Looking for advice on crossbows


5 year old buck +
Here in IL, hunters over 62 can hunt deer with crossbows. I'm thinking about getting Dad one for Christmas. I don't have a handle on the crossbow market, would $300 get me a pretty good one? It doesn't need to be real fancy, just a good serviceable crossbow that I can stick a red dot or 4x on. All recommendations are more than welcome.
I bought a Barnett Raptor FX for my daughter and I to use. Seems to give you a lot of bang for the buck. Comes with 4x scope and 3 bolts. I have no complaints, shoots pretty good for us. No problems. Might have 30 shots through it. Adjustable stock was a selling point for me.
I got a crossbow for my kids to use when they became legal here in IN. I have used it as well and have taken 1 deer with it. Its a nice archery tool for when you don't want to invest the money or time into more traditional bow hunting equipment. I did it to avoid a bow for me, a bow for my bow, and a bow for whoever else. Crossbow is more of a one size fits most typye of tool, much like a firearm - a compound is more tailor fitted to the individual.

It's a different animal - You muscle memory thinks gun, but it isn't. You pullthetrigger andexpect recoiland a boom. You get recoil of a BB-gun and a thump sound (not what your body is expecting). If you are used to watching the magical flight of your arrow - that is pretty much gone as well. When using a scope at 30 yards in most cases by the time you look up the bolt/arrow is there all ready. They are typically heavier, and louder than a compound. Mine is comparable to a 22 crack. They are not very balanced either - very front heavy. The multiple dimensions vs a gun or bow makes them somewhat awkward at first as well. I have not seen any increase in hunting range myself - at least not without considerable practice. I still limit myself to 30 yards. You can not use a traditional archery target -the crossbow will blow right thru most of them and tear up the bolts/arrows (bag or 3D type). Also on lower end models the trigger typically sucks! More like one of a shotgun than a rifle.

I bought a Barrnet Quad 400 (I think) as a kit (bow, bolts, quiver, practice points and 4x scope) from BP for right at $500 - scope was crap (literally fell apart with a month). I had issues with fliers with fixed heads, but have gotten much better results with mechanicals (I use 125 grain 2 blade rages). Yo don't havetoshoot crossbow heads, but you willwant to shoot a heavier head in a crossbow tha youwould traditionallyuse on a compound. I wouldn't use anythin lower than a 125gr. A crossbow bolt flight is different - there is not much rotation and the heavier head seems to pull the bolt straighter thru the air, while a true arrow uses rotation, the fletchig and the head to gain stability and address the arrow flex. Crossbow bolts are more like flinging a broomstick!

All the same they are very effective weapons on deer as long as you know your limitatons. They take some getting used to, require some,but not alot of practice t become proficient with at normal archery ranges and just like anything else you can spend alot of money on one. I shot a $1,000 one and it was a totally different weapon. Smooth trigger, much quieter, lighter and more balanced. I couldn't justify $1,000 on something I wasn't sure would get much use.

It ruins the surprize but take yor dad to a shop and have him shoot some - he may not like it, he may be like a kid ina candy store! The experiance may be the best gift of all. Crossbows are pick-up and shoot,so most archery shops will have several you can "test drive". Good luck.

P.S. - I have no regrets buying mine, but it wasn't a game changer for me personally either. Giventhe choice I prefer my compound, but if I have a hard time finding the time to practice - I can always grab the crossbow and head out and be confident.
I think $300 is low to get anything decent.

My dad got a cheaper Barnett in 2008. He bought a package from cabelas. I got him a crank attachment too but he is able to cock with a pull string. It isimple to use but very awkward in a deer stand. I'd much rather use a compound bow even if I had to set it at 40lb draw. Newer designs might be better. I'd recommend taking him and trying out at dealers to see what you like and don't.
I looked at a numb3re of crossbows....and sold myself up to a compact Ten Point Model with the cranking cocker. Thought I could operate it for the "long term" witb such. Spent about a $1000 on it and not sure of my wisdom. It shoots fine..,..and gave me some extra days in the stand. Stil, crossbows are a different kind of hunting. A bitt awkward to use....IMO. No deer.....yet.
For the money, Barnett seems to be good. I inherited one my dad had bought a couple years ago and it shoots great.
i got the mission mxb400. I think $300 is going to be tough. Amazon has a few. shot a decent 8 w/ mine this year. blew through both shoulders and the bolt was stuck in a tree behind the deer. deer only went about 15 yards.

barnett sure puts up some good specs for the money.
Is there anything particular for those interested that they should be looking for as far as options, etc....
Compact size, weight, and narrow is better in a box blind. A shooting rest of some type will help to hold it steady.
I would also at least consider the Excalibur Xbows just because they are so much simpler being a recurve vs having all the cams and stuff the other Xbows have. You can fix them yourself without a press and are built like a tank. Just something to think about.
I think you'll have to raise your limit to get anything worth having.
A couple of my brothers were in the market for a crossbow last year. They went to the deer show in Madison in April. All the major crossbow manufacturers were there and let you shoot them. They ended up going with a high end 10 Point. They shot about 8 different brands and there is a big difference between them. Do your self a favor and go and shoot a bunch of them and then pick the one that meets your needs.
I've used my boys crossbow and the only thing I would recommend is trying the youth models out. When shooting them I found the full sized ones to feel big and awkward. The youth model we got him is light, maneuverable, and shootable from inside a blind without any problems.
I own a ten point.....largely for the size and weight, but also for the cocking device. If I were looking to save some money, I think I would hove bought their lower cost brand called "wicked ridge". These are a bit wider and heavier but are a high-qulaity product. Mostly the design is just a few years "old" and does not have a few features found in their top-tier brand. I think you can own a good wicked ridge for about $500. A few other brands said above are good too.....but this is what I would do.
I've used my boys crossbow and the only thing I would recommend is trying the youth models out. When shooting them I found the full sized ones to feel big and awkward. The youth model we got him is light, maneuverable, and shootable from inside a blind without any problems.
Interesting. This could counter the main complaint I've heard about using crossbows, the size and weight.
Interesting. This could counter the main complaint I've heard about using crossbows, the size and weight.
It does for me. Shooting the full size crossbows really disinterested me, I didn't like them at all. The youth model was more maneuverable than my vertical bow in a blind and I can also shoot it from a laying or low position. I would say that a full size crossbow has less benefits than a vertical, and youth model has more benefits than a vertical.
If they ever make them legal in MO. I'll consider a Hickory creek vertical X bow.

No rail for the bolt to ride on so its more like a bow, full length arrow, Dry fire safety, light weight, and I read the trigger is supper light.

Having said all that I don't own one so I can't say if the Marketing hype is true. Only drawback I see is trying to shoot it out of I tight box blind.
let us know how you like it.
For the money it has great reviews but take note the poor reviews for broken strings. Wear safety glasses.