Crossbow arrows come in many different weights that range from lightweight to standard weight to heavyweight. It’s important to understand that when speaking of arrow weights, it includes the weight of a standard 100-grain field point in addition to the weight of the finished bolt itself. In other words, when we say the overall weight of a crossbow bolt is 400 grains, what we actually mean is that the finished bolt without the point weighs 300 grains and then you add the 100-grains from the field point to arrive at the overall weight of 400 grains.
- Light Arrows: 350-399 grains
- Standard Arrows: 400-359 grains
- Heavy Arrows: 460 grains and above
As you might expect, lighter crossbow arrows will shoot faster than heavier crossbow arrows. However, with more weight, the heavier crossbow arrows will produce more kinetic energy at impact.
For you to decide which weight is best for you to shoot, you must consider the scenario in which you are shooting.
If you use your crossbow for competitive shooting, like 3D archery, you should choose a lighter arrow that travels faster. The faster a crossbow arrow travels, the “flatter” the trajectory it has as it is flying to your target. This means if you misjudge the distance to your target, a lightweight, flatter shooting arrow will drop less fast and you will miss your mark by a smaller margin than if you had used a heavier bolt. Archers often refer to lightweight crossbow bolts as being “more forgiving” for this reason.
If you are using your crossbow for hunting purposes, you should consider shooting a standard weight or heavyweight arrow. Despite the fact that they will shoot slower, they carry a greater amount of kinetic energy, or penetration power, as compared to a lightweight arrow.
Since maximizing penetration and cutting damage with your crossbow broadhead significantly increases your chances of harvesting an animal, you should shoot a crossbow bolt that has the greatest amount of kinetic energy while still shooting as fast and accurately as possible.
Standard weight and heavyweight crossbow arrows also make your crossbow quieter, since more energy is required to accelerate a heavier arrow, leaving less energy to be dissipated from the crossbow as vibration or “game spooking” noise. Since there is less energy left over, shooting these arrows also means there’s less wear and tear on your hunting crossbow.