Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Review

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Our rating – 9.3/ 10  

Great quiet shooting, a smooth trigger action and supplied with everything you need to start shooting out of the box. The Barnett Recruit is a lightweight, maneuverable crossbow at an affordable price. This is a compact crossbow so be aware that if you have a large frame you may need a custom stock extension to work with it. If not, look after it, maintain it well, and you can’t go far wrong with one of these.


The Recruit Tactical crossbow is the compound variant of the recruit series of crossbows from Barnett. In the same series they also make a Recruit Terrain which is the same as this bow but with a tan colored stock. They make a Recruit Recurve version and you can also get Recruit Youth crossbows in varying colors and draw weights. This crossbow range is popular, and it’s not difficult to see why they’ve expanded it to encompass many different types of user. The particular model we’re reviewing here is the Recruit Tactical which is the blacked out version.

Ratings, Pros and Cons

Assembly – 100%
Accessories – 100%
Trigger – 90%
Styling – 90%
Stock – 80%
Performance – 100%

What we liked:

  • Affordable
  • Light
  • Maneuverable
  • Ready to shoot package
  • Red dot sight
  • Easy to assemble
  • Anti-dry fire mechanism
  • Pass-thru fore grip
  • Crank compatible

What we didn’t:

  • Stock may not extend far enough for some adults and larger framed individuals
  • Better quality red dot scopes are available
  • No sling included

Features / Specifications

Draw Weight:130 lbs
Power Stroke:12.5″
Bow Weight:6.4 lbs
Speed:330 fps (measured using a 380-grain arrow)
Kinetic Energy:91.9 ft lbs (2017 model)
Axle to Axle:16.125″
Overall Size:34.25″ Long x 18.25″ Wide
Price Range:Low
Warranty:5 year manufacturer (original owner) once registered – In full

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Who’s it designed for?

This crossbow is compact and light and primarily designed with a stock that should be more compatible with women or smaller framed users such as large boys or smaller men. Get or make a custom extension for the stock however and this compact unit can be used by anyone.

What can I hunt with it?

With 91.9 ft lbs (2017 model) of kinetic energy this bow will work for target shooting and hunting pretty much anything from turkey right up to grizzly bears albeit at a reduced effective distance for larger game.

Crossbow Comparison Tables

All the bows we review (and some we haven’t yet) get added to our comparison tables alongside a guide that helps you understand what features and specifications actually mean. They’re a great place to get a quick overview of what’s on the market, and find something that fits with your requirements.​


Barnett promotional video showcasing the single bolt-assembly, red-dot sight and composite stock.
A quick run through the features, specs, and product closeups of a brand new recruit.

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In-Depth Review


This bow is marketed as a ‘single-bolt‘ assembly. It comes out of the box in 2 main pieces. The head (limbs and string) and the main body which includes the stock. One piece slides into the other and you bolt them together with the supplied bolt and allen key. That’s the one bolt assembly. However one bolt doesn’t finish the job If you want to attach the foot stirrup there are a few more screws required to do that. You’ve also got to attach the red-dot sight and optionally the quiver. Again these things are simple to do, but I’m pretty sure I counted more than a single bolt involved in the process. But that’s marketing departments for you! Overall however the bow is simple to assemble, nothing is overly complicated and all the tools you need are supplied out of the box. You’ll be up and “after it” in less than 15 minutes.


What’s great about this crossbow is the fact that it’s sold in a ready to shoot package. For the price you’ll normally get the following included in the package alongside the actual crossbow and the usual manuals and paraphernalia:

  • Barnett Premium ​Red Dot Sight
  • Quiver
  • 3x 20″ Bolts or 2x 20″ Headhunter Arrows (model year specific)
  • Rope Cocking Device
  • A Tube of Wax

Red-Dot Sight

A red dot sight allows you to keep both eyes open when aiming and that makes for much faster target acquisition. The reason for that (if it isn’t apparent) is that with both eyes open you have full awareness of your surroundings and a better judgement of distances and movement speeds. This scope is powered by a CR2032 battery and features 11 dot intensity settings.

The cost to purchase this sight alone is more than a 1/3 of the price of the Barnett crossbow so this is a nice little addition that bumps up the value you get with this package. This sight should also be compatible with any other Barnett crossbow you might own or anything that has a 3/8″ or 7/8″ mount.

You may want to switch the red-dot out for a regular scope, take a look at our current market picks.

Cocking Device

Another little bonus is the rope cocking device supplied. I’m not going to go into detail on this, it’s a piece of rope with small handles that you use to give yourself a higher mechanical advantage when cocking the crossbow with the foot stirrup. They make life about 50% easier than muscling back the string.

It’s also worth noting that this crossbow is compatible with a hand crank or lever cocking mechanism made by Barnett that you can purchase separately.​ This reduces vastly reduced the pull strength required to load the crossbow down from 130 lbs to about 17 lbs. That means you can cock it whilst mounted on a stand and makes this bow easily compatible with smaller youth, ladies and even those with injuries or disabilities.

Barnett 17450 Crossbows Crank Cocking Device, Black, One Size

Above shows a Barnett Crank Cocking Device.

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Quiver and Arrows

Depending on the exact year of the model you purchase either two Barnett Headhunter arrows or 3x 20″ Barnett carbon arrows with field point tips are thrown in. 3x bolts nicely fills up the 3 lightweight 3-bolt capacity quiver you are supplied.


The latest 2017 iteration of this crossbow features TriggerTech. This is a frictionless release technology that uses a roller between components of the trigger that will roll out of the way instead of sliding over each other causing friction. Here’s how it works. In short though you should experience zero creep with a trigger like this. That means when you’ve pulled the trigger back to the wall there will be no extra distance for it to travel before the release. You’ll get a crisp release, exactly on time with when you want it.

Anti-Dry Fire

A surefire way to limit the life of any crossbow (or any other bow for that matter) is to fire it without an arrow on the stock. Dry firing causes all the energy from the string (energy that would normally go  into the arrow) to be handled by the limbs of the bow. This can easily damage them.

This crossbow (as many other Barnett  bows) comes with ADF or Anti Dry-Fire technology. What this amounts to is a small spring loaded safety bar that can only be pushed down by an arrow that is seated properly in the bow. You can’t remove the safety until that bar is depressed. 


The tactical version of this crossbow is all black. The split limbs are emblazoned with the Barnett logo and the body features a vented style of design which no-doubt as well as actually looking good helps to keep the weight of the crossbow to a minimum by removing un-necessary extra material. As we’ve already mentioned, you can get the Recruit in a terrain version which is exactly the same as the Tactical yet features a solid desert tan colored stock.


Made from light weight composite materials the stock of this crossbow is designed to keep it light. It’s a compact crossbow. Great for working in small spaces. You can adjust the length of the stock to make it fit most individuals but if you’ve a large frame if may not adjust quite enough for you, but there are ways you can remedy that with custom extensions.

There’s 7/8″ Picatinny rail​ both top and bottom to allow you to mount whatever sights and other accessories you’d like.

You’ve also got the benefit of a pass-through fore grip on this bow. That means you can wrap your fingers around the fore handle​ and grip it solidly. This stops the possibility of you resting the fingers of your front hand anywhere near the bolt, which can cause accidents.

Shooting Performance

This is a great crossbow for the money. It’s compact, but that doesn’t stop it being a really competent shooter and it’s quiet. We loved it. 

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“How does it compare?”

Recruit vs Centerpoint Sniper 370

The Sniper is a larger overall bow, about 3 inches wider and 2 inches longer. It’s also more powerful at 370 fps, heavier to hold by just over 1 lb. You’re going to have to draw 185 lbs back using either a rope cocker to get that speed though. The sniper doesn’t come with a pass-thru fore-grip like this bow either so you’ll need to hold it correctly and keep your fingers away from the rail. Whilst the Recruit comes with a red-dot sight the Sniper gives you a more useful 4x32mm optical illuminated scope and an AR style adjustable stock. The Sniper is a slightly more grown up crossbow than the Recruit. Read the full review here.

Barnett Recruit vs SAS Authority

New on the block for 2017 is the SAS Authority. This bow is a full size bow also with an adjustable stock that’s sure to fit most body sizes. It comes with a 4×32 mm optical scope that’s handy for most hunting situations. This bow has a 175 lbs draw and 340 fps advertised arrow speeds. It’s a slightly heavier and bigger bow than the Recruit but targeted to the same price point. This one doesn’t have the pass-thru grip feature of the Recruit either. Our full review.

Recruit vs SA Sports Fever

Just to throw a curveball into the mix the SA Sports fever is another crossbow package that’s designed for the entry level shooter. This one however is a recurve. Being a recurve means it’s less powerful with only 240 fps advertised speeds, and also slightly bigger. You’ll still be able to hunt most things with one of these. The benefits of a recurve are that it’s easy to replace the string yourself when it breaks and the prices are generally even lower. This also comes with a 4×32 mm optical scope, quiver and arrows. Read more.

About the Manufacturer

Barnett Outdoors make archery, crossbow and slingshot products for the entire world. The business was started in a garage in the UK back in 1962 by a man named Barnard Barnett who made crossbows as a hobby.  Things grew and grew and the center of operations for Barnett is now squarely in the US and has been since 2003. Barnett are pioneers of the modern day crossbow being the first to break speeds of over 300 fps.

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Hi there! I'm a passionate bowman and a fan of all target sports in general. You'll often find me at my local archery and shooting ranges honing my skills.

3 thoughts on “Barnett Recruit Compound Crossbow Review”

  1. I have a Barnett recruit Barnett recruit and I’m wondering what is the lightest arrow that I can shoot and what is a lot lightest grain of broadhead that I can use for shooting deer what error would you use for hunting grizzly bear in Alaska and what broadhead


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