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How to choose a Crossbow

Bc. Michal Kuczaj

Crossbows have been used in the years B.C., either for hunting or fighting in battles. Nowadays, modern crossbows have found their place among competitive or recreational shooters. If you're interested in buying a crossbow, this article can help by listing the common crossbow types and the most important criteria to consider.

CROSSBOW TYPES

First, you should think about which type of crossbows suits you best. Usually, crossbows are divided into 2 basic categories - recurve crossbows, which are basically enhanced historical crossbows, and compound crossbows, which use a system of pulleys. Some also mention pistol crossbows, however, those can be listed as a sub-category of the recurve ones, as they feature identical limb construction.

RECURVE CROSSBOWS

This type consists of simple flexible limbs with their ends connected with a string. By cocking the crossbow, the limbs bend backwards and when firing, the accumulated energy is transferred to the arrow.

Their simplicity makes recurve crossbows suitable for beginners, but even some experienced shooters prefer the traditional system, which is also followed by lower pricing and easier maintenance.

You can find high-quality recurve crossbows from experienced manufacturers on our website, which include affordable pieces for beginners and also some pretty extraordinary products equipped with a magazine or a compressed air cocking system.

Mankung Rip Claw XB-51 175lbs Black

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This recurve crossbow in black finish consists of a polymer body and fiberglass limbs. Its overall weight is only 2,25 kg. Mankung Rip Claw has a draw weight of 175 pounds and can release the bolt with a speed of 74 m/s.

11 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 179.6

Beast Hunter Cobra RX Adder 130lbs Black

This unique recurve crossbow with a draw weight of 130 pounds is outfitted with the Cobra R9 mechanism which makes cocking much more easier and a magazine with a capacity of 5 bolts.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 371.7

Steambow Onyx 330 FPS Recurve Crossbow

The Steambow ONYX crossbow breaks all established crossbow standards. At first glance, it impresses with its timeless design based on the tactical design of AR-15 rifles. It is the first crossbow ever to boast PowerUnit pneumatic technology that uses a 300bar cylinder for its propulsion.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 1 499.6

Beast Hunter JAG2 PRO 175lbs Camo

Beast Hunter JAG2 PRO is an updated version of the popular Jaguar recurve crossbow. It comes with many improvements, including the tactical stock with an adjustable length and the ergonomically shaped pistol grip.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 207.7

Barnett Blackcat 195lbs

The brand-new recurve crossbow from US manufacturer Barnett. This model has a draw weight of 195 pounds and is an excellent choice for beginners. It is outfitted with anti-dry fire safety and finger reminders.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 291.6

Mankung Anaconda 175lbs Black

Mankung Anaconda is a recurve crossbow with a draw weight of 175 lbs. It can release the bolt with a speed of 67 m/s. The effective range is about 40 m. One of the biggest advantages of this model is its low weight (only 2250 g).

9 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 199.7

PISTOL CROSSBOWS

As mentioned earlier, pistol crossbows are basically a sub-category of recurve crossbows, because they utilize the same recurve technology. However, they are much more compact and quite often feature special cocking systems - such as a straight-pull handle or a break lever positioned right above the grip, which needs to be folded downwards - called the "Cobra" system.

Despite their compact dimensions, pistol crossbows can achieve surprising penetration. That makes them more than sufficient for recreational shooting and you also won't have to dig deep into your pockets.

We offer pistol crossbows with a draw weight ranging from 35 to 80 lbs, including some unique models:

Fox MKE A4 COBRA 80lbs

This model contains crossbow muzzle and adjustable rear sight for better aiming. This model is especially designed for aluminum arrows with metal broadheads. The effective range is a 15 meters.

> 20 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 55.6

Beast Hunter Aligator TCS2 green pistol crossbow

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The Beast Hunter Aligator TCS2 pistol crossbow is the highest model in its category. It has a 80 lbs draw weight and uses the reliable COBRA reloading system to reduce downtime between shots. The speed of the released arrow is around 185 fps (56 m/s).

3 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 52.9

Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Compact 35lbs Pistol Crossbow

Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Compact is a repeating pistol crossbow with a 6-bolt magazine and a draw weight of 35 pounds. Its durable glass/carbon limbs deliver about 10 J of kinetic energy, which is comparable to most other crossbows with 80 lbs draw weights.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 252.6

Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Survival 55lbs Pistol Crossbow

Steambow AR-6 Stinger II Survival is a compact pistol crossbow with a draw weight of 55 pounds. You can easily store it in your car or backpack. You never know when this survival tool might come in handy.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 259.7

Fox MKE A4 COBRA 80lbs Plastic Crossbow

This powerful break-action pistol crossbow with plastic grips is the ideal choice for recreational target and destructive shooting.

> 50 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 43.7

COMPOUND CROSSBOWS

As the name implies, compound crossbows feature systems of pulleys and cables, resulting in the most powerful category of crossbows on the market. Due to the extremely high energy and draw-weight, the limbs, string, pulleys and other components have to be able to withstand it - compound crossbows are therefore constructed from durable and high-quality materials.

This usually results in higher weight, not as easy maintenance and naturally higher cost. However, in return you'll get a precise and a reliable piece of art. If you're looking to buy one of the most advanced crossbows available today, compound crossbows are the right way to go.

The best manufacturers of high-quality compound crossbows worth noting include the American company Barnett producing the most powerful products in our stock, Killer Instinct with their flagship bullpup designed crossbows, Beast Hunter which offers exclusively the golden middle way, or the Dutch company Mankung with its affordable yet still high-quality pieces.

Mankung Frost Wolf 175lbs Black

Mankung Frost Wolf is a compound crossbow with a draw weight of 175 pounds, which makes it perfect for hunting. This model is outfitted with the 22 mm Weaver rail for scope attachment.

13 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 423.7

Killer Instinct SWAT X1 195lb

Killer Instinct SWAT XP is an improved version of the SWAT XP compound crossbow. It is even smaller and easier to cock and handle than its predecessor.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 2 196.0

Mankung Stalker 185lbs Black

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Stalker is a compound crossbow with a draw weight of 185 pounds. This model is ideal for hunting. It can release the bolt with a speed of 370 fps, which is about 112 meters per second.

19 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 399.7

Barnett TS380 200lbs Compound Crossbow

Barnett TS380 is a compound crossbow designed for hunting. The stock is made of high-quality polymer in digital urban camo finish. It can release the bolt with a speed of 380 fps, which is more than 115 m/s.

6 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 859.6

Killer Instinct SWAT XP 200lbs

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This compound crossbow with a draw weight of 200 pounds is capable of releasing a bolt with a speed of up to 126,5 m/s. The central placement of the cams, grip, trigger and the scope ensures a good balance and makes manipulation and aiming much easier.

1 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 1 356.1

Barnett Hypertac 420 W/CCD

The Hypertac 420 is a tactical crossbow made by the premium Barnett company, which features a brutal performance and great design. The draw weight is 215 lbs, with an arrow velocity up to 420 fps (128 m/s). A fine Halo 1.5–5×32 variable scope with both green and red illumination is installed on the crossbow, so your shooting will stand precise even in low-light conditions.

Temporarily Unavailable

€ 1 116.0

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PARAMETERS

When choosing the right crossbow, you should also determine what parameters you expect it to deliver. 

ARROW SPEED

One of the most obvious and important crossbow parameters is the speed of the fired arrow (also known as bolt). It is determined by the draw-weight, the distance the arrow travels in the rail during the discharge and the weight of the arrow itself. The faster the arrow moves, the flatter its trajectory, which means that you won't have to elevate the sight or the scope that much.

Arrow speed is usually measured in fps or ft/s (Feet Per Second) and can vary from around 150 fps with pistol crossbows to more than 400 fps with compound crossbows.

When converting fps and m/s values, simply remember that 1 m/s = 3.28 fps (roughly 3.3) and vice versa 1 fps = 0.3048 m/s (roughly 0.3).

However, extremely high arrow speed does not mean perfect accuracy. The most powerful compound crossbows can shoot an arrow at over 400fps, (around 120 m/s), and the arrow will be affected even by the slightest surface and wing irregularities at such velocity. Be sure to carefully consider whether this parameter is absolutely crucial for you and if so, definitely don't skimp on high quality arrows.

DRAW WEIGHT

This parameter indicates the amount of effort you have to apply when cocking the string. Ideally, it would be as light as possible, but higher arrow speed requires higher draw weight. Note that higher draw weight doesn't always mean higher arrow speed. It also depends on how the energy is transferred to the arrow - for example, a regular sport arrow fired from a compound crossbow will travel faster than the same arrow shot from a conventional recurve crossbow with the same draw weight.

Draw weight is measured in pounds "lbs" or "lb". For pistol crossbows, it usually varies around 80 lbs, which is approximately 36 kg - just about anyone can handle such resistance. However, it can reach over 200 lbs (about 90 kg) which might be a problem even for a strongman.

Therefore, the easiest crossbows to load are the pistol ones, especially those using the Cobra cocking system. and the most effort is then necessary to cock powerful recurve and compound crossbows, which often require the use of special cocking devices.

There are 2 basic versions of cocking devices - a simple one with two hooks connected by a rope with handles, or a crank cocking device, which needs to be attached to the stock of the crossbow and the crank is then turned until the string is fully cocked, however, this system is not compatible with each crossbow and the cocking process takes a considerable amount of time.

Beast Hunter Rope Cocker

This rope cocker will help you pull the string on your crossbow. It is compatible with all types of crossbows.

In Stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 9.2

CenterPoint Silent Crank/ Wrath 430/ Amped 425 cocking device

Cocking device designed for CenterPoint Silent Crank, Wrath 430 and Amped 425 crossbows. In case of Amped 425, this cocking device is only suitable for the version with catalogue code C0003.

2 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 267.7

Barnett Tactical Crank Cocking Device

This cocking system makes handling the string of the crossbow significantly easier and thus makes your shooting experience more enjoyable. The mechanism is capable of reducing the resistance of the bowstring by 93%. It is also equipped with a safety mechanism that prevents the movement of the under-cocked string.

7 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 183.7

Barnett Rope Cocking Device

This Rope Cocking Device has two hooks and creates a pulley system that will help you cock your crossbow by lovering the poundage weight by a half. It can be used on any Barnett crossbow but it is also compatible with other types of crossbows.

Temporarily Unavailable

€ 31.6

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DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHT

Another important, and certainly not the last parameter you should consider when choosing a crossbow are its dimensions.

If you intend to take your crossbow to dense woods or just have a limited storage space, its dimensions should not be overlooked.

You may often come across two dimensions - overall length and limbs span, which means the total span of the limbs of recurve crossbows, or the axle to axle distance of the compound ones, which means that the total width might be larger.

Similarly, you should not underestimate its weight, as shooting for prolonged periods of time with more weight will make your arms fatigue faster and may result in reduced accuracy.

SAFETY FEATURES

When choosing a crossbow, you should definitely consider the basic safety features every crossbow should have. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, so we highly recommend you to check if the crossbow includes the following features.

SAFETY

A safety is one of the features that every crossbow should have, as an accidental discharge could cause significant property damage and, more importantly, health injury both to the user and also people nearby. However, it is rare to come across a crossbow on today's market that doesn't feature a safety, and most of the modern ones are even equipped with an automatic safety that engages every time the string is cocked.

ANTI DRY FIRE MECHANISM

Never dry fire a crossbow or a bow under any circumstances. You risk irreversible damage to the string, limbs and other components. Without the inserted arrow, which would otherwise absorb a portion of the energy, the string and limbs will be subjected to such force and shock, which the components are not designed to withstand and can be damaged.

This situation can be prevented by an "Anti-Dry Fire Mechanism". This system exists in several forms - some of them will not let you switch the crossbow from safe to fire mode without an inserted arrow, and some will capture the string at the very start of its movement.

ACCESSORIES

Precise long-range target shooting certainly requires a quality crossbow scope - high recoil resistant scope equipped with a reticle adapted for shooting with crossbows. All shooters will also appreciate paper and straw targets, arrow holders and pullers, cocking devices or string lube wax. And definitely don't forget the arrows.

Valiant Kronos II 4x40 SIR ARC Crossbow Scope

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Valiant Kronos II is a second generation of the series of affordable riflescopes from Czech company Valiant. This model is an excellent choice for target shooting at shorter distances thanks to its 4× magnification.

> 100 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 238.1

Avalon TEC70 70x70x30cm Archery Bag Target

The TEC70 portable archery target is built to safely intercept an arrow flying at speeds of up to 370 fps (112 m/s). This model has a square shape with 70×70 cm sides and a depth of 30 cm. Various targets – 2D animals and WA-FITA targets – are placed all over the surface.

5 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 138.1

Beast Hunter Profi 65cm Straw Target

This straw target is made from a combination of straw and hay to make it as effective as possible. Its diameter of 65 cm and a width of 9 cm means it will stop any arrow from a bow with maximum draw weight of 35 lbs.

In Stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 34.8

Beast Hunter Quiver for Crossbows and Bows Black

This practical quiver can be attached to most types of crossbows and bows. All you need to do is to secure it with two screws.

5 pcs in stock, estimated delivery: March 6 - 8.

€ 15.2

HOW MUCH, WHAT FOR, WHAT DISTANCE?

Finally, you should ask yourself the following questions.

HOW MUCH DO I WANT TO INVEST?

The crossbow itself will probably not be the only thing you'll need - the accessories can add a lot to the purchase price. As mentioned earlier, you shouldn't skimp on the arrow quality with a powerful crossbow, and you'll also need a decent crossbow scope for long-range shooting.

WHAT DO I WANT TO USE IT FOR?

If you want to be able to win shooting competitions, not only will you need some experience, but a precise and reliable crossbow as well. However, you may not need to own the most advanced hi-tech product to enjoy recreational shooting in your backyard.

AT WHAT DISTANCE DO I WANT TO SHOOT?

With growing range, the arrow speed required to successfully hit the target increases as well. Compound crossbows are particularly effective at really long distances, but if you're fine with shooting on a small plot of land, you can definitely make do with affordable pistol crossbows.

CONCLUSION

The choice of the right crossbow can be affected by a number of different factors, be it its price, purpose, construction type, available features or specifications. There is a truly endless range of crossbows on the today's market, therefore it's impossible to say which is "the best one" or vice versa. However, we hope that this article will help you choose the kind of crossbow that you'll have the most fun with or the one which you'll win the first place in a competition with.

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Autor článku: Bc. Michal Kuczaj

Copywriter

I enjoy everything that shoots, cuts, drives fast and makes noise. I like being creative - which includes graphic design, 3D printing, origami and gardening. I've been writing articles, describing products, taking photos and adding posts on social media in the Balistas company since 2023.

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