Crossbows are excellent target and hunting tools because they are much easier to learn to use compared to vertical bows. Choosing one for your needs however can be daunting as prices can range from the less than $50 mini crossbow all the way to the top of the line elite hunting model.
This review guide will focus on the mid-range products in our search for the best crossbow under $500. This class is among the most popular because they offer a middle ground giving buyers excellent quality and shooting ability to price paid.
Most of the items we cover here are in the high $300 range, around $375 to under $500. If you are looking at a lower price level, try our list of cheap crossbows, which has separate picks fro those under $300 and also under $400.
Our Picks for the Best Crossbow under $500
Wicked Ridge Invader HP Premium
Wicked Ridge is Ohio crossbow manufacturer TenPoint Crossbow Technologies’ low cost crossbow brand. Most of its productions cost below $500 which offers hunters and shooters alike a chance to get their hands on excellent quality x-bows.
The Wicked Ridge Invader HP Premium kicks off our finds for best crossbow under $500 thanks to its superb accuracy and take down power. With 315 ft/sec bolt velocity and close to 93 ft-lbs of energy of hitting power it lets you hunt with the best of them without worrying about reliability.
It is relatively light to bring around at 7 pounds and is already equipped with the ACU-52 self retracting rope cocking system attached to its stock. It also comes with TenPoints 3x multi-reticle scope, which is equipped with 20, 30 and 40 yard markers that let you gauge range as well as your air.
Excalibur Axiom SMF
We continue our best crossbow under $500 selection with quality. And fitting that criteria is the Excalibur Axiom SMF recurve crossbow. Like the Invader HP, this gives you excellent reliability and the quality with which the components and build are made should give you an excellent hunting crossbow for many, many years to come with proper care and maintenance.
Similarly priced, the main difference between the Axiom SMF and the Invader HP is that the Axiom is a recurve while the Invader is a compound which relies on cams. To learn more about the differences between the two types, see our recurve vs. compound x-bows guide.
The other major difference from a buyers standpoint is warranty, Excalibur offers a lifetime warranty (of the original owner) compared to Wicked Ridge’s 5 year warranty. In case you’re wondering, Wicked Ridge’s parent TenPoint gives a lifetime warranty on this bows, but offers shorter duration on this brand’s line.
There are some differences in speed and draw weight with the Excalibur being 10 FPS slower and 5 lbs. lighter to cock compared to the Invader. Though it is also a full pound lighter in weight.
The Axiom, along with its sibling the Excalibur Ibex SMF, are the only available models from this brand that cost around this range, with most Excalibur productions running between $600 and $1000.
Barnett Ghost 350
If speed is what you’re after, then the Barnett Ghost 350 CRT, along with another Barnett offering the Penetrator below are the fastest among our best crossbows under $500 choices. This is the very popular predecessor of the high end Barnett Ghost 400 and Ghost 410, which shoot an astounding more than 400 FPS arrows.
While the Ghost 350 isn’t as fast, is still hits the speed chronographs at 350 FPS. And is a good $350 to $400 cheaper than the two faster Ghost models.
The great thing about the 350 is that despite its faster speed, you’ll be using a similar 175 lbs. cocking effort to draw it to the other two above. Plus it has a much shorter power stroke making that activity much less time and energy consuming specially when in the wild.
Power-wise, as you’d expect this hits at a whopping 109 FPE which essentially gives you the ability to hunt larger game like bears, caribou and moose aside from the usual turkey and deer.
Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Premium
Cheapest among our best crossbows under $500 at $420, the Wicked Ridge Warrior HL Premium is a slightly lower model to the Invader HP. It offers excellent value for money in terms of build as they use high quality components and a steady 3.5 lb. trigger that lends to excellent accuracy.
Though it lags the Barnett offerings in terms of speed, clocking in at 300 FPS, it still offers an 84 ft-lbs. of impact power which is more than enough to hunt deer and elk with.
Like the Invader HP above, consistency and accuracy are among its strong points, and you shouldn’t be surprised to hit the target at 50 or so yards with the Warrior HL. This version comes in two packages, mainly differing on the scope and additional contents in the set. The cheaper standard Wicked Ridge Warrior HL kit comes at a price tag of $370 which is why its among our top cheap crossbows.
Barnett Penetrator Crossbow
As mentioned earlier, the Barnett Penetrator compound crossbow shoots a very fast 350 ft/sec. There is no question about its speed which allows it to shoot with less trajectory even on longer distances. Comparing with the Ghost 350, many of the specifications are similar, they have the same draw weight (175 pounds), similar FPE and even power stroke.
They are essential the same mechanism but the materials used and some internal make them different. Primarily the Ghost 350 uses Barnett’s CarbonLite Technology which replaces the riser material, magnesium in the case of the Penetrator, with lighter carbon material. So in the end you get a crossbow that’s a pound lighter with better balance (more weight to the middle and rear) compared to the Penetrator. The changes in build and design also make the Penetrator longer and slightly wider from axle-to-axle. The Ghost 350 does cost more than the Penetrator so if you’re choosing between the two you’ll have to weigh their differences.
Nevertheless, despite being the heaviest crossbow on our list, this is shoots relatively quietly with Barnett’s AVI limb that reduce vibration and noise. It also comes with an anti-dry-fire prevention feature that will prevent any accidental firing when there isn’t any bolt present on the railing, which can save the life of your x-bow.
Carbon Express Covert CX1
We end our best crossbow under $500 selection with the Carbon Express Covert CX1. This is another companion you can bring with you for target shooting or your hunting trips. It shoots with the best of them at 330 ft/sec.
In quality of built and feel this among the best in this class. It weighs around 7.5 lbs. so it could be on the average to slightly above that in weight but is similar to many Barnett models. It does use a pistol grip which makes it easier to shoot with if you’re used to shooting guns. The forearm is also adjustable as it slides on a railing that fits to different users based on their comfort level.
The Covert CX1 is also packaged with a 4×32 mm illuminated multi-reticle scope which really works well.
The main reason the Covert CX1 slips in our list is because of its trigger, which is a bit heavy. This is one of the issues with a number of the otherwise very well built, good shooting Carbon Express Models. How the trigger feels however, really depends on the shooter, as it feels more of a bother to some than others, so the only way to really know is handle it yourself.
Despite this, its overall quality and shooting performance still makes it among the top crossbows in this price range.
What to Expect with the Best Crossbows Under $500
Our list of the best crossbows under $500 make up those that offer you something that will keep shooting without giving you headaches or missed hunting opportunities along the way. These basically have the following characteristics.
1. They are priced from just below $400 to under $500. If you’re interesting in less costly options, our cheap crossbow guide covers those that are priced below $200, $300 and $400. For those under $100, our mini crossbow reviews will give you the top pistol crossbows and mini x-bow offerings available in the market.
2. All of them are capable of hunting. They all pack over 80 ft-lbs. of energy and shoot over 300 ft/sec giving you the ability to hunt medium and large sized game without worrying whether or not you have the equipment to do so. Keep in mind that you want to stay within your shooting range not just to make shots that take out the prey but also close enough where you can assure yourself of hitting your target spots. If you aren’t limited by budget, see our best hunting crossbows for the top choices for hunters.
3. Due to the speed they release the arrows, they all have the ability to hit targets at further distances. These aren’t limited to the 40 to 50 yards, but easily go over that and depending on your accuracy will get close enough grouped shots.
For a complete list of our best picks broken down by price range, see our crossbow reviews home page.