We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More

It’s not difficult to find a crossbow that shoots arrows over 450 fps and 3-inch groups at 50 yards, especially if price is of no concern. But finding an accurate, easy-to-use, and feature-rich crossbow at an affordable price is much more difficult. 

That’s because crossbows are expensive on their own merit and when compared to rifles and compound bows. The top-end packages cost $5,000 and a typical flagship will set you back $2,500. Those price points put you into custom rifle territory and far exceed compound bow prices. So, where does that leave someone looking for a great crossbow on a budget?

In my experience testing a wide variety of crossbows, I’ve found the $1,000 price point provides the best value for the dollar. Bows in that price range have the right balance of performance, build quality, and cost. Below are four of the best crossbows for the money based on results from the last two Outdoor Life crossbow tests. The bows reviewed cost $720 to $1,650. There is also an honorable mention section with crossbows under $500 to consider. 

Honorable Mentions

The Best Crossbows for the Money at a Glance 

Accuracy specs are based on six, three-shot groups at 50 yards. Momentum spec is based on measured speed and the arrow weight used for testing. Weight was measured with scope attached. 

How We Tested the Best Crossbows for the Money 

Accuracy testing was done from a bench with targets at 50 yards.


We measured crossbow speed using a Garmin Xero C1 chronograph. Each crossbow was shot three times, and we averaged the speeds to give you the specs listed. For context, the bolt weight and momentum are also listed for each bow. You’ll also see momentum calculated for each crossbow instead of kinetic energy because momentum provides a more accurate figure of an arrow’s lethality and ability to pass through an animal. 


Three testers each shot two, three-shot groups at 50 yards from each crossbow. That gave us a total of six groups per crossbow. We averaged those six groups to give you the accuracy specs listed. 

Cocking and Loading

We evaluated each crossbow for how easy and intuitive it was to cock and load. We also took note of safety features, the noisiness of cocking mechanisms, and each crossbow’s manual of arms.


We tested accuracy from the bench, but that’s probably not how you’ll shoot when hunting, so we also shot crossbows offhand, kneeling, and off a tripod to see how they handled in field positions.

The Test Team

Scott Einsmann: Outdoor Life’s gear editor and lifelong archery nerd. 

Natalie Krebs: Outdoor Life’s executive editor and crossbow test veteran. She has also helped many people shoot their first deer with a crossbow through NDA’s Field to Fork program

Derek Horner: Outdoor Life’s engagement editor, who has hunted deer with everything from flintlocks to crossbows. 

Best Crossbows for the Money: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Value: Tenpoint Venom X

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 6.9 pounds (8.11 pounds with scope)
  • Length: 32.5 inches
  • Uncocked Width: 13 inches
  • String Life: Two years
  • Price: $1,050

Test Results

  • 50-Yard Group Average: 1.653 inches
  • Speed: 388.1 fps (407 grain arrow)
  • Momentum: 0.701 lbs-sec


  • Great build quality for the price
  • Accurate 
  • Quiet cranking
  • Made in USA


I don’t think anyone would call a $1,000 crossbow cheap, but in terms of value, the Venom X offers a lot for your hard-earned cash. Especially when you consider it comes with a scope, quiver, three arrows, and one of the best cranking mechanisms.

Cocking the Tenpoint Venom X.

Its accuracy was stellar. It was the second most accurate crossbow we tested this year, and its 1.6-inch group average at 50 yards beat out bows costing many times more.

The Garmin Xero C1 clocked it at 388 fps with a 407 grain arrow. In the field that speed means the bolt only drops 6.5 inches between 20 and 40 yards, so know the range to your target within 5 yards and you’ll make a killing shot. 

Many crossbow hunters have had their heart sink when their bow breaks either due to a faulty part or through a bone-headed mistake. Tenpoint offers a lifetime warranty for manufacturing defects, but if you break the bow due to not reading the manual, that’s on you. Unless you buy the Tenpoint Elite warranty for $200, which is a five-year, no-questions-asked warranty for all repairs. If your bow falls out of your stand, the repairs are covered. This is worth considering if you’re hard on your equipment.

You don’t have to spend more than $2,000 to get a great crossbow and the Venom X is proof of that. It’s made in the USA, offers a lifetime warranty, is very accurate, has a great cocking mechanism, and is a well-made bow.

See It

Key Features

  • Length: 31.5 inches
  • Width Uncocked: 19 inches
  • Width Cocked: 15 inches
  • Weight With Scope: 6.8 pounds
  • Bolt Weight: 409.4
  • Price: $750

Test Results

  • 50-Yard Group Average: 3.5 inches
  • Speed: 378 fps
  • Momentum: 0.686 lbs-sec


  • Light
  • Very adjustable length of pull
  • Easy to cock and de-cock with a rope cocker


  • Heavy trigger
  • A lot of post-shot vibration 

First impressions are worth a lot, and when I tested this crossbow last year, my first impression was that it’s very light, easy to cock — and I was surprised when my first shot hit right where I was aiming. I continued to be pleasantly surprised by the Raider throughout testing. 

I’ve tested a lot of crossbows, and there are only a handful that are easy for anyone to cock and decock with a rope cocker while in a treestand. I think the Wicked Ridge Raider is in that rarified air. 

The trigger is a stiff 4.5 pounds but doesn’t have any creep, and it breaks clean. Just keep squeezing the trigger straight back, and you’ll hit the spot. In the 50-yard accuracy testing, the group sizes averaged 3.5 inches. The vertical consistency was excellent, and I saw mostly left or right inconsistency, likely due to the trigger. 

The stock has a wide range of adjustment. Scott Einsmann

The stock is adjustable for the length of pull from 13.25 inches to 16.25 inches, which is plenty of adjustment range to fit most shooters. In fact, the longest setting was even too long for my 6-foot, 6-inch frame. 

The one thing I didn’t like about shooting the Raider was the post-shot vibration. It’s a louder-than-average crossbow, with a stinging vibration after the shot. But I recognize most crossbow owners use their bows for hunting tools rather than recreational shooting. The Raider certainly is a great hunting tool and meets the needs of hunters looking for the best crossbow for the money.

The Raider De-Cock is also available with an integrated ACUdraw crank for $900.

See It

Key Features

  • Bolt Weight: 400 grains
  • Weight: 8.3 pounds
  • Uncocked Width: 13 inches
  • Price: $800

Test Results

  • 50-Yard Group Average: 3.27 inches
  • Speed: 408 fps
  • Momentum: 0.725 slugs


  • Compact
  • Balances well for offhand shooting
  • Fast


  • Cocking mechanism gets stuck on stock

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 that doesn’t affect performance. At the 2023 test we shot a 3.27-inch group average, 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. 

Ravin R10X

See It

Key Features

  • Weight: 6.8 pounds (8.22 pounds with scope)
  • Length: 33 inches
  • Uncocked Width: 13.5 inches
  • String Life: 2 years or 400 shots
  • Built-in crank 
  • Price: $1650

Test Results

  • 50-Yard Group Average: 1.9 inches
  • Speed: 391.6 fps (402 grain arrow)
  • Momentum: 0.697 lbs-sec


  • Simple manual of arms 
  • Accurate


  • Safety lacks a positive click

Like the R29X, which won our test of the best crossbows, the R10X isn’t new, but this 2021 model is still a great buy in 2024. It’s easy to load, and the only drawback in the loading process is the crank handle can hit the scope if you’re not careful. 

The R10 was accurate and easy to shoot.

It’s a longer crossbow than the bullpup designs that currently dominate the market. We found the safety lacked a positive click to let you know it’s in the fire position, which led us to visually inspect it each time. 

Crossbows tend to jump from $1,000 to $2,000+, and the R10 is a nice compromise between a budget bow and the top of the line models.

Honorable Mentions

Here are some great crossbows under $500 worth considering.

Wicked Ridge M-370

This crossbows is typically around $800, but it’s consistently on sale for $500. It uses the same easy to use ACUdraw cranking mechanism as the Raider 400 De-Cock reviewed above. It’s light at around 6 pounds and plenty fast at 370 fps.

CenterPoint Amped 425

This $470 crossbows shoots 425 fps and includes a cranking mechanism. The crank attaches to the stock and is detached before shooting. It takes longer to cock than a integrated crank like the M-370, but it’s still better than a rope cocker.

Wicked Ridge Invader X4

The Invader X4 is a lot like the M-370. It has an integrated ACUdraw crank and it’s a light bow at around 6.5 pounds. It is on the slower side at 360 fps, but that still will still provide a flat trajectory inside 35 yards. The Invader X4 costs $400.

How to Choose the Best Crossbows for the Money

Modest speeds are often more accurate with broadheads and don’t require specialized targets.

Speed is Overrated

Speed sells crossbows, but it doesn’t make for a great crossbow. I say that after testing bows from 350 to 515 fps over the last three years. The key advantage of the fastest crossbows is that they make errors in distance judging a non-factor. The Tenpoint TRX 515 we tested this year only drops 2.5 inches from 20 to 50 yards. Compare that to the Venom X which shoots 388 fps and has 6.5 inches of drop from 20 to 40 yards. But, you can buy one of the best rangefinders and have a few grand to spare with the price gap between the two bows.

Speed makes broadhead selection much more critical because it amplifies the planning effect. If you’re shooting a super fast crossbows you’ll most definitely have to use a mechanical head and even then you might have to do some arrow sorting to get consistent accuracy. A slower bow will be more forgiving and you’ll likely encounter fewer issues with broadhead accuracy.

Fast bows require special targets to stop bolts. We used a Big Shot Kinetic 650 for this year’s crossbow test because it’s necessary for the extreme speeds of the best crossbows. Crossbows that shoot under 450 fps can use less expensive and readily available crossbow targets, which is a huge plus.

Read Next: Best Broadheads

Ease of Loading and Unloading

You probably won’t shoot your crossbow every time you take it hunting, but you will load it and unload it. Often one of the steps is done in the dark. That’s why an easy to load and unload bow is far more important to me than a fast one. If you can quietly cock your crossbow without breaking a sweat and then drop the string with the same effort, you have a winner.

The easiest bows to load have a cranking mechanism rather than utilizing a rope cocker. But, not all cranks are easy to use. Look for cranks that have a brake in them, so you can stop cocking the bow at anytime and the crank will hold its position. That feature is really helpful if you need to readjust your grip as you cock the bow. I prefer integrated cranks because they are usually simpler to use and make loading faster.

In all the steps required to get a crossbow ready to fire, it’s easy to forget to flip the safety on. Look for bows that automatically engage the safety when they’re cocked.

Expensive vs. Budget Crossbows

What’s the difference between a $3,000 crossbow and a $1,000 crossbow? When you spend more money you’ll get more speed, a better crank, an improved trigger, a more compact bow, bolts with tighter tolerances, and a scope with good glass. A budget crossbow will come with compromises; you might get a good crank and decent scope, but you won’t get top-end speed. You’ll have to decide what compromises you’re willing to live with and which attributes are most important to you.

Final Thoughts

If I was going to spend money on a crossbow in 2024, I’d buy the Tenpoint Venom X. It has everything I look for in a good hunting crossbow and it costs $1,100. It’s an incredible value and without a doubt the best crossbow for the money.

Honorable Mentions

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here