Crossbow vs compound bow for survival

Crossbow vs Compound Bow for Survival

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If you need a universal weapon (for self-defense, hunting, bugging out), a bow might be your best bet. Yet, which bow style seems to be most suitable for an SHTF situation? Which one should you pick i.e. crossbow vs compound bow for survival?

Both can be equally good in survival situations.

A compound bow could be the better choice if you are an amateur archer but it still takes some practice to shoot accurately with it.

While a crossbow features higher precision, even if you have unskilled hands, and is, on average, way deadlier than a compound bow.

Yet, since most states have banned/restricted the use of crossbows, compound bows might be a safer alternative.

Nonetheless – not even archery specialists and professionals can give you a definitive answer here.

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to each bow style so let’s dive deeper into the specifics of each!

Crossbows 101

A crossbow is fairly similar to a traditional bow at first glance, yet it uses bolts instead of arrows.

Instead of using both hands to string and shoot the bow, a crossbow allows you to shoot with just one hand, while still providing amazing precision.

You can use crossbows for shooting sports, self-defense, and even hunting.

Moreover, the army is using crossbows in some tactical scenarios due to the fact it creates very low noise when shooting.

Compound Bows 101

Compound bows are equipped with pulleys and cables that you use to bend the bow’s limbs.

This makes compound bows a bit stiff but more efficient at the same time.

Another reason for this lays in the long string that makes it super-convenient to pull the arrow further and generate more firing power without using too much effort.

And if you are an experienced (read advanced) archer, go for the harder cam.

The soft cam is a better choice for novice archers as it accelerates the arrow more gently.

Crossbow vs Compound bow for survival, archer using a bow

Crossbows vs Compound Bows

Below we’ve listed 4 important aspects to consider when trying to figure out which type of bow is better for you.

1. Practice

Although neither a crossbow nor a compound bow requires much practice, it still takes some skill to achieve a clean and accurate shot.

Crossbows are fairly simple to use but you should take some time to get familiar with your weapon’s limitations, capabilities, and dynamics.

While a compound bow might be just perfect if you are an amateur archer.

Especially because it is much lighter than a crossbow and you don’t have to put much effort into firing your arrow.

2. Setup and Loading

There’s one fundamental difference between these two kinds of bows when it comes to setting up for a shot and loading your arrow/bolt.

Compound bows are not preloaded before shooting while crossbows come preset for shooting.

The string on your crossbow is always drawn back and locked into a safe position so you can shoot the bolt in just a couple of seconds.

All that’s needed is to load the bolt and you’re ready to shoot.

3. Shooting Speed

Crossbows boast a higher FPS (speed rating) with a superb 385 FPS on average.

While with compound bows, you typically only get about 289 FPS.

So if you are shooting from shorter distances, a compound bow will suffice.

But in other, long-range scenarios – just go for a crossbow.

4. Laws and Regulations

We’ve already mentioned that crossbows have a slight advantage over compound bows in terms of performance.

But we should remind you that many states have prohibited the use of a crossbow due to mainly bow-only regulations.

It is deadlier, making it very potent for hunting, yet – it can cause severe injuries if used against human targets.

And this is the main reason why their use is banned in bow-only areas.

Crossbow or Compound Bow? The Pros and Cons

And now we’ll take a closer look at the primary pros and cons of each bow type!

Cold Steel Cheap Shot 130 Tactical Crossbow Package -...
  • QUICK, EASY RELOADING: It doesn’t matter if you...
  • PHENOMENAL ACCURACY: What really sets the Cheap...
  • FAST FIRING: Shoots at up to 226 feet per second;...

Crossbow [Pros and Cons]


  • High accuracy
  • Low-noise
  • Ready to fire right away
  • Higher bolt speed


  • Heavy
  • Very restricted use

Genesis Original Bow Archery Kit, Right Hand, Blue
  • UNIVERSAL DRAW LENGTH: Versatile compound bow...
  • BUILT FOR ALL AGES: With universal draw length and...
  • EASY TO USE: The single cam design means no tuning...

Compound Bows [Pros and Cons]


  • Beginner-friendly
  • Lightweight
  • Require less effort to fire
  • Compact


  • Main parts require regular maintenance (or they wear out rather quickly)


Lastly, we’re going back to the original question – crossbow or compound bow for survival?

There’s no wrong choice here as both bow types are highly effective.

However, if you suffer from any type of injury (back, neck, or shoulders), a compound bow might be easier to use and to shoot with.

Crossbows are typically heavier, which could pose a challenge for younger and less experienced hunters.

But if you are a recreational shooter or an avid archer, a crossbow might be the weapon that meets and even exceeds your expectations (provided it is not banned in your state).

Now, have you ever used a compound bow or a crossbow?

What was your experience like?

Drop your answers in the comments below!

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Simo, an outdoor specialist and avid survival enthusiast, brings over 3 years of experience in navigating and thriving in the great outdoors. With an unwavering passion for nature, Simo has honed their skills in various aspects of outdoor exploration, including camping, hiking, and wilderness survival. Their extensive knowledge and hands-on experience enable them to tackle challenges head-on while imparting valuable insights to fellow adventurers. His dedication to promoting outdoor safety and environmental stewardship make them a trusted resource for anyone seeking to embark on unforgettable outdoor experiences.

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