Buying Used Crossbows

E-mail Horton Steel Force with bobcat

After much struggle, a kill was finally made with Horton's Steel Force Crossbow. Both the author and another hunter missed deer with it because if its terrible trigger pull.

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 The axiom that potential buyer of used crossbows should keep in mind is, “Good crossbows are seldom sold, but less good ones often are.”  While economic necessity might force someone to give up his favorite hunting crossbow, it is much more likely that only death or disability would part a user from a crossbow that had consistently performed for him.

  Crossbow technology is being upgraded every year. About every decade it would pay to take another look  and see if any new crossbow offers sufficiently increased capabilities to justify buying a new one. The majority of crossbows seen in pawn shops are the less expensive models, older ones with less desirable features or are somehow broken. Archery shops are better places to look, because their owners would be less likely to take in poor or non-functional equipment.

E-mail A Fred Bear Crossbow now no longer made

The author though enough of this Fred Bear Crossbow to take on an Alaskan hunt, but the company no longer makes crossbows.

  Crossbows to avoid at any price, even free, are those that are huge, ugly, have a pseudo-military look about them, those that shoot arrows using standard knocks and  those made in China with strange camo patterns. Hard looks need to be given to crossbows by Bear Archery and PSE. These may be shootable, but parts (other than having custom strings made) for older crossbows may no longer be available.

  One of the most common crossbows that shows up is the Horton Steel Force, which was for years the least expensive crossbow in that company’s line. These had terrible, non-adjustable triggers that were extremely difficult to shoot. These have now been discontinued and should have been. I can’t recommend them for anything.  

 I recently shot an example of an O.K. used crossbow. This was a

E-mail Barnett Revolution

A used Barnett Revolution, that if priced at about $150 would be a reasonable hunting crossbow for stationary shots.

Barnett Revolution split-limbed compound crossbow. This crossbow was about 10 years old, was apparently seldom fired and had a functional scope. I chose some new carbon arrows for it, gave it some 100-grain points and it shot very well. Like most crossbows of that era it had a long  trigger pull. If your target was stationary and if you were shooting from a rest, this crossbow would work. How much is worth?  I would say, $150.

E-mail GA gator crossbow knife pistol and harpoon

The Horton Hawk in this picture has been used to take gators up to 12-feet long.

 I have also had a Horton Hawk, that is of a  later time period, but used the same compound-wheel technology. These had better triggers and some components might still be available. This might also be a reasonable purchase for about the same price. I leave mine rigged for alligator hunting and have taken several of the big reptiles with it.

    Go with used crossbows by makers who only make crossbows like Barnett, Horton, TenPoint and Excalibur.  Work through archery shops if possible. Shoot before you buy. See if the money asked won’t get you into a mid-price-range new crossbow. Only if all of these considerations are favorable, should you purchase a used crossbow.

For more information on crossbows, check out my book Crossbow Hunting at

Some crossbows and components were furnished by the manufacturers.
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