For the beginner and those who don’t want to spend a lot of money for a crossbow, our list of the top cheap crossbows may be just what you’re looking for.
All considered, these are not cheap equipment. Many of them cost over $600 which is a sizable sum for most of us. So before jumping in and just buying any of the products be sure you know what you plan on using it for.
Here are some tips:
- If you want it for recreation and just shooting at targets, maybe a mini crossbow or even a pistol crossbow will work. Our mini and pistol crossbow picks will probably be more useful for you.
- If you’re more serious and want to shoot longer distances with them, and maybe do some hunting but want to stay in a budget our picks below cover different price levels from those below $200, all the way to those just below $400.
- If you’re planning to hunt with them, are committed to the sport, and willing to make an investment on equipment, our top hunting crossbows will give you good ideas.
So now we move to the picks per price level.
Best Cheap Crossbows under $200
Arrow Precision Inferno Fury
Leading our list of cheap crossbows under $200 is the Arrow Precision Inferno Fury. Covered in camouflage to help you blend in with the wilderness environment, it is very light weighing less than 5 lbs.
The short 10.5 inch power stroke and manageable 175 lb. limb weight makes it simple enough to draw using a cocking aid without expending a huge amount of effort.
This is among our picks for best crossbow under $200 as it comes with enough speed and power for small and medium game hunting, along with an anti-dry fire system that will safeguard shooting without a bolt seated on the railing.
Barnett Panzer V
Similar to the Inferno Fury above, the Barnett Panzer V is a recurve crossbow that costs under $175. It comes with a lighter 150 lbs. of drawing effort and a much shorter power stroke at 9.5 inches. Though heavier and longer it packs more power than the Arrow Precision offering above with an initial kinetic energy of 75 ft-lbs. from its 260 ft/sec. velocity.
As with most Barnett products, on a pound per pound basis when comparing similar items, you’ll get a faster bow with a higher ft-lb energy rating. If you want to hunt the bigger medium sized game like bucks or whitetail, then this would be one of the top options under $200. As with the others in this price range, you will still need to keep yourself within close hunting distance as not to overstretch the bow’s abilities.
The light weight, power and ease of use (cocking dependability and shooting) make this a fun target and small to medium game hunting tool.
SA Sports Fever
For beginners who want to enjoy shooting at targets and doing some small or medium game hunting the SA Sports Fever recurve crossbow is another affordable option. Very similar to the Inferno fury in specifications, it comes with a 4×32 multi-reticle scope, shoulder sling and automatic safety that allows both right and left handed shooters to easily access.
It is short at 31 inches in length, but like many recurve crossbows has a longer limb to limb wingspan (at 27 inches). While easy to cock, you’ll need to deal with the long width if you’re in a blind or a stand. Though make sure that if you’re hunting with this to limit your range since it isn’t built for serious hunting.
Best Crossbows under $300
Barnett Jackal Crossbow
The Barnett Jackal Package, is our overall top pick for anyone looking for a affordable crossbow that has enough hunting power, speed that you can brag about and shooting performance. It is a balanced product not just in specifications but also the way it shoots.
If you have extra $50-$70 to spare (depending on the discounts), to move up from the $200 this is well worth the extra cost. Its performance gives you something you’d expect from more expensive products and the low 150 lb. draw weight makes it easy enough to cock using a rope aid.
You will have to deal with a bit more weight as is the case with many of Barnett’s Core Crossbows which are on the heavy side. At 7.7 lbs. it can take some getting used to if you need to bring it on longer walks. The 315 ft/sec. speed and 91 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy will more than make up for the weight as this expand your hunting options.
Barnett Wildcat C5
The Barnett Wildcat C5 is very similar to the Jackal and the two are staples in the low cost category because of their ability to mix shooting power with controllability. Both come with 150 lb. limbs and shot with similar speeds and power. The Wildcat is a bit heavier and uses a more standard Barnett style grip and stock (thumbhole), while the Jackal has a military style stock with pistol grip.
You will pay a little extra for the Wildcat C5, and have more options in terms of color and scope. For a budget perspective, the similarity of the two makes it more worthwhile to skip the little extras and go with the less expensive Jackal. Though you may want to at least look at the Wildcat package options in case something stands out to your preferences.
Best Crossbows under $400
Wicked Ridge Warrior HL
Among the best crossbows for the money, the Wicked Ridge Warrior HL runs about $365 and comes with enough power to be used as a target and hunting crossbow. It comes with a 5 year warranty and one of the smoothest triggers you’ll find at these price levels (thanks to parent TenPoints innovations).
Components and engineering come with quality which allow it to be a steady shooter. Both stock and safety are ambidextrous and it also comes with a dry fire inhibitor system that prevents dry firing.
Its 300 ft/sec initial bolt speed and 84 ft-lbs. of energy allows you to hunt elk, moose and deer to your heart delights.
Barnett Quad 400
One of Barnett’s most popular models is the Quad 400 compound crossbow because of its affordable price tag and exceptional speed. The 345 ft/sec. velocity is almost unheard of for $350 and under x-bows but the Quad 400 gets it done.
The Quad 400 suffered some limb and string issues in its earlier revisions specifically those in the 2011 models. These did a redesign on with newer revisions which addressed the issues, so you want to avoid the older versions to avoid head and heartache.
A commonly overlooked brand, Parker offers its customers lifetime warranties, which is the only brand among our cheap crossbows collection that does so. Carrying that lifetime warranty is the Parker Enforcer crossbow.
The Enforcer uses a skeleton stock that offers shooters a pistol style grip that allows you hold it like you would a handgun. It also uses a holed foregrip to keep your fingers safely away from the string’s path.
As with many Parker crossbows what you get with the Enforcer is an efficient weapon at a reasonable price. This model has a 160 lb. drawing weight that translates into 300 FPS of bolt speed upon release. Like those in our $400 and below section, this bow gives you the ability to shoot from longer distances, 50-60 yards and still take down your prey, assuming you can make the shot at the proper places.
Finally, we leave the fastest for last. In terms of specifications, the Barnett Predator seems to have everything higher than the rest in our cheap crossbows list. It has the highest velocity at a superb 375 FPS, the highest force at 125 ft-lbs, the longest power stroke at 15”, as well as the highest draw weight at 175 lbs.
It’s easy to see where the Predator gets its power though 375 is very hard to match even with more expensive models. You will want to get a sling for this one since it is a heavy 9 lbs. which also means you want to train your off hand to carry that type of weight steadily as you aim.
If you feel that you need something with more power and features, our best crossbows under $500, includes some of the top mid-priced choices.
What to expect with Cheap Crossbows
As mentioned earlier the word cheap is relative. Which is why our list provides more than the cheapest of the cheap. It also gives you a better idea of what lies just above it and which may in fact be worth it to spend $40 or $50 more for a much better product.
We all know that quality often comes at a price. This is because high quality products will use better components which are expensive. While generally true, this isn’t always the case and we can easily point out some expensive crossbows that aren’t worth your money. In the same light we also have a number of low cost crossbows that match the quality and performance of those that cost 2 to 3 times their price. In our list above the Jackal, Wicked Ridge and Parker bows are some of these that are worth every penny you pay for and more.
These are some of the other things to expect with cheap crossbows. Keep in mind that these are standard sized crossbows, if you’re interested in smaller weapons, see our mini crossbow reviews which cover pistol and small crossbows, which cost under $100.
1. The Cheapest Crossbows are Recurve Crossbows
You’ll notice that the most inexpensive crossbows are of the recurve variation. In our lists all those under $200 are of this type. The reason being they are less expensive to manufacture, design and engineer because there are less components involved.
For the beginner and someone looking to keep costs down, not just on initial purchase but also ongoing maintenance costs, this is the way to go, since there is less servicing involved and you can restring the bow yourself. See our stringing your crossbow tutorial for the step by step process.
2. Lower Draw Weights and Speeds
Compared to the top crossbows, you’ll notice that the more affordable crossbows are limited in draw weight and speed. Draw weights in this category fall between 150-175 lbs. which is a lot more manageable for anyone to cock specially with a cocking aid.
The other noticeable difference between this and higher priced crossbows is the speed. You’ll notice that majority of the inexpensive models have velocities between 240 FPS to 300FPS (or just slightly over that). Only the Barnett products, go past 300 ft/sec, with the Quad 400 and Predator going past 340 FPS.
This is why Barnett crossbows are very popular and sell well. They have a lot of affordable models ($400/$500 and under) and almost all shoot much faster than your average crossbow.
3. Hunting Capability is Relative to the Bow
The point above regarding draw weights and speed directly affects this point which is hunting with your crossbow.
One of the major difference between the higher end, more powerful crossbows is that majority of them will have enough power to hunt with. For cheaper crossbows, that isn’t always the case.
The products we’ve chosen above all fit the 125 lb. draw weight guidelines for hunting so they are all able to hunt with. However, you want to know what your hunting and with those that shoot 275 ft/sec and below you want to limit then to small and medium sized game.
If you plan on hunting large game like moose, elk, boar or bears, you’ll want something that shoots 275 FPS at least (preferably 300 FPS and over). There are some excellent choices above, and for more see our top hunting crossbows list.
The reason being you want to have enough power past the distance you’re away from the animal plus it still must be able to pierce through the prey to kill it quickly. For large game we’re looking at 45-65 ft-lbs. of energy depending on what size the animal. Many 250 FPS bows give you 60 ft-lbs or so but you do lose about 2.5 ft-lbs of energy for every 10 yards the arrow travels, which can make it a close call or leave it short in the power department.
If you’re hunting deer, turkey, rabbits or other small and medium sized game, then you won’t have a problem with any of the picks above. If you plan on hunting larger game, you’ll want to pick only those with enough power as mentioned above (300 FPS and over).
4. Absence of Technological Innovations and New Features
With lower cost models you aren’t going to get the extra bells and whistles includes. The new technological innovations are often released with the newest, high end products. These include the newer, tougher, lighter riser and limb materials as well as any new safety features.
This is less of an issue because the simplest of crossbows will still do their job. Which is kill prey. Our ancestors used simple wooden x-bows and they worked fine.
5. Variation in Product Warranty
Warranty is a big issue and when you can get them take advantage of them. This point is related to the next. And in terms of warranty, many brands at lower price levels will not have the same warranties as some of the brands that are more expensive.
In our group above, Parker offers the best warranty with the limited lifetime warranty of the original owner. This is as good as it gets. Barnett and Wicked Ridge give you 5 years which are also great.
Higher up brands like Excalibur and TenPoint, which make more expensive bows offer lifetime warranties. So there is a discrepancy to this point.
6. Availability of Certain Brands
Lastly, you aren’t going to find all the brands at lower costs. Not all brands offer products at lower prices. In the same token, some brands like Arrow Precision focus on cheap to moderately priced crossbows. Of course there are some that cover the entire range. So as far as price is concerned brand consciousness may not always go together.