Bows > Crossbows

2012’s Top 12 Hunting Crossbows Part I

In this exclusive, two-part series you’ll get an inside look at the best crossbows on the market for 2012.


Crossbow hunting is booming across America, with more and more states legalizing horizontal bow use every year. There are many reasons for this—an exploding whitetail population, aging hunters who can no longer draw compound bows and ease of setup are usual the top three. Though I am a hardcore and dedicated compound bow shooter and hunter, I enjoy hunting with crossbows, too—a lot.

In this exclusive two-part series, you’ll get an inside look at the hottest crossbows for 2012. They have been listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in the order in which I think they should be ranked.

Arrow Precision Inferno Blitz II: Talk about a bargain! This bow features a fully dipped pistol grip thumbhole camouflage stock with rounded cheek plate, auto safety, machined aluminum barrel, compression fiberglass limbs and machined aluminum wheels on a cast aluminum riser. With  a 150-pound draw weight, this bow shoots hunting arrows at 285 fps. The package includes 4x32 multi-reticle illuminated scope, quick-detach quiver, four arrows and rope cocking aid. MSRP: $299

Carbon Express Covert SLS: In just its second year in the crossbow business, Carbon Express has become a very popular option for serious hunters. The new Express Covert SLS slim line design allows for easy maneuvering in both ground blinds and tree stands with its 13-inch power stroke limbs. Other features include Advanced Bull-Pup stock with adjustable forearm and five-position tactical foregrip on a 9-inch Picatinny rail that makes mounting multiple accessories easy. The anodized aluminum flight rail supports a CNC machined aluminum riser with carbon-infused limbs, cams and tunable string and cable system. It has a 185-pound draw weight and arrow speed of approx. 355 fps. It comes complete with a deluxe lighted scope, quick-detach three-arrow quiver and three Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 20-inch shafts. MSRP: $599.99

Darton FireForce: Darton has long been known as a leader in compound bow innovation, so it is no wonder its crossbows are hot stuff, too. The FireForce features the company’s DualSync cams, oversized axles and sealed Quad Ball Bearings along with ultra-wide laminated split limbs—all of which are designed to withstand maximum stress and produce maximum performance. It also has a Tactical stock that has been redesigned to be more user friendly. For those who value top-end raw arrow speed, this bow shoots a 400-grain arrow at a screaming 395 to 410 fps. It comes with an integrated string suppressor and the company’s patent-pending Barrel Dampener to minimize vibration and noise. MSRP: $1,050

Excalibur Ibex SMF: This bow is somewhat unique among modern crossbows in that it offers recurve limbs and a cool thumbhole stock finished in Realtree AP camo. It’s designed to be a solid, game-getting tool that will last for years at an affordable price. The 175-pound draw weight generates 305 fps with a 350-grain arrow. It is available only in a kit that includes matching multiplex crossbow scope and mounts, quiver with mounting bracket, four arrows and a cocking rope. MSRP: $539.99

Horton Fury: This hot new bow is built around an advanced CNC machined lightweight barrel and new string stumper arms. Together with a 160-pound draw weight and 15 ½-inch power stroke, you’ll get an arrow speed of about 355 fps. The unique thing about the bow, however, is Horton’s patented Frontal String and Reverse Draw Technology, which really helps when trying to maneuver through the deer woods and also aids in balance. It looks weird at first glance, but when you hold and shoot the bow you quickly understand the company’s thinking. The stock features a Monet Carlo cheek piece, precision machined CNC cams with dual sealed bearings, CNC machined riser and Picatinny rail, an anti-dry fire mechanism, Talon ultra light trigger with dual-sided safety and spring-loaded bolt retention system. MSRP: $899

Maximus ERGO: The name comes from this bow’s “ERGO-nomically” designed system that incorporates nine patented or patents-pending features. It weighs just 7 pounds with scope, and is 17 ½-inches axle-to-axle and 16-inches wide when cocked. It has a bull pup stock design and a trigger with a true, 2 ½-pound pull weight. It comes in both 150- and 175-pound draw weights, which results in a 400-grain arrow leaving the bow at up to 330 fps. Both models come complete with a Maximus 100-yard reticle scope, quick-detach side mount quiver and three Maximus Carbon Slayer arrows. MSRP: $749-$799

Check out Part II of the Best Crossbows for 2012.

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20 Responses to 2012’s Top 12 Hunting Crossbows Part I

arie wrote:
November 21, 2013

found a nice review of the Ghost 350 here

Arie wrote:
November 20, 2013

For anyone on the fence I found some pretty good reviews at

J.J. Beal wrote:
November 19, 2013

I have both an Excalibur Exocet 200 and Ten point. The Excalibur is durable, accurate with 3 inch groups at 50 yards, and I can change a string in the field in less than 2 minutes. I hunt Southeast Kansas, and the Excalibur always makes the trip. It is the finest crossbow for under $1000 that I have shot. It is a bit noisy, but I have never had to shoot twice. Arrow speeds of 330 FPS with the Dyna Flemish string is absolutely awesome for the money. The only two things I do not like are no dry fire safety device and the safety does not auto engage the safety when cocking.

phill wrote:
March 04, 2013

Hello I'm thinking of getting my 1st bow. Im not looking for the best on the market but I do like the look of the Barnett zombie 350, any thoughts? Would this make a good bow to start with.

DDAVEY wrote:
February 16, 2013

Middleton DTM375 recurve limbs 245lb draw 395ft/sec with a 358grn bolt (tested) and dead accurate. can change strings in the field. long, wide but light.

Barry B wrote:
January 22, 2013

I bought a Horton Ultralite seems to be a good shooter fast and pretty light anyone else shot this new bow model what do you think about this bow ??!

red wrote:
December 23, 2012

had an excalibur and was a fine bow. really liked the de-cocking ability. but try and bring a 3 foot horizontal bow up 20 feet in a hemlock tree.

Tom wrote:
December 09, 2012

My Horton max200 puts them down just fine.

Dragon wrote:
December 05, 2012

Didnt hear anything about any of the ten points... any comments?

Tommy wrote:
November 22, 2012

I have the Carbon Express Covert 2 with the 200lb draw and 385fps it puts the arrow down range up fast, quick and in a hurry!! its a great bow

turkey thugz wrote:
November 16, 2012

Barnett zombie 350 . Same as ghost 350 but more stealth and doesn't have to much for the design like the 400

Benny wrote:
October 07, 2012

I like the new mission mxb 360 by methews I done left the parker at home.. What do u think about the new crossbow

Rick K wrote:
September 24, 2012

Agee with Steve on Barnett except no need to go up to the Gohst 400 the CRT Predator is the best for the $$$. I have actually killed 2 Alligators and a Magnificent 150 class whitetail @ 50 yards (ran 40 yds and out). Can't wait to hit 3 more states this year with it. I shopped em all too !

Thomas wrote:
September 07, 2012

Excalibur is the best on the market hands down. No pulleys, lightweight, accurate, and a lifetime warranty. To say a Barnett or Horton is the best on the market is just crazy! Also with an Excalibur you can change your own stings (without a bow press, so it can be done in the feild) and remove the bolt and decock the bow without shooting it...unlike any compound crossbow. You can not go wrong with an Excal. recurve. Do your research and shoot'll find out for yourself.

Steve Douglas wrote:
September 05, 2012

Obviously no one has seen the Barnett Ghost 400. Best on the market.. Check it out

Marc wrote:
August 21, 2012

For those of you who haven't checked out Middleton Crossbows, now with Bohning Archery, you are missing out. I can dry fire mine. I dare you to dry fire yours, accidently or on purpose!!

trent wrote:
February 03, 2012

I've heard alot about 10X crossbows, what do you have to say about them?

Dave wrote:
January 27, 2012

For the best priced quietest crossbow check out the Darton serpent. I have shot them all and nothing compares to this crossbow. I am bumbed I bought the one I did before trying the serpent.

mike wrote:
January 27, 2012

Bob, which one is the quietest of the carbon express 1 or 2? I want a fast bow but quite, any suggetions?

Carl Giuliano wrote:
January 27, 2012

These are great reviews but, I ran across Bob Walker's new offering, which isn't in your review. Check it out - beautiful, efficient and affordable. Very high quality, as you would expect from Walker's products.