13 Best Crossbows For Hunting & Survival

By Just In Case Jack | Last Updated: December 12, 2019

Best CrossbowLooking for the best crossbow? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here you’ll find honest and unbiased crossbow reviews. We cover only the best-selling and top-rated crossbows available on the market today.

Our reviews and guides will help you make an informed decision. So you can feel confident about which crossbow is the best for your needs.

Whether you want a crossbow for leisure, hunting, or sports, this guide will help you find the right one.

Because these weapons come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and pulling mechanisms.

And most importantly, they all have different calibers and shooting speeds.

So today, I’m going to share everything I know about crossbows, specifically:

**Note: If you want our top recommendations, feel free to SKIP AHEAD HERE.

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Crossbow In Side ViewReasons Why You Should Get A Crossbow

The crossbow excels as both a self-defense weapon and a hunting weapon.

But as survival sites, we tend to look at things with an eye toward “worst-case” SHTF-type scenarios.

That’s why I like this video from Canadian Prepper. He does a nice job laying out all the survival justifications for owning a crossbow:

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Best Crossbow Features

When it comes time to choose a crossbow, many competing models and claims exist.

It can be daunting to wade through all the options and decide which fits your needs best.

To help narrow the field, you should consider the following features:

Arrow Speed

Speed is king in the world of crossbows. Faster arrow speeds translate to more powerful shots and penetrating power.

A compound crossbow can deliver these high speeds much easier than a recurve model. But don’t forget to consider the size and strength of the crossbow bolts.

The heavier the bolt, the more momentum it will have to carry through a target.

A high-powered compound crossbow can snap a light, poorly constructed bolt. So make sure you buy ones rated to the task.

“Overall Weight”

As with anything you’re carrying around the woods, weight matters.

A lightweight crossbow may be easier to carry, but it won’t dampen out the vibrations caused when you fire a bolt.

On the other hand, a heavyweight crossbow may feel like a boat anchor but shoot smooth as silk.

So, it’s best to think about the type of hunting or shooting you plan to do.

Whether you stalk prey on foot or wait in a blind or both, it’s best to think about how you intend to use your crossbow before you “pull the trigger” on a purchase.

“Draw Weight”

“Draw weight” is NOT the same as “overall weight.” “Overall weight” refers to how much weight you’ll be carrying.

While “Draw weight” measures the force needed to pull the string back into position.

A higher draw weight means it’s harder to prep the crossbow for shooting. But the higher draw weight results in higher arrow speeds.

That’s why many crossbows offer cocking mechanisms to help offset the difficulty of intense draw weights.

Crossbows with draw=assist mechanisms are popular, especially for those who are older or disabled.

Crossbow Noise

Compared to rifles and shotguns, just about any crossbow is relatively quiet. But you may be looking for something extremely quiet and stealthy.

Perhaps you want a model to avoid spooking wild game or to help conceal your presence.

A recurve crossbow with parallel limbs is the quietest.

This type of crossbow has fewer moving parts, and the forces are more balanced. This translates into fewer parts in motion to create noise in the first place.

Also, you can add stabilizers and string silencers to help reduce the “twang” of any bowstring.

Build Quality

A crossbow – especially a compound model – is a mechanical work of art.

The materials, precision, and assembly all contribute to the device’s reliability, accuracy, and power.

If the manufacturer skimps on any of these, your experience as a user suffers.

Manufacturer / Brand Name

As with anything else, there is something to be said for long-lasting brand names.

A name is not the last word in quality. But a brand with a loyal following is most likely built on a quality product.

The same goes for outstanding customer support.

Local Knowledge

Stop by your local archery ranges and shops. Ask around for the best recommendations from other shooters and professionals.

Take the time to shoot any models you’re considering buying. Get help fitting and setting up your crossbow after purchase.

You’ll learn a lot more about how to fine-tune things and get some great shooting tips in the process.

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Compound Bow Top View

Types Of Crossbows You Can Choose

The crossbow has come a long way since Leonardo da Vinci drew prototypes in his notebooks.

There are designs for various uses and at all levels of technology.

Pistol-Grip Crossbows

One-handed, pistol-grip crossbows are a niche market.

These are mostly for target shooting. Though perhaps you could hunt small game like rabbits with one with some practice.

But few will be able to take down larger game like deer.

Recurve Crossbows

A recurve crossbow is the most uncomplicated design.

Whether made of wood or modern materials, they have few moving parts. Making them inherently lighter and more durable.

Many recurve designs can be serviced in the field if a string breaks or is knocked out of alignment.

They are also usually cheaper than more technologically advanced compound models. They are quieter when fired as well since they don’t have as many moving parts.

The most significant disadvantages are the massive draw weights and slower arrow speeds.

Compound Crossbows

The main difference between a compound crossbow and a recurve crossbow is noticeable at first sight.

There are multiple pulleys and cams on the ends of each limb of a compound bow. In addition to several wraps of cable around them as well.

This sophisticated design allows the bow to “let off” the draw weight once you reach a certain point. This makes it far easier to cock the firing mechanism and still get fast arrow speeds.

Plus, the limbs of a compound bow are often much shorter than a recurve model. This allows for a more compact design with better maneuverability.

They often have much higher arrow speeds; thus, the resulting Kinetic Energy of the bolts is much higher. However, they do have some significant drawbacks.

First off, they’re louder, heavier, and more of a challenge to maintain.

In fact, a broken string can be dangerous as it unwinds through the cams and can not be serviced in the field.

Reverse Draw Crossbows

Reverse draw crossbows are primarily compound designs with the bowing mechanism reversed.

This results in a better-balanced weapon. This means it’s more comfortable and maneuverable than its design predecessor.

Plus, they fire faster arrow speeds than most compound models and at reduced noise levels.

Here’s a nice introduction video on the different crossbow technologies. This video only scratches the surface, but if you’re new to the world of crossbows, it’s a must-watch:

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How Much Draw Weight Do You Really Need?

The first question most people ask is, “How much draw weight is enough?”

Honestly, it depends on what you want to do with your crossbow. Modern crossbows are built for one of two purposes: target shooting and hunting.

1. Target Shooting

Lower draw weight and lighter arrows are perfectly acceptable. In fact, lower draw weights and reduced recoil will often be more accurate for shooting.

Ever notice that all the Olympic sharpshooters are using .22cal rifles? Same reason.

2. Hunting

Accurate shooting is always essential, but so is knock-down power if you’re hunting.

As you hunt larger and larger game, the amount of energy required to take down the animal increases. An arrow must be able to penetrate the skin, muscle, and even bone to hit vital organs.

This is measured as the kinetic energy (KE) of the weapon. This is calculated using arrow speed and mass.

Higher speeds and higher mass result in a greater KE. This means you can either shoot a heavy arrow slower or a lighter arrow faster to achieve the same KE.

The trend has been towards lighter, faster arrows in the past several decades. That’s because they fire further and reach the target faster. Often before the animal hears or realizes it got shot.

Most crossbow manufacturers design their hunting models around medium to large-sized game.

In North America, most hunting is shy of the absolute biggest game, such as moose and bear.

With that said, an arrow speed of over 300 fps can efficiently dispatch a whitetail deer. If you’re hunting larger game, faster speeds (and heavier broadheads) would be necessary.

Here’s a helpful video that provides even more detail about crossbows, set up, and kinetic energy:

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13 Best Crossbows On The Market Today

Like choosing any other piece of survival gear, you can spend as much or as little as you want on a crossbow. And, like most things in life, you get what you pay for.

If you have a large bankroll, go for a top-of-the-line model. You can expect high performance and unmatched quality.

On the other hand, if you’re trying to stretch every dollar, you need to look out for deals and be ready to do your homework.

We’ve searched and found some of the best crossbow options at every price point. Starting with some lower-budget models that can get you into the sport:

1. Barnett Jackal Package (315 fps)

The Barnett Jackal is a great entry-level model. This package contains a quiver, three bolts, and a sight.

If you’d like to hunt with it someday, you’ll need to add some bolts with broadheads, and you’re ready to go.

The Barnett Jackal is lightweight and has a “dry fire” prevention safety feature. This helps to prevent damage from firing it without a bolt loaded.


  • Affordable
  • Solid design and construction
  • The complete package for beginners


  • Some people report it’s louder than expected
  • Harder to cock than other similar models

2. CenterPoint Tormentor Whisper (350 fps)

The CenterPoint Tormentor Whisper improves on the Barnett Jackal in several areas.

First off, as the name implies, it’s much quieter. This is an important feature and prevents giving away your location.

Secondly, it’s much faster – which translates into more Kinetic Energy and knock-down power.

It has a suitable cocking mechanism and robust safety features.

Unfortunately, the arrow retention spring appears to be a weak design point. So be careful when loading your arrows.


  • Quiet
  • Good safety features
  • Fast!


  • Users have reported some durability issues

3. Southern Crossbow Risen XT 350 (350 fps)

Southern Crossbow is a relatively small company. But they’re making crossbows with unique features many people like.

Combined with their low cost, they are one of the best crossbows for a beginner.

In particular, people like the familiarity of the AR-15 style stock. This can make for a smooth transition from shouldering and aiming a firearm.

They also have an acceptable amount of power, which translates to reasonably fast arrow speeds.


  • Affordable
  • Comfortable AR-15 stock


  • Bolts were low quality
  • Heavier than average

Now let’s move up a bit in the price range. Next are some quality crossbows at a medium price:

4. Wicked Ridge Invader G3 (330 fps)

The Invader G3 is a very sturdy crossbow that should provide years of service.

It comes nearly pre-assembled on arrival, so you can immediately head out to the range or the woods.

It also features a well-designed cocking mechanism and dependable safety features.

Unlike some competitors, it’s a reasonably lightweight design with a compact limb system.


  • Effective cocking mechanism
  • Lightweight and maneuverable


  • The scope may not hold zero for extended storage
  • Somewhat noisy, especially the cocking mechanism

5. Barnett Whitetail Hunter II (350 fps)

The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is another excellent, lightweight hunting crossbow. This crossbow has an advanced trigger mechanism and safety vs. others in this price range.

It’s small enough not to be bulky in a blind or treestand but still boasts a respectable 350 fps.

The package also includes a modest scope, quiver, and bolts. This makes for a complete setup for an affordable price.


  • Advanced trigger mechanism
  • Lightweight
  • Includes several excellent safety features


  • The arrow track seems imprecise, causing grouping issues
  • The scope is not the best, resulting in drift – many people have opted to replace

6. Barnett Whitetail Pro STR (400 fps)

The Barnett Whitetail Pro STR is nearing the “expensive” mark. But you’d think it costs more than this, with all the features included.

The string dampers help to keep it quiet, while the illuminated scope can help at the edge of shooting hours.

Like similar crossbow packages, it comes with a quiver and bolts. But the bolts seem to be of higher quality than comparable starter sets.


  • Fast arrow speeds
  • Included string dampers help quiet string noise


  • Several reports of dry fires, which can damage the bow

7. Excalibur Matrix Grizzly SMF (300 fps)

This is a trusted brand by many for its durability and ease of maintenance. The Excalibur Matri Grizzly is the first recurve design on our list.

As expected, it’s also a lightweight option at under 6 lbs.

This crossbow is also friendly for those who want to do DIY maintenance. Regular tasks such as replacing bowstrings are straightforward to perform.

However, the relatively low arrow speeds make this more of a small to medium-sized game weapon. But it excels at that role and will provide for years to come!


  • Good quality construction and accessories
  • Lightweight
  • Field serviceable


  • Louder than expected – so it would help to add string dampers

If you’re willing to pay up for higher-end technology, these best crossbows take you up a level in quality:

8. TenPoint Titan SS (340 fps)

Ten Point Titan SSTenPoint is quickly developing a solid reputation with the pros. They make high-quality crossbows at a variety of price points.

The Titan SS is a dependable workhorse for small to medium-sized game. It’s lightweight, compact, and easy to carry and shoot.

The 340 fps arrow speeds are fast enough for nimble deer. AND small enough to swing in the brush to follow a rabbit or grouse.


  • Lightweight and compact
  • High-quality build


  • Not suitable for game larger than whitetail deer

9. Bear Archery Fisix FFL (375 fps)

I grew up with Fred Bear stories and visited the Bear Archery store.

When I think of that name, traditional bows pop into my mind. But it turns out that Bear Archery is also producing some advanced reverse-draw crossbows!

The Fisix FFL is a great example, with a tiny 11″ width at full draw and a well-balanced profile, making it easy to swing.

This crossbow is extremely solid! But that comes at a price – in this case, a weight of almost 10 lbs!

You won’t want to carry the Fisix for a full day of stalking. But it’s hard to beat the accuracy that stability provides.

This is an ideal setup for a large blind or treestand hunting!


  • Incredibly accurate
  • Solid and durable Bear Construction


  • Nearly 10lbs!

10. Excalibur Matrix Bulldog (400 fps)

Here’s another fine recurve design from Excalibur. The Bulldog includes some significant upgrades from their starter models.

Notably, the high 400 fps arrow speeds are great for those interested in large game because this crossbow generates far more kinetic energy than lower-speed models.

The recurve design allows for easy maintenance and lightweight construction.

At just over 6 lbs, it’s an easy load to carry around in the woods.

Bonus details such as the illuminated scope and integrated cocking rope make for a complete crossbow package.


  • 400 fps speeds make it suitable for large game
  • Quiver and quality bolts included


  • Wide recurve design might not be maneuverable in brush or treestands

Finally, if you absolutely have to have the best, here are some top-of-the-line crossbows with ALL the features:

11. TenPoint NitroX (385 fps)

Ten Point CrossbowThe TenPoint NitroX lists a respectable arrow speed of 385 fps. But this model has many reports of speeds well above 400 fps.

With the right arrow combination, even 440 fps!

Obviously, that kind of speed creates the power to take down big game.

This is a rugged, reverse-draw design, making it a technical work of art that’s hard to beat.


  • Arrow speeds of more than 400 fps are possible
  • Very well balanced due to reverse draw
  • Extremely accurate due to vibration reduction


  • Cost

12. Ravin R9 Package (390 fps)

All the bows will tick the boxes at this higher price range for speed, quality, and reliability.

The Ravin R9 does so with a revolutionary design. That’s why it can boast as one of the smallest crossbows on the market, at under 7″ wide at full draw.

If you want to hunt in dense brush, a small blind, or a narrow treestand, this is the crossbow that has your name on it.

It swings easily, fits anywhere, and can hit a target so fast it’s nearly impossible to spook them.

There’s a reason the R9 is DOMINATING the market these days. Now, if only it were less expensive…


  • Tiny profile, only 7″ wide
  • Blazing speed


  • $uper high price

13. Scorpyd Aculeus (460 fps)

Yes, the Scorpyd Aculeus is one hell of an expensive crossbow.

It’s also one of the fastest designs on the market today. It comes in at an absolutely staggering speed of 460 fps.

So fast, in fact, that you’re limited on what arrows can handle the forces created when you pull the trigger.

All that speed is paired with incredible accuracy. This is due to its high-precision construction and detailed engineering.

This makes for an unbeatable crossbow for nearly any situation.


  • Incredible speed
  • Accuracy
  • One of the very best crossbows on the market today


  • Audible click when removing safety
  • Limited arrow choices
  • $uper expensive

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Crossbow Legality Questions & Answers

One of the most common questions about crossbows is whether they’re legal to own and use.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you legal advice. That’s why you should look up local regulations for where you live before finalizing a crossbow purchase.

Depending on where you live, it may be treated more like a firearm than a bow, while some states only allow crossbows for hunting with disability permits.

The North American Crossbow Federation provides helpful information by state for crossbow hunting.

Final Thoughts

A crossbow can be a great hunting tool. It combines the quiet approach of archery with easier aiming and firing.

You don’t run out of ammo (as long as you recover your arrows), and they can last for years with proper care and maintenance.

There are so many models on the market that there’s certainly one that fits your budget and needs.

It’s worth considering a crossbow for your next hunting season!

Jason K.

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