Top Crossbow Recommendations & Essential Gear for the Modern Hunter
This expert guide will help you narrow down the best crossbows and must-have gear to make your next crossbow hunt a success.
With its roots tracing back thousands of years, crossbow hunting has evolved into a popular method of hunting that combines skill, strategy, and a profound connection with nature. Many will think that crossbow hunting is the same as hunting with a compound bow. That is simply not the case. There are many benefits crossbow hunting can provide that you cannot get when hunting with a compound bow. Hunting with a crossbow can be more convenient, easier on your body, improve your performance, and can even extend your hunting season.
There are many essentials that you need when you’re out in the field hunting, but having the crossbow that best suits you is the most important factor. Trying to narrow down which crossbow is best can be overwhelming, since there are so many options out there. Let’s take a look at some of the top choices for you to set your sights on.
Choosing The Right Crossbow
There are a few factors to consider when shopping for your crossbow:
If you’re an avid hunter and anticipate using your crossbow frequently, you’ll want to invest in a reliable, trusted, and durable crossbow with the exact features that you will need.
If you plan on hiking with your bow, you may need an option that is easier to transport and carry while you make your trek.
The speed at which you want your crossbow to shoot will also be something to consider. Experts recommend using a crossbow that has an FPS (feet per second) of at least 250 to 300. The higher the FPS, the more accurate your shot will be.
Lastly, it’s best to check with your state regulations to confirm the minimum FPS required where you hunt. This could eliminate some crossbows from your selection to choose from.
Now that we’ve got a general idea of what you should look for when shopping for your crossbow, let’s take a look at some of the top-of-the-line options that are out there.
This complete package by Ravin is the best money can buy. Featuring a VersaDrive Cocking System, over-cocking is not possible, which allows cocking and de-cocking to stop or resume at any time. You can also be rest-assured that you won’t disturb your hunting area with the featured silent cocking system.
The R500 also features a Hexcoil Cam System that rotates a full 360º, reforming this crossbow into the fastest, most accurate in its class. When you pull the trigger, you’ll know exactly where you’re going to hit with this crossbow’s dead-on accuracy. Plus, with its 500 FPS speed, your target won’t have a chance to react to what’s coming.
Maybe you aren’t looking for the top-line crossbow. You might want something that fits the budget a little better, and still produces results. We have a great suggestion for that as well.
Featuring the all-new X CAM, the Fatal X cocks down to a slim 6.25 inches axle-to-axle, and with 50% let off, cocking the Fatal becomes an effortless motion. This ultra-narrow crossbow can reach speeds of 405 FPS. The adjustable buttstock allows the compact, multi-position design to have a custom-tailored length of pull to best fit the hunter. The Pro Package includes: a LUMIX 4×32 IR-E Scope, a Sled Rope Cocker, a Quiver, three 390 grain, 20 inch HYPR Bolts with Field Tips, and a Stick of Rail Tube.
Not everyone is an experienced crossbow hunter, and this might be your first time doing research on what crossbow you should commit to. Let’s look at some good entry-level options that will still be reliable out in the field.
This CenterPoint crossbow features one of the best stealth systems on the market. The Whisper Silencing System reduces vibration, so you can quietly aim and fire, without disturbing your target. The ergonomic frame is designed for hunters, allowing comfortable movement around all terrains, giving you the ability to aim perfectly on your target from any position. Between the 405 FPS speed, and the Whisper Silencing System, your target won’t see or hear what’s coming until it’s too late.
Complete with a compact, manageable profile that hunters of all skills and sizes can manage, this Barnett crossbow is a great entry-level bow. The Step-Through-Riser (STR) technology reduces the length of the crossbow by integrating the foot stirrup within the riser. With a weight of 6.6 pounds, and speeds of 375 FPS, this crossbow hunts light and fast. It comes ready-to-hunt right away, so you can get out into the field and start hunting.
Barnett has revived its recurve crossbow line with the all-new Blackcat Crossbow. This is an excellent option for new crossbow hunters with its straightforward, easy-to-use design. It’s lightweight, and though it’s an entry-level crossbow, it still has a respectable speed of 260 FPS. Featuring finger safety reminders, this bow teaches good habits that will get beginners on the right track when it comes to weapon safety. The Blackcat Recurve comes with a red dot sight, aluminum arrows, and a lightweight quiver.
Must-Have Crossbow Accessories
Once you’ve picked out your crossbow, there are some accessories you’ll want to look into that can help you once you’re out in the field, ready to take your first shot.
You might be able to hit your target right in the sweet spot, but if you don’t have the appropriate broadhead or point, it won’t matter where your shot makes its impact. Broadheads are available in various grain weights. Heavier grain weight equals more energy, which results in greater penetration. However, this will also affect accuracy at further distances. You’ll want to check your crossbow’s owner’s manual to verify the appropriate weight range. It’s also best to check your local/state regulations on broadhead blade length restrictions.
Not every crossbow comes equipped with a scope, so you may want to add one to your bow of choice to increase target visibility. Many hunters choose a telescopic sight, which allows you to see targets clearly at different distances.
However, you can also opt for a holographic, or a red dot sight. These sights can preserve your peripheral vision, which can be very beneficial when out in the field.
Keeping a quiver with you while on the hunt is a great way to hold extra bolts while keeping them dry and out of the elements. They also make it easier to transport your bolts, and it’s helpful to have them ready in one place when you might need to grab another one quickly.
If you’re planning on hiking, or making long-distance treks while hunting with your crossbow, a sling is going to be a great investment. Having your crossbow on a sling makes for easy transport while walking, and allows you to keep a hand free for other tasks. It’s best to find a comfortable sling that supports the weight of your crossbow evenly.
If you want to be accurate when you’re on the hunt, you’ll need to get some good practice time with your crossbow. You will want to make sure you have a crossbow-specific target, as they will be built to withstand the higher impact of the bolts. Bag or block targets will be the most simple and cost-effective option. If you want a more realistic target, you can pick up a 3D Target. These resemble real-life game, and some even come with vital organs, so you can get a real feel for where you need to target.
As mentioned before, practice makes perfect when it comes to training with your crossbow. You’ll want to avoid using broadheads for practice, because the repeated strikes can dull the blades of the broadhead. Try to use field point tips, which are made specifically for target practice. If possible, you will want to get field points that are as close to the grain weight to the broadhead you’ll use in the field, so you can best mimic your real-life shooting.
Lastly, you’ll want to be comfortable and in appropriate gear if you’re out in the field hunting. Getting some comfortable boots to wear while taking a long hike to your spot can be very helpful in the long run. Making sure your apparel is scent-free is also another helpful benefit that quality hunting apparel can provide.
Once you’ve got the crossbow, and the gear, you’ll be ready to hit the great outdoors and set your sights on your target. As always, you can check out our huge selection of Crossbow Hunting Gear online, or talk with a Team Member at one of our stores.