As more states legalize the use of crossbows during regular archery seasons, the popularity of horizontal bows just continues to grow. And it’s expensive to be popular. With all the bells and whistles, a high-end crossbow can run you more than $2,000.

But, you can still get a new crossbow and put your kid through college. Wanting to provide technology-driven crossbows that are high performers but don’t break the bank, many manufacturers are offering quality crossbows under the $600 mark. So let’s take a peek at some of the best budget crossbows on the market today.

Parker BlackHawk


Showcasing a wallet-friendly $549.95 MSRP, the new-for-2013 Parker BlackHawk packs a punch. Featuring Parker’s proprietary Advanced Split Limb Technology with integrated Fulcrum Pocket System, the BlackHawk is compact, durable and hurls bolts downrange at 320 fps. Tipping the scales at 6.5 pounds, this easy-to-maneuver 20.375-inch axle-to-axle crossbow sports a 160-pound draw weight.

The BlackHawk’s other notable features include the G2 Bull-Pup Trigger, auto-engage ambidextrous safety, anti dry-fire mechanism, EZ pull system, and vented forearm with safety finger flange. Fitted with a Red Hot String and 3X Multi Reticle Scope, the BlackHawk makes a worthy hunting companion.

Barnett Ghost 350


Propelling bolts downrange at 350 fps and hitting with 116-foot pounds of kinetic energy is the all-new Barnett Ghost 350 ($599.00). With a mass weight of 7.6 pounds, the Ghost 350 makes an ideal partner for both treestand and spot-and-stalk missions.

Featuring Barnett’s new patented and proprietary Inlaid Aluminum Flight Track, this horizontal bow promises smooth shooting. Also pleasing is Barnett’s durable carbon riser technology, which removes weight from the front end of the crossbow, boosting balance and maneuverability.

The 37-inch-long, 24-inch-wide Ghost 350 sports a metal injection molded trigger with a silky 3.5-pound pull and contains the added anti dry-fire feature.

Excalibur Crossbow


Sliding in just under the $600 mark is the $599.99 Ibex SMF from Excalibur Crossbow. This 175-pound draw weight crossbow boasts a 14.5-inch power stroke and has a mass weight of 5.9 pounds. Capable of hitting speeds up to 305 fps with a 350-grain arrow, the Ibex SMF is worth a look.

The ergonomic thumbhole stock is comfortable and the fiber-reinforced composite SMF shooting platform should give the 36.3-inch long Ibex a good blend of durability and precision. The Ibex SMF comes exclusively as a kit which contains a multiplex scope and mounting hardware, a quiver and mounting bracket, four arrows with field points and a rope cocking aid.

TenPoint Titan Xtreme


Since 2000, seven different Titan models have been introduced, but none are as light, fast, and compact as the 2013 Titan Xtreme ($599.00). Equipped with a fully-machined aluminum riser and 180-pound 13-inch HL limbs fitted with DC-75 Strings and Cables, the Titan Xtreme and its XR wheels churn arrows at 333 fps.

The bow assembly is mounted on a lighter-for-2013 Fusion Lite stock, and shooters can choose between TenPoint’s ACUdraw or ACUdraw 50 Cocking Devices. The crossbow also features a PowerTouch 3.5-pound trigger, ambidextrous safety, and dry-fire inhibitor.

The Titan Xtreme sports an overall length of 38 inches and a width of 21.6 inches.

Darton Terminator


Darton’s Terminator ($526.28) is a 165-pound draw weight crossbow capable of firing bolts at an impressive 340 fps. At just 24-inches axle-to-axle, the Terminator travels well and fits in cramped spaces.

The trigger-forward design allows for a longer power stroke to provide undeniable performance and a balanced feel. Reducing noise and thwarting vibration is Darton’s riser/string suppressor system and new Barrel Dampener.

Offered in Next G-1 Vista and Muddy Girly patterns, the 7.5-pound, 35-inch long Terminator is fitted with a new composite stock-barrel platform.

Horton TRT Nitro


At 6.5 pounds, the only thing Horton’s TRT Nitro ($599.00) is heavy on is performance. Sporting a pleasing blend of speed, comfort and stealth, this 330 fps crossbow has a 175-pound draw weight and measures 19 3/8-inches axle-to-axle when cocked.

The over-molded rubber cheek piece is soft, comfortable and should ensure precise eye-to-scope alignment. SIMS NAVCOM Sound Stoppers are designed to squelch noise and reduce vibration at the shot, and the riser is forged from 7075-T6 Aerospace Aluminum.

Increasing accuracy is the MIM Talon Ultra-Light Trigger and high performance synthetic strings and cables. Crossbow shooters will no doubt appreciate the anti dry-fire mechanism with ambidextrous safety.

Wicked Ridge Warrior HL


Wicked Ridge’s Warrior HL ($399.00) heeds the call for a simple, reliable and affordable bow. The Warrior HL is fitted with TenPoint’s bulletproof HL Limbs and reliable D-75 string and cables (Wicked Ridge is the more affordable sister company of TenPoint). Powered by CNC-machined wheels, the Warrior HL can spit bolts at 300 fps.

In an effort to reduce weight, engineers gave the HL a new bow assembly complete with a lightweight semi-skeletal stock and Acra-Angle Barrel. The forearm is fitted with a safety engineered fore-grip to reduce the risk of finger and thumb injuries. And, of course, the barrel receiver is fitted with TenPoint’s legendary 3.5-pound PowerTouch Trigger.

Carbon Express Covert SLS


Designed to be comfortable and compact, the Covert SLS ($599.00) is the perfect remedy for those who spend hours waiting in less-than-roomy ground blinds. The 185-pound draw weight crossbow is only 13.5-inches wide when cocked and has a total length of 35.5 inches. As for speed, the Covert SLS delivers–reaching speeds up to 355 fps.

At around 8.3 pounds, the horizontal Covert SLS features a green anodized flight rail, carbon infused limbs on a mini-parallel CNC machined riser and premium strings and cables. Like the CX2 crossbow, the SLS sports an adjustable forearm and mounting grip to provide a custom fit and feel.