing up like a ninja and fighting crime with your new hand crossbow.

What Will You Use It For?

Pistol crossbows come in many weights and designs. They’re all made for a different purpose! We’ll talk more about the details, but first you need to think about why you want this hand crossbow.

Will you use it just for target practice? Is budget a big concern, or are you willing to pay more for improved accuracy?

If you’re going to try to hunt with it, what type of game will you try to kill? To learn more about bowhunting (including pistol crossbow hunting) and to stay up on changing trends and regulations see these resources:  Horizontal Bowhunter Magazine and North American Crossbow Federation.

Maybe you want a hand crossbow so that you can use to get started in competitive crossbow shooting, and you”re looking for the cheapest pistol crossbow to get started. For information about competitive crossbow shooting and events see: USA Crossbow, Inc.

Decide the purpose of your purchase first!

Draw Weight

Like any bow, pistol crossbows and mini crossbows are mainly categorized by their draw weight. That is, how many pounds of force does it take to pull the string back?

For a traditional bow like a longbow or a recurve a standard draw weight might be between 40 – 80 pounds today. Full size crossbows can draw as much as 300+ pounds!

Pistol crossbows typically range from about 50 – 100 pounds of draw weight. Most pistol crossbows tent to hover around the 80 pounds mark. This draw weight, depending on many factors, can usually result in a bolt speed of 100 – 200+ fps.


Don’t be fooled – size does matter when it comes to hand crossbows. Essentially the whole point of a pistol crossbow is mobility and, at a nefarious level, concealment. Their lighter weight makes them easier to carry over longer distances, through thick brush, or in tight confines. Compared to a full-size crossbow, they’re less accurate and produce less power but they make up for that in their size advantages.

Most pistol crossbows today offer very little appreciable size differences. By and large, they’re all within a pretty narrow range of size variance. If size is critical to you, however, be sure to consider this factor before making an order.

Draw Method

Traditionally there were several ways to draw a crossbow. Cranks, levers, and hooks have all been common options over the years of crossbow evolution. Today’s pistol crossbows pretty much rely on just two variations of drawing the string and loading the bow.

Popular among lower draw weight bows is the direct draw method. These “mini crossbows” use a direct draw because the draw weight is low enough that no mechanical advantage (leverage) is required. They typically have a simple handle on the back of the crossbow that’s pulled straight back to draw the string.

Nearly exclusively among pistol crossbows is the lever cocking method. Usually integrated directly into the back of the bow is an elegantly hidden lever. These bows are “break action” and depressing a lock switch allows you to use the lever to draw the bow string back. This creates a marginal amount of mechanical advantage (think back to physics class) to help when drawing the string.


Because accessorizing is as popular for adults with ranged weapons as it is for children with Barbie dolls, we must address this major concern. Attachments for modern ranged weapons typically mount to a standardized system known as a picatinny rail. To attach any fancy tactical gear to your pistol crossbow, you’ll need a picatinny rail.

A few pistol crossbows come with pre-mounted picatinny rails. If you’re interested in putting a red dot sight, flashlight, or other neat looking gadget on your bow you’ll need to make sure you purchase a bow with this capability!


Whether you’re looking for a hunting weapon for the varmints on your bird feeder or you just want to practice, there’s a pistol crossbow or mini-crossbow waiting for you. While these make great introductions to shooting for kids, they’re not to be mistaken for toys.

Even for the experienced shooter, a bow like the Prophecy 80-pound has enough accuracy and speed to be a viable tool! Remember, before you make a purchasing decision, be sure to decide on your personal needs.

You might also be interested in these related review articles:



Also see: The Family Guide To Air Gun Shooting And Safety.

YouTube Video Review – Pistol Crossbows

Best Pistol Crossbow [2018]

How We Researched

To come up with the top pistol crossbows, we researched a variety of sources for reviews such as REI, Backcountry, Moosejaw, EVO along with our own personal experience.

We also consulted online magazines for product research and reviews to get as much unbiased information as we could. To help weed out fake reviews we used to make sure we only looked at genuine reviews.

With so much quality gear available, we had to narrow it down based on what we felt were the best options were for the price. The author, Richard Moore is an avid hunter and outdoorsman. 

To help narrow down the selection he used his personal experience along with recommendations from fellow hunters and hunting outfitters.

After extensive research, we came up with our list to help you choose the right one for you.



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Casey Fiedler

Casey is a qualified ski instructor, naturalist educator, hunter, and avid outdoorsman based in Mason, Michigan. He spends much of his time in the wilderness where he tests outdoor gear supplied to him by companies such as Patagonia, Smith Optics, and Wolverine. Casey has guided backpackers, kayakers, and skiers on backcountry trips all around the US. He taught Alpine skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah for several seasons before transitioning into freelance writing. When he is not working, Casey enjoys fishing and participating in adventure and orienteering races.
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