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Best Crossbow Bolts for Deer Hunting

Best Crossbow Bolts for Deer Hunting

No doubts, crossbows nowadays are so efficient that they are not anymore an issue to have success while you hunt. They are, depending on the quality, more or less all powerful enough to take down any games in North America. The game-changing factor nowadays is how you tune your bow and arrow and especially how you tune your arrow to fit your bow setup. In other words, your bolt setup now plays a bigger role to increase or decrease your hunting success.

To determine the best crossbow bolts for deer hunting, we have to understand how works an arrow and how you can increase its penetration and its flight trajectory and more importantly, how to tune an arrow for hunting purposes. Of course, manufacturers understood those three elements, so they can offer to you their best products to answer your needs. However, not all of them offer the best crossbow bolts for hunting. Some of them are more specialized into target archery which doesn't ask the same features as hunting bolts do.

The crossbow bolt consists of the following parts:

best crossbow bolts for deer hunting

Quick distinction in-between arrows and bolts

At first look, they look the same but except for the shape, they are different in each of their aspects. As we can see in the picture above, the bolt parts are the same as an arrow. However, every part has their unique features to answer the needs of crossbows. In other words, every part of a bolt is made to sustain crossbow's velocities and absorb the energy build up into the crossbow limbs. 

Here are the biggest differences:

The diameter of the shaft: 

The diameter of crossbow bolts is larger than on arrows. They need extra strength to handle the velocity and power generated by modern crossbows. The shaft is the main part of the bolt and all other parts are attached to it. Carbon or aluminum material composed the majority of the bolts because they resist bending, are lightweight and do not splinter.

Length of the bolt: 

Crossbow bolts are much shorter, the average crossbow bolt is about 20 inches long (16 to 22 inches). This is usually 10 to 14 inches shorter.

Inserts for arrowhead: 

The inserts on crossbows are made larger to fit the larger diameter of the crossbow bolts.


Nocks on crossbow bolts are either half-moon or flat nocks. Neither clip onto the bowstring as you can observe on vertical bows (recurve or compound bows).

Advanced bolts offer lighted ends that are attached to the nock of the bolt. A light shines when released to enable the shooter to recover the bolt more easily and ease to analyze flight patterns when hunting or shooting. 

Tip: Lumenok is a great upgrade to all bolts but raises the price of them. It is something I suggest you consider. They make analyzing your flights easier and also facilitate to find them after hitting your target or the ground.

The spine of the bolt:

As they are shorter in length, bolt spine isn’t as critical as arrow spine. The stiffness of the shaft is automatically higher due to the size of the bolt in general (diameter, length, and material used). The spine is critical for accuracy and safety.

Fletching of the bolt

Installed on the back part of the shaft, they help guide the bolt in the right direction, keep it from moving to the left or right, and stabilize it while flying. Fletchings are also called vanes and usually made of synthetic material. Shorter vanes are necessary to sustain higher velocities.

Broadhead and field points:

There are two main types of heads that are used with the bolts: fixed blade broadheads and mechanical broadheads. They are usually offered in heavier weight compared to other bows. Simply because crossbows demand a minimum bolt weight to sustain the energy transfer from modern crossbows.

Tip: never go lower than manufacturer recommended overall bolt weight when shooting. A dangerous result may occur if not respected, dry firing for instance.

Since every bolt are more or less made the same way in their overall structure, but different in their quality, it leads you to the most important question for determining the best bolt for hunting. In this case, the best bolt for deer hunting but, it's pretty much the same question for any type of animal.


What bolt weight should you target? 

The two factors that you want to control are: how can you penetrate easily animal hides and how can you split-crush bones, if necessary, in case you shoot off angle (no clean lungs shot).

To control those two factors, you have to generate the right amount of kinetic energy and momentum. To achieve such a goal you must determine the right bolt weight to increase your accuracy and more importantly generate the right momentum for your targeted game. By selecting the proper bolt weight, you are tuning your bolts to make the most out of your crossbow specs.

In other words, the tuning (weight, spine, and FOC (front of center)) of your bolt combined with the velocity of your crossbow is responsible for your hunting success.


There is three main category of weight:

Lightweight bolts (350-400 grains)

Characteristics: Must be considered to increase overall speed and create a flatter downrange trajectory. That setup might be hard on the structure of the x-bow because it transfers excess energy to the bow assembly and limbs. Lighter weight bolts are more susceptible to deflect down range due to weather elements. It also increases vibration, stress, and noise. Elements that you want to avoid while hunting but are perfectly acceptable for target shooting or 3d shooting.

Recommendation: Make sure that you know and understand the minimum weight recommended by your crossbow manufacturer for the crossbow bolt weight. Not respecting the minimum will void any warranty.

Standard-Weight Bolts (400-435 grains)

Characteristics: The "all-purpose" bolt weight. It offers a good blend of speed, kinetic energy, and momentum. It absorbs more vibration and reduces noise compared to lighter bolts. The standard-weight bolt is effective for most shooting circumstances. Usually, the setup preferred by many hunters and recommended by many manufacturers.

Recommendation: Even if it is an "all-purpose" bolt, you should adjust your setup where a lightweight or a heavyweight arrow is clearly a better choice for a particular crossbow model. 

Heavyweight Bolts (435 grains or higher)

Characteristics: A heavyweight bolt produces and retains the largest amount of kinetic energy and more importantly, the largest amount of momentum, which results in greater penetration ability. A heavier bolt improves in-flight stability resulting in a better accuracy at known distances. As you lose speed down range, you gain in penetration and reduce vibration and noise. Ideal for a big game with tough hides or bone splitting-crushing abilities.  

Recommendation: It is also an ideal arrow for target shooting at known distances.  A rangefinder is than a great device to have with you. There is a maximum to respect otherwise you will alter the real performance of your crossbow. One way to increase your bolt weight, you can increase your bolt penetration


How Many Bolts Should You Buy?

As you are selecting the most important part of your hunting setup, it is a good question. The answer is to buy enough to allow yourself to have decent practicing (Recommended: 6 to 12).  It is easy to lose them when you start shooting or you might have Robin Hood shots breaking the shaft into pieces. Do not go cheap with bolts, if the price is an issue wait for discounts. I have to remind you that you are selecting the second most important thing after your crossbow to have success while hunting.  


The Best Crossbow Bolts for Deer Hunting

The previous section brought me to determine a list of features that should be in what you could call the best bolt for deer hunting. That said, the bolts on my list below encompass the following features:

  1. Tunability,
  2. Weight consistency,
  3. The quality of structure-construction (Material, Stiffness, Straigtness)
  4. Customers appreciation. 


Black Eagle Executioner Bolts (BEE)

Black Eagle Executioner Bolts

Know as premium high precision crossbow bolts, the Black Eagle Executioner are the result of perfect blending in-between material and tunability for increased accuracy. Perfect bolt for crossbow velocities up to 390 FPS. They feature Executioner brass inserts that give an overall weight for an ideal front of center (FOC).

Made of carbon using Grouped Together Technology for unmatched spines consistency, resulting in a greater accuracy for shooters. Black Eagle guarantees the straightness specified on their specs. The stiffness is also a great feature about the bolt and enhances its durability no matter how fast you shoot them. This process is also found in golf clubs for maximum stiffness. 

The bolts include both types of nocks and come with Bohning vanes. 

The appreciation among customers is most likely unanimous about the quality of these bolts. Black Eagle took seriously the construction of their bolts and deliver a great hunting bolt with the Executioner. 


Black Eagle Zombie Slayer Crossbow Bolts

Black Eagle Zombie Slayer Crossbow Bolts

The Zombie Slayer is the same as the Executioner but in a 25 % stiffer and 25% stronger shaft for more straightness during flight. This also means consistent accuracy shots after shots. If you are interested in keeping your accuracy within 1-2 inches of point of aim at 35-40 yards, the Zombie Slayers are serious contenders.

These bolts are made to sustain faster crossbows in-between 380 up to 440 FPS. This is an important element to consider if you own a screamer. Made originally for Zombies but clearly made for hunting purposes.

Offering a carbon shaft with 9.1 of GPI and .003" os straightness tolerance and also featuring Bohning vanes. 

Black Eagle build up is reputation and customers appreciate greatly the Zombie Slayers. An alternative to Slayers is the Spynal Tapps from Black Eagle. They are the same except for the insert section. Black Eagle made the Spynal thicker than the Zombie Slayers bringing the FOC to 20%. In both cases, no matter which one you choose, they are made for extreme velocities. 


Camx Accuspines

Camx Accuspines


Based on the BEE's shaft, the Accuspines stamp the shaft with their logo and installed his own fletching with 92-grain lock-n-load inserts. These inserts enhance the tunability of the Accuspine and are most likely the best tunable bolts of this list. The adjustability concerning its FOC makes them a serious choice for a hunter who wants to increase their arrow penetration. This insert allows you to indexed or aligns all your broadheads with your vanes for maximum bolt tuning. An advantage compared to the glued insert on other bolts.

The structure of the shaft is a unique process of wrapped carbon that generates a stiffer spine. The result of this technology is more consistent bolt accuracy during flight. We find the same technology in golf clubs and fishing rods.

Fletched in the USA with premium Opti-Vane II vanes by Goat Tuff Products. They use FUSION vane technology to offer superior accuracy and adhesion.

The pre-installed flat nocks are threaded so that you are able to thread in an arrow puller. Those threaded holes in the nocks are for 'T' handle arrow pullers.

Featuring 9.1 GPI for greater stiffness and a .001" of straightness tolerance for increased stability during flight. We do suggest to put heavier field points 125gr instead of the 100gr often included with the bolts.

Camx is growing and more people are getting interested in their products. They offer great features for hunting and take seriously the quality of their products. This means that they are not coming cheap but with time, I am confident that Camx will adjust their prices.


Gold Tip Laser III Pro 

Gold Tip Laser III Pro

Gold Tip is keeping up with its competitors by offering three Gold Tip Laser Pro bolts. Previously the Laser II (7.5 GPI) left its trace on the market, they created the Laser III (8.5 GPI) and proven to be as excellent as the II was and now they new come up with the Laser IV (13.5 GPI) which still need to gather more information to confirm that it is the proud successor of the III. The Gold Tip Laser Pro III is the best for crossbows up to 380 FPS and the Laser Pro IV is made for 380 + FPS. The Laser Pro IV is stiffer and will sustain better higher velocities.

Laser Pro bolts have fast become one of the most versatile crossbow bolts throughout the market. Offered in 20 or 22 inches with either 2 or 4 inches of vanes. The insert weight 110 grains and bring the average weight of the bolt in-between 400 to 430 grains.

Gold Tip products are often recommended by many hunters and the Laser Pro series is not an exception. Customers are satisfied by the diversity of Gold Tip products and the Laser Pro offers great versatility and gives archers the flexibility to build the bolt that best matches the performance needs of their individual crossbow.


Carbon Express PileDriver Crossbow Bolts

Carbon Express PileDriver Crossbow Bolts

The Heaviest from Carbon Express to assure all hunters to have the most penetration out of a bolt. They are build to knock down your target without doubts. In the lower spectrum of the price range for bolts, the PileDriver is made of composite carbon material and deliver consistency of the spine. This result in a more stabilized flight and straightness.

The Carbon Express PileDriver crossbow bolts are loaded with technology. That technology increases the tunability of the bolt making it flexible to different setups. Each element was thought to enhance the penetration of the bolt. The Built-in Weight Forward patented technology, the straightness, and the Launchpad precision nocks are all developed to increase downrange accuracy and penetration.

To assure you the maximum consistency, the pack sets are sorted and matched by weight. They also offer an exclusive NRG-2 low-profile performance vanes for maximum arrow velocity and greater accuracy.

The PileDriver crossbow bolt is available in 300 (13.1 GPI),350 (11.3 GPI) and 400 (10.4 GPI) of arrow spine to give you more options depending on your setup. The manufacturer gives a weight tolerance of +- 1 grain. 

The PileDriver comes often into people's ranking. The price combined with the quality of the bolt are responsible for such good references.


Carbon Express Maxima Hunter Crossbow Bolts

Carbon Express Maxima Hunter Crossbow Bolts

Bear his name, the Maxima Hunter is preferred by many hunters because this bolt delivers the result while hunting. Built by Easton for Tenpoint, the Maxima Hunter has a high tolerance for straightness.

The Carbon Express Maxima Hunter crossbow bolts claim to have a dual spine weight forward. Basically, the front end and the back end have a different spine to develop a straighter flight and accuracy consistency. The difference is almost impossible to test but there is an average of 2.3 % in spine difference in-between the back and the front. 

That said, I would not pick these bolts because of the dual spine weight forward because the different in-between standard shaft is too neglectable (around 1%). But, because they deliver exactly the numbers that the manufacturer is specifying toward the straightness and the weight tolerance of the bolt.

The BuffTuff coating is high quality finish adding to the durability of the bolt. The bolt is available in 20 or 22 inches with 2'' blazer vanes.

Reviews of the Maxima Hunter relate about the quality, the consistency, the durability and precision of the product. 


Tenpoint Magnum XX75 Aluminum Bolts

Tenpoint Magnum XX75 Aluminum Bolts

Tenpoint Magnum XX75 Aluminum Bolts is made for the bigger game and extreme velocities while the TenPoint Pro-Elite is more standard and a more "all-purpose" bolt.

The Magnum XX75 is the heaviest from TenPoint bolts. Made of aluminum, the only one of this ranking, the Magnum XX75 comes in a standard weight of 436 grains (10.5 GPI). This bolt was made to assure you to have better groupings downrange. 

Using three 7/8” AAE EP-40 Elite Plastifletch vanes in 4 inches long, the bolt offers a stable flight even with the longer distance. It includes 13 grain CPC carbon inserts and 100-grain field points.

Easton succeeded to deliver a bolt that satisfies users and was expressly made for hunting purposes. The reviews from customers give a 4.8 out of 5 for this bolt.



That said, what is the best bolt for hunting is a hard question to answer but this article should bring more answer or lead you to dig further into the subject.

No matter which bolts you are interested in, adding FOC to your bolts is welcome in most cases and will help with gaining a higher momentum especially when using a lighter point or broadhead. Increasing your FOC is the fastest way to improve your bolts for hunting purposes, no matter if you are into deer or bigger game.

I have to mention that The Barnett headhunter bolts could be an alternative for good bolts at a fair price, however, not enough flexibility in its overall characteristics to be in my best crossbow bolts.

Thank you for reading us and do not hesitate to leave any comments or questions below about this best crossbow bolts for deer hunting.

Have a nice Hunt!

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keene kruckenberg - September 23, 2018

I have a Barnett 385 ghost with Barnett carbon arrows no complaints grouping at 35 yds. 1"
Looking forward to a successful deer season this year.

Wes - September 17, 2018

Any one ever heard of spit fire crossbow bolts

Tom - June 19, 2018

Just bought a Barnett Raptor pro STR. Shot the headhunter bolts with FTs out at 40yds.. within 1" groups. Put broadheads on (G5 strikers, Montec, 4 blade tooth of arrow) flew ok at 20yd but 30yd 3" group, 40yd was scary. Put on Rage and Schwacker and at 40yds back to 1" group. LOVE MY new bow, scope is fine but must have right foc and 420 gr8. Bolts.,

Danielson - May 23, 2018

This list is pretty dang good! I’m fairly new to crossbows (only 2 1/2 years), but I’ve studied a ton to catch up on learning. My 1st x-bow was a Carbon Express, and therefore it came with Pliedrivers right in the box. I only heard people talk about Black Eagles, so I bought 3 different 6 packs of Executioners…. I was pretty impressed with the accuracy of the BEE’s, but personally, they where not rugged enough. Some of the nocks would snap off, and also some of the shafts would split after repeated use. I only used Executioners for almost 2 years. Finally I decided to use the “cheapo” Pildrivers that I had in the box, but never touched…. It was SHOCKING! The piledrivers had all the accuracy of the Executioners, but just WAY more sturdy. The shafts, the nocks, and even the vanes seemed to be a little stronger and durable. Honestly, the only thing that I miss about the BEE’s are the brass inserts… I will NEVER say that Executioners are bad, but it was well worth trying the included Piledrivers, and they are my new favorite. So glad that both are on the list. Still have to test GT and Easton down the road.

Mr Bill - April 6, 2018

Have a Barnett Buck Commander Revengeance Reverse Crossbow. Man! Is it difficult to make this Xbow shoot accurately. I epoxied a level on the Xbow to ensure level shooting. I data-base all arrow combinations as to accuracy. Just ordered 6 Zombie Slayers with the 2" fletchlings, anxious to try. Used 3" Quick Fletch Twisters on my worse shooting 3 arrows (Gold Tip) and now they shoot excellent. 30 yds = 1" or less group.

Mr Bill - January 15, 2018

Barnett, at least for the C6 Wildcat recommends not to leave cocked for more than 4 hours. I’ve had mine cocked for 3.5 hours in 18 degree F weather and when I un-cocked the crossbow, it had it’s usual power.

Ross maggio - January 4, 2018

I have a 370 sniper, how long can I keep It cocked while hunting before some sort of damage may develops…hanks

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