best crossbow for deer hunting

Best Crossbow for Deer Hunting in 2020: Complete Reviews With Comparisons

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Hunting is an activity that only those who are quite passionate about it pursue.

It calls for the absolute best products to rely upon, so it’s a no brainer that you want the best crossbow for deer hunting.

Crossbows have seen remarkable innovation over the past few decades. Come to think of it, they are one of the oldest weapons the man has ever used.

A good hunting crossbow would serve your specific needs, fit your stature, and, most importantly, provide safety.

Crossbows can cost hundreds of dollars, so it’s better to do your research before buying one.

Best Crossbow for Deer Hunting: Brief Reviews

Since there are endless choices when it comes to hunting crossbows, this post will cut through the jargon and review the very best models from reliable companies.

1. CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow

The CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow is one of the best crossbows for deer hunting because it offers great value for money.

CenterPoint Archery is one of the most trusted and popular makers of crossbows. Its crossbows come with technical features that truly enrich the hunting experience.

This particular model is no different in terms of quality and performance. Moreover, it’s quite reasonably priced, making it ideal even for beginners.

Product Highlights

The Sniper 370 is a high-performance crossbow with a 185-pound draw weight. The axle to axle length is 18 inches.

If you’re after a crossbow that sits comfortably and effortlessly on your shoulder, this should be your choice. Since it has an adjustable stock and foregrip, you can easily adjust it to fit you.

The speed is quite an impressive number, too, reaching 370 FPS tops.

The Sniper also features a CNC machine cam system with quad limbs. As a result, it can help you hit the target quite accurately.

As for noise, it has spring suppressors that minimize noise and vibration. While it’s not completely silent, it won’t make a lot of noise like traditional crossbows.

This unit is an ambidextrous hunting crossbow, so it’s suitable for both right-handed and left-handed individuals.

The overall construction is aluminum and composite. It weighs 12.2 pounds, which is a bit heavier if you compare it with crossbows having a similar size.

You get a complete hunting package with the Sniper 370 crossbow. It includes a 4x32mm scope, three 20-inch carbon arrows, a parallel quiver, and a rope cocker.

The crossbow has camouflage accents, which add a bit more personality to it.

What's to like about the CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow

The 370 FPS speed is pretty impressive and essentially makes it good for a variety of hunting types, not just deer hunting.

The camo system, the adjustable stock, and pass-through foregrip all add more value to the design and function.

All in all, it’s a well-balanced crossbow that’s also aesthetically pleasing.

What's not to like about the CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow

The scope’s quality is only average. However, you can always purchase a high-end one and replace it.

CenterPoint hasn’t incorporated its Whisper Silencing System in this one, which explains its price tag, too.

PROS

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    High speed
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    Easy to assemble
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    Complete archery package
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    Great value for money
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    Five-year warranty

CONS

  • Stock quality could be better
  • A bit heavy

2. Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow

No list of crossbows can be complete without Barnett Crossbows. The company specializes in archery equipment and produces top-notch products.

What makes Barnett Crossbows stand out from the crowd is the high-tech features. Everything they do is quite innovative.

The Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow is one of the proven models from this brand and is a favorite among the hunter community.

Product Highlights

The first thing you’ll notice in the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow is its weight. This thing just weighs a mere 6.4 pounds, which makes it all the more maneuverable on the field.

The draw weight of this crossbow is 150 pounds, whereas the kinetic energy released is 103 pounds. It has an axle to axle length of a little over 16 inches, which is more than good enough.

All major components in the bow are made of stainless steel, and the body has a mossy oak camo print.

It features the signature Trigger Tech, which offers a three-pound zero-creep release of the arrow. This is, in part, thanks to the Frictionless Release Technology.

Similarly, the knock sensor ensures there are no dry fires.

This is also a complete hunting package and includes two Headhunter arrows, a four by 32 scope, a lightweight quiver, lube wax, and a rope cocker.

You also have other high-tech features like anti-vibration foot stirrup. This is a single-bolt assembly crossbow, as many Barnett crossbows are.

What's to like about the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow

The Barnett Whitetail II Crossbow is perfect for beginners, especially with the kind of trigger control it offers.

The fact that it’s super lightweight also helps, and the accuracy will make you comfortable with deer hunting in no time.

Similarly, the bow is quite easy to draw, giving you ample flexibility no matter where or what you’re hunting.

What's not to like about the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow

The string needs lubrication constantly. In fact, the company recommends doing so every 10 shots.

While it’s not a flaw, it can be a bit of hassle, especially for a novice.

PROS

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    Trigger Tech gives the control in your hands
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    High speed
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    Quite lightweight
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    Comes pre-assembled
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    Minimal noise

CONS

  • The user manual is very basic
  • A bit expensive

3. Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow

Barnett has been making crossbows since 1963. When you are in a business that long, you learn a thing or two.

It’s evident with the Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow that the company knows what it takes to produce a truly powerful crossbow.

Just by the looks of it, anyone can tell that this crossbow means serious business.

Product Highlights

The Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow is a high-performance crossbow with a whopping maximum speed of 375 FPS.

The axle to axle length is 18.125 inches, while the weight of the crossbow is just 6.6 pounds.

It’s incredibly lightweight and manageable because of the fiberglass composite step-through riser (STR, where its name comes from).

Also, it boasts a single-bolt assembly. With the STR, the length of the crossbow is also short. This one is only 34.875 by 20.125 inches.

You have the Trigger Tech system in this crossbow, as well, giving you reliable accuracy and control.

Similarly, the trigger is also an anti-dry fire trigger (AFD). With this, your chances of making an accidental shot are near to zero.

The Hunter STR has a kinetic energy of 118 pounds. The soft look floating arrow retainer also helps to prevent dry fires.

This is a ready-to-hunt package containing the crossbow, two 22-inch Headhunter arrows, 4x32mm multi-reticle scope, rope cocking device, lightweight quiver, and lube wax.

You get it mostly assembled, too, so there’s not much work on your part. Instead, you can take it straight to the woods.

All the important safety features are found in this crossbow, making it suitable for hunters of all levels. You have finger safety reminders in addition to the arrow retainer and Trigger Tech trigger.

What's to like about the Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow

This crossbow takes safety in hunting to the next level. This is one of the reasons why most Barnett crossbows are suitable for beginners, as well.

Thanks to the STR design, the crossbow is compact and lightweight, making it easily maneuverable.

What's not to like about the Barnett Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow

Cocking the bow is a tad bit difficult in this model of STR crossbow.

PROS

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    Great design details
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    Easy to use
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    High speed
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    Extremely safe operation
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    Lightweight

CONS

  • Cocking the bow could use improvement
  • Very expensive

4. Barnett Avenger Recruit Crossbow

The Barnett Avenger Recruit Crossbow is more in the midrange crossbows, but it’s still from Barnett, so it’s of pretty good quality.

This unit is similar to mini crossbows, which means that it’s good for young hunters or someone with a smaller build.

Product Highlights

With a draw weight of 130 pounds, the Avenger Recruit Crossbow delivers more than decent action.

The maximum speed of the arrow fired from this crossbow is 330 FPS. While there are definitely faster crossbows, its speed is quite decent.

Thanks to the metal injection mold (IMM), the trigger offers a smooth pull. Then, you have the usual ADF feature to prevent dry fires.

The length of this crossbow is 34.25 inches, while the axle to axle length is 16.125 inches.

The compact adjustable stock makes it perfect for young hunters just beginning to hunt deer or other targets for that matter.

You get a quiver and a 4x32mm scope within the package. Therefore, it’s a pretty basic crossbow kit.

You also have the usual safety features, including finger warnings embossed on the crossbow.

The arrow must be of 380 grams for this crossbow.

What's to like about the Barnett Avenger Recruit Crossbow

It’s a simple yet functional crossbow that’s offered at a reasonable price. This should make a good first crossbow for someone young.

You have all the necessary features that you would want in a crossbow, and the design is also minimalistic.

What's not to like about the Barnett Avenger Recruit Crossbow

Unfortunately, this unit lacks some of the accessories you would usually get with crossbows.

Also, it is perhaps a bit too basic for experienced hunters.

PROS

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    Easy to use for beginners
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    Easy and quick assembly
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    ADF trigger
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    Compact and lightweight

CONS

  • Not for experienced hunters

5. PSE Archery Coalition Crossbow

PSE Archery is another well-known producer of archery and hunting crossbows.

Founded in 1971 in Illinois, the company has gradually climbed ranks, thanks to its ergonomic crossbow designs.

The PSE Coalition Crossbow is a testament to the company’s reputation, bringing together quality and functionality.

Also, it comes at a reasonable price, making it one of the best crossbows for deer hunting in terms of value for money.

Product Highlights

The Coalition Crossbow has a draw weight of 185 pounds paired with a max speed of 380 FPS. This combo makes it a powerful crossbow suited for hunting bigger animals like deer.

Its axle to axle length is the biggest on this list, coming in at 21.5 inches.

The length of the crossbow itself is 36.5 inches, whereas the string and cable are 37.2 inches and 23.4 inches, respectively.

Even though it seems like a big crossbow, its weight is only 7.5 pounds.

For the most reliable safety, it features an anti-dry fire and auto-safety trigger. These give you quite a lot of control, as well.

The ergonomic design with an adjustable stock and pass-through foregrip makes this crossbow ideal for virtually any kind of deer hunter.

The 4x32 mm illuminated scope is already installed on the bow and is relatively of higher quality than other crossbow packages.

Similarly, it also comes with string stops that dampen sound.

The PSE Coalition Crossbow package also includes a five-bolt quiver, three 20-inch carbon bolts with field points, green limb dampeners, cocking rope device, and rail lube.

What's to like about the PSE Archery Coalition Crossbow

The Coalition Crossbow packs so many features at a reasonable price. This is why it would make a perfect crossbow for a beginner.

That said, its performance is good enough to impress even the most seasoned hunters.

It doesn’t hurt that it’s quite a looker with its camo print, covering nearly the whole body of the crossbow.

What's not to like about the PSE Archery Coalition Crossbow

Although it has noise dampeners in place that reduce the noise, it’s not completely silent.

PROS

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    High speed and great performance
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    Essential trigger safety features
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    Adjustable stock
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    Complete package with quality accessories
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    Great value for money

CONS

  • Not completely soundproof
  • Takes a while to assemble

Buyer's Guide

When looking for the best crossbow to use for deer hunting, here’s what you should consider:

1. Speed

One of the deciding factors for many hunters is the speed a crossbow can offer.

When we talk about speed in crossbows, we mean the speed with which it can throw the arrow.

It’s really important because of the force of impact you want. The higher the speed, the more force it will apply on impact.

For instance, for bigger animals like deer, you want higher speeds. Ideally, you want a crossbow with 300 FPS (foot per second) or more.

2. Safety

Safety should never be compromised because accidents can happen to even experienced hunters.

Not only does an accidental fire scare away your prey, but it can also lead to injury if it hits your fellow hunters.

The trigger should have a dry fire prevention feature. Almost all crossbows today have this feature to avoid dry fires.

You should also be mindful of safety when handling the crossbow. A beginner should only opt for a model with proper safety features and guidelines.

Lastly, always wear gloves when using a crossbow to protect your fingers from the sharp string.

3. Design

The design of the crossbow can influence performance. However, it’s more important for the overall experience.

Crossbows with an adjustable stock are the most versatile, as they can fit a hunter of any size or height.

The design also differs depending on what type of crossbow it is. You have the recurve crossbows, reverse limb crossbows, one-handed crossbows, and two-handed crossbows.

If you like your crossbow to have some colors, you can go for the printed ones.

You can find many different variations of camo prints on crossbows, which makes them quite fun and even helps to blend in with the surroundings when you’re hunting.

4. Draw Weight

Just like speed, draw weight is one of the primary features of a crossbow. It’s usually proportional to the speed of the crossbow.

In other words, draw weight is the amount of force that pulls the arrow into firing position.

Draw weight is highly important, especially for hunting, as it directly influences speed and impact force.

For a bigger game like whitetail deer, you need a higher draw weight.

Generally speaking, you need at least a draw weight of 100 pounds to hunt deer. However, go for something over 130 pounds if you want to hunt the biggest deer possible.

You’ll also see a measure of kinetic energy in the specifications of crossbow models. The kinetic energy is a measure of the arrow’s own weight and distance it travels from the crossbow.

Therefore, it’s more of a measure of performance. It can vary quite a lot even between two models of the same draw weight.

Essentially, you want to consider draw weight more than kinetic energy, as the latter may not be a reliable indicator for the quality of the crossbow in question.

Don’t confuse the draw weight with the weight of the crossbow itself, but the weight of the crossbow should be a consideration, too.

Anything between five to 10 pounds would count as a lightweight crossbow. It would make it really easy to carry and move with it in the woods.

5. Ease of use

Convenience is important for everyone, even more so for beginners. Hunting can be an intimidating activity, so an easy-to-use crossbow really helps.

They might look complex, but good crossbows are usually pretty easy to master. You should be able to operate it using just the user manual. If it has diagrams and all, it helps even more.

Crossbow for Deer Hunting FAQs

To help you out further, here are the answers to the commonly asked questions:

1. How far can you shoot a crossbow at a deer?

It depends on the crossbow model itself how far it can go. Also, it can go way farther, but that does not mean it will hit the target with the right force.

Generally, high-end crossbows can shoot as far as 500 yards, but that’s a bit too far for shooting at a deer.

A distance of 80 yards is good enough for shooting a crossbow at a deer. However, if you’re a beginner, you might want to go down a bit to 50 yards.

As you get more experienced, you can try shooting even farther than 80 yards. You can always use a rangefinder to make your shots more accurate.

2. What is better for hunting compound or crossbow?

The main distinction between a compound bow and a crossbow is that the latter offers more ease of use.

Crossbows sort of come configured, so there’s not much work required on your part.

On the other hand, compound bows require upper body strength to draw the arrow and keep it in position until the target is locked in.

Anyone with back problems, arthritis, dislocations, or older injuries should avoid compound bows.

3. Is it okay to leave a crossbow cocked overnight?

As a safety measure, you should always decock a crossbow when not in use.

No matter how high-quality your crossbow is, it’s not a good idea to leave it cocked, especially not overnight.

If you leave it cocked and the string breaks, the crossbow would shoot and can hurt someone or cause damage to property.

Similarly, don’t leave your crossbow cocked in the car, as it’s extremely dangerous while driving.

4. What distance should I zero my crossbow?

Zeroing the crossbow means aligning the target point with the reticle on your scope (center reticle in case of a multi-reticle crossbow).

The distance you want to zero your crossbow safely is 20 yards. This is virtually the case with all crossbows unless stated otherwise by the manufacturer.

Once you align the 20-yard dot with the target, the other dots will automatically align with their respective distances in a multi-reticle scope.

5. How long does a crossbow last?

The average life expectancy of a decent quality crossbow is 10 years. However, it totally depends on how you keep it.

If you know your crossbows and maintain it well, it could very well give you even more years.

Similarly, if you don’t follow the instructions pertinent to the crossbow model and do no maintenance over the years, it’ll probably wear out in four to five years.

The main areas or parts that need care are the cams, strings, cables, and triggers.

In other words, take care of its main functioning parts. The accessories can always be replaced if they wear out or break.

Final Verdict

The best crossbow for deer hunting can make all the difference. You should be ready to spend upwards of $200 on a crossbow if you want good performance, reliability, and safety.

The brand you choose is more of a personal preference, but it’s recommended to stick with the reputable ones, like Barnett and CenterPoint Archery.

You can use the crossbows in this post for target practice, as well. However, they are designed specifically for hunting, so that’s where they’ll truly shine.

About the Author Pink Crossbow

Jen loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring a wide-range of activities. A mother of 3 whose seen far too many friends suffer from cancer, she believes Pink Crossbow reflects a sport for LIFE. It's a reminder that archery belongs to everyone regardless of age, size, or gender...and real enthusiasts aren't afraid to wear pink!

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