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Last updated: February 15, 2023
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Do you find it frustrating that whenever you use a crossbow, you just can’t seem to hit your target with exceptional precision? If you have experienced this over and over, it’s probably time to look into purchasing a tactical crossbow. In this article, we’ll explore the best tactical crossbows available on the market today. Improved accuracy, fast arrow velocity, and exceptional balance are some of the things you can expect when purchasing a tactical crossbow.
In reviewing the top tactical crossbows for your consideration, we examined and evaluated various models according to some of their most important features. These include what type of tactical crossbow is, its weight, draw weight, arrow velocity, power stroke, axle-to-axle width, and warranty. All of these features play a crucial role in the overall operation and effectiveness of a tactical crossbow. Based on these factors, the Southland Archery Supply PSE Viper SS Crossbow was chosen as our Editor’s Choice. So, if you’re ready to learn more about the best tactical crossbows, let’s get started!
"A compact model that has durable fiberglass construction and self-cocking system. The package includes 27 aluminum arrows, spare string, and caps.Recurve crossbow.80 lbs. draw weight.165 fps arrow velocity."
"This is an outstanding tactical crossbow with aluminum and composite construction, fully adjustable stock and foregrip, and multiple useful accessories.Compound crossbow.185 lbs. draw weight.370 fps arrow velocity."
More features: integrated cocking mechanism with safety lock, anti-dry fire trigger, finger guard, comes with bag and 20 aluminum bolts
Hunters that are looking for the best possible deal when it comes to a tactical crossbow would be hard-pressed to find a more affordable option than the Southland Archery Supply PSE Viper SS Crossbow. Don’t be mistaken by this crossbow’s relatively small frame and weight, as it definitely packs a mighty punch, especially for hunters shooting at a very close range.
It’s a tactical recurve crossbow, and thus, it is smaller in size, weighs only 1.6 pounds, and has an axle-to-axle width of just under 11 inches. Because of its smaller frame, it has a draw weight of 50 pounds. Despite that, the bolt velocity on this tactical crossbow is actually quite good, considering its size.
At 215 fps with only a power stroke of 2.5 inches, your arrow is definitely coming off of this crossbow with a fair amount of force behind it. On top of its great hunting features, it also comes with a very handy double safety. The first one is your standard safety found on most firearms, and the other is an integrated cocking mechanism with a lock.
You’ll easily be on your way with this tactical crossbow since it also comes with its own bag to go along with 20 aluminum bolts. Lastly, let’s not overlook the warranty on this tactical crossbow as it offers one of the best ones on this list with a limited lifetime period.
What makes it stand out? If you’re new to hunting with a tactical crossbow or you’re just looking for one that is very easy to handle, this model is absolutely perfect for you. It feels great in your hands, is comfortable to shoot with, and comes at a truly unbeatable price.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? We love a good safety, but, at times, that second safety lock when it’s cocked can be frustrating. Also, if you need a powerful option, you might look elsewhere.
More features: compact, lightweight, comes with 1″ rings, 4-arrow quiver and bracket, 3 Diablo arrows, 3-150gr field points, and a rope cocking aid
Now, if the highest-quality tactical crossbow is what you’re after, and you’re willing to pay any price for it, consider our premium pick, the Excalibur Crossbow Matrix GRZ 2. Known for its excellent reliability, this rugged recurve crossbow is simply one of the best tactical crossbows out there today.
Hefty price aside, this Excalibur Crossbow is fairly light to hold at only 5.5 pounds. But, the features on this recurve crossbow are significantly better than the one found in our Best Value pick.
Starting with its draw weight, this crossbow can accommodate up to 200 pounds of weight with a power stroke of 11.2 inches. With that much weight on the string, you can get a lot of force for your bolts. This makes it an excellent crossbow for small or big game hunting, and the fact that it’s on the lighter side means you can hunt and carry it around longer. To help you cock it into position, this crossbow also comes with a rope cocking aid to get the leverage you need. For such a high-quality crossbow, it also comes with a fantastic warranty as well as you’ll get lifetime coverage.
Why is it special? We really enjoyed using the rope cocking aid to help us prepare it for the next shot. It was a great feature to have and just added more value to the experience of using one of the best crossbows.
What are the flaws? It is on the more expensive side for tactical crossbows, and we do feel the price for this could be a bit more in line with other models.
More features: dual-stage lockable latches and a built-in pressure release valve, stainless steel components, comes with 4×32 scope, rope cocking device, light-weight quiver, two 20” Headhunter arrows, lube wax
When using a tactical crossbow, obviously, accuracy should be your top priority. After all, you want to be able to hit your target 10 out of 10 times. Next to accuracy, another important thing many hunters want to know is how far can a tactical crossbow actually shoot? To find it out, take a look at the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow.
While many tactical crossbows notice a considerable drop-off in accuracy past 40 to 50 yards, this tactical compound crossbow will still be able to hit targets accurately from 60 yards out. This is all made possible thanks to its heavy-duty, stainless steel build, and excellent 4×32 scope. The scope comes with five red dots that can also change to green. While it is a bit heavier to hold in the hands at 6.4 pounds, that’s generally the case with most compound tactical crossbows.
It has a draw weight of 150 pounds, which can be secured using a rope cocking device, and when released, it will generate a lightning-quick bolt velocity of 350 fps. It has a power stroke of 12.5 inches, and the measurement from axle-to-axle is approximately 16.125 inches. Additionally, it only with two 20-inch arrows, so if you want to shoot more, you’ll either need your own or purchase them separately. Barnett typically offers good durability on their products, and they also give an excellent five-year warranty on this crossbow.
Why are we impressed? We definitely enjoyed the accuracy with this crossbow, along with its relatively sensitive trigger pull. Some crossbows have a stiff trigger pull, which can obviously cause your crossbow to move as you’re shooting it, reducing its accuracy.
What negatives must you be aware of? The crossbow shoots fine, but Barnett’s customer service can really be improved. We noticed that our crossbow didn’t come with the two 20-inch arrows it said it was supposed to come with, and after numerous emails to contact them and no responses, we simply gave up.
More features: military-style stock, high-energy wheels, synthetic string and cable system, comes with red dot sight, quiver, and 3 arrows
One of the things you’ll definitely want from one of the best tactical crossbows is a fairly sensitive trigger pull. A good trigger pull is one that is responsive. Our pick for the tactical crossbow with the Best Trigger Pull Weight is the Barnett Jackal Crossbow.
This Barnett Jackal Crossbow has an excellent trigger pull weight of 3.5-pounds. This is not overly sensitive but not heavy enough, where plenty of force is needed to be able to pull it. Hunters say that for a compound crossbow, this one has one of the best trigger pulls. Also, it is one of the heaviest compound crossbows on our list at 7.7 pounds, and it comes with a good draw weight of 150 pounds. It has a bolt velocity of 315 fps and a solid power stroke of 12 inches. Next, the axle-to-axle width is 20 inches.
This Barnett Jackal Crossbow also features a good scope, except this one is a bit different in that it only has a red dot sight. In the package, you will find three arrows to get started with, and like with the previous Barnett crossbow, this one also comes with a 5-year warranty.
What are our favorite features? We definitely loved the relaxing feel of having a responsive trigger pull. This was great for us because it barely made any noise when the arrow shot out, and there was no disbalance at all when we fired it.
What could be better? Some fiberglass components were not that durable as we wanted them to be.
More features: adjustable fore-end grip, anti-dry fire, dual string suppressor system, comes with 4×32 multi cross-hair reticle with functioning eyepiece, 4-bolt quiver, sling, three carbon bolts with field points, cocking rope, and rail lube
Most experienced hunters are looking for the biggest trophy they can snag out there in the wild, and for that, they’re going to need the best tactical crossbow to handle these more illustrious shots. That is why hunters need to check the BearX Intense Crossbow.
This tactical crossbow is great for a bigger game because it packs plenty of impressive features. Starting with its arrow velocity, at 405 feet per second, you can make those quick shots. This parameter is the highest on our list and is made possible with a power stroke of 12.7 inches, giving you excellent leverage. Since it is a more heavy-duty crossbow, it does weigh a bit more at 7.5 pounds and can be tiring to carry around. For this, you might want to purchase a sling for your crossbow.
This crossbow comes equipped with a great 4×32-inch scope with a multi cross-hair reticle for easier aiming. It also comes with its own cocking rope and lube, which you will have to re-apply after every 10 shots or so. Lastly, you’ll benefit greatly from the lifetime limited warranty that comes with this crossbow.
What stands out? We really enjoyed the awesome features of this crossbow. It’s constructed very well, and every bolt fired using this crossbow felt extremely powerful and smooth as well.
What cons did we manage to find? Unfortunately, we noticed some delamination on the limb of the crossbow, but this was covered under warranty.
More features: aluminum stock and fiberglass limb, auto safety cocking mechanism, comes with 15 arrows
Everyone at some point has to start somewhere, and if you’re completely new to hunting and using a tactical crossbow, you probably should check the Snake Eye Tactical Pistol Crossbow.
A tactical recurve crossbow is probably better for beginners to learn on since it’s much lighter and generally isn’t as powerful as compound models. This Snake Eye Tactical Pistol Crossbow is a great introductory crossbow to start learning on thanks to its light weight (1.62 pounds) and a draw weight of 80 pounds. This will show beginner hunters how impactful a tactical crossbow can be.
It has a fairly bolt velocity of 160 fps with a power stroke of 5 inches. Beginners will also be happy with this crossbow’s self-cocking mechanism, which is helpful to have. It fires pretty accurately from 10-20 yards out and comes with 15 arrows to help you get started practicing. You need to be quick to decide if you want to keep this crossbow as it doesn’t come with any warranty and is only covered with a 30-day return period.
What makes it stand out? We liked that this crossbow is a good one to get started with and get familiar with the basics of using a tactical crossbow. It is very easy to use, has great safety features, and feels pretty powerful for such a small crossbow.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? For such a small and lightweight crossbow, it takes a lot of force to attach the string, and quite a few people have also experienced this same issue. Many people ended up needing two people to do this properly.
More features: adjustable rear sight, fiberglass limb, composite frame, cocking stirrup, comes with 2 bolts
Experienced adults aren’t the only ones who get to have some fun with the best tactical crossbows, as it can also be used by a younger audience. The Daisy 4003 Youth Crossbow is another model that is brilliant for beginners.
The Daisy 4003 Youth Crossbow is an excellent choice for individuals interested in learning how to use a tactical crossbow. It is a recurve crossbow, which is the best type of tactical crossbow for anyone to give it a try. While it weighs 4.4 pounds, which is on the heavier side, it’s not overly heavy.
Its frame is made of composite and comes with a fiberglass limb. It only has a draw weight of 29 pounds, which is good for those who need more practice. Next, the bolt velocity and power stroke aren’t mentioned but, this really isn’t important for this beginner crossbow. This is purely meant to teach you the basics of using a crossbow in a safe and easy manner.
What stands out? We really enjoyed the compact size and the ease of use of this model. What’s really great about this crossbow is that it is overly simple and really does a great job of teaching the basics.
What cons did we manage to find? The cocking mechanism was not installed correctly when we received it right out of the box.
More features: aluminum riser, anti-dry fire trigger, adjustable tactical rear stock, comes with quick-detach quiver, three 20″ bolts, adjustable foregrip, 4×32 multi-range scope, rope cocking device, hex keys
For seasoned and experienced hunters looking for some serious ruggedness and heavy-duty firing action, we recommend checking this tactical crossbow. For one that has excellent power, look no further than the SA Sports Outdoor Gear Empire Hellhound 370 Crossbow.
This tactical compound crossbow can show excellent results thanks to its sturdy yet comfortable design and build. Weighing 6.15 pounds, this crossbow comes with a power stroke of 13.2 inches. This amount of pressure on this crossbow produces an arrow velocity of 370 fps!
When fully cocked, this crossbow has an axle-to-axle width of 17.5 inches. There’s no doubt that with this kind of power stroke and this arrow velocity parameter, you’ll be able to easily hunt down the big and small game on your hunting trips. The fun doesn’t end there, however, as this crossbow also comes with good safety features, including your standard safety catch as well as an anti-dry fire trigger.
The finger trigger is solid and not too sensitive as well, with a weight load of 3.5 pounds. You’ll also get a solid, 4×32 scope and three 20-inch bolts to get you started. Lastly, this crossbow comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
What are its best features? If you’re looking for some serious power, it’s harder to find a tactical crossbow that shoots much heavier than this one. It’s an incredibly powerful crossbow that gives plenty of fun to shoot with.
What could be improved? The accuracy could be much better with this crossbow. As great as the power is on this one, if it can’t hit the target, then it’s not as fun. We noticed a drop-off in the accuracy at around the 40-50 yard range.
More features: made of durable fiberglass, self-cocking system, comes with 27 aluminum arrows, spare string, and caps
Sometimes when purchasing a tactical crossbow, some of them can often leave you without a few handy accessories to help get you started right away. These accessories aren’t necessarily required but some items are very nice to have and helps add value to the overall tactical crossbow experience. Our pick for the crossbow with the best accessories is the KingsArchery Crossbow.
This recurve crossbow is another solid choice for beginner hunters that comes with a bevy of great accessories to help you start your crossbow practicing right away. The best part here is the kit with the 27 durable aluminum arrows. Most crossbows today only offer a handful of arrows, but you get nearly 10 times that amount with this crossbow.
If you find that the string on this crossbow gets worn down quickly or easily, this crossbow also supplies you with a spare one, which is great because it means you won’t have to go out and buy it right away. As we mentioned, this is another solid option for beginner crossbow users to get started with. It’s very light in weight at just under three pounds and provides just 80 pounds of draw weight. For a smaller recurve crossbow, it does have an impressive fps of 165. You’ll need to decide fairly quickly if you want to keep this crossbow as it only comes with a 30-day limited warranty.
Why is it special? Having this many arrows definitely makes it much easier to practice and provides a more fun time when you’re at the shooting range as you won’t have to keep going to fetch them constantly!
What are the flaws? Don’t expect much of a power stroke with this crossbow, as this is just a good recurve crossbow to help you get started.
More features: fully adjustable stock and foregrip, aluminum and composite construction, comes with three 20” carbon arrows, parallel quiver, 4×32 mm scope and rope cocker
The overall quality and durability of its design are the big things that really stand out with this model. Also, it is an excellent choice for hunting and offers some great accuracy.
It is a compound tactical crossbow, meaning that it is a bit bulkier than a recurve one. This bulk is reflected in the size and weight of this aluminum and composite construction as it weighs eight pounds, which makes it the heaviest one on our list. Despite its size, hunters should not be intimidated by this because it is really is a joy to hunt with. It has a fantastic draw weight of 185 pounds and lightning-quick arrow velocity at 370 fps! This parameter is ideal for shooters as you’ll obviously want your bolts to cover as much ground and to hit your targets as quickly as possible.
A big reason why the CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow has this number is because of its tantalizing power stroke of 13.5 inches. Since this figure is quite high for a power stroke, the end result will usually be a much higher arrow speed. When cocked, this crossbow has an axle-to-axle width of 18 inches. This tactical crossbow comes with one of the best warranties that covers it for five years.
Why is it special? We really love the excellent value you get with this tactical compound crossbow. There are a lot of great features it comes with, is built like a tank, and we were just happy with its overall performance and versatility.
What are the flaws? The pull trigger is not very responsive in that you really have to pull it as hard as you can in order to get the shot off, so it will take some time to get used to it.
In this review of the best tactical crossbow, our goal is to inform you about these amazingly accurate products. As such, we’ll now turn our attention to the buying guide portion of this review to offer more information about the individual features of these tactical crossbows. Here, we’ll explore some of the major considerations hunters usually think about when purchasing a tactical crossbow. Every hunter is different, and thus, the things they look for in a tactical crossbow can be different as well. If you have any questions about tactical crossbows, we’ll do our best to answer some of the more common ones in our FAQ section. Lastly, if you’re still unsure of which tactical crossbow is best for you, check out our verdict, where we’ll give you our top three picks.
Compound vs. recurve crossbows
The two types of tactical crossbows you can get are compound and recurve crossbows. Here, we’ll outline the brief differences for each type of crossbow.
A recurve crossbow tends to be much lighter in weight than a compound one, yet despite this, it tends to put more emphasis and stress on your crossbow’s string and does tend to wear it down faster. A recurve crossbow is called just that, thanks to its curved edges on both ends of your crossbow. If you’ve ever seen Robin Hood shoot a crossbow, he was holding a recurve crossbow. Recurve crossbows tend to be slightly larger in a frame but do not necessarily weigh more, and because of their longer design, they give you a much longer draw length than a compound crossbow.
On the other hand, a compound crossbow is definitely more complex to use than a recurve one. Once you get past the construction, these crossbows can easily fire your arrows at a much faster speed than a recurve one. That’s because the design of a compound crossbow tends to be much stiffer, as evidenced by its total weight. Despite its heaviness, it is a much more accurate crossbow than the recurve one.
Things to consider before getting a tactical crossbow
There are many things hunters must consider when choosing their next tactical crossbow. Not all people have the same requirements, and because of this, they may look for or focus on different things. Some of the most important individual features of a tactical crossbow that hunters will often pay close attention to are its weight, the draw weight, arrow velocity, its power stroke, axle-to-axle width, its safety features, warranty, and finally, its price. Some hunters may exclusively focus on certain features more than others, so it will ultimately depend on what it is you’re looking for in a tactical crossbow.
The weight of your tactical crossbow is a very important component towards choosing one that is right for you. You’ll be happy to know that there is a wide range of light and heavy tactical crossbows out there for you to choose from, and many of them are on our list.
If the tactical crossbow’s weight is a big consideration for you, just know that having a lighter model will definitely make it much easier for you in terms of carrying it around and preparing it for the next shot. For example, the Southland Archery Supply PSE Viper SS Crossbow weighs only 1.6 pounds and offers exceptional portability. The only downside to this is that it may not be the most accurate option. That’s because tactical crossbows that are more sturdy and durable in its design tend to be a little bit more accurate.
Sturdier crossbows will absolutely weigh more and take a bit more time for you to set up and prepare before firing it.
The draw weight simply refers to how much force, measured in pounds, is needed to draw the arrow all the way back to its cocked position. The draw weight here is also related to the speed or arrow velocity, as the more weight you’re able to draw back, the faster your arrow will be shot off of your tactical crossbow.
The draw weight can be significantly different between a recurve and compound crossbow. This is because it is much stronger and tougher in its design for a compound crossbow, and because it’s almost built like a tank, it can deliver a much higher arrow velocity. For instance, you can see that with the CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow.
The velocity or speed at which your arrow comes shooting off of your tactical crossbow is another important consideration and one where too much emphasis may be placed on. Arrow velocity or speed rate is measured in foot per second, and if you see fps, that is what it stands for.
The fps will be different across various tactical crossbows, and for this figure, more doesn’t necessarily mean that it is better. There are some tactical crossbows that can shoot at 370 fps with exceptional accuracy, such as the SA Sports Outdoor Gear Empire Hellhound 370 Crossbow, and there are many tactical crossbows that have an fps under 200. Yet these can be just as effective as one that shoots at 370 fps. With the higher arrow speed, you will get a greater max range.
The power stroke is a term that is directly tied to the arrow velocity and, more specifically, the foot per second (fps) of an arrow or bolt.
The power stroke plays a big role in determining the actual fps of a tactical crossbow. Also, it measures just exactly how far back your arrow needs to be drawn until it is ready for the next shot. This measurement is important because the longer it is, the faster fps your crossbow will have.
The axle-to-axle width simply refers to the distance between the left cam axle and the right cam axle on your tactical crossbow. Think of it as measuring from one end of your crossbow to the other end. Usually, tactical crossbows will often come with two axle-to-axle measurements. One measurement is for when your tactical crossbow is in its natural and unaltered state. The other measurement seeks to measure the axle-to-axle width when your tactical crossbow is when it is fully in a cocked position.
Safety is an important component when it comes to purchasing a tactical crossbow. After all, you’re going to want to know if there are mechanisms in place to protect. We’re glad to say that the overwhelmingly vast majority of tactical crossbows come with excellent safety features. The most notable safety feature on these crossbows is the safety catch or latch that will lock your crossbow from firing once it’s fully cocked. For example, the SA Sports Outdoor Gear Empire Hellhound 370 Crossbow has it. When you’re ready to shoot, you’ll have to unlock the safety catch to fire your bolt. Another good safety feature is the anti-dry fire, and this basically means shooting your crossbow without an arrow in it. Many tactical crossbows have this feature in order to prevent damage from the stress that comes with each firing of a crossbow.
When dealing with equipment that can be complex at times, it’s good to know if there is a warranty offered with the tactical crossbow you’re thinking of buying. The best tactical crossbows all come with different warranty policies, and so you’ll definitely have to keep a close eye on what exactly these warranties cover. For example, some tactical crossbows come with a 5-year or even a lifetime warranty, and these warranties can cover virtually everything relating to the tactical crossbow. Next, there are also tactical crossbows that only offer a limited warranty, and what this means is that the entire tactical crossbow may not be covered. For these types of warranties, it can usually only apply to certain parts of the tactical crossbow.
If a warranty is important to you, it’s best to evaluate exactly what is covered and how long it lasts.
The prices of the best tactical crossbows, like the prices with many other products, can vary. Ultimately, it can come down to what price you’re comfortable paying for a tactical crossbow. If you’re shopping for a tactical crossbow, but you’re strictly on a tight budget, our best value pick, the Southland Archery Supply PSE Viper SS Crossbow, is the ideal option that doesn’t cost much. You can get this for as low as $110.
If you’re looking at premium crossbows only, the Excalibur Crossbow Matrix GRZ 2 is the way to go. This one can be found at approximately $500. Also, if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, our editor’s choice, the CenterPoint Sniper 370 Crossbow, offers the best combination of value and features, and it will cost you $300. Generally, you will be able to find a tactical crossbow in between this $100-$500 range.
Depending on where you live, you may or may not need a license for your tactical crossbow. This is because some countries interpret tactical crossbow differently from others. For countries where a permit or license is required, a tactical crossbow can often be classified as a firearm since it can be quite dangerous. In a few countries, like the United States, for example, a tactical crossbow is not subject to regulation, and it is technically legal to own one without a license. Certain regulations may vary by state in the United States, so we would recommend checking with your state’s hunting laws and firearms regulations as these are privy to change.
If a tactical crossbow is able to shoot long and far, but it isn’t accurate as one that shoots at a lower distance with more accuracy, then it might not be worth it to get the longer-distance shooting one. Thus, accuracy should always be the number one thing to focus on in a tactical crossbow. For the most part, the best tactical crossbows can shoot up to 40 yards. Many hunters say that 40 yards are typically at the higher end of where accuracy begins to decrease, but it is also at this range where a shot can still be effective.
The answer to this can ultimately depend on how hard you shoot and how often you do so. Typically, most hunters will lubricate the rail and wax the string at least once every 15 to 20 shots. However, this is just a reference, and it should not be taken as gospel. Ideally, what you want to do is lubricate the rail and wax the string whenever you notice it is dry. You’ll easily be able to tell when it’s dry once your rail loses its glossy shine to it.
Once again, the answer to this question is simply that it can vary. A good rule of thumb is to replace your tactical crossbow’s string at least once every two years. But if you find yourself hunting and using your tactical crossbow frequently, you might want to replace it once every year. Of course, on the opposite side, if you only use your tactical crossbow occasionally, you can extend it to once every three, four, or even five years.
In our verdict, we present to you our top three tactical crossbow picks. We rated these ones very highly according to their features and overall value. First off, our Editor’s Choice, the Southland Archery Supply PSE Viper SS Crossbow. This recurve crossbow is feather-like light in your hands and, at times, feels like a toy. Despite that, this toy can pack a serious punch thanks to its 215 fps.
Lastly, if you love nice things, then you’ll love our premium pick, the Excalibur Crossbow Matrix GRZ 2. This crossbow is incredibly lightweight for a compound model, and it comes with the high-impact features you would normally expect from it. It’s no wonder why we’ve included this one on our list of the best tactical crossbows.
The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II is our third favorite. We definitely enjoyed the accuracy of this crossbow, along with its relatively sensitive trigger pull.