A big part of that challenge is the simple fact that no two crossbows are quite the same, and present different benefits for different types of users, so picking the right one really is all about your personal needs and preferences.
If you’re an experienced king of the woodlands, for example, then you may be on the hunt (pardon the pun) for the most powerful crossbow on the market to take your game to the next level.
Meanwhile, beginners may be more inclined to choose a model that provides easy handling and smooth shooting, though other serious factors -not least of which being the cost- also come into play.
So, how do you determine which one is going to be best suited for you?
Start here, where we’ve compiled the best crossbows reviews into one complete and extensive guide to the year’s best models.
Today, we’ll answer some of the key questions most buyers have when they come to invest in a new bow, including:
- Which is the best budget crossbow?
- Which is the best crossbow for beginners?
- What is the best crossbow money can buy this year?
Best Crossbows 2018
Before we answer all of those questions -and more besides- take a look at the table below, which provides a comprehensive overview of 2018’s best crossbows.
|No.||Crossbow||Velocity||Draw-Weight||Kinetic Energy||Check Price|
|1:||Ravin Crossbows R15 Predator Crossbow||434 FPS||195 lbs||160 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|2:||Excalibur Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow (Editor’s pick)||405 FPS||290 lbs||127 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|3:||Barnett Ghost 420||420 FPS||185 lbs||153 ft – lbs||Check Price|
|4:||TenPoint Venom Crossbow with ACU50||372 FPS||185 lbs||114 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|5:||Horton Vortec RDX||340 FPS||135 lbs||103 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|6:||Excalibur Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow||305 FPS||200 lbs||72 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|7:||TenPoint Wicked Ridge Lady Ranger||300 FPS||150 lbs||70 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|8:||Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Package||300 FPS||130 lbs||80 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
|9:||TenPoint Wicked Ridge Invader G3||323 FPS||165 lbs||96 ft – lbs||Check Price|
|10:||Barnett Jackal Package||315 FPS||150 lbs||90 ft – Lbs||Check Price|
As you can see, there’s a lot to take in when it comes to deciding which crossbow is right for you. Whilst some models might deliver unrivaled speed and performance, for example, they do come with a price tag that is way outside most modest budgets
Meanwhile, where some crossbows aim for a more affordable price, you may find they sacrifice key features that are essential for a quality hunting experience.
With that in mind, we’ve tried, tested, and reviewed each of our top ten best crossbows, weighing up the pros and cons and making our own recommendations on why you may -or may not- want to consider buying them.
10. Barnett Jackal Package
Best for: Beginners’ crossbow
Price: From $265 (via Amazon)
- Velocity: 315 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Power stroke: 12″
- Kinetic energy: 90 ft – Lbs
- Draw weight: 150 lbs
- Width axle-axle: 26.2″ cocked, 28.2″ un-cocked
- 3.5 lb trigger pull
- Quiver attachment platform
- Red dot sight
- Crosswire® string and cable system
- Anti-dry-fire trigger
- CNC machined picatinny/weaver rail
- Velocity: 323 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Power stroke: 13.5″
- Kinetic energy: 96 ft – lbs
- Draw weight: 165 lbs
- Width axle-axle: 19″ cocked, 22.6″ uncocked
- TenPoint 3X Multi-Line Scope
- ACUdraw Cocking Mechanism
- Wicked Ridge Instant-Detach 3-Arrow Quiver
And so we start out top ten best crossbow reviews with this popular model that comes with everything novice hunters could need to get started right out of the proverbial box.
Whilst we’ve classed another model as the best budget crossbow, the Jackal’s price tag of less than $300 did make it a top contender for that particular prize, especially as it does provide exceptional value considering what you pay for it.
Boasting a maximum speed of 315 FPS with a maximum draw of 150 lbs, we haven’t found another compound crossbow that can quite match Barnett’s entry-level model for power and performance at such a low price.
TOP TIP: Barnett are one of the best-selling crossbow brands in the United States, and this beginners’ model comes with the same high-quality manufacturing, safety, and performance standards some of the brand’s top-level bows.
One of the reasons we rate this so highly as being ideal for beginners is that it is exceptionally easy to put together, keeping Barnett’s promise of making this one the ultimate out-of-the-box model.
It takes less than ten minutes to put the necessary pieces together, and then you’re good to head out into the woods, safe in the knowledge that the Jackal offers more than enough kinetic energy (roughly 90 ft – lbs by our reckoning) to take down most US legal game.
TOP TIP: The red dot site included in the Barnett Jackal package does help with increased accuracy over longer distances, though in our experience the battery power for this wasn’t the greatest, and we almost always had to swap batteries on hunts.
Like other models considered among the best budget crossbows, this can be very loud when fired. As drawbacks go, this is a pretty big one if you’re a beginner who plans to take game hunting seriously.
The good news is a dampener can be purchased separately and added on, though that does mean that the less-than-$300 price tag may not make this the best value when you start adding on the cost of extras.
|Low cost – Best crossbow under $400||Loud when shooting (needs separate dampener)|
|Ideal for beginners||lacks a rope-cocking device|
|Automatic safety features||Heavier than other models|
|Good speed and power for the price|
9. TenPoint Wicked Ridge Invader G3
Best for: Best crossbow under 500 dollars
Price: From $399 (via Amazon)
As one of the world’s leading crossbow brands, TenPoint will feature heavily in our list today, starting with their entry level Wicked Ridge Invader G3, a model which more than holds its own in the best crossbow under 500 dollars category thanks to its straightforward, bare bones approach to the hunting experience.
True, this one doesn’t come with all the attendant bells and whistles that you’ll find with some of the more top-level compound crossbows included in our guide, but that’s a large part of the Invader G3’s appeal.
By going back to basics in this latest upgrade to Wicked Ridge series, TenPoint not only keep the cost low to make this the best budget crossbow currently available, but also ensure that it’s lightweight, easy to carry, and a joy to use.
TOP TIP: The Invader G3 uses a patented ACU-52, self-retracting rope-cocking system which has two major advantages over other cocking mechanisms. First, it reduces overall draw weight by 50%. Second, it also ensures a high level of accuracy.
Speaking of accuracy, the bow’s sturdy-yet-sleek ergonomic design includes a 3.5 lb trigger built-in, with safety engineered fore-grip and wings to ensure solid handling and precision firing.
An industry-leading DFI (Dry-Fire Inhibitor) is included to prevent accidental firing when there’s no bow in place, whilst the auto-safety feature means you’re always in safety mode until you manually move the bow into a position for firing.
TOP TIP:The G3 is louder than many of the models we’ve tested, which means that -out of the box- it isn’t an ideal crossbow for hunting deer or small game. Adding a damper to the bow typically solves this problem.
The Invader G3 does include a scope. However, unlike other models, this one doesn’t illuminate, making it difficult if you’re planning a hunt at night time or in other low-light environments. Depending on how you plan to use it, that may be only a small price to pay to get your hands on the best crossbow under 500 dollars available today.
Fast and powerful enough for those just getting their first taste of hunting, this really is the best crossbow for the money you pay for it that we’ve come across.
|Low price – best crossbow under 400 dollars||Doesn’t include an illuminated scope|
|High-quality safety features||Lacks a rope-cocking mechanism|
|High speed, power, and accuracy levels for the price||Louder than other leading models|
8. Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Package
Best for: Best youth crossbow
Price: From $300
● Velocity: 300 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 12.5″
● Kinetic energy: 80 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 130 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 12″ cocked, 18″ uncocked
Choosing the best crossbow for young hunters new to the sport can bring with it some practical considerations that aren’t always accounted for with older users.
For one thing, there’s no guaranteeing that, after introducing our children to the sport, they’re going to be keen enough to stick with it, so affordability is essential. After all, what could be worse than spending hundreds of dollars on something that barely gets used once the kids lose interest?
If they do decide to stick with it, however, then you can’t afford to go cheap – you still need all the usual considerations – power, speed, and accuracy to name but a few.
Then there’s the need for said bow to be light enough and easy enough to use by smaller hunters.
With all that in mind, there was only one model we could have picked for 2018’s best youth crossbow – the Barnett Recruit.
Retailing around the $300 mark in most places, this isn’t only the top model for younger hunters, but also one of the best crossbows under $400 we’ve come across anywhere, and boasts a surprisingly high level of performance.
TOP TIP: What helps make this a good value for money crossbow is an adjustable butt stock which helps keep the bow at a comfortable size, even as a child grows older.
A great out-of-the-box model that takes no more than 10 minutes to set up, the Barnett Recruit is exceptionally light (6.5 lbs) and is thus easy to carry around and handle.
Meanwhile, the 130 lbs draw weight and rope cocking device also make it a breeze to use.
Don’t be mistaken for thinking that this is any kind of children’s toy, however. Also regarded as one of the best crossbows for women and beginners of both genders, this is a serious hunting tool capable of firing at 300 FPS and packing enough power to make a kill.
TOP TIP: The red dot sight is touted as a highlight of the Recruit, though it really is the most basic, entry-level model of its type. If your youngster does take the sport seriously, then upgrading the sight is a must.
Finally, as you’d expect from any youth or beginner crossbow worth its price, Barnett have invested heavily in the Recruit’s safety features.
An anti-dry-fire mechanism is included to prevent dangerous misfires, with finger reminders and MIM Tight Tolerance trigger also helping ensure a safe hunt.
● Red-Dot Sight
● Anti-dry-fire mechanism
● MIM Tight Tolerance trigger
● Crosswire® string and cable system
● Adjustable stock
|Lightweight and easy to use||Red dot sight is basic and should be upgraded|
|Affordable – quality crossbow under $400||Reports of strings wearing out fast|
|Can be adjusted to fit a youth as they grow older||Lack of camouflage pattern|
|High-level accuracy and enough power for beginner hunters|
7. TenPoint Wicked Ridge Lady Ranger
Best for: Best crossbow for women
Price: From $446 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 300 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 10.8″
● Kinetic energy: 70 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 150 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 19″ cocked, 22.6″ un-cocked
Yes, TenPoint’s awesome Wicked Ridge model makes its second appearance in today’s best crossbow reviews, this time with a model specifically designed for women.
The days of hunting being seen as testosterone-filled sport are becoming a thing of the past, with more ladies heading out into the woods each year. When they do, it pays to have a model designed just for them, and where better to turn for such a model than one of the world’s biggest crossbow manufacturers.
TenPoint’s Wicked Ridge Lady Ranger prides itself on offering the perfect combination of lightweight design and powerful shooting, and to that end, it more than delivers.
At just 5.9 lbs, its light and easy to carry around, eliminating arm fatigue which helps shots from going awry, whilst the girls we’ve spoken to say the 150 lbs draw weight helps make this one of the easiest crossbows to cock that they’ve used.
TOP TIP: One of the reasons the Lady ranger is so easy to cock is that comes with an ACU-52 self-retracting, rope cocking mechanism, which slashes draw weight by 50% whilst ensuring an accurate draw.
With an ideal pull-length and size, this is often regarded as not just one of the best crossbows for women, but for younger girls too, being very easy to use for all ages.
The inclusion of a 3x scope also makes it a suitable model for beginners, with 20,30, and 40 yard ranges exceptionally comfortable to shoot at, but be warned that the scope isn’t illuminated, which means night hunts aren’t the ideal time to go using the Lady Ranger.
Still, as one of the best crossbows under $500 that we’ve seen, we’re willing to sacrifice an illuminated scope to get our hands on a top-grade, female-friendly bow
TOP TIP: Whilst the pink camo design may add a touch of femininity, it doesn’t half stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. Obviously, this is hardly ideal for blending in with your surroundings.
● TenPoint 3x Multi-Line™ Scope
● ACU-52 self-retracting rope cocking system
● Wicked Ridge Instant-Detach 3-Arrow Quiver
|Lightweight design||No illuminated scope|
|Easy to cock||Pink color not ideal for camouflage|
|Low cost (under $500)||Noisy and needs dampener|
6. Excalibur Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow
Best for: Value for money crossbow
Price: From $529 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 305 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 11.5
● Kinetic energy: 72 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 200 lbs
● Width axle-axle: Undisclosed
As you’ll note in one of our later best crossbow reviews, Excalibur have earned their place among the United States’ most popular crossbow manufacturers by producing quality bows that far surpass almost everything else on the market in terms of all-round performance.
There’s just one problem;
Excalibur know how good they are and charge accordingly, which means getting your hands on one of their bows isn’t always easy if budgeting is an issue.
That’s where the Matrix SMF Grizzly comes into its own, combining Excalibur’s trademark attention to detail and high quality with an affordable price tag that makes it the best value crossbow for your money.
Like our number-five placed Horton Vortec RDX, the SMF Grizzly isn’t necessarily outstanding in any one aspect, but certainly performs well enough overall to make this a worthwhile investment for any serious hunter.
Getting the balance between long-lasting durability and immediate ease-of-use just right, the bow is remarkably light (5.5 lbs), with a strong CRT capable of supporting the 200 lbs draw weight, and 30″ design that allows for smooth, accurate shooting.
TOP TIP: One major drawback is that the Matrix SMF Grizzly lacks an anti-dry-fire device. Though this isn’t dangerous in and of itself, it does mean that the bow isn’t suitable for beginners.
The 11.5″ powerstroke allows for easy cocking, whilst the compact nature makes it perfect for confined hunting blinds without sacrificing power; the draw weight and maximum 305 FPS velocity are more than enough for large and small game alike.
As a top value for money crossbow, the Matrix SMF Grizzly’s main appeal is, of course, it’s price. No other model we’ve seen scores so highly for handling, performance, and durability whilst still costing less than $600.
● Vari-Zone Scope
● Attachable quiver
● Rope cocking mechanism
|Great value for money||Rails not made with standard aluminium|
|Easy handling||No anti-dry-fire mechanism|
|Lightweight, compact size|
5. Horton Vortec RDX
Best for: Easiest Crossbow to use
Price: From $800 via Amazon
● Velocity: 340 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 15.5″
● Kinetic energy: 103 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 135 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 9.1″ cocked
Whether it’s being the fastest, most powerful, or easiest to handle, there are some top-grade crossbows that focus on doing one key thing better than all of their competitors.
Then there are those bows which, though they may not excel in any one given area, certainly perform well enough across the board to be considered a great all-rounder.
The Horton Vortec RDX falls squarely into the latter camp.
Promising a maximum velocity of up to 340 FPS, the Vortec RDX may not be the fastest bow on our list, but it still ranks up there in the top 50% in terms of speed, whilst others may drive arrows with more power, this one more than holds its own in that regard and is still strong enough to properly and humanely take out legal US game.
What the RDX does have going for it, is its size and usability.
With a lightweight aluminium riser at its core and a sleek, narrow design, this compact crossbow makes lifting and handling almost effortless.
TOP TIP: The Horton Vortec RDX is one of the quieter models on our list, but we do still recommend investing in a good quality dampener kit to minimise noise even further.
The best part, of course, is that the RDX delivers this impressive performance, high-level accuracy, and easy handling at a fraction of the price of some models which only just beat it in the statistics department, making it by far one of the best value crossbows we’ve featured.
● External Dedd Sled 50 cocking System
● Proview 2 Scope 3x
● ACUDRAW system
|High level of accuracy and power||Heavier than other models|
|One of the quietest cocking systems available|
|Value for money|
4. TenPoint Venom Crossbow with ACU50
Best for: Best compact crossbow
Price: From $1,699 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 372 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 13.5″
● Kinetic energy: 114 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 185 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 13.3″ cocked, 17.6″ uncocked
There are times when the might and size of a top-grade compound crossbow are exactly what you need to take down big game at long distances. Then there are those times when you find yourself in tight, confined hunting blinds and really need something small, lightweight and yet with plenty of power to hit that target.
For the latter, there’s only compact crossbow that even comes close to ticking all the right boxes, and that’s this one.
Right out of the box, the Venom manages to mix comfortable, lightweight design with a lasting durability and powerful stability, so you’re sure of a solid, accurate shot.
As with their other models, TenPoint have also gone out of their way to ensure that building a quality crossbow doesn’t mean neglecting the design. This is an attractive piece of kit, with a mossy oak camo finish that again makes it an ideal choice for hiding in confined spaces
TOP TIP: Where TenPoint have sacrificed is in the number of features included. In other words, there’s a distinct lack of them, which means this isn’t’ the best value for money crossbow out there when you consider the price. Still, it might be worth the investment if you need a simple-yet-powerful compact crossbow
In terms of performance, our tests revealed that the included scope was accurate up to 40 yards, which didn’t make this a great choice for long-range shooting, but again, that’s not where the Venom’s strengths lie in the first place. Rather, the close-range accuracy, combined with its compact, lightweight size, make it a good fit for getting up close in small spaces.
However far away you pull the trigger, you can be sure of a powerful shot, at least considering the Venom’s size. At the heart of the bow sits a HE cam system, which ensures you’ve got enough force here to successfully take down most legal US game whilst keeping vibrations to a minimum and your draw as smooth as possible.
TOP TIP: The main highlight of the TenPoint Venom is the ACU 50 draw which not only reduces the draw weight by as much as 50% to create an effortless pull, but also takes some of the pressure off if you need to hold the draw for a long period of size
Relatively simple to put together and easy to use, the bow’s lightweight stature makes it a good all-rounder for both beginners and professionals, adults and children alike.
● ACU50 draw
● HE cam system
● RangeMaster Pro Scope
|compact, lightweight design||Limited reclining positions|
|ACU50 draw delivers smooth, powerful performance||Lack of massage features|
|Uses FSB stock||No cup holder or pouches|
3. Barnett Ghost 420
Best for: Pure speed
Price: From $891 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 420 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 15.4″
● Kinetic energy: 153 ft – lbs
● Draw weight: 185 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 20″
As one of the US’ most popular crossbow brands, it’s no surprise to Barnett once again featuring so highly on our list, especially considering the company’s impressive track record of breaking new ground in the market and redefining our ideas about the possibilities of high-velocity crossbows.
It was only a short while ago that the company turned heads with their Barnett Ghost 410 compact crossbow. As the name implies, that model shot arrows at an eye-watering 410 feet per second, at the time making it the company’s fastest model yet.
Never ones to rest on their laurels, however, the company went away and came back recently with their most powerful crossbow yet – the Ghost 420.
At 420 FPS, the next-generation Ghost is the second fastest on our list today, coming in behind only our number-one ranked model which, as you’ll see later, was nigh on impossible to beat.
Not that the Barnett Ghost need concern itself with beating anyone or anything – it’s got enough impressive features of its own to make it one of the year’s most in-demand bows.
For one thing, it looks amazing.
OK, aesthetic appeal may not be a high priority for many folks when determining which is the best crossbow for them, but there’s no escaping the fact that the Ghost 420 is a thing of beauty. Much of its good-looking qualities are thanks to the Mossy Oak Treestand® Monochromatic finish, the first time this dynamic camo pattern has featured on one of Barnett’s bows.
Of course, this sleek, stylish design isn’t merely for show; it also makes it a pretty lightweight (7.3 lbs) compact crossbow, meaning it’s effortless to carry around and so comfortable that even children can use it safely.
But doe the Ghost 420 perform as well as it looks?
In a word, yes.
The company’s patented Carbonlite Riser readdresses the weight balance, eliminating over 40% from the front of the bow and giving the shooter greater control and support for a solid, highly accurate shot.
TOP TIP: This model features unique TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology, which involves placing a free-floating roller between the trigger and sear. This not only ensures a smooth pull, but also incredible precision.
Once released, the bow is capable of producing as much as 153 ft – lbs of kinetic energy. Combined with the impressive speed, this does make it one of the best crossbows for hunting deer, though only after attaching a dampener, as the sound can be pretty loud.
TOP TIP: Apart from the loudness, the main drawback to this one is that the cocking mechanism takes more effort to use than with other models. Be prepared to use a little strength to get this one working effectively.
● TriggerTech Frictionless Release Technology
● Single bolt assembly
● Carbonlite riser
● Crank cocking device compatible
● Anti-dry fire (ADF) trigger system
|Super-fast 420 FPS||Loud – needs a dampener to be effective|
|High level of accuracy even at long-distances||Higher priced|
|Lightweight model||Rope cocking device is not the easiest to use|
|Automatic safety features||r|
2. Excalibur Matrix Mega 405 Crossbow (Editor’s Pick)
Best for: best recurve crossbow
Price: From $1,349 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 405 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 14″
● Kinetic energy: 127 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 290 lbs
● Width axle-axle: Undisclosed
Whilst our number-one ranked bow may have beaten out the Excalibur Matrix Mega 405 on a technicality, our editorial team still found so much to love about this high-powered, compound crossbow that we couldn’t help but give it some special attention.
Of course, the one thing that it has working in its favour is that, in most places, it typically retails for at least a grand less than our number one model. So, even though that does mean sacrificing some speed and power (though not as much as you might think, it does make the Matrix Mega 405 the absolute best crossbow for the money.
It’s also an ideal alternative if you’re looking to get your hands on the best crossbow on the market whilst still keeping an eye on your wallet.
Here’s just a few reasons why.
First, Excalibur have built their success thanks to a reputation for creating bows which combine solid durability with stunning design, and this one is no different.
With such a heavy draw weight (290 lbs), the bow needs some serious stability, and that is provided in spades thanks to incredibly sturdy limbs and a construction that ample sturdiness, all finished in a ‘mossy oak’ design that proves more than suitable as camouflage on hunts.
TOP TIP: Whilst Excalibur’s focus on durability and stability does mean this one will perform well for years to come, such benefits come at cost: This bow has one of the heaviest draw weights of any we’ve used, which can make pulling a bit of a pain. Hit the gym before using this one.
How does it perform? Unlike any recurve crossbow you’ve come across before.
As per its name, the Matrix Mega hurls arrows at 405 feet per second, making it the third fastest bow of any on our list. Overall, the bow is capable of producing a staggering amount of kinetic energy (as much as 127 ft – Lbs) and embeds arrows so deep into the target that most experts recommend investing in an arrow puller to retrieve them.
With such power behind it, safety is naturally of paramount importance, and Excalibur don’t scrimp on the details here, either.
A rope cocking mechanism makes pulling much easier so that injuries aren’t caused when wrestling with the 290 lbs draw weight and 14″ power stroke, whilst the anti-dry-firing device is a welcome addition to prevent misfires.
TOP TIP: One of the main highlights of this recurve crossbow is the addition of a Twilight DLX scope, regarded as the very best on the market at time of writing. This ensures precision accuracy which, when combined with the speed and power, makes this a top choice for big game hunting.
As if all that wasn’t enough, we’re also happy to report that in-built noise-reduction technology also makes this one of the quietest crossbows out-of-the-box, with no need to invest in a separate dampener as you do with many leading bows.
Overall then, not only one of the best recurve crossbows we’ve seen in recent years, but one of the best crossbows period.
● Twilight DLX Scope
● 4-Arrow Quiver with Bracket
● A Rope Cocking device
● Guardian Anti-Dry-Fire System
● Integrated, Recoil Energy Dissipation System (for noise reduction)
|Rope-cocking mechanism||Heavy draw weight makes it difficult to pull|
|Industry-leading scope||Bow stringer not included|
|Fastest recurve crossbow available|
|Solid, highly durable design|
1. Ravin Crossbows R15 Predator Crossbow
Best for: Overall best crossbow 2018
Price: From $2,049.99 (via Amazon)
● Velocity: 434 FPS (Feet Per Second)
● Power stroke: 13″
● Kinetic energy: 160 ft – Lbs
● Draw weight: 195 lbs
● Width axle-axle: 6″ cocked, 10.5″ un-cocked
Though others have given the nod to other models, Ravin Crossbows’ awesome R15 Predator consistently came in as the fastest on the market in 2018, with scores of best crossbow reviews from the industry’s leading experts finding similar results.
Racing in the lead at 434 feet per second, the R15 out-did its nearest rival, the Scorpyd Orion by at least four seconds, making it the perfect model for hunting season.
TOP TIP: At just over $2,000, this one might not be the cheapest option on the market. Other models on this list do perform exceptionally well for the price, so you can still get a top-rated crossbow for less, but for superior quality in almost every respect, this one is worth spending extra.
Of course, speed isn’t the only thing you need to get the most from your hunting experience, and leading crossbow brands like Ravin know this all too well.
That’s why they’ve built this stunning model around Helicoil technology. With limbs loaded, this next-generation technology enables complete 340-degree rotation of the cams to create a small (we’re talking six inches, axle-to-axle at full-draw) package with an unbridled power and precision which belies its tight size.
A unique Versa-Draw system is used for cocking and decocking, and operates in a fashion not too dissimilar to the winch strap you might be familiar with when hitching a boat to a trailer.
Whilst that does have its drawbacks (the process can be both annoyingly loud and frustratingly slow), it does mean that the whole operation can be done with minimal effort, making this the easiest compact crossbow -or any crossbow for that matter- we’ve come across for cocking and decocking.
TOP TIP: The Ravin R15 is also rare in its status as a high-powered crossbow that you can cock and decock without having to shoot it.
Brilliantly designed with a graceful finish, the model looks and feels like a rifle. Combined with the lightweight nature and a host of top-grade features (more of which in a moment), the R15 Predator more than earns its place at the top of the class as the best crossbow we’ve seen in a long time, and is a must for those serious about taking their hunting to the next level in 2018.
● Removable Cocking Handle
● Quiver/Mounting Bracket
● Anti-Dry Fire/Auto Safety
● Built-in Sling Mounts
|Fastest crossbow on the market||Loud and slow to cock and decock|
|Easy to cock and decock||Expensive|
|Light, compact yet still powerful||Needs Ravin branded arrows to really work well|
What to Consider When Buying Your Next Crossbow
So, there you have it, that’s our complete buyer’s guide to the very best crossbows 2018 has to offer, but let’s be honest, it’s a lot to take in.
Though we’ve aimed for simplicity in all of our crossbow reviews so that even those new to the sport of hunting can make a fully informed decision about which product is right for them, we do understand that there are some terms that you may not be familiar with.
These terms can’t be overlooked, either, as they describe some of the most important factors you need to consider when choosing which bow to buy.
With that in mind, we’ll look at these factors below and explain what they are, why they’re important, and what you need to know before picking a bow that best fits your needs.
We’ve used the term ‘velocity’ interchangeably with ‘speed’ to explain the same thing: How fast the crossbow fires arrows through the air.
Why is this important?
The faster the bow, the more power you have and the less chance your prey has of avoiding the hit. This latter point is particularly important if you’re looking for the best crossbow for hunting deer and other fast-paced game.
A bow’s velocity is measured in FPS, which stands for Feet Per Second. Most hunting experts recommend that an absolute minimum of 300 lbs is required in order to gain an accurate hit with enough force to make a humane kill in one shot.
As you’ll see above, all of the crossbows we’ve looked at deliver at least that, if not significantly more.
The speed that a crossbow is able to perform at is determined by two key factors:
● The weight of the arrows you’re using
● The draw weight.
The ideal ratio should have plenty of draw weight with light, yet still powerful arrows.
If you review our table above, you’ll notice that -with a few notable exceptions- the faster a crossbow is, the higher its ranking. That’s how important a factor velocity is in determining which are 2018’s best bows, though it isn’t the only one, so let’s move on and look at what else you’ll need to consider before making your purchasing decision.
The term ‘draw weight’ refers to the amount of power needed to draw back the arrow, ready to fly.
As you may have gathered, the heavier the weight, the faster the FPS tends to be and the more power each shot carries.
That being said, simply opting for the heaviest draw weight your money will allow isn’t always ideal, especially for smaller-framed persons or those just getting started in hunting.
After all, the heavier the weight, the more difficult it is to draw. Therefore, beginners, or those buying a youth crossbow, may want to sacrifice some draw weight in order to enjoy more ease of use and better get used to shooting a crossbow.
Meanwhile, experienced hunters and those who are physically fit may find that they can really take their hunting to the next level with a model like our Editor’s pick, the Excalibur Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow which, with a draw weight of 290 lbs, is the heaviest on our list by a clear 90 lbs.
No, you don’t need us to tell you what the word ‘accuracy’ means, but what you may not know if you’re buying a crossbow for the first time, is that accuracy of your shots can be greatly improved (or diminished) depending on the quality of your scope.
In our crossbow reviews, we’ve tried to go for models which boast scopes with multiple ranges. These ensure that (depending on other factors such as the quality of your bow and the power behind your shot) you can get an accurate shot from several different distances.
Other key factors to consider for first-time crossbow buyers
The three factors we’ve listed above may be the most essential to getting the best crossbow for your money, but the following three details can’t be ignored, either.
We’ve talked about draw weight a lot already, but what we’re talking about here is the physical weight of the crossbow itself.
As with everything, there are pros and cons to both light and heavy models.
Additional weight does lend a crossbow some extra durability and stability, meaning it’s not only built to last, but also causes fewer vibrations when fired and allows you to keep your shot stable and on target.