Review guide: Which are the Best Crossbows for Hunting?

Barnett Recruit Compound

Where do I start for the first time in hunting with a crossbow? Here let me help you. Let’s start by choosing the right equipment for the first hunt. First off you want to buy the best crossbow package you can afford. The basic kit should include a crossbow, a few arrows, arrow points and a scope sight. Don’t forget your cocking device and quiver. Ok now we have made a good starting list.

Get Ready: Hunting with crossbows for the first time

We will want a solid crossbow that is made by a reputable manufacturer. We will find the best entry level crossbow that fits us the hunters specifically. Starting out we will want to buy a crossbow that will shoot an arrow at least 300fps. This speed will give us enough KE (Kinetic Energy) to take out a deer or antelope. Also at longer ranges this speed will reduce the arrow trajectory giving us the most accurate shoot every time. We want to buy the right size arrow made specifically for our crossbows. The crossbow is designed to perform at its maximum efficiency with the correct size of arrow. We want to make sure we have the correct grain for the arrow as well. Just starting out in hunting your arrow should weigh 5 grains per pound of draw weight. I.E. (Draw weight is 65lbs x 5 grains per pound for every inch of arrow= 325 grains).

We want to choose the correct arrow points as well. Since we are going hunting for the first time we will want to use Broad Heads for hunting big game. Typically for higher weight bows you want to use broad head points with removable heads. Do you have a lower poundage bow? Use broad head points with fixed expandable heads or broad head points with mechanical heads for these lower poundage bows.

Sneak Attack
Sneak Attack by Orin Zebest

Let’s get a good scope sight for our crossbows for low light environments. The lighted scope will help us see clearly where our game is. So we won’t be doing any second guessing at how many yards we need to shoot to take out that elk or deer. Seasoned hunters can accurately gauge the distance to kill an animal. But since we are rookie hunters we will benefit greatly with the visual accuracy a scope brings.

We will make our lives so much easier if we get a good cocking device. Without the cocking device we would have to pull the crossbow by natural strength. Today’s crossbows approach nearly 200lb. draw weights. This making it very difficult to pull the string back to that 200 lb. draw weight. So we should get a mechanical cocking device to aid us in pulling the bow string back.

We can’t forget about the bow quiver either. We really don’t want to be carrying the arrows around with everything else we need to track on our first hunt.

What about those first time crossbow accessories?

We are new at this hunting game so what accessories do we need? Being inexperienced hunters we want to buy the right accessories that will make our hunting experience simple but enjoyable. So let’s start by getting a cocking device that will aid us in pulling back the bowstring. We are first time hunters right? So let’s buy a crank cocking device. The winch will enable us to pull back the bowstring using only 10lbs of force. We can use a high-powered entry level crossbow with ease by using the hand activated winch. This winch comes in real handy when we’re faced with having to try and manually cock a crossbow that could have a potential 150 draw weight capability. You’d have to be awful strong to cock a crossbow manually. Use a hand winch that is already designed into the bow it’s much easier! Also we can invest in a hand winch that we can attach to the crossbow this would be a viable alternative. It would involve more work but it can be done.

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”466″ identifier=”B00IN6ENWY” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”400″]Why not a range finder? A range finder would be an ideal addition to a scope. Remember we are first time hunters and we don’t have a lot of experience locating and following the movement of our live targets. This where a range finder would help us automatically find and track the movement of the target. All we do is push the pad button and guess what? The range finder will constantly adjust distance, angles and distance as the target moves. You couldn’t make it any easier for your first time hunting experience.

Two basic accessories we need to purchase are wax strings and lubrication. The wax string will come in handy to wax down the crossbow string. Waxing the string will prevent it from drying and fraying. Potentially without waxing the string it could break. This could damage the bow. Plus waxing the string will make it last longer. Lubing the rail of the crossbow will minimize the friction of the bolt improving the accuracy of our shots. Also using an oil based lubrication is the best bet. Lubing the trigger box and any visible mounting bolts would be helpful. The lubrication will preserve these parts from damage from outside environmental elements. These are a few necessary accessories to help us in our first hunt.

How to choose your best crossbow for hunting?

So how do we choose the best hunting crossbow? Should we choose the recurve or compound crossbow? Both have advantages and disadvantages to their performance. Also when choosing a crossbow you have to consider the draw weight of the particular bow. Draw weight also plays into what kind of animal you are hunting. Here is a draw chart for different sized animals at 150 lb. draw weight:

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Definitely based on this chart a 150lb. draw weight is needed to kill bigger animals. Also you have to consider the Kinetic Energy (81 ft. lbs) which means 81 lbs. working per foot. Ultimately this means you need more Kinetic Energy to bring down bigger animals. The point of penetration will be deeper and have enough force to kill the animal. Smaller animals require smaller Kinetic Energy rates to penetrate their body and ultimately kill them.

Consider though not everyone can draw this type of weight without some type of mechanical cocking device. Women and children need to consider this when choosing the best compound crossbow or recurve crossbow. Recurve bows have no mechanical aides to help in drawing the string back as compound crossbows do. So in these cases compound crossbows would be the preferred bow.

Draw weight- is another factor to consider when choosing a crossbow. The greater the draw weight a bow has the faster the arrow will travel. The compound crossbow is more energy efficient than the recurve crossbow. The recurve crossbow takes more draw weight to achieve the same speed than a compound crossbow does. The recurve’s wider design accounts for this.

Fps is still another factor to consider. The compound crossbow can shoot arrows faster with less draw weight than the recurve can. Also the higher the fps rate a bow can shoot the quicker the arrow will reach the target and penetrate it.

Arrow weight –The heavier the arrow the more kinetic energy is stored. This means that a heavier arrow will penetrate an animal deeper than a lighter arrow. Also the heavier arrow will kill the animal quicker than a lighter arrow. The lighter arrow will travel faster than the heavier arrow. So you can shoot a lighter arrow from further distances than a heavier arrow. To kill an animal with a heavier arrow you must be much closer to the target. Here the compound crossbow has the advantage over the recurve crossbow. In heavy brush or forested areas you can get much closer to animals with a compound crossbow than a recurve crossbow. The compound crossbow is narrower in length making it easier to shoot in dense brush or areas blanketed with many trees. Here the compound crossbow would be better to shoot heavy arrows than the recurve crossbow.

Bow Length-The longer the bow the more accurate the shot will be. Compound crossbows win out over recurve crossbows in this category as well. To begin with recurve crossbows have no “hold off” setting like compound crossbows have. So when shooting a recurve crossbow you cannot pull the string back and hold it as long as you can as the compound crossbow. The result will be you having to rush your shot making for an inaccurate shot. So here a longer compound crossbow is more advantageous than a longer recurve crossbow.

Considering the compound crossbow beats the recurve crossbow in all the above categories. I would choose the Compound crossbow over the recurve crossbow for hunting.

The best hunting crossbows reviews

Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”500″ identifier=”B00BD5B7Y4″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”300″]Barnett Recruit is perfect for children and women bow hunters. It comes with a Rope Cocking device, 3 20” Arrows and a Quiver. It also has a premium red dot sight. The adjustable butt allows me to set the draw length that is comfortable for me. My wife and children will benefit greatly from this feature. My wife can set it to a smaller draw length that she feels comfortable with. My children can set the draw length to the width they are capable of pulling the bow string to. They can always adjust it as they get older and stronger. This is a very nice feature that allows this flexibility with this bow. It also saves money because I don’t have to go out and buy new bows for the kids every time they grow and get stronger.

I really liked this product because I bought it for the whole family. It only took me about 10 minutes to assemble it. My son was hitting a 1” bullseye at 20 yards out. Great little bow for hunters of all skill levels. Perfect for beginners just starting out in the hunting game.

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Barnett Jackal Crossbow

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”319″ identifier=”B004IJ1Q1Q” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”300″]Barnett really shined with this design. I like the sleek military design which is innovative for the crossbow market. This bow has some real firepower because the arrows scream out of it at 315 fps. The draw length is 150 lbs. which could easily kill a bear, antelope or deer.

It comes with a lightweight and compact stock. The weight is only 7lbs so I can carry it anywhere. This bow requires no assembly and is ready for me to shoot it right out of the box. I really appreciate the ready assembled bow so I don’t have to mess with any assembly instructions. It has Quad Limb High Energy Wheels. It comes with a synthetic string and cable system that produce high arrow release speeds.

It’s a good compact and stable bow and it will last for years. The package comes with 3 20” Arrows, Quiver and of course the Red Dot Scope. It has a sleek 3.5 Trigger Pull.

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Barnett Outdoors Brotherhood Crossbow

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”307″ identifier=”B00K1F330I” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”300″]Barnett has done it again! This bow shoots as quiet as any expensive bow on the market. My friend and I went to the shooting range to polish our shooting skills. He was impressed that my Brotherhood Crossbow shot quieter than his high end crossbow. The accuracy of this bow is impressive as well. I was knocking out bullseye after bullseye at 20 yards. I did some real accurate shooting at 30 and 40 yards.

This particular package comes with Finger Reminders and Pass-through Fore Grips. It has an Anti-Dry firing trigger built into it. This feature will save me from seriously damaging my bow. This safety feature will deter me from ever firing this bow with no arrow loaded in it. It has a high energy Cam System and a Cross Wire String and Cable System.

You talk about easy assembly out of the box. I attached one bolt for the limbs to the frame. It took 4 bolts to fasten the foot stirrup. I put on the scope and bam it was done. I couldn’t have made it any easier than that. I give this bow a 5 star rating because it shoots so accurately. I was hitting the center of the target in 4 to 5 shots. This was from 20 yards out!

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The high end crossbow – Barnett BCX Buck Commander Extreme CRT Crossbow

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”268″ identifier=”B00BD4X9ZU” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”300″]This crossbow comes with a neat camouflage handle that blends in well in many hunting environments. The arrows sizzle out of this bow at a whopping 365fps.

It comes with a Quiver, three Arrows and a 3×32 scope. Making sighting a target at long distances a breeze. It costs a bit more which is a step up in Barnett’s product line. It’s worth the extra few hundred dollars to dish out though. Its 19.875” from axle to axle and it comes with a handy Rope Cocking Device.

The draw weight is on the higher end at 185lbs. but with the Rope Cocking Device I can easily pull the bow string to that length. It is a steal for the price and would be a very good value for any hunter looking to buy a quality bow without hurting your wallet.

It has 118 lbs. per foot of kinetic energy which would bring down any big game decidedly. It will kill the bigger animals instantly with that penetrating power. This bow is perfect for the seasoned hunter. I absolutely recommend any serious hunter to think seriously about purchasing this top end bow from Barnett.

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Excalibur Matrix 355 Crossbow

[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”500″ identifier=”B00AU6BYU4″ locale=”US” src=”” tag=”deadbullseye-20″ width=”300″]You know for sure Excalibur will put out the finest quality bow that can be manufactured. Excalibur enjoys a reputation of being one of the best manufactures of crossbow products. The Matrix 355 lives up to that billing.

It has a speedy fps of 355fps and the draw weight is a heavy 240lbs. So I will definitely need some type of cocking device to help me reach this mammoth draw weight. This bow can knock out any big animal. It has a 12.2 power stroke that helps shoot those arrows out at high rates of speed. It has more bells and whistles like Ergo-Grip Stock and has a Real Tree Xtra Finish. Its overall length is 34.75”, its width is 30.62 “un cocked” and 26.31 “cocked”.

I did sacrifice a little speed and but the noise is reduced when I am shooting. I find it is easier to cock than other bows I have used. Still 355fps is a very good arrow speed. So I don’t feel real bad about having a slower fps speed. Besides the difference isn’t that much anyway.

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One thing I really appreciate about this bow is the accuracy of my shots at 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards and 50 yards. I couldn’t miss any stationary or moving targets at those distances. Which speaks volumes of the precision that Excalibur put into the design of this crossbow.

Let’s sum it up

You know when I shop for the best crossbow I will look at and compare the features each compound crossbow and recurve crossbow have to offer. I look at fps, arrow weight, draw weight and what features the different bow models come with. I compared many recurve models against compound models. True, recurve models do have a lot of nice features to offer and they are comparable in fps and draw weight with compounds. But in all the criterion I compared the two models with the compound came out on top in every case.

The compounds are easier to hold the draw weights longer than the recurves because the recurves don’t have the hold off feature like compounds do. The recurves don’t come with any cocking devices so I have to depend on natural strength to draw the bow string back to designated levels. The compounds have cocking mechanisms that make it a lot easier for me to achieve my desired draw weight.

The compound bows are more energy efficient than the recurves and I can hunt in smaller spaces in the forest and the brush because the compound is narrower in design then the recurve. This also means I can use less force to shoot my arrows at high speeds. Based on these and other factors discussed in this article my choice for the best crossbow is the compound crossbow.


My name is Austin. I built this website to be a place where outdoor enthusiasts from everywhere come to share what they know! I love with the intense feelings of freedom and adrenaline that only the outdoors gives me. I hope you find the content on this site to be helpful in your search.

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