Are you in a hurry? My best overall crossbow that costs less than $500 will have to be the CenterPoint Sniper XT390. This crossbow has an arrow speed of 390 fps and a draw weight of 185 lbs. It is silent, versatile, and adjustable. It also has useful safety features in place.
Most of us do not want to spend a fortune on crossbows, so we are searching for crossbows that cost less than $500. The good news is that you do not always need to buy the most expensive crossbows available on the market to hunt animals such as deer and even elk.
However, there are many mistakes that you can make when choosing a crossbow in this price range that will mess up your entire hunting trip. In this review, I will try to help you avoid these mistakes at all costs.
I will also warn you about some features that were lacking on some crossbows so that you know for sure if the product is for you – no salesman garbage.
Trust me when I say that hunting with crossbows is more challenging but way more fun and rewarding. I have been involved with bow hunting for quite some time to know a thing or two. Here are some of the crossbows I came across:
$500 Crossbow Summary
Best Overall – CenterPoint Sniper XT390
Runner Up – Barnett XP 380
Best Budget Crossbow – Killer Instinct Lethal 405
Best Adjustable Crossbow – Killer Instinct Ripper 415
Best Beginner Crossbow – Wicked Ridge Invader X4
Most Powerful Crossbow – Rocky Mountain RM-415
Let’s get you on the right track with what to expect from crossbows in this price range.
What To Expect From A $500 Crossbow
It does not mean that a crossbow is useless for hunting when it costs less than $500. It might not be optimal in some areas, but it will do the job when you put everything together.
Performance vs. quality
You will pretty soon find out that some crossbows in the $500 range are very powerful. Some crossbows even have a draw weight of more than 200 lbs, making them suitable for larger animals such as elk and maybe small bears.
There is only one issue.
Lower tiered crossbows are not always made with material that can withstand that force for too long. I have often heard of situations where the limbs would crack when used too frequently. It is not supposed to happen, but when you consider the price you pay versus the performance, it will start to make more sense.
So when it comes to performance, most of the crossbows in this review will be able to match crossbows that are over $1000 in price, but the durability will be questionable.
Think of it as trying to put a V12 engine into a small Volkswagon beetle. It will be able to drive and will be very powerful. Still, the gearbox and suspension will not keep up, which will bottleneck the performance.
Speed & draw weight
Speed is not an issue when it comes to crossbows at the $500 price range. Crossbows in this price range will even match some crossbows in the $1500 when it comes to speed and draw weight.
This review’s crossbows will have a speed ranging from 360 fps to 405 fps and a draw weight of 165 lbs to 210 lbs. As you can see, some of the crossbows are well equipped to taking down larger animals.
The crossbows in this review will have enough kinetic energy to take down animals at close range. The kinetic energy ranges from 107 ft. lbs up to 146 ft. lbs. The weight of your arrow/bolt or arrowhead will also play a role in kinetic energy.
Some of the additional accessories that you can expect are an arrow quiver, additional arrows, a 4x32mm scope, a rope cocker, and some rail lube. The crossbow scope will, in some cases, not be of high quality. Some customers will complain that they continuously need to set in their scope after every shot, which is not ideal.
|Crossbow||Arrow Speed||Draw Weight||Weight|
|Best Overall – CenterPoint Sniper XT390||390 fps||185 lbs||7.8 lbs|
|Runner Up – Barnett XP 380||380 fps||165 lbs||6.2 lbs|
|Best Budget Crossbow – Killer Instinct Lethal 405||405 fps||210 lbs||6.7 lbs|
|Best Adjustable Crossbow – Killer Instinct Ripper 415||415 fps||200 lbs||6.9 lbs|
|Best Beginner Crossbow – Wicked Ridge Invader X4||360 fps||165 lbs||6.5 lbs|
|Most Powerful Crossbow – Rocky Mountain RM-415||415 fps||200 lbs||6.5 lbs|
Best Crossbows Under $500
Below is the list of some of the crossbows that I could find. There were many to consider, but I could only find 6 that were suitable for hunting.
#1 CenterPoint Sniper XT390 Crossbow (Best Overall)
- Arrow Speed: 390 fps
- Draw Weight: 185 lbs
- Kinetic energy: 135 ft. lbs
- Weight: 7.8 lbs
This low-tier crossbow was my favorite because it packs the same punch as a higher-tier crossbow but at a lower price. Its speed is a whopping 390 fps (feet per second), making it easier to take down even larger animals such as elk and small bears. The minimum draw weight for elk is also set at 175 lbs, and this crossbow gives 185 lbs.
This cross is also very maneuverable and compact, making it ideal for tight spaces. The CenterPoint Sniper XT390 is also very silent, giving you an edge while hunting at a close distance. It uses dampeners in all the critical areas. It has two string dampeners and limb dampeners.
There is also no problem in versatility because of all the adjustments that can be made. With the adjustable stock, you can hunt with almost any arm length. We all know that you need to properly support the stock against your shoulder. The safety features are also to brag about.
You get a widened finger guard, dry fire safety trigger that will prevent your crossbow from shooting blanks. You also do not need to buy additional accessories such as the cope, quiver, rope cocker, and you even get rail lube with this crossbow. This crossbow also makes use of a 4×32 scope that can magnify up to 4 times.
For me, this was the best crossbow. It is versatile, high quality, and enables you to hunt larger animals as well. It is also a brand that you can trust.
#2 Barnett XP 380 (Runner Up)
- Arrow Speed: 380 fps
- Draw Weight: 165 lbs
- Kinetic energy: 122 ft. lbs
- Weight: 6.2 lbs
The Barnett XP 380 crossbow is an excellent alternative to the Centerpoint crossbow. It has around the same arrow speed but with less draw weight. It is also important to know that this crossbow does not have sound dampeners that make the crossbow very load.
It is also suitable for beginners because it has a built-in crank cocking device that can make it easier to pull the string back. It is a highly powered crossbow that can take down medium-sized animals. Adjustability is also not an issue with its adjustable stock and cheek rest.
There are also safety features in place that make it safer to shoot. It has an Anti-Dry Fire (ADF) trigger system that prevents the crossbow from shooting when no arrow is loaded. There is also a handguard across the foregrip so that your hand will not come into contact with the string.
This crossbow is also very compact and maneuverable with a width of 13.3” when cocked. You will also get a 4x32mm MR scope along with a small quiver that is mounted on the side. Your arrows (x2 20″ carbon) will also be included.
It is a good high-quality crossbow with a built-in crank cocking device that makes it easier for beginners to use. I only wish that the crossbow was more silent as it did not have any sound dampeners in place.
Cons: Did not have any string dampeners giving you a crossbow that is very loud.
#3 Killer Instinct Lethal 405 Crossbow (Best Budget Crossbow)
- Arrow Speed: 405 fps
- Draw Weight: 210 lbs
- Weight: 6.7 lbs
The Killer Instinct Lethal 405 crossbow was a suitable candidate to be featured as my favorite. This crossbow is also not expensive at all making it very budget-friendly. The only issue might be that it is not as adjustable as I would have hoped. It is still a good option for the price that you are paying. Let’s get back to some of the specs.
This crossbow is powerful enough for you to take down larger animals. The arrow speed is on the higher end and is equal to 405 fps. The draw weight is also high and matches 210 lbs. This crossbow is also on the lighter side and weighs 6.7 lbs.
The noise on this crossbow is also relatively low. It makes use of string dampers that will eliminate most of the sound that the string makes. You will also get a 4×32 scope that allows for 4 times the magnification. Along with the crossbow, you will also get a small 3 arrow quiver with 3 arrows.
If you are relatively new to shooting crossbows and have a tight budget, I recommend this product. It does lack some safety features, such as a dry fire safety trigger. The stock is also not adjustable.
Cons: The crossbow is not that adjustable, and it lacks some safety features.
#4 Killer Instinct Ripper 415 Crossbow (Best Adjustable Crossbow)
- Arrow Speed: 415 fps
- Draw Weight: 200 lbs
- Weight: 6.9 lbs
The Ripper 415 is the upgraded version of the Lethal 405 and comes with additional features. This crossbow is more expensive than the previous version but is more versatile. This crossbow also packs a massive punch with its high speed and draw weight, making it ideal for taking down larger animals.
The forearm grip and stock can be adjusted, making it easier for you to shoot more comfortably and accurately. The trigger is also very good and precise. It makes use of a 3.5-lb. KillerTech™ that will not delay your shot. This bow is also deadly silent using rubber string buffers, which will absorb most of the vibration.
This crossbow has an anti-dry fire mechanism that prevents it from shooting when not loaded. You will also get a 4x32mm scope that is best suited for crossbow hunting. You also get a quiver that can hold up to 5 quivers. Along with the quiver, you will get 3 bolts, a rope cocker, and some lube for the rail.
Overall, I think this is a good crossbow. It is not that expensive and has the necessary features that will give you a successful hunt. I only wished that the limbs were made from more durable material.
Cons: The durability is questionable.
#5 Wicked Ridge Invader X4 Crossbow (Best Beginner Crossbow)
- Arrow Speed: 360 fps
- Draw Weight: 165 lbs
- Kinetic energy: 107 ft. lbs
- Weight: 6.5 lbs
If you are relatively new to shooting crossbows and do not want to hurt yourself cocking the string, then the Wicked Ridge Invader X4 is for you. It has a lower draw weight of 165 lbs, making it easier to cock your crossbow. It also has a self-retracting rope cocking system that reduces its draw weight to 80 lbs.
The speed of the crossbow is also lower than some of the previously mentioned crossbows. This crossbow is still a force to reckon with and is best suited for hunting small to medium-sized animals such as deer. I would avoid hunting larger game animals such as elk and bear. The size of the crossbow is also reasonable making it 15″ wide when cocked.
The crossbow is compact enough so that you can shoot in tight areas. The product also offers a CNC-machined 3.5 lb trigger that gives you a smoother trigger pull. There is also not a lack when it comes to safety features.
The product has a built-in dry fire preventing trigger system that prevents the crossbow from shooting when there is no bolt loaded. The safety wings will also prevent your hands from being caught by the string. Weight is also not an issue because this crossbow is reasonably lightweight. It has a weight of 6.5 lbs. The crossbow comes with a decent scope and a quiver that can hold up to 3 arrows.
This crossbow has all of the features that you need to hunt safely, successfully, and with comfort. The built-in cocking device makes it easier to cock, even for beginners. The crossbow’s power is lower than some of the crossbows listed here and is suited for medium-sized animals.
Cons: This crossbow lacks an adjustable stock.
#6 Rocky Mountain RM-415 (Most Powerful Crossbow)
- Arrow Speed: 415 fps
- Draw Weight: 200 lbs
- Kinetic energy: 146 ft. lbs.
- Weight: 6.5 lbs
This Rocky Mountain RM-415 crossbow can almost be compared to the best budget crossbow in relation to its lower price tag, draw weight, and speed. This crossbow is also more adjustable than the Killer Instinct Lethal 405.
This Rocky Mountain crossbow is highly powered and can take down large-sized animals with ease. It also has a lightweight frame making it easier to maneuver. It uses a 1-piece molded stock and semi-durable limbs.
The string suppressers and limb dampers work well at keeping the crossbow silent. You do not want to scare all the animals away after taking your first shot. The adjustability options are also suitable where you can adjust the stock to suit your arm length. Some safety features were also included to make this product safer to use.
This product has an anti-dry trigger system along with a handguard close to the foregrip. The crossbow is also compact when cocked, giving you a length of 14.5″. You will get a 4x32mm illuminated scope with a 3-arrow quiver and 3 field point bolts. You will also get a rope cocker along with some rail lube.
This crossbow is another inexpensive option with highly powered limbs able to take down larger animals. It has an extensive range of features making it safe to use and comes with a complete kit. Some of the parts, such as the scope, were not that good.
Cons: The scope quality is questionable.
Recurve vs. Compound Crossbows
There are 2 types of crossbows to be aware of. First, you get the recurve crossbow, which is more traditional in design. Then you get the compound crossbow that is better suited for hunting. All of the crossbows in this review were compound crossbows.
The recurve crossbow is the most straightforward but not always the most efficient. Recurve crossbows have no cams and cables, making them easier to maintain and to use. The biggest drawback is that they need to have longer limbs and barrels. This extended length makes it harder for the hunter to maneuver the crossbow in tight areas.
- Less moving parts.
- Less maintenance.
- Simpler design.
- Lighter in weight.
- Less compact.
- You need more physical strength to draw.
- Less power and arrow speed.
The compound crossbow is a modernized version of the recurve crossbow. They have more moving parts and are more complex in their design. Their maintenance is also more work, and they are more compact. They are the better option for hunters in general.
- More compact.
- Faster arrows.
- More kinetic energy.
- It is easier to cock and to load the arrow.
- They require more maintenance.
- More complex design.
- You need a bow press to replace the string.
- They can be heavier.
How To Choose The Best Crossbow – Features & Tips
I will show you exactly how I vetted the crossbows. I will look at all the possible features that will give you the best experience with your crossbow.
The arrow speed is measured in fps (feet per second) and is an essential factor when choosing a crossbow for hunting. At a bare minimum, I would recommend a crossbow with a speed of 350 fps. This speed is high enough to put you on the save side.
Some crossbows in this review have an arrow speed of up to 410 fps. Larger animals such as elk and a small bear will require an arrow speed of at least 370 fps.
Kinetic energy for crossbows is measured in ft. lbs. Kinetic energy goes hand-in-hand with arrow speed. The higher the speed, the higher the kinetic energy. To determine kinetic energy, you need to bring the arrow speed and the arrow’s weight into a complex formula.
This is the weight of the entire crossbow and not the draw weight. These two are separate measurements and have nothing to with each other. The weight of the crossbows in this review will range from 6.2 lbs to 7.8 lbs.
The difference in weight might not be that much but can come into play when you have to carry the crossbow for long distances. The weight of the crossbow can also have an effect on its accuracy. Heavier crossbows tend to do better as they can handle more kinetic energy when the string is released.
In some states, the legal requirement for draw weight in deer hunting is 125 lbs. Personally, I would recommhttps://onlinebarracks.com/best-cover-scent-for-deer-hunting/end increasing this number to 150 lbs just to be on the safe side. The required draw weight for compound bows is also different than that of compound crossbows.
So a draw weight for deer is around 150 lbs at medium ranges. You can also shoot elk with that draw weight at a closer distance. The draw weight that I am comfortable with should be around 185 lbs that are powerful enough for most animals, and is not too heavy.
In some states, there is also a maximum draw weight of 200 pounds. Make sure that you are aware of the hunting regulations in your area before purchasing a crossbow. If you are new to crossbow hunting, I would recommend going for a crossbow that is no more than 165 lbs in draw weight.
The noise generated from the crossbow will come from the impact caused by the string when released. There are some features in place inside modern crossbows that will help to dampen some of that noise.
In some crossbows, you will find string dampers located close to the riser of the crossbow. These dampers are made from rubber, and their purpose is to absorb some of the kinetic energy and the noise that comes from that release of energy. Noise dampers can also be located on the limbs and the cocking stirrup.
The effective range of most crossbows will be around 40 yards. For beginners, I would not recommend shooting an animal that is farther than that. Some very experienced hunters that I know have shot a deer from a distance of up to 80 yards, which is not impossible.
You also need to test your crossbow’s accuracy and range at the shooting range to know precisely what your effective personal range is. You need to lower your maximum range if your accuracy’s consistency starts to drop at a specific distance. It is also a good idea to make sure you have a decent scope that will not lose its zero.
The size of the bow is very important if you plan to hunt in close quarters. Try not to use a crossbow that is wider than 15” when cocked. The length of the crossbow also determines the length of the “barrel.” You also need to consider the size of the crossbow when you are hunting from a treestand.
Recurve crossbows are also bigger than compound crossbows, which should also be taken into consideration.
There are two aspects of safety when it comes to crossbows. These aspects include protection from dry firing and a handguard on the foregrip. Most crossbows will have a safety system that prevents them from firing when an arrow is not loaded. The firing without an arrow is called dry firing.
You can damage the assembly of the bow when dry firing occurs. The bowstring itself can also be broken. The handguard above the foregrip is also essential for protecting your hand so that it does not come into contact with the string.
When hunting, you want to shoot comfortably, which required adjustment on the crossbow. The area where you need adjustment is the stock, which can be pulled out. This feature will make it easier for you to apply enough pressure on your shoulder to absorb some of the energy released.
It is essential to have a crossbow that has no pressure behind the trigger. You want to “feel” the resistance on the trigger when you squeeze it. Most crossbows will come with a 3.5 lbs trigger, meaning that your finger needs to apply 3.5 lbs of pressure to activate the trigger.
You do not want a too sensitive trigger because it can cause you to accidentally fire a shot, which is not good.
Your crossbow will have 2 areas where grip is required. The handle on where you will pull the trigger and the forward grip used to stabilize the bow. Ensure that the forward grip is protected from the string to prevent it from coming into contact with your hand.
Q: How much draw weight do you need?
Most hunting laws require a minimum draw weight of 125 lbs and a maximum of 200 lbs. I would recommend nothing less than 150 lbs for deer hunting and for larger animals, no less than 185 lbs.
Q: What is trigger creep?
Trigger creep can be defined as the distance the trigger needs to travel before the arrow is released.
Q: What is a reverse draw crossbow?
The limbs of this crossbow are facing the opposite direction of a regular crossbow. Instead of pulling the arrow, it will push the arrow.
Q: What are the best crossbow bolts for deer hunting?
Any crossbow bolt that is 20” long and does not weigh less than 400 grain will do the trick. I have also written an article on the best crossbow bolts used to hunt deer.
The Final Verdict
Some of the most common problems you will encounter while searching for crossbows under $500 are that the draw weight will be too high for some of the crossbows. Some crossbows can crack, while others will break apart.
Some crossbows will also not have safety mechanisms in place, which is crucial. In some cases, you will also come across crossbows that are too loud. These potential issues that you can find in crossbows can be substituted by the CenterPoint Sniper XT390.
This crossbow is durable, has a high arrow speed, and draw weight. It also has several safety features in place and is as silent as you can get. Now it is up to you. Which crossbow was your favorite and why?
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