To determine what is the most powerful crossbow, you will need to have a grasp of Kinetic Energy. Oh boy, here come the flashbacks of high school physics! I never thought I would use this stuff. If only my teacher applied physics to hunting!
The Most Powerful Crossbow = Kinetic Energy
Kinetic Energy may sound scary and is probably the single most misunderstood element when determining the most powerful crossbow. It is also probably the single MOST important element to consider when choosing a hunting crossbow. Most hunters only look at the crossbow speed and want The Fastest Crossbow.
Speed is important, however, it can be argued that the Kinetic Energy should be the only factor considered when choosing the appropriate hunting crossbow.
Determining Kinetic Energy
So let us say you know the speed of several crossbows you are considering. How do you determine their kinetic energy? The next step is to know what grain arrow you will be using. The crossbow speed and the grain of arrow are the two factors in determining the kinetic energy of the crossbow which in turn helps in determining the most powerful crossbow.
In order to be as accurate as possible in this calculation, you should use the same grain of arrow for each crossbow. As it turns out, most crossbow manufacturers use a 380 to 400-grain arrow in their tests to determine kinetic energy.
OK, so now we know the speed of the crossbow in Feet Per Second (FPS) and the grain of arrow, so now what? Now it is time for the math. Stay with me now. If the formula confuses you, we also have a simple online calculator for you to use. I also have some Good News for you AFTER the formula.
The Formula: Crossbow Speed (FPS)² X Weight of Arrow / 450,240 = Kinetic Energy.
The Good News
So what about the Good News you were promised? Well, here it is. Most manufacturers now recognize the vital importance of the Kinetic Energy factor in determining what crossbow will be right for you, and now do the formula for you. This figure can usually be found in the description of the crossbow and usually reads something similar to this: “98 FP KE.” With that said, some do not post what grain arrow they used to determine their Kinetic Energy. It now looks as if we have another math problem.
If we know the Crossbow Speed and the Kinetic Energy, how do we figure out the grain of arrow?
The Formula: Kinetic Energy x 450,240 / (Crossbow Speed (FPS)²) = Grain of Arrow
What kind of Crossbow Hunter are You
We now know what crossbow Kinetic Energy is and how it is determined. Now how is this applied to determining which crossbow is right for you? This is the easy part. What kind of hunter are you?
Do you hunt small game? What about deer? Or do you hunt Elk? Do you even hunt it all?
As a general rule, most small game can be hunted with a crossbow with a minimum kinetic energy of 20, Medium game: 27; Large Game: 45; and the Largest of Game: 65.
Here is a simple visual to make your decisions easier:
So what crossbows do we recommend for the corresponding game?
Small Game Crossbow:
For rabbits, squirrel, etc. our choice would be the Excalibur Matrix 310. With 75 Foot Pounds of Kinetic Energy (FP KE), this classic recurve crossbow is more than enough to take down small game up to small deer with no problem.
Medium Game Crossbow:
For medium size game including deer up to large hogs, the economical Barnett Jackal can do the trick. This bargain priced, entry level, compound crossbow packs a punch at 95 FP KE.
Large Game Crossbow:
If you are a big game hunter looking for a trophy elk or even a grizzly bear, our pick would be the reverse draw Barnett Vicious Crossbow. This bad boy has over 97 FP KE.
Largest Game Crossbow:
What about those who want a safari crossbow to take down some of the biggest game the world has to offer? Look no further than the TenPoint Carbon Phantom RCX Crossbow. Nothing will stand in its way with 122 FP KE!
The Top 4 Most Powerful Crossbow
These hunting crossbows are our picks and some of the overall most powerful crossbows in their respective classes.