Whether you’re an amateur or a professional archer, buying the best crossbow bolts is important for perfecting your balance and accuracy. While you may refer to your bolts as arrows (and either term is correct), strictly speaking bolts only refer to the projectiles used in your crossbow. Bolts can’t be used with regular recurve bows. As we’ll be talking only about the crossbow projectiles in this article, we’ll be calling them bolts throughout. Before you go looking for the best crossbow bolts, it’s best to know what to look for to help you make the right choice.
What To Look For When Buying Crossbow Bolts
Before you make your choice, consider the following factors that make up a crossbow bolt.
Shaft: The shaft is the main body of the bolt, unto which all other parts are connected. Bolt shafts are commonly made of carbon, aluminum, or a combination of both. These materials are best because they are light enough to be aerodynamic, don’t splinter and are resistant to bending. The more resistant to bending a bolt is, the more “spine” it is said to have.
Length: All crossbows come with a recommendation for the length of bolt to be used with it, so definitely check your crossbow’s specification before buying the wrong length. Bolts are usually between 16 and 22 inches long. You can usually get away with bolts that are slightly longer than the recommended length, but not with bolts that are shorter.
Weight: Bolt weight is expressed in grains and will play a major role in the accuracy of your shot and how you will have to sight in your crossbow. When you go to buy bolts, the weight of bolts given may be either grains per inch or total grains. You can multiply the total weight by the length of the bolt’s shaft if you need the GPI.
Nocks: Bolt nocks are attached to the back of the bolt and keep it in place when you’re lining up your shot. Nocks will be almost always made from either aluminum or plastic. There are two main types of nock styles; half moon nocks and flat nocks. Most crossbow manufacturers list the preferred nocks that should be used on bolts for their crossbows, so check before you buy.
Fletchings/Vanes: Fletchings, or vanes, are the plastic “wings” you will find at the back of the bolt near the nock. They serve to stabilize the trajectory of the bolt in flight, maintain the proper direction and to prevent the bolt from swaying to the side. Fletchings are what cause the bolt to spin around on it’s axis mid-flight, keeping it stable. They vary in length but in general, the longer the shaft is, the longer the fletchings will be.
Heads: The type of bolt head you use will vary depending on specific circumstances. They usually come in packs of 3 or 6 and weigh between 125 and 150 grains. There are two main types of bolt heads.
Target Points/Field Points: As the name suggests, these bolt heads are used for target practice and as such, aren’t intended to be used for hunting. They are not sharp enough to pierce flesh with tips just round enough to penetrate a target but nothing more. The best crossbow bolts have screw in target points, as opposed to points that glued on to the bolt. When buying new target point, make sure to purchase the same heads as recommended by your crossbow manufacturer or it could cause damage to your crossbow.
Broadheads: Unlike target points, broadheads are razor sharp and are therefore quite dangerous. They are what you will use if you intend to go hunting and have fantastic aerodynamic properties. There are three types of broadheads; fixed blade broadheads, removable blade broadheads and expandable blade broadheads. The type of broadhead you use is up to you, though it’s important to first check if they are legal in your state.
Tips On How To Choose The Best Crossbow Bolts
Now that you know what makes up a crossbow bolt, you should have a good idea of what to look for. However, there are few other things to keep in mind that may be helpful when making your choice.
- When buying new bolt heads, make sure they’re the same weight as the bolt heads that came with your crossbow initially.
- Always follow your crossbow manufacturer’s recommendation when buying bolts. Buying bolts that are too light can lead to personal injury and damage to your crossbow. Buying bolts that are heavier may work but you will lose a lot of speed in your shot.
- Heavier bolts may extend the string and cable life of your crossbow.
- Carbon shafts are the most durable and are lighter than carbon shafts. However, they have less consistency in spine stiffness from bolt to bolt.
- Aluminum shafts are heavier than carbon shafts but provide greater consistency in spine stiffness and weight from bolt to bolt.
- Always choose the nock for your bolts that are recommended by your crossbow’s manufacturer.
- When buying broadheads, always first check if your preferred choice is legal in your state.
Best Crossbow Bolts Reviews
Now that you know what to look for, you’re ready to make your choice. We’ve listed what we believe are the best crossbow bolts on the market and have outlined the reasons below. Scroll down for our personal recommendation or take a look at these five great options and choose the one that suits your needs best.
SAS Crossbow Carbon Arrows Bolts – 6/pack
Carbon Shaft: These bolts have a quality carbon shaft that will prevent splintering or bending. Lightweight and durable, they provide great accuracy for your shots.
4 Inch AAE Plastic Vanes: 4 inch plastic vanes provide excellent stability and prevents pitching or swaying to the side.
352 Grains Total Weight: The shaft totals 352 grains in weight, with 20.18 grains per inch.
6 x 22 Inch Bolts: At 22 inches in length, these bolts are suitable for use with most crossbows and come in a pack of 6.
- The carbon shaft of these bolts make them very resistant to bending. They won’t splinter or break upon contact, so you can reuse them well.
- Thanks to the removable supplied field points, you can easily screw on broadheads to these bolts.
The supplied field points aren’t the best quality compared to some others but they still work well enough. If you’re unhappy with them, you can easily interchange them with different field points or broadheads.
Carbon Express PileDriver Fletched Carbon Crossbolt with 4-Inch Vanes, 6-Pack
Carbon Shaft: These heavy carbon crossbolts provide great durability and won’t bend or splinter.
4 Inch Vanes: 4 inch vanes give greater stability to your bolt’s trajectory than the three vanes that are common.
Flat Nocks + Half Moon Nocks: As well as the half moon nocks that come inserted into the bolts, 6 flat nocks also come supplied.
6 x 20 or 22 Inch Bolts: You can choose between the standard 20 or slightly long 22 inch bolt, depending on your crossbow’s requirements.
- Heavier bolts like these offer fantastic power to your shot and in general have more versatility in which crossbows they can be used with. While you can’t go lighter in weight than your bow’s recommendation, you can go heavier.
- The inclusion of both flat nocks and half moon nocks is fantastic as you can choose which to use depending on your personal preference and the recommendation of your crossbow’s manufacturer.
Field points do not come supplied with these bolts, so you’ll need to have some of your own, or broadheads to use with them. However, this can be a blessing in disguise as many supplied heads don’t live up to expectations and these are very high quality bolts.
KillerTech PRO 20″ Crossbow Bolts (6 Pack)
Carbon Shaft: A carbon shaft gives these bolts great resistance to bending or splintering and have excellent durability.
3 Inch Vanes: The pre-installed 3 inch vanes make sure your bolt flies straight for it’s target.
Half Moon Nocks: These bolts come with pre-installed half moon nocks to help you line up your shot perfectly.
6 x 20 Inch Bolts: These bolts come in a pack of 6 and are the standard 20 inches in length that work with most crossbows.
- These bolts are lightweight and durable with a GPI of 9 grains and fly straight every time. Fantastic consistency and accuracy.
- These are very high quality bolts with heavy brass inserts paired with a light carbon shaft. You can definitely feel the quality when you use them.
These bolts are the most expensive of the ones on our list and are more pricey than average. However, they are very good quality, so this can be attributed to the great care and detail that goes into each bolt.
GPP Hunting Archery Carbon Arrow 20″ Crossbow Bolts
Carbon Shaft: A quality carbon shaft for great durability, reusability and resistance to splintering and bending.
Half Moon Nock: These bolts have a half moon nock for lining up your shot.
4 Inch Vanes: Three 4 inch vanes, two blue and one white don’t just look nice but ensure precise accuracy with no swaying.
12 x 20 Inch Bolts: These bolts are the average 20 inches in length and come in a generous pack of 12.
- In a 12 pack, these bolts offer a greater supply than the common 6 pack of the same price. This provides not only more arrows, but a great bargain.
- Despite the larger quantity, you don’t lose out on quality, which is common for these larger packs. These are great quality bolts that fly straight and provide great accuracy and precision.
There can be a small problem in some of these bolts of the vanes being bent. However, a quick blast with a hairdryer quickly and easily solves this issue.
Bloodsport Carbon Crossbow Bolt Black Pack of 6
Carbon Shaft: High-quality carbon shafts won’t bend or splinter upon contact and are durable enough to endure multiple uses.
Glued-In Brass Inserts: The 4 inch vanes are made of brass and are glued-in securely to the shaft.
325 Grains Total Weight: These bolts have a total weight of 325 grains, without points, with a GPI of 9.
6 x 20 or 23.5 Inch Bolts: This 6 pack comes with either the standard 20 inch bolts or longer than average 23.5 inch bolts, depending on your preference.
- These are incredibly accurate bolts. They fly straight and hit their target consistently each time.
- They’re also very durable, withstanding multiple shots without any splintering as you’d expect from a quality bolt of carbon like these.
Some other customers have found that one or two bolts in the pack had bent fletchings. While we didn’t encounter this issue it seems common enough to look out for when you first receive them. That being said, these same customers agreed that these bolts were quality enough that they were worth it even with the damaged ones.
While you can’t go wrong with any of the bolts we have listed, our personal recommendation is for the Carbon Express PileDriver bolts. They provide exceptional quality for bolts of their price and fly consistently straight each time with excellent accuracy and power behind each shot. Not only are they great to use, the inclusion of both flat nocks and half moon nocks is a great asset, not only to provide greater versatility to suit many crossbows but also to suit your own personal preference. They’re our choice for the best crossbow bolts.