A reverse crossbow is just a crossbow that has the limbs reversed from your normal crossbow configuration. It sounds like a super simple explanation, but that is just because it lays out the groundwork for a real in depth description.
The riser for a regular crossbow is at the end of the barrel will be placed on the back of the frame, possibly behind the trigger for a reversed crossbow. Because of this, the reverse crossbow will be in a pullpup configuration, when the trigger has been moved forward and more of the weight is at the shoulder. The limbs come from the riser and point forward and the bow string is past the end of the barrel when it is as rest.
The reverse crossbow has been around for plenty of years and have a lot more advantages than your regular crossbow, yet there aren’t a lot of people that have experience with a reverse crossbow even though they’re a great survival bow. Check out my recurve bow vs compound bow page for more info.
Some advantages of a reverse crossbow
The reverse draw crossbow actually has a lot of advantages over your normal crossbows.
It has a much lower draw weight. This is because the design. The string is going to be close to the end of the barrel when it is at rest. This means that it will have a much longer power stroke that can be done within the reverse system, which means longer contact time with the arrow which causes higher speeds for the draw weight.
It has faster arrow speeds. Just like the longer power stroke gives less draw weight to give an arrow speed that is similar to a heavier draw weight bow, it also causes some really high speeds. There are actually reverse crossbows that are using limbs under 200 pounds of draw weight causing arrows to go over 400 feet per second.
They are much quieter. Although the design for a reverse crossbow isn’t actually meant to be quieter. The fact that it is able to take advantage of longer power strokes to give higher arrow speeds that have a lower draw weight is what makes it quieter. To put this in simple terms, the lower that the draw weight of the limb is, the less energy that is released when it is fired. This means less vibration and less shock which means less sound.
It has a better balance. Since the riser is at the back, the center of gravity is also been shifted towards the back. Since there is more weight on the back towards the shooter this means more control and better accuracy. Whenever there is less weight that is supported by the forward arm, there will be less movement or wobble which means tighter groups and less fatigue. This even lets a hunger keep the weapon shouldered for much longer when waiting for that perfect shot or a target shooter that is making multiple shots be able to do so easily.
It has a narrower axle to axle distance. Since the reverse crossbow design has parallel limbs, this means that it has a narrower design. This lets a hunter to move the crossbow in areas that may have only be done by a rifle hunter or a vertical bow. There are some models that are about 10 inches wide when they are cocked.
Disadvantages of a reverse bow
Although it may seem minor for some, but it is still important to know about the limitations of a reverse crossbow.
They come with fewer accessories. Because of the design, there are going to be fewer accessories that will fit it. Most of the regular crossbows can handle a lot of universal accessories because of the standard nature of the design. With a reverse crossbow, you can only use accessories that are made by the manufacturer of the bow. That doesn’t count for the scopes and items that mount to the picatinny rails that are on the reverse crossbow.
It can only use OEM cables and strings. Because the power stroke is longer, you won’t find a lot of selections for any aftermarket strings or cables. This is something that would only affect the sophisticated shooter, but it is something that you should keep in mind when it comes to a reverse crossbow.
There are no recurves and only compounds. There are a lot of shooters that like the reliability and simplicity of recurved crossbows. Just about every design of reverse crossbows will be a compound design. Most reverse crossbows will use a parallel limb design which is not best for recurve bows, you will have a compound limb for a reverse crossbow.
Best Reverse Crossbows on the market
Below we will talk about the most popular reverse crossbows as well as the basic information on them. We have listed these selections by arrow speed and they are not in order by preference as each have their own great qualities that really depend on the need of the shooter.
BC Raptor Reverse by Barnett
The Buck Commander Raptor Reverse is going to be the lightest model in our selections. It is also going to be the slowest as it only has an arrow speed of 330 feet per second, then again that isn’t always a bad thing. Having too much speed can cause you to miss your target as there is going to be less margin for any errors. The Raptor Reverse still has a pretty impressive 97 foot pounds of kinetic energy at the muzzle, so there is still plenty of punch to get that job done. This bow has a lot of unique features for being such a small size. It is quite quiet and you can get away with almost not having any sounds even in a silent place. The laminated limbs are something to really love.
You can adjust the butt pad easily. The flight track is made from CNC machined aluminum. It has a pass-through foregrip that can really help to fire out those accurate shots. The ATA is about 16 inches. It comes with reverse limb and carbon riser features. It also has string suppressors and laminated limbs that are really great.
I love that it is lightweight and very comfortable to hold for long time on the shoulder. The front isn’t heavy and has really great balance. The trigger is clean and have less travel. It is quiet and that goes for cocking as well. The headhunters that come with it work well too. I don’t like that the scope isn’t very clear and the circles and dots don’t work well. The string dampeners aren’t easy to adjust either.
The BC Raptor is pretty awesome when it comes to accuracy as well. If you are a professional, then you are going to love that it is so lightweight and quiet. You can get headhunters that go with this bow and it will fit it perfectly. You are able to carry it along with you for long periods of time whether you are just moving through the forest or on a trek.
When you consider everything, you will find that the BC Raptor reverse crossbow is quite effective and one of the best values for money right now on the market.
Storm RDX by Horton
The Storm RDX by Horton is going to be the narrowest when it comes to ATA of the recommended reverse crossbows. It is only 10 inches wide when it is cocked, this will let you hunt in a lot of areas that you have not been able to use a crossbow in. It has a shorter power stroke than other models, but the 165 pound draw weight will shoot your arrow 370 feet per second, which is about 122 foot pounds of kinetic energy right at the muzzle. There is also the ACUdraw crack system that will allow you to cock the crossbow with very little effort for the smaller framed shooters to cock it with ease.
It has an aluminum riser and a self locking limb pocket. This allows you to hold the crossbow easily and comfortably. It has been fitted with a lot of steel bearings so that increases the performance of the reverse crossbow.
I love that it is so lightweight and weighs less than 3 pounds. It is completely assembled, except for the front when you purchase it. The whole package comes with a crank system, bow, quiver, and scope. It also comes with 3 carbon arrows.
It takes less time to assemble this model. It also has some pretty accurate shots. It is best used for close range or even long range shooting. So you are getting the best of both worlds with this model. The Storm RDX doesn’t need a whole lot of maintenance and it is very quiet. I don’t like that during long range shooting the scope will often go out of range and it can be hard to handle during long range shooting.
Since this bow comes with ACUdraw, it allows you to cock the bow while you are sitting down. It has a noiseless feature and the weight distribution is perfect. Since it is so lightweight, you can really carry it around for long periods of time without it giving you a whole lot of hassle.
If you have been looking for performance and speed in one reverse crossbow, then you are going to be impressed with this model. It has great precision when doing close range shooting and you can carry it easily.
Vengeance Crossbow by Barnett
The Vengeance crossbow is very well known for being a very fast reverse crossbow. It can travel 365 feet per second and it has great accuracy and really gives you superior performance. It has a carbon riser that gives you plenty of stability. Not to mention that it can use 20 inch arrows.
It has a draw weight of about 140 pounds, which provide it with plenty of strength. The standard arrow that can be used is 22 inches long. It has great stability and accuracy.
I love that it is stable and accurate when shooting long range. It is perfect for beginners and because of the reverse limb, this bow is great for professionals too. It also comes with a scope. I don’t like that it is a bit heavier than I would expect. If you are a beginner it may hard to assemble at first.
When it comes to all of the features of the Vengeance reverse crossbow, the very first thing that you are going to notice is how it impresses anyone looking for power and speed. This is a reverse crossbow that really gives you the best performance for your money. The reverse limb technology really adds value to this bow. The carbon riser technology has really made it very stable and efficient. You are able to easily aim and do so quickly in standing and sitting positions.
VTEC Extreme by Scorpyd
The VTEC Extreme by Scorpyd was made to be a target crossbow, but you should be able to have a great hunt with it. It is the heaviest reverse crossbow on this list because it weighs over 8 pounds, but it was designed for accuracy. It is a bit wider than you would expect but it is more forgiving when it comes to accuracy. It has a pretty long power stroke which gives it the greatest speed for its draw weight. It has a speed of 370-440 feet per second based on the average draw weights. This reverse crossbow has a folding stock, which means that you can’t use a crank cock system on it.
Each reverse crossbow shooter will have their own unique needs when it comes to speed, draw weight, and weight of the bow. It is vital that you consider your shooting needs when you are looking for a crossbow. Only you will be able to know what is truly best for your shooting needs. The selection above will help you to pick out what type of reverse crossbow is going be best for you.