An amateur can easily operate a crossbow

Crossbow: test, comparison and buying guide

Everyone knows it from medieval films: the crossbow. Often the crossbow is intuitively classified into the category of weapons, which it is only conditionally. Whether you want to practice crossbow shooting as a sport or use the crossbow as a tool, we have researched for you. In our crossbow test you can now read which crossbow is suitable for your project and in the favorites you will find the right crossbow for your child. If you are still undecided, we have also created a buying guide for you, in which really no question remains unanswered.

Table of Contents

the essentials in brief

  • Crossbow shooting is a sport that is similar to archery. Crossbows are available from the age of 18 and do not yet require a gun license.
  • There are two types of crossbows. A distinction is made between a Compund and a Revurve crossbow. The difference here is in performance.
  • In Germany you are not allowed to hunt with a crossbow. In some federal states this is allowed with a special permit.
  • A crossbow arrow reaches a speed of 450 km / h and flies up to 500 meters. Professionals can aim up to 80 meters. Hitting targets over 80 meters away is a matter of luck.

The best crossbows: editors' favorites

If you want a crossbow, you don't need a gun license, but you should be aware of your responsibility in handling the device. For editorial and legal reasons, we see it as driving when naming the favorites. Because a crossbow is still freely available, which could change in the near future.

Changes to the Weapons Act are currently being planned in the Federal Council. According to this, the crossbow should in all likelihood be reclassified from sports equipment to shooting equipment requiring a gun license after the change in the law.

For this reason we have put together a series of toy crossbows for you. You are welcome to use these crossbows with your loved ones in your own circle. Although these crossbows are far less powerful, they are still a lot of fun.

The best toy crossbow made of wood: Gapola children's crossbow

What we like:
  • handy weight of 620 grams
  • Safety through arrows made from plastic suction cups
  • very stable material made of wood
  • including a small target
  • suitable outside as well as for the children's room

The toy crossbow from Gopola impresses with its high-quality workmanship. For a slightly higher price you get one of the best toy crossbows on the market. In addition to the crossbow, arrows and target are included. However, the target is only for hanging and does not have its own stand.

The Gopola crossbow is approx. 55 cm long and 32 cm wide and weighs around 600 grams, which is a bit heavy in the area of ​​toys. It is suitable for children from 6 years of age, but older people can also have fun with this crossbow. Gopola used wood as the material, which makes the crossbow of a higher quality. The arrows are made of plastic suction cups. We would definitely have liked wooden arrows better.

Weight: 620 g | Number of arrows: 14 | Age recommendation: from 6 years under supervision

The best toy crossbow with hardly any weight: HABA 302508 Terra Kids crossbow

What we like:
  • safe arrows made from plastic suction cup
  • lightweight material made of plastic with 288 g
  • Easy to use clamping mechanism
  • good value for money
  • Playable under supervision at the age of 3
What we don't like:
  • no target available
The cheapest plastic variant is offered by Haba Terra Kids in our crossbow test. You can have a lot of fun here for little money. If you are looking for a small source of distraction, you are well advised with this variant.

The cheaper variant is a crossbow pistol. That means, this crossbow toy is much shorter in length. It is very light at 288 grams and has a striking look. The crossbow toy is only available in green and also has orange elements. Despite the low price, the small crossbow pistol convinces with good pulling power. If you want to spend little money, you can use this model without hesitation.

Weight: 288 g | size: about 31 x 39 x 5 cm

The largest toy crossbow: deAO toy crossbow set

What we like:
  • large crossbow with about 35 x 13.5 x 31 cm
  • Practice target accuracy with the target
  • play safely with suction cup arrowheads
  • robust material made of plastic
  • Ready to use indoors and outdoors
What we don't like:
  • only 3 arrows included in the set
In the middle price segment for toy crossbows, we recommend deAO Toy Crossbow. DeAO offers the best price-performance ratio. The toy crossbow has by far the most features.

This little fun game is approx. 41 cm long. DeAO is one of the few crossbow manufacturers to offer a visor. This promotes concentrated play for children. We consider the green-black color combination made of plastic to be a success. The arrows get their beautiful trajectory from their length.

In addition to the long arrows, the crossbow toy also offers a long arrow bag. The bow is equipped with rollers at both ends. In this way, the tension emanating from vision can be better absorbed. All in all, a clear buy recommendation.

Weight: 616 g | Age recommendation: from 6 years under supervision

Best toy rotating drum crossbow: Nerf B9093EU7 Hasbro Zombie Strike

What we like:
  • Shoot 5 arrows without reloading
  • stable material made of plastic
  • wide and straight plow path of the arrows
  • cool design in green and orange
  • easy to use for big and small
The best toy in our crossbow test is definitely the Nerf model. The Nerf toy comes in neon green with orange elements. It has no arrows but nerf darts, which can be bought at will.

In appearance and function, this toy is like a toy crossbow. However, like a toy gun, it has a muzzle from which the Nerf darts come out. It does not offer a visor but a clamping aid, which the little ones can have fun with.

The delivery includes 5 Nerf darts that can be placed in the magazine immediately. The big advantage of this variant is that the Nerf darts do not have to be reloaded. However, it still has one disadvantage, the Nerf darts do not stick.

Weight: 770 g | Number of arrows: 5 | Age recommendation: from 8 years

The best toy crossbow for little money: BestSaller 12129 wooden crossbow

What we like:
  • Arrows are made of wooden sticks with plastic suction cups on the ends
  • sustainable material made of wood with steel arch
  • Flight distance over 2 meters
  • Target included in the package
  • easy to hold with only 420 grams
A cheap variant in the crossbow test is the toy made in Germany by Bestsaller. This variant looks totally nostalgic with its wood-metal look. The bestsaller model is particularly suitable for role-playing games or similar outdoor leisure activities. However, there is no target.

The smallest model in our test is the bestaller crossbow pistol. The crossbow toy was made entirely of wood from the body to the trigger. Only the arch is made of metal. The wooden arrows are very environmentally friendly.

Although the arrowheads have plastic bowls, this is the only plastic that was used in their manufacture. The 30 cm length and the weight of 420 grams make the toy one of our favorites. We find this small, inexpensive variant particularly environmentally friendly.

Weight: 420 g | material: Wood | Age recommendation: from 3 years under supervision

Buying guide for a crossbow

We have summarized all the criteria for buying a crossbow in the buying guide. If you don't know much about crossbows yet, the buying guide should give you a good overview. The buying guide also summarizes the best brands and explains what to look out for when buying.

What is a crossbow?

A crossbow, also known as a crossbow or a bow thrower, is a long-range weapon. With it bolts, arrows or bullets are thrown or shot. Unlike the bow, the archer can keep the crossbow cocked without any effort. The low expenditure of force increases the accuracy, as the shooter can aim for longer at rest.

Once cocked before the shot, the crossbow can store the energy. This storage of energy is also the reason why crossbows should be classified as firearms in the future.

The crossbow is used in extreme cases for defense rather than attack. Although the crossbow is very precise, in contrast to the bow, it is very slow to “reload”. Visually, the crossbow is very similar to a firearm, but the crossbow projectiles are arrows. Today aluminum arrows are used, less often ceramic or stone balls. Crossbow shooting is a sport.

Interesting fact:
The first crossbow-like weapon was called Gastraphetes and was used by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC. An infantry weapon.

How is a crossbow constructed?

The crossbow is constructed as follows: similar to a rifle, it has a shaft in the rear area. This is followed in the middle area by the trigger, the barrel and the shot recording at the end.

The telescopic sight / sight is located above the trigger. A fuse should usually be installed between the telescopic sight and the trigger. At the end of the barrel there is a typical bow, which is characteristic of the crossbow. This bow is stretched from one end to the other with a string.

Who should buy a crossbow?

Anyone looking for an interesting hobby will find it in crossbow shooting. Crossbow shooting is not strenuous like ball sports or intense sports where strength, endurance and stamina are important. The ability to concentrate, fine motor skills and cognitive skills are addressed much more here.

You can also buy a crossbow if you just want to own it. However, it should be clear to you that you are not allowed to wear and use a crossbow in public. It also addresses people who need the crossbow as an “auxiliary tool” for their job or hobby.

Did you know?
The character of Daryl Dixon in the series The Walking Dead always carries a crossbow with him. The model in the series is the Scout HD 125.

What are the most important purchase criteria for crossbows?

We have summarized the important purchase criteria for crossbows for you. A crossbow is a hobby device, but you should still know what is important when buying it. You should pay attention to the properties and uses mentioned below:


There are models that for the most part, except for the tendon, are made of one material. In more expensive models, each element is made of a different material. The reason for this is quite simply material properties such as elasticity, tear resistance, weight, etc.

We looked at each element and summarized the most commonly used materials.

  • Body: plastic, aluminum, metal
  • Shaft: plastic, metal
  • Handle: plastic
  • Rifle scope: aluminum
  • Barrel: aluminum, metal
  • Bowstring: Dacron, Spectra, Vectran, Dyneema

The tendon yarn is a patented synthetic material. If you want to build a string yourself, you should use one of the plastics mentioned above with low elongation and high tensile strength.


What types of crossbows are there? A basic distinction is made between 2 types of crossbows:

  1. Compound crossbows (CAM system)
  2. Recurve crossbows

We have shown the differences for you in a short table:

criteriaRevurve crossbowCompund crossbow
Arc length+
CAM system+
Penetrating power+

Both types offer different advantages and disadvantages. The recurve crossbow has a longer bow but is unfortunately a little heavier when tightening the string. However, you can simplify clamping with a clamping aid.

The recurve crossbow is also easier to care for and significantly cheaper to buy. The compound crossbow is equipped with a shorter bow. It is more technologically advanced as the CAM system offers better handling. It is easier to tighten the tendon.

The penetration power and speed of the arrow are definitely higher on this model. With the compound crossbow you can also shoot at longer distances. However, it has a few disadvantages.

A bow span is needed to replace the bowstring, which also costs around 50 €. It is also significantly more expensive to buy than the recurve crossbow. It is also a little heavier.

Which kind is now suitable for me?

If you are a beginner and want to get to grips with this sport, we recommend the recurve crossbow. It is also suitable for forestry and agricultural or other purposes where a shot is rarely let go.

If you want to develop yourself further in sport or if you simply need more range for your project, you should use the Compund crossbow. All in all, the Compund crossbow offers slight advantages here, but the higher price makes you think.


A crossbow works as follows: between the two limbs, a string is attached horizontally to the barrel. This is clamped under the telescopic sight / sight at the beginning of the barrel before the shot.

In contrast to the bow, where the shot takes place when the arrow is released, only the trigger is pulled here. After pulling the trigger, the string is released and the arrow accelerates up to 400 km / h.

This is also the main difference to the bow. With an arch, the force is not stored. With the crossbow, the power is stored, so you can aim longer and better. Compared to archery, it is easier to make progress with crossbow shooting.


Are you tall and strong? Or are you more of a petite person? The weight should suit you just like the type of crossbow. If you have strength and have no problems working a little longer with more mass, you can buy a somewhat heavy crossbow.

Heavy crossbows will inhibit recoil and remain more stable when fired. Slightly slimmer or less powerful people can buy a lighter crossbow. It can be a little harder to aim at first, but over time you will find it easier.

You can also hold a lighter crossbow longer, which will also bring you one or two amusement shots.

Intended use

When you think of a crossbow you automatically associate it with a weapon. But did you know that a crossbow is used by rescue workers and forest companies. Mountain rescue uses the crossbow to shoot ropes over cable cars when they need to be rescued.

A lifeline is pulled up and the person who needs to be rescued is roped down. In forestry operations, ropes are shot up over trees to pull lines up. As you can see, a crossbow is more than just a toy and fulfills other purposes that can offer us added value.

Modern crossbow from the Tenpoint brand.

Which brands make quality crossbows?

During our research we came across some well-known manufacturers. We have summarized some of them for you below.

Middleton Archery

Middleton Archery is a crossbow manufacturer from America. Based in Philadelphia, Middleton Archery has been making high quality crossbows since 1962. Middelton is also known from the world of archery.

Excalibur Crossbow

Founded in 1983 by Bill and Kath Troubridge in Kitchener Ohio. The Excalibur company has been one of the driving forces in crossbow sports since it was founded. Excalibur is known for its new achievements and constant improvement in development.

Hori zone

Hori-Zone Outdoors-Equipment makes crossbows and bows. Hori-Zone offers good quality for acceptable prices. Production takes place in Taiwan.

Steam bow

The production site and headquarters of Steam-Bow is in Austria. The company promotes the highest quality standards in product processing. Steam-Bow crossbows offer not only high performance but also a long service life.

Worth knowing:
When the word was created, the word “arm” and the Middle High German word “Berost” were looped. Over the years, the word crossbow developed from this in the vernacular.

Where can you buy a crossbow?

The crossbow is available from online mail order stores or from a specialist dealer. At the specialist retailer, you will certainly be able to check the device on site, touch it and check for compatibility. If you find a dealer, make sure that they also offer a service for maintaining the crossbows. If there are problems with the crossbow, the dealer can help you.

In online mail order you will get the crossbow cheaper. But also make sure that the dealer offers maintenance.So you can send in your device in case of problems. Most specialist dealers now also offer online support.

How much does a crossbow cost?

Depending on the quality and requirements, the prices of the crossbow vary a lot. A crossbow can be had for as little as € 40. If you want to spend up to € 100, you are more in the lower price range. Investing up to € 200 in a crossbow makes sense for beginners. Advanced and experienced learners usually spend more than € 200 on the purchase of a crossbow. At the top, a crossbow can also cost 2500 €.

Crossbow in the Middle Ages: The first crossbows worked in a similar way to today's. However, the difference in performance is very large.

Important accessories for the crossbow

Here we have summarized important accessories for the crossbow for you.

Rope tensioning aid

So that you are gentle on your joints and the effort required when clamping remains low, we recommend a clamping aid. It consists of a rope with a T-piece attached to each end.

Two more hooks with which you can hook yourself onto the tendon and then pull up the rope with the T-pieces. Your tendon will then snap in place without much effort. The rope tensioning aid is available between 7 € -15 €.

Crossbow pocket

The crossbow bag is available from € 20. Please make sure that the dealer has included a bag in the scope of delivery of your crossbow. Otherwise you should get one, because the crossbow is better protected and you can transport it better.

Crossbow arrows

Again, you should pay attention to whether arrows are included. Generally it is the case. However, you can buy higher quality arrows, e.g. made of aluminum, that fly better and are simply more fun. When buying arrows, the arrows may not have a point. You should also pay attention to this. Crossbow arrows are available for as little as € 5.

Crossbow targets

To buy a target, it is important to know from what distance you are shooting. There are different sized targets. The distance plays a role in how big the pane is. You can get targets for as little as € 3. However, if you want to shoot on your own premises, clarify the legal basic charges thoroughly.

Replacement tendons

When you buy the crossbow for the first time, you basically don't need any tendons. The crossbow is sold with the tendons taut. In the case of more expensive models, the string may arrive dismantled. This must be pulled up by qualified personnel. Should a tendon break, it is advisable to replace all of the tendons. Replacement tendons are available from 5 € depending on the model and should be replaced every 1-3 years for maintenance reasons.

Crossbow test overview: which crossbows are the best?

We took a close look at well-known consumer magazines to get a more detailed picture of the crossbow test. Unfortunately, as with our research, we did not come across a crossbow test. If a test is available, we will update our table.

Test magazineCrossbow test available?Release yearFree accessLearn more
Stiftung WarentestNo crossbow test available
eco testNo crossbow test available
Konsument.atNo crossbow test available
Ktipp.chNo crossbow test available

FAQ - Frequently asked questions about crossbows

We answer the frequently asked questions for you in this small FAQ section.

From what age can you own a crossbow?

In order to own a crossbow in Germany, one must be 18 years of age. When selling a crossbow, ID is always asked for. You can easily show it in brick-and-mortar retail. When trading online, you should make sure that the dealer asks for it.

After all, you want to buy your crossbow from a reputable dealer and they will ask for it in all cases. Sending your ID to the dealer by photo or as a PDF document is usually sufficient.

Do you need a gun license to own a crossbow?

The possession of a crossbow is regulated according to the Weapons Act (WaffG) in Germany. It means that the crossbow is on a par with a firearm. The reason for this is the hurling of solid bodies, with which you can harm other people without any problems.

This can be found in Appendix 1 of the WaffG. Appendix 2 points out, however, that the possession and use of crossbows does not require a permit. A gun license or a gun ownership card is therefore not required for crossbows. However, the property is designed for a minimum age of 18 years. The summary on owning a crossbow is for information only and does not replace qualified legal advice.

Is the crossbow allowed for hunting or fishing?

In Section 1 (3) of the Federal Hunting Act it is formulated as follows: "When hunting, the generally recognized principles of German grazing justice must be observed." Pasture justice or also called pasture justice is a form of behavior a code of honor for hunters and anglers. In this case, the crossbow is seen as not suitable for hunting.

The reason for this is that a hunt takes a lot of practice. A hunter should use clean, well-aimed shots so that the animal does not suffer. With a crossbow, which is significantly cheaper than a rifle, the hurdle to hunting would be lifted. Thus, amateurs could quickly turn hunting into animal cruelty.

How far does a crossbow shoot?

The range depends on various factors. Which device do you use? How heavy is your arrow and what does your arrowhead look like? The maximum range of a crossbow is around 500 meters. Professionals can hit the target in the center of the ring from a distance of 80 meters.

It is also possible for experienced professionals to hit the target from a distance of approx. 150 meters. A hit in the ring center is associated with luck rather than skill, even by professionals. If you are a beginner, you can orientate yourself on the distance of 30 meters. If it works better, you can slowly increase your goal.

Can you shoot a crossbow in the water?

Using a crossbow in the water is probably not the best solution for your project. The resistance is much greater in water than on land, which is why your shot will lose a lot of its power. The shot is not accelerating well enough, which will cause it to lose speed.

If the crossbow is made of wood and metal, the material is much more likely to be damaged or rusted than with normal use. If you still want to shoot with it in the water, a harpoon may be a better choice. In addition, you should note that any guarantees may be void if the device is not used properly.

Where can you shoot with a crossbow?

Crossbows are not a firearm under the law. They are just a device that is equivalent to a firearm. Since in this case the opinions of where and how you can shoot with crossbows, unfortunately we cannot answer the question exactly.

If you want to practice crossbow shooting, you are in good hands with archery clubs or crossbow clubs. These have enough space and facilities for practicing. Firing ranges for firearms and shotguns are unsuitable for crossbows because they have different devices to catch bullets. Baffles above the shooting range obstruct the flight curve.

How dangerous is a crossbow?

The danger posed by a crossbow depends on the person using it. If it is not clamped properly, it can lead to personal injury. To prevent this, you can take a look at the clamping tutorial. Furthermore, it can lead to injuries if you shoot at people arbitrarily or unintentionally.

There are no regulations for the use and operation of crossbows. To better handle crossbows, you can also read the safety guidelines of the Crossbow Association.

What does draw weight mean?

The draw weight is usually given in lbs (pounds). The pull weight means the force with which you have to pull the tendon in order to tighten it. The applied force is translated and thus the arrow speed arises. The arrow speed, in turn, also depends on other factors such as acceleration, speed and arrow weight.

As you can see, this topic is a bit complex. In addition to the Ibs information, reputable providers also provide you with the corresponding speed in fps (feet-per-second) when you buy. To get it back in km / h, just calculate:

Speed ​​(in km / h) = fps x 1.09728

Did you know: The best crossbows today reach an arrow speed of up to 445 km / h. As standard, speeds over 300 km / h are not uncommon.

Further sources

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