We looked through some of the best crossbows in 2018. The results were quite surprising with some unheralded names and new entrants making a spot among the best 10. Along the way some stood out for accuracy while others were so compact, we didn’t know how they would handle.
So if you’re also wondering about the top crossbows in 2018, read on to find the best pick for archery and hunting. To pick the best representative of various categories, we considered the price range, speed, and weight. The ten crossbows below made it to the final shortlist.
Best Crossbows 2018
Excalibur Micro Suppressor - Top Mid-range
TenPoint Stealth FX4 - Runner up
Ravin 15 Crossbow - Editor's choice
Cobra System - Cheap, Compact & Fun
1. Excalibur Micro Suppressor - Top Mid-range
This recurve crossbow is powerful and accurate. It has a nice, compact build and is quite light at 5.4 lb. It is just 31 inches long which makes it easy to grip and focus. It also comes with a lightweight X-hanger quiver that is easy to detach.
We liked how it is well balanced because the rubberized material on the foregrip gives purchase, this enables a steadier aim. The over-molded foregrip also prevents fingers from reaching the string.
This crossbow was comfortable to use even in a standing position, but it was in sitting postures that we appreciated how easy it is to aim and shoot accurately.
The Excalibur packs some nice features like the illuminated scope which makes it easy to aim in dim light. Its Tact-Zone scope is among the best in the market. You can adjust it for shot speeds between 275 and 410 feet per second so you can switch between heavier and lighter arrows and still hit targets. This crossbow has been advertised to fire at speeds up to 355 feet per second.
This crossbow has a draw weight of 280 lb, and we felt it when cocking. We advise using the rope cocking aid. This makes it a great choice for hunters. An added plus is how silent this crossbow is despite how fast it shoots thanks to its sound deadening system and X-Shox Dampeners.
We found cocking to be quite fast and smooth, though not everyone might be comfortable with its draw weight. It has the Guardian Anti Dry Fire system to protect the crossbow from damage by stopping the string if it shoots when no bolt is loaded.
A decocking feature on this crossbow is also convenient. Although decocking felt a little awkward, this feature is helpful to nonetheless.
This compound crossbow has unique ‘forward facing limbs’ which are abbreviated to form the FFL in the crossbow’s name. This feature delivers more speed and power without the need to lengthen the crossbow.
With space at a premium for hunters, this crossbow can come in handy. The Bear X meets the poundage requirement with its 125-pound draw weight.
The crossbow is designed to shoot 400-grain arrows at speeds up to 335 feet per second. This makes it convenient even for young hunters learning the ropes.
Another cool feature is the stirrup. It features an open configuration so that it can serve as a hanger. You can hang it on a tree stand.
For a crossbow that costs a little less than 500$ we did not have too many complaints with what we got. This crossbow offers good value for your money. Still:
3. TenPoint Stealth FX4 Crossbow - Runner Up
This is a top range crossbow. It comes with the core features you could expect of TenPoint. These include the thumbhole stock which is said to enhance accuracy, the AccuDraw cocking system and the metal injection 3 ½ -pound trigger.
This compound crossbow has a decent length of 34.4 inches and weighs 6.8 pounds which is an achievement considering its features. It is quite comfortable to carry around in track and stalk situations.
You can halve its 185-pound draw weight using the cocking aid. This crossbow comes with the AccuDraw or AccuDraw 50 to options. They conveniently integrate into the stock.
This crossbow packs a punch too; it fires arrows at a top speed of 370 feet per second. This crossbow can work well even with the big game like buffalo. With a 17.6 inch axle to axle width when uncocked, this crossbow is relatively easy to maneuver in tight spaces like thickets.
While the crossbow felt front-heavy, we liked how there was little vibration with each shot. We also found this to be a well-balanced crossbow; this is probably possible because of the bullpup design and lightweight stirrup. Its thumbhole stock design enables lodging the butt firmly on the shoulder which enhances balance and stability.
The scope features three reticles. It comes already mounted and preset at 20 yards. It is excellent for precise aiming, even at long distances. See through len-caps keep out dirt and protect the lens from scratches.
We found this crossbow to be accurate, in fact, we would advise against tight groupings because you might ruin a few arrows while at it.
The crossbow is also quite easy to assemble if you follow the manufacturer's instruction. It can take between 20 minutes and a half an hour.
This compound crossbow is in the price range below 500$, but you might not tell because it has some nice features. It weighs a respectable 6.5 pounds. It is good for hunting small game; you can even track and stalk the quarry without tiring so much. Its accuracy also makes it suitable for target shooting.
This bow comes in a camouflage color and is easy to assemble. You are likely to finish assembly in less than 20 minutes. Its uncocked axle to axle width measures 19 inches so it could be narrower.
The crossbow fires arrows at 360 feet per second which is quite fast.
The first thing that struck us when shooting this crossbow is its high accuracy. We could achieve two-inch groupings even at 50 yards. Its 4 x 32 multi-reticle scope works fine although it did not gather light as well as we expected.
The safety in this crossbow engages automatically, and its anti-dry fire works well. The draw weight is 175 pounds, but the rope cocking device makes it easy.
The best thing about this crossbow though was its quiet operation and shooting. You can dispatch shots without alerting deer, elk or even wild boars using this crossbow.
This compound crossbow is in the 1000$ range, and it is ideal for hunting game. It packs some impressive features that we'll delve into below.
The first thing that impresses about this crossbow is how easy it is to assemble. In five minutes, you can be ready to shoot.
It comes with accessories including a scope which gathers light well. The scope also has an illumination feature.
This enhances accuracy even in twilight hours if your favorite game is easiest to hunt at such times.
If you’re a fan of light trigger pulls, this crossbow might not be your thing. It comes set at 3.5 to 4 pounds. The trigger has a crisp break, this makes it more accurate when firing. The crossbow features a draw weight of 185 pounds and an axle to axle length of 20 inches.
Anti-dry fire systems come with almost every issue of crossbows these days, and the Barnett Ghost 400 is no exception. It prevents the crossbow from shooting when there's no bolt in place.
When you cock, the safety automatically engages. To shoot, you must manually set it to the fire position. This feature is useful in preventing accidents.
The crossbow body includes an aluminum Picatinny rail and carbon riser. These materials help reduce the weight of the crossbow. It is 7.3 pounds which is surprising considering its features and construction. If your excursions involve a lot of walking, this crossbow might not be the ideal option.
This Barnett is very accurate, aiming at the same bull's eye might leave you with damaged arrows because its aim is deadly accurate.
Its shooting speed of 410 feet per second puts it in an exclusive club of crossbows that fire amazingly fast. The compact design makes it easy to aim and shoot.
We noticed that this crossbow dispatches shots with a little more noise compared to others on the list.
6. Ravin Crossbows R15 Predator - Editor's choice
Another high-performance crossbow that cost well over a grand, the Ravin R15 picks from where its impressive predecessor, the Ravin R9 left off. It shoots arrows up to an impressive 425 feet per second, which is super-fast.
This pre-assembled and pre-tuned crossbow features a compound construction. The Helicoil technology, which is still new in the market is a frictionless flight system that helps it achieve the high speeds.
The Ravin also features a Trac Trigger fire system. Use of these technologies including the fully versa-draw integrated cocking mechanism endow this bow with the ability to deliver power.
The technology also makes this crossbow easy to operate, even for people with impaired motor ability or disability. Its design minimizes human error as it is easy to cock or uncock.
This Ravin also comes with an illuminated scope for up to 100 yards
Few bows are as easy to cock and uncork as this crossbow. It also weighs 6.9 pounds, which is light for compound crossbows. The weight combined with its compact size and narrow design makes this crossbow easy to carry around.
We were pleasantly surprised that this bow shoots arrows at its high speed when the axle to axle length is a mere 10.5 inches when uncocked. The bolts pack enough punch to take down big game.
This is more impressive considering that the draw weight for this crossbow is only 12 pounds. Its ambidextrous cocking system is also a plus.
What we liked
Very compact design is ideal for tight and blind or stalking hunts, the Ravon 15 measures just 6 inches from axle to axle once cocked.
This crossbow was so accurate that at 40 yards, we almost put bolts on top of each other. This well-balanced crossbow also impressed with:
7. The Cobra System - Cheap, Compact & Fun
This is a simple crossbow that costs less than 100$. It fits you if you want to do target practice or hunt small game. Its main advantage is that you can reload and fire quite fast thanks to its quick pistol action.
This crossbow has an 80-pound draw and is easy for the average adult to use. It is also easy to aim and shoot up to 20 yards.
This is a light crossbow; its body is made of strong plastic, graphite and light metal, it weighs about 1 pound which is lighter than all other options on this list. It only measures 18 inches by 6 inches, so it is easy to maneuver and even stalk game.
With an 80-pound draw weight, this crossbow is easy to cock. It can send arrows up to 100 yards. It fires arrows at 165 feet per second; this is effective for hunting small game. In testing, we fired an arrow into a tree at 20 yards, and it penetrated 2 ½ inches.
The pressure from shooting can fray strings, so you need to wax the bowstrings regularly. The pressure from the pistol action is responsible for the more rapid wear of strings in this crossbow.
Also, vibration weakens the front set screw, make a note to check it regularly. This crossbow is easy to use; you can string and even assemble it easily by following instructions on the manual.
The Cobra is a neat small crossbow that uses trigger action. It is easy to carry and use. If this option works for you, perform regular maintenance to enjoy using it for long. It is suitable for hunting small game like squirrels and rabbits.
This is a low budget option, so we do not do the injustice of measuring it up against crossbows that cost over ten times more. It is excellent value for money. But the sights are not adjustable
This is a low priced powerful and efficient crossbow that costs less than 500$. It is a little heavy in the current generation of crossbows.
It features anti-dry fire mechanism and an automatic safety trigger to prevent accidents.
The crossbow also has an adjustable stock and pass-through foregrip to make shooting easier even in narrow spaces.
It has a cocking draw weight of 185 pounds and comes with a cocking rope to make work easier. The Sniper 370 has a stroke of 13.5 inches. It shoots arrows up to speeds of 370 feet per second. This is very fast; it is suitable for hunting deer.
We felt that the sight is not as good as it can be, even for a crossbow of its price range. Other takeaways include:
This is a crossbow that goes for less than $500 by TenPoint. It is a well-built crossbow that feels comfortable and is well balanced.
It has a draw weight of 165 pounds but also comes with the option of TenPoint’s unique ACU-52 or AcuDraw. The crossbow is also easy to assemble thanks to detailed instructions that come with each order.
At 22.25 inches wide with a stock length of 38 inches, this is not the most compact crossbow. It might not be the best choice if you often work with tiny spaces.It also weighs 6.6 pounds which is in the medium range. It comes with a sling and is not prohibitively heavy; you can stalk prey with it though you would do better with a lighter option.
The invader shoots arrows at the respectable speed of 330 feet per second and gives very accurate results. Its black limbs provide support for the riser as well as stability for steady shots.
The 3x scope is easy enough to use whether you are a professional or beginner. You can adjust it to take accurate shots at 30 or 40 yards; we found that it became a bit hazy in damp conditions though.
This crossbow features a skeletal design which looks good, but its main purpose is to reduce weight without losing structural strength. The foregrip is made of nylon to provide exceptional grip and balance when aiming.
The Wicked ridge invader is a powerful, silent performer. It packs 96 feet per second of kinetic energy which offers good penetration for game hunting.
This top of the range crossbow is TenPoint’s first entrant into the reverse draw compound crossbows. And by what we have seen, they did a pretty good job.
The first thing that strikes about this crossbow is its compact, narrow design. It is 34.25 inches long with the stirrup, and it measures an impressive axle to axle width of 15.5 inches uncocked.
The width shrinks to 10 inches when cocked. If your concern is maneuverability, then this is one bow you can carry even where you need to squeeze between obstacles to get a shot. The bow is also camouflaged with Mossy Oak Break Up Country camouflage.
This crossbow weighs 7.8 pounds thanks to its carbon fiber barrel and OnForce polymer stock which are light without sacrificing strength and rigidity.
The nylon filament retention brush, Over-the-Top limb pocket, Zytel Limb Suspension System and Machined aluminum riser have great sound and vibration absorbing properties. These make the crossbow operation stealthy.
The carbon Nitro shoots bolts at an impressive 385 feet per second. This means you can shoot flatter. With close targets, we did not even need to know the distance. The rangefinder scope that comes with this crossbow did not disappoint either.
The crossbow has some standard TenPoint crossbow features too, like the T3 auto engaging safety trigger which is equipped with a dry fire inhibitor. It also comes with a choice of AcuDraw or Deddsled 50 cocking mechanism to halve its draw weight of 165 pounds. The integration of the cocking device seamlessly into the stock is one of the hallmarks of TenPoint designs, and it is convenient.
What Matters in a Crossbow?
Before delving into the intricate features that matter in crossbows, they come in various price ranges. Some cost less than 100 $; others cost well over a grand. All these fall into either of two categories that have unique benefits and drawbacks.
Recurves follow an old-school design that is both simplistic and efficient. They have few moving parts and weigh less than compound crossbows on average. These crossbows are also less prone to failure because of their simple mechanism. Modern options come with the latest features like self-cocking capabilities.
This type of crossbow has a greater axle width so it might not be suitable when working with narrow spaces. Recurves have a larger draw weight compared to their compound counterparts. They can also last longer because of the few moving parts.
Compound crossbows are popular because they combine lower draw weights with fast arrow speeds thanks to their pulley and cable systems.
They feature narrower axle to axle widths compared to their recurve counterparts. This makes them ideal for use in cramped hunting blinds.
Factors to consider
Crossbows pack various features that are suitable for archery and hunting. The main aspects of a crossbow that you should consider include:
Light crossbows are easier to carry, and the general rule of thumb for outdoor excursions is that lighter loads are better. However, light crossbows are harder to keep steady in that brief moment when shooting as the arrow exits the crossbow.
With practice, you might get accurate and know how to shoot light crossbows accurately. Heavier crossbows are easier for beginners because they are more stable. Use them if you’re taking short hunting trips where there is less walking and more aiming.
We all love arrows that streak to the target like a lightning bolt. Fast crossbows are great for shooting flatter and hitting hard.
Note that the stated speeds for crossbows only work for the specific arrows that were used in testing. To achieve the optimal speeds, always use arrows that are recommended by the manufacturer.
However, extreme arrow speeds can impede shooting because fast crossbows ask for a high level of accuracy from the user. Speed can magnify the effects of the slightest flaw in the arrow or the imperceptible twitch when firing and skew the result. Slow crossbows are more tolerant of such imperfections.
The convenient draw weight depends on why you need a crossbow. A high draw weight often means greater speed, although the power stroke is another factor that affects speed.
If hunting deer, a draw weight of about 150 pounds can suffice. For some crossbows, you can use rope cocking aid to halve the pull weight.
As you can see, these crossbows span different price ranges, and you can choose light options if you walk a lot and lighter options if you do not. The crossbow that we liked, regardless of price was the Ravin 15. Its powerful blend of compactness and power was unrivaled. However, the TenPoint FSX4 also impressed us and came a close second.
The Excalibur comes tops for mid-range crossbows. We were pleasantly impressed by its accuracy and light weight. If you are looking for light crossbows below the 100$ budget, we highly recommend the Cobra System self-cocking pistol.