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Best Budget Crossbow: Top Picks For 2020

Last Updated: July 11, 2020
Alexander Herbert
Product Review by Alexander Herbert

Many traditional archers are turning their hand to crossbow shooting, whether for target archery or bowhunting, you need to select the right tool for the job.

Crossbows come with extra safety concerns that traditional bowmen may not have considered before. Luckily, we have compiled a comprehensive buyer’s guide alongside what we consider the best crossbows for your budget.

Throughout this guide, we will detail the safety features you should be looking out for, speed/kinetic energy specs, and the differences between recurve and compound crossbows.

Our Reviews

Designed with the bowhunter in mind, CenterPoint has created an extremely powerful bow on a budget. Offering a kinetic energy transfer of 120 ft-lbs backed up with speeds of 380FPS the Tormentor Whisper is ready to handle any game you have in mind.

Definitely not the lightest bow on the market, weighing in at just over 10lbs, CenterPoint makes up for it with pure performance. Draw weight is comparable to modern recurve crossbows but delivers more than twice the fpke than average.

It should be mentioned that novice or youth bowmen will struggle with a crossbow as powerful as the Tormentor, and the weight may not be suitable for archers with a smaller frame. Beginners may find recurve crossbows more suited to their needs when entering the world of crossbow archery.

Bowhunters will be glad to know that the tormentor comes silenced from the manufacturer, with 2 x string stoppers, 2 x spider silencers, and 2 x limb dampeners.

Design is comfortable, ergonomic, and easy to assemble straight out of the box. Not only is it one of the best budget crossbows on the market, but it is also one of the best crossbows available period.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 380FPS
  • Draw Weight: 185 lbs
  • FPKE: 120 ft-lbs
  • Size: 33×14 inches
  • Weight: 10.5 lbs
  • Power Stroke: 15 inches
  • Type: Compound crossbow
  • Safety: Auto-locking safety
  • Cocking: Rope cocking

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Silenced
  • Ambidextrous safety

Cons

  • Not suitable for youths or beginners

With technical specifications similar to the Tormentor, CenterPoint has designed a competitive compound crossbow in a lightweight package. Opting for an adjustable rifle stock and pistol grip over the more ergonomically designed Tormentor, the Sniper 370 features all the performance benefits without the added weight.

As with the Tormentor, the Sniper 370 is not designed with beginner bowman in mind, and even moderately experienced archers should seek out a local tech to set this model up for them.

Delivering all the specs you would expect from a compound crossbow designed for hunters. The Sniper packs 110 ft-lbs of kinetic energy at a speed of 370FPS; only marginally behind the Tormentor but more than enough for even the biggest legal game.

Some silencing comes as standard on the sniper, with string suppressors supplied, although not as much as the Tormentor. Ambidextrous safety and an anti-dry fire trigger give the Sniper 370 a fantastic safety profile.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 370 FPS
  • Draw Weight: 185 lbs
  • FPKE: 110 ft-lbs
  • Size: 36×21 inches
  • Weight: 7.9 lbs
  • Power Stroke: 13.5 inches
  • Type: Compound Crossbow
  • Safety: Automatic Safety
  • Cocking: Rope Cocking

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Includes sling
  • Quality safety features
  • Low noise level

Cons

  • Confusing assembly for novice bowmen
  • Some customers have mentioned they find this model top heavy
  • Not priced for budget conscious

SA Sports have redesigned the Empire Fever Pro, delivering a top tier package at a budget-friendly price tag. Improved safety features and increased quality of user experience have all been added to what was already one of the best-selling crossbows available on the market.

In the box, the Empire Fever comes complete with 4x32mm scope, 4 x aluminum arrows, quiver, and padded shoulder sling. Some users have mentioned that compared to other crossbows, the Fever Pro is relatively simple to assemble; worthy of note for novice archers.

There is a large comfortable palm grip and rifle style stock with broadhead wrench molded in, and a hidden storage compartment in the grip. SA Sports also offer aftermarket products designed to improve the shooting experience, with the Fever Pro capable of mounting a crank cocking mechanism and pistol-style foregrip.

All the regular safety features have been included, with extra thought put into the auto safety locking, making it ambidextrous for left-handed bowmen.

SA Sports has created a budget-friendly crossbow that performs right out of the box for both novice and experienced archers. With the correct care and maintenance, you shouldn’t have to purchase another crossbow again.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 240FPS
  • Draw Weight: 175 lbs
  • FPKE: 50 ft-lbs
  • Size: 31×27 inches
  • Weight: 4.87 lbs
  • Power Stroke: 10.25 inches
  • Type: Recurve Crossbow
  • Safety: Anti Dry-Fire
  • Cocking: Rope cocking

Pros

  • Can be improved with extra accessories
  • Easy to assemble
  • Suitable for novice and experienced bowmen
  • Ambidextrous safety

Cons

  • Limited color options

The Leader Accessories Crossbow package is a budget crossbow aimed squarely at novice users. Available in black or camo, this package comes complete with all the accessories required to get you on the range almost immediately.

Great for youth bowmen, the Leader Crossbow is lightweight; weighing in just under 6lbs and comes complete with rope cocking device. Also included with this pack are a mounted red dot sight, stringer, sling,4 x aluminum bolts, and quiver.

Unusually for budget sets, the Leader comes with flight lube, which will ensure its longevity and ease of use. Users have mentioned that to get the most from this crossbow, you will want to purchase higher quality bolts separately.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 210FPS
  • Draw Weight: 160 lbs
  • FPKE: information unavailable
  • Size: 34.5×26.5 inches
  • Weight: 5.85 lbs
  • Power Stroke: 10.5 inches
  • Type: Recurve crossbow
  • Safety: Anti Dry-Fire
  • Cocking: Rope cocking

Pros

  • Included sling
  • Includes rail lube
  • Perfect for younger bowmen
  • High-power crossbow
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Aftermarket bolts are beneficial

CenterPoint has released a fantastic budget model with the Tyro, an excellent addition for anyone taking up bowhunting. Putting out a respectable 50 ft-lbs of kinetic energy, the Tyro is powerful enough to tackle most big game, although we wouldn’t recommend large or dangerous targets for beginners.

Included accessories are limited compared to some packages. Included with the Tyro are a 4x32mm red dot scope, 4x aluminum bolts, quiver, and a rope cocking device.

A sling would be a nice addition, but they can be purchased relatively cheap as an aftermarket product. Similar to other budget crossbows, it is recommended that higher quality bolts are obtained if you intend to give it serious use.

Overall construction is solid with fiberglass limbs, auto safety locking, and an adjustable stock that has a handy storage compartment found under the forearm.

Specifications:

  • Speed: 245FPS
  • Draw Weight: 175 lbs
  • FPKE: 50 ft-lbs
  • Size: 30.5×32.75 inches
  • Weight: 8lbs
  • Power Stroke: 10.5 inches
  • Type: Recurve crossbow
  • Safety: Auto safety
  • Cocking: Rope cocking

Pros

  • Solid construction
  • Powerful
  • Good safety features

Cons

  • Aftermarket accessories will improve experience

The X-Force Advantex is a lightweight crossbow that is perfect for anyone looking for their first hunting crossbow. The design is compact, and when drawn back is only 12.5-inches.

The design gives shooters the confidence from their very first shot and can generate speeds of up to 315 fps. It is a great lightweight bow that can still do as much damage as the heavier hunting bows.

Pros

  • Value for money
  • Very accurate and powerful up to 50 yards

Cons

  • Assembly instructions are lacking

Buyer’s Guide

Crossbow archery is growing among bowmen, with many traditional archers making the switch. Now that you have seen our list of best crossbows for the money, primarily aimed at novice crossbowmen, you should have some idea of what you like.

This crossbow buyer’s guide aims to help you make an informed decision, covering several key areas that you should have some knowledge in before making your choice.

Crossbow Safety

Archery is an enjoyable and rewarding pastime, but many often forget the inherent danger that bows and crossbows present. Crossbows are, after all, designed to kill their target.

When buying a new crossbow, it is crucial to consider the safety features on offer. At a minimum, your new crossbow should have automatic safety locking, preventing the trigger from being misfired.

Protective flanges are also essential for young or inexperienced crossbow users. When the drawstring releases its kinetic energy on firing, there is potential for substantial injury to fingers and thumbs.

ADF (Anti Dry Fire)

ADF causes the trigger to lock when the crossbow is drawn without a bolt, or a loaded bolt is in an incorrect position. Anti-dry fire will protect not only your safety but your crossbow investment.

Loosing your crossbow without a loaded bolt can cause injury and damage the crossbow’s limbs.

Crossbow Draw Weight

Draw weight refers to the amount of effort necessary to cock your crossbow into the ready position. Novice bowmen will find the required strength to draw the crossbow string a surprise.

When looking for a new crossbow, you should consider whether or not it comes complete with a rope cocking system. Rope cocking devices make loading the bow easier, reducing the draw weight of the bow.

Having one included with your crossbow is ideal, but they can be purchased separately if necessary.

Top Kinetic Energy/Speed

Depending on your intended application, speed and kinetic energy levels may not be of importance to you. However, if you want to hunt with your new crossbow, you will need to have some knowledge regarding kinetic energy and speed ratings.

Typically provided by the manufacturer, speed refers to how fast a bolt leaves the crossbow upon firing and is measured in FPS (feet per second). Kinetic energy (FPKE, foot-pounds of kinetic energy) is the rating used to describe the amount of force a bolt strikes its target with.

Currently, there is no standardization in the way manufacturers should measure speed, although many do use a 400-grain bolt during testing. Because of this, fpke is the most accurate way and is the best metric to use when making your decision.

Fpke is used to determine how lethal a shot will be over distance, depending on the game. Kinetic energy drops between 3% and 4% for every 10 yards.

Top kinetic energy required for humane crossbow hunting:

  • Small game – 20-25 fpke
  • Medium game – 30- 40 fpke
  • Large game – 45- 60 fpke
  • Very large or dangerous game – 65-75 fpke

Compound or Recurve Crossbows?

The ultimate difference between a recurve crossbow and a compound crossbow is the way the drawstring attaches to the limbs. Recurve bows are more traditional, and the basic design remains mostly unchanged since their inception, with the most significant difference in construction being modern materials.

Modern compound crossbows have stiffer limbs and use a series of pulleys and cables to aid in drawing the bowstring. Compound crossbows release a considerable amount of kinetic energy, and bolts leave the bow at a higher velocity when compared to a recurve crossbow.

Recurve crossbows are lighter than compound crossbows, but because of the limb design, they tend to be wider, making them more cumbersome to navigate woodland with.

Compound crossbows are also smaller than recurve variants, but they generally carry a higher price tag.

Crossbow Size/Weight

Weight and size of your new crossbow will need to be taken into consideration; people looking for a budget-friendly model are typically novice or youth bowmen. The size required will vary for everyone, but youth bowmen will need a smaller lighter model.

If you intend to hunt, the weight will need to be kept down. Long days or nights spent hunting with a heavy crossbow can result in fatigue and affect your performance.

Recap

If you are looking for the best value crossbow, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to grab a CenterPoint Tormentor Whisper; providing you already have some crossbow experience.

While it is not suitable for beginners or youths, the Tormentor easily outperforms crossbows in a similar bracket and offers the most bang for your buck.

However, if you are just starting out or looking for a more youth-friendly option, the SA Sports 647 can do no wrong.  Looking for more options?  Check out our Best Youth Crossbow and Best Tactical Crossbow reviews!

Hopefully, this article has been informative, and you now feel more prepared to dip your toe into the world of crossbow archery. Do you agree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below what you think.

At Archery Edge, we strive to deliver the most relevant content relating to all things archery. If there are any topics you would like to see us cover, don’t hesitate to let us know.

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