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A good crossbow needs to do a few things well: It must be easy to load and unload. It has to be accurate with field points and broadheads. It should have great ergonomics.
I’ve tested crossbows that check a few of those boxes, but manufacturers have had a hard time building bows that check them all—until this year. The best crossbows of 2023 strike the right balance of speed and accuracy. This is refreshing after the speed race of last year, where two top crossbows surpassed the 500 fps mark, but struggled to shoot tight groups.
In this review, you’ll find crossbows with speeds from 368 fps to 515 fps and posted prices from $550 to $4,000. They’ve all been thoroughly tested and represent the latest in crossbow technology. So whether you want the flattest shooting crossbow or the most bang for your buck, you’ll be able to find the best crossbow for you.
How We Tested Crossbows
We measured crossbow speed using a Labradar Doppler chronograph. Each crossbow was shot three times, and we averaged the speeds to give you the spec listed for each crossbow. For context, the bolt weight and momentum are also listed for each bow. You’ll also see momentum calculated for each crossbow instead of kinetic energy because momentum provides a more accurate figure of an arrow’s lethality and ability to pass through an animal.
For every crossbow, each shooter shot three, three-shot groups at 50 yards from a lead sled.
Cocking and Loading
We evaluated each crossbow for how easy and intuitive it was to cock and load. We also took note of safety features, the nosiness of cocking mechanisms, and each crossbow’s manual of arms.
We tested accuracy from the bench, but that’s probably not how you’ll shoot when hunting, so we also tested crossbows offhand, kneeling, and off a tripod to see how they handled.
Gear We Used for Testing
We used the Big Shot Extreme 500 because standard targets aren’t up to the task of stopping bolts from the Ravin R500 and the TenPoint Nitro 505. The Extreme 500 reliably stopped arrows throughout our accuracy testing, and we never struggled to pull bolts. For broadheads, we used a Rhinehart RhinoBlock, which worked great at stopping the bolts, and the broadhead-tipped bolts were easy to remove. But I don’t recommend shooting field points into a foam broadhead target—especially from the 500 fps crossbows— unless you’re looking for a workout.
The Labradar uses doppler radar to track a projectile and measure its speed. We chose it over a traditional chronograph because it provides consistent reading no matter the lighting conditions.
The Caldwell Lead Sled provided a steady rest to bring out the best groups from each crossbow.
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Editor’s Choice: TenPoint Flatline 460
- Length: 26.5 inches
- Width Uncocked: 12 inches
- Width Cocked: 7.5 inches
- Weight With Scope: 9.7 pounds
- Bolt Weight: 410 grains
- Price: $2,650
- 50-Yard Group Average: 2.75 inches
- Speed: 467 fps
- Momentum: 0.849 slugs
- Easy to shoot offhand, kneeling, or seated
- Easy to cock and decock
- Forend is not ideal for shooting off a tripod or bag
Last year the TenPoint Nitro 505 was scorching fast, but came up short in accuracy. That crossbow shot several 9-inch groups with SEVR broadheads during testing. The new TenPoint Flatline 460 retained the refined build quality of the Nitro but improved the accuracy. It shot a 2.75-inch group average with the smallest five-shot group being 2.1 inches.
I chronographed the Flatline 460 at 467 fps. I think it’s the ideal speed for a hunting crossbow because it’s fast enough to produce a lot of energy and a flat trajectory, yet not so fast that it sprays broadheads all over the target. The drop from 20 to 45 yards is only 5 inches, with a practically flat trajectory from 20 to 40. I shot the SEVR 1.5, Swhacker Levi Morgan, and Rage Hypodermic Crossbow NC broadheds into a 1.75 inch group at 50 yards. They all hit the same spot as field points.
The speed and accuracy of the Flatline 460 are certainly noteworthy, but there are other fast and accurate crossbows on the market. The thing that makes this bow so special is its size, ergonomics, and ease of use.
The cocking mechanism is intuitive and smooth to operate. I love the slick way the crank handle stows in the stock and how it extends to provide more leverage. The crank handle is comfortable, and while shooting in the rain, I still had a secure grip. Getting the crossbow crocked and loaded is fast, and I can get it done in about a minute.
The length of pull measures 13.5 inches, which should be comfortable for most people. The distance from the back of the pistol grip to the trigger is 3.25 inches, and again it should be a comfortable trigger reach for most people. The two-stage trigger has a short take up followed by a defined stopping point, and with just a little pressure, it cleanly breaks.
Shooting off hand at 45 yards, I was able to keep five-shot groups to 6 inches. The Flatline 460’s balance point is right at the trigger, which makes it easier to hold steady while shooting unsupported. The forend is very comfortable to hold and use for off-hand shooting, but I’d love to see an Arca Swiss rail integrated into it. More and more crossbow shooters are taking cues from the rifle world and are using hunting tripods as a shooting rest. For this application, an Arca Swiss mount is the standard. So the addition of the Arca rail would add a lot of utility. A flat forend—rather than radiused—would also make the crossbow more stable for shooting off a bag. Again, flat forends are a growing trend in the best rifles and it would make sense to utilize their benefits in crossbows too.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line crossbow that’s accurate, well-built, and compact, you cannot go wrong with the Flatline 460. It’s $500 less than the R500, only 40 fps slower, and shoots broadheads without issues. To me, that makes it the best crossbow of 2023.
- Length: 31.5 inches
- Width Uncocked: 19 inches
- Width Cocked: 15 inches
- Weight With Scope: 6.8 pounds
- Bolt Weight: 409.4
- Price: $750
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.5 inches
- Speed: 378 fps
- Momentum: 0.686 slugs
- Very adjustable length of pull
- Easy to cock and de-cock with a rope cocker
- Heavy trigger
- A lot of post-shot vibration
First impressions are worth a lot, and my first impressions of the Wicked Ridge Raider were that it’s very light, easy to cock—and I was surprised when my first shot hit right where I was aiming. I continued to be pleasantly surprised by the Raider throughout testing.
I’ve tested a lot of crossbows, and there are only a handful that are easy for anyone to cock and decock with a rope cocker while in a treestand. I think the Wicked Ridge Raider is in that rarified air.
The trigger is a stiff 4.5 pounds but doesn’t have any creep, and it breaks clean. Just keep squeezing the trigger straight back, and you’ll hit the spot. In the 50-yard accuracy testing, the group sizes averaged 3.5 inches. The vertical consistency was excellent, and I saw mostly left or right inconsistency, likely due to the trigger.
The stock is adjustable for the length of pull from 13.25 inches to 16.25 inches, which is plenty of adjustment range to fit most shooters. In fact, the longest setting was even too long for my 6-foot 6-inch frame.
The one thing I didn’t like about shooting the Raider was the post-shot vibration. It’s a louder-than-average crossbow, with a stinging vibration after the shot. But I recognize most crossbow owners use their bows for hunting tools rather than recreational shooting. The Raider certainly is a great hunting tool and meets the needs of hunters looking for the best crossbow for the money.
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- Bolt Weight: 403 grains
- Weight: 8.4 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 7.7 inches
- String Life: 200 shots or 2 years
- Price: $3,025 to $3,725
- 50-Yard Group Average: 2.7 inches
- Speed: 502.5 fps
- Momentum: 0.898 slugs
- Fast and accurate
- Narrow profile
- Easy to use
- Good trigger
- Difficult to clip bolts onto the string
- Quiver and crank are poor quality for the price
A crossbow that shoots 500 fps is impressive. But a crossbow that’s safe, accurate, easy to use, and shoots 500 fps is worthy of the Editor’s Choice award. the new Ravin accomplishes all of that and more.
The R500 doesn’t achieve 500 fps by utilizing a super-heavy draw weight. It uses the same 300-pound draw weight as the 450-fps R29. It gets its speed from a longer powerstroke and efficient cam design.
We really liked the R500’s design. Its narrow profile makes it handy, and it balances over the forward grip for steady offhand shooting. It also has a smart solution to prevent mispositioned fingers from getting sliced off by the string: The R500’s string is fully enclosed with a shroud that resembles a vented tube.
The cocking mechanism is also really well thought out. The trigger group moves on threaded rails to cock the R500. It’s a clean design that has no straps or ropes. It takes effort to crank, but it’s smooth and most adults won’t have an issue cocking this crossbow. The crank handle that comes with the R500 looks surprisingly cheap—like an Allen wrench bent into the shape of a crank. Its design and construction are almost like an afterthought on an otherwise well-designed crossbow. Another thing we didn’t like is that you have to snap the bolts onto the string rather than slide them into place like many other crossbows. This means the user must grip the bolt to snap it on, and with a broadhead, that becomes more difficult.
That said, I suspect that snapping the bolts onto the string contributes to the R500’s accuracy. The Ravin was the most accurate crossbow in the field we tested, with a 2.7-inch average group at 50 yards. The real test was how it performed with broadheads. We wanted to be sure that a 500 fps crossbow could shoot a broadhead accurately. I shot multiple groups with a 100-grain SEVR crossbow broadhead at 50 yards, and it consistently grouped with field points. The broadhead groups were comparable to our field-point-only groups at 2.75 to 3.25 inches. I swapped the broadhead onto different bolts and of the six bolts I shot with the broadhead, I produced only one flyer, which shot 4 inches outside the group.
Using the LabRadar, we clocked the R500 speed at 502 fps—just over the advertised spec. At that speed, your arrows will drop 1.5 inches between 20 and 40 yards. At 50 yards, your bolts will be going 462 fps and deliver .827 slug fps of momentum. For perspective, a compound bow shooting 300 fps with a 600-grain arrow generates .799 slug fps at point-blank range.
The elephant in the room is the R500’s price tag. It’s an absurdly expensive crossbow, and it’s comparable in price to a precision hunting rifle. But the crossbow market is a hot one, and Ravin is betting that hunters will be willing to shell out for one of the fastest, most accurate crossbows available.
- Bolt Weight: 350 grains
- Weight: 7.5 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 25.5 inches
- Price: $1,600
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.19 inches
- Speed: 346.6 fps
- Momentum: 0.538 slugs
- Fast follow-up shots
- User serviceable
- Front trigger can be difficult to reach
- Complex cocking process
The TwinStrike TAC 2 is the second generation Twinsitrike, which shares the same signature feature as its predecessor: A quick follow-up shot. It accomplishes that by using two recurves stacked on top of each other. Each bow is cocked independently using a detachable crank. There are two triggers on the Twinstrike. The front trigger fires the top bow, and the rear fires the bottom bow. The new TAC 2 is .3 pounds lighter than the original, has a shorter overall length, and is about 20 fps slower.
We used both the top and bottom bow during accuracy testing and can confirm that both shoot bolts in the same spot. For the sake of science, I also shot both bolts simultaneously. The spread was about 1.5 feet, but that’s simply because it’s difficult to fire both bolts at the exact same time and the recoil from the first shot spoils the second. So, yes you can shoot two bolts at once, and even though that feature doesn’t have a practical purpose, it is fun.
We averaged a 3.19-inch group at 50 yards and clocked the TAC2 at 346.6 fps. The bolts are shorter and lighter than the other crossbows we tested at 350 grains, and they generate .538 slug fps at point-blank.
There are some cons to this crossbow. The front trigger will be difficult to reach for shooters with smaller hands. The loading process is complicated (you definitely have to read the instructions before using), and testers had safety concerns around loading. You must cock the bottom crossbow with the safety off—the latch will not engage with the safety on. The dryfire mechanism is your safety while cocking the bottom bow, and we confirmed it does work. Also after loading both bolts you must put the safety on manually.
This crossbow has a cool factor and a feature that others can’t touch. Like all recurve crossbows, it’s field serviceable, and no bow press is required to replace a string.
- Bolt Weight: 404 grains
- Weight: 7.9 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 12 inches
- Price: $3,050 to $4,650
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.08 inches
- Speed: 515 fps
- Momentum: 0.924 slugs
- Easy to crank
- Built-in the USA
- Inconsistent broadhead accuracy
- Crank failure during testing
At the 2019 Outdoor Life crossbow test, the fastest crossbow was the TenPoint Nitro XRT at 432 fps. Just three years later, we have crossbows shooting at least 70 fps faster. But one thing hasn’t changed: TenPoint still makes the fastest crossbow.
Like the R500, the Nitro 505 isn’t getting its speed from its 300-pound draw weight alone. The increased speed comes from a longer powerstroke—two inches longer than the Ravin—as well as its limb and cam design.
At 515 fps, the Nitro 505 delivers a 404-grain payload with .924 slug fps of momentum. That’s 10 fps faster than the Ravin. Does the extra speed really make a difference? From 20 to 40 yards, the Nitro 505 has 1 inch of drop, while the R500 has 1.5 inches. At 50 yards, the Nitro has .026 slug fps more momentum than the R500. So, in real-world hunting situations, the speed difference is negligible. Nitro 505s also ship with six 450-grain Center Punch bolts, which fly at 488.5 fps.
At 50 yards, we averaged 3.08-inch groups with the Nitro 505. That’s plenty accurate for any hunting scenario, but we’ve seen tighter groups from less expensive bows in previous crossbow tests. Broadhead groups were hit or miss and ranged from about 3 to 9 inches. The difference in group size resulted from bolts that did not shoot well with a broadhead. That means you can’t screw broadheads onto any bolt and go hunting. You’ll need to weed out flyers and find bolts that shoot well with a broadhead. The heavier and slower Center Punch bolts did not improve broadhead accuracy.
The Nitro 505 has a self-contained cranking system. You do have to unwind the crank with one hand while the other hand guides the latch mechanism down the rail. With a light push, the latch clips onto the string and it’s easy to cock. The crank on the Nitro 505 is very smooth, and its well-designed handle provides comfort and leverage. The first crossbow we received from TenPoint had a crank failure during testing: The strap disconnected from the internal mechanism. We’ve had no issues with the replacement crossbow.
Just like with the Ravin crossbow, you’ll have to pay for all that speed. Prices for the Nitro 505 range from $3,050 to $4,650 depending on the package you go with.
- Bolt Weight: 400 grains
- Weight: 8.3 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 13 inches
- Price: $800
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.27 inches
- Speed: 408 fps
- Momentum: 0.725 slugs
- Balances well for offhand shooting
- Cocking mechanism gets stuck on stock
Centerpoint and Ravin are sister companies, and you’ll see a lot of Ravin technology in Centerpoints. The Wrath 430 is at the upper end of what I’d call a budget bow at an $800 MSRP—retail prices are lower.
This bullpup-style crossbow is the most compact in the Centerpoint lineup. The stock is polymer, and it gives the crossbow a cheap feel, but it doesn’t affect performance. The trigger pull felt heavy, but it was still the fourth-most accurate crossbow we tested. We shot a 3.27-inch group average, and it produced speeds of 408 fps with a 400-grain bolt. The Wrath 430 has an advertised speed of up to 430 fps, but Centerpoint doesn’t provide a bolt weight to achieve that speed. So we won’t say it can’t hit its spec because a lighter bolt could reach that 430 fps mark, but we weren’t able to achieve those speeds in our test.
We liked that the forward grip keeps your support hand low and safely away from the string. The crank is quiet, but the crank handle inserts into a hole in the back of the stock and can get wedged in place. For hunting, we would prefer to use a cocking rope but found that because of the long powerstroke, it was difficult to use with the rope cocker.
- Speed: 420 fps (advertised)
- Bolt Weight: 382 grains
- Weight: 8.9 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 12 inches
- Price: $1,099
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.77 inches*
- Speed: 420 fps (advertised)
- Momentum: 0.712 slugs
- Good speed and accuracy
- Comes with four bolts
- Needs more premium features for the price
Bear Archery makes crossbows? Yes and, like their compound bows, they are building crossbows to fit any budget from the $300 Trek 380 to the Impact at $1,100. We evaluate bows in the $1,000-plus category with a more critical eye than the budget-friendly options. The competition in that higher price bracket is tough, because consumers expect peak performance from a crossbow that costs a grand.
Let’s start with what we liked about the Impact. It’s a compact bow at 12-inches wide, uncocked. The adjustable length of pull is a nice feature for fitting the Impact to multiple shooters. It also has a built-in bipod that would work well for resting on a limb or the window of a box blind. It shot an average of 3.77-inch* groups at 50 yards.
There’s an asterisk attached to that group size because we only got through three of the six groups with the Bear Impact. The tab that depresses to release the string hook broke during testing. We also could not chronograph the Impact before we had the failure. This crossbow simply didn’t bring the performance to match its price tag.
- Bolt Weight: 400 grains
- Weight: 7.9 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 13.75 inches
- Price: $600
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.5 inches
- Speed: 407 fps
- Momentum: 0.723 slugs
- Good trigger
- Shoots unique, micro-diameter bolts
- Only comes with two arrows
- Can’t be decocked without firing
The Barnett Hyper XP 405 gives crossbow hunters a lot of value for the price. It has some cool features, like that it shoots micro-diameter bolts, and it has a TriggerTech trigger. The collapsable stock is excellent for fitting the crossbow to the shooter and reducing its size for transportation. The stock is also ergonomic and features rubber over-molding around the grip for additional comfort. The trigger is insanely good for a crossbow in this price range. It also shoots a respectable 407 fps. It printed 3.5-inch groups at 50 yards.
The downside is that the Hyper XP 405 only comes with two bolts, and it doesn’t include a crank. But, you can buy a crank for an extra $150. We recommend that upgrade because using the included rope cocker is difficult due to the Hyper XP 405’s long powerstroke. The last few inches of cocking the crossbow are especially difficult. It also can’t be decocked without firing. Another con is that the bolts are expensive; they’ll run you $90 for five.
If you’re looking for a crossbow for around $600, it’s going to be hard to beat the features you get from the Hyper XP 405.
- Bolt Weight: 404 grains
- Weight: 7.2 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 16 inches
- Price: $600
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.58 inches
- Speed: 401 fps
- Momentum: 0.71 slugs
- Nice features for the price
- Good trigger
- Comfortable stock
The Whitetail 400 XTR has many of the same features we like about the Hyper XP 405, like the TriggerTech trigger. The big difference between the two is the Whitetail Hunter shoots standard-diameter bolts. That feature will appeal to many crossbow hunters because the standard bolts are about half the price of the small-diameter ones.
The stock is ergonomic and well-balanced. The balance makes for steady shooting from field positions, and it feels much lighter than its 7.2 pounds. Barnett added nice touches like rubber over-molding on the cheek rest, grip, and stirrup. That coating adds comfort, and deadens any noise caused by knocking the stirrup into stands or bow hangers.
It is a long crossbow at 36 inches, including the stirrup. It’s a beast to cock without a crank. You can buy a crank for the crossbow ($150), though, and it would be a wise investment.
It has a very nice TriggerTech trigger and shot a respectable average of 3.58-inch groups at 50 yards. We clocked it at its specified 400 fps, giving it 0.71 slug fps of momentum. That’s really good performance for a crossbow in this price range.
- Bolt Weight: 390 grains
- Weight: 7.25 pounds
- Uncocked Width: 9.75 inches
- Price: $1,200
- 50-Yard Group Average: 3.7 inches
- Speed: 382.6 fps
- Momentum: 0.661 slugs
- Good trigger
- Smooth cocking crank
- Quirky cocking and loading procedure
There’s a lot to like about the Killer Instinct Swat X1. This is a compact crossbow—25 inches long—that’s very easy to shoot offhand and kneeling, thanks to its size and balance. It also has one of the nicest triggers we tested, and it shot a respectable 382 fps with a 390-grain bolt.
The accuracy was just average, with 3.7-inch groups at 50 yards. In terms of effort, it was an easy crossbow to cock, but we didn’t like its quirks in the cocking and loading process. As you cock the crossbow, you have to lift the cheek rest out of the way and then close it again before shooting. This added step is a compromise for the SWAT X1’s smaller size.
Last year’s crossbow test was all about speed, and it was a shootout between the fastest crossbows ever made. That was exciting, but I learned that broadhead accuracy suffers when speeds hit 500 fps. This year’s best crossbow found the right balance between speed, accuracy, and handling, making it an ideal hunting crossbow. I think that will be the trend for crossbows going forward as manufacturers put more emphasis on features rather than speed alone.
Best Crossbows of 2023
Best Crossbows of 2022
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