Our annual crossbow shootout is undoubtedly the project that takes the most time. We do all the testing in-house so we have complete oversight. We don’t regurgitate press releases or cater to the best advertiser—this is a true competition in which we judge the bows based on several criteria.
To the best of our knowledge, we are the only magazine that actually tests such a wide range of crossbows this extensively. We start by physically taking measurements and weights, using a certified postage scale to ensure accuracy.
After the tale of the tape is recorded, we start testing. The first is the trigger pull measurement. More difficult than dry-firing a firearm, this involves cocking the crossbow, loading a bolt, and actually firing it with a trigger pull gauge multiple times to establish an average.
The next test is to chronograph velocity. This test often shows a discrepancy between our results and the promoted velocity. Just like the vertical bow industry, there is a difference between how much velocity you can achieve using as light as possible of an arrow versus the typical velocity with a hunting-weight arrow.
So we test velocity in two ways: First, we test with the manufacturer’s supplied arrow, then we chronograph every bow with a standard arrow. This year, we used Easton FMJs with a total weight of 485 grains. To best test for accuracy, we used the supplied manufacturer’s arrow, as it should be optimized to perform with the particular crossbow.
We fired multiple three shot groups at 25 yards off a bench with several experienced shooters. We list the best group as well as the average. We strive to provide the most accurate crossbow test in the business at Petersen’s Hunting, and if you ask us, we have succeeded. So without further delay, we bring you the top crossbows of 2013.
- Do you lust for bolt speed? Have a thirst for accuracy? Prefer lightweight crossbows? If you answered yes to any or all of these, be sure to check out Barnett’s Ghost 410, a fine crossbow that embodies all of these attributes and more. Testers were drawn to the carbon fiber coloring and limb-incorporated stirrup, keeping overall length down. Accuracy was likewise a hit, with groups averaging .75 of an inch. Pass through forend ensures a safe and sturdy grip. The one reoccurring complaint was about cocking this speed demon. Due to the long power stroke, it was the most difficult crossbow to cock. Once cocked, however, this bow not only blazes bolts at scary velocity, it does so with scary accuracy, too.
Weight: 8 lbs., 3 oz.
Power Stroke: 15.3 in.
Draw Weight: 185
Width Cocked: 18 ¾ in.
Width Uncocked: 22 ¾ in.
Supplied Arrow Velocity: 386 fps
Test Arrow Velocity: 376 fps
Trigger Pull: 3 ¾
Best Group: .75 in.