The Top 5 Best Budget Crossbows For Hunters On A Budget!

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2017 Crossbows Unraveled for Value-Minded Consumers

Crossbows have evolved from a medieval war machine to a precision hunting tool over the last several decades. Just like so many other products, the crossbow market is constantly flooded with new innovations, and 2017 is no different. The trick is to learn how to wade through the muck to find the crossbow that packs the most value and innovation into an affordable and still reliable package.

Crossbows have become the standard way to introduce people to the sport of hunting. For a lot of youth and female first-time hunters, the draw weights that are required to pull back a vertical bow just aren’t achievable. Not to mention the added complexity that it requires to draw back a vertical bow, hold it, all while lining up your site pins and your peep. Enter the crossbow. A fairly compact, fairly lightweight alternative that can be manually cocked and is held in that position by the trigger mechanism. Now, anyone with the dexterity to pull back about 3 pounds of force can shoot a crossbow and anyone with decent vision can line things up down range through their scopes. Not to mention the tremendous innovations that have come to market that can outfit a crossbow to be fired by the click of a computer mouse, a breath of air, and even scope adapters so that a second person can line things up for a visually impaired hunter.

The biggest issue that consumers face is price. How do you know a good crossbow from a bad one? How can you tell which crossbow fits you best and will suit your needs while hunting? Which is more important: speed, draw weight, physical weight, etc.? We are here to help you navigate these waters.

In this guide we will break down the crossbows of 2017 into two categories. One for the consumer who doesn’t want to break the bank but still wants a good, solid, reliable crossbow (under $500), and another for the consume who enters the market with a strict budget doesn’t want to sacrifice anything in terms of innovation (under $1,000).

Key Features

Crossbows come in all different shapes, sizes, and outfitted with almost innumerable technologies. For that same reason, crossbows also span a vast difference in price points, from a couple hundred dollars to a couple thousand! For a new crossbow purchaser, or first-time crossbow user, there are some core features to consider to ensure that you get the most “twang” for your buck:

  • Safety – One of the most important things to consider when purchasing any hunting weapon is safety. Crossbows are no different. Look for fore-grip safety features, auto-engaging safety mechanisms, and anti-dry-fire mechanisms.
  • Durability – A crossbow is not a “disposable” item. You’re in the market to find one that is built to last and can stand up to the rigors of any hunting situation. Quality engineering and material is a must.
  • Speed – No piece of archery hunting equipment is capable of achieving speeds greater than that of the crossbow. Make sure the ones on your list live up to these expectations.
  • Draw Weight – Nobody wants to have to pull over 200 pounds of draw weight in order to cock a crossbow. Innovation in this area is particularly important for the efficiency and effectiveness of any crossbow. Some manufacturers even offer different cocking devices to reduce the amount of effort needed to cock a crossbow.
  • Accuracy – At the end of the day, a well-placed shot can be the difference between success and failure in the field. Precision engineering can never be overlooked to make sure you can rely on your crossbow at any moment.
  • Mass Weight – The physical weight of a crossbow can lend itself to great comfort and ease while shooting. At the same time, others can be cumbersome and awkward. This is all dependent upon your personal preferences.
  • Shootability – The final thing to look at can encompass all of the above features and how they work together to make the bow as efficient and effective as possible for YOU, the hunter. Fit, feel, and function, as they say, can be deciding factors when purchasing a crossbow.

Top 5 2017 Crossbows (Under $500)

In this list of the top 5 budget friendly crossbows for 2017, you’ll see some older models that have been revamped, but you’ll also see some drastically new and innovative designs. Our list is based on experts in the industry to make sure you find the right crossbow for your needs.

Typically, at these price points, you get what you pay for. The next 5 crossbows stand out among the rest, giving you unmatched value at a very economical price point.

Crossbow Speed (FPS) Draw Weight (lbs) Weight (lbs) Price
Wicked Ridge Warrior G3 320 155 6.6 $$$
PSE Fang 350 XT 340 165 6.25 $$
Killer Instinct CHRGD 330 165 6.2 $$
Barnett Whitetail Hunter II 350 150 6.4 $$$
Barnett Edge 360 135 8.0 $$

1. Wicked Ridge Warrior G3:

The Warrior G3 by Wicked Ridge Crossbows, one of 3 brands owned by the American-Made crossbow powerhouse, TenPoint Crossbow Technologies, was named a Field & Stream “Great Buy” in 2016. Shooting at speeds up to 320 feet per second boasting a 155 pound draw weight and tipping the scales at a physical weight of just 6.6 pounds, the Warrior G3 is a workhorse crossbow. Engineered, built, and shipped by the same precision-driven hands of TenPoint Crossbow Technologies, new for 2017 is the option to add a crank cocking device integrated into the stock of the bow. TenPoint’s patented ACUdraw cocking device can now be purchased as a retro-fit kit to be installed into the butt stock of the crossbow. Reducing draw effort to a simple 5 pounds of force, cocking this crossbow is a breeze for nearly any individual, regardless of age, strength, or physical limitation. That is why the Warrior G3 lands itself in the top position for the value-oriented consumer.

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2. PSE Fang XT:

Pushing the limits for crossbow performance in this category is the 2017 PSE Fang 350 XT crossbow. Pulling 165 pounds of draw, one of the higher draw weights in this price point, enables the Fang XT to generate speeds in excess of 340 feet per second. With a total mass weight of 6.25 pounds and a 1.25 inch shorter stock design, there is no doubt this crossbow is well balanced and ergonomic in the woods form either a tree stand or ground blind. Included in the 2017 Fang XT crossbow package is a separate rope cocking device. With all of these features, the Fang XT finds itself in second place due to its lack of an integrated cocking device.

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3. Killer Instinct CHRGD

Coming in at number three on our list is the new CHRGD crossbow from Killer Instincts. Decked out in an intense, AR style tactical look, the CHRGD is about as sleek as crossbows come at this price point. One nice feature about his crossbow that stands out above the rest is the rail system that the fore grip rides on. This added adjustability, coupled with its draw weight of 165 pounds and shooting speeds of up to 330 feet per second make the CHRGD one of the most unique value-oriented crossbows of 2017. One thing that does set this crossbow back is its lack of a scope. The tactical single red dot sight, without any zoom capabilities, could be the factor that limits the effect range for this crossbow, and is why the CHRGD doesn’t sit higher on our list.

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4. Barnett Whitetail Hunter II:

Barnett revamped its Whitetail Hunter crossbow from 2016 and developed the aptly named Whitetail Hunter II. Featuring speeds of up to 350 feet per second and a draw weight of 150 pounds, this bow is top end in speed while sitting about average in draw weight. It comes equipped with a non-illuminated 4×32 power scope and rope cocker and weighs just 6.4 pounds. The cool thing about this bow is that it is offered as a women’s crossbow in the Lady Whitetail Hunter model. With exactly the same specs, you’ll find the female version of this bow sports the Muddy Girl Serenity camo pattern.

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5. Barnett Edge

Barnett also launched the new Edge compound crossbow. Outfitted with a rope cocker and a non-illuminated 4×32 scope, what this crossbow lacks in high end components, it sure makes up for in speed, shooting at speeds of up to 360 feet per second, which is fastest in this class. The overall mass weight for this crossbow is eight pounds, which is definitely on the heavy side for modern crossbows. That’s what you get from a machined aluminum flight track and a magnesium riser. It does also have the lowest draw weight at 135 pounds, but the trade-off is that you have a much longer power stroke than most other models in this class at over 14.5 inches. That is how Barnett was able to achieve such high rated speeds, but it does mean that you will feel all of that 135 pound draw over a longer distance.

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Top 5 2017 Crossbows (Under $1,000)

In the next list, you’ll find radically different and unique crossbows that appeal to both the pocket book as well as aesthetics and functionality. This list is based on the reviews of experts in the field of crossbows to ensure that your hard-earned dollar is well spent on an extremely lethal crossbow that will last you a lifetime.

Crossbow Speed (FPS) Draw Weight (lbs) Weight (lbs) Price
Horton Vortec RDX 340 135 7.6 $$$
Parker Hurricane Xxtreme 380 160 8.9 $$
Stryker Katana 360 360 150 6.5 $$$
TenPoint Renegade 335 165 6.2 $$
Barnett Revengeance 400 145 8.4 $$$

1: Horton Vortec RDX:

Following in the footsteps of its award-winning big brother, the Storm RDX from 2016, the Vortec RDX offers unmatched shootability and comfort without forfeiting anything in terms of efficiency and innovation. An impressive 135 pound reverse draw bow assembly that can still deliver 340 feet per second arrow speeds down-range is unprecedented. A sleek and narrow look with an all-new radical cam system, this bow leaves no stone left unturned. A brand that is also owned by industry leader, TenPoint Crossbow Technologies, this 100% American-Made crossbow features a three power illuminated scope, string dampening system, and optional ACUdraw integrated crank cocking mechanism or Dedd Sled 50 rope cocker. One major selling point with this crossbow is just how well balanced it is. The reverse draw system allows the weight to shift to the back of the bow, making it feel feather-light in the hands, while it’s light weight bow assembly lend it to being an ultra-quiet shooter. Your prey will never hear you coming.

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2. Parker Hurricane Xxtreme:

Long-time crossbow manufacturer, Parker Bows, hit a homerun with their new 2017 Hurricane Xtreme. This crossbow is built around the needs of the consumer. Shooting at speeds of up to 380 feet per second while only requiring 160 pounds of force to draw the bow, thanks to inverted cam technology, Parker has built a user-friendly bow that gives up nothing in terms of speed. A bow this fast at this price point, clearly should be placed higher on the list, and it would be, were it not for its potentially cumbersome mass weight of 8.9 pounds compared to the 7.6 pound Vortec RDX. A really cool feature about this crossbow is the AR style adjustable butt stock, allowing the bow to be adjusted for individual preferences in terms of fit and feel, and an adjustable pass-through fore grip (similar to the Killer Instinct CHRGD in the $500 category).

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3. Stryker Katana 360:

Our 3rd place finisher in this category is an addition to the Katana series from Stryker Crossbows, the Katana 360. Slightly slower than its predecessor, the Katana 385, the Katana 360 still packs the same value and innovation with a toned-down bow assembly to hit this price point. Aptly named, this crossbow can achieve speeds up to 360 feet per second while only requiring 150 pounds of effort to draw the bow, again, thanks to reverse-draw cam systems. Something that sets Stryker Crossbows apart from the rest is their ability to be de-cocked WITHOUT having to fire an arrow or crossbow unloading bolt. They are the ONLY crossbow manufacturer on the market to offer a safe solution to de-cock a crossbow. Weighing in at just 6.5 pounds and outfitted with a scope, string stops, a limb silencing system, and a rope cocker, Stryker made the appropriate adjustments with the Katana 360 to offer a crossbow at great value and excellent performance.

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4. The “Cadillac of Crossbows”, TenPoint Crossbow Technologies has introduced a totally redesigned value-packed crossbow for 2017 in their all-new Renegade crossbow package. Intensified cores and cutouts in this 100% American-Made crossbow bring it in at an impressive 7 pounds even, quite light for a bow that is over 37 inches long! Why so long, you ask? When you pick up this crossbow, you’ll notice it to be slightly front heavy while still maintaining a well-placed fore grip and optimal length-of-pull for maximized fit and feel. In this way, the Renegade behaves much like a vertical target shooting bow with an extended stabilizer, and that means increased steadiness and improved accuracy down range, making sighting in this crossbow a breeze. Not that you would need it anyway, as all TenPoint (and now Horton and Wicked Ridge crossbows as well) come bore-sighted at 20 yards right from the factory. Another big plus for this crossbow is its ability to accept TenPoint’s patented ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 integrated cocking mechanisms. Requiring 165 pounds of draw and shooting 335 feet per second, it might not be the fastest crossbow in this price point, but it sure does offer a lot of added value.

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5. Barnett Revengeance:

Barnett made some major improvements to the Vengeance, and is now introducing the faster Re-Vengeance reverse draw crossbow model. This bow has the highest rated speed of any of the other bows in this category while still only sporting a 145 pound draw cycle. Like most reverse draw crossbows are, this bow will be extremely well balanced due to the riser being located in the center of the bow. This moves the center of mass closer to your shoulder, meaning you front hand doesn’t have to support as much weight. With that said, however, this bow is also, by far, the heaviest bow in this class, tipping the scales at 8.4 pounds. This is probably the main reason this bow sits so low on our list. A light, narrow, and easily maneuverable crossbow takes the cake in today’s market, and the Revengeance just doesn’t quite mean the standards. When comparing it to the other reverse draw crossbow in this category, the Horton Vortec RDX, it is also twice as wide when cocked. In the end, what Barnett achieved in speed, they had to lose in other parts of the bow, which is why the Revengeance rolls in at number 5 on our list.

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Crossbows are Growing in Popularity

The crossbow space in the outdoor industry reveals a new brand or manufacturer almost every year, and rightfully so. Crossbow hunting across the country has steadily grown in popularity over the last couple decades. Industry frontrunners like TenPoint Crossbow Technologies, Excalibur Crossbows, and several others, have also been on the front lines in terms of approval of crossbow hunting legislation and are responsible for the legalization of crossbow hunting policies in one form or another in 49 of 50 US states.

Why are crossbows growing in popularity? In the hunting community, crossbows offer a means to hunt with the added benefit of cocking aids to reduce draw effort and the use of mono, bi, and tripods for added stability. Crossbows can also be outfitted with illuminated scopes and scopes with zoom capabilities for those hunters with failing vision. Crossbows, while requiring the ability to remain steady and aim at a target, don’t require the addition of release aids, a peep sight, kisser button, bow site, etc. These are skills that are required to be learned in order to shoot a vertical bow accurately and efficiently that youth, people of lesser strength, smaller stature, or failing health, could never master. So a crossbow becomes the perfect introductory hunting tool, the ideal means to enable the elderly to continue to enjoy time outdoors in pursuit of wild game, or even the most effective way for a person without a lot of time to practice those vertical bow skills to be able to get out and practice the sport of archery hunting.

Some myths about crossbows is that they shouldn’t be considered a piece of archery equipment. In reality, a crossbow behaves far more like a vertical bow than it does a rifle, despite its outward appearance. A crossbows effective range is equivalent to that of any vertical bow, which can depend upon the skill level and number of hours spent practicing by the person doing the shooting. They don’t produce speeds that drastically different than vertical bows, and therefore only generate roughly the same amount of kinetic energy. You’re shooting an arrow at an average of 350 feet per second, which is astronomically slower than the thousands of feet per second generated by even low end hunting rifles. Not to mention that, recurve or compound, reverse draw, reverse cam, or traditional cam, a crossbows bow assembly will function exactly the same as any long bow, recurve, or compound vertical bow. They are just another tool that enables hunters and archers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and skill levels to be able to enjoy the sport.

The last, and maybe most impactful reason that crossbows are growing in popularity, is due to pop culture and the media. Famous characters like Daryl from “The Walking Dead” have glorified the crossbow into this apocalyptic tough-guy weapon of choice. Take into account his counterpart, Miss Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games novel and movie series, whose skill was the impressive use of a bow and arrow, and now you have a peaked interest in archery in general. More and more people are flocking to archery, in one way or another, as a means to relieve stress and practice a fun and relaxing skill.

At the End of the Day

When it comes down to it, crossbows do not shoot themselves. It takes time to learn the skill, to figure out what works best for any given crossbow, as well as your personal shooting style. The above lists will help you get started, but after that, it’s a matter of getting out to the range and shooting whichever crossbow you purchased. We hope you learned a little something about crossbows by reading this article, and that the information we have provided helps you on your quest to find the right crossbow that suits your needs. Until next time, happy hunting and shoot straight!

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