5 Best Crossbows: Our Top Overall Picks

by Dave Chesson

June 14, 2023



Crossbow shooting is one of those hobbies that you can enjoy casually or dedicate a ton of time to — whether you’re at target practice or out hunting. And trust me, the satisfaction of hitting your target after taking the time to line up your shot and steady your aim never gets old.

Now, different crossbows are made with different goals in mind, because while some archers want more power behind their shots, others might prefer a portable bow instead of having to lug around something heavy. Speed, accuracy, and power vary from bow to bow, but it all boils down to how you’re going to use it. Depending on your purpose, some bows might be a better fit than others. 

Over the years, I’ve shopped around and tried a variety of crossbows, and as someone who prefers close-range, low-light hunting, my number one pick might differ from yours, so I’ve dug deep and compared all my favorites against each other to give you this list of best crossbows. And if you are not sure if a crossbow or a compound bow is right for you, we have a comparison article on the two types.

Gun University’s Best Crossbows

Best Crossbows

Best Value

Barnett XP380

Barnett XP380
  • High performance
  • Easy to assemble
  • Safety features
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Most Accurate

Ravin R10X

Ravin R10X
  • Good Build Quality
  • Lightweight
  • Good for Medium Game
Buy on Amazon
Best Pistol Crossbow

Snake Eye Tactical Cobra

Snake Eye Tactical Cobra
  • Automatic safety mechanism
  • Budget-Friendly
  • Self-cocking system
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CenterPoint Archery CP400
  • Ambidextrous silent crank
  • ADF and Auto Safety
  • Accurate
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Barnett Whitetail Hunter II
  • High performance
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Good safety features
Buy on Amazon

Best Crossbow Specifications

Below is a table of the overall best crossbows. Click the name of the scope to jump to that review.

CrossbowWeight (lbs)Draw Weight (lbs)Speed (fps)Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs)
Barnett XP38012185380122
Ravin R10X6.812420156
Snake Eye Tactical Cobra2.38022512.5
CenterPoint CP4007.1200400142
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II6.4160350103

Best Crossbows

Here is our list for the overall best crossbows:

  1. Barnett XP380
  2. Ravin R10X
  3. Snake Eye Tactical Cobra
  4. CenterPoint CP400
  5. Barnett Whitetail Hunter II

Best Crossbows – Reviews

Best Value Barnett XP 380 with Crank

Barnett XP 380 with Crank Featured Image

Barnett XP 380 with Crank

The Barnett XP 380 has a lot of power and is very easy to use, making it a sound choice for women and youth who want to take up target shooting or hunting.

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  • Safety A
  • Speed A+
  • Ease of Use B
  • Value A

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Barnett XP380 Specs

  • Weight (lbs) 12
  • Draw Weight (lbs) 185
  • Speed (FPS) 380
  • Suggested Bolt Length (in) 20
  • Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs) 122

Barnett XP380 Review

Barnett is well known for producing high quality yet affordable bows and the XP380 is one of my favorites, so much so that I’ve recommended it as a great crossbow for youth and small framed shooters and crossbow for beginners and to many shooters that are just starting out.

It’s also very popular with fellow dads who are introducing their kids to crossbows and, just like with my son, they could customize the XP380 over the years so their kids could use it for a long time. So, if you’re worried about outgrowing an expensive crossbow, you can’t go wrong with this one. It also comes with a crank-cocking device that cuts the 185 lbs draw weight by more than 90% without compromising on its power, so it’s much easier to use for younger and less experienced shooters. 

It’s mostly praise from me for the Barnett XP380 but there are a couple of things I’ve had issues with when using it in the field. First off, I wouldn’t recommend hunting small game with it, because all that power might do a bit too much damage. For bigger quarry like deer and elk though, 380 FPS is the right amount of punch for a clean kill.

Secondly, the bowstrings need a lot of lubrication before use just so you don’t risk breaking them or misfiring. The loud snap of a bowstring breaking could scare away your prey, damage your crossbow, or cause serious personal injury, and safety is the most important thing when it comes to archery. Barnett seems to be aware of the fragility of the XP380’s bowstrings though, because they’ve included lubrication wax in the package.  They also include a 4x32mm multi-reticle scope, side mount quiver, two 20 inch carbon arrows, and the cocking device.

With all this in mind, the XP380’s performance and all this equipment that comes with it for $400 means you’re getting your money’s worth and even though it’s not a very advanced crossbow, it’s very versatile, and a great gateway to higher-end, higher-powered bows. 

Barnett XP380 Pros and Cons

  • Price – Affordable, and comes in a ready-to-hunt package
  • Usability – Easy to assemble and use
  • Performance – High performance
  • Power – Too powerful for smaller game
  • Bowstrings – Weak bowstrings
  • Bolts – Only comes with two bolts

Most Accurate Ravin R10X

Ravin R10X Crossbow Featured Image

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Ravin R10X Specs

  • Weight (lbs) 6.8
  • Draw Weight (lbs) 12
  • Speed (FPS) 420
  • Suggested Bolt Length (in) 20
  • Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs) 156

Ravin R10X Review

High performance bows like the Ravin R10X come packed with features and patented systems that set them a cut above the rest in a few critical areas. 

In this case, HeliCoil technology is the driving force behind the Ravin R10X’s superior accuracy. The special thing about this is that the HeliCoil aligns the cables in helical grooves of the crossbow to balance the cams (cams help reduce the bow’s cocking force), allowing the cams to rotate 340° and generate an explosive and precise shot. 

That’s not the only advanced tech powering the R10X’s cutting-edge design. Their signature Trac-Trigger™ Firing System helps your nocks travel in a straight-line and the Frictionless™ Flight System stops your bolt from grazing against the rail. This means your strings and cables can last longer. 

The R10X gave my bolts outstanding balance and consistent accuracy when I took my shots. They also allow you to use less force when cocking the R10X because of their Versa-Draw™ Cocking System. It’s also ambidextrous, which makes handling much easier. 

If this is your first crossbow and you’ve only ever hunted with a gun before, imagine the feel of a rifle when picturing the Ravin R10X. In fact, they’re also not very far apart when it comes to down range accuracy. It’s also a good pick for hunters who want to stay mobile, because despite the punch it packs, it doesn’t need a high draw weight to get it loaded, so you’re not going to be struggling to set it up in the field.

This ease of use and handling really adds a lot to the R10X’s accuracy; when I took mine out, it was hands down the most accurate crossbow I’ve used and I feel like I’ve never missed a shot with it. 

That said, the price is a bit of a stinger. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of paying $1,600 until I’m dead sure that it’s the right one for me. And to be honest, the price you’re realistically looking at is closer to $2,000 when you factor in all the compatible accessories. Also, the feel of the handle just didn’t sit right with me personally, but comfort varies from shooter to shooter, so your mileage may vary.

Don’t get me wrong, the Ravin R10X certainly has a lot going for it; it’s got a ton of power to take down large game in one shot even from a distance of 100 yards or more, so you’re guaranteed a quick and clean kill if you get your aim right. It’ll definitely give you bang for your buck if you’re a long range shooter, but if you plan to shoot from a closer range, it’s going to be hard to justify breaking the bank for this purchase. 

Ravin R10X Pros and Cons

  • Price – High down range accuracy
  • Performance – Patented features for high performance
  • ADF – Anti-dry fire mechanism
  • Price – Very costly with all the equipment
  • Cocking Handle – Cocking handle has an awkward feel

Best Pistol Crossbow Snake Eye Tactical Cobra

Snake Eye Tactical Cobra Featured Image

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  • Durability A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Speed A
  • Penetration A

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Snake Eye Tactical Cobra Specs

  • Weight (lbs) 2.3
  • Draw Weight (lbs) 80
  • Speed (FPS) 225
  • Suggested Bolt Length (in) 7 or 8
  • Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs) 12.5

Snake Eye Tactical Cobra Review

Pistol crossbows are a lightweight and beginner-friendly alternative to standard crossbows, and are ideal if you want a low-commitment crossbow to start off with. Meant to be held in one hand, the Tactical Cobra isn’t very powerful by design, but this is to be expected since it’s so much lighter than regular crossbows and doesn’t require the same draw weight. 

The Tactical Cobra in particular is self-cocking and single-handedly – pun intended – the most versatile crossbow in this category, but it is worth mentioning that it doesn’t have much in the way of special features that other crossbows may have. Despite that though, I still loved experimenting with the Tactical Cobra because I could easily customize it to my needs with a fair amount of flexibility.

With a speed of 225 FPS and a durable build, the Tactical Cobra makes for a solid handheld crossbow and at 2.3 lbs, it weighs barely anything. It’s a steal at less than $50 for the crossbow, adjustable tactical sight and three aluminum arrows. So I recommend this for beginners who don’t want to commit to an expensive crossbow, and young shooters in need of something lightweight.

Now, some pistol crossbow enthusiasts argue that the PSE Viper SS deserves the title of best pistol crossbow. I got the chance to try it out recently and the two most noticeable differences were the Viper’s superior accuracy and lower draw weight. The Viper is 0.7 lbs lighter and significantly more accurate, but it does lack a bit of the punch that the Tactical Cobra brings. Honestly, if I had to pick between an extra bump in accuracy or the Cobra’s higher penetrative power, I’d go with the latter because the Cobra definitely cuts deeper and is more likely to land a quick kill. 

Snake Eye Tactical Cobra Pros and Cons

  • Cocking Mechanism – Self-cocking
  • Size – Lightweight and maneuverable
  • Material – Fiberglass molding
  • Power – Not very powerful
  • Overall Build – Basic build that needs customization

Most Versatile Centerpoint CP400

Center Point CP400 Featured Image

Centerpoint CP400

A 200lb draw weight cross bow with Silent Crank cocking system and a stirrup that doubles as a bi-pod.

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  • Shootability A-
  • Reliability B
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

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CenterPoint Archery CP400 Specs

  • Weight (lbs) 7.1
  • Draw Weight (lbs) 200
  • Speed (FPS) 400
  • Suggested Bolt Length (in) 20
  • Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs) 142

CenterPoint Archery CP400 Review

I’m always impressed by CenterPoint’s bows, which strike a perfect balance of performance and affordability. Similar to the Ravin R10X, the CenterPoint Archery CP400 comes equipped with HeliCoil technology and also has a folding stirrup and adjustable stock, making it a compact bow with high accuracy, especially when you pair it with its 3x32mm illuminated scope.

At 142 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, it’s less powerful than the Ravin R10X, putting it in a sweet spot as a versatile crossbow that isn’t too damaging to small-to-medium sized game. That said, with the 400 FPS that the CP400 packs and an exclusively designed Silent Crank, it is still a great partner for stealthy shots if you prefer being a more quiet hunter.

My only issue is that the CP400 comes with just two Select Carbon bolts. Since CenterPoint claims that using anything other than these will void your 5 year warranty, it feels a bit too punishing for its price tag. Using the wrong bolts can seriously damage your crossbow or cause an avoidable injury, so as tempting as it might be to swap out other bolts, it’s not worth the risk. Still, having to spend on extra bolts is a small price to pay for everything this crossbow brings to the table.

The CP400 is an impressive crossbow, and the complete package rounds up to around $950, which is pretty reasonable for a high performance bow. 

CenterPoint Archery CP400 Pros and Cons

  • Powerful
  • Compact
  • Price – Reasonably priced
  • Bolts – Only comes with two bolts
  • Draw Weight – High draw weight

Best Lightweight Barnett Whitetail Hunter II

Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Featured Image

Barnett Whitetail Hunter II

The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is a high-performance and lightweight crossbow that’s perfect for shooters of all builds and skill levels.

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  • Speed A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Durability A-
  • Value A+

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Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Specs

  • Weight (lbs) 6.4
  • Draw Weight (lbs) 160
  • Speed (FPS) 350
  • Suggested Bolt Length (in) 20
  • Kinetic Energy (ft-lbs) 103

Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Review

If you plan to hunt in the field, maneuverability is really important and low weight seriously helps this along. This is why the Hunter II is my top pick for this category with its lightweight carbon shaft. Barnett never misses, and the fact that they’ve earned two spots on my list is a testament to this.

Lightweight bows aren’t just perfect for beginners, but also for shooters with a smaller frame and women archers — my wife loves this bow, which is why it made the top of our list for best crossbows for women — and she appreciates how the rope cocking device helps her do all the work. That said, rope-cocking devices aren’t for everyone, which is why Barnett has made the Hunter II compatible with a crank-cocker as well to reduce the draw weight even further. 

Now, just because this bow is budget-friendly doesn’t make it any less accurate. It comes mounted with a waterproof and shock-resistant 4x32mm multi-reticle scope for crystal-clear aim. However, keep in mind that the Hunter II is not the best for shooting in low-light hours. The scope is not illuminated and I’ve actually found it to be quite flimsy. Fortunately, since I often shoot close-range, especially when I’m hunting Whitetail deer, accuracy has never really been a problem for me from a 40 yard distance.

The durability of this crossbow is the biggest issue for me. Similar to the Barnett XP380, the bowstrings could benefit from string dampeners for a quieter release and a longer life, but since the Hunter II is not very power-packed to begin with, the risk of breakage isn’t as high when compared to tougher crossbows.

Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Pros and Cons

  • Maneuverability – Easy to maneuver with sturdy handles
  • Trigger – Smooth TriggerTech mechanism
  • ADF – Anti dry-fire mechanism
  • Power – Not powerful enough for large game
  • Loud – Needs string dampeners for a quieter shot

Buyers Guide to Crossbows

Choosing a crossbow can be a tough choice considering how many great ones have hit the market in recent years. Having hands-on experience is one of the best ways to decide, but I’ve put together a few pointers that should help you figure out what you want from a bow.

What To Look For When Choosing the Best Crossbow

For most shooters, accuracy is non-negotiable when it comes to picking a crossbow, but I personally think accuracy can be improved by shooting from a closer range (within 40 yards) or by using the right scope for the range you want to shoot. You should also make sure to look at a few other components of a crossbow that can sometimes be harder to fix with an attachment, depending on the model. 

On that note, here are a few things I think you should consider when picking a crossbow:

Axle-to-axle (A2A) width

Basically, A2A width is the size of your crossbow while it’s cocked and it’s important to remember that it will return to its original size upon release and potentially knock against surrounding objects.

Mobility, arm-fatigue, and your ability to aim from a tight space are all things that the size and weight of your crossbow will affect. Size doesn’t really affect the accuracy, speed, or range of your shot. However, if compactness and maneuverability are must-haves, this is something you should look out for. You don’t want to get fatigued from struggling with your bow.

Draw weight

Draw weight is a measure of how much effort you’d need to put in to cock your bow, and a higher draw weight usually equals a more powerful shot. 

I personally recommend staying around the 150 lb range. You can usually work your way around a high draw weight with a rope- or crank-cocking device.

Power stroke

Power stroke, or “draw length”, is the distance between initial resting position and the fully drawn position of your bowstring and it means the same thing as draw weight.

In short, a higher power stroke means there’s more energy stored in your bow, so anything higher than 10 inches should give you faster, more powerful shots.


We measure speed in FPS, and the FPS rating of your crossbow can tell you how far a bolt can travel without losing efficiency. Faster bows are also more likely to work on larger prey and cut deeper, giving you a more accurate and clean kill. This is particularly important and a non-negotiable for me, so I wouldn’t go below 200 FPS.

Kinetic energy

We measure kinetic energy in foot-pounds, and tells us how much stored energy (also known as potential energy) is converted on release into kinetic energy. Like speed, kinetic energy also tells us how lethal a shot will be, so if your goal is to shoot large prey, go for a bow with a high kinetic energy rating.


Loud shots are a dead giveaway of your location. So if you’re not using a dampener or a quieter crossbow, you’d have to rely on the accuracy of your aim to make sure you land your shot on the first try. You can never predict how your prey will react when startled, so to me, noise control goes hand-in-and with safety.


Durability depends on use, but also on the materials your crossbow is made of. Flexible bows are great, they can scratch easily and succumb to extreme temperatures.

I recommend going for something sturdy, like carbon fiber or aluminum, for a bow that will last you well beyond your warranty period.


Scopes, cocking-cranks, cases, and extra bows are all accessories you will need to make the best use of your crossbow. Try to use manufacturer recommended accessories that are guaranteed to be compatible with your bow. This reduces your chances of damaging your equipment and running into hiccups when using it.

Another important accessory for your bow is the arrow, or the bolt, along with a broadhead, either mechanical or fixed blade, if you are going to use the crossbow for hunting. You want to select the best crossbow bolt for your needs.


Safety features are only getting better as more crossbows hit the market. You’d be hard pressed to find a crossbow without key features like finger guards, anti dry-fire inhibitors, and automatic engaging safety switches. 

Safety should always be your top priority, especially when hunting with kids. You should do what you can to minimize accidents, whether you’re at target practice or out on a hunt.

How Much Money Should You Spend on a Crossbow?

This depends heavily on your skill level, budget, and what you’re going to use your crossbow for. 

If you’re a beginner, or you’re choosing a crossbow for a younger shooter, shopping in the $200-$400 range is probably the smartest thing to do. You can get the hang of shooting without getting overwhelmed by too many high performance features. This allows you to save your money until you’re ready to commit to a more advanced crossbow.

If you’ve been shooting for a while and frequently hunt large game, then something more heavy-duty upwards of $900 is a worthwhile investment, but at the end of the day, it all depends on what you’re going to use your crossbow for and the aspects you don’t want to compromise on. 

The crossbows on this list have ranged from $40 to $2,000, and each of them has been hand-picked because they stand out in one way or another. This just goes to show that price isn’t always the best measure of a crossbow being the best one for you. 


Choosing the best of anything all depends on what’s important to you, and with crossbows, some are better than others when it comes to accuracy, speed, and ease of handling.

Get your hands on a bow and try it out for yourself before making a decision, because my list of favorites can only help so much — don’t rush into purchasing the most expensive or advanced bow without seeing if it’s right for you and your goals.

Best Crossbow FAQs

Which is the best crossbow to buy?

This comes down to personal preference. Barnett has a great range of crossbows at different price points, and since I prefer close-range, low-light hunting, I lean toward the Barnett XP380. It’s worth the money, easy to use, and incredibly flexible, and if you’re only hunting small game and are okay with having to lubricate your bowstrings frequently, then you can’t go wrong with it. If not, the CenterPoint CP400 is a great all-rounder crossbow.

What is the hardest hitting crossbow?

A good contender for this category is the Ravin R10X; it works well for small game and also does enough damage to bring down elk and deer. All things considered, even though the Barnett XP380 hits harder, it’s a bit too much for small game, so the R10X offers more versatility in this way.

What is the most accurate crossbow at 50 yards?

The Ravin R10X is designed for unmatched accuracy, and I’ve had a successful hunt every time I’ve used it. I usually hunt from a 40 yard distance, but you should have no problem taking down large game even from 100 yards. It’s pricey, but if you want a guaranteed clean kill, this is the way to go. 

What is the longest shot you should take with a crossbow?

Skilled shooters could work from a 80 yard range, but if you’re just getting started you might want to stay within 30-35 yards. I prefer to shoot from a 40 yard range, but a powerful crossbow could take you up to 500 yards. If you’re hunting, try to stay close enough to get it right the first time, but far enough so you’re safe just in case you miss and startle your prey. Because of this, the closer you are shooting from the more I have to stress the importance of string dampeners and other accessories that can quieten your shot. 

What are the quietest crossbows?

The CenterPoint Archery CP400 Crossbow has got to be the quietest one out there. It’s got an exclusively designed Silent Crank that reduces its draw weight without a sound, so you can sneak up on large prey without scaring them into bolting off. 

What is the lightest and fastest crossbow?

The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is the lightest crossbow on this list. The Snake Eye Tactical Cobra is a good alternative, but keep in mind that it is a pistol crossbow and belongs in its own category. The Hunter II has a lightweight carbon shaft that makes it very easy to maneuver and this is especially great if you’re just starting out or you’ve got a small build. 

Is a heavier crossbow better?

This depends on the scenario and your personal preferences. If you’re a beginner or someone with a smaller frame, a lighter crossbow is probably going to be easier to handle and less overwhelming. But some lighter crossbows don’t have much penetrative power and could ruin your chances of a quick kill, so if it’s power you want, you’re better off with a heavier one. 


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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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