Also check out our guide to picking the best traditional crossbow.
Crossbow hunting is here to stay, love it or hate it. What used to be a specialty item reserved for disabled hunters has become one of the fastest growing sectors of the hunting world.
The crossbow’s design hasn’t changed over the thousand or so years it has been around. Of course, the addition of cams added a new level of efficiency but the main design didn’t change until recently with the innovation of the reverse draw crossbow.
While the high cost creates a barrier of entry to people wanting to upgrade to the new design, the radical new version of the crossbow is gaining traction.
- 1 The 2 Top Reverse Limb Crossbows Of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
- 2 How it Works & What They Do Best
- 3 Advantages of the Reverse Design
- 4 Traditional vs Reverse Draw Crossbow
- 5 Practical Differences
- 6 Is it for Me?
The 2 Top Reverse Limb Crossbows Of 2018: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for reverse crossbows of 2018:
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Velocity||340 FPS||385 FPS|
|Draw Weight||150 lbs||165 lbs|
|Length x Width||31.7” x 20.1"||34.25” x 15.5"|
|Weight||6.4 lbs||7.8 lbs|
|Cost||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Barnett Vicious
If you want a good all-around crossbow for a decent price, this is a great option.
It is heads and tails in performance and ease of use compared to traditional crossbows. Its greatest attribute is the reversed design used to shave off size and weight where it counts.
It is a very affordable reverse draw bow, about as cheap as it gets, but is still a very reliable option. Barnett is known to the world as an excellent manufacturer of archery equipment and you should not have any problems with it.
The bow is very light on the hand, weighing at 6.4 pounds with its distribution right in between the hands. The bow feels smaller on the hand than it is and is a scant 16-inch axle to axle un-cocked.
The power stroke is a massive 15.4 inches and makes for a light 150 pounds draw weight. The overall length is a tad over 31 inches and throws an arrow at 340 FPS.
- Velocity: 340 FPS
- Draw Weight: 150 lbs
- Power Stroke: 15.4”
- Length x Width: 31.7” x 20.1″
- Weight: 6.4 lbs
This is a fine bow for hunting thin-skinned, medium-sized game for any beginner or seasoned hunter.
2. TenPoint Carbon Nitro RDX
The Carbon Nitro RDX is a new product from the legendary company TenPoint, their first entry on the reverse crossbow market.
This is a sweet bow with high-quality design and materials. TenPoint is an excellent company that puts out the best quality crossbows but they cost a pretty penny or two!
One of the best things about TenPoint bows is the accessories that they include in their packages. It comes with everything that is needed to get started hunting with an optic, a quiver, arrows and a cocking device to make long practice sessions easier.
This is an excellent all-around balanced crossbow that is great on the hand at just less than 8 pounds ready to hunt. Its balance point is right where it should be — right in between your hands even with the mounted accessories.
The bow has a 165-pound draw weight, slugging an arrow down an extra-long 16.5 inches power stroke. Speed of up to 385 FPS makes this an excellent bow for all medium game and big-boned, thin-skinned game.
- Velocity: 385 FPS
- Draw Weight: 165 lbs
- Power Stroke: 16.5”
- Length x Width: 34.25” x 15.5″
- Weight: 7.8 lbs
This is a great package to get started hunting.
How it Works & What They Do Best
The reverse compound crossbow design works because it brings the limbs towards the shoulder stock and adds an extra bow string to propel the arrow forward while making an extremely compact bow.
The reverse draw can be used with a shorter power stroke, shorter axle to axle length and smaller, more aggressive cams — all making for a small, more efficient crossbow.
Removing all the materials and shrinking everything down makes it:
- more balanced
- easier to use in ground blinds and heavy brush
The limbs still expand violently outward which reels in the bow string and snapping out the arrow at high speed.
The “D” shape of the inverted crossbow is just like on a compound bow and does a great job keeping vibrations to a minimum.
The whole reverse design is a significant step into the future and is inherently lighter on the hand, easier on vibrations, plus a better weight distribution. These all lead to their greatest strength and a longer power stroke.
While manufacturers have the ability to make an ultra-compact bow, they decided to link them with an extended power stroke for copious amounts of power.
Advantages of the Reverse Design
The benefits of the reverse design are distinct and can be well worth the money if you have the budget.
Better Weight Distribution
Even with the basic longer power strokes, these bows have better weight distribution than traditional bows. This is because the limbs are between your hands, back toward your torso.
This also makes maneuvering with the bow easier because the limbs are being pulled in and forward.
More Powerful Bow
If you’re chasing a game where every foot pound of energy counts, reverse limb bows are your crossbow of choice.
They can shoot heavier arrows flatter and further to hunt a game that would normally be very hard to reach with archery tackle. Speed of more than 415 FPS can be achieved with these bows, while still enjoying a compact design.
Smaller Overall Design
The limbs on reversed bows at full draw are closer at their widest part than most traditional bows.
The longer power stroke designs of reversed bows allow them to use shorter and thinner limbs that readily bend in closer to the center line. Even just a few inches can make a world of difference in the event you find yourself in a ground blind or enclosed tree stand.
Traditional vs Reverse Draw Crossbow
Traditional bows are the answer for someone who wants every option available at every budget level.
They are widely available and are much cheaper than most reverse bows because they require a smaller string. Also, fewer things can go wrong during the operation.
On the other hand, the mechanisms in reverse bows are more complex. There are more things that can go wrong on the field, if that is important to you. But many of these bows are also a little over-engineered to make sure the limbs can handle the extra stress.
One of the biggest downsides to the reversed design is the cost. Not only do they cost more upfront, but they are also harder on bow strings and have more moving parts. The mechanisms are more complex and finicky and are best left to the professional to service.
They’re expensive in the long run. If money is an issue, then a reverse limb bow may not be a good idea. You might end up skimping on accessories like optics and high-quality arrows.
|Traditional||- Less cost|
- More options
- Higher quality
|- Bulkier design
- Awkward weight distribution
- Less powerful
|Reversed||- More powerful |
- Lighter weight
- Less draw weight
- More compact
|- More expensive
- Less options
- Fewer companies make them
Reverse crossbow technology is becoming more common as people get used to the design. Other than the obvious differences in design and cost, the real-world implications of reversing the draw is a big deal. It has:
- More compact design
- Smaller distance between the axles when not cocked
- The weight distribution is more like a rifle because the largest parts of the limbs fall between your hands when you shoulder the weapon.
With traditional crossbows, you have to make certain compromises in its features like power, size, or design. But the reverse draw crossbow offers just about every advantage you can think of without any compromise.
These bows haven’t caught up yet in quality and the market. Most shops offer traditional crossbows with more options and better quality at price points simply because more conventional bows are sold.
Is it for Me?
If you’re a hunter who wants the newest technologies available when you head out to the woods, then a reverse draw crossbow is an excellent option for you to consider. They are more expensive and you have fewer options, but better choices.
The performance difference between a traditional and a reversed bow can be as much as 20%. So if you’re looking for a bow to take down a dangerous game, especially in tight places, then a reversed draw bow is your best option.