Compound vs. Recurve Crossbows

Category Crossbows

In Ancient China, crossbows were first used in warfare as early as 600 B.C. and all the way through the medieval era. Crossbows were hugely popular for their power even with how minimal the mastery of the bow requires.

It has been a very iconic weapon throughout men’s history, and even today, its fire has not died yet – and definitely not in the years to come. In the contemporary world, the question “What is the better crossbow?” is still an ongoing topic among many modern hunters.

While there are many new crossbows available that you can use, in the end, it still boils down to two – the compound crossbow and recurve crossbow. If you are a new bow hunter, then knowing both these crossbows will help you in your crossbow hunting.

Compound Crossbows

crossbow-parts-compoundFirst, what is a compound crossbow? This is often described as the modern crossbow where the limbs are usually much sturdier.

The shorter limbs of a compound crossbow are easier to maneuver, as opposed to their recurve counterparts.

The stiffness of the bow is also one reason why compounds are said to be more energy-efficient.


  • Faster at lower draw weights
  • Cocking is easier with the use of compound crossbows
  • They are more powerful than recurves, as the speed of the bolts is faster
  • Less force on the trigger sears
  • It has an overall narrower width, ideal for thick areas


  • They are generally heavier than recurves because of the dense weight of the bow’s front part
  • It requires a bow press once string is broken
  • The compounds are not as accurate as recurves, especially when a crossbow is dropped and the cam is removed or knocked out of its normal position.
  • Compounds make loud noises
  • It needs more maintenance; the compounds have tiny moving parts, which wear out relatively easy

Recurve Crossbows

crossbow-parts-recurveThese crossbows have tips that are curving away from the shooter. The bent limbs have a longer draw length, which additionally accelerates the projectile, and give hand shock less.

This is also why it is wider than a compound crossbow. Although it makes noise when shooting, it is generally quieter.


  • A recurve crossbow tend to weigh less than a compound
  • It has fewer moving parts therefore requires less maintenance. This is also a plus for hunters who are miles away from the nearest archery shop.
  • They are easier to restrung
  • Makes less noise (although very close to the noise of compounds)
  • Because of the lighter weight, they are quicker to aim
  • Simple yet effective design, which makes them the more reliable option


  • Require more draw weight for the same arrow speed. This is because they are wider than the compounds
  • The serving life is reduced whenever the trigger mechanism is holding the peak weight
  • It does not have a cocking mechanism. This requires your physical strength for it.
  • It produces less power, as compared to the compound. However, the difference in power is not that extensive.


To be fair, it all depends with your unique preferences. There are things in a recurve crossbow that the compound does not have, and vice versa. There is no useless crossbow when it comes to bow hunting.

In fact, this two have proven their strengths to many crossbow enthusiasts and hunters. But this doesn’t mean that they do not lack in some areas. However, if you are a beginner, it is better for you to use a recurve crossbow because they are lighter and easier to manage.

Not only that, the simplicity of this crossbow made them as the more reliable one. And for survival situations, a lot of hunters typically go for recurve crossbows, as they are simpler to use. Of course, you wouldn’t want to be figuring out a heavy and complex weapon when you are in the toughest of situations.

What you would want is something simple yet effective. But perhaps the greatest thing about recurves is that they usually last longer than its counterpart. It is because of the easy maneuvering that people would have this crossbow in longer durations.

On the other hand, if you want more power when shooting, then a compound may be more suitable for you. Hunters who want force on their shots choose them. But considering the pros and cons of both crossbows, it’s just really a matter of personal taste and needs.

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