Published Nov. 22, 2021

Crossbow use has risen exponentially over the past decade or so, and crossbow technology has rocketed forward as well. Know what else has skyrocketed? Crossbow prices. It’s standard to see prices pushing $2,000 (or more) for top-end flagship models with all the bells, whistles, and mechanical cocking devices. The good news is it’s never been easier to get a ton of performance for you money. Hunters looking for the best crossbow for their money will be pleased to find many great options.

We’ve identified the best value-laden models in the crossbow world. Fortunately, there is no shortage of the best budget crossbows available. But how do you whittle down a list to the “best of the best?” Well, you start by shooting a lot of crossbows, and we’ve done that at the 2022 Outdoor Life Crossbow Test and past tests. Through that testing we’ve learned what makes for a great budget crossbow and about the companies that build them.

Every model featured here comes from a manufacturer that either currently offers or has previously produced bows that are “top end” models. This is important because their budget models often share technologies or production processes with those top models. This creates a bow that, while lower in price, shares some measure of performance and research time. The result is a better bow at a bargain price.

Each model also includes accessories in the price, which saves you money by not purchasing additional accessories to get hunting.

Best Value: Centerpoint Wrath 430

Scott Einsmann

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Key Features

  • Speed: 408 fps
  • Bolt weight: 400 grains
  • Momentum: .725 slug fps
  • Weight: 8.3 pounds
  • Uncocked width: 13 inches
  • Price: $800

Why It Made the Cut

The Centerpoint Wrath is a fast and accurate crossbow with a reasonable price tag. 

Pros

  • Compact
  • Balances well for offhand shooting
  • Fast

Cons

  • Cocking mechanism gets stuck on stock

Centerpoint Wrath 430 Review

Centerpoint and Ravin are sister companies, and you’ll see a lot of Ravin technology in Centerpoints. The Wrath 430 is at the upper end of what I’d call a budget bow at an $800 MSRP—retail prices are lower. 

This bullpup-style crossbow is the most compact in the Centerpoint lineup. The stock is polymer, and it gives the crossbow a cheap feel, but it doesn’t affect performance. The trigger pull felt heavy, but it was still the fourth-most accurate crossbow we tested at the 2022 Outdoor Life Crossbow Test. We shot a 3.27-inch group average at 50 yards, and it produced speeds of 408 fps with a 400-grain bolt. The Wrath 430 has an advertised speed of up to 430 fps, but Centerpoint doesn’t provide a bolt weight to achieve that speed. So we won’t say it can’t hit its spec because a lighter bolt could reach that 430 fps mark, but we weren’t able to achieve those speeds in our test.

We liked that the forward grip keeps your support hand low and safely away from the string. The crank is quiet, but the crank handle inserts into a hole in the back of the stock and can get wedged in place. For hunting, we would prefer to use a cocking rope but found that because of the long powerstroke, it was difficult to use with the rope cocker. 

Best Micro-Diameter Bolt Crossbow: Barnett Hyper XP 405

Scott Einsmann

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Key Features

  • Speed: 407 fps
  • Bolt Weight: 400 grains
  • Momentum: .723 slug fps
  • Weight: 7.9 pounds
  • Uncocked width: 13.75 inches 
  • Price: $600

Why It Made the Cut

This crossbow uses small diameter bolts with less wind drift, which can improve penetration. 

Pros

  • Good trigger
  • Shoots unique, micro-diameter bolts

Cons

  • Only comes with two arrows
  • Can’t be decocked without firing

Barnett Hyper XP 405 Review

The Barnett Hyper XP 405 gives crossbow hunters a lot of value for the price. It has some cool features, like that it shoots micro-diameter bolts, and it has a TriggerTech trigger. The collapsable stock is excellent for fitting the crossbow to the shooter and reducing its size for transportation. The stock is also ergonomic and features rubber over-molding around the grip for additional comfort. The trigger is insanely good for a crossbow in this price range. It also shoots a respectable 407 fps. It printed 3.5-inch groups at 50 yards. 

The downside is that the Hyper XP 405 only comes with two bolts, and it doesn’t include a crank. But, you can buy a crank for an extra $150. We recommend that upgrade because using the included rope cocker is difficult due to the Hyper XP 405’s long powerstroke. The last few inches of cocking the crossbow are especially difficult. It also can’t be decocked without firing. Another con is that the bolts are expensive; they’ll run you $90 for five. 

If you’re looking for a crossbow for around $600, it’s going to be hard to beat the features you get from the Hyper XP 405. 

Best Crossbow for $600: Barnett Whitetail 400 XTR

Scott Einsmann

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Key Features

  • Speed: 401 fps
  • Bolt weight: 404 grains
  • Momentum: .71 slug fps
  • Weight: 7.2 pounds
  • Uncocked width: 16 inches
  • Price: $600

Why It Made the Cut

This is a no-frills, well-built performer that gives a lot of value for the price.

Pros

  • Nice features for the price
  • Good trigger
  • Comfortable stock

Cons

  • Comes with two bolts

Barnett Whitetail 400 XTR Review

The Whitetail 400 XTR has many of the same features we like about the Hyper XP 405, like the TriggerTech trigger. The big difference between the two is the Whitetail Hunter shoots standard-diameter bolts. That feature will appeal to many crossbow hunters because the standard bolts are about half the price of the small-diameter ones.

The stock is ergonomic and well-balanced. The balance makes for steady shooting from field positions, and it feels much lighter than its 7.2 pounds. Barnett added nice touches like rubber over-molding on the cheek rest, grip, and stirrup. That coating adds comfort, and deadens any noise caused by knocking the stirrup into stands or bow hangers. 

It is a long crossbow at 36 inches, including the stirrup. It’s a beast to cock without a crank. You can buy a crank for the crossbow ($150), though, and it would be a wise investment.

It has a very nice TriggerTech trigger and shot a respectable average of 3.58-inch groups at 50 yards. We clocked it at its specified 400 fps, giving it .71 slug fps of momentum. That’s really good performance for a crossbow in this price range. 

Best Budget Crossbow with Decocking: Wicked Ridge Raider 400 De-Cock 

Scott Einsmann

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Key Features

  • Speed: 367.5 fps
  • Bolt weight: 404 grains 
  • Momentum: .658 slug fps
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Uncocked width: 19 inches
  • Price: $800

Why It Made the Cut

The Raider 400 De-Cock offers a ton of premium features for under $1,000. 

Pros

  • Easy decocking 
  • Built-in the U.S.A.
  • Built-in Crank

Cons

  • Wide limbs
  • Slower than advertised 

Wicked Ridge Raider 400 De-Cock Review

Wicked Ridge is the sister company of TenPoint, and you’ll get features from the more expensive TenPoints in Wicked Ridge crossbows. A great example of that technology trickling down is the Acudraw included in the Raider 400 De-Cock. It’s a built-in cocking and de-cocking mechanism that’s smooth as butter to crank. But, it did occasionally get stuck while retracting it. 

It used to be the norm that crossbow hunters carried a decocking bolt, but these days more crossbows can be decocked without shooting. It’s a really nice feature to make your crossbow completely safe before climbing down from a treestand. It’s also a surprising feature to see on a crossbow under $1,000. 

The Raider is a wide crossbow, which gives it some wobble when shooting unsupported and makes it less maneuverable. It shot an average 4.02-inch group at 50 yards and 367 fps with a 400-grain bolt. Wicked Ridge advertises 390 fps with a 400-grain bolt, so that’s a substantial disparity of 23 fps.

The Raider 400 was the least accurate crossbow we shot, and it didn’t hit its specified speed. But it also has premium features—features you don’t usually find on crossbows under $1,000—and it’s built in the U.S.A.

Best Entry-Level Crossbow: Killer Instinct Lethal 405

One of two Killer Instinct models to make the list, the Lethal 405 is one of the lowest-priced crossbows to hit the market. At just $299.99, it offers plenty of performance and included options that make it a real bargain. It tops the 400-fps mark, which is insane performance for a $300 crossbow. The kit includes an illuminated scope, arrows, quiver, and cocking rope. Everything you need to hit the woods. The bow has a 3.5-pound trigger and is 14.75 inches wide when cocked, making it easy to handle. It’s not the sort of bulky, unwieldy bow you might expect at this price point. It’s also fairly light at just over seven pounds.

Best Crossbow Under $500: Killer Instinct Ripper 425

Killer Instinct’s Ripper series has proven to be a top seller, and it’s pretty easy to see why. For $450, the Ripper 425 includes an illuminated scope, arrows, and quiver and boasts an adjustable buttstock. The bow’s are fast, well-balanced, and feature premium features at a very attractive price. It weighs in at 7.5 pounds, but that weight balances well with the 32-inch frame. The trigger comes set at 3.5 pounds, and it’s a maneuverable package thanks to its cocked width of just more than 14 inches.

Best Recurve Crossbow for the Money: Excalibur Matrix GRZ2

If you’re a fan of old-school, recurve-style crossbows, then you’re a fan of Excalibur. The Matrix GRZ2 is Excalibur’s most budget-friendly model, and it’s a good one. Thanks to its simple recurve-style limbs, skeletonized stock, and synthetic mainframe. It’s also rugged as hell. The bow measures just over 32 inches in length and weighs in at six pounds without accessories. The draw weight is 100 pounds, and that delivers arrows at 305 fps. For $550, you get the bow along with a standard kit that includes scope, arrows, and cocking device. 

Best Compact Crossbow: Bear X Constrictor CDX

Bear Archery has been a bowhunting staple for as long as bowhunting has been a thing. It only makes sense that the pioneer of compound bows would build a pretty solid crossbow for the money. The Constrictor CDX is a value-packed offering that delivers speeds over 400 fps and is one of the more compact bows in the lineup, measuring just 10 inches across when cocked. It features dual string suppressors, which make the bow quiet and reduces vibration at the shot. It comes in two camo options: Veil Stoke and TrueTimber Strata. This is a “ready-to-hunt” package as well that includes three arrows, an illuminated scope, cocking rope, and rail lube. It sells for about $550. 

Best Trigger: Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR

Barnett has carved out a solid niche in the crossbow market with a lineup of dependable bows at attractive prices. The Whitetail Hunter is one of the top sellers, and it’s not a mystery as to why. Delivering speeds of 375 fps and weighing in under seven pounds, the step-through riser (hence the STR designation) model does many things right. This riser design allows for the traditional foot stirrup for cocking with a reduced overall length. The bow uses a TriggerTech trigger for crisp performance, and it’s also a ready-to-hunt package with scope, quiver, arrows, and cocking device. It sells for $450. 

Best Mid-Priced Crossbow: Ravin R10 

The Ravin R10 is easily the most expensive bow on this list. However, it still earns “budget-friendly” status given that it is the lowest-priced model in the Ravin line and is the most affordable entry into the superbow category. The R10 features Ravin’s HeliCoil system that allows the bow to measure just six inches in width when cocked. It takes just 12 pounds of effort to cock, thanks to Ravin’s efficient crank system. It rockets arrows at speeds of 400 fps, and the accuracy is legendary. This is a true long-range weapon that’s a ton of fun to shoot. The package runs $1325 and includes the crank handle, scope with a 100-yard aiming system, three arrows, and a quiver.

FAQs

Q: What is the best crossbow for under $400?

The Killer Instinct Fierce 405 is an excellent option for hunters with a budget of $400. The Fierce 405 is $300, and it shoots 400 fps. It comes in a kit that includes an illuminated scope, arrows, quiver, and cocking rope. Everything you need to hit the woods. The bow has a 3.5-pound trigger and is 14.5 inches wide when cocked, making it easy to handle and not the sort of bulky, unwieldy bow you might expect at this price point.

Q: How much should I spend on the best crossbow for the money?

It’s not easy to find a quality crossbow for under $400. When you spend $600 or more on a crossbow, you’ll get features like a better scope, faster speeds, and improved accuracy.

Q: What is the best crossbow for the money as a beginner?

New crossbow users should focus on safety features like anti-dry fire and finger guards, as well as cocking and decocking mechanisms. It’s hard to beat Ravin crossbows for safety features and ease-of-use.

Final Thoughts on the Best Crossbow for the Money

Each year crossbows improve, and with that crossbow buyers get more performance for their money. A few years ago, it was hard to imagine a bow under $400 that shoots 400 fps and bows around $1,000, with similar features to bows costing twice as much. If you want to start hunting with the best crossbow this fall, any of the above models will serve you well. Choose one that best fits your budget and then spend plenty of time shooting it before the season starts.

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