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: February 25, 2021
Outdoorsly is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
The recurve crossbow draws its inspiration from the original longbow with the slight difference of the small curves at the end of the bow that point away from the shooter. The curves work to function as a strain and a lock so that the string won’t flick out of the bow once fired. For the most part, recurve crossbows have continued their tradition of being used for hunting and sport shooting, although they are also used for professional shooting competitions such as the Olympics.
So, whether you are a novice or seasoned hunter looking for the best recurve crossbow, you’ll have to keep certain construction and design features in mind. For instance, we look at draw weight, energy and velocity along with its power stroke, trigger and scope to determine a model’s performance and accuracy. Of course, price is an important factor as crossbows don’t come cheap unless they are entry-level models best suited for target practice and not hunting.
Therefore, to help you navigate through the maze of choices recurve crossbows offer, our experts tried and tested several of these weapons in person. Having done so, we have come up with a list of the five best models in this category. Here we take a quick look at each in our comparison table below and follow it up with an in-depth review for each model. To answer all of your questions about buying the right crossbow, we have put together a comprehensive buying guide for you to look at later.
This is a well thought-out and engineered recurve crossbow from the Excalibur Series. The Excalibur 355 presents a well-balanced piece suitable for small to medium game hunting.
The design is an ergonomic one, devised to fit comfortably against the shoulder, and is easy to draw and fire.
This recurve crossbow requires simple assembly and weighs a mere 5.4 lbs. yet, despite its slight weight, it packs the power you need to take your target down.
The included Tact-Zone 5-reticle scope ensures accuracy so you don’t have to worry about wasting a shot. The scope comes almost entirely zeroed in right out of the box and you’ll only need to shoot a couple of arrows to get it accurately sighted at 100%. This is an illuminated scope so every reticle will have a red/green centered in the middle to improve visibility in poorly lit environments.
The accuracy and alignment of this unit remains consistent regardless of the distance. This crossbow also delivers strong power output with an ability to fire up to 355fps. This speed works nicely with the 18″ 350-grain carbon arrows accompanying the purchase.
On the flip side, this model doesn’t come with an anti-dry fire safety mechanism so you need to manually switch on the safety lever before seating an arrow in the groove.
Excalibur is a name recognized for creating top quality hunting equipment and this recurve cross bow is no exception. With all its inclusive features in this price tag, it ranks as the Best All-Around Recurve Crossbow on our list.
The Barnett Whitetail Pro STR is a recurve crossbow that can fire arrows at 400 feet per second. The crossbow has a draw weight of 187 lbs and kinetic energy of 140 feet lbs. The device comes with everything you need to make an accurate shot. It comes with an illuminated scope.
The crossbow product also features a device for rope cocking and a side mount quiver. It includes two 22 inches headhunter arrows and a lube wax.
The crossbow features a patented technology, known as the Step-Through Riser (STR). There are also string dampeners which offer you stealthy shots. The device is made of CNC machined aluminum so you can have accurate, smooth, and quiet shots.
The Barnett Whitetail is sold and shipped almost assembled and it is suitable for the integration of the Barnett cocking device.
For safety purposes, the crossbow features the anti-dry fire trigger technology which helps you prevent dry fries. Also, there is the finger safety reminder, the finger guards, and the Nock sensor.
Note that you have to wax the strings every time you make 10 shots.
Weighing only 10 lbs., this is a high-powered recurve bow designed to impress with a 330 fbs velocity. These specs give the Southland Archery Supply Desert Hawk Next G1 phenomenal speed, accuracy and momentum.
Starting off right, the assembly for this model is minimal and a short process even for beginners. The body is lightweight yet durable and is pleasing for users who like to hold a good-looking weapon in their hands.
This model features an adjustable forend and a machined aluminum barrel. There is an anti-dry fire mechanism installed to safeguard against any mishaps and a weaver rail to prevent recoil nuisance.
The aesthetics of this weapon present “Next G1” camo making you blend in perfectly with your surroundings. The light weight yet incredible speed and accuracy of this machine makes it suitable for target shooting as well as for game hunting.
With the initial purchase you also you get two 20” carbon arrows, one pair of safety goggles, one scope and a rail lube.
Even though impressive, this SAS desert hawk may bear a heavier price tag than others when it comes to additional features and accessories. All features and accessories are fairly standard which can make it a little pricey for some. That said it still leaves the competition far behind with its excellent durability and efficiency.
That said, we nominate this model as our Best Mid-Range Priced Crossbow as it will fit into most, if not every budget.
This is definitely one of the most cost-effective crossbows to get with a decent quality. Designed with budget-minded users in mind, you get a device that gives the right value for the money and a performance that is as promising as its price.
While the CenterPoint Tyro isn’t known for its great power as it merely throws arrows at 245 fps, it is worth mentioning here that this model is not designed to target large game even though it can probably bring down smaller to medium sized game easily enough. And so while it may not be ideal for hunting all kinds of game, its given power and accuracy suffices really well for target practice and training.
This is a lightweight weapon weighing only 5 lbs. but that doesn’t take anything away from its construction. It is designed to fit snugly against the shoulder with a simple draw and fire system. This entry level crossbow includes all the basics needed to have a working crossbow and is pretty standard to assemble.
Accuracy may not be consistent on the CenterPoint Tyro, but at its given price you can’t expect to have a flagship crossbow. It’s also an entry level weapon for those who want to get into the sport but don’t know if they will pursue it.
Its lower price tag also makes it a suitable option for beginners looking for an affordable, lightweight and simple to use weapon. And those are all the reasons why we nominate this as our Budget Pick on this list.
This is a lightweight model designed primarily for target shooting or targeting small to medium sized game at best. It isn’t as hard hitting as the other models mentioned here with a 245-fps velocity.
This model comes with three 18″ arrows in the crossbow package that are pleasantly speedy and powerful. The butt pad on this model is a fully adjustable one letting you move into a comfortable stance every time you use the crossbow. Plus, it has a limb assembly with quick detachment.
Also included is a stirrup featuring anti-vibration, and a fore grip featuring finger reminder. These are all great features for a novice learning to handle such a weapon for the first time.
Another beginner feature is the metal injected trigger providing a tight quality tolerance. This makes the trigger pull extremely low and emits less jerk when used. Those who have used this crossbow as a beginner’s device find it to be suitable for shooting small targets. The crossbow itself is easy to handle and contains all the basics for target practice or getting familiar with small game hunting.
The BCR doesn’t ship with a rope cocking device so you will need to pick one up. It does, however, feature an automatic safety and anti-dry fire system both of which work reliably enough for shots.
Given its many entry level features paired with an affordable price tag, we nominate this as the Best Crossbow for Beginners.
What we liked:
Light weight stock
Adjustable butt pad
Suitable for small game and target shooting
What could be better:
No rope cocking device included
Too weak for serious hunting
Things to Consider
Contemporary crossbows are available in an array of different styles, each with its own unique features. A recurve crossbow possesses a more elementary design that other types making it easier to handle and maintain.
Compound and recurve crossbow – what’s the difference?
The main difference between a compound and recurve cross lies in the way the string is attached to the limbs. Recurve bows rely on the same mechanism that bows have been using for years with a bowstring causing two flexible limbs to bend as the string is pulled back. The more contemporary compound bow employs a series of pulleys, cams and cables instead. This mechanism gives the compound bow a fair mechanical advantage to bend the limbs which are more rigid than those on a recurve bow.
In terms of power, the compound crossbow can fire arrows at a much higher velocity than their recurve counterparts. A recurve model propels bolts at a lower speed and has a wider design making it difficult to move in a treestand or blind. But they make up for this by offering greater accuracy of shots. Recurves are also lighter than the compound versions making for easier portability when traveling on foot or getting up a treestand.
Size-wise, recurve models are larger than compound ones but price-wise, compound models are always more expensive.
Recurve crossbow maintenance tips
Taking care of your crossbow is integral to maintaining its performance and longevity. For a recurve crossbow, make sure to check the owner’s manual to see how frequently you need to wax the strings on your weapon. A common recommendation is to wax the string every six months but if you use your crossbow in the rain or other extreme elements, you may need to do so more often.
Likewise, check for how often to lubricate the rail. A general guideline suggests doing so every 50-60 shots. Once the rail starts looking dry and dull, it’s time to apply the lube. The result should be a slight sheen on the rail without caking the lubricant on. Timely lubrication will smoothen the traction of the bolt with minimal friction and increase the accuracy of the shot.
Other components to lubricate include the trigger box and the exposed mounting bolts. This prevents corrosion and damage due to exposure to weather conditions.
More things to keep an eye out for include checking the crossbow and arrows before every shooting session, cleaning the scope lens, retightening all bolts periodically, and getting rid of any dust or dirt that might get trapped inside any of the nooks, grooves or connection points of the crossbow.
To keep the crossbow safe during transportation, it is recommended to keep the weapon in a crossbow case.
The best quality crossbows are expensive to manufacture and will result in a higher costing product so the saying “you get what you pay for” holds true in this scenario. A good point of reference is to look closely at the warranty as a solid warranty will back up a high-quality crossbow.
Features to consider while buying the perfect recurve crossbow
Simplicity is perhaps the recurve crossbow’s most attractive feature. This is because it lacks the complicated stringing needed for compound crossbows eliminating cams and cables and saving valuable weight. For the most part, this lack of moving parts makes it less expensive than the compound versions.
That said, there are plenty of other features that need consideration before investing in a recurve crossbow. Here is everything you need to know:
This refers to the amount of pull needed to flex the crossbow’s limbs into the fire position. This will vary significantly between different types of crossbows with the higher the draw weight value, the faster the arrow speed. To make a humane kill of the medium sized game, a draw weight of at least 150 lbs. and velocity around the 300-fps mark is needed.
Energy and velocity
Since recurve crossbows curve away from the user at the end of each limb, they shorten the bracing height or the distance between the string and the bow at rest. This allows the string to travel further before coming to a stop and releasing the arrow. The fastest recurve crossbow we have on our list here is the Barnett Whitetail Pro with an impressive velocity of 400 fps and the Excalibur Matrix with 355 fps trailing closely behind.
Size and weight
In terms of size, the compound crossbow has a narrower frame given its pulley system attached to the limbs.
When compared to a compound crossbow, the reverse crossbow has most of its weight placed back to the stock of the bow. This makes it easier to hold the crossbow steady for longer periods. It also makes the crossbow less wobbly and improves the chance of hitting the target.
This is the length between the crossbow’s string in the cocked position and its resting point and plays a part in the speed of the arrow. Generally, the longer the power stroke, the faster the bolt will fly with more energy imparted to the arrow.
The energy released when firing a shot generates vibration which manifests as noise. To use your crossbow for successful hunting, look for a model with string suppressing mechanisms and limb vibration reducers to dampen the noise. The Barnett Whitetail Pro features an anti-vibration technology to quite its operation and the Barnett Outdoors BCR also comes with anti-vibration features.
The type of trigger you prefer comes to a matter to personal liking. For instance, some shooters find a light trigger pull weight without any creep easier to work with while others respond better to a trigger with a creep and a heavier pull to use. Then there are models that offer a midway between the two.
All models mentioned here come with their own scopes installed and let you zero in on a specific distance for targeting your prey correctly. A scope featuring multiple reticles is more accurate when shooting from different distances. Some models feature illuminated reticles in both red and green illumination which come in handy in poor lighting conditions. The Excalibur Matrix 355 is an excellent specimen with a 5-reticle scope included in the initial purchase.
Many reverse crossbows come with their own set of accessories upon initial purchase. Typical extras include the scope, arrows, cocking aids, quivers and field trips. Models are best compatible with accessories manufactured solely for their design and by the same manufacturer as the brand. The one accessory that you should invest in separately is the crossbow case which is available in hard, soft and hybrid varieties.
Warranties for crossbows should have a realistic timeframe such as a non-transferable 3-year warranty. Within this, the riser, barrel, trigger mechanism, and limbs should be covered. Reputable brands offer warranties with standardized durations covering almost any mechanical issues.
To improve accuracy with your crossbow, make sure to get a model that is neither too heavy, nor too long or wide for you. These factors make it cumbersome to carry and hold onto target. Every crossbow also responds well to certain arrow weights and lengths so make sure to use these as per the manufacturer’s instructions. To help with balanced brace height and tiller, make sure to tune your bow.
You can cock your weapon with either your bare hands, a rope cocking device or an integrated rope cocking device. This takes off 50% of the cocking weight. And then there’s the cranking devices that can take up to 90% of the cocking weight.
Manufacturers recommend doing so every few years but it all depends on how much the crossbow gets used and the quality of the string. If you feel a loss in speed or witness wear and tear, it’s time to change the string on your crossbow.
The Excalibur Matric 355 outshines the competition with its looks and performance. It is a perfectly balanced and crafted weapon that pleases novice and seasoned hunters alike giving them the perfect crossbow for hunting.
Following closely on its heels is the Barnett Whitetail PRO that has its own set of followers loyal to the brand. This model offers exceptional speed, immense accuracy and stellar performance for a well-rounded weapon.
But if you feel that your budget may be holding you back and you need to consider something with a smaller price tag, then take a look at our recommendation for the best recurve crossbow on a budget. The CenterPoint Tyro is a crossbow that is easy to use, performs decently and won’t break the bank.