The USJ's Ultimate Reviews and Guides
There are so many crossbows on the market, it is not easy to find a bow that suits you. If you don’t do in-depth research, you’re going to waste a lot of time and money. But don’t worry, we’ve spent dozens of days doing this research work for you, you just need to read our article to pick the best crossbow.
If you’re looking for the best crossbow for hunting, like deer hunting, turkey hunting, or just for self-defense, you’ve come to the right place. If you are not sure what to look for, our crossbow reviews and buying guide will give you some great information. As you know, there are a lot of crossbow models available on the market, and it’s easy to get confused with all the options and features. But don’t worry about this matter.
Now, I am going to review these best crossbows for the money on the market in 2023. I hope this article will help you pick the right crossbow and help you know what factors to consider when buying a crossbow and how to safely cock and fire a crossbow. Here is a list of some top-rated crossbows for hunting, fishing, target shooting, home defense, etc.
Best Crossbow For Hunting
- Excalibur Micro MAG 340
- Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR
- Wicked Ridge RDX 400
- CenterPoint Tyro 4X Recurve Crossbow
- BearX Intense Ready to Shoot
- BARNETT Whitetail Hunter II
- KILLER INSTINCT Boss 405
- Excalibur GRZ2 Crossbow
- Centerpoint Sniper 370
- Bear X Intense CD
- EXCALIBUR CROSSBOW Matrix Bulldog 400
Best Crossbow For Self Defense
Hunting is a growing sport all over the world. It is a tradition to go and hunt for turkeys, hogs, elk, deer, bears, moose, and other small game and big game. There are many different types of hunting, such as bow hunting, crossbow hunting, gun hunting, and more. Now we are going to discuss some of the best crossbows for deer hunting, turkey hunting, and self-defense.
You know the crossbow is a very powerful weapon. There are many factors to consider when buying a crossbow for deer hunting. Some factors to consider include price, your budget, your hunting style, what you should be using it for, where you will hunt, and your skill level. To make it easier for choosing a crossbow and saving your money and time, so read this article carefully.
Best Crossbow Reviews in 2023
Excalibur Micro MAG 340
The Excalibur Micro MAG 340 Crossbow is the best budget crossbow on the market! It is very easy to use and it comes at an excellent price. You can shoot arrows up to 340 FPS! It’s good for buck hunting.
- Fixed power scope.
- Rope-cocking aid.
- 5.5 pounds.
- Speeds up to 340 FPS.
Excalibur Micro MAG 340 crossbow is lighter, stronger, and more durable than the original polymer stock. It is made from high-quality materials and is laced with an industrial-grade elastic band for a perfect fit and snug fit.
This crossbow has a draw weight of 270 lbs, fixed power scope, 1 x 1 x 1 Inch, 5.5 Pounds and speeds up to 340 fps. This is my favorite crossbow for hunting deer.
- Excalibur Micro Mag 340 is very quiet and easy to set up.
- It is very accurate so you hunt deer without missing your target.
- This crossbow has another advantage is anti-dry fire protection.
- This crossbow has a fixed scope that’s you don’t buy any extra.
- This is a simple design crossbow but lightweight.
Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR
This Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR crossbow package is a great option for those looking to get into crossbows for turkey hunting and are on a limited budget. The Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow is a simple, user-friendly bow that is easy to set up and start hunting with right out of the box.
- The draw weight is 165 lbs.
- Dimensions: 34.875″ L x 20.125″ W.
- Anti-dry fire trigger.
- Speeds up to 375 FPS.
Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow is a beauty to behold. You’ll be proud to show it off to friends and family, and you will be proud to hunt with it. This beauty is ideally suited for intermediate to advanced crossbow enthusiasts. It has a speed of 375 feet per second and a draw weight of 165 lbs. The dimensions are 34.875″ L x 20.125″ W. Another advantage is that it has anti-dry frier trigger protection technology. This is the awesome feather of the crossbow.
- Very accurate.
- Totally noise-free.
- It is very lightweight and easy to use.
- Need improvement on the crossbow quiver mount.
Wicked Ridge RDX 400
Experience the thrill of bowhunting in a new way with Wicked Ridge’s RDX 400 crossbow. The RDX 400 crossbow is the most powerful crossbow on the market, using our patent-pending Cam Max technology for a revolutionary new level of accuracy, speed, and power. It would be an excellent crossbow for hunting. Now we are going to review this product in detail.
- The draw weight is 175 lbs.
- 15.5-Inch power stroke.
- Kinetic energy 140 ft-lb.
- Speeds up to 400 FPS.
Wicked Ridge RDX 400 is a high-end crossbow, perfect for any level of archery hunter, whether they are a beginner or experienced hunter. The crossbow features a 400-foot-per-second velocity, a 175-pound draw weight, and a 15.5-inch power stroke. It also has a kinetic energy of 140 ft-lb, width cocked 9″, and width undocked 15″, machined lightweight aluminum riser. This crossbow is extremely accurate to its target and easy to use.
- It includes patented reverse-draw technology.
- Wicked Ridge RDX 400 is best for its speed.
- It is solid and not too heavy everyone can use it easily.
- It’s well-balanced and super accurate.
- It is a little bit more expensive than other hunting crossbows.
- Its scope needs a little bit of upgrade.
CenterPoint Tyro 4x Recurve Crossbow
The CenterPoint Tyro 4x is an ideal choice for the bowhunter. It features a state-of-the-art design and patented technologies that make it a high-performance crossbow. In addition, this recurve crossbow is equipped with its scope, making it a convenient and accurate choice for beginners and professionals. Now, we are going to review this crossbow.
- The draw weight is 175 lbs.
- 29.50 x 12.00 x 3.75 Inches.
- Auto safety cocking mechanism.
- Speeds up to 245 FPS.
The CenterPoint 4X is the ultimate in ease of use, accuracy, and power. This crossbow features a host of technologies that are sure to impress any archer. It includes a high-performance 4x32mm CenterPoint scope, a patented anti-dry-fire mechanism for added safety, and a 175-pound draw weight. A lightweight aluminum riser, aluminum limbs, and a string suppressor make it easy to handle and perfectly balanced. This crossbow has an impressive speed of 245 FPS, which should give you the edge you need when hunting big game. In addition, it is backed by a three-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
- CenterPoint Tyro 4x is easy to shoulder for a variety of users.
- It has auto-safety cocking mechanism technology.
- It includes a 4x32mm scope for better accuracy in the field.
- It doesn’t have a silencing system.
- The CenterPoint Tyro 4x is an entry-level crossbow.
BearX Intense Ready to Shoot
BearX intense Ready to Shoot is a unique ergonomic design and also a lightweight crossbow. Therefore, it is the best crossbow used in self-defense. Now we are going to a detailed review of this crossbow.
- Speeds up to 400 FPS.
- The power stroke is 12.7″.
- Anti-dry fire mechanism.
- Includes 3 Bear X TrueX arrows, illuminated scope, and 4-arrow quiver.
The Bear Archery® Intense is designed for the crossbow hunter. Whether the mission is big game self-defense or to protect livestock, the BearX Intense is the perfect tool for the job.
The Intense is easy to cock, shoot and maneuver. The lightweight riser is built with Bear X’s revolutionary R.A.T.S. technology, so it delivers remarkable accuracy, speed, and ease of use, right out of the box. Its speed is 400 feet per second, 10″ wide cocked and 14″ wide uncocked and its power stroke is 12.7″ that’s amazing. For all these reasons, it’s one of the best self protector crossbows.
- It includes an anti-dry fire mechanism system.
- Very accurate.
- It is easy to sight and easy to set up.
- This crossbow is super fast.
- It has not included a suppressor for reducing noise.
BARNETT Whitetail Hunter II
I have been using Barnett crossbows for years and love them very much. The Whitetail Hunter II is a great bow, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good-quality crossbow that will be reliable and accurate. However, I recommend going with the Barnett crossbow if you’re on a budget. It is the best compound bow for self-defense. Now, we are going to write an in-depth review of this crossbow.
- The draw weight is 150 lbs.
- The kinetic energy is 103 ft-lb.
- Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) Trigger System
- Dimensions: 34.25″ L x 18.25″ W.
- Speeds up to 350 FPS.
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is arguably the most powerful crossbow on the market. It has an amazing draw weight of up to 150 lbs and an overall weight of 6.4 pounds. As an added feature, the Whitetail Hunter II crossbow has a trigger that self-adjusts back to the original trigger setting and speeds up to 350 FPS. In addition, Barnett Whitetail Hunter II includes a 4×32 scope, rope cocking device, lightweight quiver, two 20-inch arrows, and so on. For everything, it is the best crossbow for elk hunting or personal defense.
- Included trigger tech technology.
- Its accuracy is awesome.
- This crossbow is easy to assemble.
- A little bit upgrades the scope.
KILLER INSTINCT Boss 405
The Boss 405 is an excellent choice for hunters and self-protectors. For shooters who want a lightweight crossbow with low draw weight, this is good for them. It’s a great choice for kids with target shooting experience but who grew up with traditional bows. Now we are going to talk about this excellent crossbow.
- The draw weight is 220 lbs.
- A 4×32 mm scope.
- The power stroke is 13.25″.
- Speeds up to 405 FPS.
The new Killer Instinct Boss 405 crossbow is very popular with bow hunters. The new crossbow is designed to shoot arrows up to 405 FPS (feet per second) with similar power to the high-end, high-power competition crossbows. It has included 134 foot pounds on a hit, blending accuracy, and three premium carbon bolts. It’s the perfect weapon for archers who want to go beyond the basics and get back into the game. Killer Instinct Boss 405 is the best crossbow for self-defense. You can blindly buy this.
- Speeds up to 405 FPS and it is very powerful.
- It includes a suppressor that reduces noise.
- It also includes 3 premium-quality carbon crossbow bolts.
- The crossbow scope is of great quality and has good magnification.
- Its draw weight is a little bit high.
Excalibur GRZ2 Crossbow
Excalibur GRZ2 is a bolt-action crossbow that was built for use with heavy game hunting, including deer, bear, and big game. With this crossbow, no matter where you are, you can experience hunting and take a trophy home. If you are new to crossbow hunting, it is essential to choose the right crossbow model, since there are different types of crossbows that were designed for various applications. In the market, there are many brands and models which are available for you. But we recommend you purchase an Excalibur crossbow because of its good quality and reasonable price.
- Fixed power scope.
- 35.4 x 10.2 x 6.2 Inches.
- 5.5 Pounds.
- Speeds up to 305 FPS.
The Excalibur GRZ2 Crossbow is a great value in a crossbow with all the features of more expensive models. The GRZ2 has a sleek, classic design and is lightweight and compact. It offers you the best in performance and accuracy and is a great crossbow for hunting and target practice.
This crossbow has a draw weight of 200 lbs, fixed power scope, 35.4 x 10.2 x 6.2 inches, 5.5 Pounds and speeds up to 305 fps. This is the best crossbow for deer hunting under $500.
- It is a very lightweight crossbow and easy to use.
- This crossbow has a fixed scope which means you don’t buy any extra scope.
- The other advantage of this Excalibur crossbow is noise free.
- It is very accurate so you can easily hunt deer.
- For a smooth trigger pull, you can easily take a shoot.
- No anti-dry fire protection but this is not a big issue.
CenterPoint Sniper 370
The CenterPoint sniper 370 crossbow is a great tool to have in your home for hunting or self-defense. It’s compact, lightweight, and easy to use. This crossbow is currently one of the most powerful and top-rated crossbows representing the latest in technology. Today we are going to review this crossbow.
- The draw weight is 185 lbs.
- A 4×32 mm scope.
- The power stroke is 13.50″.
- Speeds up to 370 FPS.
The CenterPoint Sniper 370 is the best crossbow for beginners. And it is also best for target shooting. The crossbow features a compact and lightweight design that make it easy to carry around. It has included a 4×32 mm scope and rope cocker. Both left-handed and right-handed archers can use this crossbow. The draw weight is 185 lbs. Its power stroke is 13.50. The crossbow can be fired at a maximum speed of 370 feet per second.
- It has included an anti-dry fire trigger.
- This is a good crossbow for long-range shots.
- It shoots very fast and perfectly.
- Durable and lightweight.
- Its scope is a little bit low-quality.
Bear X Intense CD
The Bear X Intense CD Ready to Shoot is designed for the person that wants an easy-to-use, feature-rich, lightweight crossbow that is dependable and accurate. With its quiet noise level and smooth cocking the Bear X is an excellent choice for archery hunters and it is also the best crossbow for turkey hunting. In this blog post, we are going to discuss this hunting crossbow in-depth.
- The draw weight is 175 lbs.
- 10″ (cocked) / 14″ (uncocked).
- Auto anti-dry fire mechanism.
- Speeds up to 400 FPS.
The Bear X Intense CD Crossbow features a 12.7″ power stroke, 175-pound draw weight, ultra-accurate Picatinny scope, and 125-grain carbon bolts. The crossbow’s machined aluminum riser, molded camo grip, and windage/elevation-adjustable scope will help you get more of your shots on target every time. In addition, Bear X Intense CD has anti-dry frier mechanism system protection. This crossbow is 10″ wide cocked, and 14″ wide undocked. It would be excellent for wild turkey hunting. You can select this model for hunting blindly.
- It is heavily powerful.
- It includes an auto anti-dry fire mechanism.
- This crossbow’s arrow doesn’t drop till 40 yards out.
- This bow is easy to set up and shoots smoothly.
- This crossbow does not have Decocker.
Excalibur Matrix Bulldog 400
The Excalibur Matrix Bulldog 400 is one of the fastest, quietest, and most comfortable crossbows on the market today. It has a powerful speed of 400 FPS and a fantastic barebow feel. The Matrix Bulldog series features Matrix’s patented design which provides the most stable mechanical balance possible. This hunting crossbow comes in a sleek, military-style matte black finish with special laser engraving on the bowstring. Other features include a fast-access quiver, a redesigned cocking handle that is easier to grip than previous models, and a small accessory rail.
- Fixed power scope.
- 35 x 10 x 6 inches.
- 6.2 pounds.
- Speeds up to 400 FPS.
The Matrix Bulldog 400 is a new addition to Excalibur’s Bulldog line of crossbows. This crossbow has a 400 FPS muzzle velocity and it is whisper quiet. The Matrix Bulldog 400 has a 280″ draw weight and a 26″ shaft. It has a twin rail sight and a scope rail mount on the front. The Matrix Bulldog 400 comes with a cocking aid and a limb saver. It has a 2″ x 3″ cocking knob and an Integrated Speed Limiter. It also has a 46″ power stroke. And it has a rotary bolt lock with a long safety pin. It has a Climax thumb cocking device with a safety lock. It has a Hi-Viz Red Dot.
- Very accurate.
- This is a very lightweight crossbow and it is easy to use.
- This crossbow has a fixed scope which means you don’t need to buy any extra.
- Speeds up to 400 FPS.
- It is a little bit difficult for beginner bow hunters because of its advanced settings.
Best Pistol Crossbow Reviews of 2023
Cobra Pistol Crossbow
The Ace Martial Arts Supply Crossbow is an excellent piece of kit for a beginner or an expert alike. This is a crossbow that you can set up in minutes, and you don’t need any experience at all. It is lightweight, which means you can carry it around when you are out in the wild. It is also accurate, which you will want if you are really serious about getting the perfect shot. This is the best tactical crossbow for self-defense or turkey hunting. Here we are going to give a quick review of this product.
- The draw weight is 80 lbs.
- Includes a 4×20 adjustable scope, and 39 aluminum arrows.
- Fiberglass construction with adjustable sight.
- Speeds up to 165 FPS.
Want to know the best crossbow for the money on the market? Then you have to take a look at the Cobra System Self Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow. It is ideal for hunting and target shooting practice but is really just a lot of fun. I have to say this is a good crossbow for beginners and suitable for all people, such as women, youths, adults, and elders. With an 80-lb draw weight, it is easy to cock and is exceptionally accurate for a pistol crossbow. The smooth, quick and quiet cocking mechanism makes this an ideal hunting crossbow. It is easy to load and has a quick-detach lever to separate the cocking mechanism from the stock. It is fiberglass construction with adjustable sight. This crossbow also includes a 4×20 adjustable scope and 39 aluminum arrows. Although this is the cheapest crossbow, it’s so good for wild turkey killing.
- It has a fiberglass construction with adjustable sight.
- This crossbow is great for both hunting and target shooting.
- Includes a 4×20 scope, 39 aluminum arrows, and two 80 lbs strings.
- Its price is too much low, so everyone can buy this bow.
- This pistol crossbow shoots accurately and is easy to load with bolts.
- The pistol crossbow’s plastic grip is a little bit awful.
- Its frame is cast metal.
Prophecy Pistol Crossbow
The Southland Archery Supply 80-Pound Self-cocking Pistol Crossbow is a powerful crossbow that will give you the best hunting performance. It is very accurate and easy to use. From beginner to expert, everyone can use this masterpiece crossbow. This bow is the best mini crossbow for self-defense ever I have seen. So let’s go to know in detail about this crossbow.
- Fixed power scope.
- The draw weight is 80 lbs.
- Self-cocking design with adjustable sight.
- Speeds up to 160 FPS.
The Prophecy Pistol Crossbow is the most realistic-looking. It has an 80-pound draw weight. This crossbow is good for a right or left-hand person. This crossbow shoots at a velocity of over 160 feet per second. And it has included self cocking design with adjustable sight, a black package, easy to set up, and many features.
- This crossbow is super easy to set up.
- Perfect self-cocking design with adjustable sight.
- Very accurate.
- The body of the pistol crossbow is plastic.
- The locking mechanism for the string is cheap.
Best Crossbow Buying Guide
At USJ, we love all things related to crossbows and our aim is to give you all the information you need to know about them. In this section, we provide you with an introduction to crossbows including their history, types, uses, and much more. If you want more in-depth information about the best hunting crossbow, please continue reading the rest of the article carefully.
What Is A Crossbow?
A crossbow is a type of weapon that can be used for a wide variety of purposes including hunting and target shooting practice. Although, you may find crossbows referred to by their other name, horizontal bow. This name comes from the design using a horizontal bow-style assembly mounted on the stock. So you could say that a crossbow looks like a cross between a bow and a rifle. It has a stock and trigger just like a rifle and uses a fast string in the same manner as a bow to launch the quarrels or bolts.
Crossbows are constructed using lightweight and strong materials such as wood, plastic, composite, and fiberglass. You will find a crossbow to suit you as there are so many different designs and accessories available which allow customization to fit your requirements. There are crossbows featuring adjustable stocks, forestocks, or cheek plates. The accessories include carrying cases, slings, scopes, cocking mechanisms amongst others.
However, all crossbows are designed with the same principle in mind, a bow, and arrow operated by spring action. When you draw your crossbow by pulling one end of the spring, it stores elastic potential energy. This potential energy is not released until you let go of the spring. It becomes energy movement which allows the spring to go back to its original shape. The spring action provides the energy and movement to propel the bolt from the bow at high speeds.
Next, we cover the measurements used to describe the features and specifications. You will see references to draw weight, power stroke, energy, and velocity. These factors provide an indication of the performance which is important when making a buying decision. We explain the following measurements mentioned in the specifications:
The amount of force you need to apply to draw it into the cocked and locked position. The draw weight will increase with the distance you need to pull the string back. This measurement is also related to the amount of force applied to the bolt. You will see it listed in pounds.
The distance from the string’s resting position to the cocked and locked position. This shows the amount of time the force is applied to the bolt. You will see the power stroke measurement in inches.
This is determined by the draw weight and power stroke. It determines the amount of energy the crossbow stores and applies to the bolt. This is listed as foot pounds energy or FPE.
This is the speed that the bolt travels. This measurement is in feet per second or fps. This is affected by the crossbow design, bolt type, draw weight, and power stroke.
History of Crossbows
In this section, we cover the history and development of the crossbow. Historically, the crossbow is referred to by many names and they play a major role in warfare in East Asia, the Mediterranean, and Europe. We provide further details about the crossbows in each area below.
The earliest evidence of crossbows dates back to the 6th century BC from ancient China and the neighboring peoples. However, it is impossible to state which of the East Asian peoples invented the crossbow.
Now let’s look at the earliest reported evidence in East Asia. When you look at Chinese documents, the earliest mention is from the 4th to 3rd centuries BC. You will see that repeating crossbows were a later development. The earliest mention is in the Records of the Three Kingdoms dating to the 4th century BC. The earliest reliable description of a crossbow being used in warfare is in 371 BC. They were used during an ambush in the Battle of Ma-Ling.
The earliest documented evidence of handheld crossbows used in battle is from the 4th century. Originally crossbows had a complex bronze trigger mechanism that was easy to use and accurately produced. It was designed to store a large amount of energy within the bow when it is drawn. It had an easy shooting process with minimal recoil allowing for precise shooting.
Over time, technological improvements were made allowing the creation of different varieties. These include the multi-shot crossbow, multi-prodded crossbow, repeating crossbow, and repeating multi-shot crossbow. The transfer of technology from the Chinese to Champa occurred during the invasion of 1177.
The earliest reliable date for the use of crossbows in Europe is from the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece. Although, Diodorus Siculus documented that a Greek task force invented the mechanical shoot catapult (Katapeltikon) in 399 BC. According to Ctesibius, this was inspired by an earlier handheld crossbow (Gastraphetes).
Biton credits Zopyros from Southern Italy for developing two advanced forms of the Gastraphetes during the late 5th century BC. The bows could throw two missiles at once and use a winched pull-back system.
From the mid-4th century BC and onwards, the Greek use of crossbows becomes varied and more popular. This includes the use of Katapeltai (arrow shooting machines) and catapults bolts with flights and heads.
The history of crossbows in the Roman Empire is unclear. There are a variety of handheld weapons recorded in this era. These are similar to the medieval crossbow but the exact terms are continually debated. Vegetius notes the use of arrow-shooting weapons including Manuballista, Cheiroballistra, and Arcuballista. However, it is unclear whether these are torsion-powered or flexion bows.
Arrian records that the Roman cavalry used a mechanical handheld weapon on horseback however it is not clear that this is a crossbow. Although, sculptural reliefs from Roman Gaul show the use of crossbows for hunting, which are very close to the medieval crossbow designs.
Four Pictish stones portray the use of crossbows as a hunting weapon in medieval Scotland (6th to 9th centuries). You can see crossbows in European warfare from the Battle of Hastings (1066) to the 1500’s. During the 12th century, European armies used crossbows more than hand bows for a variety of reasons.
The European armies used unmounted and mounted crossbowmen mixed in with javelineers, slingers, and archers in the central position of battle formations. They engaged the enemy, assaulted mounted knights, and protected the infantry from counterattacks. The crossbow was a weapon of choice for insurgent peasants including the Taborites.
Modern Crossbow Uses
With the advancement of technology and firearms, the use of crossbows has declined in modern times. Although, they are still widely used for hunting, target shooting, competitions, shooting sports, and when quieter shooting is a consideration. Some military personnel use crossbows to establish zip lines on difficult terrain. Another use is to stop people suspected of carrying bombs or explosive materials where non-flammable solutions are essential. The fishing sector uses crossbow technology for multiple purposes including tagging sea animals and tissue sampling. Let’s have a look in more detail now.
Military and Paramilitary
Firstly, you will find that the military and paramilitary no longer use crossbows as weapons or for assassination purposes. However, you will find that crossbows are used for many alternative uses. These vary between each armed force due to the situations they encounter including:
- Mine countermeasure solutions.
- As an alternative to suppressed handguns.
- To establish zip lines in difficult terrain.
- Suppression of protests.
- Detonation of tripwire-initiated mines or booby traps.
- Special forces and similar armed forces.
- In noise-sensitive situations.
- Ambushes and counter-sniper weapons.
- To stop people carrying bombs and explosives without detonation.
Science, Leisure, and Hunting
Crossbows are used for science research, sample collections, leisure, and hunting purposes. In some countries, there are fewer restrictions and regulations than owning a firearm, so this can increase their use in hunting. There are some states and countries that have bow and/or crossbow hunting seasons.
In recent times, the crossbow is increasingly popular with hunters. There are multiple reasons for this change including their cost effectiveness because you can reuse the bolt. Other reasons include the increased thrill of the hunt and popular post-zombie apocalypse dramas.
What Are The Different Types of Crossbows?
There are multiple types of modern crossbows, with the most common types being compound and recurve. You can use different methods to classify them by using the following features and specifications:
- Acceleration System
- Degree of Automation
A compound crossbow has a similar design and functionality as a compound bow. The limbs are very stiff when compared to a recurve crossbow. This increases energy efficiency when compared to other options. However, you cannot comfortably draw the crossbow if the string is directly attached to the limb due to its stiffness. There are various options to combat this such as a pulleys and cables system.
When you look at a compound bow, you will usually see that the string is attached to pulleys. It may have one or two pulleys, which have one or more cables attached to the opposite limb. As you pull the string back, this movement causes the pulleys to turn. The turning pulleys move the cables which bend the limbs and store the energy.
Alternatively, you may find a compound crossbow using cam-shaped and eccentrically mounted pulleys (either one or both of these). This allows a “let off” so you can concentrate on your aim rather than trying to aim and hold against the maximum draw weight. If the string is held back mechanically, there is no advantage to having a “let off” system. So the majority of compound crossbows use round and concentrically mounted pulleys. This allows the bow to catch the maximum energy from the draw length.
The recurve crossbow has bent limbs and the tips curve away from you. It has a longer draw length than a straight-limbed bow which provides more acceleration to the bolt with a lower shock. This is a noisier bow and puts a larger amount of strain on the materials of the bow.
The repeating crossbow allows the separate actions of stringing the bow, placing the projectile in place, and shooting into one automatic action. This simple mechanism means you can use one hand to complete these tasks and keep it still throughout. So you can shoot faster than without this mechanism.
Reverse Draw Crossbows
Other Types of Crossbows
A pistol crossbow is the smallest of all crossbows. Another type of handheld crossbow is the bullet crossbow which shoots spherical projectiles, so rather than bolts or arrows, you would use a lead, stone, or clay sphere. You will find two varieties for this type using either:
- A pocket for the projectile with a double string.
- A slot for the string with a barrel for the projectile.
You will find some variants are simply bow-mounted on top of a long stock. This allows you to shoot from under your arm. The development of the stock shape over time improved the aiming process. Another type is the Slurbow which has a metal or wood barrel over the top of the stock, which influenced the development of the pistol.
Multiple Bow System
Lastly, we look at the multiple bow system. This uses a system of several bows to pull the sinew. You may see recurve bows in this system. You can easily compare this to a compound bow system. As you can tell from the name, it uses multiple different bows rather than just one with a tackle system. This provides a higher acceleration of the sinew because the bows pulling effect is multiplied.
Construction and Design
The basic design of the crossbow has not changed throughout history. Essentially, it has a stock or tiller with a bow on top. All crossbows include a mechanism to keep the bow string drawn and ready for shooting. The mechanics and designs have altered through the ages for increased efficiency and lighter weights to the modern-day crossbows you purchase now.
Early crossbows had a slot in the stock which held the string in place. When the crossbow is shot, a rod is pushed up through a hole in the bottom of the slot. This forces the string out and releases the projectile. This rod is attached to a rear-facing trigger or tickler.
Later designs used a rolling cylindrical pawl referred to as a nut to hold the string. This had an integrated cross design to hold the bolt and string in place with a slot or face for the internal trigger to sit against. The bow is kept taut and ready to shoot for an extended period of time whilst using minimal effort. Due to this extra time, the archer has an improved aim.
What Are The Differences Between Traditional Bow and Standard Bow?
The bow (referred to as a prod or lath) on early crossbows was constructed with a single piece of wood, normally yew or ash. Later designs used composite bows which use layers of different materials such as wood, sinew, and horn glued and bound with the animal tendons. As there are multiple layers, this increased the strength and energy release compared to the earlier simple wooden designs. From the 14th century, steel was used to make the prods. This was an increasingly available material which is stronger and more durable.
The prod is short when compared to the standard bow. This means that the crossbow has a short draw length or power stroke. Due to this, the draw weight is higher than an ordinary bow to enable the same amount of energy storage. You will find that thick prods can store more energy, however, they are slightly less efficient at releasing it.
On traditional crossbows, the bridle is used to attach the prod to the stock. Bridle used whipcord, rope, or other types of strong cording. The string must be strong, durable, flexible, and of a material that doesn’t tend to fray. The most common material was whipcord. However, you would find crossbows using sinew, hemp, and linen for the strings.
You can draw some crossbows by hand. These tend to be lighter weight with the light draw weight. If you have a heavier crossbow, it is highly likely that you need to use a cocking mechanism. The simplest cocking mechanism is a hook attached to a belt. However, you will find that there are many different devices that use different methods such as hinged levers and integrated cocking devices. So you can pick one to suit your requirements.
Parts of The Crossbow
In this section, we describe the different parts of the crossbow. We cover the compound and recurve crossbows as these are the most common types.
Usually constructed with machined aluminum or a composite of polymer. Your personal preference is key to making this decision. You must keep the barrel free from debris or chips and sufficiently lubed with flight rail lube or string wax.
A grooved section on top of the barrel uses to improve consistency and accuracy. It allows the bolt to sit in the correct alignment with the string.
There are many styles and compositions of stocks available so you can pick the best type to suit your needs. You have the option to choose an adjustable stock and some models include an integrated crank cocking device mechanism. The stock is made with either wood or composite material.
An integrated section to add a scope or sight.
when you draw/cock the crossbow, this will catch and hold the string in place. It will not release the string until you pull the trigger.
It prevents the crossbow from firing accidentally. This is either an automatic or manual mechanism triggered by drawing or cocking the crossbow.
Arrow Retention Spring or Arrow Retention Brush
It holds the bolt in the barrel or flight rail. This remains active until the trigger releases the latch mechanism. The spring or brush is essential for correct arrow flight and positioning.
These are available in two types of limbs either compound or recurve. Your personal preference will affect your decision. They range in draw weight and this will impact the speed and energy of the crossbow.
Limb Pocket and/or Riser
This is the section where the limbs attach to the crossbow.
You will only find these on a compound crossbow. These are the “wheels” that form part of the pulley system.
It is used on a compound crossbow only. The cables run through the stock to work with the cams and string of the crossbow. You will need to maintain the cables by using wax to reduce the friction between the cable and the stock.
There are two different design options. There is no difference in the performance so it comes to personal preference. You can choose between a built-in design or an attachment to the front of the limbs. It aids with the cocking of the crossbow. You place your foot in (and in some cases, on) the stirrup to prevent it from slipping whilst you cock/draw the string.
This is the section that propels the projectile. You need to lubricate your string on a regular basis with string wax because the amount of friction caused will lead to damage and breakdown of the string. The recommendation is to wax them every five to ten shots. This will keep your strings in good condition for a longer time.
A crossbow uses bolts that look similar to arrows. These are shorter in length and some are much heavier than arrows. Each crossbow has an optimum weight and length to achieve maximum energy and speed. This depends on the characteristics and strength of your crossbow so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the best type of bolt to use.
In modern times, the bolts have stamps to show the weight is consistent and they do not have any fletchings. You can attach many different heads to the bolt depending on your purpose. The most common is the four-sided point named quarrel. Although, scientists use a specialized type of bolt for collecting blubber biopsy samples.
You may find that your crossbow shoots crossbow arrows. They have a similar construction to bow arrows but are specifically designed for crossbows. The crossbow arrows are shorter due to the lower power stroke. It is essential to use the recommended arrow type with your crossbow as this can have a huge impact on performance and safety. Even a slight weight difference can affect the drop and flight trajectory.
Another option is to adjust your crossbow to shoot rocks or lead bullets. These are called stone bows and are usually used for hunting wildfowl. It has a pouch between a double string that contains the projectile.
There are many accessories on the market for your crossbow. The use of accessories is purely an individual choice and allows customization of your crossbow to suit your requirements. You can find scopes, shoulder straps, sights, cocking devices, and cases amongst others.
The ancient Chinese often used sights with their crossbows. They were a basic metal grid and serves as an iron sight. Similar technology is used with modern sights including telescopic and red dot sights. These feature crosshairs so you can compensate for the effect of gravity over different ranges. Initially, you will need to “sight” it in so you are shooting accurately.
A quiver holds your ammunition and mounts onto the crossbow. Generally, it is made with plastic and holds the projectiles in a fixed position. Most quivers have a detachable design so you can quickly and easily attach or remove it from your crossbow.
A popular quiver design has the main arm which attaches to the crossbow with a plate on one end to attach four or more bolts. The bolt is held in place at the shaft with the head secured and protected with a cover. Usually, it attaches to the front of the crossbow parallel to the string. In some cases, you will find the quiver is parallel to the stock or on either side of your crossbow.
It can be loud when you shoot a crossbow and the amount of noise varies between models. The majority of the noise is caused by the vibration of its components. You can attach crossbow silencers or string suppressors to reduce the sound and vibration when losing the bolt. They are placed on multiple components which cause the most vibration e.g. string, and limbs.
Using A Crossbow Safely
It is important to remember that a crossbow is a lethal weapon. This is a powerful, fast, and high-energy weapon used for many purposes including deadly practices. You must handle it with extreme care and responsibility. So always follow the instruction manual provided by the manufacturer and think safely at all times during use. We highly recommend that you do thorough research, check the laws in your area, and learn to safely handle the weapon to avoid accidents and injuries.
Safety Tips for Using Crossbows:
- Do not use a crossbow or bolt that is not in perfect condition. Before you use your crossbow and bolt, it is essential to give it a thorough examination. You need to check for worn, damaged, or missing strings and cables. Also, check for any loose and damaged parts.
- Only point your crossbow at your target. Never point it at other people or anything you do not want to shoot.
- When you intend to shoot, make sure other people are well out of the way and standing behind you.
- Use a firm grip whilst you cock your crossbow. If you don’t then the string or stirrup can slip causing injuries.
- Only cock your crossbow when you are ready to use it.
- You must not hike or walk with a bolt loaded in your crossbow.
- Never manually unload your crossbow. There is no safe way to do this, so fire it into an inert object (in a safe manner) to remove the bolt.
- Always use safety mechanisms to prevent the accidental firing of your crossbow. Only release the safety mechanisms when you are aiming at the target and ready to shoot.
- Never dry fire any crossbows (many models come with an anti-dry fire (ADF) mechanism but do not solely rely on this).
- Only use the correct arrow type, size, and weight as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use the forehand grip in the correct manner and position. Keep your thumb and fingers away from the flight deck, strings, and cables.
- Always use your crossbow as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Protect yourself by wearing safety glasses. Also, wear appropriate clothing with minimal skin exposure and closed-toe shoes.
- Stay aware of your environment, the area behind your target, and the target path to ensure that all areas are free from obstacles and other people.
- Store your crossbow in a safe and responsible manner.
Best Crossbow Brands
- Wicked Ridge
- Bear X
- SA Sports
- PSE Archery
- Mission Archery
- Rocky Mountain
- Southland Archery
- Killer Instinct
- Ace Martial Arts Supply
Whether you are a beginner bowhunter or a seasoned hunter, by the time you read this bow review and buying guide, you already know how to choose the right crossbow for your needs. As a hunter with more than ten years of experience, I highly recommend buying Excalibur Micro MAG 340, Wicked Ridge RDX 400, Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR, and BearX Intense Ready to Shoot. In addition to the products mentioned in this article, I also recommend that you buy these high-end crossbows for hunting, such as Ravin R10 Ultimate 400, Mission Archery Sub-1 XR 410, TenPoint Viper S400, and Axe AX405. I hope you will always have a good hunting trip!