How to Be The Next Daryl Dixon with The Best Hunting Crossbow

Crossbow hunter up a tree
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

If you’re looking for the best hunting crossbow on the market, you’ve come to the right place. We think that this sort of weapon is one that will truly make you be present while hunting. That’s because you’re using your entire body when shooting and therefore you need to connect with the crossbow in order to make it effective.

So if you’re one of the guys who discovered the satisfactions of using a crossbow and needs one for your next hunt, you should first know how to choose one. We’re going to discuss this topic, as well as let you know which items on the market are nearing perfection.

How Would DD Choose?

Even if you’re not a fan of the Walking Dead, you might have heard of crossbow legend Daryl Dixon who uses his weapon of choice for shooting zombies in the head. It’s fast, effective and stealth.

Daryl Dixon with a crossbow

So let’s see how he would pick his weapon:

Considering The Type

There are a couple of ways in which to judge the type of crossbow you’re after.

How many hands you need

The first most important question regards your ability to employ the crossbow effectively with one hand or with both.

Two handed crossbows

The second category, the two handed crossbows, are probably the ones chosen by the majority of hunters, because:

  • They’re very strong.
  • They allow for a very exact variation.
  • It’s easy to aim with them.
  • Learning how to handle and use them is fairly easy.

On the other hand, you have the single-handed crossbows that look more like some sort of pistols and:

  • Are more appropriate for target shooting or shooting at smaller
  • They’re not as strong as the previous model.
  • They’re lightweight and less voluminous.
  • Their handling is pretty easy.
  • They don’t cost as much.

How simple or complex you want it

At this point the battle is carried between the compound and the recurve crossbows.

The compound crossbow:

  • The strings aren’t attached to the limb but are pulled through wheels in a more complex mechanism.
  • It can be pretty complicated to use.
  • Its limbs are shorter.
  • It’s easy to handle when you’re in a less spacious place.
  • It’s strong.

The recurve crossbow:

  • Its strings are connected to the limbs.
  • It’s easy to use, therefore a good starting point for novices of all ages.
  • It’s less strong.
  • It has longer limbs.

Considering The Facts

Once you’ve set your eyes and heart on one type of the crossbow from the ones featured above, you also have to take into account some main characteristics such as:

The weight

The dilemma here is whether to pick a lighter crossbow or not.

Lighter weight:

  • It’s easier to carry because it doesn’t weigh much.
  • It’s a better option if you have to stalk your prey for longer periods and distances.
  • It’s not as stable, so you may miss your target if you’re not already an accurate shooter.

Heavier weight:

  • It’s bigger, so it may add a lot of weight to your baggage.
  • It’s better suited for hunters who don’t have to do a lot of stalking.
  • It’s very steady and precise, therefore better for beginners.

The draw weight

If you want your arrows to be propelled at a high speed, you should choose a crossbow with a bigger draw weight.

Hunting crossbow on the table

However, keep in mind that you should also be physically strong enough to draw such a crossbow. But there are options even if you can’t in the form of various cocking aids – ropes or cranks.

For instance, the draw weight arrays most crossbows are located in vary between 75 pounds to 200 pounds. A middle range draw weight of 125-150 pounds is best suited for most hunters.

The power stroke

This also influences the total speed of your arrows. A short power stroke will deliver a lesser speed, but it will render your crossbow less costly.

If you want a higher speed, choose a long power stroke. Even if you’ll invest more money, you’ll be able to select a smaller draw weight. That’s a good advantage for people who don’t have the necessary strength of drawing a crossbow with a bigger draw weight.

The speed

After we’ve talked about what factors influence the speed of your arrows, you should know that the type of crossbow you pick also has a say in regards to speed.

Crossbow speed

As such, a compound crossbow will propel your arrows faster because it’s able to give more momentum.

The barrel

This is also known as the flight track and it refers to their structure, meaning the materials used in the foundation of your crossbow. The most commonly used are aluminum, but an even better one is wrapped carbon. That’s because you have more overall strength at a lighter weight.

The noise

If you don’t want to be spotted by your game, you need to be very stealth. The compound crossbows aren’t the epitome of quiet, even if they’re strong and fast.

The materials used

If you’re looking for a top notch weapon that’s durable, strong and can really make your money’s worth, it’s a good idea to choose one made from sturdy materials. In this regard, metal trumps plastic because it doesn’t break or get damaged as easily.

Hunting crossbow material

So if you’re an avid hunter, go for the metal crossbow. If you need one for your kids to target practice with on Sundays, a plastic crossbow will do just fine.

The extras

The most common extras some crossbows have are:

  • Cocking aids to help you draw a crossbow with a higher draw weight.
  • Scopes that will help you see further and hit the target easier.
  • Noise reduction that will help you stay quieter.

The brands

Picking a trustworthy brand will ensure that you’ve chosen a high-quality product.

The extras on crossbow

However, it’s a good idea to do your research first and browse:

  • Official websites.
  • Online reviews.
  • Hunting forums.
  • Dealerships.

What Would DD Choose?

Once we’ve seen how to pick a good crossbow, let’s see which options are best on the market.

Excalibur Crossbow Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow

Excalibur Crossbow Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow

Weight: 12.3 pounds

Dimensions: 35 x 6 x 10 inches

Specific Features: 290lb draw weight; 405 fps velocity; Lite Stuff package; Ergo-grip thumbhole stock; integrated R.E.D.S. string suppressors; BCY Dynaflight 97 string; Guardian Anti-Dry-Fire System

Best Use: Shooting deer at longer distances

Description: Although Excalibur Crossbow Matrix 405 Mega Crossbow is a recurve crossbow, it still has a lot of power and speed generally attributed to the compound crossbows. But the Excalibur brand is renowned in its category, so it does make only good products.

Since the draw weight is 290 pounds, this is one very strong recurve crossbow. Besides, it has an integrated release system, which helps you uncock it very quickly without firing any bolts. The total speed reaches 405 feet per second which is again very high – and it’s the real one, not just an ad.

The weight and dimensions aren’t exactly huge, and it can be handled quite ok once you get used to it. The bolt length needed is 18 inches and the minimum weight of the arrows used is 350gr, so take that into account too.

The package includes more items apart from the crossbow and the rope cocking aid, like:

  • 30mm rings.
  • One cheek piece.
  • One four-arrow quiver.
  • 4 Diablo bolts.
  • 4 150-grain field points.
  • A scope with 44mm objective and 30mm tube.

TenPoint Venom Crossbow with ACU50

TenPoint Venom Crossbow with ACU50

Weight: 6.5 pounds

Dimensions: 34.6 x 13.3 inches

Specific Features: Popular FSB stock; new shortened woven carbon fiber barrel; light; compact; 372 fps velocity; ACUdraw 50 cocking mechanism

Best Use: Hunting for longer distances

Description: TenPoint Venom Crossbow with ACU50 doesn’t have the highest draw weight in its category, reaching about 185 pounds. However, that’s enough to hunt medium game at a velocity of about 372 fps, which is pretty decent.

Being so light and compact means it’s easy to carry for long hunting trips, and you won’t have any problems if you need to stalk your game for longer distances.

You’ll get some noise dampening accessories too, so the deer won’t feel you getting nearer. That’s also a good advantage for hunters who are on the move for long because ultimately everyone can become tired and sloppy.

The woven carbon fiber barrel is one of the best materials used, which will likewise contribute to the lightweight yet pretty decent speed the arrows can reach.

And the integrated ACUdraw 50 system is a cocking mechanism that will help you draw the Venom very precisely and easily anytime, without any additional ropes to deal with.

Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package

Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package

Weight: 12 pounds

Dimensions: 35 x 6 x 10 inches

Specific Features: Matrix 380 Realtree 3800 camo w/tact-zone; 380 FPS velocity; 260 pound draw weight; 13.1 inch power stroke; Realtree Xtra Finish; Ergo-grip stock

Best Use: shooting moving targets

Description: One of the most important features this very expensive (almost $1000) crossbow has to offer regards speed and noise. Excalibur Matrix 380 Crossbow Package is a recurve crossbow and as opposed to the compound ones, it’s said to be less quiet. Besides, the same rumor also goes for the Excalibur brand. But with a velocity of 380 fps, you don’t even need to use the included noise suppressors.

Besides, with a 260 pounds draw weight you have enough strength to achieve a higher speed. And you can even use the incorporated cocking aid if that feels like too much.

Speaking of which, you can easily uncock the bow with it, and leave the rope cocking aid attached for the next time you need to use it.

Another great feature is the anti-dry fire which is great if you happen to shoot the crossbow without any arrows in, which might damage it.

The stringing device works like a charm and so does the scope. You have a red/ green light feature that proves very helpful when the light is dim, and the focus adjustment is also great.

Last but not least, it’s very safe to use because it has a good type of safety place in a location where it’s easy to see.

TenPoint Vapor Crossbow with RangeMaster Pro Scope

TenPoint Vapor Crossbow with RangeMaster Pro Scope

Weight: 20 pounds

Dimensions: 36.4 x 14 x 12.2 inches

Specific Features: 165-pound draw weight; RangeMaster Pro scope; machined aluminum 7/8-inch mount; ACUdraw cocking mechanism; in-stand detach 3-arrow quiver; Pro V22 Carbon Arrows

Best Use: shooting at targets 20 to 60 yards far

Description: TenPoint C13004-7411 Vapor Crossbow with RangeMaster Pro Scope has many features that recommend it for shooting at game that’s approximately 40 yards away from you. If you still need to see more clearly, take into account it has an included RangeMaster Pro Scope that will magnify your target and help you shoot accurately.

First of all, it has a draw weight of 165 pounds which fits in the medium range for most crossbows. That will make the speed of the arrows be relatively in the same middle range. But if that still feels high for you, you can easily use the ACUdraw cocking mechanism which works well.

Having a weight of 20 pounds makes it better for hunting on shorter distance when you’re sure of your game. As such, it’s best to shoot at non-moving targets.

The in-stand detach 3-arrow quiver serves well to carry your arrows, which are made from Pro V22 carbon. That increases their speed, without adding unnecessarily to their total weight.

Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package

Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package

Weight: 7.9 pounds

Dimensions: 34.2 x 18 inches

Specific Features: 410 FPS; 185 lbs. draw weight; quiver with 3 arrows; rope cocking device; talon sling ; 3×32 Scope

Best Use: Shooting from narrow places

Description: With a draw weight of 185 pounds, Barnett Ghost 410 CRT Crossbow Package can make its arrows fly at an incredible 410 fps speed. You have a rope cocking device included if the draw weight seems too much, but it generally shouldn’t be difficult to cock.

Apart from the items we’ve mentioned before, this package also includes:

  • A Barnett fatigue-camo crossbow embroidered cap.
  • 1 stick of string wax.
  • 1 additional trigger spring.
  • 1 thick shoulder pad with shock absorbing.
  • 3 100 grain field tips.

Another reason why this crossbow is amazing is that it’s very easy to handle, especially when you’re hiding in a treestand or brush to hunt. And that’s because the Barnett Ghost is very light and narrow.

Moreover, the scope does wonders too. Since it’s a very good type of scope with multiple reticules, your vision is very clear. The green/ red lights will help you a lot too.

Speaking of easily employed features, the pull strap can also be included in this category because of the hooks that help you string it.

And if you’re worried about pulling the trigger, don’t. It has no creep and therefore almost no resistance, which renders this crossbow quite exact.

Excalibur Crossbow Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow

Excalibur Crossbow Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow

Weighy:  6 pounds

Dimensions: 36 x 30 x 10 inches

Specific Features: Lite Stuff Package; Vari-Zone scope; 200-Pound draw weight;  recurve

Best Use: Long days hunting

Description: When looking at Excalibur Crossbow Matrix SMF Grizzly Crossbow, the first thing that stands up is its small weight that reaches only 6 pounds.

Its dimensions are likewise small, which makes it the perfect recurve crossbow to hunt with in small spaces (for instance in brush). But it’s also the perfect choice for hunters who need to be on the run after their game or who already carry a lot of equipment.

The  design is sturdy, making for a very comfortable carry. In fact, the Matrix Grizzly has a pretty rugged frame, because it’s built from composite materials. Although they aren’t as good as aluminum, they still work well in regards to durability and damage, while lowering the retail price.

Besides, the 200-pound draw weight allows for a maximum speed of about 300 fps, which is pretty neat. You may fear that the small weight makes this crossbow less steady and therefore less accurate, but if you’re a good shooter that shouldn’t matter so much. Plus the included scope can also be adjusted to increase the precision of your shots.

Barnett BCX Buck Commander Extreme CRT Crossbow Package

Barnett BCX Buck Commander Extreme CRT Crossbow Package

Weight:  7.9 pounds

Dimensions: 34.2 x 18 inches

Specific Features: Finger guard; pass-through fore grip; allows integration of a crank; 365 fps speed; 185 pounds draw weight; 3 arrow quiver; rope cocking aid; 3×32 Scope

Best Use: Long distance hunting

Description: A very light crossbow, Barnett BCX Buck Commander Extreme CRT Crossbow Package really packs a punch. In fact, it has a small profile which makes it less voluminous than other products when you cock it. That means you can maneuver it without any trouble when you’re in a cramped space.

The 3.5 pounds trigger pull is one of the most beloved features of this crossbow because it feels and shoots like a gun. And the high speed of 365 fps is likewise big enough to resemble the speed of a bullet. That’s courtesy to the 185 pounds draw weight, which is in the medium range. The rope cocking aid is easy to use and will make this draw weight feel smaller, by at least a half.

The finger guard and the pass-through fore grip are amazing characteristics when it comes to safety, which is always important when hunting.

The 3 arrow quiver is a nice addition, although some people may not use the actual quiver. Anyway, the other nice addition is the light feature which helps you hunt even during dusk or dawn when most animals are active. And if you still need further help with visibility, the 3 x32 scope will do just that.

Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT Crossbow Package

Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT Crossbow Package

Weight: 7.5 pounds

Dimensions: 33 x 13 x 7 inches

Specific Features: 165 lbs draw weight; anti-dry fire trigger; crosswire string and cable system; patented Carbon Riser technology; finger reminders; pass-through fore grip; CNC aluminum flight track; custom composite laminated limbs; 5-1 safety system and trigger system

Best Use: Shooting from narrow places at maximum 40 yards

Description: Barnett Outdoors Ghost 360 CRT Crossbow Package is another crossbow that perfectly balances weight and speed, because it’s very light but can still add to the velocity of its arrows.

When analyzing these 2 key features, you can easily observe how its light weight is obtained courtesy to the materials it uses. Firstly, the patented Carbon Riser technology makes this bow 43% lighter. Secondly, the laminated limbs are made from custom composite which is also a good, light material.

On the other hand, the speed is influenced by factors such as the 165 pounds draw weight and the CNC aluminum flight track.

When it comes to safety, the anti-dry fire trigger won’t allow for an accidental firing without any arrows, thus preventing damage to the bow. The crosswire string and cable system are easy to use, as well as the finger reminders and the pass-through fore grip. In fact, the whole 5-1 safety system and trigger system is great for your peace of mind while hunting.

Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package

Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package

Weight: 12 pounds

Dimensions: 33 x 13 x 7 inches

Specific Features: 315 fps speed; 150 pounds draw weight; 95-foot pounds energy; 12 inches power stroke; 20 inches arrow length; 3.5 pounds trigger pull; synthetic string and cable system

Best Use: shooting on the move small game

Description: At 12 pounds and dimensions of 33 x 13 x 7 inches, Barnett Jackal Crossbow Package is a medium sized one. However, it can still achieve a pretty decent maximum velocity of 315 fps, since it has a draw weight of 150 pounds. The smooth 3.5 pounds trigger pull is a great asset, which comes courtesy of the Barnett brand.

The whole thing has a synthetic string and cable system that’s fairly easy to use. In fact, the materials it’s manufactured from are top shelf quality, rendering it very sleek and with a military style design. Not to mention the divided foregrip which makes the hand placement comfortable, and the grip strong.

The package includes:

  • 3 arrows.
  • Easily detachable quiver.
  • Bolts
  • Premium red dot sight.
  • Wax

The wax is very important to use because it prevents damage to your crossbow. As such, it’s indicated to wax the string once every ten shots, and to store it properly.

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit

Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit

Weight: 5 pounds

Dimensions: 33 x 15.5 x 4 inches

Specific Features: Anti-dry fire trigger mechanism; thumb guard; fully dipped camo pattern; aluminum rail and barrel; compression fiberglass limbs

Best Use: Stalking game for long distances

Description: Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit is a 175 pounds draw weight recurve crossbow that allows for a speed of up to 235 fps. That may feel a bit counterintuitive since its total weight is just under 5 pounds.  So if you’re actively hunting and stalking your game for long periods of time, consider this bow.

Besides, the padded shoulder sling will increase your comfort when walking and/ or shooting. Another nice extra is the ambidextrous auto safety, which is easy to see and reach.

It furthermore has a premium 3-dot multi-range red dot scope to help increase your visibility, which can also be done with the assistance of an adjustable, weaver-style scope mount.

The full-coverage dipped camo pattern will help you remain stealth, unspotted by wildlife. The rope cocker aid can easily be employed to cut the draw weight in approximately half and increase the accuracy of your shots.

And if you’re still not convinced, take into account the quality of the materials used. The limb is made from compression fiberglass, the rear stock is manufactured from a lightweight composite, and the truck and barrel from aluminum. All these materials are good, sturdy and lightweight too, adding to the higher speed of your arrows.

What Would You Choose?

After reviewing the above products, we can honestly say they really take the cake in their category. They’re very diverse items, but they’re good for most hunters and they vary in terms of features, types and price ranges.

Choose crossbow for you

But after all’s been said and done, we’re curious to know what your opinion is and what you would choose. Besides, if you have a type of crossbow we haven’t talked about here, let us know no matter if you love it or hate it – the more info, the better!

Shawn Harrison
Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.