How To Choose The Best Crossbow For Hunting And Fishing?
Becoming a great hunter requires a lot more the sheer skill and experience. Granted, in skillful hands, every weapon can be deadly. But ever since the dawn of mankind, the advantage was always on the side of the ones who wielded the superior weapon. So, if you want to get involved into serious crossbow hunting, you need to know how to find the best crossbow for hunting.
STINGRAY OPEN SIGHT
- 200 FPS
- 125 lbs
- Good for fishing
CenterPoint Sniper 370
- 370 FPS
- 185 lbs
- High precision
- CNC Machined aluminum
Barnett Jackal Crossbow
- 315 FPS
- 150 lbs
- Automated safety features.
8 Things You Should Know Before Buying A Crossbow
But, why crossbow? Especially given the fact that regular bows are usually much easier to carry and can be shot at a more rapid pace. Well, the crossbows represent the perfect middle ground between the rifles and the bows. On the one hand, they are still sufficiently silent, rely more on skill rather than firepower and force you to get excitingly close to the target.
On the other hand, crossbows feature much better accuracy than composite bows and work very well with telescopic sights. They can be easily shot from a kneeling position, and once they are loaded you don’t need to keep the string strain. In short, they are opened both to newcomers and experienced hunters.
Finally, crossbows are perfectly suited for fishing. Unlike bows which are too hard to use, or rifles that simply don’t go with anything marine, crossbows can give fishing a completely new, dynamic and exciting edge. A worthy addition to any fishing kit and tackle.
It is also good to know that during the last 20 years, crossbows have evolved more than in 200 before that which made them even deadlier and easier to use. However, the abundance of available upgrades also made crossbows much harder to choose from. Here are a couple of things you should pay attention to during selection.
The Type Of The Crossbow
Just as there are two basic types of crossbows – compound and recurve – the same can be said for their distant cousins, crossbows. So, what’s the difference?
- Recurve crossbows – This is the older type of bows, and due to its simpler design, it requires less maintenance than compound bows. They are more affordable and the strings are much easier to replace. However, this simplistic design also amounts to reduced accuracy.
- Compound crossbows – This type features limbs attached to the pulleys and shorter strings. Also, compound bows feature cocking mechanism which makes drawing much easier. All of this amounts to better precision and enhanced ease of use. On the other hand, more parts give you more to worry about.
Are you buying the crossbow for fun or for serious hunting? If you intend to practice shooting and tackle easier targets, you can get away with the larger weapon that is mostly intended for stationary shooting. If you are into serious or even competitive hunting you will need a more precise and more maneuverable weapon.
Also, although they look and operate on the same principle and look like they offer a decent amount of crossover potential, different activities entail the use of different type of bow. For instance, fishing bow crossbows usually feature a retrieve mechanism that doesn’t have any real purpose on the land. Robust hunting crossbows that can take down grizzlies are definitely overkill for a casual trust hunt.
A regular crossbow features pull weights that land anywhere between 80 and 200 pounds. All this stress can propel the arrow at the speed up to 340fps. What do these numbers mean? Well, if you need to shoot an arrow through the deer you will need a pull weight that approximates 150 pounds. Keep in mind, though, that rope cocking aids can reduce pull weight up to 50%.
Definitely, a major consideration. Surprisingly enough, although they are not suitable for longer hunting sessions, heavier crossbows often offer better precision because they are not so easily moved during the microsecond after the arrow is shot but still remains in the guide rail. However, some hunters prefer lighter crossbows for their convenience and added maneuverability.
Up until a couple of decades ago, all crossbows were made from steel. Today, they usually feature composite or fiberglass limbs, usually with split-limb composite construction intended to weigh and equalize stress. As for the stocks, preferable materials are laminated wood or reinforced plastic. Some crossbows even feature skeletal stocks designed to reduced weight.
The amount of noise your weapon produces is incredibly important in the world or hunting, so if you want to raise your hunting game to professional level, you will need a weapon that will shoot as silent as possible. Generally speaking, units equipped with parallel limbs offer much quieter shots.
The second-best solution would be compound crossbows. The addition of cam mechanism, on the other hand, will produce a completely opposite effect. Still, it's good to know that the hunting gear can be upgraded so it doesn't fret that much afterward.
If you can get one the better. Out of all the options, you can currently find on the market, multi-dot sights or optical sights with reticles serve as the best all-around solution because they allow you precise shots from a variety of distances. If you prefer to use the same distance with each shot a laser rangefinder will offer the best possible performance.
Different hunters prefer different types of triggers. Some shooters prefer a light pull, with little to no creep. Others prefer a creep which helps them to deliver more confident and thus more precise shots. However, generally speaking, lighter bows with no creep have the objective advantage because they reduce recoil and offer better accuracy.
And now, let’s take a look at some of the best rated hunting crossbows and see how they how they fit into all the things we mentioned above.
The Top Five Best Crossbows For Hunting And Fishing On The Market – My Reviews and Recommendations
*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
It doesn’t take much more than a casual look at the price of this weapon to see that we are talking about the entry-level crossbow aimed at the hunting newcomers still developing skills. This niche opens the doors to some interesting benefits, but also entails some limitations. How well Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit works within these boundaries – that’s the question.
For a start – performance is more than solid. Sure, the crossbow is definitely not suited for big game hunting (buffalo, bear), but it can effortlessly pierce through a 3’’ by 3’’ piece of hardwood and it can easily knock down an unsuspecting deer from the distance of 15 yards. Speaking in terms of kinetic power, the crossbow is able to produce 235fps (49ft. libs) at point blank range and that number gradually drops a few feet libs for every 10 yards.
Inferno Fury Crossbow is surprisingly quiet. As a matter of fact, in this regard, it’s on par with much more expensive weapons. The same can be said about the battery-powered 3-red-dot sight. The battery you get in the package can literally last you for years to come. The fiberglass limbs are lightweight and durable enough but not spectacular, and the included rope cocking device cuts the force you need to draw the crossbow to mere 87.5 libs.
What I Liked
- A lot of value for the money.
- You'd be hard-pressed to find a better weapon for the small game.
- Comfortable and lightweight.
- Great sight.
What I Didn’t Like
- Not suitable for big game hunting.
- The arrows you get in the package are of poor quality.
And now we are going into the upper tier. If Inferno Fury Crossbow Kit was the best suited for the hunting newbies who are going after their first animals, Sniper 370 can be easily used by the people who are ready to advance to something bigger, like for instance a cape buffalo. Yes, we are talking about the big lean killing machine.
But, let us first take a moment to talk about the numbers. This crossbow scores a very impressive firing velocity of 370fps. If you combine it with 423-grain arrows you will be able to produce approximately 128 feet libs of kinetic energy. In other words, you will be able to pierce through anything that has four legs and moves. While doing all of that, the crossbow performs extremely accurately and allows you to easily target for the vital organs.
The build quality of the crossbow is great and skillful shooters will appreciate the weight of the bow. However, not everyone will appreciate the fact that the bow is fairly front-heavy, which may compromise some difficult shots. Instruction manual you get in the package is practically useless, but if you are buying this crossbow, you probably already have some experience with this type of weapons and know how to assemble them.
What I Liked
- Great firing velocity suitable for all kinds of prey.
- Compact and easy to carry around.
- Rope cocking device that makes drawing much easier.
- Illuminated multi-reticle scope.
- You get what you pay for.
What I Didn’t Like
- The crossbow is noticeably front-heavy.
- Tactical stock feels rather flimsy.
- The instruction manual is very vague.
Now, it’s time for something completely different. Parker STINGRAY OPEN SIGHT is a full-blown bow fishing crossbow. And, although we previously mentioned that though crossbows are strongly bound to their fenced niches, Stingray can operate even on land. For instance, the crossbow features a very decent stopping power so, theoretically, it can handle something as big as deer. Practice shooting is also something within the Stingray’s range. But, the weapon is meant for the purposes of bow fishing, so we’ll judge it by such merits.
With that said, we are happy to report that Stingray is a truly excellent bow fishing crossbow. Though it can knock down a grizzly, Stingray will be able to nab even the largest fish, regardless whether you are hunting in the salt or fresh water. The reel works great and the high visibility line that extends up to 200 feet makes retrieving the bolt very easy.
Depending on the draw weight you’ve set, Stingray can deliver the bolts between 135fps and 150fps, which, again, is more than enough to nab anything that swims in the water. The crossbow is also very precise. Even from 5 yards, you will be able to hold a pattern just 1-1/2’’ in diameter. The adjustable draw weight of 100lbs to 125lbs means that you’ll be able to easily hand-cock the crossbow, and 1X scope allows great visibility even in dark conditions.
What I Liked
- For what’s intended to do, the crossbow is very powerful and accurate.
- Durable build suitable for constant exposure to wet.
- Lightweight and compact.
- An excellent line.
What I Didn’t Like
- A bit pricey.
- The crossbow doesn’t include any kind of rope cocking mechanism.
- Retriever reel is suitable only for right-hand use.
Current crossbow market is crowded with an excellent products. With the things as they are each new competitor has to work very hard to carve itself a niche where it can thrive. Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow is obviously trying to appeal to small-framed hunters. This crossbow is very light and compact making it easy for any type of hunter to use it, even during the prolonged hunting sessions. But, how does the crossbow fare in other areas?
Well, the crossbow features a speed of 300fps and 400-grain arrows. Not the most impressive performance on the market, but it still allows you to squeeze out more than decent 85 feet libs of kinetic energy. That means that you won’t be limited only to deer and elks. If you want to you can even try to knock down a moose or even a bear.
If you are going for the latter prey, you should be very careful, though, because in order to make a decent shot you will need to get within 35 yards of the target. The three arrows you get in the package don't feel too reassuring either. The scope is pretty run of the mill and features only one red dot. The build quality, on the other hand, is great, and the crossbow allows the integration of a crank cocking device.
What I Liked
- A perfect match for women and smaller-frame hunters.
- Simple and easy to assemble.
- A very decent shooting power and velocity.
What I Didn’t Like
- The package includes only 3 arrows.
- The red-dot sight is not up to the task.
- The string could be of better quality.
And now, here’s Barnett’s second competitor for the title of the best hunting crossbow. Unlike the previous entry which was aimed at a very specific niche, this product tries to win over the audience with quality, performance, and broad appeal. As a matter of fact, we may be talking about the best budget crossbow currently on the market.
Of course, you should take the “budget” part with a grain of salt. Although it comes at a relatively affordable price, the crossbow offers very solid performance that’s suitable even for professional hunters. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For a start, the crossbow is very easy to assemble and the whole process doesn’t take more than 10 minutes.
Once you are done, you will be pleased to know that crossbow has 150 lbs of draw weight which amounts to the speed of 315 fps which can pierce through pretty much anything you can find in the forest. As soon as you cock the string back into place the anti-dry-firing mechanism will keep it in the safety lock mode. The only trouble – putting the string back into place is like dead-lifting 150 pounds. Installing rope cocking mechanism is prescribed. The red dot sight is up to the task, but nothing special. As for the build quality – Jackal looks and feels like a military rifle. Recoil is minimal, but the crossbow is rather loud.
What I Liked
- Military grade build quality.
- Reasonable price.
- Enough kinetic energy for any type of prey.
- Automated safety features.
What I Didn’t Like
- The package lacks rope cocking device.
- A bit noisy.
And Now, It's Time To Conclude The Best Crossbow For Hunting And Fishing Roundup.
For a start, we must give a special shout out to Parker Stingray. We are talking about the excellent bow fishing crossbow which excels but in its own league. If your hunting urges are bound to the water, you’ll hardly find a better weapon to upgrade your fishing kit. Well, at least in this price range. However, comparing it with the other weapons on their own turf wouldn’t be fair, because Stingray was not designed for deer hunting. That’s why we’ll exclude it from further discussion.
The second product we have to remove from the equation is Arrow Precision Inferno Fury Crossbow. A very solid entry level crossbow for first-time hunters but far from the serious competitor for the number one spot.
Out of the three products that remain, CenterPoint Sniper 370 features the best all-around features and offers the best value for the money. Sure, the amount of money you need to pay is not that small, and the weapon is definitely not without its flaws, but it does provide the best velocity and piercing power.
The build quality is great, and the flaws the crossbow has are definitely not deal-breaking. If you are a casual hunter, you can get away with any other crossbow on the list. If you want the best possible performance for the big game, you should definitely aim for the Sniper.
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