They may be small, but they still pack a punch. Pistol crossbows are smaller, more compact and less powerful than traditional crossbows, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a spot in your hunting artillery. They won’t bring down a deer, but they can be used in hunting small game, and they are fun for general target practice.
Besides, they can be a great starter bow for a teenager to practice with. Deciding which one is the best investment can be difficult, especially when there are so many features to choose from.
Buying something you think is going to be great, only to find out its junk sucks and return policies aren’t always on our side. We’ve done all the homework for you and compiled a list of the top 5 pistol crossbows, and we’re confident the best pistol crossbow is on our list.
Prophecy Self-Cocking Pistol Crossbow – Best on the Market
Snake Eye Tactical Cobra Crossbow – Great for Small Hunting Games
BOLT Crossbows The Seeker Crossbow – Perfect for Target Practice
PSE Viper SS Handheld Crossbow – Easy to Use
Tactical Crusader Hand Held Pistol Crossbow – Budget Pick
Top 5 Best Pistol Crossbow
1. Cobra System K-8025 Self Cocking Pistol Tactical Crossbow
Cobra K-8025 pistol crossbow features an easy to use cocking mechanism and is excellent for target practice, or small game hunting. It is very powerful for its size, but its prime shooting distance tops out at around 15 yards, after this, the arrow has a tendency to take a downward plunge and hitting your mark gets increasingly harder. However, even at longer distances the arrow still delivers a potentially deadly hit.
The body of this crossbow is fairly sturdy, constructed of hard plastic and compressed, molded fiberglass it is semi-impressive. The sights are accurate, but they leave a little bit to be desired, they tend to break off easily and they are mounted to a plastic rail. The arrows that appear with this crossbow are reasonably fragile and won’t last through more than a few shots into any practice target.
The instructions are straightforward, but fail to mention that you must care for the string the same way you would on a hunting crossbow. This is common sense to experienced crossbow users but is something a newbie wouldn’t know.
The lack of this information in the bow’s guide is a huge oversight by the company. Overall this is a decent weapon when used as intended.
- 80 LB Draw Weight
- Firing Speed of 165 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Made of Hard Plastic and Compressed Molded Fiberglass
- Good accuracy when shot within 15 yards
- Includes 3 bolts
- Easy cock handle
- It’s easy to break the scopes
- The instruction manual is lacking important information
See More: Best Crossbow Reviews and Buying Guide
2. Snake Eye Tactical Pistol Crossbow
Snake Eye Pistol Crossbow is stronger than it looks and has a fairly accurate shooting range. It can shoot accurately up to 18 yards before the bolts begin to lose their trajectory. It packs a powerful hit, even when shot past its accuracy range. This mini crossbow works well for hunting small game, or target practice.
This mini crossbow comes with a 15 pack of bolts, but they’re flimsy and are only good for one shot when using solid targets like wood. Removing the bolt from the target is likely to destroy the bolt.
The sights and sight mounting slides are made from plastic and care should be taken not to break them. Mounting a new sight will be difficult. Changing the bow string on this bow is difficult and requires two people or some ingenuity.
- Solid Metal and Fiberglass Construction
- 80 LB Draw Weight
- Firing Speed of 165 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Shoots up to 18 yards accurately
- Comes with 15 bolts
- Quality construction
- Plastic sight mounting slide
- Difficult to change the string
- Included bolts aren’t sturdy
3. Prophecy 80 Pound Self-Cocking Pistol Crossbow
The prophecy is an impressive mini crossbow and pretty to look at, it is fashioned after Barnett Commando Pistol of the late ’80s. It is made from aluminum but has a plastic grip, crafted in a way to allow a wood look and texture. It doesn’t come assembled, so you’ll have to assemble it, but the instructions are easy to understand, even for beginners.
It shoots accurately up to around 15 yards and comes with 3 bolts. The factory sights aren’t the best, but the mounting slide does allow you to remove them and add your own easily. Installing better bow sights can increase the accuracy, but after around 18 yards hitting your mark gets questionable. This mini bow packs a punch, it doesn’t hit as hard as the Cobra, but it will take down small prey easily.
The included bolts aren’t good quality, so we suggest buying some aftermarket ones. Overall this bow is aesthetically pleasing and a solid choice for target practice.
- 80 LB Draw Weight
- Firing Speed of up to 165 FPS ( Feet Per Second)
- 6-4/5″ Power Stroke
- Aluminum Construction
- Looks nice
- Accurate up to 15 yards with factory sight
- Easy to install aftermarket sight
- Comes with 3 bolts
- Included bolts are flimsy
- It has less “punch” than others on our list
4. PSE Viper SS Crossbow Viper SS Handheld Crossbow
This mini crossbow is light but tough. It fires faster than most pistol crossbows its size and features an auto safety and anti dry fire feature. It has an accurate firing range of up to 20 yards after that accuracy begins to fail. It’s has a solid polymer construction and a plastic mounting slide.
This pistol crossbow is excellent for target practice, small game hunting, or fishing. It can fire beyond 20 yards, but 20 yards is where the accuracy tops out with the factory sights. With a better sight, this mini crossbow could easily hit targets up to 40 yards away without losing much accuracy.
It comes with 3 aluminum bolts, but you’ll probably want to purchase more. You’ll also need to purchase string wax to help keep your string in good condition. The handle is fairly easy to cock, and the trigger pulls easily. The included foregrip is a nice feature, one not seen in most styles of pistol crossbow.
Overall this is a decent mini crossbow, and it would be great for a beginner, or an experienced crossbow user.
- 50 LB Draw Weight
- Firing Speed up to 215 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Made From Molded Polymer
- Quality build
- Good accuracy range
- Great for beginners, or experienced users
- Sights can be challenging to adjust and are easily knocked out of position
5. iGlow 80 Ib Black Camouflage Aluminum Hunting Pistol Crossbow Bow
iGlow pistol crossbow features a built-in arrow holder, a convenient feature that allows you to keep your arrows within hands reach at all times. This mini bow is exceptionally powerful and more than strong enough for small game hunting.
The max accuracy range for free sighting is around 15-20 yards, but with a little practice and a right eye, you can hit targets up to 30 yards away without much accuracy loss.
You can change the iron sights out for a scope if you can find one that fits. This mini crossbow does not have the cobra style cock, which is nice. This mini bow is cocked by pulling the cocking lever back.
The string does not come pre-waxed, but it is good quality and holds up well with regular waxing. The assembly instructions are clear and easy to understand. It comes with 15 bolts and an extra string. The sights are the only downside to this bow, they are difficult to adjust, and although they’re sturdy, you may find yourself wanting to swap them out.
- 80 LB Draw Weight
- Firing Speed up to 160 FPS (Feet Per Second)
- Aluminum and Fiberglass Build
- Auto Safety Cacking Mechanism
- Impressive shooting ability
- No Cobra System
- Comes with 15 bolts and an extra string
- Sights can be swapped out easily
- Factory sights are not the best
What to Lock For When Purchasing a Pistol Crossbow
There are some notable things to look for when deciding which pistol crossbow is the right one for you. Features, specifications, and terms can be confusing for beginners, to make it easier we’ve addressed the most important of the aspects and have explained them below.
If It Has a Self-Cocking Feature
A self-cocking feature makes it much easier to use your mini crossbow, by assisting you in pulling back the bow to fire it. It is a good idea to choose a model that includes this feature, especially if you are new to pistol crossbows.
It’s Draw Weight
Draw weight is the amount of weight you have when you pull back the crossbows. The further you pull it the more weight you have until it is maxed. Higher loads can help bolts fly further if you want a more powerful shot, look for a pistol crossbow with the higher draw weight. Draw weights range from 50 Ibs – 200 Ibs in mini crossbows, so keep in mind the amount of draw weight that would work best for you.
If It Comes With Extra Supplies
Most pistol crossbows come with goodies like bow case, bolts, extra string, and string wax. However, some don’t. It’s always good to pay attention to what supplies your bow comes with, so you know what else you’ll need to purchase is able to use your mini bow.
If It Has a Scope
All pistol crossbows have some form of aiming mechanism, most often it is in the form of sight. Though, some do come pre-equipped with scopes. A view will do the job for most target practice, but if you want to hunt small game, or try fishing with your mini bow a scope is the best choice.
Using a scope will increase your accuracy distance significantly. Pay attention to which style the mini crossbow has and seek out information about how easily, the sight could be swapped for a scope. In some models, it is not probable to remove the sights.
If It Comes Pre-Assembled
Some models come pre-assembled, but not all of them do. The ones that don’t are hit and miss on directions. Some clearly explain how to put your crossbow together, while others can leave you confused and frustrated. If it is your first time purchasing a pistol crossbow, you may find it easier to get one that comes pre-assembled.
More expensive doesn’t always mean it’s a better product. All pistol crossbows are cheaper than right crossbows, but the price range can still vary significantly. Most higher-priced models will offer better range and precision, but overall they have the same features as the cheaper versions. If you’re a beginner, a more affordable model will most likely have everything you need.
Pistol Crossbow FAQs:
Q: What are pistol crossbows used for?
Ans: Pistol crossbows are used for target practice, hunting small games and in some cases fishing. For many people, they are simply a form of entertainment and used simply for shooting targets in their backyards.
Q: Do I Need A Permit To Own, Or Use A Pistol Crossbow?
Ans: You do not need a permit to own or operate a pistol crossbow for target practice. They are much like BB guns in this aspect. However, regardless of their lack of needing a permit, these are still deadly weapons, not toys. For permit questions about small game hunting, or fishing contact your local DNR department
Q: Do I Need To Wax My Pistol Crossbow Bow String?
Ans: Yes, you need to wax the string regularly to prevent it from being damaged and prolong its use. The mini bow’s string is put under the same stress and made the same way as a full-sized hunting bows string, so it will need to care for the same way.
So Which One Is The Best?
All of the pistol crossbows on our list have decent features and are within a reasonable price range. Ultimately the best pistol crossbow is the one that fits your needs and your budget.
If you aren’t a fan of the Cobra System style cocking mechanisms, we recommend the iGlow. It has a pull back cocking style and has some pretty nice features, including the built-in arrow holder.
If you enjoy the way, the Cobra System cocking mechanism works then any of the other mini crossbows on our list are good, depending on your needs.