Crossbows are a fantastic hobby whether used for hunting, target practice, or self-defense. Yet, shopping for crossbows can quickly become an overwhelming experience. There are hundreds of models on the market, countless variables, and many of the higher-end units can cost well over a thousand dollars.
However, entering the world of crossbows does not have to be expensive or difficult. There is an emerging genre of crossbows aimed at the tactical crowd. These models tend to be sleeker, more affordable, and easier to use. While most of them cannot be used for hunting large game, they can still be a useful survival tool or a fun pastime.
We’ve assembled a group of tactical crossbows that represent a range of prices and capabilities so you can find the best crossbow for your needs.
Last update on 2020-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- 1 The Best Tactical Crossbows Reviewed
- 2 Snake Eye Tactical 80lbs Self Cocking Cobra Crossbow with 15 Arrows
- 3 Wildgame Innovations XR250 Crossbow
- 4 Barnett Blackcat Recurve Crossbow | Recurve Crossbow with Red Dot Sight, Arrows & Quiver
- 5 CenterPoint Volt 300 Compound Crossbow
- 6 Barnett Black Raptor FX2 Deluxe Crossbow Package
- 7 How to Find the Best Tactical Crossbow
- 8 Conclusion
The Best Tactical Crossbows Reviewed
Buying a crossbow doesn’t need to be intimidating. Within the crossbow market, the sky is the limit regarding how much you can spend. However, you don’t need to break the bank to get a high-quality entry-level model. The Snake Eye Tactical is a fantastic example of an easy to use and effective crossbow that is available at an affordable price.
Given the price, I will admit that I had low expectations for the Snake Eye. I’ve reviewed more than my share of crossbows in this price range, and they are often little more than glorified toys. Opening the shipping box, I was immediately surprised by how solid this crossbow feels and looks. Although you won’t be confusing it with a top-shelf Barnett, it still managed to hold its own. The stock is rigid and nicely machined, and the overall fit and finish are impressive.
The process of cocking a crossbow can be a challenge for a lot of new users. On a traditional crossbow, cocking can require a significant amount of force and coordination. Thus, the self-cocking feature of this model is incredibly welcome. You just push the lever, insert an arrow, pull it back, and you’re good to go. It’s simple, quick, and intuitive.
The Snake Eye is intended primarily for target practice, and it achieves this goal well. The firing action is smooth and predictable, and the bow is very nicely balanced. The mechanism tended to be a little noisy, but not enough to be annoying. While you aren’t going to be taking down any whitetails with this bow, it can still be used for light hunting duty. Rabbits, squirrels, or any other small game should prove no problem given the 160 feet per second firing speed.
Overall, this is an impressive package as long as your expectations are reasonable. It is not the most formidable hunting weapon in the world, but it is a fantastic entry point for anyone curious about crossbows.
- Very low cost of entry
- Surprisingly high quality
- Self-cocking mechanism makes it very easy to use
- Very consistent
- Stringing can be tricky
- Arrows aren’t the best quality
One of the most common questions I get asked is “what is the most affordable crossbow I can buy?” This is often a tricky subject because it depends on your goals. It is possible to purchase a functional crossbow for under $30USD, but such a bow is likely to be little more than a toy. However, for not substantially more money, it is possible to buy a legitimate and high-quality crossbow with real prowess. In my research, the Wildgame Innovations XR250 is perhaps the least expensive option for a full-size crossbow.
Given the price, this is an impressively well-made bow. The barrel is cast magnesium and the overall quality is admirable. It is well equipped, too. The kit gives you everything you need to get started, including a quiver, two 18” arrows, a rope cocking device, and a red dot sight. Even the sight is surprisingly nice, being a single-red-dot 30mm model with adjustable brightness. While it’s not the nicest sight I have ever used, it gets the job done perfectly well.
Shooting the XR250 is a pleasant, intuitive, and predictable experience. The draw weight is only 175 pounds, so cocking the bow is a fairly simple operation that should not be intimidating for even new users. Although this is not the most powerful crossbow in the world, it still has the power to be usable as a hunting or combat tool. It is capable of firing at 250 feet per second, making it powerful enough to be used for whitetail deer hunting as long as you keep the range fairly close.
As an entry-level crossbow, this is a great multi-tasker. It is well-made, easy to use, and excellent for target practice and hunting alike.
- Great value
- Complete kit
- Powerful enough for hunting
- Easy to cock
- Rail was slightly loose
To be the best tactical crossbow, a bow needs to achieve a few specific goals. First, it has to be powerful enough to be effective. Second, it has to be agile. Finally, it needs to be quiet. The Barnett Blackcat fulfills all of these requirements and does so while delivering exceptional value. Barnett is well known for making some of the best performing crossbows available. However, Barnett models have historically commanded a hefty premium. Thus, when they announced a more entry-level model, I took note.
The Blackcat’s body is made with injection-molded plastic. Initially, I was concerned that this might harm the rigidity of the bow. However, the stock is properly braced with excellent triangulation. Throughout testing, this crossbow never failed to feel rock solid. The Blackcat represents the rare combination of stealth and strength. At only 4.8 lbs, it is one of the lightest full-size crossbows I have ever tested. This lightweight makes it an extremely easy weapon to shoot, and it will never weigh you down on a long mission.
Despite weighing so little, there is no shortage of power. The Blackcat is rated at 260 feet per second firing speed, and our independent testing showed that to be accurate. Of course, power isn’t the only factor. For many situations, having a quiet bow can be incredibly important. To account for this, the Blackcat has dampened strings and a low-friction rail. Properly tuned, this bow is almost silent in operation.
I will admit to having some initial concerns that Barnett would sacrifice quality to produce a lower-priced crossbow. However, my fear proved wholly unfounded. As an all-around performer for a great price, this is an exceptional option.
- Extremely lightweight
- Almost silent
- Great quality
- Quiver is an awkward design
For many situations, there simply isn’t a replacement for power. When it comes to hunting or tactical uses, having a powerful enough weapon is not just a matter of bragging rights. Rather, it is a matter of safety. While all of the crossbows we compiled for this list can be used for some form of hunting, having a slower-firing bow can pose a limitation. A less powerful bow can limit the size of game you can hunt, or limit the range at which you can safely aim. Thankfully, having a fast tactical crossbow can still be achieved for a very reasonable price. The CenterPoint Volt 300 represents a very compelling package. It’s fast, functional, and hugely affordable.
The Volt 300 uses a composite stock, making it very lightweight without compromising rigidity. Throughout our testing, this bow never failed to be a smooth and predictable companion. The red dot scope is a welcome addition, and it was extremely easy to sight within just a few shots. Of course, the talking point of this crossbow is not the quality or the accessories. It’s the speed.
As the name would suggest, the Volt 300 is capable of achieving 300 feet per second shots. This puts it in a fairly elite class of crossbows, especially for an approachable tactical bow. With this much power at your disposal, you can safely hunt at a longer range with more confidence. Despite the power, this bow has a comparatively light 130-pound draw weight. It truly represents the best of both worlds.
- 300 FPS firing speed
- Very rigid frame
- Easy to cock
- Customizable inserts
- Shoulder rest Is an odd shape
We’ve always been big fans of Barnett, so it is no surprise to see a second on this list. To round out this comparison of the best tactical crossbows, we wanted to select a model that truly offers no compromises over high-end bows while still maintaining the approachable price associated with most tactical crossbow models. Pouring over the options, one choice became clear: The Barnett Black Raptor FX2.
The Black Raptor FX2 can hold its own regardless of the crossbows you compare it to. With a 330 feet per second firing rate representing an impressive 97 foot-pounds of kinetic energy, this crossbow is in the top ranks in terms of power. The speed isn’t the only impressive aspect, however. Throughout this entire crossbow, there is a consistently high level of quality and attention to detail. From the pass-through foregrip to the adjustable butt pad, this is a beautifully ergonomic and effective crossbow.
One of the hallmarks of high-end bows is not simply the power, but the form factor. That is one aspect where the Black Raptor FX2 excels. Having a compact bow can make hunting a significantly more comfortable experience. Further, it can make maneuvering in tight confines much easier. Thus, the fact that this bow weighs a mere 6.5 pounds and measures a tight 18 inches axle-to-axle is an impressive achievement. As tactical crossbows go, the Black Raptor FX2 is a premium experience at an affordable price.
- Very compact
- Extremely fast
- Easy to use
- Quiver adds to the width
How to Find the Best Tactical Crossbow
Shopping for a tactical crossbow can be a challenging experience because the market is filled with false claims and questionable brands. This does not need to discourage you, though. By keeping just a few points in mind, you can find the best tactical crossbow for your needs.
Consider What You Will Use It For
No single model will necessarily be the best tactical compound crossbow for everyone. The bow you need will depend broadly upon your use. For example, if your primary use is a combat crossbow, then a smaller and more concealable model may be preferable to a larger yet more powerful model.
In contrast, if you also intend to use your crossbow for hunting or broader-scope purposes, then a faster model may be preferable. When you shop for your next crossbow, do not fall into the trap of focusing on one specific aspect or specification. Rather, always take an overarching approach to find the model that best fits your unique needs.
The Size of A Tactical Crossbow Matters
When shopping for a tactical compound crossbow, it is common for people to only focus on the speed or power of the machine. While this is an important consideration, it is not the only factor. Often, bows with more power are also larger.
For many tactical situations, having a wide or heavy bow can be a distinct disadvantage. That is why models such as the Snake Eye can be such effective tactical tools. Although they may have less force, their stealth nature can prove to be an invaluable asset.
A Quiet Crossbow is an Effective Crossbow
Beyond size, the noise level of a crossbow is arguably the most important consideration when shopping for tactical units. Whether you are using your bow for hunting or as a combat crossbow, noise can make your presence known at the worst possible time.
Many manufacturers incorporate string dampeners or higher-quality bearings to make their bows as silent as possible. If silence is an advantage for your uses, consider looking for a bow with these additions.
Crossbows are universally one of the most versatile weapons available. Their convenience, quiet operation, and formidable power make them useful tools in countless circumstances. Tactical models simply add to this repertoire of uses.
Within this list, each of these bows is ideal for certain situations and uses. However, one crossbow rose above the rest as an all-around performer. The CenterPoint Volt 300 Crossbow universally impressed us with its performance, svelte dimensions, quiet operation, and affordable price.
Thus, it was an easy decision for the winner of this roundup.
- Lightweight, adjustable composite stock
- Interchangeable black, blue and pink inserts
- 130 lbs. draw weight
Last update on 2020-10-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API