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America’s Top Crossbow Manufacturers: a Brief Overview

Crossbows are the weapon of choice for the outdoorsmen who want the convenience and the power of a pistol and the excitement of bow hunting. It isn't as restricted and regulated as guns (although there are strict regulations for hunting). It is also a fairly lucrative niche, what with the said hunting season and target competitions held all over the country. Crossbows are generally expensive though; the tactical ones can cost up to $1,600. However, you can always find beginner models for as low $50. Here are some of the world's well-known crossbow makers, producing gear for the beginners, expert marksmen and everything in between.

Barnett Crossbows

Barnett-CrossbowBarnett is a leading name in the world of crossbows. All of their main lines crossbows are made in US, and they make both re-curve and compound models. When it comes to innovation, Barnett is the byword in the crossbow makers' industry. It has sold over a million crossbows in a span of 50 years; a testament to the company's claim that every new Barnett crossbow is built to be faster, stronger and better; not bad for a company which has risen from a hobby. Some of the technology offered in their re-curve model is a red dot site of adjustable intensity. This allows the shooter to adjust the target light strength based on lighting conditions. Other technology is a built in cranking device that makes it easier to load and cock. Barnett crossbows are engineered to meet the needs of the avid hunter – as well as the novice archer, the expert marksman and the slingshot enthusiast. It was pioneered by the self-cocking mechanism of the Commando crossbow, followed by the first compound 'Demon' model, and the Quick Detach Front end feature which are found on every Barnett crossbow. Nowadays, Barnett crossbows are regarded highly for its power, performance and value for money; making it the top choice of people who are looking for weapons built for the kill. Some of the technologies included in the Barnett weapons are its patented Magnesium STR riser, an anti-vibration (AVI) isolation system such as AVI limbs for extreme wear and tear resistance, AVI Bolt retainer and Foot Stirrup for silent and speedy release, Gordon/Barnsdale laminated limbs, GAM composite stock for optimum lightweight-ness and compactness, light trigger pull and a pistol-like grip. It even has ergonomics down pat with its adjustable stock and cheek piece.


Darton-ArcheryCrosman is better known as an air-gun manufacturer. It was incorporated in 1924 when the Crosman Brothers sold out to Frank Hahn. While most of its history involves the development of BB guns, the company has recently delved into the production of high-quality crossbows. It has a long-standing reputation of manufacturing dependable and solid products at a very reasonable price. When most crossbow makers where focusing on accuracy and power to cater to hunters, Crosman targeted the novice archers and started to manufacture crossbows of a purely recreational quality. Today, they are known to produce crossbows, such as the Teton which has the earmarks of bone-crushing performance. Crosman crossbows feature Quad limb designs using solid stock, sculptured hand guards, pistol grips and reduced forward weight for ergonomics; as well as technologies like the Lightning Touch trigger and Precision Optics. Note that these crossbows can only be bought as a package, which is not a bad thing since accessories included are the very handy quick-detach quiver, a cocking assistance rope and the mentioned optics. Crosman tapped sister company Centerpoint for its easy-to-operate scope with its elevation and windage adjustment turrets and brass knobs producing audible clicks. The Teton launches arrows at an excellent 320 FPS. There is hardly another crossbow that can match the Crosman's Teton in power (in its class range).

Darton Archery

Darton-ArcheryDarton has over 60 years of experience in the manufacture of archery supplies. This crossbow maker is well-known for its fast-shooting crossbows that have captured the interest of crossbow enthusiasts. Darton has managed to imbue balance and dependability into its crossbow line with topnotch materials and workmanship. You'd be surprised that Dalton nails the aesthetics aspect as well. Darton is one of the oldest companies in the field. It was established in 1950 as a division of Container Specialties, a manufacturer of leather goods for mill workers. The business also provides products for Detroit's automotive industry, which made the nature of the trade seasonal as the auto industry shuts down during the summer (in that period). The owner of CS then decided to venture into the production of archery supplies such as gloves, thanks to its leatherworking division, and eventually moved on to produce high-performance crossbows. Darton archery manufactures crossbows with efficient alloy energy cams and hard-anodized Teflon impregnated barrels. It also features an aircraft-grade aluminum riser which makes for lightweight and solid crossbows. It also has the innovative rifle-style safety feature and an adjustable butt plate. Cocking the Darton crossbow is easy, thanks to the patented E-Z draw cocking winch. The crossbows also have a rugged trigger mechanism that makes for a smooth pull, and an anti-dry fire mechanism.

Diamond Archery

Diamond-ArcheryDiamond archery was a leading manufacturer of archery supplies and equipment. Bows manufactured by this company is deemed to be the best cam bows in the market. In 2004, it was acquired by Bowtech technology. Bowtech took the archery industry by storm in 2000 when it developed the Black Knight, which was marketed with the tagline "the world's fastest bows" and challenging other manufacturers for a chronograph-judged competition. The unprecedented sales resulted to rapid growth. Today, the Diamond Archery line is marketed by Bowtech and shares some of the technology of the latter. A notable example is the Center Pivot technology featured in the Iceman compound bow and the Stryker crossbow. The technology attaches the bow riser near the center of the limbs. This provides great stabilization and control of the laminate split limbs, resulting to overall balance. Another shared technology is the FLX guard. It is a cable containment system that tackles the effects of too much cable tension and in inflexible cable guards. The FLX guards flex inward when the bow is drawn, absorbing the brunt of the cable guard torque that would have put a toll on the riser. It provides additional tune-ability and accuracy.

Eastman Outdoors

Eastman-Outfitters-CrossbowThe founder of Eastman Outdoors Inc. is Rob Eastman – president and equity stakeholder in Eastman International, overseeing various operations, particularly those of Eastman Outdoors, which offers products geared for the active outdoorsman. While the more popular categories are outdoor gourmet and wild game, it has now ventured into the crossbow market with the Xforce. Even though it is a beginner in the crossbow makers' field, the Xforce has the earmarks of a good piece of equipment, with its manufacture entailing the basics of good crossbow-making technology. Still, the Xforce is designed as a mid-range crossbow and is targeted for the beginner crossbow hunter who wants serious equipment at a good price. It features a machined aluminum barrel and riser, aluminum allow-cams and high-performance quad limbs capable of kinetic energy of up to 117 pounds, with launch speeds amounting to 300 FPS enough to make it useable for hunting. Other features are the integral cocking winch mounting, all-metal machined trigger and sight bridge, Singe dot Red Dot sight, synthetic composite stock and tunable synthetic cables and strings and a Weaver scope base. Notable is the SilenTech technology – a special coating that greatly reduces noise and vibration.

Excalibur Crossbows

Excalibur-CrossbowExcalibur was founded in 1983 by Bill and Kath Troubridge and has built its reputation on producing efficient, accurate hunting crossbows that were actually designed with hunting in mind and have the features that are most useful for hunters. Each of their crossbows also comes with a special instructional DVD that will teach you how to get the most out of your bow.Notable features of Excalibur crossbows include stocks made with advanced composite technology that are not only warm to the touch but durable enough to stand up to the worst wear and tear, triggers that reduce the pull to less than 3 lb for the most accurate targeting and a modular recursive limb system that produces bolt speeds faster than most compound bows without their weight or other mechanical problems. Excalibur’s newest crossbow model is the Axiom, which has a draw weight of just 175 lb but is capable of launching arrows with speeds of up to 305 fps. Excalibur is the crossbow maker of the crossbow hunters. The company does not care to produce heavily-stylized crossbows. Instead, they focus on usability – accuracy, reliability and efficiency. Excalibur prides itself for not relying on armchair product engineers for the designs – they employ the ideas of crossbow hunters to come up with gear that are truly meant for hunting. Excalibur utilizes lightning-fast recurve limbs for its crossbows. The flagship product, Equinox, features an ergonomic thumbhole stock. It was also designed with reduce total length to make way for easy cocking and a steadier hold; and not surprisingly, downrange performance was not at all compromised. Excalibur products are also camouflage-decorated and come with yet another ergonomic feature – an adjustable cheekpiece. Excalibur optics is also excellent, with its Multi Red-dot hunting accessory package utilizing reflex technology and an electronic sighting system. Yet another accessory that would make topnotch hunting experiences is the S5 string shock and sound suppression system that is as effective as it is durable. So it's not surprising that the company has bagged the US National Crossbow Championships award for the last 8 years, as well as the Canadian 3-D Championship crossbow class for the last 8 years.

Horton Crossbows

Horton-CrossbowHorton, which was founded close to fifty years ago by Bernard Horton, is a leading manufacturer as well and is noted for its wide variety of crossbow models which are appropriate for hunters of all ages and skill levels, and are also available in a range of prices. Technology they offer is things like an ambidextrous cheek piece which suits any shooter in any shooting position, allowing shooting adjustments quickly. Light trigger mechanisms giving the hunter extra shooting capability and accuracy.Their 2010 crossbow models range from the Legacy series of lightweight but accurate recursive crossbows which can launch arrows at speeds ranging from 312 to 350 fps, to the Vision 175 with Horton’s patented Front String technology that ensures optimal balance for accurate targeting while still remaining compact with a length of just 34-1/2” and is capable of firing arrows with speeds of up to 325 fps.

Parker Crossbow

Parker-CrossbowAttention to detail – that is what makes Parker Compound Bows Inc. one of the best crossbow makers in the world. Bob Errett, the current CEO of the company started out in the archery field as an employee of legendary Fred Bear's Bear Archery. In 1984, Bob parted ways with Bear to form Nationwide Archery, which went on to be a major manufacturer of archery supplied for 17 years. From 1996 onwards, the company focused on the production of compound bows. In 2003, a company merger resulted to Nationwide Archery assimilating into Parker Bows. The company has started developing a new line of crossbows in 2002, having recognized the viability of the market, evidenced by the thriving crossbow seasons. Parker is well-recognized in the crossbow market as the producer of well-balanced, lightweight and high-performing crossbows, which is the result of integrating the technology of manufacturing high-performance compound bows into the production of crossbows. Parker crossbows feature a five-position retractable stock, machined built-in scope base, Picatiny rail for accessories such as the Red Hot high-velocity crossbow strings with C3 Serving, and Advanced trigger system with safety and anti-dry fire mechanism, an adjustable forearm for a good fit and balance, and inverted cam design, as well as the Buss Cable terminated in-limb form for added strength and load balance, an ergonomic pistol grip and vented limb pockets.

PSE Archery

PSE-Archery-Compound-BowForty years ago, PSE (Precision Shooting Equipment) founder Pete Shepley, was working for another corporation as a product engineer and designing archery equipment during lunch hour. He first experimented on bow release aids. He developed a flexible arrow vane to replace the traditional feathers. Thus, a perfect compound bow (his first) was invented. It was introduced at an Indiana tournament and within a week, he received 200 orders. The following weeks, requests reached 700 with customers ringing in from all over the country (and he only had to rely on word-of-mouth advertising at the time). Nowadays, PSE is the country's leading archery equipment manufacturer with 120,000 SF factory located in Tucson, Arizone. , holding twenty patens for bow designs and archery. A lot of effort is put into Research and Development, which is pretty much how Shepley managed to nail his first compound bow (and the first hundred requests).Advanced techniques are employed in the production of PSE crossbows. The company pioneered the use of solid aluminum for bow risers, reducing total weight and increasing strength. They also manufacture crossbows with an Integrated Quick Cocking Design Reload system, requiring force as low as 4 lbs, as well as an adjustable rear stock. It also uses a rail-less and therefore, frictionless design, increasing the string life.

TenPoint Crossbow Technologies

TenPoint-CrossbowTenpoint Crossbow Technologies is one of America’s leading crossbow makers, and one that is recognized for constantly being on the cutting edge of crossbow technology. Tenpoint is also a name in the same class as the manufacturers already mentioned, and they offer unique material hybrids in their weapons giving you some of the strongest and lightest weapons on the market.The company was founded in 1994 by Rick Bednar, the former Chief Operating Officer of Horton Technologies. They hold various patents pertaining to triggers, grip safeties and barrels, incorporating aircraft grade metals. Its first product was the Huntmaster Advantage crossbow; at present, Tenpoint holds eleven patents in the US with fourteen more pending, and has two successful brands, TenPoint and Wicked Ridge. Its product range includes not just high-performance crossbows but also a wide range of accessories.

Some of TenPoint Crossbow’s significant technological innovations include:

  • PowerTouch triggers that are now standard in all of the company’s TenPoint and 6 Point Series crossbows and has a lighter pull compared to standard triggers available on most other bows.
  • Dry-fire-inhibitor (DFI) prevents the crossbow from firing when there is no bolt loaded on the flight deck, avoiding potential damage to the bow, as well as injury to the user, that can result from dry firing.
  • AccuDraw cocking aids help users cock bows with heavier draw weights and auto-retracts the string after every use.
  • GripSafety secondary safety helps the user avoid injury by ensuring that thumbs and fingers are in the proper position before the trigger can be pulled.
For 2010, TenPoint’s newest model is the Turbo XLT, which features a compact bow assembly that measures just 13.5-inches when cocked but has a draw weight of 180 lb, enough to deliver a 420-grain bolt at 315 fps with 92.5 ft/lb of kinetic energy.
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