If you have thoughts on getting a crossbow this year, you should read on to get the inside scoop! It is safe to say that the crossbow has improved more in the last two decades that in the past. New additions to strings, limb materials, arrows, sights and stock designs have made the modern crossbow easier to handle, more precise and increasingly effective in the field. Regardless, it is still considered to be a short-range hunting peripheral with a max range of 40 yards for a deer-size game.
The main goal of owning this kind of weapon is that it allows you to deliver extremely accurate shots at close range. In fact, hunters who utilize a compound model can get their second shots much faster than a normal crossbowman; allowing seasoned hunters to consistently bag more game. However, there are certain concerns when it comes to using a crossbow. These include the noise created when it is shot, and some people found it cumbersome to carry around as it outweighs a bow.
#1 Why Should You Consider a Crossbow?
With some of the small disadvantages stated above, why should you still use one? Here’s why. Crossbows are considered as the best hunting tools and have taken all of the world’s game, including the ones from Africa. High precision also contributes to this weapon’s appeal, perfect for those who leave nothing to chance.
Furthermore, bench rest-type shooters often celebrate its ability to perform well shot after shot in nearly the same hole from a distance of about 40 yards. Individuals who have suffered from a back injury or lack the arm strength and are unable to draw a regular bow can still know how it’s like to experience the thrill of archery.
#2 What Kind of Use Will it Gets?
It is pertinent that you identify the primary use of your crossbow before actually buying it. Some models can be bought for target practice, big or small game hunting or simply just for recreational purposes. Weight and size may not be as important if you plan to use a crossbow for target practice (in many cases, it will be stationary). If you plan to use one for serious game hunting, you will need a high-quality model, especially if you are hiking through the woods.
#3 Buy with Confidence
When it comes down to it, you should buy like a smart shopper as crossbow purchases can be very pricey. You should research the models you’re considering and its manufacturer well to ensure a positive and safe buying experience. Today, you can buy your crossbows online through platforms such Amazon or eBay. When you buy from either platform, you should carefully read through all the details in the particular listing too.
#4 Crossbow Reviews & Buying Guide
To help you make the best possible choice, here are our top picks models by price:
#1 Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit
If you have recently discovered your passion for hunting or target practice, then the Arrow Precision Inferno Fury crossbow might be the right weapon for you. Featuring 175 pounds of draw weight and a velocity of 235 FPS, this is an affordable kit designed for both right and left-handed operation. Including a quick detach quiver and a padded shoulder sling, the Inferno Fury is a balanced, well-rounded weapon available to those on a tight budget.
Accuracy and Power
Most customers stated that the Inferno Fury performs very well and is definitely an accurate weapon for short range. In other words, as long as you don’t plan to do some long-range shooting, meaning 40 yards or more, the crossbow delivers excellent accuracy. The accuracy is also guaranteed by the 3-dot sight scope. While more experienced customers stated that the scope is of a decent enough quality, they also mentioned that if you’re serious about live game, then you might want to replace it with a superior model.
The Inferno Fury is powerful enough to ensure the utmost fun experience for target practice and even some live game. However, if you intend to hunt anything larger than deer, then this should not be your weapon of choice, particularly given its slow shooting speed. Then again, because the crossbow is not powerful enough, it also means that beginners will have no trouble handling it properly. Given the Inferno Fury’s price range, the power is more than you bargained for.
Considering its price range, the Inferno Fury is a surprisingly well-designed crossbow. In fact, most customers have pointed out that this is the best crossbow you can get in terms of durability, quality and safety for those on a tight budget. The key features of the Inferno Fury include:
- A recurve lightweight crossbow of less than 5 pounds
- The track and barrel are made from aluminum, while the limbs are made of fiberglass
- At a 31 inch length, this is one of the smallest crossbows available on the market
- Includes safety mechanisms that are designed to be operated by right and left-handed users
- The foregrip is comfortable and low enough to permit you to keep your fingers away from the flight rail
- Comes with a secure rear stock that ensures a quick recoil dispense
- A velocity of 235 feet per seconds
- It’s capable of yielding 175 pounds draw weight
- It includes a premium 3-dot sight scope
- The package includes a comfy shoulder sling, detachable quiver and four fiberglass arrows
Although this model isn’t as fast as the popular Barnett Jackal, it does come with the same draw weight and speed than the similarly-priced SA Sports Fever. As previously mentioned, the Inferno Fury comes with a premium 3-dot sight scope for enhanced accuracy. Take note that these scopes usually operate on batteries, which are included in the packaging. Depending on how often you will use the weapon and scope, you should expect the battery to last for at least several months.
Within the kit, you should also expect to find four 16-inch fiberglass arrows, which is quite a saving given the prices of projectiles nowadays. While useful for a beginner, users have pointed out that this type of arrows are actually quite fragile and can splinter very easily when shooting them into a hard surface from a close distance. Some users have even suggested replacing the provided arrows with 20-inch carbon projectiles.
Although it includes a rope cocking mechanism, the Inferno Fury can also be cocked manually using the stirrup and your hands. Regardless of whether you prefer to cock your crossbow manually or with the roping device, the process is smooth and you won’t experience problems with the latch holding the string in place.
Assembly and Parts
Because the manual contains detailed information on assembling and there are actually few parts to account for, putting together the Inferno Fury is a simple process. In fact, the manual is designed as an instruction booklet that includes both a step-by-step guide and pictures. Therefore, if you’re having trouble understanding an assembly step, consult the pictures.
To assemble the Inferno Fury, you have to insert the plastic piece to the backside of the bow, at the area where the crossbow touches the stock. Make sure that the plastic lip goes at the bottom, meaning where the crossbow rests inside the stock. The steel plate has the role of pinching the bow in place, but be careful when you fasten the setscrew inside the dimple, as the bow is not exactly straight.
Take note that you will have to utilize two additional screws to attach the part that holds the arrow quiver. However, this is the only time when you will have to screw in fasteners, as the quiver can be attached and detached at any time without having to manipulate any screws. Mount the sight scope on the Inferno Fury and it’ll be ready to use.
As far as the packaging is concerned, there have not been any complaints regarding missing parts. In addition to the crossbow parts – the stock, the actual bow and the string – you should expect to find a rope cocking mechanism, the shoulder sling, regular open/iron sight, a 3-dot sight with batteries, the quiver, wax for string, an extra string, assembly hardware and the instruction manual.
As many veteran hunters have pointed out, the Inferno Fury is mostly adequate for deer hunting and target practice. In all fairness, given the substantial drop in projective speed when shooting at distance, it’s understandable why the crossbow is unpractical for larger live game.
Take note that the speed drop affects the punch power (the kinetic energy) of the arrow at distance. Therefore, even if you attempt to adjust the mount to compensate for the speed drop, it would not amount to anything. The arrow is unlikely to penetrate deep enough into the animal, so you will wound it at best.
Although the Inferno Fury is not powerful enough for larger live game, it is an overall excellent crossbow for beginners and those who do not want to overspend. Given its price range, performance, accuracy and extra parts, the bow is a good bang for the buck.
#2 Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Premium Crossbow Package
With the deer season right around the corner, you might be shopping around for an efficient and powerful crossbow to rely on during your next hunting trip. The Wicked Ridge Warrior by TenPoint is a mid-range model that, while it doesn’t yield the kinetic energy of top Barnett models, such as the Ghost 410 and the Buck Commander, is certainly powerful enough to meet your hunting goals.
Accuracy and Power
With a velocity of 300 FPS and a kinetic energy of 84 feet-lbs, the Warrior definitely packs some power. While you may not be able to use it to take down larger game, the crossbow performs fairly well for hunting deer and elk. In addition to the above decent velocity, customers report that this particular model is quite silent and hence, ideal for enclosed areas.
When you first test the Warrior for accuracy, you will be pleasantly surprised by the fact that it comes sighted in right out of the box. Indeed, according to one customer, he was able to hit 1/2 inch groupings from 25 yards and afterwards 1 inch groupings from 45 yards with extreme precision and without having to perform adjustments to the scope.
The same user reported that the crossbow was able to maintain the accuracy and shoot consistently even when he fired at 2 inch groupings from 100 yards away. On a side note, for the latter feat he had to use the lower line of the scope to correct the elevation. As far as the hunting accuracy is concerned, a user mentioned that he was able to fire an arrow right through a deer from 45 yards away and from a quartering angle.
One of the Warrior’s best features is definitely its Dry Fire Inhibitor: a system that prevents you from shooting the bow when it’s cocked, unless the projectile is properly seated in the flight rail. As some advanced users put it, the anti dry fire mechanisms are handy and nice, and this is by far the most effective system they came across so far.
A further noteworthy feature is the PowerTouch trigger, which incorporates the technology that made TenPoint famous in the first place. The trigger is smooth and consistent, whereas the pull is a light 3.5 pounds.
In case you have experience with the Wicked Ridge series, then you probably know that the riser and limbs are made of aluminum. For the Warrior however, TenPoint decided to use machined aluminum to grant the weapon extra durability. This model also uses a split limb design, a feature that helps disperse the pulling weight.
The other features that recommend the Wicked Ridge Warrior as an excellent weapon for hunting deer and elk include:
- A draw weight of 175 pounds
- A velocity of 300 FPS
- A power stroke of 12.25 inch
- It yields 84 feet-lbs of kinetic energy
- Incorporates precision CNC machined aluminum wheels, riser and limbs
- Features the TenPoint patented DFI, which is one of the safest anti dry fire systems on the market
- Includes a PowerTouch trigger system
- Comes with the innovative Safety Engineered Futuristic fore-grip
- The premium pack also includes a multi line scope, 3 arrows and a sling
Strangely enough, TenPoint didn’t include any sort of cocking aid, even though the crossbow has a draw weight of 175 pounds. However, they do provide the Accu-52 rope aid as an optional purchase with the package kit. It is highly recommended to invest in the rope cocking device, as pulling 175 pounds is quite difficult, regardless of your physical condition and strength.
The premium model is shipped with a 3X multi line scope that comes sighted in right from the box. According to customers, the scope lacks the illuminated reticle, an aspect that renders the crossbow useless in poor lighting conditions. Despite the drawback, users state the scope will serve you well if you do most of your deer hunting in broad daylight.
The Wicked Ridge Warrior package kit includes 3 20 inch projectiles made of aluminum. Unfortunately, the crossbow is too powerful for aluminum arrows, so you’re very likely to split and damage them very quickly. For hunting purposes, advanced users recommend 20 inch carbon arrows with a 425 grain density.
Assembly and Parts
Assembling this particular model is quick and painless, particularly if you follow the step-by-step guide provided in the instruction’s manual. Simply attach the prod onto the riser, connect the foot stirrup, mount the scope and the crossbow is ready to be sighted in. As many customers point out, putting the Warrior together from start to finish doesn’t take more than 20 minutes, if you have some experience with crossbows.
In spite of the fact that there haven’t been any complaints regarding missing parts from the kit, users feel that the Ridge Warrior package should have included a rope cocking device. Considering that the draw weight of the bow is of 175 pounds, it’s understandable why a rope aid is mandatory with this model. But more on that a bit later!
As mentioned before, this model’s major setback is that the package kit doesn’t include any sort of cocking aid, a device that many customers see as a mandatory standard accessory for a crossbow with 175 pounds of draw weight. Users are also bothered that the manufacturer, TenPoint, has included the Accu-52 rope cocking system as an optional and rather pricy purchase. Even though it’s not the most affordable rope aid on the market, experienced hunters recommend you also invest in the Accu-52, as it adds convenience during your hunting trips.
Despite the fact that you have to purchase the cocking aid separately, the Ridge Warrior is considered an overall efficient and reliable weapon for taking down deer and elk. Highly affordable, this the Wicked Ridge Warrior comes in a lightweight design, is durable, shoots accurately and includes numerous useful safety features. All in all, it’s a great crossbow within this price range.
#3 Barnett Zombie 350 CRT Crossbow
Often called the black horse of the Barnett family, the Zombie provides a good performance, one which is even similar together with the lineup crossbows such as the Ghost 350 and Ghost 410. To make things even better, not only does the crossbow come with the top quality accessories and features of the higher end Barnett models, but it is available at a significantly lower price.
Accuracy and Power
Capable of hurling 400 grain projectiles at the impressive speed of 350 FPS and yielding 109 feet-lbs of kinetic energy, although not as fast as the similarly-priced Barnett Predator, the Zombie is definitely a powerful weapon. Numerous users with plenty of hunting experience stated that the crossbow outperforms the models in its price range and above. In fact, one customer reported that the Zombie offered him an unexpected performance, meaning the projectile over-penetrated the target when he fired from a distance of over 60 yards away.
What appeals most to the experienced users is the speed at which the arrow departs once fired, an aspect that is surely going to be very beneficial when you’re in a very tense hunting situation and you need to act fast before your target detects you. In case you fail your first shot, you’ll be glad to know that even though it’s one of the most powerful models on the market, the Zombie is surprisingly quiet, thus you might get a change of firing a second shot.
As far as the accuracy is concerned, experienced archers claim that you can only see the true precision of the Zombie after sighting it properly. Customers report that they were able to aim at dime-sized groupings with excellent accuracy from 30 yards away. A user mentioned that he even managed to precisely hit the center of 2 1/2 inch groupings from a distance of 50 yards.
Design wise, the Zombie is relatively similar to the Ghost 350. To put it simply, the crossbow features the standard quad limb design that permits a large amount of tension to be delivered to the limbs. The design also allows for an equally large amount of kinetic energy to be transferred to the arrows and subsequently, to your target.
In addition, because it features Barnett’s patented CRT technology, this model feels extremely balanced, while the weight is distributed from front end of the bow to the back of the stock. Speaking of weight, the Zombie is one of the lightest weapon ever manufactured by Barnett, an element that contributes to its impressive accuracy.
The other features that recommend this model as the weapon of choice for any legal game in North America include:
- A draw weight of 175 pounds
- A velocity of 350 FPS
- A power stroke of 12 inches
- The Zombie is capable of 116 feet-lbs of kinetic energy
- It is a light weapon, weighing around 7.8 pounds
- It incorporates Barnett’s proprietary Carbon Riser Technology
- It features the famous metal injection molded trigger system that accounts for a smooth 3.5 pounds pull
- The package includes a rope cocking aid
- You can find a detachable quiver and three 20 inch arrows within the package
- The kit comes with a 4 x 32 mm illuminated scope
Given its 175 pounds of draw weight, you will want to cock the Zombie with the rope mechanism device you find inside the box. Most users stated that they are satisfied with the rope device, but if you find cocking the crossbow difficult with this aid, then you can invest in a crank mechanism. Even though the crank aid is not included in the standard package, the Zombie’s design permits you to attach the mechanism seamlessly.
The 4 x 32 mm illuminated scope is a basic green/red model and features five different brightness settings you can switch between, according to the lighting conditions in the field. While many archers suggest this is an overall decent model, experienced hunters recommend you invest in a better quality scope in the future.
The three 20 inch carbon projectiles of 400 grain density that come with the Zombie are more than qualified to shoot from this weapon. Take note that you should only use carbon bolts with this bow, as the aluminum counterparts are likely to bend and split at this velocity.
Assembly and Parts
For most customers, putting together the Zombie was a seamlessly quick task that didn’t take longer than 10 minutes. The assembly entails attaching the prod to the riser and then mounting the scope. Because the foot stirrup is already connected to the prod, even people who didn’t operate a crossbow before can set up the Zombie fast and painlessly. What is more, customers reported that sighting the scope was also easy and only required a few shots.
Take note that there have been some complaints regarding missing parts from the package. After receiving the kit, one customer reported that the package was missing the instructions and some pieces required for the assembly. The user only realized that there were missing pieces after verifying what the package contained online.
The Zombie has two tactical rails – one at the top and one at the bottom front – that permit you to attach all sorts of accessories. Even though these rails will surely come in handy while you’re out in the field, a few customers reported that sometimes they become loose after continued firing. This is not a fatal flaw and frankly, it’s not that uncommon with high power bows such as the Zombie. However, because loose pieces can affect the overall performance of the crossbow, it is highly recommended to carry a wrench with you and make the adjustments as necessary.
When it comes to crossbows, Barnett is the undisputed leader in the industry and the Zombie is yet another example of why that is. By far one of the lightest crossbows ever designed by this manufacturer, it is capable of shooting arrows at a velocity of 350 FPS and 116 feet-lbs of kinetic energy. By purchasing the Zombie, you will enjoy an extremely powerful weapon capable of taking down the biggest grizzly bear, a Cape buffalo and any other large game that is legal to hunt in your state.
#4 Excalibur Ibex SMF Crossbow Kit
Weighing less than 6 lbs and offered in a compact and light design, the Excalibur Ibex SMF is more than capable of providing an energy punch and taking down little to medium-sized reside match. By investing in this crossbow, not only will you get the Excalibur’s trademark accuracy, but you will also be able to benefit from this model’s high usability, reduced recoil and smooth release.
Accuracy and Power
With a velocity is 305 FPS, the Excalibur Ibex SMF is not as fast as the similarly-priced Barnett Buck Commander. In fact, we were disappointed by this model’s speed, specially considering that it’s not a cheap crossbow.
According to users, as long as you employ the bolts included in the kit – or similar arrows made of carbon – you can be certain the bow can take down a buck or an elk from a distance of 40 yards away. Moreover, because the point blank kinetic energy is of 71 feet-lbs, you should expect your projectiles to fully pass through your target and shatter the ribs of your game.
Customers underlined that the scope comes already sighted-in right out of the box, so beginners will be able to achieve very tight groupings from 40 and even 50 yards away with a bit of practice. Advanced users do not recommend you fire the Ibex from a distance of less than 10 yards, as you are very likely to split and damage the bolts.
Once sighted, the scope will perform consistently even after heavy use. The lightweight frame also contributes to the enhanced accuracy of the Ibex. The design of the frame doesn’t feature the standard downward-lean of the front end, as you normally see on most recurve crossbows. In conclusion, this model is extremely accurate and requires occasional minor adjustments for windage and elevation.
In the field, the Excalibur Ibex has proved to be an excellent weapon, one that doesn’t become a burden while moving and that sits comfortably on the archer’s lap. Users also mentioned that this model is quick to the shoulder and that it was always adequately aligned for immediate focus through the scope. This is mostly due to the Ibex’s lightweight and evenly balanced design.
Even though the trigger doesn’t feel right at first, particularly if you’re a handgun or rifle shooter, most archers report that you’ll get used to the pull after around 20 or 30 shots. The trigger pressure is of 3.1 pounds, a value that some hunters could consider relatively low for a crossbow. However, the Ibex compensated with the impressive travel distance and the smooth trigger action.
The other features the Ibex packs include:
- A draw weight of 175 pounds
- A velocity of 305 FPS
- A power stroke of 14.5 inches
- Generates a kinetic energy of roughly 71 feet-lbs
- The Ibex has a compact and light design, weighing less than 7 pounds
- The package includes a rope cocking aid, reducing the draw to almost 90 pounds
- The kit contains a detachable quiver that can hold 4 bolts
- You will receive 4 Firebolt arrows along with the weapon
- It’s shipped with a quality multi reticle scope
Given its 175 draw weight, using the rope aid to cock the crossbow is highly recommended, especially during your hunting trips. To get the ideal shooting accuracy from this model, make sure to draw the string evenly on both sides of the stock. This model doesn’t allow you to attach a crank cocking device.
The package comes with a 4 x 32 multi reticle scope that is already sighted for 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. In addition to being shipped already sighted in out of the box, the scope holds zero very well, only requiring some minimal adjustments from time to time. A few users reported some blurring around the scope’s edges, an element that slightly reduces the field of view. Nevertheless, the scope is of good quality and provides excellent illumination even in poor-light conditions.
The 20 inch carbon arrows available with the package are overall durable and won’t disappoint, unless you’re firing from a distance of less than 10 yards.
Assembly and Parts
Since the Ibex SMF is a recurve bow, putting it together is essentially a matter of attaching the quiver, riser, scope and foot stirrup with the fasteners included in the package. While the process might seem slightly complicated if you’re a first-time user, rest assured that the pictures and instructions provided in the user’s manual will make the assembly a breeze. Also it’s worth noting that there haven’t been any complaints regarding missing pieces and you should expect to find all parts of the hardware and installation tools within the kit.
As previously mentioned, you should expect to find the scope sighted in right out of the box. This wasn’t the case for one customer who stated that the groupings were horrible, even after he disassembled and re-assembled the scope. Take note that the aforementioned customer pointed out that even though this was his first time shooting a crossbow, he has plenty of experience with firearms. According to other users, the poor groupings were most likely due to a defective scope. In case you experience the same issue, then it is highly advisable to contact the manufacturer. Excalibur has an excellent customer service and will be more than willing to repair or send you a new scope.
Another noteworthy drawback is that the Ibex doesn’t feature any sort of anti dry fire mechanism. Therefore, you will have to remember to move the safety in the ‘on’ position immediately after you cock the crossbow. Keep in mind that if you accidentally dry fire, then not only do you stand to damage the crossbow, but you will also void the warranty.
Overall A Great Model
All in all, the Excalibur Ibex SMF is a wonderful model and, given its price range, it can be considered a true value on the crossbow market. Easy to maneuver from a standpoint or a tree, it delivers optimal performance and is reliable for taking down small to medium-sized game.
All in all, crossbows are becoming popular these days in both recreational and hunting activities. With a variety of models available, you are sure to get the perfect weapon that suits all your needs. Be sure to get all needed accessories with your initial purchase, as separate accessories may not be compatible with your crossbow several years down the road.
#5 Features to Consider
- Speed: If you want something that’s fast and can deliver a powerful shot, you should go for a compound model. Recurve crossbows are not suited for this purpose as their design causes them to store less energy. The bolt determines the speed, so ensure that you choose the correct size and strength bolts that coincides with your weapon, because if you choose the wrong bolt, it may fire erratically. On the other hand, you may end up damaging it if you use a bolt that is too light for a strong crossbow.
- Cocking aids: To improve the accuracy of the shot, it is important that you cock your crossbow correctly. Cocking by hand can be difficult, especially for those who lack the strength to do so efficiently. Cocking aids can come in the form of elastic straps or cranks. An example would be a rope cocking device, and this is in fact one of the most popular method to cock a crossbow. Being easy to use and inexpensive, it is perfect when it comes to target practice.
- Scopes: Choosing the right scope can put you at an advantage and your accuracy for every shot greatly increases. There are four main types of scopes and they include optical, multi-reticle, single and multi-red dots. Optical scopes are scopes that have a cross hatch when you look through it.