Most people seem to love a good crossbow whether it is to lay waste to zombie hordes in Walking Dead, kill vampires, decimate French armies or to kill a monarch such as Richard the Lionheart; or if you are a psychopath like Joffrey Baratheon you use your crossbow, or in his case toy, for more heinous purposes. However, most of us are not caught up in a zombie apocalypse and we just enjoy utilizing the crossbow like any normal, sane person who enjoys their hobby. There are a lot of different and good crossbows available nowadays and so you can find yourself asking “What is the best crossbow on the market?” With all the information available online it may be hard to find an answer to this question in your particular circumstance.  That is why we did a thorough research, interviewed experts, and done our own tests – all with a hope that our guides and crossbow reviews will help you choose the best crossbow for the money and for your needs.

Top Crossbows of 2017: Comparison Table 

ImageNameSpeedDraw WeightCrossbow weightTypePriceOur Rating
review of excalibur matrix 380Excalibur Matrix 380380 fps 260 lbs5.9 lbsrecurve$$$$$5.0/5.0
review of excalibur matrix 355Excalibur Matrix 355355 fps240 lbs5.4 lbsrecurve$$$$5.0/5.0
review of barnett ghost 360 crtBarnett Ghost 360 CRT360 fps165 lbs7.0 lbscompound$$$4.6/5.0
review of wicked ridge invader G3Wicked Ridge Invader G3330 fps165 lbs6.6 lbscompound$$$4.6/5.0
review of barnett quad 400Barnett Quad 400345 fps150 lbs9.0 lbscompound$$4.4/5.0
review of barnett jackalBarnett Jackal315 fps150 lbs7.7 lbscompound$4.4/5.0
review of sa sports feverSA Sports Fever240 fps175 lbs4.9 lbsrecurve$4.7/5.0

Main Types of Crossbows

First of all, what is a crossbow? In general, crossbow design is similar to bows (both recurve and compound). Crossbows also have a curved shape but they are used horizontally as opposed to the more common method of using the longbow vertically (although there are some modern crossbows that are also vertical).  A crossbow is attached to a wooden body called a tiller or stock that holds the arrow in place whereas the nut or catch holds the string. There are also a number of accessories and improvements in modern crossbow technologies – protective crossbow cases, cams, adjustable scopes, crossbow slings, advanced material limbs to name a few.

best crossbow reviews and guide - breakdown of a compound crossbow

Click to enlarge the main compound crossbow parts

There are two main types of crossbows, both with their unique advantages and disadvantages. The first type is the compound crossbow, which has shorter limbs and is easier to handle. The second type is the recurve crossbows. It is important to realize that recurve crossbows are directly descended from their historic counterparts, whereas compound crossbows are in many hobbyists’ opinion a technological improvement to the original crossbow design. Recurve simply means that the limbs are facing away from the shooter, compound crossbows, however, utilize cams that have been appended to the original crossbow design, allowing one to draw the bow easier. In addition, the cocking mechanism makes it easier for the user to draw. The cam system enables the compound crossbow to store more energy, thus making the bow more powerful. This design in the compound crossbow allows it to propel its projectiles at higher speeds.

Which Type of Crossbows is Better?

Compound crossbows are more powerful than recurve ones since compounds launch bolts faster. For obvious reasons, more power is better than less power when you are hunting big game. However, compounds are often heavier than recurves making it harder to carry them around during an all-day hunting trip. Also, compounds generate somewhat louder noises which may make it harder to surprise prey.

Compounds also need much more maintenance than recurve crossbows since they contain more mechanical parts that are prone to get worn out or broken. Furthermore, when the string breaks on a compound, a bow press is needed which can cost you around $50 to $500 depending on the bow press. You won’t have to face the same expenses with recurves. Recurves, on the other hand, are lighter than compound ones but do produce less power, though the difference can be only slight.  Recurve type crossbows also do not possess a cocking mechanism and cocking them requires a bit of physical strength, so more powerful versions may not always be suitable for smaller frame women and children.

Overall, both compound and recurve types of crossbows have different strengths and weakness, but if you are amateur or beginner, then a recurve might be the ideal option for you especially since they are less expensive than their counterparts, but if you want more power, then opt for the compound crossbow.

Have a look at the crossbow reviews we put together at the bottom of this page, they show top rated crossbows for each budget category — lower budget options will do well to get you started!

Factors to Consider when Choosing a Crossbow

There are four main factors that those choosing a crossbow should be concerned with: 1) speed 2) draw weight 3) crossbow weight and 4) budget.

1. Crossbow Speed

Of the four factors, speed is one of the most heavily debated decisions in choosing a crossbow and there is plenty of disagreement if it should be #1 factor or not. It is important to understand that you have to think of speed, especially if you are hunting and not only using your crossbow for target practice. For most deer, hunting them with any crossbow suffices; however when it comes to larger animals such as elk or moose or say for example African safari animals, then you need your weapon to shoot the arrow or bolt faster and at longer range, minimizing the chance of the animal reacting and thus resulting in a possible miss or not making a kill shot.  To make it more serious: if you are up against a grizzly in Alaska, then distance and speed with which that distance is covered by your bolt can mean the difference between life and death.

2. Crossbow Draw Weight

The second important factor you need to consider is the draw weight. Essentially, draw weight is the amount of force required to draw the bow of the crossbow, and the draw weight increases the further the string is pulled back. It is extremely important to know a crossbow’s draw weight because you need to take that into consideration when hunting.  Most decent crossbows have at least a 150lb draw weight, which gives you a bolt speed of around 220-350 fps.

Nonetheless, for hunting a 150lb draw weight is appropriate for hunting deer,  rabbits, and birds if you manage to hit the right spots. Larger animals such as small bears, elk, and caribou require a crossbow around a 175lbs draw weight if not more, and most crossbows in that range shoot their projectiles at around 330 fps to 350.  If you are the more adventurous type who is seeking out moose and grizzly bears, then you definitely want to choose at least a 200lb draw weight crossbow. Most crossbows with a draw weight of 200 pounds or more fire their bolts at around 330 fps to 350, while some reaching speed of 385 fps and more. For all of them, you will get a great (read: deadly) combination of power and speed.

3. Crossbow Weight

Finally, there is the factor of the crossbow’s weight, which is a vital part in purchasing the appropriate crossbow. You have to take into account your physical dimensions and for what purposes you intend to use the crossbow for. If you spend an entire day in the woods hunting, then you might want to have a light and compact crossbow. On the other hand, a heavy crossbow is easier to keep steady because the extra weight prevents the crossbow from moving around.

4. Crossbow Price

Bearing the three factors above in mind, it is also important to take into account that more expensive crossbows are undeniably better than their more budget-conscious counterparts. There are a few reasons for that, the main ones are:

  1. More expensive crossbows are more technologically advanced than cheap crossbows and include in their price cost of patent royalties for newest technologies. Main crossbow manufacturers put a lot of efforts and funds into R&D and protect their findings by patents. Once the technology is developed, other manufacturers adopt the technology and start using it in their crossbows while paying patent royalties to original inventors. It is a common practice in crossbows industry and the most advanced brands incorporate all the most advanced inventions in the crossbow designs of their flagship models.
  2. More expensive crossbows are also built with higher quality materials and include in their price cost of the materials and high precision manufacturing. Manufacturing costs of a high-end crossbow are quite high as they require advanced machinery and highly trained technicians. Also, more advanced artificial materials used in high-end crossbows are limited in supply, have high lead time for producing, and as a result very highly priced. All these factors are accounted for in the more expensive crossbows.

This is very straightforward and crossbow industry is one of the few industries where price, quality, and performance are very highly related. The below video of ‘How Crossbows are Made’ will give you a better understanding of the complexity of crossbow manufacturing, even though they show a fairly non-complex crossbow.

Reviews of the Best Crossbows For the Money:

Now that we have the nitty-gritty out of the way, we finally get to the best-rated crossbow reviews and options. These are top rated crossbows in their respective price range, starting with the most expensive option and moving down based on crossbow prices.

~$900 or more: Excalibur Matrix 380 Review – The Fastest Crossbow

For crossbows that will set you back at least $900, none can compare to the Excalibur Matrix 380, which is the best recurve crossbow on the market. Its draw weight is 260 lbs and it has a reported speed of 380 fps attained with a 350gr. arrow. This remarkable speed makes it one of the fastest crossbows nowadays! Needless to say with such speed it is also the most powerful crossbow. Amazingly, with the high speed, it does not produce a lot of noise, so it is a great crossbow to take on a hunt, especially if you are hunting from a blind. As for the dimensions, it is very compact with 35,6 inches long and weighs 5.9 pounds which is extremely lightweight for crossbows. It comes packaged with a Tact-Zone Crossbow Scope (illuminated: red and green and with a range scale of up to 60 yards), a four-arrow ambidextrous quiver, four Diablo arrows, four 150 grain field points and a rope cocking aid. Once you sight it, you are ready to go hunting.

Reviews of this crossbow are overwhelmingly positive with nobody giving it less than max score based on performance. A lot of archers claim that this is the most accurate crossbow on the market while everybody agrees that this crossbow gives the user the most pleasurable shooting experience. Word of caution from another user: if you want to practice shooting this crossbow, make sure you get good block targets – at 40 yards arrows go fletching deep and you may not be able to pull them out.

The price of the crossbows is on the high side, but keep in mind that you are also purchasing a lifetime warranty on the crossbow as well as legendary Excalibur customer support.

>>Click here to see price and more  reviews<<

~$600-900 range: Excalibur Matrix 355 Review

In the price range of $600-900 the best crossbow for the money is Excalibur Matrix 355, which is also a recurve type crossbow. It has a reputed speed of 355 fps and is considered to have a phenomenal accuracy similar to that of the 380 model. In reviews, some owners noted that it was very easy to group arrows in a small 4” circle from 30-yard distance with this crossbow, and others noted its high accuracy in 70+ yard shots. The crossbow comes equipped with a great scope, which is another benefit noted by all reviewers.  It has a draw weight of 240 pounds and it is very light, weighing only 5.4 lbs, thus making it a great crossbow for hunters who like moving. The shorter power stroke (12.2”) makes it easier to cock, which is another helpful attribute during a hunt – you only need to pull the string to your waste, as not as high as your chest as with some other models.

Excalibur Matrix 355 has excellent safety features but is a little louder that it’s big 380 brothers. You may want to consider ordering and installing suppressors separately if you want an absolutely silent crossbow. The Matrix 355 received great reviews from all its owners. All reviewers acknowledged high-quality manufacturing of the crossbow and its durability. Excalibur Matrix 355 is a highly suitable crossbow for professional hunters due to its many features, and with its kinetic energy you can take down the largest game in the US.

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~$500-600 range: Barnett Ghost 360 CRT Review

In this budget range the top crossbow is undoubtedly Barnett Ghost 360 CRT. It weighs only 7.0 pounds and features Carbon Riser Crossbow Technology (CRT) which allowed shifting weight from the front of the bow making it more balanced and helping aim easier and shooting a crossbow with more accurately. The low weight makes it easy to carry the crossbow for any distance which is perfect for hunters. The crossbow has a draw weight of 165 pounds and shoots with speed of 360fps, which is sufficient for almost any purpose. Ghost 360 comes with a great illuminated scope (5 brightness levels, 2 colors) which is very easy to use and it has a stock that is ready for a crank device.  Besides the scope, the standard Ghost 360 package includes a set of 3 20” HeadHunter arrows with a quiver, a sling, and a rope cocking device.  One of the fastest, quietest and most powerful crossbows for the money.

Reviewers gave the crossbow 4.5/5.0 score with emphasis on great accuracy, power, and design the crossbow. One reviewer noted that because of the crossbow’s accuracy he can’t shoot 2 bolts at the same spot as he will ‘robin hood’ them every time. Another customer commented on the power of the crossbow by stating that went 3 inches deep in a brick wall and went through a 400fps target without visible effort. Overall, all people who purchased Ghost 360 were highly pleased with its performance and recommended it to anyone looking for a powerful crossbow within the budget range.

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~$400-500 range: Wicked Ridge Invader G3 Review

Best crossbow under $500 is without a doubt Wicked Ridge Invader G3. It is a compound crossbow, weighing in at 6.6lbs, with a draw weight of 165 pounds. The velocity is 330 fps which is very effective for hunting turkey, deer, antelope and larger animals such as small bears and elks. The crossbow comes equipped with excellent ambidextrous safety features, including Dry-Fire-Inhibitor which will prevent crossbow from firing without an arrow. The crossbow also features industry’s quietest and smoothest trigger technology, patented as a 3.5-pound T2 Trigger. Wicked Ridge Invader G3 is proudly manufactured in Ohio, USA, so you can be sure that it offers great built quality.

The crossbow received highly positive reviews from its users, with the remarkable rating of 4.6/5.0. Many reviewers were surprised by the quality of the bow considering the fact that it is not overly expensive. A lot of reviewers noted their experience of shooting very tight groups within minutes of assembling the crossbow, eg: “Got it for my wife and it shot bullseyes right out of the box”. Wicked Ridge Invader G3 is easy to assemble with the entire process taking less than 20 minutes even for beginners. Overall, this is a superb American-made crossbow with great value for money offering, as one owner put it: “All in all worth the money, a great value and you can’t go wrong with a ten point.” Overall, Wicked Ridge Ivader G3 is a great model and definitely the best crossbow under $500.

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~$300-400 range: Barnett Quad 400 Review

For those of you looking in $300 to $400 range Barnett Quad 400 is the best choice. The crossbow is positioned as a price-point bow for those who want to try compound crossbows and don’t want to break the bank while doing so. As an owner of this crossbow put it “For the cost of this crossbow and what it is capable of doing, I was extraordinarily impressed with the Quad 400” It clocks in at 345 fps speed, with a draw weight of 150lbs. With such speed and power, this crossbow can take down an elk and perhaps and ox or African buffalo. It is a relatively small crossbow weighing 9.8 lbs so you will have no difficulty carrying it around on your hunting trips. Some of its other notable strengths include high-quality material, meaning it will be a long time before you need to replace the parts.  The trigger is very responsible and stable, thus great for novices and it has very high accuracy. There are finger guides to prevent you from placing your fingers in the path of the string, so it is a very safe crossbow for beginners and hunters.

Like its higher priced Ghost counterparts it has received rave reviews. Customers rated this crossbow at stunning 4.2/5.0 The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and the crossbows come highly recommended by its owners. All customers noted the great accuracy of the crossbow at various distances and several owners advised against aiming at the same spot more than once to avoid ‘robin hooding’ the first bow. Shooting 2” groups from 50 yards did not seem to be a problem to anyone. Overall, Barnett Quad 400 is a great model and definitely the best crossbow under $400.

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 ~$200-300 range: Barnett Jackal Review

In the $200 to $300 price range we have the Barnett Jackal compound crossbow, which combines affordability, power and efficiency in one package. Weighting at 7.7 lbs it is quite heavy compared to some other models, but it has a draw weight of 150 pounds and reaches velocity is 315 fps, which is fast and will surely get your target. The crossbow package provides you with 3 arrows of 20” and a quiver, which is a great deal for the price. It’s the best beginners crossbow in our opinion and an excellent choice for novices as well as for price conscious veterans.

Many customers who purchased the Jackal were surprised to find out how easy it was to get started with using it (only takes about 10 minutes to get it ready to shoot). Reviewers were also pleasantly surprised to find out how easy it was to get great shots from it. The crossbow is highly accurate and comes with a great red 3-dot sight. The sight will help you hit a bull’s eye easily from 30 yards. With a bit of skill and practice, you can get as great results from an even bigger distance. Barnett is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-end crossbows, so you can be sure of the quality of materials used in producing this crossbow. If you are starting out with crossbows, or there is a limit on how much you are willing to spend on a crossbow, go with Barnett Jackal.

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~$200 or less: SA Sports Fever Review

Finally, we get to the SA Sports Fever which is the best cheap crossbow that seems to be mainly aimed at novices and hunters shooting smaller game and deer.  Since it is priced below $200 it is quite a bargain. The SA Sports Fever crossbow is a recurve type crossbow with a draw weight of 175 pounds and its arrows reach a velocity of 250 fps, it is quite a light weighing and compact crossbow at 4.85 pounds and it is very easy to cock with the rope cocking device. Understandably, Sports Fever has fewer features in comparison to higher price range crossbows, but it gets the job done especially for novices. The crossbow comes with a scope, 3 arrows of 20 inches, a quiver to hold these arrows and a rope cocking device. It takes only about 10 minutes to put it together and start shooting. The design of the crossbow was simplified to allow for only a few moving parts, which makes it easy to maintain. Granted, SA Sports Fever is not the most accurate crossbow on the market, but you can easily get a quarter size groupings from 15 yards. With a bit of practice, you can get the same from 30 yards or more. Quite good stats for an inexpensive crossbow.  If you are looking for a cheap crossbow, a compact crossbow, and an overall best beginners crossbow – definitely consider SA Sports Fever.

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