What You Should Know About Barnett Crossbows
Barnett Outdoors, LLC, is based in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where the head offices and main manufacturing hub are located. However, things didn’t start there. In fact, Barnett actually got going in Wolverhampton, England, in 1962 when bowyer Bernard Barnett began working on crossbows in his garage just as a hobby. Local people took notice of his impressive handiwork and started ordering their own crossbows.
After Barnett’s business spread rapidly throughout the UK, he entered the American market and opened his first US factory in 1980. For two decades, Barnett maintained operations on both continents, but with a larger American market and more efficient manufacturing processes, Barnett moved everything to Florida in 2003.
In 2021 Barnett Outdoors, LLC was sold to Surge Outdoors.
Throughout its history, Barnett has been an industry leader. With a focus on innovation that continues to this day, the company has been responsible for much of the technology we now take for granted on crossbows, such as:
- Crank cocking devices
- Break-action cockers
- Overloaded sound-dampening foot stirrups
- Adjustable stocks and cheek pieces
- Carbon risers
- Shoot-through and folding foot stirrups
Additionally, Barnett was the first company to produce a crossbow shooting at bolt speeds over 300 FPS. Always trying new ideas and technology, Barnett has a wide range of crossbows from budget models to top-shelf weapons that push the limits of modern capabilities.
Barnett Crossbow Designs
Barnett has one of the widest ranges of products in the archery world. Some are more basic, others more advanced. The result is that there’s an ideal Barnett crossbow for just about any situation.
There are many different types of crossbows. Here are Barnett’s three main designs.
Barnett Compound Crossbows
The Compound Crossbows are Barnett’s most basic and straightforward models. Like a vertical compound bow, this design uses a cam system, a type of advanced pulley system, to increase the power of the crossbow while minimizing its width as well as the effort required to cock it.
Although a compound crossbow is more mechanically complex, it’s faster and more powerful than a recurve crossbow with most of Barnett’s compound crossbows reaching around 380 FPS with over 120 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. They also usually have ATA widths under 17 inches, which means they’re agile and easy to maneuver.
Compound crossbows will require a fair amount of maintenance to keep them operating in peak condition.
Barnett Step-Through Riser Crossbows
Barnett’s Step-Through Riser Crossbows are also compound crossbows but with one important added feature: a step-through riser. Basically, this is a cocking stirrup that’s integrated into the frame of the crossbow itself. The riser has a big hole in it where you can stick your foot for leverage while cocking the crossbow.
Because the cocking stirrup is integrated into the riser itself, a Barnett Step-Through Riser crossbow is more balanced. As a result it’s easier to use and shoot accurately, not to mention cock. Plus, it gets improved bolt speed of around 400 FPS and over 130 foot-pounds of kinetic energy.
Barnett Hyper Crossbows
Barnett Hyper Crossbows take the compound crossbow design to the extreme. They’re arguably Barnett’s most advanced models with impressive specs that outperform most competition. This is because a Hyper Crossbow uses Barnett Hyperflite bolts, which are essentially lighter-weight, narrower vertical bow arrows.
This means bolt speeds of over 420 FPS and around 150 foot-pounds of kinetic energy. That improves accuracy and penetration for more lethal shots in more difficult situations.
It’s also worth noting how technologically advanced the cam system is on a Barnett Hyper Crossbow like the HyperTac 420. Its innovative design provides for an extra narrow ATA width when cocked of just 9.1875 inches. That means it’s easier to carry, maneuver and shoot in a tree stand.
Things To Consider When Shopping For Barnett Crossbows
What do you want your crossbow for? Deer hunting, target shooting, survivalism? Your answer will play a role in which Barnett cross you should pick.
If you’re a hunter, you should also consider the game you’re hunting. For whitetail deer the power of most Barnett models is plenty, but you want a camo finish that blends in with the deciduous forests most whitetails live in. Meanwhile, if you’re hunting larger game like elk or moose, you need a more powerful model like a HyperTac and a mountain or snow terrain camo finish.
However, if you want the crossbow just for hobby shooting, you don’t need a camo finish at all. Rather, you want a lightweight and stable model that shoots fast. For survivalism, well, you mainly want something powerful, and camo isn’t a bad choice.
One great thing about Barnett is that they have a crossbow model for just about every budget. As a general rule, specs and features improve the more you’re willing to pay, but budget Barnett models are still effective and usually more than plenty to hunt with.
Besides simply wanting to save money, being a beginner is another reason to go with a value or budget Barnett model. That’s because you’ll get more manageable specs and you’ll have more money to upgrade to a more advanced model in a couple of seasons when your skills have improved.
If you’re an expert who hunts often and wants to beat personal or professional records, one of Barnett’s more expensive models can help you get out of a plateau and take shots you haven’t been able to make before. That’s because most top-shelf Barnett crossbows are cutting edge and feature specs that push the limits of archery capabilities.
Speed isn’t everything… but it is a lot. Higher speed means a crossbow bolt can travel farther before dropping, so it increases how far a crossbow can shoot accurately.
More significantly, bolt speed combined with bolt weight, including broadhead, determines the kinetic energy of the bolt, which determines how deep it will penetrate and maintain its trajectory even when it strikes bone or thick soft tissue like cartilage. However, if you remember your high school physics class, you might recall that the formula for kinetic energy is Ek = ½mv2. Since the velocity (v) is squared, increasing speed has a bigger impact on kinetic energy than increasing mass (m).
That said, you only need around 40 foot-pounds of kinetic energy to take down a whitetail deer with larger game like elk and moose requiring a bit more. Modern Barnett crossbows usually top 100 foot-pounds, so they’ll be enough to hunt with regardless.
If you’re a beginner, you may want a slower crossbow, closer to 350 FPS, because it will be easier to handle and shoot consistently. Experts, however, can definitely benefit from the blistering speeds of top Barnett models.
Weight is an important spec to look at before deciding on a crossbow whether you’re hunting or just target shooting. The reason is simple. You can hold a lighter-weight crossbow more steadily, and that means you can shoot it more accurately. This is even more important when hunting because you may have to hold the crossbow level for a long time while you wait for your quarry to move into position.
As an extra bonus, a lightweight crossbow is also easier to carry into the woods. If you hunt deep in the wilderness or have a lot of tree stands on a large piece of property and have to walk a lot when you hunt, every ounce you can shave off your gear is a big plus.
Barnett pioneered a number of different innovations for crossbow cocking, including the integrated crank, cocking rope and step-through riser. Almost all Barnett models come with some kind of aid, but which depends on the price range and complexity of the design.
An integrated crank is certainly the easiest to use. It takes little effort and basically no practice to do it right. However, this is usually only an option on Barnett’s more expensive models that have other advanced design features.
If you’re on a budget, a cocking rope is still a good option that’s accessible to most beginners. You’ll just need to read the instructions to learn how to hook the rope onto your bowstring, and it will take a little more muscle on your part.
When you use a cocking rope, you still need to use the cocking stirrup just like you would cocking the crossbow by hand. In this case, a step-through riser is a good feature to look for as it’s more stable and provides better leverage.
Keep in mind that you will have to uncock a crossbow after unsuccessful hunts and you will need to have a plan to accomplish that.
Quality of Scope
Most Barnett crossbows come with an included scope, but the quality and accuracy over distance varies depending on the model and price range.
Click here for our guide to the best crossbow scopes.
One thing to look at is the magnification, usually expressed as something like 4x32mm, the 4 meaning four times magnification. You might think that you simply want more magnification, but that actually might be counterproductive if you’re shooting at close range. For this reason, don’t go for the highest magnification unless you’re getting a powerful crossbow and plan to shoot at long distances well over 40 yards.
Additionally, make sure the scope you’re getting with your Barnett crossbow has multiple reticles, which most do. Reticles are calibrated for specific distances, so if you plan to hunt from a tree stand and take shots from varying distances, the more reticles at smaller intervals, the better.
Lastly, consider illumination. An illuminated scope lights up the reticles in red or green so that they catch the eye and are easier to see in dim light. Many game animals including whitetail deer are most active at dawn and dusk, so this is particularly helpful if you’ll be hunting them.
Click here for our guide to sighting in a crossbow scope.
Barnett makes some of the most powerful, reliable and best crossbows on the market, but there sure are a lot to choose from. Our overall recommendation is the TS380, a model that will work for just about anyone regardless of skill level or goals. That said, each Barnett crossbow has its specific advantages and disadvantages that could apply to your personal situation.
Any of the Barnett models will work for bow hunting, it just depend on how much you want to spend.