Looking to invest in a tactical crossbow?
Tactical crossbows are a great choice in weapon for any hunter, and with so many different versions of it, we’re confident there is a crossbow out there suited to your specific needs.
As these tools can be a pretty big investment, you’re going to want to do your research so you know what to look for before you buy. If you’re looking for the best tactical crossbow for you, the information we provide in this guide will help you make the right choice.
Let’s explore what exactly a tactical crossbow is, and what you need to keep in mind before you buy. Then, we’ll take a look at some of our top recommendations for the best tactical crossbow.
What is a Tactical Crossbow?
Table of Contents
- What is a Tactical Crossbow?
- Tactical Crossbow Buying Guide
- Our Best Tactical Crossbow Recommendations
To start, a tactical crossbow is a type of crossbow, but what makes it so “tactical”?
They feature everything you’d expect to see in a crossbow and shoot (the correct name for a crossbow arrow) by loading them onto the arrow track on the frame to then be shot using the trigger.
They are still have several uses from home defense, to archery, to hunting (click here to view crossbow regulations in North America). So what makes these amazing weapons have a category of their very own?
Tactical Crossbow vs Standard Crossbow
A common question crossbow shoppers have is the difference between a tactical crossbow and a standard crossbow. What sets these two weapons apart? There are obvious differences when compared to traditional crossbows, but if we’re talking about modern designs, the truth is they only have minor differences.
For the most part, the term tactical crossbow is a bit of marketing fluff. Tactical and standard crossbows are both weapons designed to launch crossbow bolts with a high level of speed. In general though, the differences relate to accuracy and precision, compact-design, range and power, with tactical crossbows typically being high-end, compact models.
Most tactical crossbows are more accurate than the standard crossbow. They are designed to remain accurate over long distances even when delivering projectiles at crazy fast rates of fire. usually have a stiffer, split-limb design, and an adjustable vertical grip that makes it more accurate and precise while shooting. In comparison, a standard crossbow can be less accurate.
They also tend to be more compact and lightweight, allowing for faster movement and improved stealth. At the extreme, you can even get a tactical crossbow pistol that can be aimed and fired with a single hand!
Although they are pretty awesome, even the best pistol crossbow, like the one shown below, is not a great option for hunting. Instead, we’ll discuss three common crossbow designs, being recurve crossbows, compound crossbows, and reverse-limb crossbows, all of which we’ll explore in-depth in our buying guide.
Tactical Crossbow Buying Guide
Before you purchase a tactical crossbow, it’s important to figure out exactly what you’re looking for.
Someone buying a hunting crossbow is looking for something different than an archery crossbow. Someone hunting small game will appreciate different features than someone looking to take down an elk.
If you know what you’re looking for, you can ensure you’re purchasing a crossbow that is suited to your needs. Let’s take a look at the different factors you need to keep in mind.
Types of Crossbows
Crossbows generally come in one of three different designs: the recurve crossbow, the compound crossbow, and the reverse draw crossbow. Luckily, the cocking mechanism is not unique to the design, so if you prefer cranks over rope cocking devices you won’t be stuck with a single design type.
The Recurve Crossbow
A recurve crossbow is likely what comes to mind when you picture a crossbow. These crossbows are simple in design, with wide limbs and a large barrel to power the crossbow bolt.
While these can be larger in size than a compound crossbow, they are generally lighter in weight. They are also slightly quieter while shooting.
Similar to a recurve bow, the reason the recurve crossbow has its name is because of the way the tips of the limbs are curved, away from the shooter, giving it more shooting power.
A recurve crossbow can be great for crossbow hunting beginners, as they are easier to upkeep, lighter in weight, and quieter during use.
The Compound Crossbow
In comparison, the compound crossbow is much more complex, and as a result, has a bit more power behind them.
When compared to the recurve, a tactical compound crossbow has smaller limbs and a shorter barrel, making it more compact. Just like a compound bow, compound crossbows are fitted with cams and cables which allow for extreme draw weights which deliver greater speed and power.
Though stronger and faster, the compound crossbow can be a little noisy when fired, particularly the cheaper models. The additional components also add weight and typically make these designs slightly heavier than recurve crossbows.
Another benefit of the cam system is that it helps smooth the draw cycle and can reduce some of the effort required, particularly if manually cocking the crossbow or using a rope cocking device.
The small size, easier reloading, and a large amount of power make this a great hunting crossbow, and best for use in tighter, hard-to-maneuver areas.
The Reverse Draw Crossbow
The newest design of the three primary types, the reverse draw or reverse-limb crossbow is incredibly compact but retains the insane power of compound crossbows. Although reverse limb crossbows also feature cam systems, similar to compound crossbows, it’s the limb design that gives them their name.
Instead of curving back towards the shooter with a wide profile, reverse-limb crossbows have their limbs tucked in close to the centre of the frame and curve away from the shooter. When cocked, these crossbows have an even narrow profile making them perfect for stealth and maneuverability.
The design also creates a longer power stroke, meaning the speed, power and precision of reverse-limb crossbows is unmatched. They are also more balanced, with less weight towards the end of the crossbow, making them easier to aim.
Their biggest pitfall is the price point. These babies are at the premium end of the market, but they are an absolute joy to use, and truly represent the best part of what a tactical crossbow should be. Once you’ve used a reverse-limb, its hard to go back!
Other Types of Crossbows
Of course, there are other kinds of crossbows on the market outside of these two designs.
When looking online, you’ll come across tons of different terms. These days, many manufacturers are adjusting crossbows in different ways, to appeal to different kinds of buyers.
For example, you might see a high-speed crossbow. This typically means this kind of crossbow has been designed to be deliberately lightweight and compact for increased speed.
There are also different variations of the crossbow such as the pistol crossbow. These are small weapons that can be operated with one hand, sometimes called a hand crossbow.
Different styles and descriptors for crossbows will reflect their different features. Always read the product descriptions carefully to see if the crossbow is suited to your needs.
A tactical crossbow is a dangerous weapon, so safety needs to be at top of mind at all times. Knowing the different features your crossbow is fitted with is essential for safe operation.
(You should also keep general crossbow safety tips in mind every time you use your device. Click here for some crossbow best practice rules.)
Anti Dry Fire
A dry fire refers to any time you fire a crossbow without a crossbow arrow in place. When you do this it can put a lot of stress on the limbs of your crossbow, and potentially break or crack it.
Because of this, many crossbows are fitted with anti dry fire mechanisms. This means your crossbow string will not release until an arrow or bolt is in place.
Auto Engaging System
With an auto engaging system, your crossbow trigger won’t release, even if the string is set.
This means that even when you load a crossbow with a crossbow arrow or bolt, the weapon won’t accidentally fire. When you are ready to shoot, adjust the safety manually and you’ll be good to go.
Weight and Size
You’ll also want to consider weight and size when shopping for a tactical crossbow. The weight and size you need will vary depending on your intended use.
If you’re looking for a crossbow for simple target practice during archery season, size won’t matter too much. You can choose any weight and size for target shooting, based on what feels comfortable to you.
For activities that require set levels of power and accuracy, such as small game hunting, size and weight will matter more.
When it comes to looking for a hunting crossbow, smaller is generally better. A smaller crossbow can be easier to carry around and maneuver in small spaces, or in situations where you need to shoot at short range.
The size and weight of your crossbow will also depend on you as a person! If you can’t manage the weight of a heavy crossbow for a full day of hunting, it is not a worthwhile investment. While shopping, you need to keep in mind if you can hold and maneuver the weapon with accuracy all day long.
You should also consider pairing your tactical crossbow with different accessories and upgrades. When it comes to crossbow shopping you get what you pay for, but even a cheap crossbow can be made into something impressive with the right add-ons.
Many crossbows come as a ready-to-shoot (RTS) or ready-to-hunt (RTH) crossbow “package”. This means they are already fitted with several accessories to get you out in the field sooner. However, even the most premium crossbow packages can come with poor accessories. The morale of the story is to do you research before you buy so know exactly what accessories you are paying for and whether they are worth the price. We recommend considering different accessories like the following:
Rope Cocking Device: A rope cocking device can make a huge difference if you’re a hunter. These devices are used to replace crank cocking devices, making cocking your crossbow an easy, simple process.
Bow Sights: A crossbow scope or sight are perfect if you want increased shooting precision. From a red dot sight to a night vision scope, there’s a perfect sight out there for you.
Crossbow Sling: Crossbow slings or holders are essential for most hunters, making it easier and safer to carry your hunting crossbow throughout the day. They can also protect your crossbow from damage during use.
Noise Dampening Kit: A noise dampening kit is used to reduce the sound that happens when you fire, to keep game from being scared away. If you’re hunting skittish prey, or are hunting professionally, this is a must.
Our Best Tactical Crossbow Recommendations
If you’re looking to buy a tactical crossbow, look no further! Whether you’re target shooting, crossbow hunting and just wanting to look like a bad ass with steel balls, these top picks for the best tactical crossbows you can find today will make you one happy camper!
- MICRO-TRAC BARREL: Reduces string-to-rail contact by an incredible 50% - leading to increased accuracy and the longest string life for hunting crossbows
Weight: 8 lb
Speed: 470 FPS
Size: 31” L x 6.5” W
Draw Weight: 225 lbs
Cocking Mechanism: ACUslide Cocking and De-Cocking System
Package Accessories: Kit includes STAG Hard Case, Sling, EVO-C Markskman Scope, Dovetail BubbleLevel, 6 x EVO-X CenterPunch Lighted Arrows, 6 x EVO-X CenterPunch Arrows, 3 x EVO-X CenterPunch Broadheads, 6 Arrow Tech Quiver
Those looking for a tactical crossbow will not be disappointed in the TenPoint Vapor RS470. This is an amazing tactical crossbow and comes with everything a beginner would need in their first crossbow kit.
This crossbow is impressively fast and able to shoot up to 470 feet per second. As a reverse draw crossbow, this crossbow has a smooth and quiet shot, but still has extreme power and accuracy. Get ready to unleash your killer instinct when you get your hands on this beast!
This crossbow is also fitted with an ACUSlide system that allows for silent and safe cocking and de-cocking during use. It also has an S1 trigger, one of the best triggers on the market today, adding to this crossbow’s overall impressive design.
A TenPoint crossbow makes for one of the best crossbows on the market, and this model is no exception. This tactical crossbow would be a worthwhile investment for any hunter or archery lover.
- Comes with a full package kit, including arrows and other accessories
- Silent and safe cocking and de-cocking ability
- High-performance S1 trigger
- Elongated power stroke
- High price point
- The scope does not do well in low light
- 450 FPS, COMPACT 6-INCH COCKED AXLE-TO-AXLE WITH HELICOIL TECHNOLOGY
- INNOVATIVE SILENT COCKING SYSTEM - With built-in cocking mechanism and anti-dry fire/auto safety
- 100-YARD ILLUMINATED SCOPE AND QUIVER
Weight: 6.75 lbs
Speed: 450 FPS
Size: 29” L x 6” W
Draw Weight: 12 lbs
Cocking Mechanism: Versa-Draw Cocking System
Package Accessories: Kit includes crossbow, 6 x 400-Grain .003 arrows with field points, 100-Yd Illuminated scope, and quiver
This tactical crossbow is one powerful weapon, with some pretty revolutionary features that make it a standout. It’s a compound crossbow design, but its amazingly compact and rivals the reserve draw designs.
This crossbow is fitted with an innovative, built-in silent cocking system. Unlike other crossbows, you won’t have to fumble with heavy, loud ropes or manual draw. Instead, you can easily, and silently, draw this crossbow with its fully integrated 100% noiseless crank. Awesome!.
This crossbow is also fitted with HeliCoil technology, with perfectly balanced limbs and 340-degree cam rotation for more efficient performance. Its frictionless flight system also ensures there’s zero rail friction on arrows, for better accuracy and speed.
This crossbow is great for beginners, coming fully assembled and pre-tuned. All you need to do is adjust the sight, and start!
- Small and compact
- Increased arrow speed with Frictionless Flight system
- Better accuracy with HeliCoil cam system
- Comes with an illuminated, tactical scope
- Silent cocking system
- No assembly required
- High price point
- Doesn’t come with many accessories (ex/ no sling, carrying case, etc.)
- Features tact-100 illuminated scope, scope mount, and 30mm rings
- Pro-shot trigger gives repeatable accuracy with a consistent 3lb trigger pull
- Equipped with dead-quiet Charger Cranking System for effortless cross bow cocking
Weight: 8 LBS
Speed: 420 FPS
Size: 33-36” L x 23.25” W
Draw Weight: 290 lbs
Cocking Mechanism: Integrated Silent Charger Crank
Package Accessories: Kit includes Tact-100 Illuminated Scope with Scope Mount and 30mm Rings, Fail-Safe Strap, Tru-Fit Stock, 4 Arrow Quiver, 4 x PROFLIGHT 16.5” Premium Arrows, 4 x 100-Grain Field Points
Those looking for a truly powerful crossbow will have a lot to love with the Excalibur Assassin 420 TD Crossbow. This recurve crossbow design is an excellent choice in hunting crossbow, with a completely silent crank system thanks to its innovative Charger Crank system.
It’s also one of the fastest bows of its kind out there, with an impressive 420 FPS shooting speed. The included Tact-100 Scope will aid hunters in their accuracy, and accomplishing great shots from even far distances.
This tactical crossbow is easy to assemble and disassemble, thanks to the bows Quick Loc Technology. Using this, disassembling your crossbow can be done with the push of a button.
For experienced shooters, this crossbow makes a nice upgrade, coming with features, accessories, and a level of power at half the price of comparable models. A truly worthwhile investment!
- Adjustable stock fit
- Silent cocking and de-cocking system
- Lower price point
- Simple to assemble and disassemble
- Kit includes arrows, scopes, stock, etc.
- Large size means it’s not suited to tight spaces