Best Crossbow Bolts In 2024 With Reviews

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Video best crossbow bolts for hunting

Things To Consider When Buying Crossbow Bolts

Length

Crossbow bolts usually range from 16 to 24 inches in length. Usually, your crossbow model will specify a length to use, and this will often be the length that gets you the best results.

That said, some hunters like to use bolts that are longer than the specified length because this increases weight and therefore penetration. Plus, longer bolts tend to fly straighter as long as the stiffness is increased to account for greater flexing.

You cannot, however, use bolts that are shorter than the recommendation as these simply won’t nock correctly into your crossbow. At best, you just won’t be able to shoot the bolt, but you may create a dry-fire situation that damages the crossbow or even injures you.

Weight

Similar to arrows, crossbow bolt weight is measured in grains with the lightest bolts weighing around 300 grains and the heaviest around 500 grains. Usually, weight has a simple trade off: lighter bolts fly faster but heavier bolts penetrate deeper. In other words, lighter bolts give you more accuracy especially over longer distances while heavier bolts give you a better chance of a lethal shot.

The result is that if you have a really powerful crossbow, you should probably just go for the heaviest bolts you can find. However, if you have a weaker crossbow, it may not be able to shoot a heavy bolt fast enough.

You will notice when sighting in your crossbow that heavier bolts will drop much faster than lighter bolts, reducing your effective range.

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Shaft Diameter

Bolt shaft diameters vary widely to the point that some manufacturers may use their own diameter on their bolts. The main reason to pay attention to this diameter is that certain crossbows may only be compatible with certain shafts. Therefore, check your crossbow model’s specifications to be sure.

Additionally, shaft diameter will determine what third-party parts you can install like broadheads and nocks. A unique diameter could severely limit you in that regard.

Intended Use

The vast majority of crossbow bolts out there are designed for hunting. That said, you may want to consider the size of game you’re hunting. For large game like elk, bear and moose, you want heavy bolts that are going to be able to penetrate their large bodies. Meanwhile, for medium-sized game like whitetail and coyote, you can increase your range a little with lighter bolts.

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Speed Of Your Crossbow

Regardless of the type of crossbow you own, the rated speed basically reflects its power. This means that an especially powerful crossbow, say one shooting over 400 FPS, can take advantage of the penetrating power of heavier bolts while still shooting fast and getting good range and accuracy. Therefore, it’s definitely something you should be aware of and consider when deciding on what weight of bolt to get.

Carbon or Aluminum

Although the modern market has become dominated by carbon bolts, it’s still possible to find the old aluminum ones out there. But is one really better than the other?

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Yes. Carbon is better. This is because it’s stiffer, more resilient and lighter weight if you want a lightweight bolt. In fact, aluminum bolts can sometimes bend if they hit a hard target.

That said, aluminum does have one primary advantage. It’s much cheaper. For the same energy, you usually pay a lot less.

Carbon – Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Stiffer spine
  • Less flex
  • Durable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to repair

Aluminum – Pros/Cons

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to repair

Cons:

  • Can bend
  • Excessively heavy
  • More flex

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Final Thoughts

Our staff of experts have put all of these crossbow bolts to the test. If you’re looking for a bolt that combines penetration, speed and accuracy, we recommend the TenPoint EVO-X CenterPunch Carbon Crossbow Bolt.

However, there are many situations that may warrant a different bolt, so make sure to consider exactly what you need and find the relevant review above.

If you don”t have a cocking device on your crossbow, you may also want to consider a crossbow discharge bolt for decocking your crossbow.

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