From a survivalist perspective, you couldn’t ask for a better weapon than a crossbow. Whether used for hunting or defense, the crossbow offers power, accuracy, and simplicity.
It is such a simple weapon that various tribal peoples, like the Montagnards of Southeast Asia, have learned how to improvise them from materials found in the jungle.
Of course, improvised crossbows tend to be less powerful and effective than their better-engineered counterparts. So, let’s take a look at five of the best crossbows from PSE Archery.
Almost any crossbow will be good enough for target shooting, but we are looking for a serious tool that will do serious work. Following that let’s take a few minutes to discuss the crossbow from a practical perspective.
The below crossbows have been included within this review:
Last update on 2021-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 The Best PSE Crossbow Reviews
- 2 PSE ARCHERY Fang HD Crossbow Package
- 3 PSE ARCHERY Coalition Crossbow Package
- 4 PSE Thrive 365
- 5 PSE Thrive 400
- 6 PSE Fang Compound Crossbow
- 7 A Short History of PSE Crossbows
- 8 The Crossbow as a Tool for Survival
- 9 Qualities to Demand in Your Crossbow
- 10 A Few Words About Crossbow Safety
- 11 Conclusion
The Best PSE Crossbow Reviews
The hallmark of PSE Archery products has always been their knack for providing highly featured and exceptionally capable bows at impressively affordable prices. The Fang HD is a fairly new offering in their lineup. Yet, despite it being the new kid on the block, my review quickly revealed that this bow continues the PSE legacy.
The specifications of this crossbow are an impressive sight on their own. With a 405 FPS firing rate, this bow will have the power to get the job done. Many people consider the firing rate to be a matter of versatility. In many cases, it is. Having a bow with this amount of power can sharply increase the types of game you can hunt and the distances you can hunt from. However, having a properly powered weapon is also a matter of safety. When tracking game, having a marginally powered bow can be a dangerous situation for you and the animal you are tracking. Thus, the importance of firing speed shouldn’t be discounted.
Beyond the firing rate, this is a very nicely equipped crossbow. It uses a reverse-cam arrangement that lends it a very slender profile while also making it very easy to fire. Admittedly, this is a rope-draw model with an optional crank option. The draw force is 205 lbs, so a fair amount of effort is required. However, the slider is smooth and the ergonomics are excellent, so it is a simpler task than you may think.
PSE did not skimp on the included accessories. Given the affordable price of this crossbow, you’d be forgiven for thinking it may be a bare-bones affair. However, PSE included an extremely nice scope, an HDV 425 1.5-5×32 variable zoom model with illumination. This is a surprisingly premium inclusion, and it works beautifully in my testing. PSE further included three 22″ carbon bolts and a very nicely made 5-bolt quiver. This is a complete package, ready to go out of the box. As with so many things, the small details make a difference.
- Made in the USA
- Great Value
- Complete kit with very nice scope
- 405FPS Fire speed
- Draw weight is fairly high
Over the years, I have had numerous people comment to me that they avoid cross-bows because of their bulk. While I understand the sentiment behind this comment, it is often made about 20 years too late. In truth, older crossbows were often extremely bulky items that were fun at target practice but ultimately awkward and limiting in the field. Yet, technology has changed rapidly. With subtle refinements to cam profiles and variations in material choices, modern crossbows can be surprisingly svelte tools without sacrificing power. The PSE ARCHERY Coalition is a prime example of this advancement in the field.
Although the 380FPS firing speed is nothing to scoff at, the most immediately notable aspect of this bow is its size. With an axle-to-axle width of only 21.5″ and weighing well under 8 lbs, this is a beautifully compact crossbow. This is not just a matter of how well it fits in your car. Rather, having a narrow and maneuverable bow can make it significantly easier to accurately track and aim, especially if you tend to hunt in denser environments. Anyone who has ever hunted in the southeast will understand the difference immediately.
The size makes this a great multi-purpose crossbow, but there is more to like than just the size. As I have come to expect from writing many PSE crossbow reviews over the years, this is a very complete kit. It has a 4×32 illuminated scope, a nicely integrated 4-bolt quiver, and three 20″ carbon bolts equipped with field points. Very little was overlooked. Lastly, as with every PSE product, this bow was made in America. While other countries are fully capable of producing high-quality weapons, the consistency of American manufacturing is always a nice bonus. Anyone looking for a highly versatile and affordable crossbow owes it to themselves to check out the Coalition.
- Very compact
- Well-equipped kit
- Slightly lower firing rate
- Stirrup felt slightly awkward
This is one of three compound crossbows on our list, and it is the cheapest of the three. It is also one of the most visually attractive crossbows I’ve ever seen, but that isn’t important. In fact, it’s kind of a drawback because the butt end of this stock doesn’t look particularly well-reinforced. They seem to have sacrificed solidity for a decorative swirl pattern.
At 175 pounds and 325 FPS, this thing has power for days. It should be sufficient to take just about any sort of game. It also gets some serious points in the ergonomics department. This crossbow is incredibly comfortable, and every contact surface is padded with a soft rubber guard.
As for performance, there are few complaints. The two adjustment mechanisms on either side of the string are a slight problem, as they get in the way and make loading a little bit slower. Most of the bow is made of aluminum, which is both good and bad. On the one hand, aluminum is lightweight and never rusts. On the other hand, it is more likely to bend under pressure than steel.
- Somewhat cheaper than most crossbows of this type
- Very ergonomic and attractive
- All the proper safety mechanisms, and then some
- lightweight and fairly compact
- Thickened arms and a reinforced stirrup
- Stock doesn’t seem solid enough
- Adjustment knobs can get in the way of loading
- Aluminum can bend easily
This crossbow is very similar to the Thrive 365, and so most of the same observations can be made. The only real differences that can be seen are: A simpler cam and pulley system, shorter limb adjustment knobs, and an ability to launch projectiles at 400 FPS.
This is good because they have taken the 365 (which was already excellent) and made it better by giving it a little more power and correcting the awkward adjustment knobs. Overall, an excellent piece of gear. This is the Cadillac of PSE crossbows, but it is quite expensive as well.
- Extremely powerful
- Longer range than its predecessor
- Same comfortable ergonomics
- Very lightweight
- Thickened arms and a reinforced stirrup
- Stock doesn’t seem solid enough
- Might suffer from bending due to the aluminum construction
- Most Expensive Crossbow on our list
The Fang is a great little “bullpup” crossbow. Its stubby and compact design makes it easier to carry through the thick woods, and its stock is not excessively hollowed-out. Although the stock is far from solid, it has a lot more meat than some of the other stocks we have seen.
At 165 pounds draw weight and 350 FPS, this one is more than capable of taking down most game. Although compound crossbows tend to be bulky, this model has reduced that factor about as much as anyone could. The limb adjustment knobs are flared apart, so they shouldn’t get in the way when loading. Overall, we can’t find any serious downside to this crossbow. The foot stirrup looks a little bit thin and weak, but time will tell if this assessment is true.
- Lightweight and extremely compact
- Stock is just solid enough
- Scope included is just the right size
- Flared adjustment knobs
- Very fat, thickened arms
- Stirrup looks a little too thin
A Short History of PSE Crossbows
We have chosen to review PSE crossbows because of their proven record for excellence. PSE Archery was founded in 1970 by an amateur archer and electrical engineer named Pete Shepley.
Disillusioned with his job as a product engineer for Magnavox, Mr. Shepley decided to switch gears and focus on his true passion, which was archery. He founded a company called Precision Shooting Equipment, which still makes some of the best bows and crossbows in the world.
After introducing his first compound bow at an archery tournament in Indiana, Pete Shepley received more than 900 orders from across the country. Since then, PSE has continued as one of the world’s most respected suppliers of archery equipment.
The company’s reputation comes mostly from its emphasis on research and development. Specifically, they have developed a new way of forging aluminum to provide maximum strength while maintaining a lightweight construction. This four-stage process is one of the reasons for the superior durability of PSE bows and crossbows.
The Crossbow as a Tool for Survival
From the perspective of a survivalist, archery has a natural attraction. Other than firearms, crossbows are the most accurate and effective projectile weapons in existence. They are also much easier to improvise than a firearm, as all you really need is a sufficiently good string and some strong, flexible wood.
The silent nature of the crossbow is another great advantage for the survivalist. If you find yourself in a true survival situation, you will probably be doing your best to stay hidden and to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Although it would be good to have a firearm, it does produce a noise that can be heard from a literal mile away. This is a serious problem if you don’t want to give away your position, and a crossbow solves that problem.
Another huge advantage is the fact that you can improvise your ammo. The prospect of manufacturing a bullet while out in the forests and fields is almost laughable, even though it could be done. However, it’s a lot easier to make a crossbow bolt. By the way, the small arrows that are fired from a crossbow are usually called “bolts.” To make a crossbow bolt, you just need a stick, a piece of sharpened material for the head, and a feather or two.
Qualities to Demand in Your Crossbow
When buying a commercially made crossbow, you should demand the best. If you want something that is “just good enough,” you can make it yourself. If you’re going to shell out large amounts of money, demand the very best from your weapon.
The first thing to check is the draw weight. This will give you a good idea of the power that the crossbow packs. Crossbows generally have a much higher draw weight than a traditional longbow, which is one of their best advantages. A draw weight of 175 pounds is pretty standard for most models. However, pistol-type crossbows will have a much lighter draw.
Durability is of the utmost importance for a weapon of this type. Those crossbow arms are under tremendous pressure at all times, and the pressure is greatly increased when the bow is drawn back. If those arms break, it can pose a danger to you and to anyone that might be standing nearby.
It’s also good to look for a crossbow of a size and weight that suits your size and frame. It’s kind of awkward to carry a crossbow on your back, so you will mostly be carrying this thing in your hands. Crossbow slings are an option, but it would be better if you don’t need one since they tend to get in the way.
A Few Words About Crossbow Safety
Any good crossbow should have an ADF (anti-dryfire) trigger. This is a mechanism that does not allow the trigger to release the string unless an arrow is in place. This prevents accidental dry firing, which can cause a catastrophic failure. Dry-firing a bow is considered to be a very bad idea, but when you consider the greater string tension of a crossbow, the danger is amplified.
You should always observe the following safety rules, regardless of anything:
- Never point the weapon in an unsafe direction
- Keep your finger away from the trigger until you are ready to fire
- Make sure there is nothing between you and your target
- Make sure that your arrow cannot go through the target and hit something you don’t want to hit
- Never shoot over a ridge
- Never shoot straight up or attempt a “mortar” shot
- Check your crossbow for signs of wearing or breakage before every shooting session
- Only use arrows that are of the proper size
Although all of these are fine crossbows, the win must go to the model with the fewest downsides. In this case, that model is the PSE ARCHERY Coalition Crossbow Package. While it is not the most powerful crossbow on our list, it combines a high draw weight/FPS ratio with a comfortable, compact, and durable frame. The optics are great, ergonomics are great, and the price isn’t bad at all.
The Fangs’ only failing was a weak-looking stirrup, and that is a speculative flaw. For an all-around survival crossbow, we believe that the Fang is your best choice.
- PSE CROSSBOW SPECIFICATIONS - Speed: 380 fps. Power Stroke: 14.5. Axle-to-Axle 21.5" Draw Weight: 185 lbs. Overall Length: 35-36.5" Mass Weight: 7.5 lbs. Kinetic Energy: 127 FT. lbs. Cable: 23.4” String: 37.2”
- SCOPE & STOPS INSTALLED - 4X32 Illuminated crossbow scope and string stops to dampen sound & vibration.
- ANTI-DRY FIRE & AUTO SAFETY TRIGGER - Provides ultimate safety. A hunting crossbow with complete power & control!
- THE ULTIMATE HUNTING BOW - The Coalition is a fast, compact, and ergonomic crossbow featuring the comfort of an adjustable stock and a pass-through foregrip.
- PSE BOW PACKAGE INCLUDES - Illuminated Scope, Dual String Stops, 4-Bolt Quiver, Anti-Dry Fire & Auto Safety Trigger, 3-20 Carbon Bolts with Field Points, Foot Stirrup, Limb Dampeners, Cocking Rope, Cocking & Rail Lube.
Last update on 2021-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API