What factors contribute to the best crossbow? Well, for hunters and those alike, it is all about FPS or feet per second. The FPS is determined by the power stroke and the draw weight. The power stroke is the length the crossbow string needs to be pulled back before it is latched. The draw weight is how much force is needed to pull the string back to its latch position. For the best crossbow, you want a power stroke of at least 10″ and a draw weight of at least 150 lbs. A lethal FPS begins in the mid-200s, so that is the absolute minimum we accepted when considering the best crossbow.
With those factors in mind, our #1 pick is the Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT ($472). The weapon comes at a decent price, has an impressive 360 FPS thanks to its 165 lb. draw weight and 14″ power stroke. The Ghost 360 CRT is a crossbow made for experts and beginners alike, and doesn’t sacrifice features for either.
- 1 Top Crossbow Comparison for 2019
- 2 How We Choose The Best Crossbow
- 3 Why You Should Buy a Crossbow (Instead of a Compound Bow)
- 4 #1 Pick Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT – Editor’s Choice/Best Crossbow For The Money
- 5 #2 Pick Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX – Best Crossbow For Hunting
- 6 #3 Pick Southern Crossbow Risen XT 350 – Best Beginner Crossbow
- 7 #4 Pick Arrow Precision Inferno Fury – Best Crossbow Under $300
- 8 #5 PickExcalibur Matrix 330 – Best Recurve Crossbow
- 9 Key Features to a Good Crossbow
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid
- 11 What Else Should You Think About?
Top Crossbow Comparison for 2019
|Rank||Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT||Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX||Southern Crossbow Risen XT 350||Arrow Precision Inferno Fury||Excalibur Matrix 330|
|Rank||#1 - Editor’s Choice/Best Crossbow For The Money||#2 - Best Crossbow For Hunting||#3 – Best Beginner Crossbow||#4 – Best Crossbow Under $300||#5 – Best Recurve Crossbow|
|Size||36″ x 22″||35.25" x 15.5"||35.5″ x 16″||31″ x 27″||33.9″ x 30.62"|
|Weight||7 lbs.||8.2 lbs.||8.75 lbs.||4.84 lbs.||5.1 lbs.|
|Draw Weight||165 lbs||165 lbs||180 lbs||175 lbs||220 lbs|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
How We Choose The Best Crossbow
You may be asking yourself, “What is a crossbow?” Well, the answer is pretty simple. A crossbow is actually a medieval device that functions much like a bow. However, when comparing a crossbow vs bow, you will see that they function quite differently. The crossbow uses a mechanism to draw back the string and hold the arrow and place, and uses a trigger to release the arrow. While the description is simple, crossbows come in all shapes and sizes now. However, among their differences, there are a few key things to look for.
FPS is one of the most important things when looking for the best crossbow, and, as I said above, you get a solid FPS from the draw weight and power stroke. Generally, you need at least 150 lbs. for the draw weight. The draw weight determines how much force pushes the arrow forward when the crossbow is fired.
The power stroke determines speed. The longer the power stroke, the faster the arrow will go. This is, of course, is also affected by the draw weight. Together, the two factors determine the FPS. The higher the FPS, the faster and deadlier the arrow will be. While a lethal shot is possible at lower speeds, a higher FPS ensures a faster and more humane shot. High FPS can also improve accuracy within a certain range.
Other factors we considered were weight and size, but those factors depend heavily on the size and strength of individual users.
Why You Should Buy a Crossbow (Instead of a Compound Bow)
Crossbows are great for hunters, especially those who like the challenge of bow hunting but want the ease of use equitable to that of a firearm. When comparing a compound bow vs crossbow, crossbows have a much higher FPS, making them more accurate and deadlier. Crossbows are also great to have for target practice. If you enjoy archery to any extent, a crossbow is a great buy.
From a hunting standpoint, crossbows offer more of a challenge. The max range for a crossbow is 30 yards, which is a pretty short distance (especially considering crossbows can only be used during firearm hunting season). Many people prefer the short distance though because it requires the hunter to be creative in order to draw in game.
However, they also have many advantages. Crossbows aren’t as loud as guns, not to mention arrows are often reusable (unless they break off in your game). Crossbows are also easier to use than regular bows, and you have the advantage of adding scopes to them.
#1 Pick Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT – Editor’s Choice/Best Crossbow For The Money
Price: $472.44 | Size: 36″ x 22″ | Draw Weight: 165 lbs | Power Stroke: 14″ | FPS: 360
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Ghost 360 CRT combines incredible power with a solid price, and comes with features designed for seasoned pros and beginners alike. Not to mention it has a competitive price point.
Barrett is one of the big name brands for crossbows, and they are a big name for a reason. If you ever ask anyone who makes the best crossbow, the answer is usually Barrett.
The Ghost 360 CRT is no exception, and it comes with an illuminated scope, a rope cocking device, and it only weighs in at 7lbs. The compound design gives it an impressive 360 FPS, making it ideal for hunting.
#2 Pick Horton Crossbow Innovations Storm RDX – Best Crossbow For Hunting
Price: $999 | Size: 35.25″ x 15.5″ | Draw Weight: 165 lbs. | Power Stroke: 16.5″ | FPS: 370
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The STORM RDX is everything a top-tier crossbow should be: incredibly powerful, adjustable, and praised by the community.
The Storm RDX is undoubtedly one of the most impressive crossbows out there. With a super powerful 370 FPS, this crossbow will take down just about anything you aim at. That’s why the Storm RDX is our choice for the best hunting crossbow, and we aren’t the only ones who think so.
The Storm RDX won the 2015 Outdoor Life Editor’s Choice and Petersen’s Hunting Editor’s Choice awards. This compound crossbow comes with a lot of power, and it is packed into a pretty light 8 lb. body. The Storm RDX comes with a 3x scope perfect for sighting in any game, while the stock cheek and butt of the weapon are adjustable, which means it can work for nearly any user.
#3 Pick Southern Crossbow Risen XT 350 – Best Beginner Crossbow
Price: $499.97 | Size: 35.5″ x 16″ | Draw Weight: 180 lbs. | Power Stroke: 13″ | FPS: 350
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Risen XT 350 comes with a ton of great accessories that are must haves for beginners, plus its solid price and great FPS make it appealing to even seasoned crossbow hunters.
While the XT 350 doesn’t have as much FPS as the Storm RDX or Ghost 360, it is just as great for hunting. What makes the Risen XT 350 a must-have though is all its great accessories. The crossbow comes with a 4×32 scope, a telescopic stock, vertical fore-grip, rail lube, safety glasses, and a cocking rope.
These are great things for beginners to own off the bat. It allows you to experiment with accessories and see what works for you (for instance, the vertical fore-grip isn’t for everyone). You also get important things like safety glasses so you can safely practice with your new weapon.
#4 Pick Arrow Precision Inferno Fury – Best Crossbow Under $300
Price: $165.09 | Size: 31″ x 27″ | Draw Weight: 175 lbs. | Power Stroke: 10.5″ | FPS: 235
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Inferno Fury has a solid price point and features that far exceed that of other crossbows in its price range.
The Arrow Precision Inferno Fury has a significantly lower FPS than the others on this list, but its competitive price and solid design still makes it a top crossbow.
The Inferno Fury has some excellent accessories, including a red-dot scope and a padded sling. The Fury also has a thumb guard and anti-dry fire trigger mechanism, for added safety.
The 235 FPS is still plenty for hunting, especially if you have a well-aimed shot. The Inferno Fury is also incredibly lightweight at 4.84 lbs. This kit is great for beginners or for those on a tight budget.
#5 PickExcalibur Matrix 330 – Best Recurve Crossbow
Price: $725.50 | Size: 33.9″ x 30.62″ | Draw Weight: 220 lbs. | Power Stroke: 11.4″ | FPS: 330
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Excalibur Matrix 330 is an incredibly powerful weapon that showcases the potential of recurve crossbows.
Recurve crossbows are incredibly powerful firearms, and the Excalibur Matrix 330 is absolute proof of that. Recurve crossbows are often a lot lighter than compound crossbows, and that again is proven by the 330 with its 5.1 lb. design.
Don’t let its lighter weight fool you though, because its 330 FPS will drop anything in its path. Light, powerful, and more affordable than high-end compound crossbows, the Excalibur Matrix 330 is a testament to why recurve crossbows are so popular.
Key Features to a Good Crossbow
There are few things you should always consider when buying a crossbow. Here is what to look for in a crossbow:
Recurve vs. Compound
- The compound vs recurve debate has always been a heated one, but ultimately it comes down to preference. However, you will want to consider whether or not your crossbow is compound or recurve before you buy it.
- Basically, a recurve crossbow has no mechanical parts, and every moving piece is influenced by the user. A compound crossbow has a series of pulleys and cables. Compounds normally require more maintenance, but both offer the same level of accuracy and power.
- Some crossbows are louder than others, and that is something you should consider – especially if you are going hunting. The quieter the crossbow, the more effective it will be for hunting.
- The draw weight is one of the most important factors to consider in your crossbow comparison. The draw weight is essentially the force you will need to cock the crossbow. While you can manually cock a crossbow, you essentially have to be able to lift the equivalent of the draw weight.
- Most crossbows come with some kind of draw device, like a crank, so that isn’t a huge issue.
- The real reason draw weight is important is because it factors into the FPS, which we will discuss below. Essentially, the more draw weight, the more FPS. For hunting purposes, you will want a draw weight of at least 150 lbs.
- If you don’t know what is the range of a crossbow, just remember it is similar to the range of a compound bow. The max range of a crossbow is usually 30 yards, so you should make sure the crossbow you get fires accurately at that range.
- Power stroke is the other key factor in determining FPS. The power stroke is essentially how far back the bolt or arrow needs to be pulled until it is latched and cocked.
- Generally crossbows have power strokes between 10 and 14″. The longer the power stroke, the more FPS you will get.
- FPS is the ultimate factor when determining what is the fastest crossbow. FPS is short for feet per second, and you will want somewhere in close to 300 FPS for hunting.
- However, while FPS is a key factor, remember the difference between 280 and 300 FPS is virtually indistinguishable.
- Size is also a personal preference, but a key factor nonetheless. The larger the crossbow is, the more draw weight and power stroke you will probably have. However, you don’t want to get one too large, otherwise it becomes too hard to handle.
Mistakes to Avoid
Not Enough Power: You will want to find a crossbow that is right for your needs, of course. Since hunting is the key purpose for owning a crossbow, you will want to make sure you buy one with enough speed and power to take down whatever you are hunting. If hunting is your reason for owning a crossbow, make sure you don’t get one with a draw weight lower than 150 lbs and a power stroke no shorter than 10″.
Too Much Draw Weight: The draw weight is important, but it can also be a huge hindrance. A lot of people may not be able to cock a draw weight of 200 lbs. Make sure you are capable of using the crossbow you purchase.
Spending Too Little: Don’t cheap out on your crossbow. Understandably, you don’t want to go into debt, but that doesn’t mean you need to get the cheapest bow out there. Generally, the more you spend, the better built your crossbow will be.
What Else Should You Think About?
Owning the best crossbow is just one factor to consider in your hunting experience. If you are a full-blown outdoorsman, you will want to consider things like tents, outdoor lights, and how to charge your phone. You may also need to find some ways to entertain yourself while out in the woods (when you’re not hunting, obviously).
If you still aren’t sure if crossbows are for you, maybe you should look into another archery weapon. For instance, you can get a solid compound bow for a comparable price to crossbows. If you are a beginner and need the practice, you’ll definitely want to get a target as well.
For the hunters out there, you may be wondering what can you hunt with a crossbow. Well, really, you can hunt just about anything. While they are mainly used for deer hunting, you can hunt turkey, squirrels, or any other variety of game.
Lastly, be sure to check any laws and regulations in your area regarding crossbows. Some states only allow crossbows during firearm season, while many allow it to be used during archery season as well. Check here to see what is allowed in your state. Unfortunately there is no real standard crossbow regulation, show be sure to look into your local laws to see what you need to do to stay within the bounds of the law.
Just remember to stay safe and have fun!