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Whether you want to get into the sports of archery or want something for the deer season this year, the crossbow is the way to go. If this is your tool of choice, you will be amazed at how good crossbows under $400 are.
There are a couple of good ones out there that you can use for hunting deer, small game, and turkeys as well as for target practice at a range.
If 400 bucks is all you got and want to squeeze as much value as you can within this budget, you are at the right place.
However, it’s recommended that you save some cash because you will need that, later on, to put some quality scopes on your bow.
This is because the sights that you will get from crossbows at this price point won’t be that great.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best entry-level crossbows that are under 400 dollars.
Top 5 Crossbows Under $400 Review
For any budget spenders, it is important to make smart decisions when making an investment. You do not want to go overboard on features while making sure you have the essentials covered.
From target practice to hunting, this list contains overviews of some of the widely used as well as the most popular entry-level crossbows on the market.
CenterPoint AXCS185CK Sniper 370 Crossbow Package
The Sniper 370 shoots like a rifle at 370 feet per second. It is a good entry-level crossbow that is easy to use and super accurate out to 50 yds with some good bolts. Not only does it shoot great, the sight that comes with this one is also pretty accurate.
Its 185-pound draw weight is great for beginners to get a good understanding of the basics while providing enough power behind the shot to get a clean kill.
You will not feel the vibration as much, thanks to the integrated string suppressors, which is an excellent feature for such an affordable unit.
Its quad limbs are equipped with the Precision-Machined Camps System that further enhances the power of the unit without sacrificing accuracy.
In addition, you can adjust the stock and foregrip according to your specifications to get a perfect fit for your shoulder.
Part of the charm about the unit is its strong and durable construction. For the material, it uses aluminum and composite that ensures longevity while maintaining a lightweight design that does not strain you during long hours of shooting.
It features an ambidextrous design allowing both right- and left-handed people to use it without any issues.
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Barnett Whitetail Hunter II Crossbow
Barnett Archery Store is a reputed company in the industry that produces many high-end archery tools in the market.
However, just because you are limited by your budget does not mean you cannot get a decent crossbow. Their Whitetail Hunter II is one of the best budget-friendly units out there.
With 350 feet per second shooting strength, this unit can down any small to moderate game animal when you are on a hunting trip.
The accuracy is excellent up to 50 yards. Make sure to use high-quality arrows and lubricate the strings after every ten shots for the best performance.
The crossbow requires 150 pounds of draw weight to fully notch an arrow. Once cocked and fired, it creates a Kinetic energy of 103 FP, shooting it at a blazing speed.
The overall weight of the unit is around 6.5 pounds, which is manageable for most beginners. All the aspects of this unit are focused on the comfort of the shooter.
It features a complete stainless-steel construction to ensure the highest durability. You get a high-quality scope with your purchase and a lightweight quiver to hold your arrows.
Furthermore, to get you started, the product comes with two 20-inch headhunter arrows and a rope cocking device.
Killer Instinct Crossbows Ripper 415 Crossbow Kit
As far as price vs. performance, this one kind of takes the cake. You are getting 415 feet per second, which is the highest velocity in this list.
Despite the massive velocity, it manages to stay far enough below our price margin to make it one of the most bang for your buck investment.
The Killer Instinct Ripper 415 stays true to its name and is able to rip through anything you want to shoot at.
It boasts the ultimate performance giving you high accuracy up to a distance of 80 yards. The adjustable stock and grip allow you to get a comfortable fit on your shoulder with minimal hassle.
In addition, it can exert 150Ft-lbs of kinetic energy, allowing you to take down bigger animals. The 3.5-pound trigger works wonders giving you a consistent firing experience.
Thanks to the built-in shock absorbers, you will feel reduced vibrations enhancing your comfort tenfold.
Its precision aluminum barrel ensures high downrange accuracy without compromising the shooting strength.
The overall build quality for such an affordable weapon is excellent and is on par with many high-end products. It is definitely one of our favorites of the bunch in this review.
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BARNETT Whitetail Hunter STR Crossbow
Although we have looked at the latest model of the Whitetail Hunter, the original version still holds its own when it comes to delivering top-notch performance.
The brand BARNETT really stepped up their game when creating this line of affordable crossbows for beginners.
It boasts a high velocity of 375 feet per second, which is even higher than the Whitetail Hunter II. A measly weight of only 6.6 pounds makes it one of the finest tools at the hands of just about anyone.
The combination of high velocity and lightweight structure makes it a really efficient hunting weapon.
Loading the arrow and firing it is also quick and efficient thanks to the fiberglass composite riser and anti-dry fire trigger.
Despite ensuring a fast-firing option, the crossbow comes with safety features like finger safety reminders and bloating arrow retainers to ensure you have a risk-free shooting experience.
It comes with a standard 4×32 scope and a few accessories to get you shooting the moment you get your hands on it.
The unit also comes assembled mostly, and you need to spend minimal time getting it up and running. This compound crossbow is a good investment if you do not want to sacrifice shooting power at the slightest.
PSE Thrive 400 Crossbow Kryptek Highlander
We will be wrapping up our list of reviews with an extremely powerful crossbow by the brand PSE Archery Store.
The Thrive 400 Kryptek Highlander is for experienced shooters who do not want to spend too much on a crossbow but can benefit from a high-quality weapon.
It comes with a whopping 400 feet per second velocity, which is second only to the Ripper 415. With such high power, you will be able to take down animals of almost any size with just a single shot.
To make full use of the power, you get four carbon bolts of 22 inches length, and a discharge bolt included with your purchase.
The inclusion of a CNC mechanism on the unit ensures you get a consistent level of power, speed, and accuracy with your crossbow.
It also enhances the kinetic energy behind your shots using a Reverse Cam System that essentially allows you to create a longer stroke every time you fire the weapon.
This unit comes with a built-in 4x32mm illuminated scope that improves your accuracy. To reduce string vibrations when firing, you get string stops included with your purchase.
Finally, the anti-dry fire system ensures you have a proper shooting experience by reducing the risk of accidents.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Crossbow
Buy once cry once. 400 bucks is a lot of money for an xbow, and it’s recommended that you do sufficient homework prior to purchase. For a crossbow selection, there are some key considerations that you need to consider.
At this price range, there are actually three main features that you need to look for – velocity/energy, reloading/ease of cocking, and weight/limb design. The terminology is different when it comes to crossbow hunters.
You can also look at other factors like portability, FPS, accuracy at distance, attachments and peripherals, construction material, durability over time, and the level of maintenance.
However, to make things not sound too complicated, I will try to make it as short as possible and only go through the most important ones to help your pick the right choice.
And again, if you don’t want to do your homework, why bother reading through all these? Just go with any of the top 5 xbows in this list.
Let me just get this one out of the way first. Make sure your state allows for hunting with a crossbow. For example, in Minnesota, if you are not over 65 or have a disability, you can’t hunt with a crossbow. You should always read up on local guidelines and make sure you are not breaking any law.
If your particular region does not allow hunting with a crossbow, you should not try and sneak your way around it.
The laws are there for a reason, and as a responsible hunter, you should always obey it. However, if your state has no issues with it, make sure you are looking before you fire an arrow.
The draw weight is an important element to consider as it can entirely make or break your experience with the unit.
It refers to the physical effort that you have to exert in order to load an arrow and cock it in the crossbow. The more the draw weight, the more effort you need to put in.
For a crossbow, the draw weight lands somewhere between 150 to 220 pounds. If you are a beginner, the lower draw weight will benefit you more.
However, for professionals, it might not be an issue. Typically, you get some type of cocker device included with your purchase to prepare your crossbow easily.
With higher velocity, the arrow from your crossbow will travel further and faster. It is usually determined with the unit FPS which means feet per second.
With a higher FPS, your arrow will be able to penetrate the target from a greater distance with a much greater force.
If you are planning on hunting bigger animals, you will benefit from a high-velocity crossbow. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, make sure you get one that can go up to 300 feet per second at the least. With this velocity, you will be able to hunt any game animals without hassle.
Weight of the Bow
The weight of the bow plays a crucial role in its portability. If you want to be on your toes and able to move around easily, your choice of weapon should be lightweight. With a heavy unit, your mobility is limited drastically because you need to worry about the hefty nature of the crossbow.
For people taking part in shooting competition only, the weight of the bow might not be that big of an issue. However, hunters like to stay on the move, and for that, a lightweight crossbow is essential.
So, make sure you consider where you will be using your crossbow before committing to a purchase.
People often make the mistake of overlooking the quality of the trigger that comes with their crossbows.
What ends up happening is that they get an inconsistent shooting experience. If you want to ensure you get the best performance, you should never skimp out on the trigger quality.
All the units on our list of reviews come with smooth and excellent triggers that do not interfere with your firing experience.
It feels smooth to the touch and reacts exactly when you pull on it. If you are constantly fighting with your trigger, your target will escape every time.
If you’ve spent any time hunting, you would know that noise is an important factor. The animals have a far better hearing capacity compared to humans.
While shooting, if the crossbow makes a lot of sounds, it will give your prey enough time to react and get away from you.
That is why you need to make sure that the unit that you are buying comes with string noise dampeners.
Although it might not eliminate the noise entirely, it brings it down to such a level that it will not impact your hunting experience. It might seem like a small factor, but it plays a crucial role if you are a hunter.
With all the basic features out of the way, you should focus on some of the additional features that you might get with your purchase.
These features, although not essential, improve the value of your crossbow tenfold. And since you are shopping under the 400$ budget, it is always a good idea to squeeze out a little extra value.
One feature that you should search for is the inclusion of a cocking device. It would save you a lot of hassle when notching an arrow.
Other features to look out for include anti-dry fire, noise dampeners, etc. Another item to look out for is a scope, which is an essential part of your investment.
What Is the Difference Between a Recurve and a Compound Crossbow?
The terms ‘recurve’ and ‘compound’ are quite common when it comes to the design of the crossbow.
Although they may see quite similar, how they work is quite different. For a beginner, the difference might not be as apparent as to someone who has spent a big chunk of time using this weapon.
Here are the basic differences between a recurve crossbow and a compound crossbow that you should understand.
The recurve crossbows are the simpler kind that you find on the market. It uses a simple bowstring to create the tension as you pull it back against the flexible limbs.
A compound crossbow, on the other hand, is much more complex. It uses cables and other elements to create additional tension and force to further increase the velocity of your arrow.
Because of this design difference, compound bows shoot much harder than a recurve crossbow.
It not only uses the tension from the bowstring, but many other sections of the unit add additional energy.
Although recurve bows have come a long way since its inception, it cannot keep up with the mechanical design of a compound bow.
However, if you want reliable performance, recurve bows are surprisingly better. Since there are no mechanical parts to worry about, it will give you a consistent performance every time.
However, for a compound bow, there are many moving parts that you need to maintain in order to keep it at its peak performance.
Although durability depends on more than just the design of the bow, recurve crossbows are generally considered to be more long-lasting. This is due to the fact that this type of crossbow does not have any moving parts, which translates to less chance of failure.
For compound bows, you need to be careful about how you use it, or else it might not be as durable as you think.
And unless you are really handy with tools, you should always take it to a trained professional to get it fixed. Otherwise, the damage might become irreparable.
Recurve bows also generally feature a larger form-factor compared to compound bows. It is because this type of crossbows requires that larger size to ensure better tension and velocity.
Small recurve bows will not be able to shoot as hard and fast as a similar-sized compound bow.
On the other hand, since they rely on cams and other elements, size is not a huge factor for compound bows.
It also makes handling this tool a little bit easier, whether you are hunting or partaking in a shooting competition.
Compound bows are also generally quieter when compared to recurve bows. Depending on whether you are using it for hunting or any other activities, noise might not be a huge factor.
But for people who need their bows to be quiet, compound variants are the better choice.
Since the draw length of recurve crossbows are longer, it generates more noise as you pull on the string.
With compound bows, you do not need to worry about pulling the string to its greatest length as there are many other elements that contribute to the velocity of the arrow.
It really comes as no surprise to know that recurve bows are generally cheaper than compound variants.
A recurve bow is a simple and straightforward crossbow. There are no moving parts and hence no extra elements that go into its construction.
A compound bow, however, can be quite expensive, depending on the model that you are buying. Because of the many smaller parts that go into its design, the cost of production goes up with it.
In many cases, a compound bow can be twice as expensive as a high-end recurve bow.
Frequently Asked Questions
Noise, as we have already mentioned, can be a problematic factor for many hunters. If you end up with a noisy crossbow, there are some methods with which you can reduce the string noise.
The first method is to simply lubricate the strings. Regardless of the design, if the strings get old and dry, it can produce a lot of noise.
By lubricating your string, you will essentially reduce friction, which in turn will generate less noise when firing.
Another way you can achieve lesser noise is by using the silencing limb. It might cost you, but it is one of the best ways to reduce noise.
The third method depends on whether your crossbow allows you to add stops where your bowstring ends. Not all model supports this feature, and if you get unlucky, you should stick with the other two methods to reduce noise.
Generally, a crossbow is more accurate if you compare it to a traditional bow. The better design and speed of the arrow that you get from using a crossbow directly translates to higher accuracy.
With a traditional bow, the trajectory of the arrow falls off sooner and faster. Because of the higher velocity of arrows in a crossbow, its trajectory declines at a much greater distance.
However, make sure you are using a high-quality crossbow for the best accuracy. If you compare a cheaper crossbow to a high-end bow, obviously, the bow will be far more accurate.
If you stick with it, over time, your aim with a crossbow will improve. Nothing beats the power of perseverance when trying to get a new skill under your belt. And shooting with a crossbow takes a fair amount of skill.
That being said, you need to learn the proper technique for cocking a crossbow if you hope to have an easier time getting an accurate shot.
You can get help from an instructor or even consult the manual to get an idea of the proper technique.
If you have your bow cocked and an arrow loaded, make sure to follow the below steps while practicing to improve your aim.
• Acquire the target by keeping the arrowhead as close as you can to the target.
• Keep your finger or any other piece of clothing clear from the rope. You do not want to create any interference once you fire the shot.
• Pull the trigger while keeping the target aligned to your sight.
• With any luck, you will hit your mark with minimal hassle. If you are having a hard time still, keep trying, and surely your aim will improve.
For entry-level prices, you won’t get a compact size or the slightly extended range, but you will get durability, amazing accuracy, and the ability to kill a deer with a crossbow under $400.