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So, you’re looking for the best crossbow? You’re doing the research, reading reviews, scouring for info. Well, you can stop the search. The best crossbow for you is on this list. Thing is, there isn’t just one. Experience levels vary, body types vary, budgets vary. The best crossbow for me may or may not be the best crossbow for you. You might be looking for the best crossbow for the money. Or maybe you’re solely interested in the very best crossbow for deer hunting. Perhaps you’re a newcomer searching for your first crossbow. Maybe you have a need for speed and want the fastest crossbow. See how that works? So, what are we to do? Well, it’s simple: We’ll outline several scenarios and showcase the best crossbows for each.
- Best Overall: Ravin R500
- Best Budget: CenterPoint Wrath 430
- Best for Beginners: Ravin R26
- Best Recurve: Excalibur Bulldog 440
- Best for Deer Hunting: TenPoint Vapor RS470
Best Overall: Ravin R500
- Speed: 500 fps
- Draw weight: 300 lbs
- Fastest crossbow around
- Electronic cocking device
- Comes fully assembled
- Tough on targets
What crossbow enthusiast doesn’t love Ravin? And the best Ravin crossbow in the lineup: The brand-spanking-new Ravin R500.
The R500 is the fastest Ravin crossbow available—and the fastest crossbow available regardless of brand, delivering arrows at a sizzling 500 fps. To generate those speeds, Ravin developed a Hex Coil cam mounted to a reverse-draw system. To say the arrangement is unique is an understatement.
The bow uses the new VersaDrive cocking system, which features an integral screw drive. This has also allowed Ravin to create an e-drive option that features an electronic cocking device to make crossbow hunting accessible to virtually anyone, even those unable to manually operate a cocking crank. The bow measures a scant 3.6 inches in width and only 7.6 inches un-cocked. The bow’s overall length is 28 inches and weighs in at 8.4 pounds.
The crossbow comes fully assembled and ready to go with six arrows and field points, removable draw handle, quiver and illuminated speed-compensating scope.
Best Budget: CenterPoint Wrath 430
- Speed: 430 fps
- Draw weight: 200 lbs
- More affordable
- Very compact
- Easy to cock
- Scope isn’t the most accurate
The best budget crossbow isn’t the one with the lowest price, nor is it the one at the very top of your price range. It’s the best crossbow for the money. I have no way to know what your personal budget is, so we’ll just go with the 50-percenter. A top-end flagship crossbow is going to run about $1,800 or so, so let’s say our budget is $900.
And thus, the choice is obvious: It’s the CenterPoint Wrath 430 that sells for $649. CenterPoint is part of the same family as Ravin crossbows, letting hunters take advantage of the technology and processes of one of the crossbow world’s premium brands in a bow that’s much less expensive. And since we’re well under our $900 budget, we can splurge and go with the Silent Crank option.
The 430 delivers speeds of 400 fps thanks to a cam system that’s very similar to the one found on top-end Ravin models, which creates a super-compact package that’s just nine inches wide when cocked. The Silent Crank adds $100 to the cost but makes cocking and de-cocking a breeze, and acts as a bipod which can help steady shots. It weighs in under nine pounds and the bullpup design keeps it short at just over 28 inches in length. The package includes a 4×32 illuminated scope, three arrows, and a quiver.
Best for Beginners: Ravin R26
- Speed: 400 fps
- Draw weight: 340 lbs
- A lot of safety features
- Lightweight and compact
So, you’re looking to introduce a youngster to crossbow hunting? Good for you. Get them started off right with a great bow. And the best youth crossbow is the Ravin R26.
The Ravin R26 weighs 6.5 pounds which makes it easier to handle for young hunters. It’s just 26 inches in length and only 5.75 inches wide when cocked. The R26 is also an exceptionally safe bow with anti-dry fire and a safety that automatically engages when cocking the bow. The crank handle makes it easy and safe for youth hunters to learn the basics of readying the crossbow to fire and is included in the package. It is pricey, but this is a bow that will perform and last a long, long time.
Again, this Ravin crossbow going to cost you a bit, but it’s the right crossbow for a newcomer (or experienced shooter for that matter), and its diminutive size and quality build will allow you to know for certain that any issues with accuracy or performance are not the fault of the equipment. Your focus should be on teaching proper form and execution and this crossbow allows that to happen. The package also includes six arrows, an illuminated scope, and a quiver.
Best Recurve: Excalibur Bulldog 440
- Speed: 440 fps
- Draw weight: 300 lbs
- Fastest Excalibur bow
- Accurate trigger system
- Easy to cock
- Weaker limbs
If you’re looking for the best recurve crossbow, you must look to Excalibur. The Bulldog 440 is not only Excalibur’s best bow, but also its fastest.
The Bulldog 440 spits arrows at 440 fps, but the recurve limbs give it a bigger footprint than many of the other bows listed here. When fully cocked, it measures 23 inches in width and is 35.75 inches long to get the distance needed to deliver the impressive speed. While recurve crossbows are longer, they lack the cam system of compounds, so they are typically a bit lighter. The Bulldog 440 weighs in at just 6.3 pounds without accessories.
The Bulldog also features a Pro-Shot ACP match-grade trigger system that’s light-breaking and clean, adding to the bow’s accuracy potential. The included external crank requires just 15 pounds of effort to cock the bow, adding to the ease of use.
The bow includes a full accessory package including the Charger EXT cocking crank, a Tact-100 illuminated scope, scope rings and anti-dry-fire mount, a quiver, R.E.D.S. suppressors that take up some of the shock from the strings, four 18-inch arrows and field points.
Best for Deer Hunting: TenPoint Vapor RS470
- Speed: 470 fps
- Draw weight: 225 lbs
- Very fast
- Accurate at long distances
- Silent cocking system
- Heavier than other crossbows
What’s the best crossbow for deer hunting? That’s a loaded question. There are a lot of variables involved so we’ll cheat a bit and go with my personal favorite—TenPoint’s Vapor RS470.
With outrageous speeds of 470 fps, the Vapor is TenPoint’s fastest bow. And yet despite all that speed, this bow is a smooth and sweet shooter. It’s also stupid accurate at distances that are almost silly. A big reason for that accuracy is the two-stage S1 trigger set to break at 3.5 pounds. TenPoint’s new EVO-X Marksman Elite scope is speed-compensating up to 500 fps with adjustable turrets for shots out to 100 yards. And, trust me, you’ll hit where you aim at that distance.
The RS470 is a reverse-draw system. When fully cocked the bow measures a scant 6.5 inches in width. It also features the ACUslide cocking system that allows for not only simple, silent cocking but safe de-cocking as well.
The crossbow comes with the Marksman Elite scope, bubble level, ACUslide cocking device, six lighted Evo-X CenterPunch arrows, three EVO-X CenterPunch broadheads, STAG hard case and a neoprene sling.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Crossbow
The best crossbow for the money is the one that best fits your desired parameters. These will vary from person to person, but the methodology used to assess each option remains the same. We can’t allow things like name brand, camo finish, or price-point dictate too much of the evaluation process. Sure, if you’re on the prowl for the best budget crossbow, price is a consideration. But often, the best bow for your budget isn’t the cheapest or the most expensive choice. The best bow is the one that fits into your budget and offers the most ideal combination of performance and features for you.
If you’re new to crossbow hunting, your ideal bow could well be different from what a veteran crossbow hunter would desire. Similarly, if you’re only interested in compound crossbows then you certainly shouldn’t evaluate them against recurve crossbows. The experience between the two is very different and the comparison isn’t a logical one. The cams present in a compound crossbow let it generate more power in a compact package, as it doesn’t need the long limbs of the recurve to generate speed. But recurve crossbows are easier to work on, saving you a trip to the pro shop every time you need an adjustment. You’ll need to decide if the small size of the compound is more desirable than the simplicity the recurve offers when making a choice.
I think the point has been made: There is no singular “best” crossbow for everyone. There are, however, best crossbows for specific situations—including yours.
How long will a crossbow last?
Assuming you take care of it, there’s no reason you can’t expect a lifetime of use from your crossbow. Sure, you’ll need to replace cables and strings from time to time. But unless you’re shooting thousands and thousands of arrows each year, xbows are meant to take serious abuse and the limbs and other related stress-points have been tested to survive more shots than the average bowhunter will likely take.
Can I kill a deer at 100 yards with the best crossbow?
Today’s crossbows are stupid accurate. You can deliver an arrow with consistency on target at distances up to 100 yards, especially using the best crossbow scope. If you can’t kill a deer with a xbow at lesser distances, there’s likely something wrong with your ability to aim. My suggestion: Practice more. Perhaps a better question is: Is it ethical to try and kill a deer at 100 yards with a crossbow? A lot of things can happen in the time it takes an arrow to travel 100 yards, even from a crossbow pushing 500 fps. This is a question better answered on your own.
Do I need to buy the most expensive option to get the best performance?
Not necessarily. While you often do get what you pay for, there are some great cheap crossbows out there that perform just as well (or almost as well) as their more expensive counterparts.