A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: June 16, 2021
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Isn’t it frustrating that crossbows are usually expensive? The premium options can be well over $1,000, which is far too costly for many people. Thankfully, there are many great budget models available on the market that you can find in this article. Here, we will take a closer look at the best crossbows under $200.
If you’re getting a budget product, you need to know it still has the quality you’re looking for. But what makes the best crossbow under $200? You have to consider the different crossbow types, overall weight, draw weight, and other vital features, such as the velocity and power stroke, as these will determine how well it performs. Thus, it’s essential to understand these factors and know how they relate to you. Are you ready to learn more about these fantastic products? All you need to do is read on to find your perfect budget crossbow. Let’s get started!
"With this beginner-friendly recurve crossbow, you are sure to enjoy your practice thanks to the integrated cocking mechanism with a safety lock.50 lbs. draw weight.215 fps bolt velocity.2.5” power stroke."
More features: multi-position adjustable stock, anti-dry fire and auto-safety trigger, 23.25″ axle-to-axle width (cocked), comes with four 16″ aluminum arrows, 4×32 scope, rope cocker and rail lube, 5-year limited warranty
We think this is the best crossbow under $200. One of the downsides to cheaper crossbows is that they aren’t very powerful. But with the 245 feet per second (fps) velocity here, you’re not going to be disappointed. That’s aided by the 10.5” power stroke that puts plenty of energy into the bolts.
There are some great features, such as the adjustable stock, high-quality scope, rope cocker, and rail lube, and it weighs only 5lbs. With the anti-dry fire and the auto-safety trigger, this crossbow is one of the safest to use out there. It’s a high-quality model that offers excellent value for money.
What do we love it for? This crossbow is very well made and feels as though it’ll last for a good number of years. You’ll also find it easy to get accurate groupings with your shots. Additionally, it’s easy to set up, so you can start shooting straight away, whether that is targets or small game.
What were we disappointed with? There’s a bit of confusion with how many arrows this is meant to come with. It’s advertised as being four, but some have received three, and others have gotten none. If you don’t receive four, then make sure you contact the company.
If you were looking for something a little lighter and easier to use, then this crossbow may be ideal. It only weighs 2.65lbs, so it feels very light in your hands. Apart from that, it only has a draw weight of 80lbs and is, therefore, easy to cock.
The downside to that lower draw weight is a velocity of 150 fps, but that is still considered a decent speed. The design is relatively simple, so there’s not a lot that can go wrong. Also, it’s available in four different colors, which all look great. These qualities help to make it an exceptional first-time crossbow due to the fantastic low cost.
What stands out? A crossbow can’t really get much simpler than this. It makes it very easy to use, and it’s a significant first step to you being a crossbow pro. On top of that, the quality when considering the price is outstanding. The compact design also makes it easy to travel with, which shows the level of usability this crossbow has.
What cons did we manage to find? The only downside here is that you need to string the crossbow when you first get it. This most likely needs to be completed by two people, as it’s a little too tricky to do it on your own.
This is one of the best crossbow packages under $200. It comes with aluminum arrows, a high-quality scope, a rope cocking device, and also hex keys. On top of that, the crossbow also comes pre-strung, so you don’t need to worry about that.
This has the highest velocity of all the crossbows we’ve looked at here. That’s partly due to the high draw weight of 175lbs and the long power stroke of 11.5”. Overall, it’s a reasonably compact model, and with a weight of 4.2lbs, it’s effortless to carry.
What makes it special? We loved the power within this crossbow. It’s suitable for target practice, but you can also use it for hunting small game. Despite that high power, it’s still light and portable. With it being pre-strung and having a full range of accessories, it’s also very easy to use.
What cons did we find? It’s essential to consider that draw weight of 175lbs. That’s relatively high, so it might be quite hard to pull for many users. Thus, it’s a good idea to check whether you’ll be comfortable with that before buying the crossbow.
If you are looking for a lightweight model, then this recurve crossbow is going to be perfect. It offers 50lbs of force, which makes it exceptionally easy to draw. Therefore, this is an ideal option for younger users who aren’t quite ready for a fully powered crossbow.
Despite that lower draw weight, it’s still can fire arrows at a phenomenal speed of up to 215 fps, and all that comes from a power stroke of just 2.5”. It’s very well designed with its aluminum alloy stock and fiberglass limbs to give it the perfect balance and durability.
What stands out? This crossbow is incredibly easy to draw, and we are also impressed with the velocity it generates from such little effort. The scope is also accurate, and you get a lot of arrows with it. Therefore, it’s an excellent all-around present, which makes it a perfect entry crossbow.
What cons did we manage to find? The instructions that come with the crossbow could be a lot better. Thankfully, everything is relatively easy to work out, so you shouldn’t find it too much of a struggle to get started.
Here, we see another PSE Archery model and one that has very similar qualities. As for the specs, it can fire bolts at 215 fps from a draw weight of just 50lbs. The power stroke of 2.5” also means you don’t need to pull it back very far.
A reason this is a perfect beginner crossbow is that it has some great safety features. They include a finger guard, safety lock, and anti-fire trigger. Next, it comes with three bolts and has a weight of just 1.6lbs, which makes it very easy to carry to wherever you want to start shooting.
What stands out? We think the safety features here make it an ideal crossbow for a complete novice. The usability is exceptionally high, but so is the durability, as it’s very well made. As with the previous PSE model, that velocity for the low draw weight is fantastic.
What cons did we manage to find? While we loved this crossbow, we can’t say the same for the bolts that came with it. They aren’t the highest quality and can break fairly easily. Thankfully, it’s a problem that’s easy to solve as new bolts can turn this into a great little hunting crossbow.
Things to Consider
While these crossbows are on the budget end of the scale, $200 is still a decent investment, so you want to make the right call. This is why we’ve developed this buying guide so you can get your perfect crossbow. To help you do that, we’ll go through all of the key features and see how they relate to you. In the end, we’ll answer some FAQs, which should hopefully get rid of any lingering doubts.
Crossbows under $200 – what to expect?
It may be best to talk about what you shouldn’t expect, and that is a lot of power. The most powerful crossbow here is 260 fps you can get from the SA Sports Outdoor Gear Empire Terminator Crossbow. For example, premium crossbows can fire at speeds of 400 fps and more.
That means that these crossbows aren’t suitable for hunting big game simply because the bolts won’t have enough energy to pierce thick skin. Cheaper crossbows also don’t use cams, which means you need to put in more effort to get the same velocity. For many people, this isn’t an issue as they still get their desired power level.
With affordable crossbows, you can expect very fast bolts, as over 200 fps is still decent. The build quality and durability can also be very impressive. On top of that, crossbows under $200 usually have the benefit of being lighter and much easier to use.
How to pick the best budget crossbow?
Firstly, it’s good to consider what you’re going to be using the crossbow for. If you’re planning on hunting small game, then you’ll need a high-quality scope and decent velocity. You’ll also want to consider how easy it is to use with the overall weight, draw weight, and other features. As we go through these sections, it’s a good idea to make a note of how important they are to you. By the end, you should have a clear idea of what makes the best crossbow under $200.
There are two main types of crossbows, and they are compound and recurve. All of the crossbows that we’ve looked at here, including the Snake Eye Tactical Pistol Crossbow, are the recurve type, and there are a few critical reasons for that.
Compound crossbows use cams, which makes them much more complicated. It’s these cams that help it to generate much more energy for the same level of effort.
With the extra design and technology comes an additional cost. It’s for this reason why the budget models are all recurve crossbows, which is the much more traditional way of firing a crossbow.
One of the most significant advantages of recurve crossbows is that they are relatively light and easy to carry. This makes them great for beginners and those who struggle with larger crossbows. For instance, the CenterPoint Tyro Recurve Crossbow is the heaviest option we’ve looked at here, but that still weighs only 5lbs.
If you were looking for the ultimate in lightweight crossbow, then the PSE Archery Viper SS could well be what you’re looking for. It only weighs 1.6lbs, which makes it exceptionally easy to carry and use.
Draw weight is the amount of force you need to pull the crossbow back. This can be compared to pulling up the weight from the ground. For instance, models with high draw weight, such as the 175lbs of the CenterPoint Tyro Recurve Crossbow, will have a stirrup at the end that helps to pull the string up.
On smaller options, such as the PSE Archery Zombie React Pistol Crossbow, it isn’t needed. This one has a draw weight of just 50lbs, and therefore, it is very easy to get it in the cocked position. This can be ideal for those who don’t have the strength for a full crossbow.
The velocity of a crossbow is measured in feet per second. As we mentioned, on the highest caliber crossbows, this can reach speeds of over 400 fps. This is rapid, and with the right bolt, that is enough to bring down even the largest game.
The highest velocity crossbow that we’ve looked at here is the 245 fps of the CenterPoint Tyro Recurve Crossbow. That is rapid and makes it suitable for hunting. Even these lower-powered models under $200 can still be quite powerful to offer you plenty of versatility in how you use the crossbow.
The power stroke is the distance between a crossbow string in the cocked and uncocked position. It also gives you a good idea about the overall length of the crossbow.
Generally, the higher the power stroke is, the more potential energy is stored in the crossbow. A higher level of power stroke can usually allow it to fire heavier bolts and allows you to use it for hunting.
The axle-to-axle width essentially determines the size of a crossbow from one tip to the other. This doesn’t always have a relative impact on the performance of the crossbow and is more to do with how easy it is to carry.
It’s one negative area of recurve crossbows as the cams on compound crossbows allow them to have a shorter axle-to-axle width. It’s good to check this if the overall size of the crossbow is going to be vital to your buying decision. Here, you can expect the axle-to-axle width to be a little over 20 inches.
If you want to have the highest levels of accuracy, then you’ll need a scope on your crossbow. It’s usual on the cheaper models that you won’t have a scope, as they can be an expensive addition. On these models, you’d sight them in the same way you would do with a handgun.
You can still find good scopes on these models, however. For example, the CenterPoint Tyro Recurve Crossbow has a brilliant scope that is going to allow you to get fantastic groupings.
Ease of use
The benefit of recurve crossbows is that they are relatively easy to use. They all have relatively simple mechanisms, and therefore, you need to look at the likes of weight and draw weight to see how easy they are to pick up and fire.
The low draw of the PSE Archery Viper SS Handheld Crossbow makes it especially easy to use. You will be able to cock it back without any problems. Even with higher draw weight, crossbows are still relatively easy to use, as long as you have the strength to pull the string back.
Crossbows are fairly dangerous, and you need to treat them with respect. It’s good to look out for safety features that are going to help keep you protected. One of those is a finger guard, which will prevent your fingers from coming into contact with the string.
Another helpful feature that we see on the PSE Archery Viper SS Handheld Crossbow is an automatic safety that will engage once you’ve cocked it. Also, it’s recommended to look for anti-dry fire technology that will prevent accidental firing of the weapon.
There are some great extra accessories to look out for. Perhaps the most common are bolts/arrows, which help get you started with your shooting experience. As we’ve mentioned, some crossbows also come with a scope that can be very useful.
The laws on the use of crossbows vary quite a lot from one state to the next. It’s, therefore, essential to check the rules before you buy a crossbow. Usually, practice isn’t going to be much of an issue. Most of the rules around the use of crossbows are more focused on hunting. As an example, the state of Massachusetts allows hunting for anyone over the age of 12 with the appropriate supervision. If all you want to do is practice, then there shouldn’t be much of an issue with that, but it’s always a good idea to see your state’s rules before you spend money on a crossbow.
This depends on the type of hunting that you want to do. If you’re planning on taking down the likes of elk and deer with these crossbows, then you’re going to be disappointed. For that type of hunting, you need a high-powered crossbow that gives you not only high velocity but also the highest level of accuracy. That being said, these crossbows can be used for hunting smaller animals, such as rabbits, turkeys, and ducks. You should avoid the temptation to use it for a larger game as there are not that powerful.
The best way to replace a string on a recurve crossbow is to use a cable stringer. To do this, you put the loops on the stringer onto the tips of the limbs and then cock the crossbow using the stringer. After this, place the loop of your new string through the cable stringer, and then attach it securely to the tip of the limb. You need to release the stringer carefully with both you your hands while someone else releases the trigger of the crossbow. With the string and cable now in the uncocked position, you can remove the cable stringer. If you’re struggling to remove the stringer, then you can pull slightly on your new string.
We’ve looked at many impressive models here, but the CenterPoint Tyro Recurve Crossbow stands above the rest. This has a significant level of performance that gives it phenomenal versatility. At 245 fps, it is the most powerful option introduced here.
For those looking for something even more affordable, we have the Snake Eye Tactical Pistol Crossbow. It’s a surprise that it’s so cheap and gives you brilliant value for money while also offering 80 lbs. draw weight and 160 fps bolt velocity.
We loved all of the crossbows we reviewed here, but all of them are slightly different. It’s crucial to find one that feels right to you and matches your needs. With the best crossbow under $200, you’ll be able to have a lot of fun with a versatile model that can still pack a punch.