Pistol crossbows are small, compact, compound or recurve crossbows. They are not as heavy as a standard sized crossbow which makes them easier to carry when doing things like hunting. Their design is similar to a pistol which is where the name came from. The projectiles on this crossbow are shorter, so it doesn’t shoot at the distance of a standard crossbow. This means you have to be closer to your prey before you shoot. Even so, the pistol crossbow is very powerful.
These crossbows usually come with draw weights between 50 and 80 pounds, but they are capable of carrying the same draw weight as a standard bow. When the draw weight is lighter, there is a stirrup at the end of the firing stock to cock the bow. When the draw weight is heavier, a cocking device is used which gives you more power when drawing the string to cock it.
The pistol crossbow is ideal for beginners or young people because of its lighter weight and capacity for hunting smaller game like raccoons and rabbits. They are also perfect for target practice. These crossbows are not as accurate as standard crossbows because of the short tracking range, which does not allow you to always establish a stable, accurate flight. But, because of their size, it does not take much effort to load so you can shoot more arrows in a shorter period of time.
Top Pistol Crossbow Reviews
Below is our list of the top ranking pistol crossbows on the market today:
#1: Cobra System Self Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow Review
This crossbow has an 80-pound draw weight and is designed with die-cast alloy and solid brass. It also has fiber graphite limbs which add to its flexibility. It is ideal for hunting small game and has a firing speed of 165 fps. The self-cocking mechanism makes it less strenuous and safer to use. If you pull down on the pivoting arm lever, the cable will cock and the safety will be engaged automatically. Reloading time is much shorter because of the quickness of the cocking mechanism. The crossbow comes with three aluminum arrows that have metal tips and adjustable tactical sight.
The Cobra Self-Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow also has adjustment wheels for elevation, sighting, and windage. It is a little under 2 pounds and measures about 18” x 6”. Bolts can be launched over 100 yards, and the picture of the cobra on the side lets you know that this is a powerful crossbow and not a toy.
#2: M48 Self-Cocking 80-Lb. Cobra Crossbow Pistol Review
This 80-pound draw weight mini crossbow pistol features a self-cocking mechanism which makes it easier to draw, and helps eliminate pulled muscles. It has graphite limbs which are stronger than steel or aluminum, and the body is made of die-cast alloy making the crossbow more durable. Three aluminum arrows are included and this crossbow launches the projectiles at over 160 fps, which will get them downrange fast. The built-in safety engages automatically when you cock the crossbow. This crossbow also features adjustable rear sights and a front bead which will help improve accuracy. A sight adjustment tool is also included.
Dimensions for the M48 Self-Cocking Cobra Crossboware 20x8x2 inches. It features windage, sighting, and elevation wheels. Although small, it should not be given to children to use without the proper supervision even for target practice. Its lightweight design makes it convenient to carry or put into a hunting bag or backpack.
#3: Prophecy 80 Pound Self-cocking Pistol Crossbow Review
The Prophecy self-cocking pistol crossbow has an 80-pound draw weight and shoots arrows up to 160 fps. It is one of the newer pistol crossbows on the market and its design is based on the Barnett Commando Pistol from the late 80s and early 90s. Although this crossbow is easy to use and easy to cock, its power should never be underestimated. It can release an arrow over a good distance at high speeds.
This crossbow can be purchased with a red/green dot scope with five illumination settings for both dots. It has a Cobra Limb System is which is considered one of the most reliable in the industry. When you pull down on the cocking lever, it activates the safety feature. The rail and stock are made of machined aluminum which makes this crossbow durable, but still lightweight. The 6 4/5” power stroke enables the Prophecy to store enough energy to fire a good way down range. This crossbow also has adjustable rear sight and bead foresight.
The pistol crossbow is considered a lethal weapon and in some countries it is strictly controlled because it can be easily concealed like a gun. It is legal to own a pistol crossbow in the United States; however, laws differ from state to state. Many of the laws regarding pistol crossbows are similar to laws for firearms. In some states such as Michigan, these crossbows can only be used during specified seasons to hunt game.
If you are also interested in a bigger crossbow, check out our guide to Parker crossbows.