Hunting Survival

Best Crossbow Reviews: Complete Buyer’s Guide

Are you looking for the best crossbow on the market right now? Which is the best for the money? Read on for our review of the top models with Pros & Cons.

If you’re looking to take your hunting experience to the next level, you’re in luck, because the market is full of innovative, high-performance crossbows. There are plenty of bows that are packed with great features for affordable prices, too.

Whether you’re thinking about expanding your collection of crossbows or you’re on shopping for your very first bow, you’re in the right place as we have spent hours researching and reviewing to find out which is the best crossbow for the money.

In this guide, we offer honest, unbiased reviews of the top crossbows currently on the market. Our list of crossbow reviews include high-end shooters that release as quick as lighting, as well as bargain bows.

Below, you’ll find a list of our top picks, factors and features that you should take into consideration when you’re shopping, and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about crossbows.

Top 3 Picks

If you’re eager to get shopping, here’s a look at our top 3 picks for the best, premium, and budget crossbows.

Best Pick: Ravin R20 Crossbow Package with Illuminated 1.5-5x32mm Scope

Ravin R20 Crossbow Package R020 With Illuminated 1.5-5x32mm Scope, Predator Camouflage
  • Fully Assembled/Pre Tuned: 6 Ravin Branded Arrows and Ravin Nocks; 1 x Removable Cocking Handle; 1 x Quiver/Mounting Bracket; 6 x 100 Grain Practice Field Points
  • 100 Yard Illuminated Scope; Built-in Sling Mounts; 164 foot lbs. of kinetic energy
  • Built-In Versa-Draw Cocking Mechanism
  • Shorter guide design; Safety switch design
  • Anti-Dry Fire/Auto Safety; Helicoid technology

The R20 is Ravin Crossbows’ first-class model. It’s packed with some of the most advanced crossbow technology available and offers long range accuracy that’s equivalent to a rifle, yet it’s compact and easy to handle. Made with patented HeliColi technology, if you’re looking for a crossbow that offers extreme power, super-speed, and pin-point accuracy, the Ravin R20 is exactly what you’re looking for. Plus, it comes as a complete package, so you’ll have everything you need to make super accurate, including six Ravin arrows, a quiver and mounting bracket, in-built sling mounts, a Versa-Draw cocking handle, and a customized Vortex Strike Eagle scope, which is mounted on a jack plate that can be easily adjusted. While the price is a bit hefty, if you can splurge, you won’t be sorry, as the Ravin R20 is, hands-down, the best crossbow currently on the market.

Runner-Up: Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX Premium Package

HORTON CROSSBOW INNOVATIONS Storm RDX Package with Pro-View 2 Scope, Quiver, Arrows and Acudraw 50 Sled
  • Crossbow: winner of the outdoor life and Petersen's hunting editor's choice awards, the storm RDX is an adrenaline-fueled machine built for the hunter who refuses to be fenced in by convention
  • Pro-View 2 scope: calibrated for crossbows that shoot in the 330 fps range, this lightweight 8. 5-inch Aluminum tube scope features 3 crosshairs and four dots calibrated for 20-, 30-, 40-, and 50-yards
  • Quiver:  Horton 3-arrow quiver
  • Arrows:  Three-Pack of 400-grain carbon arrows with 100-grain practice points
  • Cocking mechanism: fully integrated into the stock and featuring a newly designed sled with detachable handles, the new ACUdraw 50 sled reduces a crossbow's draw weight by 50%

Our runner-up is a close second to Ravin R20, but it isn’t quite as pricy. The Horton Storm RDX is equipped with the manufacturer’s signature reverse-draw technology, making it extraordinarily powerful, yet exceptionally quiet. What’s more, it cocking options make drawing super easy. Like the Ravin R20, the Horton’s Storm RDX comes as a complete package, including a TenPoint Pro View 4×32 mm multi-reticle scope, three 20-inc Victory arrows, an ACUdraw cocking device, and a quick detach quiver. With this package, you get everything you need to step up your hunting game.

Budget Pick: CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package

CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow Package, Camouflage
  • HIGH PERFORMANCE 370 FPS - 18-inch axle-to-axle at full draw and 185-pound draw weight
  • FULLY ADJUSTABLE STOCK AND FOREGRIP - For a customized fit to shoulder with confidence
  • INTEGRATED STRING SUPRESSORS - For a quiet, vibration-free shot

If you’re working on a budge but you don’t want to sacrifice quality and reliability, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 is a great choice. It’s ideal for novice and experienced arbalests alike. Offering a collection of great features, such as a fully adjustable stock and foregrip, quad limbs with a precision-made CAMS system, and integrated string suppressors. Constructed of a combination of aluminum and compose, this crossbow is lightweight, easy to maneuver, is extremely accurate, and offers stealth-like operation. Like our picks for top and premium crossbows, the CenterPoint Sniper370 comes as a complete package, which includes three 20-inch arrows, a 4×32 mm scope, a parallel quiver, and a rope cocker. All that, and it’s very budget-friendly, to boot.

Top 7 Reviews

In this part of our buyer’s guide, we offer a more in-depth overview of our top three crossbow picks, as well as four additional top-of-the-line models.

Ravin R20 Crossbow Package with Illuminated 1.5-5x32mm Scope

If money isn’t an object and you’re an experienced arbalest who is looking to expand your collection of gear, you’re definitely going to want to consider investing in the Ravin R20.

While it’s the priciest model on our list, the cutting-edge design, which includes patented HeliColi technology, the quality and performance that the Ravin R20 offers is unrivaled; in fact, it’s one of the fastest and most powerful crossbows ever made.

Thanks to the patented HeliCoil technology and a Frictionless Flight System, the R20 from Ravin generates an astounding flight velocity of 430 feet per second with an incredible 164 foot pounds of kinetic energy.

The HeliCoil technology is also credited for coiling the cables of the bow away from the cams in helical grooves, enabling the cams to 340 degrees while still maintaining levelness. The end result: a shocking amount of power, extremely reliable accuracy, and minimal vibration and noise.

With so much power and such incredible precision, you’ll be able to take on the biggest and hardiest game with ease; bucks, elk, and even moose and black bear are no match for the Ravin R20.

The pinpoint precision and reliability of this crossbow rivals some of the most advanced rifles, particularly at close range shooting. If you have the means to invest in the Ravin R20, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Comprised of cast polymer, this crossbow is shockingly lightweight, yet durable, and can take on just about anything you throw its way.

Our top-pick crossbow comes is a packaged deal. It comes complete with:

  • 6 Ravin arrows and nocks
  • A removable cocking handle
  • A quiver and mounting bracket
  • A Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 illuminated scope
  • 6 100 gran practice field points
  • An in-built cocking mechanism
  • In-built string mounts
  • Anti-dry fire/auto safety

Specifications for the Ravin R20 crossbow are as follows:

  • 430 fps velocity
  • 12 pound draw weight
  • 5 inches long
  • 5 inches wide
  • 1 pounds
  • 13 inch power stroke
  • Extreme accuracy that’s comparable to some modern riffles
  • Unparalleled power that can take on the hardiest game
  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Minimal vibration and noise
  • Comes complete with everything you need to start using right out of the package
  • Price tag might be too much for many arbalests to rationalize purchasing
  • While it comes with an illuminated scope, it’s lacking multiple reticles

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Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX Premium Package

Our runner-up crossbow is a close second to the Ravin R20, and while it’s still pretty pricey, it’s a little less cost-prohibitive. If you’re on the market for a powerful and accurate shooter, the Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX Premium Package is definitely worth considering.

First, a little background about the manufacturer: Horton Crossbows was one of the premium crossbow manufacturers, but they shuddered their business in 2013. TenPoint, another reputable manufacturer, purchased the Horton name, as well as their revolutionary reverse-draw technology, and created the Storm RDX.

This model combines Horton’s famed reverse draw technology with the TenPoint’s signature easy draw cocking selections. The marriage of these features makes the Storm RDX an incredibly power, extremely precise crossbow that offers stealth-like operation.

As a reverse draw crossbow, the placement of the limbs and risers are backwards, but the design is highly effective. The backward placement of the limbs delivers incredible power to the arrow. Additionally, the reversed placement of the limbs and riser put the center of gravity toward the back of the body, which actually makes shooting all the more enjoyable.

In regard to power, Horton’s Storm RDX can shoot bolts that can reach a shocking 380 feet per second and can produce close to 120 pounds of kinetic energy off the rail. The impressive power this shooter offers is thanks to the reverse draw technology, which enables an impressive 16.5 inch power stroke, and maximized the power of the limbs. With the power and quiet operation this crossbow offers, you’ll be able to take down just about any type of game with ease.

The riser and pockets of Horton’s Storm RDX is comprised of machined aluminum, which reduces the amount of stress placed on the limbs. The cams are made of machined aluminum, too, and its steel bearings are made of 440 stainless steel. The construction of this crossbow makes it exceptionally durable, which means that you’ll be able to use it for years to come.

The Horton Storm RDX is comes with everything you need to hit the range, including:

  • A Horton 3-arrow, quick detach quiver
  • 3 Horton 20 inch carbon arrows with 100-grain field points
  • An ACUDraw cocking device
  • A 4×32 mm multi-reticle scope

Specifications for this Horton Storm RDX are as follows:

  • 380 fps velocity
  • 12 pound draw weight
  • 2 pounds
  • 5 inch power stroke
  • 25 inches long
  • 5 inches/10 inches wide
  • Super fast speed
  • Exceptionally powerful
  • Comact design
  • Durable construction
  • Horton’s signature reverse draw technology
  • Narrow ATA
  • Quiet operation
  • While the price tag is lower than the Ravin R20, it’s still pretty pricey
  • While the durability is great, it’s pretty heavy

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CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package

Whether you’re a novice shooter or you’re a well-versed arbalest and are looking to add to your arsenal but you don’t want to spend a tremendous amount of money, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow Package is a great option. In fact, it’s in a completely different price range than the previous two models.

For the budget-friendly price, this crossbow doesn’t offer as much power as our top- and premium-picks, it still packs a pretty impressive punch.

The 370 from CrossPoint has a compound design. It boasts split limbs, as well as a CNC engineered aluminum riser and stock. These two components make this shooter both strong and versatile; it’s also aesthetically pleasing. The non-reflective black and camouflage design will allow you to easily blend into the background when you’re combing the woods for game.

The power and performance that the CrossPoint 370 offers is shockingly impressive, considering the price point. It shoots an amazing 370 fps and delves out around 130 FPKE; on average, it takes around 75 FPKE to take down most large game, you’ll have plenty of kinetic energy to fell deer, elk, bear, and even moose.

It’s also extremely reliable and accurate for shots that are taken within a 50-yard range. The CNC machined aluminum quad limbs and cams, combined with the power and precision that this crossbow offers – and the budget-friendly price tag – make the CenterPoint 370 a really impressive weapon.

The lightweight, compact design of this crossbow, coupled with a shoulder strap (which is included in the package), you’ll have no trouble toting it around. An adjustable foregrip and buttstock allows you to customize the setting, which makes operating the shooter quite comfortable.

Crossbows that feature non-adjustable stocks can feel awkward and hard to shoot, but you won’t have to worry about that problem with the CenterPoint 370. It boasts a pistol grip, too, so you’ll have access to the speed you need when you eye your target. The trigger features a good bit of creep, which is meant to prevent early release. If you’re used to shooting bows with smooth triggers, the trigger on the CenterPoint 370 might take a bit to get used to; however, if you’re just starting out, it shouldn’t be a problem.

As far as noise goes, this crossbow is impressively quiet. String suppressors reduce the amount of vibration it generates, which helps to minimize the amount of noise it produces, while also improving accuracy. The rubber-coated foot stirrup serves the same function. The red and green reticles on the included illuminated shop, which is calibrated for up to 40 yards, make sighting relatively easy; it can hold zero pretty much indefinitely. The five brightness levels of the scope will allow you to see clearly pretty much any time of the day.

Like our top- and premium-picks for crossbows, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 is sold as a complete package and includes everything you need to hit the range, the field, or the woods. Accessories include:

  • A 4×32 illuminated scope
  • Three carbon arrows
  • A four-arrow quiver
  • A cocking rope
  • Three 20-inch carbon bolts
  • A shoulder sling

Specifications for this budget-friendly crossbow are as follows:

  • 370 fps velocity
  • 7 pounds
  • 185 pound draw weight
  • 5 inches wide
  • 36 inches long
  • 5 inch power stoke
  • 5 pound trigger weight
  • Fully Adjustable Stock and Foregrip
  • Quad Limpbs
  • Integrated String Supressors
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • Not as powerful as more premium options

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Excalibur Matrix  Bulldog Crossbow 400

Excalibur is one of the most trusted names in the crossbow industry.  They offer several different lines of shooters, with the Matrix being one of the most popular, and the 400 is the top-of-the-line model for their Matrix lineup. As far as pricing goes, it’s middle-of-the-road; it isn’t as pricey as the Horton RDX or the Ravin R20, but it’s more expensive than the CenterPoint Sniper 370.

The Matrix 400 is a powerful weapon and can take down pretty much any type of game that you’re aiming for. Given the speed and performance it offers, it’s easy to see why it’s the weapon of choice among so many arbalests. Thanks to the recurve design, the firing velocity of this bow is an impressive 400 FPS with a 14 inch power stroke and a crushing 127 food pounds of kinetic energy.

For the amount of power this bow packs, it’s surprisingly lightweight, weighing in at just 6.2 pounds. However, it’s important to note that the draw weight is 280 pounds and when cocking, even with the included rope cock, it’s still a pretty hefty 140 pounds. While the rope cock does help, a crank cock would be better choice (just our recommendation).

Like all recurve crossbows, there aren’t any moving parts on the Matrix Bulldog 400, such as cams. The simple design features tine Matrix PowerLoad limbs with a DynaFlight string and cable system, which are made of composite molded fiberglass for added durability. The signature Recoil Energy Dissipation System (REDS), is comprised of twin rubber bumpers that hug the string, minimizing the level of vibration and noise.

The limbs are secured in several locations by a Quad-Loc riser, which eliminates movement and stabilizes the shooter. A CNC machined aluminum alloy riser is robust and is specifically made for broad head clearance.

The Matrix Bulldog 400 boasts an Ergo Grip Stock, which features a trigger guard, pistol grip, butt plate, and stock piece. Both right- and left-handed shooters can easily use this crossbow, thanks to the ambidextrous cheek piece. For added comfort and safety, the pistol grip and forgrip are lined with rubber inserts, which cushions shooting. The bridge of this crossbow is constructed of heavy-duty aluminum alloy, which assists the 3.5 trigger pull.

The Guardian Anti-Dry Fire scope, a signature Excalibur feature, catches the strings in the event accidental dry firing occurs. An in-built release feature enables decoking without the need to shoot into the ground.

While the 280 pound draw weight is a bit excessive and might be challenging for some shooters, the included rope cock does make it easier to manage; or, you could add a crank cock, which would make the draw weight even more manageable. This drawback is a small price to pay for incredible power, pinpoint precision, super quiet operation, and long-lasting durability.

The Matrix Bulldog 400 from Excalibur comes complete with the following:

  • A tact-zone illuminated scope
  • Four Diablo arrows
  • Four 150 grain field points
  • Guardian Anti-Dry Fire protection
  • REDS string suppressors
  • A rope-cocking aid
  • An ambidextrous cheek piece

The specifications of the Excalibur Matrix Bulldog 400 crossbow are as follows:

  • 400 FPS velocity
  • 2 pounds
  • 280 pound draw weight
  • 14 inch power stroke
  • 8 inches long
  • 25 inches wide (un-cocked)
  • 75 inches wide (cocked)
  • The maximum speed is an impressive 400 fps
  • Designed with comfort in mind
  • Guardian Anti-Dry Fire System
  • Comes with a rope cocking aid
  • Exceptional durability
  • Super quiet operation
  • Can take down all types of game with ease
  • The excessive draw weight is the biggest drawback and prove to be problematic for some shooters
  • For archers who are used to using hair triggers, they’ll need to practice to get acquainted with the stiffer trigger
  • Though it’s less expensive than the Ravin R20 and the Horton Storm RDX, it’s still a bit pricey

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Barnett Whitetail Pro STR Crossbow

Barnet has been a leading name in the hunting crossbow industry for more than 50 years. Their products are extremely accurate and super dependable, and their Whitetail Pro STR lives up to the quality and reliability that the manufacturer is famed for. The adjustable stock and Picatinny rail scope mounting system makes this crossbow ideal for full-sized hunters and short-arm shooters alike.

Barnett outfitted the Whitetail Pro STR with its signature TriggerTech trigger system, which is hailed for its smooth, accurate, and safe trigger system. The Frictionless Release Technology uses a one-of-a-kind, free-floating roller, which is situated between the sear and the trigger and enhances accuracy with a super smooth and lightweight three pound, zero creep trigger pull. The addition of nock sensors and Anti-Dry Fire technology secures a spring-loaded safety bar until the arrow is seated properly. This feature prevents accidental dry firing for enhanced security.

The 187 pound draw weight and 16.375 inch power stroke can shoot at a spectacular 400 feet per second with a remarkable 140 foot pounds of kinetic energy. The Whitetail Pro STR is also outfitted with string stops, which help to reduce vibration, thus minimizing sound. Other key features include Barnett’s signature self-adjusting Soft-Lok Floating Bristle Arrow Retainer, as well as dual Picatinny rails for the scope and forward-mounted accessories.

Barnett outfitted with Whitetail Pro STR with an advanced 4×32 multi-reticle illuminated scope, which includes seven reticles and improves the accuracy of the crossbow out to 80 yards, as well as crank-cocking capabilities. It also comes complete with 22 inch Headhunter arrows and a streamlined side mounted quiver, as well as lubrication wax. With all of these accessories, all you need to do is install a single bolt and it’s ready to use right out of the box.

The integral cocking system, which features a stock-mounted cocking sled, as well as a crank handle, makes cocking this crossbow a cinch. However, do note that it will take a bit of practice to get achieve the speed and accuracy that this shooter is capable of, but once you are used to it, it really is a breeze.

Barnett shifted the weight of the Whitetail Pro STR from the riser to the stock, which provides added stability while shooting. The balanced design makes it super comfortable to use. The TRUBark HD camo patter isn’t just visually pleasing, it also helps to keep your weapon hidden from unsuspecting prey when you’re shooting in the woods.

The Barnett Whitetail Pro STR crossbow comes complete with the following accessories:

  • A premium 4×32 multi-reticle illuminated scope
  • A rope cocking device
  • A side mount quiver
  • Two 22 inch Headhunter arrows
  • Lube wax

The specifications of this crossbow are as follows:

  • 400 FPS velocity
  • 135 FPS of kinetic energy
  • 187 pound draw weight
  • 25 inch power stroke
  • 9 pounds
  • 5 inches long
  • 20 inches wide
  • With 400 fps, this crossbow offers rapid-fast shooting
  • The Trigger Technology prevents the risk of dry firing
  • Lightweight, compact design
  • Durable construction
  • Comes with a top-of-the-line 4×32 multi-reticle illuminated scope
  • Smooth and super quiet operation
  • Extremely accurate
  • Minimal assembly required
  • The rope cocking mechanism can be a little difficult to operate
  • The strings of the rope cocking mechanism need a lot of wax in order to prevent separation
  • The stock and grips can’t be adjusted

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Excalibur Matrix Grizzly SMF Crossbow

Next up on our list the best crossbows is the Excalibur Matrix Grizzly SMF. The Excalibur name is known for its high-performance, exceptionally powerful, super accurate, and extremely durable shooters, but it’s also known for high prices (as can be seen from their Matrix Bulldog 400 model).

If the features and design that Excalibur is known for appeal to you, but the cost has deterred you from investing in their shooters, you might want to consider their Matrix Grizzle. The price of this model is much more budget-friendly, yet it’s as reliable, powerful, and durable as the manufacturer’s more pricey crossbows.

Excalibur is hailed for solid construction, and the Matrix Grizzly is no exception; this shooter is designed to withstand the stresses of hunting, and does so with ease. The frame is constructed of SMF composite materials, so it’s exceptionally durable and offers lots of strength to deliver exceptionally powerful and precise draws.

The 30 inch design of the limbs offers a smooth, even path for your arrows and the CRT construction is durable enough to support the bow’s 200 pound draw weight. With such durability, you might expect this bow to be big and bulky, but it’s surprisingly lightweight. Weighing in only 5.5 pounds and measuring 33 inches long, you’ll have no trouble toting it around and shooting it in cramped locations.

Thanks to the shorter stock, most archers will find that it’s extremely comfortable up against their shoulders. A thumbhole is another notable feature, as it gives you a safe and practical location to keep your hands steady.

Typically, the price of a crossbow reflects its performance, as higher-priced shooters are usually more powerful and accurate; however, that definitely isn’t the case with the Excalibur Matrix Grizzle. The frame is constructed of SMF composite material, which makes it exceptionally sturdy and very well-balanced. The limb set, as mentioned, also creates a narrow and even path for the arrow to deliver a reliable release.

This shooter can deliver up to 305 feet per second of velocity with a 350-grain projectile, so you’ll be able to hit with more than 70 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle. Though it isn’t as hard-hitting as other crossbows featured on our list, it’s powerful enough to take down all types of game with ease.

The lower draw weight of the recurve limbs makes the Matrix Grizzly a relatively quiet crossbow. While it doesn’t come with REDS, if you want to bring the decibels down a few notches, you can certainly purchase and add REDS (Recoil Energy Dissipation System). The 200 pound draw weight, combined with the shorter power stroke and the shorter length also make this crossbow easy to cock, as you don’t have to lift it as high; however, you’ll definitely want to use the included rope cocking aid.

The Excalibur Matrix Grizzle comes complete with a Deadzone scope that features a speed dial. While it’s a decent scope and will allow you to shoot in most situations, it can only be adjusted up to 400 fps. If you want to upgrade the capabilities, consider adding one of Excalibur’s higher-end scopes.

The Excalibur Matrix Grizzly comes complete with the following:

  • A Deadzone scope
  • For Diablo 18 inch arrows
  • A four arrow detachable quiver
  • Four 150-grain field points
  • A rope cocking aid

The specifications of the Excalibur Matrix Grizzle are as follows:

  • 305 fps velocity
  • 200 pound cocking draw weight
  • 5 pound unloaded weight
  • 62 inches wide, uncocked
  • 88 inches wide, cocked
  • 33 inches long
  • Easy to cock
  • Extremely accurate
  • Compact size is suitable for shooting in cramped locations
  • Lightweight, well-balanced design
  • Easy to assemble
  • Comes complete with an illuminated, adjustable scope (though Excalibur does offer higher-end scopes that offer even better accuracy)
  • Equipped with four bolds and an attachable quiver
  • Comfortable to shoot
  • Easy to manage
  • Affordably priced
  • The rails aren’t made of aluminum
  • Lacks an Anti-Dry fire mechanism
  • Beginners may find drawing to be a bit of a challenge, even when using the included rope draw device

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Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package

Last on our list of the top 7 crossbows is the Jackal from Barnett. If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable shooter, this is a great option that’s suitable for novice and experienced archers alike.

While it might not be as powerful as some of the other crossbows that are featured on our list, its 315 feet per second velocity is capable of delivering arrows at about 90 foot pounds of kinetic energy. As such, you’ll be able to hit your target, even in less-than ideal conditions, which means it can take on all types of game, including grizzles and elk.

The accuracy range of the Barnett Jackal is around 40 yards; however, if you’re experienced and have decent precision, you should have no trouble reaching between 50 and 60 yards. Given the price of this crossbow, that’s an impressive accuracy range, which is due, largely in part, to the Picatinny rail guide system, which keeps arrows on track and provides a smooth, even path for them to follow.

Barnett put a lot of thought into the build of the Jackal, which makes it very comfortable to use. It features quad split-style, super stable limbs, which offer great support and allow you to achieve proper aim so you can make a dead-on shot. The design of the limbs also allow for a faster acceleration rate, as it significantly reduces air resistance, which boosts the overall speed. The limbs aren’t just useful; they’re aesthetically pleasing, too.

Arm fatigue is a serious problem with a lot of crossbows, but that isn’t the case for the Barnett Jackal. Thanks to the well-balanced, lightweight design, you’ll have no trouble shooting this crossbow and will be able to enjoy shooting for several hours without a problem. However, it should be noted that the retainer could be better quality and according to most users, it only lasts for about a year if used frequently, but considering the low cost of this bow, it’s a small price to pay.

The Barnett Jackal Crossbow comes complete with the following:

  • Three 20 inch arrows with attachable field points
  • A red-dot sight
  • A detachable quiver
  • A quiver attachment platform
  • Three field points
  • All the tools that are needed for assemble

The specifications for this low-cost, well-constructed, easy-to-use crossbow are as follows:

  • 315 fps velocity
  • 150 pound draw weight
  • 5 inches long
  • 5 inches wide
  • 7 pounds, unloaded weight
  • 12 inch power stroke
  • 5 pound trigger weight
  • Lightweight, compact design
  • Automated safety to prevent dry firing
  • Very comfortable to operate and easy to handle
  • Suitable fps and penetration can tackle various types of game
  • Very affordably priced
  • It does not come with a rope cocking device
  • The operation is a bit noisy and might scare away game
  • While assembly is relatively easy, it does require some time

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Crossbow Buyer’s Guide

While all the crossbows that are featured in our review are very reliable, durable, and well-built, it’s important to ensure that you’re choosing the right weapon for your specific needs.

To help you determine which crossbow will work best for you, in this section of our guide, we highlight some of the most important factors you should consider and the features you should look for when you’re purchasing a crossbow.

Features and Factors to Consider

Crossbows are the weapon of choice among both new and experienced bowhunters. Their precision accuracy combined with their easy learning curve makes them an excellent choice for fun and reliability. If you are planning on hunting with a crossbow, however, it’s important to note that you’ll want to check with the regulations that are set forth by your local and state government, as the specifications for equipment do vary from location to location.

Because crossbows are so accurate and since their learning curve for use is small, it’s easy to see why they’re such a popular weapon among archers. It’s also easy to see why there are so many different crossbows on the market. With that said, it’s important to understand what factors and features you should consider so that you can narrow down the options and pick the right one for you. So, without further ado, here’s a look at some important tips to keep in mind when you’re shopping.


Velocity refers to the amount of speed that a crossbow can generate. Obviously, speed is an important factor to consider, as it will impact your ability to hit your target. When determining how much velocity you’ll need, it helps to think about the type of game that you’ll be aiming for. Generally speaking, the faster the velocity, the better; especially for quick-witted prey.

The velocity of a crossbow is measures in feet per second (FPS), which indicates how many feet the arrow will be able to travel within a specific period. It also indicates how well it will be able to penetrate a target. If you’re looking for a crossbow for target practice or small game hunting, a weapon with less than 200 FPS will suffice. If you’re planning on targeting medium- to large-sized game, such as elk or bear, go for a bow that delivers a velocity between 201 and 410 FPS. Do note, however, that you’ll need to check with your area’s regulations regarding velocity limitations, as some regions to limit the amount of FPS you can use. Additionally, typically, the higher the velocity, the higher the price tag.

Draw Weight

In addition to the velocity, you’ll also want to consider the draw weight rating of the crossbow. The draw weight rating impacts performance. The lower the rating, the lower the performance; however, do note that higher draw weight ratings do require more strength and stamina to handle. Ideally, you should look for a crossbow that has a draw weight rating of no less than 150 feet pounds.

Power Stroke

You’ll also want to consider the power stroke of the weapon. The power stroke refers to the distance a string will have to travel from its loose position until it reaches the latch of the weapon and is cocked. The average power stroke is between 10 inches and 14 inches. Generally speaking, the higher the power stroke, the more power will be placed behind the arrow when its shot.

Energy Output

The energy output refers to how much energy will be transferred from the string of the crossbow to the arrow when it’s released. The longer the power stroke and the higher the draw weight, the more energy will be transferred to the arrow. The more energy and power, the faster the arrow will fly, and the more deadly it will be; more energy also means less drop-down trajectory.

As long as you choose a crossbow that has a minimum draw weight of 150 pounds, a minimum velocity of 200 FPS, and a minimum power stroke of 10 inches, you’ll have enough power and accuracy to take down all types of game.

The Limbs

The limbs of a crossbow are the two pieces that connect to the riser. The string attaches to the tips of the limbs. Pretty much every high-quality crossbows (like the seven featured on our list) feature limbs that are constructed of fiberglass, carbon, or a blend of these two materials. Fiberglass and carbon are very lightweight, yet very durable, which is extremely important, considering the amount of stress that crossbows generate. Steer clear of crossbows that feature limbs made of wood or aluminum, as it’s pretty much guaranteed that they are going to break.


You’re also going to want to consider the size of the crossbow. If you’re intending on using your crossbow for target practice, size really doesn’t matter; however, if you are going to be using it for hunting, size does matter. For hunting purposes, the smaller the crossbow, the better, as it will be easier to handle and you’ll have a much easier time getting into the cramped spaces and positions that are often necessary to conceal yourself while hunting. A large crossbow will be difficult to maneuver and will make compact spaces feel even tighter than they already are.

When considering the size, keep in mind that when the weapon is cocked, the distance of the limb tip is at its minimum. Once the crossbow is deployed, the limbs will return back to their at-rest position, which is larger than when the weapon is cocked. With a compact crossbow, the risk of hitting the side of the blind or the limb will be significantly less.

Vibration and Noise

When it comes to hunting, it’s important to be as discreet as possible. The louder the weapon is, the less luck you’re going to have, as you’ll scare away your game as soon as you cock and deploy your arrow. When shopping for a crossbow, look for a model that features a string suppressor system and limb vibration dampeners. If you find a model that you like that doesn’t offer these features, make sure that they can be added so reduce the amount of noise the weapon will generate.


The goal of sighting is to zero in on a particular distance – 30 yards, for example – with the top reticle or dot (crosshairs). Once you’ve achieved this, the rest of the reticles or dots will automatically align to the proper distances.

A single reticle or dot sighted at a particular yardage will only be useful for that specific distance; you’ll have to estimate any other distances using the reticle or dot location on your target. A multi-reticle or dot scope is a lot more accurate, so you intend on shooting at several different distances, look for a crossbow that comes equipped with this type of scope. Additionally, if you are planning on hunting when it’s dark – at dawn or dusk, or in overcast conditions – look for a scope that features illuminated reticles or dots, as it will allow to see your target a lot more clearly. However, if you find a weapon that you like and it doesn’t come with a multi-reticle or dot scope, you ca always upgrade.


The style of trigger is a matter of personal preference. Some crossbows are outfitted with a light trigger pull weight without a creep, while others have a creep in the trigger and have a heavier pull weight to deploy. Try out different options to see which style you prefer.

Crossbow FAQs

In this section, we provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions people ask regarding crossbows.

How do you cock a crossbow?

If you’ve never shot a crossbow before, it’s important to understand how to cock a crossbow, as that’s what allows you to deploy the arrow at your target. There are three different ways to cock a crossbow:

  • Manual – Most crossbows are equipped with a stirrup, a semi-triangular hole that is situated at the front of the weapon. To manually cock your crossbow, you’ll need to set your foot inside the stirrup, push down with your leg and all of your body weight to plant it firmly in the ground. Then, use your weight to lift the string upwards until it’s in the cocked position.
  • Rope – With this method, you cut the force that’s needed to draw the string in half, which makes the job a lot easier.
  • Crank – A crank mechanism is attached to the back of the weapon. To crank it, simply turn the crank to draw the string. However, do note that while this method certainly makes it easier to cock, a crank will add to the weight of the crossbow.

What’s the difference between a compound and recurve crossbow?

The primary difference between a recurve and a compound crossbow is the limbs and the mechanism that is used to draw the string.Compound weapons use a system known as “cams”, which makes it easier to draw the crossbow; it also stores more energy and can deliver a more powerful shot. A recurve crossbow features a single string, which makes it easy use and maintain; however, it isn’t as powerful as a compound crossbow.

How do I maintain the strings and cables on my crossbow?

In order to ensure your crossbow functions safely and properly, maintaining the strings and cables is essential. In order to do so, make sure to wax the strings on a regular basis.

You can purchase specialized wax to lube your crossbows strings and cables. Not only will doing so improve the function and safety of weapon, but it will also extend the life expectancy of your crossbow.


Whether you’re hunting or you’re just engaging in target practice, a crossbow is a reliable weapon that’s a lot of fun to operate. When shopping, make sure that you take the above-mentioned factors to determine which one will best meet your specific needs.

Whichever option you choose, if it’s one from our list of top seven crossbows, you’ll be sure to have a powerful and reliable weapon in your arsenal that you’ll be able to enjoy using for years to come.

Jake is an explorer, he loves all types of outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing & hiking. Jake has been a full-time writer & blogger for many years now and he's here to share his passions with the BeActiveOutdoors readers. Contact

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