Feb 02 2014

How to choose the best hunting crossbow

How to choose the best hunting crossbow old crossbow drawing

A few points to remember when choosing your new crossbow_ 

girl with crossbow


Everyone is different and has different views on their best crossbow.

Everyone is searching for their ‘perfect’ crossbow – or at least, as near as perfect for your needs. Your new purchase may be purely down to cost – but remember most modern crossbows are all very and will do the job well.


1. Draw Weight

cocking a crossbowTo reload a crossbow you have to cock the firing mechanism by drawing the bowstring back to the firing lock mechanism.

The amount of effort or ‘weight’ needed to draw the bowstring back is known as the Draw weight and is measured in pounds of force .

Lower end models will have a lesser draw weight as compared with top and crossbows whose draw weight can go up to nearly 300 lbs – most people can manage this using a rope cocker which will come with the crossbow, whereas some other have a built in winder designed to make the job very easy.


2. Bolt Velocity

crossbow bolt in flightSimply put, this is how fast the bolt will travel as it leaves the bow – normally anywhere between 200 – 400 FPS (feet per second) is acceptable. 

Higher end models will produce some serious amounts of bolt speed, however, a 400 FPS bow will be noisier than a 200 FPS bow – although technology is fast putting a stop to that one.! bolt kinetic energy chart







3. Energy

crossbow arrow through headBolt speed is one thing to consider, but the amount of energy that a bolt possesses is a crucial factor as to how effective the actual ‘knock down power’ of the bolt is, and how effective the kill will be.

The energy of a crossbow is know as the ‘kinetic energy’. A crossbow with high energy has a greater chance of full penetration and thus taking down larger game.

If you are planning on hunting larger game, a high velocity, high energy crossbow will be essential.


4. Power Stroke

crossbow arrowsThe power stroke effectively means the length of travel of the actual bowstring as it accelerates the arrow or bolt out of the crossbow during the firing action.

If a bow has a long power stroke, it will be able to exert more acceleration to the bolt as it leave the crossbow, thus producing a longer length of travel for the bolt itself.

Generally a higher end crossbow will have as a minimum, a 12″ power stroke and can range up to 15″. A power stroke of 13″+ is ideal for 22″ arrows.



5. Crossbow Weight

lightweight crossbowCrossbow weight is getting less and less these day, with the introduction of more lightweight manufacturing compounds – before a high powered bow needed heavy strong wood and steel to work, but now technology is producing even greater strength with less weight.

That said, crossbow weights can still vary quite a bit, with a naked bow weighing anything between 5 – 12lbs – add a few accessiroies like a scope and an arrow holder and you could be looking at 15lbs+.  Which is quite a lump to carry with you when out hunting if you’re in rough terrain.

Also consider, it is much harder keeping a heavy crossbow on target at the end of a days hunting…

6. Price

bag of money with $ signThe cost of a new crossbow will always be a big part in the decision as to what one you buy.

With this type of hunting equipment, only one rule applies – you get what you pay for..

Cheaper end bows are really for a beginner wishing to get to grips with crossbow hunting and methods, before moving on to mid range bows for around the $500 mark.

A $500 will be more than good enough for most survival and hunting situations, but if you have the money to invest, a $1000 will get you a high end, top of the range hunting crossbow that will be the pride of any serious hunter


  • For an idea of the various crossbows for sale and also our buyers guide comparison chart please see our:

 Crossbow Buyers Guide