The best crossbow
Avid hunters know what weapons to use to hunt certain animals, and they are also aware of the different seasons of each weapon. Some states offer compound bow seasons, crossbow seasons, and gun seasons. Guns and compound bows are perhaps the most common types of weapons to hunt with, while crossbows are considered more of a specialty weapon.
However, crossbows have been gaining popularity. They are easier to manipulate than compound bows, and the aiming system works the same as when using a gun. To learn more, keep reading our buying guide. Our top pick is the TenPoint Turbo GT Crossbow Package, which is an award-winning crossbow model.
Considerations when choosing crossbows
Types of crossbows
The type of crossbow takes into account how the crossbow is drawn back and the overall design of the model.
Recurve: The traditional style of crossbow, the recurve has tips that curve away from the shooter. It has a longer draw length, which increases bolt speed, and it's lightweight. There are no moving mechanisms with a recurve crossbow, so it's quieter than a compound crossbow.
Compound: Compound crossbows (not to be confused with compound bows) have pulleys that connect to a locking mechanism. Those pulleys help to draw the string back, which reduces the power needed to cock the arrow. They are noisier than recurves due to their extra moving parts.
Reverse draw limb: Just as its name implies, the reverse draw limb crossbow reverses the direction of the crossbow arms. That reversal moves the center of gravity toward the shooter. This type is the newest type of crossbow available.
Benefits of crossbows
After the string is cocked, it locks into place, so power is only required to knock the arrow. After that, the crossbow is aimed like a gun, and the trigger releases the bolt.
A crossbow is easier to operate than a compound bow when cold weather hunting and wearing bulky clothing.
Compound bows require the hunter to draw the string when an animal is present, which can scare the prey away. Crossbows can be drawn when no animal is present, and they stay drawn -- that way there's no need for extra movement when hunting an animal.
Crossbows have extreme accuracy when shooting.
Bolt speed is measured in feet per second over a specific distance. The bolt speed is key to crossbow performance. It's generally thought that a bolt speed of 300 to 330 feet per second is more than enough power.
Draw weight refers to the actual power that the crossbow has. It's the force that propels the bolt from a crossbow. A heavier draw weight indicates a faster bolt. Draw weights range from 75 to 200 pounds.
Flight groove of a crossbow refers to the track at the top of the crossbow where the bolt sits. A well-cut flight groove can greatly increase the performance of a bolt.
Sights and scopes can sometimes come already installed on crossbows. If there's only a sight and no scope, purchasing a scope and attaching it can increase the accuracy of shots.
Noise level is important when hunting flighty prey. The recurve crossbow is the quietest option. Remember that quieter doesn't always equate to more powerful.
Safety features include anti-dry fire and auto-engaging safety. Anti-dry fire prevents the crossbow from being fired without a bolt in place. This protects the limbs of the crossbow from unnecessary and accidental damage. Auto-engaging safety prevents the trigger from releasing the string with the bow drawn.
Depending on the level of crossbow you are looking to purchase, you may spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000. Middle-of-the-road options range from $250 to $575; they are well-made, but they won't have many extra features available, either.
Q. Do you have to be a certain age to own or operate a crossbow?
A. It's different for each state. It's recommended to contact a local DNR office or research online to learn your state's laws. Some have restrictions based on how powerful the crossbow is, while others simply have an age limit.
Q. Can I use a regular arrow with a crossbow?
A. No, you cannot. A crossbow arrow is aluminum or carbon tipped with a broadhead. They are shorter than regular arrows used in a compound bow.
Crossbows we recommend
Best of the best: TenPoint Turbo GT Crossbow Package
Our take: This package comes with everything hunting with a crossbow requires. It includes a scope, arrows, a quiver, a side-mount bracket for the quiver, and the bow itself.
What we like: The draw weight is 175 pounds, which carries enough force to take down a whitetail deer.
What we dislike: It has more potential power than is usually required -- too much power may be overwhelming for a beginner.
Best bang for your buck: Bear Archery Karnage Apocalypse Crossbow Package
Our take: A compound crossbow that nears 370 feet per second with a detachable sling, arrows, quiver, wax, scope, and cocking rope. It's the whole package for an affordable price.
What we like: The trigger is ambidextrous, so both left-handed and right-handed people can easily use it.
What we dislike: The crossbow itself is a compound crossbow, which can be noisy when hunting.
Choice 3: Barnett Crossbows Recruit Recurve
Our take: A middle-of-the-road option for someone who is taking an interest in crossbow hunting.
What we like: Includes a scope, rope-cocking device, lightweight quiver, arrows, lube wax, and the bow itself.
What we dislike: Only comes in camouflage.
Samantha Loomis is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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