Getting into crossbow hunting doesn’t have to be intimidating (or hurtful to your wallet), there are plenty of high quality and affordable crossbows for beginners and anyone on a slim budget. With these carefully selected crossbows, you won’t need to spend a fortune to get a weapon with quality limbs, stocks, or trigger mechanisms.
After reading this guide, you’ll be able to select a crossbow package nicely suited to your needs, whether you hunt deer, turkey, or just like shooting targets for fun in the backyard. The “$500 and Under” price point includes some of the best cheap crossbows on the market, with on target performance for putting some meat in your freezer.
5 Best Crossbows Under $500
After analyzing the data from hundreds of reviews and doing background research on each model, these are the 5 of the best budget crossbows you can buy. Each of these packages is well equipped, easy to use, fast, and totally capable of killing a deer.
*Last updated 2020-01-18 at 03:43 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
What to Expect from a $500 Crossbow?
These models are from some of the top brands in archery, and while they may lack the refinement and precision of the high dollar crossbows, they are more than capable enough to tag and bag a deer this season. Here are some other things you should keep in mind as to expect from a crossbow in this price range.
Great Performance vs Price
At one time, crossbows in the entry-level price range were the norm. Only once hunting with horizontal bows became popular and more widely acceptable did the market start to creep upwards with incremental improvements on precision and performance.
The whole point of budget crossbow packages is to provide a weapon with excellent performance and high reliability without the fastest possible bolt speeds, or the extreme precision of a high dollar crossbow. A $500 model has all the features you need to hunt, and none that are not totally necessary.
Speed & Kinetic Energy
Humane crossbow hunters don’t take long shots at animals to begin with, so bolt speed and kinetic energy become less of a factor for hunting success, but a matter of budget and personal preference.
High-end crossbows will have bolt speeds in the 400+ feet per second range, while the best cheap crossbows will clock in at the mid 300’s. Slower, yes, but more than enough to take a deer or turkey.
The same goes for kinetic energy, with shorter power strokes and speed, there will be a lower rating for kinetic energy on these models. However, this is once again more than enough power to take down an animal at close range.
Thankfully, even at this budget price, manufacturers are still able to sell the crossbows as a package. All crossbows under $500 should come packaged with a scope, quiver, rail lube, and wax. Some packages will come with a rope cocker, crossbow bolts, and field points.
Keep in mind the accessories out of the box are not usually super high quality. If you are the kind of hunter expecting excellent optics on the scope, you might want to look at a higher price range. Or you can buy one of these packages knowing you’ll need to add one of the better crossbow scopes afterward.
Assuming you have a crossbow target, you’ll have everything you need to sight in the crossbow and get ready for hunting. You can always upgrade and add other essential crossbow accessories to your setup down the road as needed.
As with any piece of important hunting equipment, you are making an investment in a weapon that needs to last you over many years and many hunts. Look for multiyear (or even life in some cases) warranties that cover manufacturing defects.
A good warranty from a top brand is peace of mind that you as a customer will be taken care of in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong with the crossbow down the road.
5 Best Budget Crossbows Reviewed
1. Wicked Ridge Warrior Ultra-Light
- Lightweight, balanced, and easy to handle.
- Accurate and easy to sight in out of the box.
- High-quality American Made crossbow.
- The package lacks a rope cocker.
- Some feel it shoots on the louder side.
The Warrior Ultra-Light sports some features normally found on higher priced crossbows. The power plant of this bow consists of an innovative riser design coupled with 11” WRX laminated limbs fitted into aluminum pockets, heavy-duty 4S cams and DynaFLIGHT 97 cables and string.
Its design allows for the assembly to measure 15” from cam to cam, which makes it very handy for maneuvering, especially in narrow and tight spaces. The setup is compact but powerful, with a 150 lb draw weight a 13.5” power stroke, and capable of providing arrow speeds of up to 350 fps with a kinetic energy of approximately 101 ft.-lbs.
The stock is also well-designed with an eye to reducing weight without sacrificing strength. It’s molded in a single unit from glass-filled polypropylene, which also has vibration dampening qualities, and features an open-space stock, which obviously reduces weight, and allows for the installation of the popular ACUdraw cocking tool.
It is also fitted with a TenPoint Dry Fire Inhibitor (DFI). Other features include a pistol grip and enclosed trigger guard around a trigger assembly that provides a 3.5 lb pull, an integrated fore-grip with extended safety wings to keep your fingers out of the way of the string, and a Picatinny rail below the front of the barrel for easy addition of accessories.
The whole package weighs in at only six pounds and 36.5” in length, dressed up nicely in Mossy Oak Break-Up Country camo pattern. The package includes a TenPoint multi-line scope, Wicked Ridge three-arrow detachable quiver, and three aluminum arrows with practice points, though as noted above it lacks a rope cocker.
The overall consensus for the Warrior Ultra-Light is excellent quality and deadly accuracy right out of the box. The only minor complaint seems to be that it’s on the loud side without adding more dampeners.
2. Barnett Whitetail Hunter II
- Compact, lightweight, with a smooth trigger mechanism.
- Short power stroke with blazing speed.
- Anti-Dry Fire nock and trigger sensor system.
- Crappy owner’s manual.
- Scope quality could be better.
The Whitetail Hunter II is an all-around excellent contender in the budget crossbow field, well-made and rugged, fully capable of putting game on your table.
One of the main features of this bow is the TriggerTech Precise Trigger Control mechanism, which uses a patented design called Frictionless Release Technology. Utilizing a free-floating roller situated between the sear and the latch, it gives the metal injection molded trigger a very smooth and responsive touch, providing a consistent zero creep, three-pound release shot after shot for near hair-trigger accuracy.
The assembly also utilizes an Anti-Dry Fire system with a nock sensor. The components of the PTC system are constructed of stainless steel to withstand exposure to the elements.
Other features include an open-space stock for weight reduction, which also allows for the attachment of a crank cocking tool, a pass-through foregrip with finger-safety shields, â…ž” Picatinny rails for the attachment of accessories, a magnesium riser with custom-composite laminated limbs, single bolt assembly, a Soft-Lok Floating Bristle brush arrow retainer, and an anti-vibration foot stirrup.
The unit weighs in at just 6.4 lbs at a length of 34.25” with a width from cam to cam when cocked of only 13.25”, which makes this a very maneuverable crossbow. With a draw weight of 150 lbs and a very short power stroke of 12.5”, the Barnett Whitetail Hunter II delivered arrow speeds of up to 350 fps and a kinetic energy of 103 ft.-lbs when tested with 380-gram arrows.
The package includes a 4x32mm Multi-Reticle scope, a rope cocking tool, a quiver, two 20” Headhunter arrows, and lube wax, and comes in a Realtree XTRA camo pattern.
Hunters have found the Whitetail Hunter II to be very easy to sight in, accurate, fast, and quiet. One issue we’ve heard of is that it could only stay cocked for four hours at a time, which potentially limits the time in the tree stand. Others have lamented the lacking user manual, and the mediocre (but workable) scope included with the package.
3. CenterPoint Tormentor Whisper 380
- Fastest crossbow in our Top 5 at 380 fps.
- Solid frame and stock yet maintain a narrow uncocked width.
- Built-in Whisper Silencing package for limb dampening.
- Heavier crossbow, up to 9.2 lbs with all accessories mounted.
The Whisper 380 is another excellent crossbow choice in the sub $500 range, with high-quality components and the fastest out of our five top picks at a blazing 380 fps.
Features include a quad limb design utilizing CNC cams, a composite open-frame stock with padded rubber grips and and padded raised cheekpiece for secure gripping and better control in all types of weather, a machined aluminum rail and riser for weight reduction and resistance to the elements, and a integrated Picatinny rail for mounting a scope or other types of optics. Also included is both an auto-safety feature and an anti-dry-fire system for increased safety and security.
One of the highlights of the Tormentor Whisper 380 is the Whisper Silencing System. This consists of dual string stoppers with silencers, dual limb dampeners, and two spider silencers, which working together provide truly superior vibration and noise reduction, which can make all the difference on a hunt.
Weighing in at a fairly heavy 7.9 lbs clean and as much as 9.2 lbs with accessories attached, a length of 35.5”, and a cam to cam length of 14” when cocked. With a 185 lb draw weight and a power stroke of 13.75”, the Tormentor Whisper 380 can deliver an impressive 380 fps with a kinetic energy of 120 ft.-lbs.
The package includes a three-bolt quiver and a rope cocker, a 4x32mm non-illuminated scope, and three 20″375-grain carbon bolts along with three 100-gr. field points.
As expected, hunters love this crossbow for its speed and hitting power, and for the quietness of operation, with many saying it was the quietest crossbow they had used. While some feel the Whisper 380 is a bit heavy for freehand shooting, it is offset by the great accuracy and narrowness of width. Some also experienced some minor creep in the trigger pull, but that the pull weight was acceptable and on the whole worked well.
4. PSE Fang LT
- Lightest crossbow in our Top 5.
- Easy to handle for all ages, including youth.
- Wider (but shorter) than most at 23” uncocked.
- Very basic quiver and scope.
At the lower end of the price range of our top five budget crossbow picks is the PSE Fang LT. Although it may be classified as a “cheap crossbow” it nevertheless provides good performance with many features to earn recommending it.
Features include a one-piece molded composite stock with a semi-open design which contributes to its being the lightest crossbow on our list. Further, there is an integrated cheek rest, a rubber-coated pistol grip mounted on a Picatinny rail for quick and easy adjustment. The split limbs are equipped with high-performance cams, integrated string stops to dampen vibration and noise, very effective finger reminders on the front grip, both anti-dry-fire and automatic safety for maximum protection, and a rubber coated foot stirrup for non-slip cocking.
This is a light and compact crossbow at just 5.8 lbs and a length of 32”, and a cocked width of 15.5”, 23” uncocked. Since many users stated that the Fang LT was easy to cock, and that combined with its compact size, would make it a good choice for youth and women and smaller-framed men. But it packs enough power for any serious hunter, with a draw weight of 165 lbs producing 330 fps and 97 ft.-lbs of kinetic energy.
The package includes a 4×32 MR scope, three 20″ carbon bolts with 100-gr. bullet points, a five-bolt quiver, a cocking rope, and rail lube. It also comes with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Hunters like the light weight and smaller size which make it real handy in a tree stand and many said that it was pretty quiet due to the included string stops, but suggested adding more silencers for best results. The pistol grip and trigger assembly are located well forward on the stock, placing the center of gravity forward, and more of the weight to be carried on the shoulder. This increases stability and makes it easier to hold in the shooting position for a longer time without getting tired.
This package does come with a crossbow scope and some bolts, but those should be used just for practice. Replace them with a better scope and better crossbow bolts before taking it hunting.
5. Barnett Recruit Terrain
- Great price for an entry level crossbow.
- Narrow and easy to carry through brush and woods.
- Low draw weight but a good bolt speed of 330 fps.
- Can experience some string wear if not cocking exactly to directions.
The most budget-oriented of our budget crossbow picks is the Barnett Recruit Terrain. The reason it makes the list is that it has some of the same features found on Barnett’s more expensive bows and delivers plenty of performance for hunting whitetail or turkey at a price most people can afford, and it makes a great entry-level crossbow.
One of the best things about the Recruit Terrain is that it has the same Trigger Tech Frictionless Release Technology as used in the Whitetail Hunter II above. The free-floating roller placed between the sear and the trigger really does provide a smooth, light, and repeatable three-pound and zero creep trigger pull that many users commented on and appreciated.
Other features include a very light composite stock with custom composite limbs, open design compatible with a crank cocking tool, a full-camo magnesium riser, a pass-through foregrip with finger safety reminders, a Picatinny rail, a Soft-Lok floating bristle arrow retainer, an anti-dry fire trigger system and nock sensor for safety, an anti-vibration foot stirrup, and single-bolt assembly (although attaching the foot stirrup and the quiver require several more).
The Terrain Recruit weighs in at 6.4 lbs or 7 lbs with accessories attached and is 34.25” in length with a width of 16.12” uncocked and 13.25” cocked. With a draw weight of 140 lbs, it still packs punch with a speed of 330 fps and a kinetic energy of 91.9 ft.-lbs. The power stroke is just 12.5”.
The package comes with a 4x32mm multi-reticle scope, two 20″ Headhunter bolts, a lightweight quiver, a rope cocking device, and lubrication wax. Color is a cool tactical-looking Desert Tan.
The light easy carry weight and compact design of this bow is a factor in the Recruit Terrain’s popularity. It makes for a good choice for those with small frames or young shooters. Of course the smooth and light trigger pull provided by the Trigger Tech Frictionless Release is a favorite feature with many users.
Other pluses in the Recruit’s favor are being very quiet, accurate, easy to maneuver, and an all-around great bang for the buck. The only real issue that was mentioned by several people was the questionable quality of the string and cables and the fact that if you aren’t careful when cocking you can cause string wear.
Choosing the Right Crossbow
Although these may be budget crossbows, all of them perform as well as more expensive models in many respects and will help you fill your tag in the coming season. If you are just getting started with crossbow hunting, it truly pays test the waters with an affordable crossbow, like the Wicked Ridge Warrior Ultra Light or Barnett Recruit Terrain first. You will find that they are excellent weapons that will last years of hunting, until the day you reach enough experience and know-how to benefit from buying a high-end crossbow.
*Last updated 2020-01-18 at 03:43 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API